> Russian neoliberal compradors

Russian neoliberal compradors aka Liberasts

News Color revolutions Recommended Links Neoliberal Compradors and lumpenelite Net hamsters America and the Imperial Project
IntelliXensia Frustrated underachievers Opposition as a way to get rid of feeling of inferiority Pussi Riot Provocation Femen Comprador leaders recruitment
Fifth column and NGOs Color revolutions Sect of fraudulent election witnesses Role of Financial oligarchy Human right activists or globalism fifth column Comprador leaders recruitment
Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism Disaster capitalism The Grand Chessboard Predator state Fifth column Political Humor Etc

More general discussion can be found in Neoliberal Compradors and lumpenelite. There are actually two overlapping terms Lumpenbourgeoisie and Liberasts:

The most dramatic recent demonstration of the power of fifth column was probably the dissolution of the USSR and aftermath, during which the top layer of academia, some ministries such Ministry of Foreign Trade, and KGB brass was simply bought. Economists of all levels, despite previous swearing to the dogmas of Marxism, proved to be very adept to switching sides with gentle encouragement of few foreign trips, grants and some petty cash. At some point elites in the USSR grow their power to the extent when they feel that it's time to privatize the country assets. Dissolution of the USSR was just the mean to this end. What is interesting is the composition of this new transnational elite that came to power in xUSSR space in 1991. It was broad and powerful political force which included part of old elite such as KGB brass and especially its international division (Alexander Lebedev is one example), CPSU bonzas, etc as well as new elite such as

For some reason Russian compradors are more commonly called liberasts then Lumpenbourgeoisie.  Here are a couple of quotes that illustrate the use of the term:

Kasyanov, Nemtsov, Navalny etc. only talks and criticize but do nothing to help.

R.c. Williams Mark, some of the Russian Liberasts I've spoken with here in the US are painfully naive. I actually had one tell me at the Russian film festival in Los Angeles a few week ago that "at least you guys can riot and burn police cars without ending up in a gulag" - I'm not joking. I told him that the next time there's a major protest here, try carrying out those acts in front of the cops and then get back with me on that. I also told him we have designated "free speech zones" and that you need permits from the city to stage a demonstration just as you do in Russia. I don't know what these people are being told about the US on these matters, but it's far from true.

Russians also distinguishes between several sub-types of liberasts. Among them

Translation of the article "On Liberasts and Liberasty"

Translation of the article "On Liberasts and Liberasty"

I return to my old neo-Soviet ways by translating Russian businessman and LJ blogger gosh100‘s excellent short essay “On Liberasts and Liberasty” (Про либерастию и либерастов) from June 2007. In doing so, I hope to introduce “liberast” and “liberasty” into the English lexicon to denote Russia’s self-styled liberals, who are in fact anything but liberal in word and deed*. Enjoy!

Liberasty is a contagious disease that binds the patient’s worldview to a few uninspired principles:

  1. There’s nothing but shit in Russia and it will never improve.
  2. The state is incompetent by definition, and anything it does only worsens the situation further.
  3. The Russian people deserve their suffering because they are a herd of brain-dead sheeple.
  4. Russia must make unconditional concessions and show unflinching obedience to the West.
  5. This is because the West is, by definition, the beacon of freedom, justice, and rationalism to the entire world, and wishes Russia only the best.

Liberasty affects the human brain with varying degrees of severity, from the first degree (mild form of disease that has almost no effect on the personality) to the fourth degree (critical, irreversible degeneration, frequently associated with a disturbed psyche). Below are some examples of liberasts classified according to the severity of their illness:

This pathology can be both innate (under certain mental disorders) and acquired (infectious). There are several avenues of transmission, including long exposure to liberasty carriers or mass media with a liberast slant (e.g. Novaya Gazeta, Russian Newsweek, Profile, Echo of Moscow, Kommersant, Novye Izvestia, MK).

Liberasty can be diagnosed by the following symptoms.

High risk groups: Persons of Jewish nationality, students, unemployed with higher educations, liberal arts majors with low earnings, tourists from the provinces recently returned from their first trip to the West.

Recommended treatments: High-paying job or profitable business, a failed emigration, reading non-liberast literature and journals, frequent communication – preferably on business matters – with typical Westerners.

Preventive measures: Regular perusal of inosmi.ru.
PS. That’s it, Inosmi has been infected. Achtung!
But Profile has since achieved recovery under its new editor Mikhail Leontyev.

* Most of Russia’s self-styled liberals would be considered reactionary neocons and Tea Baggers in America (progressive Europeans and Americans might be interested to know that Russia’s liberals are only “liberal” in the 19th century sense of the word, in that they love capitalism and the middle class but hate the poor, support bombing brown people, and deny global warming).

Since most Russians are statists, the liberasts enjoy the support of, at best, 5% of the population (this rejection makes the liberasts bitter, making them view Russians as stupid and herdlike, which certainly bolsters their wild popularity and electoral prospects). Nonetheless, they are taken to be the genuine voice of the Russian opposition by ignorant or cynical Western chauvinists.

** Translating “употребление выражений «эта страна», «достал совок», «надо валить», «а вот на Западе», «Рашка»” literally is pretty hard.

*** The Russian word the liberasts use in referring to а Russian patriot, or “патриот”, – is “поцтреот”. According to an this site, this word is an amalgamation of paTRIOT (треот) and POTS (поц), which is Yiddish slang for the male sexual organ. Translated directly in English, this would be “putztriot”, from “putz” and “patriot” (h/t poemless). An archetypal example of a putztriot is someone who leaves absurdly over-the-top nationalist comments on YouTube videos such as this (e.g. “РУССКИЙ НАРОД В СТАНЕТ С КОЛЕН. НЕ ДОЛГО ОСТАЛОСЬ СМУТЕ!!!”).


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

The Kremlin Stooge

moscowexile , June 25, 2014 at 3:37 am

The liberast airhead "musician", the formerly much respected Andrey Vadimovich Makarevich, founder of the progressive Soviet rock group "Time Machine", is another who has destroyed his career and is well disliked now by the bydlo because of his criticism of Russian policy towards the Ukraine and the Crimea. He was prominent with a gang of similarly liberast Western arse-lickers on a demonstration in Moscow against these policies. All the usual faces were there.

See: Про мерзость

On Loathsomeness

28.02.14

I worry about the events in the Ukraine. However, I'm much more worried about how what is happening there affects us. I can't help feeling that our government believes that it is the country, the people, who are controlled by them. However, if the ruler does not hear his people complaining, then he is swept away by them. Thus there came about in the Ukraine a most typical revolution, and despite my dislike of revolutions, I cannot say it was unjustified. And now it is possible to flap one's wings about as much as one likes, calling the rebellious citizens a "brown plague" – it just looks looks disgusting.

This impassioned advocacy and so many lies I cannot even recall happening during the best of the Brezhnev times. And that's not really a fair comparison: there was even less of it then. Guys, what are you trying to do? Create public opinion for the introduction of troops into the territory of a sovereign state? To chop off the Crimea?

The CPSU Central Committee sent troops to Czechoslovakia without consulting the people. And what, apart from screwing up the whole world, was the result? Today there are now two countries instead of one. And how do we stand with each of them? Have we got their love? Or have we got something else?

Thus the the thoughts of a guitar strummer that fancies himself as being something of a political scientist.

Bit of a Madonna, think ye not?

moscowexile , June 25, 2014 at 3:56 am

As I said, the same old faces:

Макаревич на Майдане Ярошу еще споёт. И Немцов, и Шац с Татьяной – будет новый поворот…

These people are now finished as far as the general public goes.

moscowexile , June 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Makarevich – permanently dissatisfied with the regime?

Maybe it's nothing to do with the regime but with the man?

kirill , June 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

This malcontent should pack his bags and head for his beloved western promised land.

Warren , June 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Was he every dissatisfied with Yeltsin's regime?

yalensis , June 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Ha ha! good question.I am guessing the Yeltsin regime was the one brief shining moment that he was not dissatisfied.It was Camelot. Camelot!

[Nov 16, 2015] Bankrupt British Empire Keeps Pushing To Overthrow Putin

Notable quotes:
"... Lyndon LaRouche has observed that anybody acting according to this British agenda with the intention of coming out on top is a fool, since the British financial-political empire is bankrupt and its entire system is coming down. ..."
"... EU: British imperial interests are intent on destroying Prime Minister Putins bid for the Presidency, and throwing Russia into deadly political turmoil. ..."
"... In her testimony, Diuk came off like a reincarnation of a 1950s Cold Warrior, raving against the Russian government as authoritarian, dictators, and so forth. She said, The trend lines for freedom and democracy in Russia have been unremittingly negative since Vladimir Putin took power and set about the systematic construction of a representation of their interests within the state. She announced at that point that the elections would be illegitimate: [T]he current regime will likely use the upcoming parliamentary elections in December 2011 and presidential election in March 2012 with the inevitable falsifications and manipulations, to claim the continued legitimacy of its rule. ..."
"... The British-educated Nadia Diuk is vice president of the National Endowment for Democracy, from which perch she has spread Cold War venom against Putin and the Russian government. ..."
"... Rafal Rohozinski and Ronald Deibert, two top profilers of the Russian Internet, noted that the Runet grew five times faster than the next fastest growing Internet region, the Middle East, in 2000-08. ..."
"... NED grant money has gone to Alexei Navalny (inset), the online anti-corruption activist and cult figure of the December demonstrations. Addressing crowds on the street, Navalny sounds more like Mussolini than a proponent of democracy. A Russian columnist found him reminiscent of either Hitler, or Catalina, who conspired against the Roman Republic. Shown: the Dec. 24 demonstration in Moscow. ..."
January 1, 2012 | http://schillerinstitute.org/russia/2012/0122_overthrow_putin.html
This article appears in the January 20, 2012 issue of Executive Intelligence Review and is reprinted with permission.

[PDF version of this article]

January 9, 2012 -Organizers of the December 2011 "anti-vote-fraud" demonstrations in Moscow have announced Feb. 4 as the date of their next street action, planned as a march around the city's Garden Ring Road on the 22nd anniversary of a mass demonstration which paved the way to the end of the Soviet Union. While there is a fluid situation within both the Russian extraparliamentary opposition layers, and the ruling circles and other Duma parties, including a process of "dialogue" between them, in which ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is playing a role, it is clear that British imperial interests are intent on-if not actually destroying Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's bid for reelection as Russia's President in the March 4 elections-casting Russia into ongoing, destructive political turmoil.

Lyndon LaRouche has observed that anybody acting according to this British agenda with the intention of coming out on top is a fool, since the British financial-political empire is bankrupt and its entire system is coming down.

Review of the events leading up to the Dec. 4, 2011 Duma elections, which the street demonstrators demanded be cancelled for fraud, shows that not only agent-of-British-influence Mikhail Gorbachov, the ex-Soviet President, but also the vast Project Democracy apparatus inside the United States, exposed by EIR in the 1980s as part of an unconstitutional "secret government,"[1] have been on full mobilization to block the current Russian leadership from continuing in power.

Project Democracy

Typical is the testimony of Nadia Diuk, vice president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), before the Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs last July 26. The NED is the umbrella of Project Democracy; it functions, inclusively, through the International Republican Institute (IRI, linked with the Republican Party) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI, linked with the Democratic Party, and currently headed by Madeleine Albright).

Diuk was educated at the U.K.'s Unversity of Sussex Russian studies program, and then taught at Oxford University, before coming to the U.S.A. to head up the NED's programs in Eastern Europe and Russia beginning 1990. She is married to her frequent co-author, Adrian Karatnycky of the Atlantic Institute, who headed up the private intelligence outfit Freedom House[2] for 12 years. Her role is typical of British outsourcing of key strategic operations to U.S. institutions.

EU: British imperial interests are intent on destroying Prime Minister Putin's bid for the Presidency, and throwing Russia into deadly political turmoil.

In her testimony, Diuk came off like a reincarnation of a 1950s Cold Warrior, raving against the Russian government as "authoritarian," "dictators," and so forth. She said, "The trend lines for freedom and democracy in Russia have been unremittingly negative since Vladimir Putin took power and set about the systematic construction of a representation of their interests within the state." She announced at that point that the elections would be illegitimate: "[T]he current regime will likely use the upcoming parliamentary elections in December 2011 and presidential election in March 2012 with the inevitable falsifications and manipulations, to claim the continued legitimacy of its rule."

Diuk expressed renewed hope that the disastrous 2004 Orange Revolution experiment in Ukraine could be replicated in Russia, claiming that "when the protests against authoritarian rule during Ukraine's Orange Revolution brought down the government in 2004, Russian citizens saw a vision across the border of an alternative future for themselves as a Slavic nation." She then detailed what she claimed were the Kremlin's reactions to the events in Ukraine, charging that "the leaders in the Kremlin-always the most creative innovators in the club of authoritarians-have also taken active measures to promote support of the government and undermine the democratic opposition...."

Holos Ameryky

The British-educated Nadia Diuk is vice president of the National Endowment for Democracy, from which perch she has spread "Cold War" venom against Putin and the Russian government.

While lauding "the democratic breakthroughs in the Middle East" in 2011, Diuk called on the Congress to "look to [Eastern Europe] as the source of a great wealth of experience on how the enemies of freedom are ever on the alert to assert their dominance, but also how the forces for freedom and democracy will always find a way to push back in a struggle that demands our support."

In September, Diuk chaired an NED event featuring a representative of the NED-funded Levada Center Russian polling organization, who gave an overview of the then-upcoming December 4 Duma election. Also speaking there was Russian liberal politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who predicted in the nastiest tones that Putin will suffer the fate of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. In this same September period, Mikhail Gorbachov, too, was already forecasting voting irregularities and a challenge to Putin's dominance.

The NED, which has an annual budget of $100 million, sponsors dozens of "civil society" groups in Russia. Golos, the supposedly independent vote-monitoring group that declared there would be vote fraud even before the elections took place, has received NED money through the NDI since 2000. Golos had a piecework program, paying its observers a set amount of money for each reported voting irregularity. NED grant money has gone to Alexei Navalny-the online anti-corruption activist and cult figure of the December demonstrations-since 2006, when he and Maria Gaidar (daughter of the late London-trained shock therapy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar) launched a youth debating project called "DA!" (meaning "Yes!" or standing for "Democratic Alternative"). Gorbachov's close ally Vladimir Ryzhkov, currently negotiating with Kudrin on terms of a "dialogue between the authorities and the opposition," also received NED grants to his World Movement for Democracy.

Besides George Soros's Open Society Foundations (formerly, Open Society Institute, OSI), the biggest source of funds for this meddling, including funding which was channeled through the NDI and the IRI, is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Officially, USAID has spent $2.6 billion on programs in Russia since 1992. The current acknowledged level is around $70 million annually, of which nearly half is for "Governing Justly & Democratically" programs, another 30% for "Information" programs, and only a small fraction for things like combatting HIV and TB. On Dec. 15, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon announced that the Obama Administration would seek Congressional approval to step up this funding, with "an initiative to create a new fund to support Russian non-governmental organizations that are committed to a more pluralistic and open society."

Awaiting McFaul

White House/Pete Souza

The impending arrival in Moscow of Michael McFaul (shown here with his boss in the Oval Office), as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, is seen by many there as an escalation of Project Democracy efforts to destabilize the country.

People from various parts of the political spectrum in Russia see the impending arrival of Michael McFaul as U.S. Ambassador to Russia as an escalation in Project Democracy efforts to destabilize Russia. McFaul, who has been Barack Obama's National Security Council official for Russia, has been working this beat since the early 1990s, when he represented the NDI in Russia at the end of the Soviet period, and headed its office there.

As a Russia specialist at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Hoover Institution, as well as the Carnegie Endowment, and an array of other Russian studies think tanks, McFaul has stuck closely to the Project Democracy agenda. Financing for his research has come from the NED, the OSI, and the Smith-Richardson Foundation (another notorious agency of financier interests within the U.S. establishment). He was an editor of the 2006 book Revolution in Orange: The Origins of Ukraine's Democratic Breakthrough, containing chapters by Diuk and Karatnycky.

In his own contribution to a 2010 book titled After Putin's Russia,[3] McFaul hailed the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine-which was notoriously funded and manipulated from abroad-as a triumph of "people's political power from below to resist and eventually overturn a fraudulent election."

Before coming to the NSC, one of McFaul's many positions at Stanford was co-director of the Iran Democracy Project. He has also been active in such projects as the British Henry Jackson Society which is active in the drive to overthrow the government of Syria.

The Internet Dimension

The December 2011 street demonstrations in Moscow were organized largely online. Participation rose from a few hundred on Dec. 5, the day after the election, to an estimated 20,000 people on Bolotnaya Square Dec. 10, and somewhere in the wide range of 30,000 to 120,000 on Academician Sakharov Prospect Dec. 24.

Headlong expansion of Internet access and online social networking over the past three to five years has opened up a new dimension of political-cultural warfare in Russia. An EIR investigation finds that British intelligence agencies involved in the current attempts to destabilize Russia and, in their maximum version, overthrow Putin, have been working intensively to profile online activity in Russia and find ways to expand and exploit it. Some of these projects are outsourced to think tanks in the U.S.A. and Canada, but their center is Cambridge University in the U.K.-the heart of the British Empire, home of Bertrand Russell's systems analysis and related ventures of the Cambridge Apostles.[4]

The scope of the projects goes beyond profiling, as can be seen in the Cambridge-centered network's interaction with Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, a central figure in the December protest rallies.

While George Soros and his OSI prioritized building Internet access in the former Soviet Union starting two decades ago, as recently as in 2008 British cyberspace specialists were complaining that the Internet was not yet efficient for political purposes in Russia. Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism produced a Soros-funded report in 2008, titled "The Web that Failed: How opposition politics and independent initiatives are failing on the Internet in Russia." The Oxford-Reuters authors regretted that processes like the Orange Revolution, in which online connections were crucial, had not gotten a toehold in Russia. But they quoted a 2007 report by Andrew Kuchins of the Moscow Carnegie Center, who found reason for optimism in the seven-fold increase in Russian Internet (Runet) use from 2000 to 2007. They also cited Robert Orttung of American University and the Resource Security Institute, on how Russian blogs were reaching "the most dynamic members of the youth generation" and could be used by "members of civil society" to mobilize "liberal opposition groups and nationalists."

Scarcely a year later, a report by the digital marketing firm comScore crowed that booming Internet access had led to Russia's having "the world's most engaged social networking audience." Russian Facebook use rose by 277% from 2008 to 2009. The Russia-based social networking outfit Vkontakte.ru (like Facebook) had 14.3 million visitors in 2009; Odnoklassniki.ru (like Classmates.com) had 7.8 million; and Mail.ru-My World had 6.3 million. All three of these social networking sites are part of the Mail.ru/Digital Sky Technologies empire of Yuri Milner,[5] with the individual companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore locations.

The Cambridge Security Programme

Rafal Rohozinski and Ronald Deibert, two top profilers of the Russian Internet, noted that the Runet grew five times faster than the next fastest growing Internet region, the Middle East, in 2000-08.

Two top profilers of the Runet are Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski, who assessed its status in their essay "Control and Subversion in Russian Cyberspace."[6] At the University of Toronto, Deibert is a colleague of Barry Wellman, co-founder of the International Network of Social Network Analysis (INSNA).[7] Rohozinski is a cyber-warfare specialist who ran the Advanced Network Research Group of the Cambridge Security Programme (CSP) at Cambridge University in 2002-07. Nominally ending its work, the CSP handed off its projects to an array of organizations in the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), including Rohozinski's SecDev Group consulting firm, which issues the Information Warfare Monitor.

The ONI, formally dedicated to mapping and circumventing Internet surveillance and filtering by governments, is a joint project of Cambridge (Rohozinski), the Oxford Internet Institute, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, and the University of Toronto.

Deibert and Rohozinski noted that the Runet grew five times faster than the next fastest growing Internet region, the Middle East, in 2000-08. They cited official estimates that 38 million Russians were going online as of 2010, of whom 60 had broadband access from home; the forecast number of Russia-based Runet users by 2012 was 80 million, out of a population of 140 million. Qualitatively, the ONI authors welcomed what they called "the rise of the Internet to the center of Russian culture and politics." On the political side, they asserted that "the Internet has eclipsed all the mass media in terms of its reach, readership, and especially in the degree of free speech and opportunity to mobilize that it provides."

This notion of an Internet-savvy core of the population becoming the focal point of Russian society is now being hyped by those who want to push the December demonstrations into a full-scale political crisis. Such writers call this segment of the population "the creative class," or "the active creative minority," which can override an inert majority of the population. The Dec. 30 issue of Vedomosti, a financial daily co-owned by the Financial Times of London, featured an article by sociologist Natalya Zubarevich, which was then publicized in "Window on Eurasia" by Paul Goble, a State Department veteran who has concentrated for decades on the potential for Russia to split along ethnic or other lines.

Zubarevich proposed that the 31% of the Russian population living in the 14 largest cities, of which 9 have undergone "post-industrial transformation," constitute a special, influential class, as against the inhabitants of rural areas (38%) and mid-sized industrial cities with an uncertain future (25%). Goble defined the big-city population as a target: "It is in this Russia that the 35 million domestic users of the Internet and those who want a more open society are concentrated."

The Case of Alexei Navalny

In the "The Web that Failed" study, Oxford-Reuters authors Floriana Fossato, John Lloyd, and Alexander Verkhovsky delved into the missing elements, in their view, of the Russian Internet. What would it take, they asked, for Runet participants to be able to "orchestrate motivation and meaningful commitments"? They quoted Julia Minder of the Russian portal Rambler, who said about the potential for "mobilization": "Blogs are at the moment the answer, but the issue is how to find a leading blogger who wants to meet people on the Internet several hours per day. Leading bloggers need to be entertaining.... The potential is there, but more often than not it is not used."


Creative Commons
Creative Commons/Bogomolov.PL

NED grant money has gone to Alexei Navalny (inset), the online "anti-corruption" activist and cult figure of the December demonstrations. Addressing crowds on the street, Navalny sounds more like Mussolini than a proponent of democracy. A Russian columnist found him reminiscent of either Hitler, or Catalina, who conspired against the Roman Republic. Shown: the Dec. 24 demonstration in Moscow.

It is difficult not to wonder if Alexei Navalny is a test-tube creation intended to fill the missing niche. This would not be the first time in recent Russian history that such a thing happened. In 1990, future neoliberal "young reformers" Anatoli Chubais and Sergei Vasilyev wrote a paper under International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) auspices, on the priorities for reform in the Soviet Union. They stated that a certain personality was missing on the Soviet scene at that time: the wealthy businessman. In their IIASA paper, Chubais and Vasilyev wrote: "We now see a figure, arising from historical non-existence: the figure of a businessman-entrepreneur, who has enough capital to bear the investment responsibility, and enough technological knowledge and willingness to support innovation."[8]

This type of person was subsequently brought into existence through the corrupt post-Soviet privatization process in Russia, becoming known as "the oligarchs." Was Navalny, similarly, synthesized as a charismatic blogger to fill the British subversive need for "mobilization"?

Online celebrity Navalny's arrest in Moscow on Dec. 5, and his speech at the Academician Sakharov Prospect rally on Dec. 24 were highlights of last month's turmoil in the Russian capital. Now 35 years old, Navalny grew up in a Soviet/Russian military family and was educated as a lawyer. In 2006, he began to be financed by NED for the DA! project (see above). Along the way-maybe through doing online day-trading, as some biographies suggest, or maybe from unknown benefactors-Navalny acquired enough money to be able to spend $40,000 (his figure) on a few shares in each of several major Russian companies with a high percentage of state ownership. This gave him minority-shareholder status, as a platform for his anti-corruption probes.

It must be understood that the web of "corruption" in Russia is the system of managing cash flows through payoffs, string-pulling, and criminal extortion, which arose out of the boost that Gorbachov's perestroika policy gave to pre-existing Soviet criminal networks in the 1980s. It then experienced a boom under darlings of London like Gaidar, who oversaw the privatization process known as the Great Criminal Revolution in the 1990s. As Russia has been integrated into an international financial order, which itself relies on criminal money flows from the dope trade and strategically motivated scams like Britain's BAE operations in the Persian Gulf, the preponderance of shady activity in the Russian economy has only increased.

Putin's governments inherited this system, and it can be ended when the commitment to monetarism, which LaRouche has identified as a fatal flaw even among genuinely pro-development Russians, is broken in Russia and worldwide. The current bankruptcy of the Trans-Atlantic City of London-Eurozone-Wall Street system means that now is the time for this to happen!

Yale Fellows

In 2010, Navalny was accepted to the Yale World Fellows Program, as one of fewer than 20 approved candidates out of over a thousand applicants. As EIR has reported, the Yale Fellows are instructed by the likes of British Foreign Office veteran Lord Mark Malloch-Brown and representatives of Soros's Open Society Foundations.[9] What's more, the World Fellows Program is funded by The Starr Foundation of Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg, former chairman and CEO of insurance giant American International Group (AIG), the recipient of enormous Bush Jr.-Obama bailout largesse in 2008-09; Greenberg and his C.V. Starr company have a long record of facilitating "regime change" (aka coups), going back to the 1986 overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. Navalny reports that Maria Gaidar told him to try for the program, and he enjoyed recommendations from top professors at the New Economic School in Moscow, a hotbed of neoliberalism and mathematical economics. It was from New Haven that Navalny launched his anti-corruption campaign against Transneft, the Russian national oil pipeline company, specifically in relation to money movements around the new East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline. The ESPO has just finished the first year of operation of its spur supplying Russian oil to China.

Navalny presents a split personality to the public. Online he is "Mr. Openness." He posts the full legal documentation of his corruption exposés. When his e-mail account was hacked, and his correspondence with U.S. Embassy and NED officials about funding him was made public, Navalny acknowledged that the e-mails were genuine. He tries to disarm interviewers with questions like, "Do you think I'm an American project, or a Kremlin one?"

During the early-January 2012 holiday lull in Russia, Navalny engaged in a lengthy, oh-so-civilized dialogue in Live Journal with Boris Akunin (real name, Grigori Chkhartishvili), a famous detective-story author and liberal activist who was another leader of the December demonstrations, about whether Navalny's commitment to the slogan "Russia for the Russians" marks him as a bigot who is unfit to lead. Addressing crowds on the street, however, Navalny sounds like Mussolini. Prominent Russian columnist Maxim Sokolov, writing in Izvestia, found him reminiscent of either Hitler, or Catalina, who conspired against the Roman Republic.

Navalny may well end up being expendable in the view of his sponsors. In the meantime, it is clear that he is working from the playbook of Gene Sharp, whose neurolinguistic programming and advertising techniques were employed in Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004.[10] Sharp, a veteran of "advanced studies" at Oxford and 30 years at Harvard's Center for International Affairs, is the author of The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Power and Struggle, which advises the use of symbolic colors, short slogans, and so forth.

While at Yale, Navalny also served as an informant and advisor for a two-year study conducted at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, one of the institutions participating in the OpenNet Initiative, launched out of Cambridge University in the U.K. The study produced a profile titled "Mapping the Russian Blogosphere," which detailed the different sections of the Runet: liberal, nationalist, cultural, foreign-based, etc., looking at their potential social impact.

Allen Douglas, Gabrielle Peut, David Christie, and Dorothea Bunnell did research for this article.


Related pages:

schiller@schillerinstitute.org

The Schiller Institute
PO BOX 20244
Washington, DC 20041-0244
703-771-8390

[Nov 15, 2015] The New Brand of Authoritarianism

Notable quotes:
"... Political Institutions under Dictatorship ..."
"... Competitive authoritarianism: hybrid regimes after the cold war ..."
"... Journal of Economic Perspectives ..."
"... Political Science Quarterly ..."
"... The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights ..."
"... the US needs to only be mildly interventionist, since moneyed interests will own the megaphones and censor their own workers; and since the one-sidedness of information is no threat to the regime. ..."
"... In light of the New American Police State, post 9-11, it is clear to me that the United States has undergone a coup d'etat. ..."
"... Most of us back Chavez, Morales, or Correa for the policies they have followed in their own countries to the benefit of the great masses of the poor and their refusal to put the interests of international capital ahead of their people. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
From Vox EU:

The new authoritarianism, by Sergei Guriev, Daniel Treisman, Vox EU: The changing dictatorships Dictatorships are not what they used to be. The totalitarian tyrants of the past – such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot – employed terror, indoctrination, and isolation to monopolize power. Although less ideological, many 20th-century military regimes also relied on mass violence to intimidate dissidents. Pinochet's agents, for instance, are thought to have tortured and killed tens of thousands of Chileans (Roht-Arriaza 2005).

However, in recent decades new types of authoritarianism have emerged that seem better adapted to a world of open borders, global media, and knowledge-based economies. From the Peru of Alberto Fujimori to the Hungary of Viktor Orban, illiberal regimes have managed to consolidate power without fencing off their countries or resorting to mass murder. Some bloody military regimes and totalitarian states remain – such as Syria and North Korea – but the balance has shifted.

The new autocracies often simulate democracy, holding elections that the incumbents almost always win, bribing and censoring the private press rather than abolishing it, and replacing comprehensive political ideologies with an amorphous resentment of the West (Gandhi 2008, Levitsky and Way 2010). Their leaders often enjoy genuine popularity – at least after eliminating any plausible rivals. State propaganda aims not to 'engineer human souls' but to boost the dictator's ratings. Political opponents are harassed and defamed, charged with fabricated crimes, and encouraged to emigrate, rather than being murdered en masse.

Dictatorships and information

In a recent paper, we argue that the distinctive feature of such new dictatorships is a preoccupation with information (Guriev and Treisman 2015). Although they do use violence at times, they maintain power less by terrorizing victims than by manipulating beliefs. Of course, surveillance and propaganda were important to the old-style dictatorships, too. But violence came first. "Words are fine things, but muskets are even better," Mussolini quipped. Compare that to the confession of Fujimori's security chief, Vladimir Montesinos: "The addiction to information is like an addiction to drugs". Killing members of the elite struck Montesinos as foolish: "Remember why Pinochet had his problems. We will not be so clumsy" (McMillan and Zoido 2004).

We study the logic of a dictatorship in which the leader survives by manipulating information. Our key assumption is that citizens care about effective government and economic prosperity; first and foremost, they want to select a competent rather than incompetent ruler. However, the general public does not know the competence of the ruler; only the dictator himself and members of an 'informed elite' observe this directly. Ordinary citizens make what inferences they can, based on their living standards – which depend in part on the leader's competence – and on messages sent by the state and independent media. The latter carry reports on the leader's quality sent by the informed elite. If a sufficient number of citizens come to believe their ruler is incompetent, they revolt and overthrow him.

The challenge for an incompetent dictator is, then, to fool the public into thinking he is competent. He chooses from among a repertoire of tools – propaganda, repression of protests, co-optation of the elite, and censorship of their messages. All such tools cost money, which must come from taxing the citizens, depressing their living standards, and indirectly lowering their estimate of the dictator's competence. Hence the trade-off.

Certain findings emerge from the logic of this game.

Repression is not necessary if mass beliefs can be manipulated sufficiently. Dictators win a confidence game rather than an armed combat. Indeed, since in our model repression is only used if equilibria based on non-violent methods no longer exist, violence can signal to opposition forces that the regime is vulnerable.

Since both bribing the elite and censoring the media are ways of preventing the sending of embarrassing messages, they serve as substitutes. Propaganda, by contrast, complements all the other tools.

Propaganda and a leader's competency

Why does anyone believe such propaganda? Given the dictator's obvious incentive to lie, this is a perennial puzzle of authoritarian regimes. We offer an answer. We think of propaganda as consisting of claims by the ruler that he is competent. Of course, genuinely competent rulers also make such claims. However, backing them up with convincing evidence is costlier for the incompetent dictators – who have to manufacture such evidence – than for their competent counterparts, who can simply reveal their true characteristics. Since faking the evidence is costly, incompetent dictators sometimes choose to spend their resources on other things. It follows that the public, observing credible claims that the ruler is competent, rationally increases its estimate that he really is.

Moreover, if incompetent dictators survive, they may over time acquire a reputation for competence, as a result of Bayesian updating by the citizens. Such reputations can withstand temporary economic downturns if these are not too large. This helps to explain why some clearly inept authoritarian leaders nevertheless hold on to power – and even popularity – for extended periods (cf. Hugo Chavez). While a major economic crisis results in their overthrow, more gradual deteriorations may fail to tarnish their reputations significantly.

A final implication is that regimes that focus on censorship and propaganda may boost relative spending on these as the economy crashes. As Turkey's growth rate fell from 7.8% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2012, the number of journalists in jail increased from four to 49. Declines in press freedom were also witnessed after the Global Crisis in countries such as Hungary and Russia. Conversely, although this may be changing now, in both Singapore and China during the recent decades of rapid growth, the regime's information control strategy shifted from one of more overt intimidation to one that often used economic incentives and legal penalties to encourage self-censorship (Esarey 2005, Rodan 1998).

The kind of information-based dictatorship we identify is more compatible with a modernized setting than with the rural underpinnings of totalitarianism in Asia or the traditional societies in which monarchs retain legitimacy. Yet, modernization ultimately undermines the informational equilibria on which such dictators rely. As education and information spread to broader segments of the population, it becomes harder to control how this informed elite communicates with the masses. This may be a key mechanism explaining the long-noted tendency for richer countries to open up politically.

References

Esarey, A (2005), "Cornering the market: state strategies for controlling China's commercial media", Asian Perspective 29(4): 37-83.

Gandhi, J (2008), Political Institutions under Dictatorship, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Guriev, S and D Treisman (2015), "How Modern Dictators Survive: Cooptation, Censorship, Propaganda, and Repression", CEPR Discussion Paper, DP10454.

Levitsky, S, and L A Way (2010), Competitive authoritarianism: hybrid regimes after the cold war, New York: Cambridge University Press.

McMillan, J, and P Zoido (2004), "How to subvert democracy: Montesinos in Peru", Journal of Economic Perspectives 18(4): 69-92.

Rodan, G (1998), "The Internet and political control in Singapore", Political Science Quarterly 113(1): 63-89.

Roht-Arriaza, N (2005), The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Peter K. said...

"A final implication is that regimes that focus on censorship and propaganda may boost relative spending on these as the economy crashes."

Instead of military Keynesianism, it's "police state" Keynesianism.

More social spending coupled with more social control.

ilsm said...

The corporation runs the governors.....

"Investor State Dispute Settlement" is a new twist where the actions of government, like investor "losses" from shuttering frackers would be compensated by a standing unelected nor appointed by the locals "board" filled with corporate cronies to take sovereignty from governments when foreign investors are denied pillaging "rights".

"Investor State Dispute Settlement" is why you should oppose TPP fast track.

The kleptocarcy is well advanced in the US!

GeorgeK said...

..."This helps to explain why some clearly inept authoritarian leaders nevertheless hold on to power – and even popularity – for extended periods (cf. Hugo Chavez"...

Guess your definition of authoritarian leaders depends on who's Ox is being gored. If you were wealthy or upper middle class Chavez was a failure, if you were poor or indigenous he was a savior.

..."Chávez maintains that unlike other global financial organizations, the Bank of the South will be managed and funded by the countries of the region with the intention of funding social and economic development without any political conditions on that funding.[262] The project is endorsed by Nobel Prize–winning, former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz, who said: "One of the advantages of having a Bank of the South is that it would reflect the perspectives of those in the south," and that "It is a good thing to have competition in most markets, including the market for development lending."[263]"...
Guess nobody told Stiglitz about Chavez's authoritarian incompetence.

Julio said in reply to anne...

Seems clear enough to me. Consider "freedom of the press": the US needs to only be mildly interventionist, since moneyed interests will own the megaphones and censor their own workers; and since the one-sidedness of information is no threat to the regime.

But in a government attempting left-wing reforms, and where the government is less stable, there is less room for the government to accept the unanimity and hostility of the press; it may need to intervene more strongly to defend itself. Take e.g. Ecuador where Correa has been accused of suppressing press liberties along these very lines.

anne said in reply to Julio...

Seems clear enough to me. Consider "freedom of the press": the US needs to only be mildly interventionist, since moneyed interests will own the megaphones and censor their own workers; and since the one-sidedness of information is no threat to the regime....

[ Thinking further, I realize that the United States is wildly aggressive with governments of countries considered strategic and does not hesitate to use media in those countries when our "needs" do not seem met. I am thinking even of the effort to keep allied governments, even the UK, France and Germany, from agreeing to become members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that China has begun. ]

Peter K. said in reply to GeorgeK...

"Guess your definition of authoritarian leaders depends on who's Ox is being gored."

This is how I see it. There are no objective standards.

Lefties criticize Obama for going after whistle blowers. Snowden is treated as a hero. Then guys like Paine and Kervack defend the behaviro of a Putin or Chavez because the U.S. doesn't like them.

Peter K. said in reply to Peter K....

I think a lot of the older left is stuck in a Cold War mind set.

Opposing America is good because you're opposing multinational capitalism. So they'll provide rhetorical support to any nutjob who opposes the West no matter how badly he mistreats his people.

Peter K. said in reply to Peter K....

It's the flipside to the Dick Cheney-Security State rationalizations of torture and police state tactics like warrantless surveillence.

It's okay if we do it, because they're trying to destroy us.

The ends justify the means.

hyperpolarizer said in reply to Peter K....

I am the older left (born right after WW II). I grew up with the cold war, but -- despite its poisonous legacy (particularly the linking of the domestic labor movement to international communism)-- I have assuredly left it behind.

In light of the New American Police State, post 9-11, it is clear to me that the United States has undergone a coup d'etat.

Roger Gathmann said in reply to anne...

Defending Chavez doesn't seem like a bad thing to do. So, Peter K., do you defend, say, Uribe? Let's see - amended constitution so he could run again - Chavez, check, Uribe check. Associated with paramilitaries, Uribe, check, Chavez, demi-check. Loved by the US, Uribe, check, Chavez, non-check. Funny how chavez figures in these things, and Uribe doesn't.
https://www.citizen.org/documents/TalkingPointsApril08.pdf

Peter K. said in reply to Roger Gathmann...

I never said a thing about Uribe. I said there should be single standards across the board for Uribe, America, Chavez, Putin, China, etc...

Roger Gathmann said in reply to Peter K....

Right. Double standard. That is what I am talking about. The double standard that allows US tax dollars to go into supporting a right wing dictator like Uribe. I don't have to piss off. You can piss off. I doubt you will. I certainly won't. It is adolescent gestures like that which make me wonder about your age.

Are you going to slam the door next and saY I hate you I hate you I hate you?
You need to get a little pillow that you can mash. Maybe with a hello kitty sewed on it.

Nietil said in reply to Roger Gathmann...

I don't see how any of these criteria has anything to do with being an autocrat.

Autocracy is an answer to the question of the source of legitimacy (democratic, autocratic, or theocratic). It has nothing to do with either the definition of the sovereign space (feudal, racial or national) or with the number of people running the said government (anarchy, monarchy, oligarchy).

The UK for example was a national and democratic monarchy for a long, long time. Now it's more of a national and democratic oligarchy. And it can still change in the future.

DrDick said in reply to Peter K....

I really do not think that is at all accurate. While there are certainly some like that, it is far from the majority. Most of us back Chavez, Morales, or Correa for the policies they have followed in their own countries to the benefit of the great masses of the poor and their refusal to put the interests of international capital ahead of their people.

Much of that support is also conditional and qualified, for reasons that have been mentioned here. All evaluations of current leaders is conditioned by both past history in the country and region, as well as the available alternatives. By those standards, all of the men I mentioned look pretty good, if far from perfect.

anne said...

http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10454

March, 2015

How Modern Dictators Survive: Cooptation, Censorship, Propaganda, and Repression
By Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman

We develop an informational theory of dictatorship. Dictators survive not because of their use of force or ideology but because they convince the public--rightly or wrongly--that they are competent. Citizens do not observe the dictator's type but infer it from signals inherent in their living standards, state propaganda, and messages sent by an informed elite via independent media. If citizens conclude the dictator is incompetent, they overthrow him in a revolution. The dictator can invest in making convincing state propaganda, censoring independent media, co-opting the elite, or equipping police to repress attempted uprisings -- but he must finance such spending with taxes that depress the public's living standards. We show that incompetent dictators can survive as long as economic shocks are not too large. Moreover, their reputations for competence may grow over time. Censorship and co-optation of the elite are substitutes, but both are complements of propaganda. Repression of protests is a substitute for all the other techniques. In some equilibria the ruler uses propaganda and co-opts the elite; in others, propaganda is combined with censorship. The multiplicity of equilibria emerges due to coordination failure among members of the elite. We show that repression is used against ordinary citizens only as a last resort when the opportunities to survive through co-optation, censorship, and propaganda are exhausted. In the equilibrium with censorship, difficult economic times prompt higher relative spending on censorship and propaganda. The results illuminate tradeoffs faced by various recent dictatorships.

[ This is the discussion paper, which I find more coherent than the summary essay. ]

JayR said...

Wow quite a few countries, maybe even the US with Obama's war on whistle blowers, could fit this articles definition if the authors actually though more about it.

Roger Gathmann said in reply to Peter K....

Yes, the people of Greece can vote to leave the Eurozone, just like the people of Crimea can vote to leave the Ukraine, or the people of Kosovo could vote to leave Serbia. There are many ways, though, of looking at soft dictatorship. I think the EU bureaucrats have been busy inventing new ones, with new and ever more onerous chains. To say Greece can vote to leave the EU is like saying the merchant can always defy the mafioso, or the moneylender. It isn't that easy.

Roger Gathmann said...

and then of course there are the death squads:
https://nsarchive.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/wikileaks-on-colombia-uribe-%E2%80%9Cviews-military-success-in-terms-of-kills%E2%80%9D-army-commander-ospina-tried-to-initimidate-witnesses-to-extrajudicial-executions/

[Mar 23, 2015] Student Loan Debt Is the Enemy of Meritocracy

In 1980, the states subsidized 70% of the cost per student. Today it is less than 30% and the amount of grants and scholarships has likewise declined. Tax cuts for rich people and conservative hatred for education are the biggest problem.
Notable quotes:
"... easy student loans are a subsidy to colleges, ..."
"... 1965 median family income was $6900, more than 200% of the cost of a year at NU. Current median family income is about 75% of a year at NU. ..."
"... Allowing young adults to avoid challenging and uncomfortable and difficult subjects under the guise of compassion is the enemy of meritocracy. Financial illiteracy is the enemy of meritocracy. ..."
"... The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget. ..."
"... JUST HAD AN IDEA THAT MIGHT LIMIT THE DAMAGE OF THESE PHONEY ONLINE COLLEGES (pardon shouting, but I think its justified): ..."
"... of-paying) IF a built for that purpose government agency APPROVES said loan. What do you think? ..."
"... Kaplan Ed is among the worst of the worst of internet federal loan and grant sucking diploma mills. ..."
"... Because every event in todays economy is the wish of the wealthy. Do you see why they suddenly wish to deeply educate the proles? ..."
economistsview.typepad.com
Thomas Piketty on a theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!:
Student Loan Debt Is the Enemy of Meritocracy in the US: ...the amount of household debt and even more recently of student debt in the U.S. is something that is really troublesome and it reflects the very large rise in tuition in the U.S. a very large inequality in access to education. I think if we really want to promote more equal opportunity and redistribute chances in access to education we should do something about student debt. And it's not possible to have such a large group of the population entering the labor force with such a big debt behind them. This exemplifies a particular problem with inequality in the United States, which is very high inequality and access to higher education. So in other countries in the developed world you don't have such massive student debt because you have more public support to higher education. I think the plan that was proposed earlier this year in 2015 by President Obama to increase public funding to public universities and community college is exactly justified.
This is really the key for higher growth in the future and also for a more equitable growth..., you have the official discourse about meritocracy, equal opportunity and mobility, and then you have the reality. And the gap between the two can be quite troublesome. So this is like you have a problem like this and there's a lot of hypocrisy about meritocracy in every country, not only in the U.S., but there is evidence suggesting that this has become particularly extreme in the United States. ... So this is a situation that is very troublesome and should rank very highly in the policy agenda in the future in the U.S.

DrDick -> Jeff R Carter:

"college is heavily subsidized"

Bwahahahahahahaha! *gasp*

In 1980, the states subsidized 70% of the cost per student. Today it is less than 30% and the amount of grants and scholarships has likewise declined. Tax cuts for rich people and conservative hatred for education are the biggest problem.

cm -> to DrDick...

I don't know what Jeff meant, but "easy" student loans are a subsidy to colleges, don't you think? Subsidies don't have to be paid directly to the recipient. The people who are getting the student loans don't get to keep the money (but they do get to keep the debt).

DrDick -> to cm...

No I do not agree. If anything, they are a subsidy to the finance industry (since you cannot default on them). More basically, they do not make college more affordable or accessible (his point).

cm -> to DrDick...

Well, what is a subsidy? Most economic entities don't get to keep the money they receive, but it ends up with somebody else or circulates. If I run a business and somebody sends people with money my way (or pays me by customer served), that looks like a subsidy to me - even though I don't get to keep the money, much of it paid for operational expenses not to forget salaries and other perks.

Just because it is not prearranged and no-strings (?) funding doesn't mean it cannot be a subsidy.

The financial system is involved, and benefits, whenever money is sloshing around.

Pinkybum -> to cm...

I think DrDick has this the right way around. Surely one should think of subsidies as to who the payment is directly helping. Subsidies to students would lower the barrier of entry into college. Subsidies to colleges help colleges hire better professors, offer more classes, reduce the cost of classes etc. Student loans are no subsidy at all except to the finance industry because they cannot be defaulted on and even then some may never be paid back because of bankruptcies.

However, that is always the risk of doing business as a loan provider. It might be interesting to assess the return on student loans compared to other loan instruments.

mrrunangun -> to Jeff R Carter...

The cost of higher education has risen relative to the earning power of the student and/or the student's family unless that family is in the top 10-20% wealth or income groups.

50 years ago it was possible for a lower middle class student to pay all expenses for Northwestern University with his/her own earnings. Tuition was $1500 and room + board c $1000/year. The State of Illinois had a scholarship grant program and all you needed was a 28 or 29 on the ACT to qualify for a grant that paid 80% of that tuition. A male student could make $2000 in a summer construction job, such as were plentiful during those booming 60s. That plus a low wage job waiting tables, night security, work-study etc could cover the remaining tuition and expense burden.

The annual nut now is in excess of $40,000 at NU and not much outside the $40,000-50,000 range at other second tier or elite schools.

The state schools used to produce the bedrock educated upper middle class of business and professional people in most states west of the seaboard. Tuition there 50 years ago was about $1200/year and room and board about $600-800 here in the midwest. Again you could put yourself through college waiting tables part-time. It wasn't easy but it was possible.

No way a kid who doesn't already possess an education can make the tuition and expenses of a private school today. I don't know what the median annual family income was in 1965 but I feel confident that it was well above the annual nut for a private college. Now it's about equal to it.

mrrunangun -> to mrrunangun...

1965 median family income was $6900, more than 200% of the cost of a year at NU. Current median family income is about 75% of a year at NU.

anne -> to 400 ppm CO2...

Linking for:

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Presentation-National-Debt.png

Click on "Share" under the graph that is initially constructed and copy the "Link" that appears:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=13Ew

March 22, 2015

Federal debt, 1966-2014

This allows a reader to understand how the graph was constructed and to work with the graph.

ilsm:

The US spends half the money the entire world spends on war, that is success!

Massive student debt, huge doses poverty, scores of thousands [of annual neglect related] deaths from the wretched health care system etc are not failure!

tew:

Poor education is the enemy of meritocracy. Costly, bloated administrations full of non-educators there to pamper and pander to every possible complaint and special interest - that is the enemy of meritocracy.

Convincing kids to simple "follow their dreams" regardless of education cost and career potential is the enemy of meritocracy. Allowing young adults to avoid challenging and uncomfortable and difficult subjects under the guise of compassion is the enemy of meritocracy. Financial illiteracy is the enemy of meritocracy.

Manageable student debt is no great enemy of meritocracy.

cm -> to tew...

This misses the point, aside frm the victim blaming. Few people embark on college degrees to "follow their dream", unless the dream is getting admission to the middle class job market.

When I was in elementary/middle school, the admonitions were of the sort "if you are not good in school you will end up sweeping streets" - from a generation who still saw street cleaning as manual labor, in my days it was already mechanized.

I estimate that about 15% or so of every cohort went to high school and then college, most went to a combined vocational/high school track, and some of those then later also went college, often from work.

This was before the big automation and globalization waves, when there were still enough jobs for everybody, and there was no pretense that you needed a fancy title to do standard issue work or as a social signal of some sort.

Richard H. Serlin:

Student loans and college get the bulk of the education inequality attention, and it's not nearly enough attention, but it's so much more. The early years are so crucial, as Nobel economist James Heckman has shown so well. Some children get no schooling or educational/developmental day care until almost age 6, when it should start in the first year, with preschool starting at 3. Others get high quality Montessori, and have had 3 years of it by the time they enter kindergarten, when others have had zero of any kind of education when they enter kindergarten.

Some children spend summers in high quality summer school and educational programs; others spend three months digressing and learning nothing. Some children get SAT prep programs costing thousands, and high end educational afterschool programs; others get nothing after school.

All these things should be available in high quality to any child; it's not 1810 anymore Republicans, the good old days of life expectancy in the 30s and dirt poverty for the vast majority. We need just a little more education in the modern world. But this also makes for hugely unequal opportunity.

Observer -> to Observer...

Data on degree by year ...

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

Observer -> to Syaloch...

One needs to differentiate between costs (total dollars spent per student credit hour or degree, or whatever the appropriate metric is) and price (what fraction of the cost is allocated to the the end-user student).

Note that the level of state funding impacts price, not cost; that discussion is usually about cost shifting, not cost reduction.

I'd say that the rate of increase in costs is, more or less, independent of the percent of costs borne by the state. You can indeed see this in the increase in private schools, the state funding is small/nil (particularly in schools without material endowments, where actual annual fees (prices) must closely actual match annual costs). Price discounts and federal funding may both complicate this analysis.

I think much more effort should be spent on understanding and controlling costs. As with health care, just saying "spend more money" is probably not the wise or even sustainable path in the long term.

Costs were discussed at some length here a year(?) or so ago. There is at least one fairly comprehensive published analysis of higher education costs drivers. IIRC, their conclusion was that there were a number of drivers - its not just food courts or more administrators. Sorry, don't recall the link.

Syaloch -> to cm...

Actually for my first job out of college at BLS, I basically was hired for my "rounded personality" combined with a general understanding of economic principles, not for any specific job-related skills. I had no prior experience working with Laspeyres price indexes, those skills were acquired through on-the-job training. Similarly in software development there is no degree that can make you a qualified professional developer; the best a degree can do is to show you are somewhat literate in X development language and that you have a good understanding of general software development principles. Most of the specific skills you'll need to be effective will be learned on the job.

The problem is that employers increasingly want to avoid any responsibility for training and mentoring, and to shift this burden onto schools. These institutions respond by jettisoning courses in areas deemed unnecessary for short-term vocational purposes, even though what you learn in many of these courses is probably more valuable and durable in the long run than the skills obtained through job-specific training, which often have a remarkably short shelf-life. (How valuable to you now is all that COBOL training you had back in the day?)

I guess the question then is, is the sole purpose of higher education to provide people with entry-level job skills for some narrowly-defined job description which may not even exist in a decade? A lot of people these days seem to feel that way. But I believe that in the long run it's a recipe for disaster at both the individual and the societal level.

Richard H. Serlin -> to Observer...

"Observer"

The research is just not on you side, as Heckman has shown very well. Early education and development makes a huge difference, and at age 5-7 (kindergarten) children are much better off with more schooling than morning to noon. This is why educated parents who can afford it pay a lot of money for a full day -- with afterschool and weekened programs on top.

Yes, we're more educated than 1810, but I use 1810 because that's the kind of small government, little spending on education (you want your children educated you pay for it.) that the Republican Party would love to return us to if they thought they could get away with it. And we've become little more educated in the last 50 years even though the world has become much more technologically advanced.

anne:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=14T9

January 30, 2015

Student Loans Outstanding as a share of Gross Domestic Product, 2007-2014


http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=14Ta

January 30, 2015

Student Loans Outstanding, 2007-2014

(Percent change)

anne:

As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/

July 25, 2009

Why Markets Can't Cure Healthcare
By Paul Krugman

Judging both from comments on this blog and from some of my mail, a significant number of Americans believe that the answer to our health care problems - indeed, the only answer - is to rely on the free market. Quite a few seem to believe that this view reflects the lessons of economic theory.

Not so. One of the most influential economic papers of the postwar era was Kenneth Arrow's "Uncertainty and the Welfare Economics of Health Care," * which demonstrated - decisively, I and many others believe - that health care can't be marketed like bread or TVs. Let me offer my own version of Arrow's argument.

There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don't know when or whether you'll need care - but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor's office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.

This tells you right away that health care can't be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can't just trust insurance companies either - they're not in business for their health, or yours.

This problem is made worse by the fact that actually paying for your health care is a loss from an insurers' point of view - they actually refer to it as "medical costs." This means both that insurers try to deny as many claims as possible, and that they try to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care. Both of these strategies use a lot of resources, which is why private insurance has much higher administrative costs than single-payer systems. And since there's a widespread sense that our fellow citizens should get the care we need - not everyone agrees, but most do - this means that private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities.

The second thing about health care is that it's complicated, and you can't rely on experience or comparison shopping. ("I hear they've got a real deal on stents over at St. Mary's!") That's why doctors are supposed to follow an ethical code, why we expect more from them than from bakers or grocery store owners.

You could rely on a health maintenance organization to make the hard choices and do the cost management, and to some extent we do. But HMOs have been highly limited in their ability to achieve cost-effectiveness because people don't trust them - they're profit-making institutions, and your treatment is their cost.

Between those two factors, health care just doesn't work as a standard market story.

All of this doesn't necessarily mean that socialized medicine, or even single-payer, is the only way to go. There are a number of successful healthcare systems, at least as measured by pretty good care much cheaper than here, and they are quite different from each other. There are, however, no examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn't work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence.

* http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/82/2/PHCBP.pdf

anne -> to anne...

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CUUR0000SEEB01?output_view=pct_12mths

January 30, 2015

College tuition and fees, 1980–2015

(Percentage change)

1980 ( 9.4)
1981 ( 12.4) Reagan
1982 ( 13.4)
1983 ( 10.4)
1984 ( 10.2)

1985 ( 9.1)
1986 ( 8.1)
1987 ( 7.6)
1988 ( 7.6) Bush
1989 ( 7.9)

1990 ( 8.1)
1991 ( 10.2)
1992 ( 10.7) Clinton
1993 ( 9.4)
1994 ( 7.0)

1995 ( 6.0)
1996 ( 5.7)
1997 ( 5.1)
1998 ( 4.2)
1999 ( 4.0)

2000 ( 4.1)
2001 ( 5.1) Bush
2002 ( 6.8)
2003 ( 8.4)
2004 ( 9.5)

2005 ( 7.5)
2006 ( 6.7)
2007 ( 6.2)
2008 ( 6.2)
2009 ( 6.0) Obama

2010 ( 5.2)
2011 ( 5.0)
2012 ( 4.8)
2013 ( 4.2)
2014 ( 3.7)

January

2015 ( 3.6)


Syaloch -> to anne...

I believe so, as I noted above. The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.

Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.

anne -> to Syaloch...

Another interesting feature of both health care and college education is that there are many proffered explanations as to why their cost is rising so much relative to other areas, but a surprising lack of a really authoritative explanation based on solid evidence.

[ Look to the paper by Kenneth Arrow, which I cannot copy, for what is to me a convincing explanation as to the market defeating factors of healthcare. However, I have no proper explanation about education costs and am only speculating or looking for an analogy. ]

anne -> to Syaloch...

The specific market dynamics of health care expenditures are obviously different, but as categories of expenses they have some things in common. First, both are very expensive relative to most other household expenditures. Second, unlike consumer merchandise, neither lends itself very well to cost reduction via offshoring or automation. So in an economy where many consumer prices are held down through a corresponding suppression of real wage growth, they consume a correspondingly larger chunk of the household budget.

[ Nicely expressed. ]

Peter K. -> to anne...

"As to increasing college costs, would there be an analogy to healthcare costs?"

Yes, exactly. They aren't normal markets. There should be heavy government regulation.

Denis Drew:

JUST HAD AN IDEA THAT MIGHT LIMIT THE DAMAGE OF THESE PHONEY ONLINE COLLEGES (pardon shouting, but I think it's justified):

Only allow government guaranteed loans (and the accompanying you-can-never-get-out-of-paying) IF a built for that purpose government agency APPROVES said loan. What do you think?

Denis Drew -> to cm...

A big reason we had the real estate bubble was actually the mad Republican relaxation of loan requirements -- relying on the "free market." So, thanks for coming up with a good comparison.

By definition, for the most part, people taking out student loans are shall we say new to the world and more vulnerable to the pirates.
* * * * * * * * * *
[cut and paste from my comment on AB]
Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post.

According to an article in the Huffington Post At Kaplan University, 'Guerrilla Registration' Leaves Students Deep In Debt, Kaplan Ed is among the worst of the worst of internet federal loan and grant sucking diploma mills. Going so far as to falsely pad bills $5000 or so dollars at diploma time - pay up immediately or you will never get your sheepskin; you wasted your time. No gov agency will act.

According to a lovely graph which I wish I could patch in here the Post may actually be currently be kept afloat only by purloined cash from Kaplan:

earnings before corporate overhead

2002 - Kaplan ed, $10 mil; Kaplan test prep, $45 mil: WaPo, $100 mil
2005 - Kaplan ed, $55 mil; Kaplan test prep, $100 mil; WaPo, $105 mil
2009 - Kaplan ed, $255 mil; Kaplan test prep, $5 mil; WaPo negative $175 mil

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/22/kaplan-university-guerilla-registration_n_799741.html

Wonder if billionaire Bezos will reach out to make Kaplan Ed victims whole. Will he really continue to use Kaplan's pirated money to keep WaPo whole -- if that is what is going on?

Johannes Y O Highness:

"theme I've been hammering lately, student debt is too damn high!: "

Too damn high
but why?

Because! Because every event in today's economy is the wish of the wealthy. Do you see why they suddenly wish to deeply educate the proles?

Opportunity cost! The burden of the intelligentsia, the brain work can by carried by robots or humans. Choice of the wealthy? Humans, hands down. Can you see the historical background?

Railroad was the first robot. According to Devon's Paradox, it was overused because of its increment of efficiency. Later, excessive roadbeds were disassembled. Rails were sold as scrap.

The new robots are not heavy lifters. New robots are there to do the work of the brain trust. As first robots replaced lower caste jokers, so shall new robots replace upper caste jokers. Do you see the fear developing inside the huddle of high rollers? Rollers now calling the play?

High rollers plan to educate small time hoods to do the work of the new robots, then kill the new robots before the newbie 'bot discovers how to kill the wealthy, to kill, to replace them forever.

Terrifying fear
strikes

Observer:

Good bit of data on education costs here

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/

This chart shows state spending per student and tuition ...

" overall perhaps the best description of the data is something along the lines of "sometimes state appropriations go up and sometimes they go down, but tuition always goes up." "

http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/2012/12/04/chart-of-the-week-state-appropriations-and-public-tuitions/

[Mar 12, 2015] Eurosceptics playing into Vladimir Putin's hands, says Labour

Mar 12, 2015 | The Guardian

ID5868758 12 Mar 2015 00:49

I often wonder what the Middle East would look like today had the advice of that "evil Putin" been followed by the "exceptional Americans" and their allies. He was opposed to the war in Iraq. He was opposed to the attacks on Ghaddafi and Liibya, but overruled by Medvedev, who was president at the time. And of course he was against the US and their obsessive campaign against secular Assad and Syria.

But somehow we are supposed to believe that this man is the danger in the world, that everything would be fine and dandy if we could just get rid of Putin? Please.

Me109BfG6 11 Mar 2015 19:58

Stop better the mad house of s.c. "Ukraine". Until you can't find it on a map, you can't argue anything. I personally know a brigade of house constructors of 6 persons, of which 2 are Ukrainians and who have procured their passports somewhere is the Baltics for money. Now, do realize how you would once have to notice those 45 M Ukrainians standing on all street crossings in the UK and in the EU as well while beggaring. Yes, do realize that instead of any abstract demagogy and propaganda insulting Russia and Putin along with all the Russians in the s.c. "Ukraine". Stop the Nazis over there instead. The West Ukraine will elong to the Poland. The East Ukraine will belong to Russia or remain independent in order to speak freely Russian instead of that South Russian dialect called "Ukrainian" which is spoken - to the Forbes - by some 17% of the whole population in Ukraine only.

T_Wallet 11 Mar 2015 18:46

This article is nonsense. If there was no such thing as NATO then maybe it would have a credible point.

The EU is about as Democratic as Russia. Both want, like US and China, to extend their spheres of influence. Empires by other names.

JoseArmando0 -> psygone 11 Mar 2015 01:24

Money money money only thing yanks understand cant take it with you in the end anyway poetic justice

HARPhilby -> jezzam 11 Mar 2015 16:04

Rockefeller and JP Morgan financed hitler in 1929, 1931 and 1933. Read free pamphlet HITLER'S SECRET BACKERS by Sidney Warberg which came out in Holland in 1933 and was suppressed after 4 days.

http://www.jrbooksonline.com/PDF_Books/Warburg_Hitler's%20Secret%20Backers.pdf

vr13vr -> Damocles59 11 Mar 2015 14:31

UN chapter or not, but not everything in life is done according to legal interpretations. It's shouldn't be about bunch of lawyers arguing about legalese, it's about 10 million people. Why does UN chapter give more rights to 1.5 million people in Lithuania than to 10 million people in Donbass and South Ukraine?

It's about principles, not about legalese.

irishmand -> psygone 11 Mar 2015 11:11

The largest trading partners of both China and India: the EU and the US.

But not the exclusive partners. India and China will continue to trade with everybody. They are making honest money and don't care about US ambitions for world domination and its bad habit of toppling governments.

Don't take me wrong, I don't hate americans. The most of you are just brain washed regular citizens. It is not your fault, except for what you allowed your government to do with your school system. But I also see the extremism is growing in american society and that is the result of people being told about how exceptional they are comparing to the rest of the world. Germans started the same way in 30's...

anewdawn 11 Mar 2015 10:19

Listen to the Victoria Nuland tapes.
Other evidence that the Ukraine is a US military coup

And more from the Guardian.

Russian aggression from the Blairites is about as believeable as Iraqs weapons of mass distraction.
I am a Labour supporter - I feel ashamed of them. They should be kicked out just like militant was - and for much better reasons - lies and war criminality. The Libdems and Tories are no better.

Ross Vassilev -> jezzam 11 Mar 2015 09:56

Jezzam, you're either an idiot or a liar. NO ONE in the US wants a war with Russia except the neo-cons in Washington. And the dismembering of Serbia is proof that not all countries are entitled to territorial integrity, including Ukraine.

Ross Vassilev jezzam 11 Mar 2015 09:52

At least Russia is only invading neighboring countries. There's hardly a country in the world the US hasn't bombed or invaded.


Калинин Юрий Bosula 11 Mar 2015 09:22

The guys there always need somebody to blame. They have to justify their existence by pointing their fingers to an enemy. The enemy unites the nation and you can sell to this nation all kind of junk as a needed stuff to fight this enemy.

People love to believe is some mystic junk - invisible Russian threat, coup theory of communists in Moscow against Washington DC, etc.


igoraki Sceptical Walker 11 Mar 2015 08:14

Would like to recommend you a book to read, "L'Europe est morte à Pristina" by Jacques Hogard.You can learn a lot about all the good West and NATO did on Kosova and also you will see how the Albanians treated Serbs once our army retreated from Kosova.


madeiranlotuseater jezzam 11 Mar 2015 08:03

I am NOT a Kremlin supporter. The corruption sponsored by the state at home in Russia is appalling.
That is not my point. The USA has intervened in countless countries since the end of WW2. The problems in Ukraine are of the USA's making. It hasn't gone well for you. Europe (apart from Desperate Dave) doesn't want to use your hawkish methods to achieve a solution. How lovely of you to believe that you can have a war in our back yard. People such as Merkel and Hollande almost certainly did not get it okayed by your lot. More probably they told you how is was going to be, so get used to it.

America believes that killing people is the answer to find peace. It isn't.


Babeouf 11 Mar 2015 07:26

Well who would have guessed it the the Labour Party doesn't recognize US imperialism anywhere on planet earth. And if Labour form a government and the US/Iran negotiations fail they will happily join the next US coalition of the Shilling. On the substantive point apparently the I.MF won't loan Ukraine the billions of Euros unless the truce holds together. Now that really does help Vlad'the West is led by US sycophants and outright morons' Putin. But so has the entire US coup in Ukraine. There certainly is some Russian agent helping to formulate US State Department policy.


Orangutango 11 Mar 2015 07:14

It is utterly incoherent for our prime minister to call for tougher European action against President Putin in one breath and then threaten to leave the EU in the next. Security is the unspoken dimension of this European debate.

"This is no time for democratic nations to consider breaking from their allies. While Eurosceptics crave the breaking of ties to the EU, the security situation demands common action and resolve."


The Origin of the 'New Cold War'


http://rinf.com/alt-news/featured/origin-new-cold-war/

Eric Zuesse


decaston 11 Mar 2015 04:57

Euroscepticism (sometimes Euroscepticism or Anti-EUism) is the body of criticism of the European Union (EU), and opposition to the process of political European integration, existing throughout the political spectrum.
A survey in 2012, conducted by TNS Opinion and Social on behalf of the European Commission, showed that, for the European Union overall, those who think that their country's interests are looked after well in the EU are now in a minority (42%) About 31% of EU citizens tend to trust the European Union as an institution, and about 60% do not tend to trust it. Trust in the EU has fallen from a high of 57% in 2007 to 31% in 2012, while trust in national governments has fallen from 43% in 2007 to 28% in 2012.
Trust in the EU is lowest in the United Kingdom (16% trust, 75% distrust)

Spain is ranked the second most distrustful of the European Union, making it one of the three most Eurosceptic countries in the EU, along with the UK and Greece. 72 per cent of the Spanish people do not trust the EU, comparing to only 23% that trust this Union.
Portugal is the 8th most eurosceptic country in the European Union (not counting with Croatia) as shown by the "The Continent-wide rise of Euroscepticism", with 58% of the people tending not to trust the EU, behind Greece (81%), Spain (72%), UK (75%), Cyprus (64%), Sweden (62%), Czech Republic (60%) and Germany (59%).[57] The Eurosceptic parties currently hold 24 out of 230 seats in the parliament. The Euroscepticism of the left wing prevails in Portugal.
The Irish people voted no to initial referendums on both the Nice and Lisbon Treaties. There were second referendums held on both of these issues, and it was then, following renegotiations that the votes were swayed in favour of the respective 'Yes' campaigns.
In relation to both the Nice and Lisbon treaties, the decision to force second referendums has been the subject of much scrutiny and widespread criticism. It is claimed that rejection of the Irish peoples decision to vote no stands testament to the European Union's lack of regard for democracy and lack of regard for the right of people of nation states to decide their futures.
In Italy The Five Star Movement (M5S), an 25.5% of vote in the 2013 general election, becoming the largest anti-establishment and Eurosceptic party in Europe. The party also in 2013 the party was particularly strong in Sicily, Liguria and Marche, where it gained more than 30% of the vote.
In France in the European Parliament election, 2014, the National Front won the elections with 24.85% of the vote, a swing of 18.55%, winning 24 seats, up from 3 previously.

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


Ilja NB Tom20000 11 Mar 2015 03:32

You can't even clean up your own mess ( Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, former Yougoslavia ).


Parangaricurimicuaro PlatonKuzin 11 Mar 2015 03:28

Victoria Nuland is looking for a way out for her and her politics (save face). She realizes that Europe is not happy with the way that the State Department hijacked the whole Ukrainian crisis


Budanevey 11 Mar 2015 03:22

The emergence of Redneck Labour is one of the genuine mysteries of our politics that historians will one day ponder, a Party that adopted American Sub Prime finance, State Department Foreign Policy, neo-liberal corporatism, neo-con wars, NSA total surveillance, waterboarding, secret prisons, secret justice, indefinite detention, Anglophobia, TTIP and a de facto Eurodollar, and now the fear tactics of Commies and Terrorists everywhere to keep us servile to the interests of Washington and their agenda for an expanding US empire via a cloned United States of Europe, fears that were similarly misused during the Cold War when the American umbrella was first being used to envelop us.

Didn't Labour learn anything from WW2 when we went to war to protect Polish independence, only to have Washington give it to Stalin, along with the rest of Eastern Europe, and then surrender our own commonwealth and independence to Washington's creature in Brussels? Who is pulling the strings when we see demands for the UK to subordinate its interests to EU expansion in the East, just as we see northern Eurozone interests being compromised to keep hold of southern Europe - Washington.

The largest country on Earth, Russia, has long been a sub prime performer because of its own extreme history of imperialism and arbitrary government, which makes it an investors' nightmare and a paradise for corporate, criminal and political gangsterism preying on its long-suffering people and their unfortunate neighbours. The Yeltsin Privatisation era following the White Revolution compounded the problem by making new oligarchies and dubious billionaires, leading to the latest twist in Putinism.

The answer to these differing examples and extremes of imperialism is not to join in new imperialisms, but to re-assert the value of honesty and accountability in business, government, the rule of law, and international relations. Redneck Labour has completely lost the plot.

madeiranlotuseater 11 Mar 2015 03:21

Soap Box Dave really believes he can hold onto power by scaring Europe into believing there is a threat from Russia. Past UK Premiers have done well with wars, Maggie, John and Tony all got re-elected. But Dave pitched for free flights on Air Force One and sucking up to POTUS whilst many of us felt that the whole game plan in Ukraine was of the CIA making. Poke the Bear enough and you will get a response. Germany and France saw through this and quickly side lined Davy and Kerry. Result: Dave, at a stroke, has reduced Britain's influence in the world to little more than not a lot.

elias_ 11 Mar 2015 02:19

All organisations are judged on the results of their actions. In the court of world opinion we can apply this logic to states. So let's see:
1. Iraq. We lied, killed a million people and now it is haven for Isis.
2. Libya. Far far worse now than under gadafi.
3. Syria. We wanted war but putin stopped it.
4. Egypt. Worse now than when we intervened.
5. Ukraine. Supporting neocon Victoria f*** the EU nuland doing violent regime change on Russia's borders and expecting Russia to sit idly by. Yes the protests were about oligarchy but then got hijacked by hired goons without which power would have transitioned peacefully.

Q. Is it any wonder we are losing credibility outside the west? Especially as many of these actions went without UN approval.


Peter Schmidt UncleSam404 11 Mar 2015 02:14

There is no British 'foreign policy'. They do as the US says.


irishmand jezzam 11 Mar 2015 02:13

Proof that Putin planned to annex Crimea and invade E Ukraine before Yanukovych was deposed.

Who said it is truth, it is propaganda, I don't believe a word of this bull.... The western media lied so many times, there is no credibility.


irishmand SystemD 11 Mar 2015 02:10

One might ask you for proof of CIA plots, except that there is none. Are you prepared to provide the same standard of proof of your allegations that you demand of others?

One might. We got Crimea, that's right. And Russia is helping the rebels. Well, US is helping the nazies in Kiev, so to make the chances equal...
Now, CIA. What was CIA director doing when he was secretly visiting Ukraine? A vacation... And those CIA operatives in Kiev Speigel wrote about? A vacation...


Калинин Юрий jezzam 11 Mar 2015 01:48

Putin sending his troops to Ukraine? Then you know way much more then CIA, MI-5, Mossad, etc all together. Finally all these countries do not have to spent billions on the intelligence since you alone do all the job and have all the possible evidences to present to the world.

By the way yesterday the Russian troops used secret space waves on the drivers in Ukraine so 2 of British old APC's are out of service and in a ditch outside the road. This is the proof of the Russian regular army and thousands of dead Russian soldiers as well as billions of wounded in the Russian hospitals. Russia sends trains to Donetsk to take out all of them and OSCE at the border crossing station inspect them together with the Ukranian customs. Those, that have no chances to escape are captured by the Ukranian army and been exchanged for the Ukranian soldiers in front of hundreds of journalists. Anyway, Russian army is the most invisible army in the world.


Goodthanx 11 Mar 2015 01:20

According to McFadden, are we to presume that like NATO, one of the EU functions was/is the 'containment' of Russia?

A sign of EU immaturity is that member countries cant voice independent views and questions of sovereignty, without the scaremongers reducing their arguments to todays bogey man, Putin.


irishmand jezzam 10 Mar 2015 23:43

What you say is entirely true, To Kremlin supporters though, facts don't have any objective reality. They believe that facts are simply tools in the propaganda campaign. Thus in their eyes inventing "facts" is perfectly OK. They believe that the West does it as well - the depth of cynicism in Russia is hard to fathom.

What facts were invented?
ultra right coup in Kiev supported by US
bombardments of Donbass civilians by Kiev
relentless russophobic campaign in US and EU
Nuland saying F...the EU
Nazi elements in the Ukranian government
Crime voting to join Russia


BorninUkraine irishmand 10 Mar 2015 23:36

The objective of current US propaganda campaign is to prevent EU and Russia from cooperating to the point of creating a credible US competitor. As you could have noticed, this BS for European consumption works admirably: Europe just lost its last chance of becoming something of consequence.


irishmand MentalToo 10 Mar 2015 22:50

It is only an expense to Russia preventing other urgent investments to improve living conditions of the people in Russia. Russian leaders urgently needs to realize cooperation based on mutual respect of both sovereignty of nations as well as civil rights of individuals is the only way to improve relations to Europeans countries. Trying to use military force either directly or by coercion harms Russia more than anything. Russia is not in a competition to win over it neighbor states. Russia's mission is to win over it's own past through gaining trust of it's neighbors by peaceful cooperation.

It is a declaration of good will, which, unfortunately, is not supported by any actions in reality.
What have US/EU did recently:

Where is the mutual respect you are talking so much about? Where is your freedom of speech?
How can Russians trust you when you behave like bunch of liars and bullies, threatening to destroy Russia and celebrating every time something bad happens in Russia?
To get respect from Russia you have to show your respect too.
What saved Russia from american/NATO invasion? The very same army and the nuclear weapons. If it wouldn't be for them, americans would attack 6-8 months ago.
So, before you start teaching Russia manners turn around and look in the mirror of your society. You are not a democracy anymore. You became a bunch of power drunk, profit greedy warmongers who only understand "I want" and ready to sacrifice other people's lives in other countries for your personal well being.

[Mar 10, 2015] A Europe-U.S. Divorce Over Ukraine

Mar 10, 2015 | moonofalabama.org

The German government finally wakes up, a little bit at least, and recognizes the obvious fact that U.S. neocons want to drag Europe into a war. It is now openly blaming certain circles within the U.S. government and NATO of sabotaging the Minsk ceasefire agreement. Especially offensive is the fantasy talk of U.S. and NATO commander General Breedlove:

For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove's numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America's NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove's comments as "dangerous propaganda." Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove's comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

But Breedlove hasn't been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel's diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove's bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the "super hawk," whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America's more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

The U.S., including Obama, wants to strengthen the U.S. run NATO and thereby its influence in Europe. And Europe, by losing business with Russia and risking war, is supposed to pay for it.

The German public, despite tons of transatlantic propaganda, has well understood the game and the government can not escape that fact. It has to come back to some decent course and if that means trouble with Washington so be it. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the U.S. are currently meeting in Paris and Secretary of State Kerry will not like what he will hear:

In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one -- and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals.

Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow's influence in the region and destabilize Putin's power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.

Europe has no interest in regime change in Russia. The result would likely be a much worse government and leader then the largely liberal Putin.

The U.S., the empire of chaos, does not care what happens after a regime change. In the view of U.S. politicians trouble and unrest in the "rest of the world" can only better the (relative) position of the United States. If production capabilities in Europe get destroyed through war the U.S. could revive its export industries.

It seems that at least some European leaders now understand that they got played by Washington and they are pushing back. A Eurasian economic sphere is in Europe's interest. Will Obama accept their view and turn off the hawks or will he escalate and risk the alliance with Europe? A first sign looks positive. The U.S. called off, on short notice, a plan to train Ukrainian National Guard (i.e. Nazi) forces:

[O]n Friday, a spokesman for US forces in Europe, confirmed the delay in a statement and said: "The US government would like to see the Minsk agreement fulfilled."

"The training mission is currently on hold but Army Europe is prepared to carry out the mission if and when our government decides to move forward," the statement said.

Some Europeans, like the writers in the piece above, still see Obama as a reluctant warrior pushed to war by the hawks in his own government and the Republicans in Congress. But the surge in Afghanistan, the destruction of Libya, the war on Syria and the trouble in Ukraine have all been run by the same propaganda scheme: Obama does not want war, gets pushed and then reluctantly agrees to it. It is a false view. The buck stops at his desk and Nuland as well as General Breedlove and other official hawks concerned about their precious bodily fluids are under Obama's direct command. He can make them shut up or get them fired with a simple 30 second phone call. As he does not do so it is clear that he wants them to talk exactly as they do talk. Obama is the one driving the neocon lane.

The Europeans should finally get this and distance themselves from that destructive path.

Posted by b on March 7, 2015 at 01:09 PM | Permalink

Selected Skeptical Comments

Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 7, 2015 2:05:22 PM | 1

Great analysis b.
Loved this bit...

The general, they say, has the role of the "super hawk," whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America's more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

It's rather insulting to the EU that the dumbass, gutless, Yankees would appoint a war-mongering chicken-hawk called Breedlove to lecture them about The Importance Of Being Ernest - about hating Putin.

jayc | Mar 7, 2015 2:47:21 PM | 2

"the dispute is a fundamental one -- and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action."

Insisting that the "threat of military action" always be present during the practice of international diplomacy is a fundamental repudiation of international law as proscribed by the United Nations at the end of WW2. In the current Orwellian situation, the foreign policy hawks (in particularly the Anglo 5 Eyes countries) articulate policy informed by this repudiation while on the other hand insisting that they are motivated by upholding mid-century international law. Here is John Boehner speaking for a bi-partisan Congressional committee quoted today in the Washington Times:

"It is even more than simply a component of a revisionist Russian strategy to redraw international borders and impose its will on its neighbors,it is a grotesque violation of international law, a challenge to the west and an assault on the international order established at such great cost in the wake of World War II."

ToivoS | Mar 7, 2015 2:59:09 PM | 3

When this crisis in Ukraine first broke out last year it made no sense at all for Obama to have let Nuland carry on as she was doing. He could have defused the whole thing simply by firing Nuland or I thought. However, his actions over the past year seem to show that this was his policy as b says here.

It is hard to understand why He and Kerry have pursued this policy. For sure, as was predictable one year ago it has turned their widely touted 'pivot to asia' into irrelevancy. It has directly forced China and Russia into a stronger alliance. Those are some big prices to pay for our provocations against Russia.

So why did we do it? I will guess. Putin's 2010 speech proposing a common economic union from Vladivostok to Lisbon must have been seen as a very serious threat by some powerful forces in the US. Fear of losing or at least lessening US hegemony over Europe was probably a major factor in deciding to 'pivot back to Europe'. Our influence there must have seemed much more important than Asia or even the ME. Ukraine provided an opportunity to drive a wedge between Russia and Europe or so US power brokers thought. As a secondary reason, at least one that brought the US military on board with the new policy, is that a new cold war with Russia provided an opportunity to reinvigorate NATO, that has always been a favorite play thing the army and airforce. After the collapse of the Soviet Union it was very difficult to justify NATO's existence.

It would be ironies of ironies if this crisis now forces Germany to declare its independence and work harder to rebuild relations with Russia and in the process become a major player in the Eurasian Union. This is what Pepe Escobar just suggested this last week is a possibility.

Laurence | Mar 7, 2015 3:04:18 PM | 4

Some Europeans, like the writers in the piece above, still see Obama as a reluctant warrior pushed to war by the hawks in his own government and the Republicans in Congress. But ...

You may be correct. But:

You haven't established that the evident appearance of `reluctance' is a "false view". In theory, "The buck stops at his desk". The obvious fact that it hasn't, however, is -- at best -- by no means creditable.

I can hardly wait 'til the `progressive' Twittercrats start calling for Obama to "go nuclear" with Putin. ...

Colinjames | Mar 7, 2015 3:05:26 PM | 5

#2, I guess he's taking his cues from Noodles, here's some highlights from her Match 4 address to Foreign Affairs Committee, lifted from Stephen Lendman

Claims-

Bizzaro world. Completely upside down from reality. And no I'm not trying to one up you #2! It's just crazy stuff coming out of the mouths of every politician and official and media whore, I've never seen anything like it.

Wayoutwest | Mar 7, 2015 3:07:24 PM | 6

Good report, b especially including the fact that this is a bipartisan project led by the Liberal Democrats.

The European actions especially Germanys may be more or less than they appear to be. I doubt that Germany would or could stand in the way of US demands but they may be facilitating an escape path for the US to use to avoid a more dangerous confrontation with Russia.

james | Mar 7, 2015 3:25:46 PM | 7

thanks b.. some good points in your post which i strongly share, this one in particular - The U.S., the empire of chaos, does not care what happens after a regime change. In the view of U.S. politicians trouble and unrest in the "rest of the world" can only better the (relative) position of the United States.

when does this nightmare called us foreign policy die?

Piotr Berman | Mar 7, 2015 4:47:47 PM | 8

"Europe has no interest in regime change in Russia. The result would likely be a much worse government and leader then the largely liberal Putin."

What is wrong with those two sentences? First, "Europe", a landmass in western Eurasia usually demarcated by the crests of Ural and Caucasus mountain chains and Ural river. The text refers mostly to the governments of France and Germany. Who are "NATO hawks"? Danes and Norwegians, latter day Varangians? Or Latvians and Estonians who would like to have a re-match of Battle on Ice? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_on_the_Ice_(Lake_Peipus)

Second, "The result …" This has to be a joke. "Europe" has many headaches with the governments of Greece and Hungary, but can they change them? Actually, in the case of Greece, this sentence could make sense, because in Greece they have a real opportunity of causing a government crisis and getting a more extreme government. But in the case of Russia, it is only a question of having a long-term gain in mutually assured economic destruction, or not.

Double-talk is bread and butter of diplomacy, but we simple folk can afford to express ourselves more directly. The real problem in arming Ukraine is that the government there is untrustworthy and it would probably use the aid to further neglect the economy and concentrate even more on futile military endeavor, and it could also commit some atrocities as it would be at it. Being "a little bit Nazi" is perfectly fine with Baltic governments and Croatia, plus USA and Canada, could be fine with Hungary but the leader there is constantly on the prowl for good deals and just now got one from Putin, and causes mixed feeling elsewhere.

So the trillion dollar question for most responsible European leaders is if US is more trustworthy than Poroshenko crew?

jfl | Mar 7, 2015 5:09:32 PM | 11

Yes, good analysis. Especially the Empire of Chaos' goal of reimplementing the aftermath of WWII : everyone outside North America flat on their backs and the US the colossus by virtue of still standing. But ...

' Will Obama accept their view and turn off the hawks or will he escalate and risk the alliance with Europe? ... Obama is the one driving the neocon lane. '

Whether it's the neocon line or in the neocon lane, Obama's not driving. Never has been. He was hired to sit behind the wheel of the neoliberal, neocon drone of state, operated by 'pilots' from Langley, the Pentagon, Wall Street - seemingly by all three, via rapid context switch in pseudo-parallel.

The reason US policy seems to lurch ever more violently toward disaster is because none of the actors actually implementing it by turn are identified. The Nihilist Nobel Peace Prize Laureate gets dunked everytime, hauls himself out of the tank, climbs back up on the stool, makes faces and jeers at the crowd throwing balls at the trip target ... all absurdly trying to effect a change in policy.

It's just a job ... 2,236 days down, 686 days till payday.

Mar 7, 2015 5:21:18 PM | 12

@8,9,10

Thanks for the analysis with Russia at the center rather than the USA. Catchy restatement of the difference between 'the chicken then the egg' vs 'the egg then the chicken'.

I'm rooting for Russia, and Putin's been in charge there. Of course, I'm really rooting for my USA, but for my USA to survive the present oligarchy must be defeated : the Chicken's neck must be wrung and its carcasse flung into the stew pot.

dan of steele | Mar 7, 2015 6:31:13 PM | 13

it is my opinion that the German government led by Mrs Merkel is a lot more involved in the crisis that is Ukraine than is being discussed in this forum. There was quite a lot of support for Tymoshenko from Merkel including her drive to boycott the Ukraine when Tymoshenko had been imprisoned for embezzlement.

she was also promoting Vitaly Klitschko for the longest time abruptly ending when Vickie Nuland let it be known that he was not accceptable as a leader of Ukraine.

The German government has been a very willing stooge of the US in causing or continuing the unrest in Ukraine. That many people in Germany have suffered due to this behavior from sanctions and embargoes on both the European side as well as the Russian side might be a consequence that the German elite decided they could live with rather than simply something forced upon them from the US.

As far as I can tell, the fecal matter hit the air moving device right after Yanukovich decided to maintain close economic ties with Russia rather than throw in with the EU. EU for all intents and purposes Germany.

just a thought. ymmv

JohnH | Mar 7, 2015 7:16:23 PM | 19

"The U.S., the empire of chaos, does not care what happens after a regime change. In the view of U.S. politicians trouble and unrest in the "rest of the world" can only better the (relative) position of the United States."

And it does not appear that the US cares what happens to Europe, either. If sanctions on Iran hurt European business, meh. If sanctions on Russia push Europe back into recession...meh.

Maybe someday Europe will get a clue...

Benu | Mar 7, 2015 8:02:30 PM | 20

I felt like I was reading the lyin-ass New York Times. (How do these so-called journalists get ANY work done with all that CIA/StateDept/JSOC cock in their mouth? Inquiring minds want to know. Anyway…)

Germany is presented like an old grandma, wringing her hands and saying, "Oh, mercy me! Can't we all just get along?" … If it wasn't for that dang Gen. Breedlove…except, well, he's actually right, don't you know, except, OK, he exaggerates a bit. There's LOTS of Russia aggression, and we have proof we won't show you…but not as much as he says. I mean, credibility, and all, right?…And that Vicki Nuland, well, she's bitch we all agree, but she gets things done and sometimes you need to get tough, don't ya know. She "loves Russia" (yeah, I bet…like I love a nice rare steak….sliced sooooo thin.) So…come on, dial it back a little won't you guys over in Langley…?

This seemed to me like CIA drizzle from Der Spigot!

A few carefully breaded pieces of True served with a piquant sauce of Lies and a side of Dissembling and Disinformation. One of those articles that is structured like, "yeah, true…BUT!"

ToivoS @ | 3

Putin's 2010 speech proposing a common economic union from Vladivostok to Lisbon must have been seen as a very serious threat by some powerful forces in the US.

So says Mike Whitney in an important post re Nemtsov's assassination over at Counterpunch. I agree with you and him. I wonder what Uncle Ruslan thinks? He must have some ideas, having lived with Graham Fuller for all this those years.

Colinjames @ 5

Those excerpts really infuriated me. I have the most terrible desire to bitch slap Vicki Nudelman until she falls down and begs me to stop. I see her face and my hand itches. I need to stop watching Jess Franco movies.

Wayoutwest @ 6

The European actions especially Germanys may be more or less than they appear to be. I doubt that Germany would or could stand in the way of US demands but they may be facilitating an escape path for the US to use to avoid a more dangerous confrontation with Russia.

Ayuh. I agree, with you (see above) --and dan of steele's very excellent and needful post at 13. Germany's in this shit up to their eyeballs. I recall reading in "The Brothers" that after WW2 the CIA just basically took over (and presumably still owns) German intelligence. Took their Nazis in and kept all the spy lines and assets. Gladio was an outgrowth of that, I guess.

But I don't think the blood-thirsty vampires in the US can dial it back. They are all up in that snatch (to slightly paraphrase a vulgar version of the Petraeus bio's title that actually got shown on US news.)

Piotr Berman's delightful rants at 18 @ 19

What interesting ideas and insights you bring to the discussion. If you don't mind saying, are you German? If I was a German citizen I would be very upset and I have read that, like here in the States, this Ukraine shit combined with NSA spying combined with that book about how all the media are CIA assets has caused a crisis of confidence between reasonably-informed citizens and dissembling government, media, military, etc.


I agree with all the posters here saying that Obama has never had hold of the levers of power. A few, yes. But what with the "tunneling" of political appointees transformed into civil servants at the end of the Bush admin…yeah, no. And that's not the only reason…just one.

jfl | Mar 7, 2015 8:11:20 PM | 21

@13

Certainly Germany is covetous of Russia/the Ukraine. And Merkel, like Obama, knows how to get along by going along with the ones who brung her. Used to be the Russians in East Germany, are now the Americans in West/Unified Germany.

Both are puppets, 'loyal' to the their puppeteers. The rest of the EU apparat are in the pocket of the US, and dance to the same tune piped to Obama.

Germany on its own is not capable of subduing Russia, yet hopes to be in position to reap the benefits of the US' destruction of same.

They're all losers, betting on making a killing, benefiting from their neighbors' collapse. Their neighbors have other ideas ... must have to survive. TIAA.

Benu | Mar 7, 2015 8:33:21 PM | 22

jfl @ 21

Love your vampires and vultures scenario. Tolstoy's Vourdalak or the folkloric Russian
Волколак or Volkolak is what I've been thinking of late, because I am a Mario Bava kind of gal.

You know, Russia is one of the few countries NOT 110% indebted to German/London/Wall Street/Brussels banks. Seems to me that definitely has something to do with all this. They've got something to plunder. (Lotta gold. yum!) I bet there's some truth to the assertion that the flaming tire of blame for global economic collapse is being readied for Russia's neck...just in case. We're very close.

NotTimothyGeithner | Mar 7, 2015 9:02:57 PM | 25

Demian @ 23

WTF did Germany THINK was going to come of this?

But perhaps there is no one Germany. I can only suppose that it must be like it is here in the US...different factions with their own power bases pulling their own levers.

Benu | Mar 7, 2015 8:48:57 PM | 24

@24 I think the plan was for a rapid victory in Ukraine and Putin just stomping his feet. Keeping Crimea, the uprisings, and the general thuggery/incompetence in Kiev weren't in the plans. The Chinese didn't defend Russia against accusations about flight #mh17, the Chinese openly scoffed at the West not even giving fools like Kerry the time of day.

German firms were supposed to win contracts replacing Russian firms not see the SCO grow and face losses from self-imposed sanctions. Merkel and people in her sphere overdid the rhetoric. Voters won't forget a major propaganda change, and Merkel and her ilk know this but can't see how to get out of the mess especially with Kiev in need of European cash.

PBenu | Mar 7, 2015 9:19:53 PM | 26

NotTimmeh @ 25

So, you seem to be saying that this is rather like what WoW maintains...an offering of an exit ramp to the US...because Germany really, really wants off this highway to hell.

Hideous to think they were all for it when it looked like easy rapings and little to no consequences.

International finance needs to be dismantled. That's what's behind all this shit. Bankster's wars.

Helena Cobban | Mar 7, 2015 9:31:25 PM | 27

The practices of Ms. Nuland (taking cookies out to support the demonstrators during the "Maidan" actions) echoed exactly those of Amb. Robert Ford in Syria. In both cases it was a strange perversion and repudiation of traditional standards of diplomatic practice. It was not just a Nuland aberration.

And we've seen the outcome, a few years later, in both these war-ravaged countries. God help the people of both countries.

Pluto | Mar 7, 2015 9:52:56 PM | 28

@3 ToivoS

Interesting points you make. I believe what we have here IS the pivot to Asia, - through the backdoor. The US is haunted by the inevitable rise of Eurasia as a superpower. And, the fact is, the "pivot" was unrealistic and a rather silly strategy. China's New Silk Road Economic Belt, both rail and maritime - stretching from Beijing through Russia and across Europe to Madrid (with spurs to India, Iran, the ME and down the African continent) - was a preemptive strike that neutered US aspirations. Even worse, it's already funded.

Picture the US on the globe: Isolated and alone, separated from the lively Eastern Hemisphere by two vast oceans. Adrift, stewing in its own juices, in desperate need of a world war to elevate it once again out of its economic doom and into super-stardom.

This is further evidenced by the US desperation over the TPP and TTIF. It has reached a fever pitch, with endless negotiations inside the super-secret US "cone of silence." For the US, these corporate-ruled trade agreements are their last hope for hegemony over global trade, especially now that the Petrodollar is dead. (Another consequence of the Ukraine stupidity.) But, both trade treaties seem to be failing badly (there are anti-TTIF demonstrations throughout Germany today). In any event, China rendered them both irrelevant with APEC and the New Silk Road, which popped into existence the very instant that the US stepped into the Ukraine tar pit. For China, they are done deals. Even Australia and New Zealand have come to their senses and seem to be climbing on board.

Surely, Europe already knows this. They've seen many empires decline. I suppose its only prudent to string the US along and contain the chaos....

Demian | Mar 7, 2015 9:58:02 PM | 29

@Helena Cobban #27:

God help the people of both countries.

Well, no one knows whether either one of them will continue to exist, do they? The Kremlin's intention is clearly to keep Ukraine's territory as it is (sans Crimea; that question is closed), but Ukraine is increasingly entering into full-spectrum social collapse, so wha the outcome will be is unpredictable, especially since the Ukraine was an artificial country to begin with, patched together from the territories of other countries.

As for Syria, I am all for secular states in the Islamic world, like Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya before the US destroyed them. Our fan of the Islamic State Wayoutwest can say much more about this than I can, but it is possible that states created by Sykes-Picot will disappear, to be replaced by a caliphate. In the larger scheme of things, that would be a good thing because

(1) even though the caliphate would initially have a regressive form of Islam, once Arabs are in control of their own destiny, they will not fear engaging in reforms;

(2) a caliphate would create one more pole for the emerging multipolar world.

NotTimothyGeithner | Mar 7, 2015 10:13:03 PM | 30

@26 They are giving Obama an out and blame can be heaped on Nuland and Breedlove. Rasmussen didn't make the Der Spiegel article, and he is completely deranged as anyone outside of GOP politics.

IMHO Obama only responds to extreme embarrassment. Offering him an out won't work without tying Obama and Nuland at the hip.

It's overlooked, but in 2012 when Obama came out for gay marriage, he cloaked his support in nonsense about state rights but only after his campaign machine had worked against an effort in North Carolina to defeat anti-gay/woman/child referendum. There were political reasons, but there was a growing anger. Biden saw this and just randomly announced Obama's pro gay marriage views. It took three days, but Obama got around to tepidly endorsing a form of gay marriage. Obama only acted because Biden forced his hand. It took almost two weeks after everyone in the U.S. knew Shinseki from the Veteran Affairs Department for Obama to dismiss him when Shinseki should have been fired right away, but Obama only acts when faced with total embarrassment.

fast freddy | Mar 7, 2015 10:14:08 PM | 31

Obama is a puppet. Cheney, Kissinger, Negroponte, GHWBush and friends, CIA, Brzezinski, Rockefeller, etc. Deep State pulls his strings. Obama was himself a CIA protege at BIC. There are no pesky principles to contend with.

And he is not allowed to fire Nuland or any other neocon warmonger.

Did you see what they did to JFK for stepping out of line?

@ jfl | 11

But exactly!

Obama's not driving. Never has been. He was hired to sit behind the wheel of the neoliberal, neocon drone of state, operated by 'pilots' from Langley, the Pentagon, Wall Street - seemingly by all three, via rapid context switch in pseudo-parallel.

The reason US policy seems to lurch ever more violently toward disaster is because none of the actors actually implementing it by turn are identified.

Pluto | Mar 7, 2015 10:45:33 PM | 34

Although it seems there are two schools of thought about that around here, this has been my assumption from the beginning.


@3 ToivoS

Forgot to mention,: You spoke of consequences. That is of particular interest, I believe, and speaks to the destiny of the US as it stumbles about on the world stage, without future awareness.

It is hard to understand why He and Kerry have pursued this policy. For sure, as was predictable one year ago it has turned their widely touted 'pivot to asia' into irrelevancy. It has directly forced China and Russia into a stronger alliance. Those are some big prices to pay for our provocations against Russia.

There are more than a few significant unintended consequences that have come in short order as a result of the Ukraine blunder. For example:

The US is paying a mighty high price for its neocon folly.

Piotr Berman | Mar 7, 2015 10:55:20 PM | 35

In response to questions, I used my real name, I am Polish citizen living in USA.

European elite, including Germany and France, are almost instinctively aligning themselves with American elite, but they take exception to a favorite American trick: penciling a grandiose plan to be paid by EU.

Russian counter-sanctions fall on Europeans, and it is pointless to quibble if "dollar is dead" -- it is not, but USA will not pay to integrate Turkey and Ukraine with EU, to cite some of the grandiose ideas. German conservatives in particular are notorious bean counters, they generously paid to integrate Eastern Germany, but are much less enthusiastic to have foreign beneficiaries. (In Poland, the consensus is that it is OK to help Ukrainians, provided that it will not cost anything. There is also a minority that hates Ukrainians more than Russians, and younger folks seem not to care at all.)

As it is, EU duly enacted sanctions on Iran, Syria and Russia, and Merkel is resolute at sending mixed signals, so to some extend there is no "divorce". If anything, they are on the same wavelength as Obama. Recall how Europe resisted joining Bush jr. war in Iraq. "New Europe", including Poland, provided a bunch of little contingents, and that proved to be quite unpopular domestically. Even so, regime change in Libya was accomplished mostly by Europeans, and this is perhaps one of the unique successes in history that has a dearth of claimants. On the heals of that feat, even ever supine Brits rebelled when they had a chance to repeat the success in Syria. The belief that "Americans surely know what they are doing" is eroding even as we scribble. But so far, there is hardly any "European alternative".

I guess Putin will graciously lift sanctions on Hungarian and Greek produce, Ukraine will get some weapons and training, but not a hell lot -- seriously, what scale of military aid would truly make a difference?

TikTok | Mar 7, 2015 11:42:48 PM | 36

Harper has given citizenship to Yatsenyuk in case 'something goes wrong'. Fcuk. http://www.pravda.ru/news/world/formerussr/ukraine/06-03-2015/1251452-yacenyk-0/

james | Mar 8, 2015 12:02:59 AM | 37

@35 piotr.. thanks for pointing out euro's role in libya and how nothing is going to change, as i personally believe just like the usa is bought and paid for, so is germany and france.. to suggest there will be much of a fracture is to suggest the international banker mafia don't have these politicians on the same page. i think they do.. whether they get elected again, or the required politicians to do the job of the bankers do - i think they do..

as for obama being anything other then a rubber stamp - i agree with @31 fast freddy.. step out of line and look what you will get.. it is hard not to be cynical..

@36 tiktok.. what a pathetic pos we have for a leader here in canada, but like i say about most of these western leaders and to which i include harper - they are all beholden to the same narrow interests that have nothing to do with the common people's interest.. they continue to think we are stupid or worse..

Demian | Mar 8, 2015 12:04:56 AM | 38

@Piotr Berman #35:

so far, there is hardly any "European alternative".

There does not need to be any European alternative. And the EU is dominated by Germany, the intelligence services of which, as someone here observed recently, are infiltrated by the CIA (although there was a report that Germany is now setting up a branch of its intelligence service independent of USG). The alternative is Russia. It is too late for Europeans to come up with alternatives. (They did that first with Hegel and then with Marx, but neither attempt held.) Europeans just need to realize that since the world is becoming multipolar, they belong in the Eurasian pole, not a contrived Atlanticist one.

Russia has grave flaws, an Europeans can help Russians fix those, if Europeans make a break with the predatory and anti-human Anglosphere.

Nana2007 | Mar 8, 2015 12:16:52 AM | 40

The push back is far too late. The gorgon Nuland and Dr Strangelove himself Zed Breszinski testifying before the mouth breathers of the foreign affairs committee this week continued to ratchet up the rhetoric:
"I wonder how many people in this room or this very important senatorial committee really anticipated that one day Putin would land military personnel in Crimea and seize it. I think if anybody said that's what he is going to do, he or she would be labeled as a warmonger. He did it. And he got away with it. I think he's also drawing lessons from that. And I'll tell you what my horror, night-dream, is: that one day, I literally mean one day, he just seizes Riga, and Talinn. Latvia and Estonia. It would literally take him one day. There is no way they could resist. And then we will say, how horrible, how shocking, how outrageous, but of course we can't do anything about it. It's happened. We aren't going to assemble a fleet in the Baltic, and then engage in amphibious landings, and then storm ashore, like in Normandy, to take it back. We have to respond in some larger fashion perhaps, but then there will be voices that this will plunge us into a nuclear war

I'll tell you what Brezinski's real horror night dream is dying before the US attempts a full on takeover of Russia. Whether Germany likes it or not they'll continue to be a pawn in the dark lords 8 dimensional chess game. It's a little late to be thinking twice now that the breadbasket of Europe is a basket case. The hope is that the whooping that's coming to the USSA shakes out the aristocracy that brought it about and sends them fleeing with nothing but their assholes.

Harold | Mar 8, 2015 3:48:14 AM | 43

Oddly, Brzezinski himself not too long ago recommended the "Finlandization" of Ukraine. The neo-cons and armaments industry have adopted a cartoonish version of his theories -- which, in any case, hark back to the Geographical Pivot theory dating to 1904! It's become a crude dogma that doesn't even rise to the level of ideology.

Prosperous Peace | Mar 8, 2015 5:20:41 AM | 44

Decent analysis but misses two important points:

1) "Special British-US relationship" - US has been a British colony for at least last 100 years, ie. a muscle-man for the Rothschildes-Jewish-Zionist cabal with its HQ in the City of London, Israel plays a "mad dog" role for them, Canada, Australia, and many other in the Commonwealth have their parts to play too. Because Obama since the evening of his reelection turned against the Crow Corporation, they have been forced to increasingly rely on themselves and other subjects - notice rapidly intensifying British military presence in the Central (Poland, which is situated at the very heart of the continent) and Eastern Europe (Baltic republics), as well as in the ME - Bahrain, police force now on the Turkish-Syrian border. Also British lying propaganda has been very intense, by far the worst in the EU. The neocons, McCain, Soros et al respond to the Rothschildes, always have. The British have been leading the charge recently and you will see more and more of this soon.

2) Obama's team has been under the threats form the global criminal cabal many times itself. Security breaches at the White House, warnings of assassination, "third force" trying to start a civil war in the US by abusing the police powers and killing the police officers, fake social movements menacing the White House with "marches" like the one of Jewish Adam Kokesh...

Summing up - it's been the City of London pulling the strings all along and Obama have been in danger of a violent overthrow already for some time.

somebody | Mar 8, 2015 5:40:49 AM | 45

RE: Piotr Berman | Mar 7, 2015 10:55:20 PM | 35

You are right about the issue of paying for grandiose plans.

Seems though that Europeans are really pissed off.

Jean Claude Juncker calls for European Army with headquarters in Brussels

Key sentence

Juncker wies zugleich auf die organisatorischen und finanziellen Vorteile des Vorhabens hin. So würde es zu einer intensiven Zusammenarbeit bei Entwicklung und Kauf von militärischem Gerät führen und erhebliche Einsparungen bringen.

Brief translation: Juncker highlighted the organizatorial and financial advantages. Cooperation in the development and procurement of military equipment could be shared and save considerable amounts.

jfl | Mar 8, 2015 8:13:07 AM | 46

German official says Saudi Arabia top 'terror exporter' in Mideast
[Vice President of the German Parliament (Bundestag) Claudia] Roth called Riyadh "the top terror exporter in the Middle East," adding that "a large portion" of extremist militants in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq hail from Saudi Arabia.

Germany's guidelines on weapons exports make it "crystal clear that deliveries cannot be made to such countries," she stressed.

"Besides the weapons deals, Germany is also discussing other trade ties with Saudi Arabia," she said. "Pressure could certainly be brought to bear using these."

The results of a recent survey conducted for German daily Bild have shown that 78 percent of Germans believe Berlin should stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, while a further 60 percent favor breaking off trade relations all together with the Persian Gulf monarchy due to its human rights violations.

Great place for the crack to open up/spread from/to Ukraine.

ǝn⇂ɔ | Mar 8, 2015 10:42:49 AM | 49

I would note that Merkel working with Timoshenko was more likely a tactical move - one in which Germany would get some leverage vs. Russia regarding natural gas moving through Ukraine as well as benefits within Ukraine.

This is very different than the American tactic of exaggerating ethnic tensions on order to create a failed state a la Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, ad nauseam. American doesn't necessarily intend to create a failed state - the correct view is that the goal is a puppet regime, but a failed state in someone else's backyard is almost as good...or good enough.

I'd also note that this is different than the British Empire tactic - the British would also arm "their" rebels, but they would put skin in the game (soldiers on the ground) in order to ensure that they wound up with the correct puppet regime.

It is still unclear to me whether the American abridgement of Byzantine/Ottoman/British Empire tactics is an evolution or a devolution.

dh | Mar 8, 2015 11:02:42 AM | 50

@49 I think America has always attempted to maintain the 'good guy' facade. Since 911 it's been more like 'no more Mr. Niceguy'.

guest77 | Mar 8, 2015 11:05:10 AM | 51

If the EU and Russia can edge the United States out of the situation, it is a win/win for everyone except the US, who will have seen $5B and an old Cold War dream go up in smoke.

If the US can be ejected, it will be the EU and especially the Germans who have gained the most mightily by the Maidan. The partition of Ukraine - getting rid of those parts that did vote more heavily for the Party of Regions and the Communists, leaves the EU with a "Orange", oligarchical Ukraine forever. A Ukrainian horse that the EU can hitch their currently broken cart to, a huge area for Germany to dominate in the heart of Europe - (one of Germany's oldest dreams). It's not something I'd personally wish on the Ukrainian population, but Ukraine becoming a proper EU member would require the suppression of the Nazis who, if they are not, would at least be loud, violent, internal opposition allied with the trouble-making USA, or at worst would try and wage a disruptive terrorist war over Crimea and the East.

Would this situation be acceptable to Russia? Wins there would be the retention of Crimea with no question as to its return to the rump Ukraine, plus the advantage of having the US out of the Ukraine completely and having caused an EU/US fissure. The status of the East would have to be determined, but it would seem that independence or becoming part of Russia would be the best bets there now that they'd no longer be able to offset the vote of the far west.

Anyway, that's all details. The real good thing here - for people all over the globe - would be that the war-making US elite would have been ejected from another region where they've been making trouble.

chalo | Mar 8, 2015 11:26:00 AM | 52

Ah, the utopian dreams of the unwashable internet junky. Germany will never reject the US. You heard it hear first. LOL

Scott | Mar 8, 2015 11:42:29 AM | 53

So far when it comes to any "divide" all I've seen is rhetoric and posturing. Considering the Fourth Reich and it's vassals are owned and controlled by the same puppet-masters I don't see any actual schism happening. Small European countries that actively resist will find a "color" revolution brewing. Large nations who actually push back will be hit with economic warfare. The courage to stand up for their people and stop the lunatics in D.C. doesn't exist in the currant political actors in Europe. I truly hope I'm wrong, but until we see DEEDS instead of mere WORDS...the steady slide toward war will continue.

rufus magister | Mar 8, 2015 11:43:22 AM | 54

...To get back on topic, Russia Insider considers the broader question of the regime's attitudes; the open fascism of the junta is I think at root of much of European unease. Kiev's Drive to Dehumanize East Ukrainians is certainly a key component of that mentality.

purple | Mar 8, 2015 11:59:18 AM | 55

All the European leaders are compromised in some way, the NSA probably has everything they have written, said, or done in a database. Merkel looks to have been involved in some shady activities in East Germany if you look closely enough. Don't expect Europe to break from Pax Americana.

Wayoutwest | Mar 8, 2015 12:24:05 PM | 56

RM@54

I think that the unease in Europe about the rise of open fascism is superficial and more a PR concern than true opposition at least among the Ruling Class. So long as fascism serve their purposes and feeds their true agendas but remains obscured it is supported and protected.

OT again, many of us Oldies experienced music somewhat differently than today where albums or sides of albums were how we enjoyed the performances. Even radio DJs were judged by the way they programmed their shows and we were always in search of the perfect segway.

Anonymous | Mar 8, 2015 12:40:07 PM | 57

Divorce? Hardly. EU want an EU army, http://rt.com/news/238797-eu-joint-army-threat/

Another US puppet idea.

rufus magister | Mar 8, 2015 12:53:42 PM | 58

...On topic -- the fascism by itself is not too great a worry. That they're incompetent and it will cost someone lots of money to fix things more so. Events may not break up "the Allies" now, but with the proper moves and missteps by the varied parties involved.... Someone's planning a few moves ahead, and I don't think it's DC. Sadly, we can't overlook the power of short-sighted deviousness.

diogenes | Mar 8, 2015 1:20:48 PM | 60

It looks to me as if the differences between Obama and Merkel on Ukraine are tactical not strategic, viz:

Merkel doesn't have to deal with the infamous American "bottom line" every 90 days, and this gives her leisure to actually think about what she is doing.

German voters have a mind of their own and are not compliant stooges like American voters, who only require a few weeks of cheap propaganda to go along with the most crackpot of schemes. The saying "the burned child fears the fire" does not apply in their case.

The goal from Merkels point of view must be the neoliberal exploitation of Russia - not bringing Ukraine into NATO, which is only useful in an aggressive war against Russia; or for use as a provocation resulting in the removal of Putin.

Therefore Merkel has no qualms about putting the Western project against Russia on hold until a more opportune time.

Outraged | Mar 8, 2015 1:25:48 PM | 61

Hm, excellent article b, as always, though my first thoughts were, 'overly optimistic' ...

However, upon some reflection and reconsideration, there does seem to be a confluence/pattern of events occurring recently, which may signal that a real 'Newer Great Game' may be afoot, in our currently Unipolar, sole superpower, Empire dominated world.

The Minsk agreement was done without US involvement, in fact explicitly excluded US involvement, and the subsequent events of the EU players give every indication of having continued in that vein ... ie. Germany and France clearly acting independent of the Empire ... Poroschenko exposed as a powerless puppet, purely a pawn, a mere agent of influence of the US.

Now there are firm calls for no new sanctions by the EU, 'give Minsk a chance' ...

The reports re Breedlove/NATO and German governments new 'perspective' re Ukraine/Russia in this thread ... effectively denouncing the Empires warmongering, baseless propaganda, and willingness to have the EU 'go fuck itself' re Russia/Ukraine for no-ones benefit except the US. History, and US geopolitical strategy repeats ...

Now the EU (President Junckers) calling for the creation of an EU Integrated Army ... with only the UK and France so far having expressed concerns. France has always had a firm view to an independent military, regardless of NATO. UK view is irrelevant as they are merely viewed as the US suborned 'spoiler' in the EU, so again no surprise and no leverage/clout. Reports are Germany support the EU/Junckers proposal ... claims an integrated EU army would be far more effective and significantly less costly, as well as utilizing EU resources for the EU's benefit, not that of the US. Which would be quite true if micro and macro duplication at all levels was reduced by allocating specific functions and roles to relevant EU nations militaries within such a 'truly integrated' force ... for example, German Armored Corps, French Naval/Marine forces, Spanish Airborne/Airmobile, Italian Air Defence, a smaller member state to speciliaze as MPs, etc. The very proposal implicitly and explicitly would result in the dissolution of NATO, which has only ever been a US political-military agency within Europe serving exclusively the US interest. Such a proposal is NOT for the Empires benefit and very far from a trivial event. The Empire appears to have completely missed this coming ...

Reports the German government has created a new 'independent' offshoot of the BND, ie. a true German Intelligence service (or the seeds of ?) actually serving German National interests, as opposed to the US created and ever since suborned BND since the end of WWII ... is this also happening 'under the radar' in other EU states ?

Escalation of explicit diplomatic rhetoric calling out the prime US ally and Empire linchpin in the ME, Saudi Arabia, as the major source of terrorism, in the War on Terra ...

The extensive Snowden revelations, and fallout (latest blatant example - GEMALTO sims), re AUSCANUKUSNZ (Five-Eyes), could probably have led to the actual realization that there is the US and its four privileged 'Vassals', Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and New Zealand, first and foremost actually comprising the 'West' as far as the Empire is concerned, and only then so called 'third tier' pseudo allies, such as Germany, France, etc (which are treated as actual 'potential hostiles' by the five eyes), and then lastly all the rest of the 'Barbarians' in the world ... all the Empires sweet words and false comforts/assurances over the years may have finally come home to roost.

China and Russia, are clearly progressively entering ever closer into an integrated Political/economic/defence anti Empire bloc at multiple levels ... significant overtures between Egypt and Russia, Russia and Iran ... the BRICS economic and South American economic 'exit' from the domination of the Empires Petrodollar and previous economic/political exploitation/dominance.

Perhaps the Empire and the five eyes have been so busy attempting to 'collect it all' and endlessly pivot from here to there and back again, whilst playing divide and rule from one nation state to the other, filled to the brim with their own exceptionalism, that they have missed the bigger picture, missed seeing the new 'forest' emerging, having paid far to close attention to their brushfires and all those individual trees ...

OTOH, however, there would appear to be enough concurrent events occurring quickly enough to envisage the ground moving from under the feet of the Empire and the five eyes ... and in plain view ...

Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

Noirette | Mar 8, 2015 2:13:07 PM | 63

.. it is my opinion that the German government led by Mrs Merkel is a lot more involved in the crisis that is Ukraine than is being discussed in this forum. -- dan of steele at 13.

You bet. Merkel is an unexamined mover in these stories. (Germany has paid penance and is so cool…not.) Recall the break-up of Yugoslavia, under the radar Germany was the no 1 champion and mover, with the US.

Merkel has been meddling in Ukraine since forever, due to for a large part to up EU expansionism (Germany is the only country that benefits from the Eurozone, not in an evil or illegit way, all the other countries agreed..), to stretch out again, for more territory, cheap labor, factories run at low labor costs, the well-off in 'satellite' countries and elsewhere buying German products, finance ad loans, and so on. See Poland.

German expansionism! (Not that France is any better but they have less clout so are wimpy followers.) The Eurozone works like that: lend, give, money to poor 'southern' countries so that they buy your goods, when they stop buying or believing, you cut them off, and look for new markets. Or downscale etc.

Re. Ukraine, the fantasy was it could join the EU (not considered realistic by any reasoned analysts or actors unless talking about 20 years down the road without war) and Merkel pushed that.

Cuddled up to the US who had other aims, to make it short, provoke Russia, the whole thing was to be wrapped up with a lot of love-handshakes, as the Coup-Kiev Gvmt. was expected to maintain it's hold on a 'unitary' country which would be, it goes without stating, open to new 'industrialism', 'farming', 'reforms' (open up for foreign capital to make huge profits), and/or from the Nuland-type side, attack Russia by cutting ties, banning trade with Russia (see sanctions), forbidding Russian influence, media, commerce, and pushing for war, etc.

Donbass ppl objected, rose up, and it turned out that the Ukr. Gvmt could not deliver, - no army that could perform, no will, incompetence, also thieves...

These completely contradictory aims, of the EU and the US, are now public.

- one pov there are many others

Outraged | Mar 8, 2015 2:40:02 PM | 64

@ Okie Farmer

Many 'perhaps's and certainly not clear yet what the EU Army proposal truly indicates yet, but Germany is clearly behind and for it ... Ultimately the EU is Germany-France and there are many new possibilities emerging.

The geopolitical consequences of the reality of the Snowden revelations re the five-eyes conduct/actions/objectives and falsity of supposed alliances for 'mutual' as opposed to exclusive benefit of the Empire at every level may well have triggered recalculations amongst the 'pseudo allies' governments, this may well be the case with Germany, at least.

Usually very pessimistic, in this instance 'overly optimistic', or momentarily envisioning an alternate possible ?

Is it really in the EU interests to take a hit for the Empires benefit re Cold War 2.0 or the possibility of WW3 or move towards a less Atlanticist future ?

ǝn⇂ɔ | Mar 8, 2015 3:21:11 PM | 65

@dh #50
With the single exception of the Romans - because they literally ruled everything - every other empire always tries very hard to present the best front.

The British had their "White Man's Burden", the US had the "American Dream" but which has since been switched with the "War on Terror".

No doubt because only the least informed believe that old lie anymore.

Ed Lozano | Mar 8, 2015 3:25:29 PM | 66

Anonymous #57

An European Army would be the final act of the divorce from US, since it would be a de facto ending of NATO. No wonder why both US and their major "European" puppet UK radically oppose the idea. NATO's purpose was not only to counter Soviet military, but also to make sure Germany would never "rise again". That purpose is still biding and Germans know it. But under NATO umbrella, there's not much they can do to restore even a glimpse of the military power they had in the past. They "voluntarily" abdicate from developing nuclear weapons and most of their military spending is restricted to defensive air/ground capabilities, instead of means of projecting power such as naval vessels and long-range missiles. However, in an European unified defense system most of these restrictions should be lifted so to allow Germany to fulfill its obligations to the European allies. Most of American military bases would be rendered futile, and it's almost certain that NATO's nuclear silos stationed in Europe would have to be redeployed elsewhere, since an European defense agreement would demand full control of all military assets in European territory. Finally, Eastern Europe would turn to Germany and France instead of US when dealing with Russia, thus bringing more political stability to the region (violent "Maidans" would be less likely in the presence of foreign troops who, unlike Americans, have to answer for their actions when they come back home).

Needless to say, all these events would be catastrophic for US global domination strategy, since they would lose not only military control over strategic assets in Western Europe, but also major influence in the only part of the European Union they are actually welcome today. But one should remember none of this is new: since its creation European Union was conceived to have its own unified defense system, but this part of the European pact was sabotaged by British and Americans from the beginning. Even French nationalist leader De Gaulle became fond of the idea, but his efforts would be futile while Germany was not reunified and European Union was still a project. And one should notice an unified Europe is still a project today. Eurozone is crumbling, resentment among the periphery is running high and both Germans and French know it. One of the necessary solutions for preserving European Union is a unified defense system, for it would lift the minor associates defense spending burden while allowing the major ones to exert much more effective political influence among them, so to prevent that every economic crisis in those countries become a threat to the stability of the entire bloc itself.

Noirette #63

Undoubtedly Germany played a role in Maidan and there's enough evidence of that, but I don't think their objective was to produce a violent divorce between Ukraine and Russia. As far as I know German ambassadors were the major force in bringing to the negotiating table both President Yanukovitch and the opposition groups, who then signed the 21st of February agreement for Constitutional reform and anticipated elections. This agreement was also supported by Russia, and since Germany is the natural interlocutor for Moscow in "European" affairs, I assume the whole thing was arranged by Berlin. Problem is, no one really expected what happened the day after - except of course the Americans who had already decided to sabotage the deal and take it all for themselves, bypassing both Europe and Ukrainian "moderates" (like Yulia Timoshenko) through bribing the major oligarchs and former members of Yanukovitch's cabinet and the use of Right Sector thugs to attack Government buildings and seize power at once.

Germany won absolutely nothing with this outcome. Sure, Ukraine turned to West, but at what price? Now it's a devastated and bankrupted country with no control over a large portion of its own territory. And guess who will have to pay for their reconstruction? Yes, Germany. Merkel is anything but stupid. She knew from the beginning how Russia would react if threatened in her most sensitive interests. Georgia is not a far off memory for them. So yes, Germans would sure act to topple Yanukovicth if they had the chance, but only in a way "negotiated" with Russia. And that's exactly what they thought they had achieved in February 21st, 2014. Yanukovicth would be turned into a powerless President; there was to be new elections and Merkel's favorite Timoshenko would certainly win; Ukraine would join EU soon; and Russia would have to be satisfied with her Crimea's bases, and nothing more than that. The German plan was going too well, until Vic Nuland decided to f.. the EU once again. And here we are now.

Anonymous | Mar 8, 2015 3:26:40 PM | 67

Outraged

Did you miss that the EU mentioned Russia as the reason why EU wanted a EU army? Again, nothing but a US puppet proposal.

@63,64

jfl | Mar 8, 2015 4:20:37 PM | 68

It seems obvious to me that the EU - Germany - is much better off with Russia, the junior partner, than it is with the USA, the dominant partner.

Ok... but that's the way Germany sees itself vis a vis Russia and the way the US sees itself vis a vis Germany.

I guess the only question is on the downside of the switch ... how much pain can the US inflict on Germany thereafter?

And that's relative to how much pain the US' vicious, one-sided schemes can elicit for Germany (the EU) from the Russians. And that seems, everyday in every way, to be increasing.

I imagine that if the US does get a real war going with Russia they will have tipped the balance ... everything will then get unfrozen and move really quickly.

The reality will be apparent before news of it reaches our ears. Supersonically.

Outraged | Mar 8, 2015 4:25:08 PM | 69

@ Anonymous

If the intent is to replace NATO would you declare it or justify it 'falsely' by using the Empires propaganda justifications as a false cover ?

Again with the US puppet proposal crap, and why would the US want to create such a force when it would undermine nay invalidate NATOs very reason for existence for the last 60 plus years. NATO has been a political-military Trojan within Europe effectively controlled and literally commanded by the US, serving US interests for all that time.

Respectively, and reluctantly your 'point' suggests you are either naive, a fool or trollish, perhaps. Ed Lozano #66 touches on some relevant history and context if you are not aware of it ...

Ultimately nations only have and act on thier 'interests'.

okie farmer | Mar 8, 2015 4:53:54 PM | 70

Too much optimism in this thread. Heads of NATO, both European and US, have been urging NATO countries to "spend more on defense" - also many US politicians. There is a faction in Germany that have 'dreams' of their own MIC. Ukraine offers the chance to fulfill those dreams, they're pushing hard while they see the chance.

All but two of NATO members are headed by neoliberal scumbags, Greece and Hungary are the exceptions. France and Germany lead the way. Merkel has always been a neoliberal, Hollande has come to it only slightly reluctantly.

Neoliberalism is what US and EU have most in common - politically/economically. Very important. I don't think Germany has given up on buying up and privatizing as much of Ukraine as they can; and certainly the US based multinational corps are already buying Ukraine's assets - probably those corps in Europe too.

Perhaps the Spiegel article is a kind of false flag - or not; nonetheless it airs out what I see as a false resistance meme. Merkel, like Thatcher before her, is a committed neoliberal. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE!

Ed Lozano | Mar 8, 2015 5:15:02 PM | 73

@Anonymous #71

The fact that the main "cause" for EU Army is the need containing Russia changes nothing on the discussion about EU-US "divorce". Containing Russia has always been the issue of any Western alliance. Problem is, US and EU have major divergences about how to do it. US favors a far more provocative and offensive approach, by positioning military bases, missile shields and naval fleets around Russian border, and encouraging Russia's neighbors to cut their ties with Moscow and join Western partnerships. Europe on the other hand advocate a strictly defensive pact, that respects Russia's interests and influence over its near abroad.

The main reason for this divergence is quite easy to understand. European leaders know that in the event of war with Russia, the battlefield will be in their own lands. US on the other hand has nothing to risk and much to gain with a conflict between Russia and Europe, unless of course Russia decides to end the World (but for some odd reason that possibility never comes into account for neocons). But again, the divorce between US and EU is quite clear in this case. And I believe it's needless to say Russia would strongly support an European Army proposal, even if it's main purpose was to counter Russian military. For threats should be perceived not by one's alleged purposes, but by the means one employs to achieve those purposes.

lysias | Mar 8, 2015 5:16:45 PM | 74

Yes, the powers that be did that to JFK when he stepped out of line. But they must know that, if they did the same thing to Obama, there would be riots all over the country. So Obama has power that JFK never had, but he's too cowardly or opportunistic to use that power.

Outraged | Mar 8, 2015 5:23:09 PM | 75

@ jfl

Agreed, though the US has always been cowardly, has always avoided risking open conflict with first world countries. It far prefers to have others fight it out between or amongst themselves and benefit from picking up the spoils at little cost afterwards. Everyone else is weaker thier economies damaged and the US relevant power enhanced.

See the Iran-Iraq war, see the US conduct in WWI, profiting handsomely throughout and only entering the conflict at the last moment once Germany was already on her knees and France and UK were crippled. Rinse and repeat in WwII letting the Nazis and Japanese Empire do their worst and handsomely profiting from all sides until they were dragged in on Dec 07 41. The cost exacted from 'helping' the UK was a takeover of their former empire and relegation to junior poodle vassal status. The UK was required to pay every single last dollar owed including interest accrued for Lend Lease during WWII and they only cleared the debt a few years ago.

The US doesn't want actual war with Russia, however, ongoing conflict both economic and low-medium military in Europe weakens all the europeans at no cost to and for the further benefit of the Five-eyes.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works, unless miscalculations happen ...

It would seem the economic cost to Germany and to a lesser extent the rest of the EU regarding Russia is more than acceptable to the US, which ultimately has little skin in the game, for the US its a win-win, though apparently Germany and the EU? may be developing an entire different perspective, again all comes back to national 'interests'. And there appears to be no upside for Europe's interests re 'fuck the EU' ... even the somewhat rabid Poles are questioning the economic cost of Russia baiting re sanctions which are only hurting Russia and EU, US cost/pain=nil.

Anonymous | Mar 8, 2015 5:28:06 PM | 76

okie farmer

You are right, too much naive folks here suddenly. When people say that the EU army will somehow be "defensive" and will go against America's policies its just get too much to even comment further.

Outraged | Mar 8, 2015 7:21:58 PM | 78

@ Okie Farmer

The Military Commander of NATO (Supreme Allied Commander Europe - *barf*) is always a US General Officer and says publicly exactly what he is instructed to say by DC (ie. Breedlove), his counterpart the NATO Secretary-General supposedly speaks for all NATO members however due to the US largely rigging the appointments has most often been little more than a rabid Atlanticist warmonger also receiving his talking points from DC, former Anders Fogh Rasmussen having been one of the worst, and the current Jens Stoltenberg is no better (he's a champion for NATO getting its very own Nukes, yay), hence there isn't much room for other individual members of NATO to even get airtime re issues relative NATO.

Yes, the US Commander of NATO and the effectively US appointed Secretary-General sockpuppet and lots of US politicians want the Europeans to spend a lot more of their Euros on an expanded NATO military that the US commands, especially if its US armaments, and even more so if that caused the Russians to have to waste more money to further counter/offset a NATO expansion, for the benefit of US interests. Cost/pain to US=nil.

However, there has been little discernable success because of sustained resistance to this call for some time now by NATO member countries, regardless of the over-the-top US propaganda re Russia and Ukraine, as NATO members have better things to do with those Euros given the state of the EU economy (austerity - public antipathy to military expenditure) since the GFC and the only beneficiary would be the US including indirectly by further weakening the EU economy to further US economic advantage globally. The indications are that even the UK poodle intends to further cutback, not expand, its military budget after the upcoming election.

The selling points of this possible EU Army apparently being put forward by Junckers/Germany are an EU Commander (ie. Not a US officer, rotating national appointment ?), under EU command serving EU interests, supposedly greater effectiveness/efficiency/reduced duplication, and therefore purportedly costing less Euros overall re current military expenditure (compared to US controlled NATO ?).

Nah, can't for the life of me see why the UK and US would be adamantly opposed ... *cough*

ǝn⇂ɔ | Mar 8, 2015 10:07:10 PM | 80

I would separate German policies in the rest of the EU/world with German policies within their own borders.
A strong proxy for the presence of neoliberal economic policies is property prices. Nations which undergo a property bubble - are almost always neoliberal. Germany in this respect had pretty much the lowest property price growth of any EU nation.

Debs is dead | Mar 8, 2015 10:08:00 PM | 81

If American foreign policy can engineer a war based around the Ukraine where European troops fight russian troops at the same time as a major schism develops in Europe between the 'new Europeans' of the Baltic states, Poland and the Czech republic and the old Europeans of France germany italy and spain, the amerikan empire will have killed two birds with one stone.

I reckon the European schism won't be splintering along such neat and tidy fault lines if it splinters at all, however.

While the old school euro politicians may be reluctant to go to war, I am unsure their military leadership shares that view.

For too long Nato command structures have been trained with an American ethos and a value set likely to see war as being 'a good thing'. The alacrity with which Nato tossed its European defense goal aside to jump into Afghanistan and then encouraged Nato members to deploy to then, despite both deployments being at odds with the wishes of their fellow citizens, ably illustrates the fault line between political and military leadership which successive euro pols have desperately tried to conceal from their voters

In the immediate post war period the euro governments had little say in the matter but with the occasional exception of france the bulk of european pols have been content to let amerika pick up the training tab for staff officers. With the short term goal orientation typical of elected leaders, most euro pols chose to believe they were getting 'free' training for their military commanders, rather than the truth - that europe was paying vast sums for a military whose commanders would dance the washington jig.

The short-sightedness of europe's pols has them choking their Greek brothers and sisters while the euro continues to decline yet the US$ arcs ever upwards, and never asking themselves "why are we working so hard to help amerika at the expense of fellow europeans?"

I have no doubt however much Merkel and co claim to oppose a full on war with Ukraine; instigated at least in part by their own military leaders whose patriotism must be open to question, that in the end they will acquiese to Nuland's strategy.

Not to do so would rquire vision and personal courage both of these in short supply among euro neo-liberals.

Especially for Merkel there is an easy out. All she needs to do is to tap into the just below the surface and rarely enunciated beliefs of a substantial number of her fellow citizens - that Germany has the 'right' to expand its influence further east.

whack | Mar 9, 2015 5:15:16 AM | 85

@Outraged 78

What a relief to see finally somebody who gets it. Bravo!

(Some hasbara trolls here pretend not to, in order to spread fear and disnfo).

Prosperous Peace | Mar 9, 2015 2:25:19 AM | 84

I think you give Obongo way too much credit.

He is "President" yes, but is he really? Or is he just a token face for the McCain´s and the other white House plantation owners to hold up for the 99%, a mere House n*gger?

Everytime the man open his mouth accompanied as always by his Telepromter or advisors, even then puerile stupidities ansd ridicolous threats comes out. I think he is doing a better characterization of himself than the North Koreans possibly could imagine...

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-27/north-korea-trolls-obama-compares-us-president-monkey-tropical-jungle

Anonymous | Mar 9, 2015 6:17:16 AM | 87

@ Debs is Dead

The whole purpose of NATO from inception was to undermine and suborn the military command of the NATO members military forces to US control for the benefit of the Empire. To have leverage of those militaries and direct command influence outside of their 'sovereign' governments. To keep Germany 'down'. Many Non-US-UK NATO officers are very aware indeed of what NATO really is, US provided 'training' or not. De Gaulle was well aware of the threat and gave NATO 'the finger' many times.

Five-eyes military officers are routinely utilized by their intelligence agencies to actively and aggressively cultivate and suborn any military officer who is not Five-eyes. The same process is aggressively pursued by the intelligence agencies against their counterparts amongst their tier three and four pseudo-allies such as Germany, France, Italy, etc. This has been going on for many decades.

The Chinese learnt this lesson during WWII and under no circumstances allow any officer with Operational/Line command in the PLA to have direct contact with US military counterparts except under very strict circumstances. The PLA has a dedicated corps of officers to conduct such interaction and liasion who will never be given PLA Operational/Line commands in their career as a result. To say the least, this really pisses the US off no end. A PR/Liaison officer in the PLA is of no use as an agent or future agent of influence given such policies, bummer.

These 'harmless' military-military and intelligence-intelligence interactions have been the very basis/foundation stone of the vast majority of the coups and destabilization operations the US has conducted on every continent since WWII.

There is the Five-eyes and then every other country on the planet, who are merely given different ratings of 'hostile' or 'enemy' and treated accordingly, regardless of any public utterings re so called 'alliances' and 'partnerships'.

'Old Europe' has dragged its feet and more many times despite dictats from the US. Latin America provides many examples of where the US polices/actions are ultimately counter-productive, compare its current state to the 60's-70's-80's absolute US dominance.

Regardless of US Neoliberal politics/virus the serving militaries of NATO as a whole would be bound more tightly to their own communities and individual national interests, should push come to shove, me thinks, given histories lessons.

IF the EU is to get out from under US domination/control/influence which is more and more counter to its own and europes interests (and many of its individual nations interests), it has to create separation of its intelligence services from the Five-eyes and take back control of its own military commands and agencies. A very big IF indeed ...

Outraged | Mar 9, 2015 5:38:28 AM | 86

More proof for the naive folks here:
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/03/09/400990/Russia-MP-calls-EU-army-idea-provocative

[Mar 09, 2015] Boris Nemtsov ally: Islamist speculation over murder 'useful for Kremlin' by Shawn Walker

They still want to play the war propaganda game. Here we go. Shawn Walker writings. Foreign Office talking points. What not this Illya Yashin (not sure if he was co-leader of Nemtsov's opposition party then), involved with distribution to protesters several millions in West-supplied cash that were discovered at Ksenia Sobchak apartment during Russian color revolution of 2012 ?
Mar 09, 2015 | The Guardian

founderchurch

The NEW Cold War is back with a vengeance. Similar lineup but very different ideologies in conflict. Before you had atheistic communism against religious capitalism, now the roles are reversed. America and England are now resembling the old socialist USSR and Red China, while Russia and China are now increasingly coming to resemble the formerly religious and capitalistic America and England. What irony... OMG one thing is the same, eminent Nuclear War...

richiep40 -> Jose C. Sandoval

We will never know who started the fire in Odessa, The Guardian.

What happened to the open and transparent investigations into the shootings in Maidan, the fire in Odessa and the downing of the Malaysian aircraft I wonder ?

VladimirM

"Putin has said he has taken "personal control" of the investigation"

The phrase has sparked a sort of controversy here, some people are even using it as a proof of conspiracy. It's mainly because they are not aware of what this expression actually means.
The phrase "взять под личный контроль" in Russian does not mean that Putin is personally in charge of the team of investigators giving orders which line to follow or not, who to charge or arrest or not.

It simply means that police and security service are informing him regularly about the progress in the investigation, meetings or briefings may be held, reports are being made, etc., etc. The importance of the case is unprecedented, so the people, resources, etc. must be involved, engaged in the same unprecedented scale. The highest level of control is just facilitating all this as well as cooperation and coordination of law-enforcement agencies.
That's what this eye-catching phrase means.

Laudig, 2015-03-10,00:16:54

This is what a political assassination looks like American-style. "After two years of guerrilla warfare, leading Péralte to declare a provisional government in the north of Haiti, Charlemagne Péralte was betrayed by one of his officers, Jean-Baptiste Conzé, who led disguised US Marines Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken (later meritoriously promoted to Second Lieutenant for his exploits) and Corporal William Button into the rebels camp, near Grand-Rivière Du Nord.[1]:215-217" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne_P%C3%A9ralte

Solongmariane 9 Mar 2015 14:41

Contrary to JFK & Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Isaac Rabin .!!!! .we get a lot of arrested suspects. It's a conjuration, and with so much complices it will possible to get informations. Objectivily, I don't see why Putin will need to eliminate physically Nemtsov, because he didn't exist before his assassination.

It was so easy to destroy him politically, with the kind of life he has ( too much women). It's the west who created a anti-Putin heros, for his propaganda..

Andrew -> Oldtruster

I think Ramzan Kadyrov said the truth. He illustrated the motivation of the killer. The killer seems a simple-minded person. It was easy to convince him that Nemtsov had outraged the prophet. This have nothing to do with real motives of the murder but we will never get to know them as a man who convinced the killer has died. Investigators are off the trail, case closed.

susandbs12 9 Mar 2015 14:38

Rather than speculation we should wait for the results of the investigation to be published.

The Russia haters are too quick to expect instantaneous results, and jump to preposterous conclusions based on nothing.

Wait for the investigation to be completed. This constant sniping will not have a positive effect on those who are doubtlessly working very hard to find out what happened and why.

seaspan -> Standupwoman 9 Mar 2015 15:13

Nemtsov's allies, the US/CIA, and Kiev.

Or Muslims...

The list was rather short for Sherlock, and you cant convict them all. Muslims are the perfect patsie and the crazy fundies can and are indirectly connected to any number of third "western" parties already. So all in all, a good choice. I can just see the conspiracy loons at RT and elsewhere busy connecting the dots, to defend their main man Putin.

Ciarán Here 9 Mar 2015 14:38

Boris Nemtsov ALLY and the guardian make fine cocktail Islamist speculation over murder 'useful for Kremlin' ....but not useful for the USA UK EU....

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves

Ciarán Here -> tjmars 9 Mar 2015 14:34

Yes you spotted it, it is called pointing the finger away from oneself - look over there! No not there in Detroit or Greece for example but there in Russia we need to demonize a enemy to distract the plebs from our mistreatment of them...and to justify our wars against those who simply say no and that we are a sovereign state not a vassal of your greed ...


aucontraire2 MasonInNY 9 Mar 2015 14:19

You are not naive if you are from NY. You know that the Putin saga is all a made up story to hide the failures of the west on the international scene.

The US is a failed leader now because it has failed the world in not providing justice to Palestinians. The world needs a moral leader. Obviously the Chinese aren't interested at becoming the world's moral leader, Russia can't become a moral leader for obvious reasons, Canada was on its way to take the leadership, but the US republicans saw to it by forcing a nutcase called Harper who hides in a closet at the first sound of firecrackers.

tjmars 9 Mar 2015 14:18

The Guardian Trusts's new way of keeping privileged access to governmental news is to promote propaganda pieces for the government. The Guardian had to do a 180 after Snowden, so we'll forever more get the likes of subjective opinions of young idealists from a Russian political party that couldn't afford a security detail for its leader.

I guess with the ceasefire in Ukraine and the arrests of two conspirators so far from Chechnya, they are running out of angles to spread the BS around with.

How about switching over to the not-so breaking news that globalization is devastating currencies and economies, politics and human rights and resources and environmernts; the monetising and marketing on everything worldwide.

Why report on the failure of politics and economics in one lousy country, when there's a "failure du jour" everyday caused by globalization.

Why not cover the wars resulting from it on a daily rotation?

Who could have predicted that World War 3 would be a protracted economic war that would plunge the world into a neo-Dark Age for hundreds of years?

The real wars are now suicides where people, who can't stand the stifling boredom of repititous consumer product variations, sign up to commit suicide en mass in a foreign country. That, adversely, is video gaming creating its own reality...

Standupwoman 9 Mar 2015 14:12

A predictable approach, but it misses something rather important. If the murder is indeed brought home to the Chechens, then that is very convenient for all the other and much more likely suspects - Nemtsov's allies, the US/CIA, and Kiev. Putin had no motive, but each of those three had much to gain from a Nemtsov assassination, and have been gleefully cashing in ever since.

If Putin wanted to deflect blame onto someone else, why on earth wouldn't he choose one of those? If Russia is the gangland state so many seem to think, then it would be simple to 'do a Kiev' and stage a 'confession' implicating the CIA, Poroshenko, or anyone it wanted. So why hasn't it?

Unless of course the investigation is genuine and the Chechens did it after all...

irishmand -> seaspan 9 Mar 2015 15:06

It is my understanding that his area of influence and political activity was limited to Moscow, the place Stalin over defended as he correctly surmised it was the brain of the USSR. Yeltsin also understood Moscow as the place to agitate to shake up the national leadership.

If you want to start a coup, you have to do it in Moscow. Nemtsov was losing his influence in Moscow. He was an member of the local duma in Yaroslavl'.

therealbillythefish 9 Mar 2015 15:05

Unfortunately for those on the West and their agents in Russia, the killers have been caught fairly quickly and at least one has already confessed.

So, better go find something else to scream and shout about.

irishmand McStep 9 Mar 2015 15:03

I have no shame. Sorry, I lost it somewhere on my way... Maybe, after reading the western press for a while, I started mimicking them.

But, in my defense, I only troll the trolls. If somebody wants to have a meaningful discussion I am ready to have it too..

artdeco McStep 9 Mar 2015 15:02

Yeah, suspected so (Not that there's anything wrong with being Russian!, to paraphrase Seinfeld) - the frequent absence of the little word the in sentences is a quite reliable "tell"...
;)

seaspan -> 1waldo1 9 Mar 2015 15:00

Why would he have to be in the "western press" to be considered important by the Kremlin? He was involved in Moscow and was assassinated for his political activity there, not in Chechnya or London. Doesn't Russia have its own independent domestic political dynamic?

No one else outside that venue should have given a damn about him.

rodney9 -> UBX525AEZ 9 Mar 2015 14:58

They even had a snow removal truck come by there to obstruct any potential witnesses at that exact moment of the murder.The snow truck seemed to be slowed down at the point of the murder to provide the killer or killers cover

You clearly belong to the Gary Kasparov school of en passant criminologists.

McStep -> crystaltips2 9 Mar 2015 14:55

mate, there are so many apparatchik trolls on this and other related threads, it's a joke. the laughable thing about them is that most Russians know their media system is woefully centrally controlled and censored, but they actually agree with this because they think the function of news media is to tell the people want they want to hear in order to maintain solidarity in times of trouble.

in essence, they know, or a part of them knows, that they're talking utter **** but i guess like some poor domestically abused partner it's a case, of, " SHUT UP, WHAT DO YOU KNOW??? HE LOVES ME!!!!!"

but it's understandable. if your leader is perpetuating generations of the indoctrinated notion that the tsar has every right to pillage the state, murder its people and incite conflict on a whim, then its probably is very difficult to come to terms with the abject sense of shame they should be feeling.

therealbillythefish

Unfortunately for those on the West and their agents in Russia, the killers have been caught fairly quickly and at least one has already confessed.

So, better go find something else to scream and shout about.

Fromrussia1976 -> therealbillythefish

Or you'd better to investigate who has downed that plane in the Ukraine... Half a year has left, but no result!

vr13vr

We don't know yet all the details and we are not sure what is behind this Chechen link. But no matter what the working hypothesis are and what the results are, this opposition is going to criticize it. That's why he is in anti-government opposition. There is no need to put his doubts into a front page article.

SonnyTuckson

Scripted by the Kremlin. Again. Nothing new here. Getting rid of one opponent by blaming another.

irishmand -> SonnyTuckson

Scripted by CIA. Again. Nothing new here. Stage a murder, blame on somebody else.

rodney9

Perhaps it would be more to the point, and better journalism, to elaborate and contexualise the comments made by Nemtsov on Charlie Hebdo, or the German cartoon he published on his facebook side, as well as Nemtsov's personal attack on Kadyrov, rather than blanket denials that it has anything to do with insulting the prophet Mohammed. Fortunately, following a few links here in the comment section makes that all possible. That they are ignored here in the article is evidence once again of poor journalism, it's almost like being told don't bother to go there, it's not worth it, just keep on believing it was Putin. The Guardian published an editorial not so very long ago about " a cynical post-modern media strategy" all those Kremlin controlled channels manipulating the truth for daring to suggest 5 (sic) lines of enquiry, and how truth itself was "vanishing" in a flurry of what they called "weaponised relativism". CCTV cameras were conspicuously inoperative, some bigots speculated that a snow plough had been strategically sent in (Gary Kasparov) to mask the actual footage of the moment of the killing.

We realise that this must be very disppointing for all those who wanted this to be a sure fire mafia hit in a "mafia state" carried out by a mafia boss, rather than an act of Islamic terrorism from fanatics that we have recently seen elsewhere in Paris and Copenhagen.

We shouldn't forget that hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Chechnya against Charlie Hebdo, finding it all very provocative. I will probably watch France 24, that news channel might not be so hostile to looking at the real connections and Nemtsov's comments in depth rather than denials by an English newspaper.

Simon311 -> rodney9

Well the Guardian and others who have spent months telling us that the Russian media is not worth reading and watching, now quotes the Russian media when it agrees with thier view.

This is almost mental illness in its inconsistency.

Ludicrous - the Russian media is always wrong, until it says someting we like, then it is completely right.

MentalToo

Saw this headline at TASS:

First suspects in Nemtsov murder identified - Federal Security Service

Surprisingly it turned out the suspects was not FSB after all, but some of Kadyrov's lunatics arrested by FSB. Who could have guessed that.

It seems they have found some, who are even more crazy than he is.

daltonbernard

...some of Nemtsov's associates ... do not believe fanatics acting alone could have shot someone dead so close to the Kremlin.

I mean, that's just dumb. It's not hard to shoot somebody. I don't see how the proximity to the Kremlin makes it any more difficult. You just ... do it. It takes all of a second or two to pull a trigger a few times. Unless the Russians have installed some kind of electromagnetic field around the Kremlin that magically stops guns from firing. But the article doesn't say they have, so I'm at a loss as to how "some of Nemtsov's associates" could be so irrational.

seaspan -> daltonbernard

Rumour's are flying in Moscow, and lazy journalists will report whatever they hear without putting it into a more understandable context or making better sense of it. What I've heard that makes more sense is that a Chechen fanatic muslim "motive" doesn't make any sense, even though someone from there could have been hired to kill Nemtsov -- the important point is that the motive remains open and officially obscured...

Simon311 -> Havingalavrov

Howd o you know

a) He was a "complete professional"?

b) Criminals make mistakes all the time

c) You appear to be beleieving Russian media which you have said is full of lies.

So self contradictory pompous rubbish.

Yes you do not like Putin - got it.

BunglyPete

Make of this what you will but this seems to be the official line so don't expect much else

In 2007 Boris Nemtsov gave an interview to the magazine "Expert", in which he stated that all the measures of President Vladimir Putin are aimed at increasing the birth rate, primarily in the regions populated by Muslims, and it is "extremely dangerous for the future of Russia". After that Nemtsov was accused by well-known representatives of the Muslim world of Islamophobia.

In January 2015, the year after the execution of cartoonists from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the politician in his blog on the website of "Echo of Moscow" had justified the actions of the cartoonists, and wrote that "Islam is stuck in the middle ages", and called recent events the "Islamic Inquisition".

A few days later, Nemtsov said that "Everyone is tired of Kadyrov's threats", and "it is time to arrest him". This happened after the head of Chechnya said very unflattering things about the opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky and journalist Alexey Venediktov because of their support for the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.

Zaur Dadaev decided that Boris Nemtsov offended Muslims, and out of a false sense of patriotism and defense of religion decided to punish the politician

http://www.rosbalt.ru/moscow/2015/03/08/1375743.html

Simon311 -> BunglyPete

The US, Russia and Germany - you can't beat any of them for producing weird types.

Simon311 -> RedTelecaster

Whatever a "Putinbot" may be. SOunds like a new word for "commie" as it was used 40 years ago.

Renfrow

Reading the posts here it is clear to me that people that blamed Putin for this will continue to do so regardless of what evidence to the contrary is presented simply because it suits their agenda.

FrancesSmith -> RedTelecaster

go on help the neocons destroy eastern europe. do nuland and breedlove pay you are or do you do it for free?

but in truth you just reveal the ugliness that lies at the heart of the demonisation of putin, and repel people. keep it up..................

midnightschild10

It's the silly season again. The Obama administration is demanding a thorough investigation of Nemtsov' s death. They don't want a whitewash. The US certainly knows a whitewash when it sees one. Our Justicell Department looked high and low in the White House and couldn't find one banker or CEO to hold responsible for the housing crises. ( They all hang out on Wall Street.) Given a second chance to do their job, they couldn't find any military/industrial contractor who committed fraud in either not building incinerators on US bases in Iraq and Afghanistan or built them but they could not be used because of shoddy workmanship. ( Should have asked soldiers returning home with respiratory problems due to trash pits.) And finally the DOJ was unable to find anyone responsible for the torture and rendition programs ( could have found Cheyney on Fox News continuing to do interviews.)

So it shouldn't be too difficult for Russia to do a better job investigating the death of Nemtsov, since the US has set the bar so low.

irgun777

Shaun Walker writes about " Islamic speculation convenient for Kremlin '

One of the suspects blow himself in traditional Islamic suicide tradition, others were charged in court hiding their faces from reporters. This is where Mr Walker, the speculation stops.

[Mar 08, 2015] Russia's Most Notorious Hitman Claims Nemtsov's Killers Were Amateurs

Mar 08, 2015 | Sputnik International
Boris Nemtsov's killing last week was probably not a political assassination, as it was carried out by amateurs, said former professional assassin Alexei Sherstobitov.

Gunmen who killed Russian politician Boris Nemtsov last week in central Moscow were amateurs and the pattern of the murder indicates that it was carried out unprofessionally, former hitman Alexei Sherstobitov, currently serving a prison term for 12 assassinations, told Russian news site Gazeta.

Every hitman, first and foremost, is concerned about one thing – how to carry out an assassination with the least amount of risk of being exposed. The most logical choice for a killer would have been to shoot the victim from as far as possible. In Nemtsov's case, given where the killing took place, the simplest way to execute the assassination would have been to drive along the street, on which the victim was walking, park the car and wait until he approached.

Once he was at a shooting distance, the shooter should have slightly opened the car's window, shot the victim and escaped without putting himself at the risk of exposure. Even an average shooter should be able to hit a person's head at the distance between 15 and 25 meters. The fact that Nemtsov's killers made six shots, while only hitting him four times, at a close distance shows their unprofessionalism, Sherstobitov told Gazeta.

"A professional shooter, who often uses his weapon, is unlikely to fire this many shots," said the former assassin. One of two shots are usually enough.

Sherstobitov said the killing reminded him of incidents that frequently occurred during the 1990s, when gang members accidentally came across someone from a rival gang in a public place. In situations like that, killings were often carried out on short notice, without much preparation.

Those, who spotted a member or members from a rival gang, made a phone call and killers would soon arrive, take positions near the victims' car or outside of a restaurant, where their victims were. Assassinations like this were often ill-organized, chaotic and took place in public places, Sherstobitov explained.

The former hitman concluded that Nemtsov's killing was likely a non-political assassination.

"In my opinion, this [Nemtsov] is not a politician who could really influence something. Many people had already forgotten about him," Sherstobitov said, adding that there are more important and influential politicians out there to assassinate, if one really wanted to cause a real political chaos in the country.

The killing of Nemtsov was not even carried out professionally, the former hitman said, ruling out the political version of the last week assassination.

Sherstobitov was a member of one of Moscow's organized crime groups during the 1990s, when he became known as one of Russia's most notorious assassins. In 2008, he was found guilty of assassinating 12 people and currently serving a 23-year prison term.

[Mar 07, 2015] Russian Opposition Putin Did NOT Assassinate Opposition Leader

Notable quotes:
"... U.S. media is quick to blame Putin for the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. ..."
"... This is a classic sacrificial lamb, textbook case. Good job Americans, good job Nazis, good job liberals. I dont know who of them did this. But it was done beautifully. ..."
"... Even the U.S. governments Voice of America states – in an article entitled Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life? – that Putin loses much more than he gains by the assassination: ..."
March 1, 2015 | WashingtonsBlog

U.S. media is quick to blame Putin for the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

But Itina Khakamada – a top ally of Nemtsov in the opposition – said the killing was "clearly not in Putin's interest. It's aimed at rocking the situation."

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agrees.

Mikhail Delyagin – a top advisor to Nemtsov for a year and a half – said that Putin didn't do it, and compared it to the shoot down of Malaysian Flight 17 over Ukraine:

The fact is obvious: this is a Malaysian Boeing, shot down by the Nazis at the walls of the Kremlin.

***

This is a classic sacrificial lamb, textbook case. Good job Americans, good job Nazis, good job liberals. I don't know who of them did this. But it was done beautifully.

***

We have to be prepared that Ukraine will be brought to Russia a lot faster then I thought just recently.

Before I thought that we are safe from Maidan until November, now it is clear that Maidan may be lit up already in the spring. The sacrificial lamb has been slaughtered.

Even the U.S. government's Voice of America states – in an article entitled "Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?" – that Putin loses much more than he gains by the assassination:

With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage. But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin's rule.

Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov's death.

Even officials in Putin's government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister's martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night's drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate "provocation" ahead of the planned weekend rally.

Dr_NOS

Apparently Jen Psaki is pregnant. Let's blame Putin for this

[Mar 07, 2015] Washington's Cloned Female Warmongers By Finian Cunningham

What is it about America's women diplomats? They seem so hard and cloned - bereft of any humanity or intelligence. Smear Campaigns, Bullying, Flattery ... All set of tricks of female sociopaths...
February 09, 2014 | Information Clearing House

What is it about America's women diplomats? They seem so hard and cloned - bereft of any humanity or intelligence. Presumably, these women are supposed to represent social advance for the female gender. But, far from displaying female independence, they are just a pathetic copy of the worst traits in American male politicians - aggressive, arrogant and completely arrant in their views.

Take Victoria Nuland - the US Assistant Secretary of State - who was caught using obscene language in a phone call about the European Union and the political affairs of Ukraine. In her previous posting as a spokeswoman for the US State Department, Nuland had the demeanor of a robotic matron with a swivel eye.

Now in her new role of covertly rallying anti-government protesters in Ukraine, Nuland has emerged to sound like a bubblegum-chewing Mafia doll. In her leaked private conversation with the US ambassador to Kiev, the American female diplomat is heard laying down in imperious tones how a new government in Ukraine should be constituted. Nuland talks about "gluing together" a sovereign country as if it is a mere plaything, and she stipulates which members of the US-backed street rabble in Kiev should or should not be included in any Washington-approved new government in the former Soviet republic.

We don't know who actually tapped and leaked Nuland's private call to the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt. It could have been the Ukrainian or Russian secret services, but, regardless, it was an inspired move to reveal it. For the disclosure, which has been posted on the internet, lays bare the subversive meddling agenda of Washington in Ukrainian internal affairs. Up to now, the Americans have been piously pretending that their involvement is one of a bystander supporting democracy from afar.

But, thanks to the Nuland's foul-mouthed indiscretion, the truth is out. Washington, from her own admission, is acting like an agent provocateur in Ukraine's political turmoil. That is an illegal breach of international rules of sovereignty. Nuland finishes her phone call like a gangster ordering a hit on a rival, referring to incompetent European interference in Ukraine with disdain - "F...k the EU."

What we are witnessing here is the real, ugly face of American government and its uncouth contempt for international law and norms.

Next up is Wendy Sherman, the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who is also Washington's top negotiator in the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran. Sherman is another flinty-eyed female specimen of the American political class, who, like Nuland, seems to have a block of ice for a heart and a frozen Popsicle for a brain.

Again, like Nuland, Sherman aims to excel in her political career by sounding even more macho, morose and moronic than her male American peers.

Last week, Sherman was giving testimony before the US Senate foreign affairs committee on the upcoming negotiations with Iran over the interim nuclear agreement. The panel was chaired by the warmongering Democrat Senator Robert Menendez, who wants to immediately ramp up more sanctions on Iran, as well as back the Israeli regime in any preemptive military strike on the Islamic Republic.

Sherman's performance was a craven display of someone who has been brainwashed to mouth a mantra of falsehoods with no apparent ability to think for herself. It's scary that such people comprise the government of the most nuclear-armed-and-dangerous state in the world.

Programmed Sherman accused Iran of harboring ambitions to build nuclear weapons. "We share the same goal [as the warmonger Menendez] to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." And she went on to repeat threadbare, risible allegations that Iran is supporting international terrorism. That is a disturbing indication of the low level of political intelligence possessed by the US chief negotiator.

"Iran also continues to arm and train militants in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Bahrain. And Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah continue," asserted Sherman without citing an iota of proof and instead relying on a stale-old propaganda narrative.

The number three in the US State Department went on to say of the interim nuclear deal with Iran: "What is also important to understand is that we remain in control over whether to accept the terms of a final deal or not. We have made it clear to Iran that, if it fails to live up to its commitments, or if we are unable to reach agreement on a comprehensive solution, we would ask the Congress to ramp up new sanctions."

Remember that Sherman and her State Department boss John Kerry are considered "soft on Iran" by the likes of Menendez, John McCain, Lyndsey Graham, Mark Kirk, and the other political psychopaths in Washington. So, we can tell from Sherman's callous words and mean-minded logic that the scope for genuine rapprochement between the US and Iran is extremely limited.

Sherman finished her performance before the Senate panel with the obligatory illegal threat of war that Washington continually issues against Iran: "We retain all options to ensure that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon."

In the goldfish-bowl environment of Washington politics, perhaps such female officials are to be even more feared. The uniform monopoly of America's political class is dictated by militarism – weapons manufacturers, oil companies and Zionist lobbyists. The only way to "succeed" in this cesspool is to be even more aggressive and imperialist than your peers.

Nuland and Sherman illustrate the cold-hearted logic at work in American robotic politics: it's a system programmed for imperialism and war, and it doesn't matter whether the officials are Democrat, Republic, male or female. They are all clones of a war criminal state.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism.

This article was originally published at Press TV

[Mar 07, 2015] Germany Has Had Enough With US Neocons: Berlin "Stunned" At US Desire For War In Ukraine

Nuland somewhat reminds Madeleine Albright. Both are so fund of bulling their opponents, that probably might be classified as female psychopaths... As one commenters noted "I take it that "hard-charging" is an American euphemism for foul of mouth and coarse of temperament?"
Mar 07, 2015 | zerohedge.com

While Russia's envoy to NATO notes that statements by the deputy head of NATO testify to the fact that the leaders of the bloc want to intervene in Russia's internal politics, and are "dreaming of Russian Maidan," Washington has a bigger problem... Germany. As Der Spiegel reports, while US President Obama 'supports' Chancellor Merkel's efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin's approach. And NATO's top commander in Europe hasn't been helping either with sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove's comments as "dangerous propaganda."

... ... ...

And as Der Spiegel reports, The Germans are not happy.

... ... ...

Nuland Diplomacy

Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year's presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying "I love Russia." Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.

She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone -- and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. "No violence against the protesters or you'll fall," Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country's leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.

Nuland has also been open -- at least internally -- about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said "Fuck the EU" during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.

When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe's resistance to arming Ukraine.

On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. "While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems," Nuland said. "It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality."

Jurassic

general Breedwar or Breedhatred? Hes war maniac!

cossack55

Typical wingnut general. Notice you don't hear the grunts talkin' shit. Gotta go. Dr. Strangelove is about to start.

XqWretch

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

bania

Breedlove? Heading up an army? Can't make this stuff up!!!

Took Red Pill

"Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine." We all are!

chunga

Hmmm...Nudelman and Kagan aren't from Mars or Venus are they?

Urban Redneck

Frau Ferkel is just a muppet cocktease, and so is the "concern". It's nothing but political cover for the political whores. If they were seriously alarmed, they would simply revoke General Ripper's diplomatic credentials and issue an arrest warrant for the psychopath.

Lumberjack

Read this:

The Obscenely Easy Exile of Idi Amin

https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/164/28440.html

On a reporting trip to Saudi Arabia seven years ago, I went to Idi Amin's house. I had heard that Mr. Amin, the former Ugandan dictator who died last weekend at the age of 78, was living in Jidda, the Red Sea port, and I wanted to see for myself. Was it possible that a man who, in the 1970's, had ordered the deaths of 300,000 of his countrymen, raped and robbed his nation into endless misery and admitted to having eaten human flesh was whiling away his time as a guest of the Saudi government?

It was. There, in a spacious villa behind a white gate, Mr. Amin made his home with a half-dozen of his 30 or so children. He was not there the day I rang (a son said he was out of town), but locals said he could often be seen pushing his cart along the frozen food section of the supermarket, being massaged at the health club, praying at the mosque. He had long ago abandoned his British-style military uniform for the white robe of the Saudi man, but as an African measuring 6-foot-3 and nearly 300 pounds, he did not exactly blend in.

A former Sudanese colonel who worked as a manager at the local supermarket said, "People greet him and say, `Hello, Mr. President.' " Why? Wasn't he a savage dictator?

"Oh yes" he used to eat people," the manager replied, laughing. "But this is our nature. We forget."

But what would prompt the Saudi government to play host to such a man?

The answer, when the question was posed to Saudi officials, was an excursion into the desert habits of hospitality, and Mr. Amin's conversion to Islam. His support for the Arab boycott of Israel in the 1970's certainly also endeared him to his hosts.

During the nearly quarter-century of his soft exile, no nation tried to bring Mr. Amin to justice. A few years ago, after Spain's government went after Chile's former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, Human Rights Watch did bring up Mr. Amin's case to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, but to no avail. Under international law, any nation, including Saudi Arabia, could have and should have prosecuted Mr. Amin.

But, as Reed Brody, special counsel for prosecutions at Human Rights Watch, says, "If you kill one person, you go to jail; if you kill 20, you go to an institution for the insane; if you kill 20,000, you get political asylum." Mr. Brody keeps a melancholy map on his wall of other tyrants gone free: Alfredo Stroessner, dictator of Paraguay, lives in Brazil; Haiti's Raoúl Cedras is in Panama; Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia is in Zimbabwe; Hissí¨ne Habré of Chad lives in Senegal. Today there is the International Criminal Court, which can bring a future Amin to justice, although the United States is among 100 countries that have shortsightedly declined to participate in the court.

I was sorry not to have had a chance to talk to Mr. Amin directly. But those who did speak with him suggest that I missed little. An Italian journalist, Riccardo Orizio, asked him in 1999 whether he felt remorse. No, Mr. Amin replied, only nostalgia. Six years earlier, a British writer, Tom Stacey, saw him. At one point, Mr. Amin pulled from his pocket a paraphrase of Psalm 22 and commented: "Remember we are special to God. He sees a beauty in us few see."

Harbanger

"The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist LEFT to the camp of American conservatism."

-Straight from the definition for the morons that don't know how to do research..

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

August

I continue to believe that the US goal in the Ukraine is to distract and bedevil Russia merely by expending a few billion zio-dollars, and thousands of Ukrainian lives, both of which are truly dirt cheap in Washington's calculus. This is to be followed by the USA's ultimately just walking away, leaving a broken Ukraine for its neighbors, chiefly Russia, to reconstruct.

Every now and then, though, some US spokes-toady makes statements that imply that the USA actually wants a major war... with Russia. I hope and pray that this is merely Grand Chessboard Theatre, but I am starting to have doubts. For a taste of the motivational fare now offered to US "conservatives", you might want to take a look at the recently posted anit-Russia piece posted at National Review, which openly calls for regime change in Moscow. It's a well-written polemic which makes some sense... provided that you accept that Washington and Brussels are citadels of freedom and human rights, Russians are ignorant, drunken blockheads, and Putin is evil incarnate.

sunaJ

"I continue to believe that the US goal in the Ukraine is to distract and bedevil Russia merely by expending a few billion zio-dollars,"

In your estimation is the second part of this Kansas City Shuffle being Syria and pipelines to Europe, or are they also symptoms of some greater neocon fear, ie. Russian oil dominance in a petrodollar world?

Jack Burton

Breedlove is talking his book. His glory and promotions would increase and his power would expand the more he can talk the NATO into war. Breedlove will be secure in the command bunker, and like the Iraq war command, be fully secure while his men faced possible death and mutilation.

The text book for this is Yugoslavia. Europe had brokered a few peace deals, but the USA stepped in and undercut them all with lies and flase intelligence, leading to several bloody wars. Right now Washington seeks the Yugoslavia solution, a long bloody war.

Ignatius

"According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public."

Did Nuland also say that about Occupy to the Obummer administation?

Escrava Isaura

Ohh Boy.

The US military industrial complex doesn't care about European press, or America press, for that matter. US military industrial complex doesn't' even care who the President is.

Do you think the US military complex cares if the US government bails out lots of big lemons-banks, insurance, auto makers, airlines, and food stamps to the working poor? No, they could care less, because US military industrial complex is immune to budget constraints and they are the biggest supporters of failing industries and projects.

Do you think that the US military complex cares for what industries the analysts and brokers at an investment firms such as JP Morgan, Goldman, or Rothschild's picks as winners for government contracts or a stock market bubble? Hell no, because they are the biggest winners.

So, the Germans are stunned about NATO? Are you kidding me?

Germany and NATO are branches of the US military industrial complex.

johngaltfla

Obama is a Neocon?

Who'dathunkit!??!!?

In reality, the world is sick of this bullshit. I'm sick of it. Rand Paul's approach is 1000% correct; quit meddling!

Germany is correct to object to this because if we get involved in the Ukraine with Poland then Russia will be outside of Berlin with several brigades of tanks in days. The US nor NATO are ready for a major multi-front conflict unless they use nukes.

Which wouldn't be all that bad because some of the US cities we would lose are a major part of the economic drag and societal/political problems we have at this time....

Never mind. Fire away boys.

krage_man

The instutute of US presidency is shockingly weak.

Basically, very little can Obama do if all career burocrats continue doing what they always doing.

Obama is not able to get control of the goverment staff which demonstrate how weak leader he is and how unimportant any political office change is for foregn policy.

Dems or Reps - no matter who is there will always be criminal actions on the world scine.

sunaJ

Germany needs to wake up NOW to the fact that this country is commanded by psychopathic, warmongering neocons, mitigated only by a willfully cluless and gutless president. NATO will prove a deathtrap for Germany.

max2205

Don't expect a lot of help from the old axis countries, Germany Italy Japan......neutered

Questan1913

Good point...but let's elaborate further: The US wrote the constitutions of Japan and Germany after the end of WWll. It also continues to occupy, militarily, both countries with approximately 50,000 military personnel in each and a huge naval presence in Japan.

Neither conquered country has been able to recover a shred of its former sovereignty for 70 years! They are vassal states subject to the most ruthless hegemonic power since the Roman empire.

ebworthen

If Germany were really concerned about NATO they'd kick the U.S. Armed Forces out.

This is political banter; the Germans need Russian NatGas and are playing both sides.

They have guilt over the death of 20+ million Russians in WWII, but Russia is en export market - and they don't want their Eastern flank open.

Just like Greece; they feel bad about WWII, but they want a downtrodden island to vacation on too.

And Neocons? Both the Left and the Right are war happy pumpers of the M.I.C. here in the U.S.A.

nope-1004

Dude.... it's US hegemony at risk here. Pipelines and what not. Read up, pull your head out of the sand, and watch US foreign policy implode on itself. After all, WTF is the US meddling in Europe for anyway? Why are they there? What does the Ukraine have that the US or Russia needs?

It's all about energy and how it flows to customers. The US has the most to lose, which is why they created the coup to overthrow the previously elected government in Ukraine.

They are, without question, the most hypocritical government to ever grace God's green earth. They say one thing publicly and do the opposite in practice. And it appears they've got you sucked in too.

malek

Two points:

1. The headline to me seems to indicate the path for the usual whitewash towards the "Democrats": currently a few US Neocons came to head the "Democratic" party like wolves in sheep clothing, but overall the leftists still hold the moral highground!

2. It is curious German magazine Der Spiegel doesn't mention it's own role in this, posting a headline STOP PUTIN NOW on it's frontpage after MH-17 had been shot down.

JustObserving

The Nobel Prize Winner and the Neocons have always wanted to put Russia in its place and the destabilization of Ukraine was the starting point. It was payback for Putin protecting Assad and granting asylum to Snowden. USA wants Russia on its knees and complete full spectrum domination with no one to question US hegemony and infinite spying. Unfortunately Putin stands in the way and he must be demonized and destroyed.
Victoria Nuland Lied to US Congress about Phantom Russian Hoards in Ukraine

On March 4, Nuland addressed House Foreign Affairs Committee members.

She called murdered US-funded, Boris Nemtsov a "freedom fighter, Russian patriot and friend."

She absurdly called Ukraine "central to our 25 year Transatlantic quest for a 'Europe whole, free and at peace.' "

Fact: Washington wants Ukraine used as a dagger against Russia's heartland – with menacing US bases on its borders threatening is sovereign independence.

Nuland called US planned and implements year ago Maidan violence using well-trained Nazi thugs "peaceful protest(s) by ordinary Ukrainians."

"They braved frigid temperatures, brutal beatings and sniper bullets…Ukraine began to forge a new nation…holding free and fair election…and undertaking deep and comprehensive economic and political reforms."

Fact: US-deposed President Viktor Yanukovych's police showed remarkable restraint.

Fact: Washington-supported Nazi thugs bore full responsibility for beatings, sniper killings and other violence.

Fact: Ukrainian parliamentary and presidential elections were farcical – with no legitimacy whatever.

Fact: So-called economic reforms involve crushing hardships on already impoverished Ukrainians in return for loan-shark-of-last-resort IMF blood money.

Fact: No responsible political reforms exist. None are planned. It bears repeating. Ukraine is a US-installed fascist dictatorship.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/victoria-nuland-lied-to-us-congress-about-p...

The Neocons have killed millions in Iraq and got away scot-free:


US Sponsored Genocide Against Iraq 1990-2012. Killed 3.3 Million, Including 750,000 Children

http://www.globalresearch.ca/victoria-nuland-lied-to-us-congress-about-p...

Ignatius

The basis of neocon philosophy is a LIE, that if you don't have a real enemy just make shit up.

How then can one "debate" a neocon with anything other than a baseball bat?

Their starting point is that neocons will lie if they have to and probably also just for the fun of it.

Psychopaths.

JustObserving

The Nobel Prize Winner has bombed 7 Muslim countries, destabilized Ukraine, attempted a coup in Venezuela, lied about sarin use in Syria to almost start a war, assassinated US citizens without a trial, regularly drones women and children and wedding parties and yet is the most admired man in the world in a Gallup poll in 2014. I would cry at humanity's stupidity, cruelty and corruption but I prefer to laugh. You love your lying war criminals then you will get lot more war.

yogibear

Meet Neocon "Doughnut Dolly" Victoria Nuland

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/12/18/meet-neocon-doughnut-do...

Nuland's career has been one of ensuring that the underpinnings of the Cold War never completely died out in Europe. Her State Department career began as the chief of staff to President Bill Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State and close friend, Strobe Talbott. It was under Talbott that Nuland helped completely fracture Yugoslavia and ensured that the U.S. slanted against the interests of Russia's ally, Serbia.

markar

Angie needs to end her triangulating charade and choose sides. Keeping a foot in the Russian door while appeasing her Neocon masters in the West won't work much longer. She knows Obama is a spineless puppet who won't back her and Ukraine is a failed state run riot by neo Nazi thugs and oligarchs.

What's it going to be Angie, an act of heroism or taking Germany down with the Western ship?

lesterbegood

Angie like Obama, Nuland, et al, is another political puppet/spokesperson for the power behind the money.

Winston Churchill

Which means her puppet masters are changing horses mid race.

No honor amongst thieves and/or psychopaths.

HowdyDoody

I wonder what on earth the CIA/NSA has on her that keeps her putting the interests of the US above her own country.

Wile-E-Coyote

Come on Germany tell the USA to fuck right off............................. won't happen.

css1971

35 US military bases in Germany say you are absolutely correct.

Son of Loki

Simply look at the quality of our State dept -- Nuland, etc -- The average IQ and emotional intelligence there has to be at an all-time low.

Gone are the days when you had brillant statespeople in the state dept who were thoroughly versed in history, politics, economics and debate.

yogibear

"Gone are the days when you had brillant statespeople in the state dept who were thorougly versed in history, politics, economics and debate."

People are used to dumb and dumber DC. It matches the rest of the country.

Stumpy4516

The statespeople may have been more intelligent at one time but their actions (covert murders, regime change, wars, etc.) have always been the same.

[Mar 07, 2015] CIA Urged Rebels to Assassinate Their Own In Order to Create "Martyrs" by George Washington

03/03/2015 | zerohedge.com

A CIA "psychological operations" manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a "martyr" for the cause.

The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government.

The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other media that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

Indeed, this is just one of scores of admitted false flag attacks by governments all over the world.

P.S. We're SURE this has nothing to do with this completely unrelated story:

Russian Opposition: Putin Did NOT Assassinate Opposition Leader

Budd aka Sidewinder

George, much respect but the Lincoln quotes have got to go

Son of Captain Nemo
CIA Urged Rebels to Assassinate Their Own In Order to Create "Martyrs"

Owned and managed by the same "LLC" that gave us the Patrot Act(s) and the NDAA and 4 going on 5 wars of choice!!!!

Whole lotta 9/11 love!

VWAndy

This killing of guys on your team practically guaranties the leader of a revolution will be a psyco killer too. A win win deal.

It would work best if they kill the centrist/moderates. Right out of the commie handbook.

JoJoJo

Dont forget the Kerry Committee in 1985 where Sen Kerry fawned over dictators who promised they were not Communists - before they allied with communist Soviet Union.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1219935/posts

Radical Marijuana

Thanks for trying to stay on top of these kinds of stories, George Washington! More and more, it is practically impossible for any individual to keep up ... I appreciate articles that have organized a presentation of crucial information that one could review!

SoilMyselfRotten

Would love to know how Reagan answered that one

shovelhead

Thank Dog we have the CIA.

Imagine the trouble they could cause if we had an organization that was competent?

peanuts

This revelation feels like nothing compared to the other shit that was in that manual, along with all the training that was done at the School of the Americas at Ft. Bening, Georgia to carry out what was in the manual down in Nicaraqua in the 80's.

dexter_morgan

OK, lets look at these alleged terrorists. What the hell is it they want anyways?

If their goal is to eliminate Israel as megalomaniac nuttyyahoo wants us to believe - THEN WHY THE FUCK DO THEY ATTACK AND KILL EVERYBODY BUT ISRAELI'S????????

If it's global redistribution of wealth, then WHY DON"T THEY ATTACK THE ROTHSCHILDS, MEMBERS OF THE BILDERBERGERS, DAVOS ATTENDEES, BANKSTERS IN GENERAL, etc.

Seriously, either they are the stupidest fucking people in the world, or they are playing someone elses game for fucks sake.

amanfromMars

If their goal is to eliminate Israel as megalomaniac nuttyyahoo wants us to believe - THEN WHY THE FUCK DO THEY ATTACK AND KILL EVERYBODY BUT ISRAELI'S????????

If it's global redistribution of wealth, then WHY DON"T THEY ATTACK THE ROTHSCHILDS, MEMBERS OF THE BILDERBERGERS, DAVOS ATTENDEES, BANKSTERS IN GENERAL, etc.

Seriously, either they are the stupidest fucking people in the world, or they are playing someone elses game for fucks sake. ...... dexter_morgan

Possibly, and therefore quite probably, an active work in progress, d_m, and something to look forward to in the near future as intelligence takes over from stupidity?

WTFRLY

New Anonymous op as White House still ignores murder of American reporter Serena Shim in Turkey

UN Chief: Israel may have purposely targeted UN base in Lebanon, killing Spanish soldier – VIDEO

Reaper

Trust in his government masters is the enslaving opiate of the patriotic fool. The greater his government lies, the more the patriotic fool emotes.

Reptil

This is interesting: Former advisor to Nemtsov, Mikhail Delyagin comment.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eACsWwJgoa0

Rollo57

An even more interesting question; "How did they manage to make those 'T'-Shirts so quickly?

http://fortruss.blogspot.ca/2015/03/were-props-and-slogans-for-nemtsovs....

In less than 24 hours, a four colour shirt complete with logo's in Ukrainian and Russian?

Obaminator

Yeah, GW can go live somewhere else and see if he can write stuff like this from all the GREAT countries he likes to defend...like Russia, and see how far he gets.

Not only that, but his quotation isnt even a Question, it was a STATEMENT.

Doooooooh

btdt

no need to wait!

habara are standing by!

-------------

glad to see your operation now has harbara version 3.4 so you can post at the top.

[Mar 07, 2015] The killing of my friend Boris Nemtsov must signal the death of appeasement by Garry Kasparov

This man can do anything for money. What a low-lifer. Looks like talent in chess does not extend to other human qualities. Of cause NED/IRI money does not smell, and that means its quite natural for Gary Kasparov to become a buddy of neocons. From comments: "The constant attacks on Putin from the MSM, are an indicator of just how desperate the elite are to instigate some form of rebellion against him in Russia -- hence the Nemtsov assassination. "

March 6, 2015 | The Guardian

ID4534229

Kasparov, you should be ashamed of yourself. A shill of the west, much like Klitchko. Are you really complaining about Russia when you share a platform with Saakashvili ? A man who is wanted back home for corruption? You are a useful idiot, like Klitchko and like Saakashvili. The only difference between you and the criminal and corrupt billionaires expelled from Russia is that you don't have the money.

Why do these "Russian" dissenters, once they leave their country, immediately end up in US Senate hearings and with US politicians who would love to see Russia reduced to a mess? Have you no shame?

caotama 6 Mar 2015 17:47

"Yesterday I was in Washington DC, speaking to a US Senate subcommittee about how and why the Russian dictator must be stopped". So you are buddies with the neocons? Case closed.

"Nearly every head in the room nodded in agreement as I and other invitees – such as the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili..." Isn't that discredited IMF puppet on some wanted list?

"Russian forces nearly reached Tbilisi before they turned back". Why did they turn back, Gaz?

irishmand -> Treabhar Mac Oireabaird 6 Mar 2015 17:31

If you don't like the West, why are you staying here?

I don't like what americans did to the west. The democracy we heard so much about is being dismantled quickly. The school education is ruined. University education is becoming less and less affordable. Medical system in US is almost the genocide of poor. The media are lying on industrial basis. The moods in the society are pro war, people want blood. I am trying to fight it explaining that the west is walking towards abyss but you don't want to listen. Many people call me a Kremlyn troll. I don't care, but it demonstrates the points I just made.

BMWAlbert

Meanwhile in Odessa, far from the front lines, all is tranquil...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HacQe4GYIY#t=138

MarVas

The "More than 100,000 people rallied to mourn Boris in Moscow" line links to a page that says "Police put numbers at 7,000, while those involved said the protest drew 50,000."

After the event police adjusted their numbers to 21,000 but apparently it is not worth mentioning.
Even if provided by promoters' numbers are correct, it's still less than 0.5% of Moscow population.
Is it a good reason to openly lie?

HollyOldDog -> MarVas

Strange how foreign newspapers always try to clutch at invisable straws. Protestors usually overestimate their numbers but the police on viewing airborne video have the advantage when estimating crowd numbers.

There was supposed to be a protest march in a city in Siberia where the protestors informed the police that thousands would turn up but only 12 were present on the day. The Police could be still searching for someone to pay for the extra police overtime for the non event.

PlatonKuzin

"Boris Nemtsov's whole career was not aimed at helping Russia, but at the interests of foreign states," said Nikolai Starikov, one of Anti-Maidan's leaders. "Boris Nemtsov is the first victim of the Maidan in Russia… He was killed by his American curators."

I also think so.

Obfusgator

Anti-negotiator Kasparov sounds like your proto-typical war and conflict addicted general, always ready to sacrifice millions of chess piece lives. He should stick to what he does best (playing games) and let his anger at Putin's Russia subside.

We're all seeing bloody red at the moment Garry, but aren't you sick of war? You could have mentioned in your article the US funded coup in the Ukraine that led to Russia moving to protect assets there and you omitted important details regarding the increasing encirclement of Russia by US/NATO forces.

In case you haven't noticed, when the US sticks its nose into rival countries' business (sanctions first closely followed by militarily assistance) things get out of control.

We don't need that playing out again, now do we?

Russia's problems are hers to sort out.

notEvenNibling -> Obfusgator

Ukraines problems are "hers" to sort out.

Obfusgator -> notEvenNibling

Ukraine's US coup problem.

Parangaricurimicuaro

Do you remember Iraks Ahmed Chalabi? The guy that pushed for the war? Kasparov is the 2015 version

Russia will always be my country, but it is difficult to imagine returning while Putin is still in the Kremlin.

EugeneGur

No, it aren't, my friend. Russia isn't you country - you betrayed it, you are openly inviting foreign powers to attack it. Just because you say "Putin" instead of "Russia", you think it makes a difference? Assuming the policy of "isolation and condemnation" is successful, do you think Putin will suffer or do you even suspect that ordinary Russians will feel the pain? Do you care?

This is a good article showing very clearly what kind of "opposition" this is. For the life of me, I cannot imaging an opposition of any kind, say, in the US or any European country, inviting foreign countries to start a war against the homeland and surviving. But it's perfectly fine in Russia. He is downright pleading with the West: don't be afraid, you won't have to defeat the entire Russian army or start WWIII. Just "inflict enough damage". The man is disgusting. He is also lying. It would be necessary to defeat the entire Russia, if it comes to that. Russia is not populated only by Karparovs.

The opposition movement that Boris and I believed in, and that Boris died for, should be openly supported, the way the west once championed the Soviet dissidents.

So, the "opposition" is a Western-paid performer, a.k.a. a whore.

Ronald Reagan told those of us behind the iron curtain that he knew it was our leaders, not us, who were his adversaries.

I do believe that. Personally, Garry did very well as did Nemtsov. But the rest of Russia did turn out to be Reagan's adversary, at least, it was treated as such.

I do hope you Westerners understand now and believe us when we say that this 'opposition" has absolutely no influence in Russia, and most people have nothing but contempt for them. You are wasting your money paying them.

PeregrineSlim

"Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts…The United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way….And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasize this - no one feels safe." Vladimir Putin, Munich 2007

willpodmore

The Minsk peace agreement's terms included 'Withdrawal of all foreign armed groups, weapons and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory'. In direct violation of the agreement, the US government announced in late February that it would send 300 troops to Ukraine to help train Ukraine's forces, and Prime Minister David Cameron announced on 24 February that 75 British troops would also be sent to help train Ukraine's forces.

AlexUspen

Kasparov: "More than 100,000 people rallied to mourn Boris in Moscow last Sunday, a number that gives the lie..."

Well, it really does.

The link gets you to a Guardian story, putting the number of rally participants somewhere between 7,000 and 50,000. The 100K figure is repeated in the picture caption… This is some very strange math.

PeregrineSlim

The opposition in Russia will go nowhere as long as they function as errand boys for the american empire.

MyDogLikesPorridge

With Nemtsov gone, Kasparov and his ilk will be again trying to sell Navalny as the next saviour of Russia. Below is an excerpt from an article published in May/2011. It is both frighteningly relevant and prescient of events to come.

"But the following interview was much more interesting. It's with The New Times, a Russian magazine... Navalny says "I think that the power in Russia will change not by an election process; they can elect whoever they like in March of 2012, but everything will be finished by April", and then clarifies – "by something like a Tunis scenario". Answering the question "Do you expect the wave from the bottom", he says – "No, I don't wait for it, I'm organizing it. We don't know when it will happen, but it's within our power to bring it closer. The current Russian authorities are thieves and swindlers. We must fight against them, exert pressure on them, create problems for them, and involve more and more people in creating problems. This pressure can be of different kinds – from simple negotiations to mobs on the streets that drag civil servants from their cabinets and hang them. And the faster authorities realize that and start negotiating, the less plausible the violent scenario becomes. I don't think that any political technologies or twitter can make people come out on the streets and chase away thieves and swindlers, so normal people could take over." (emphasis mine) .

Well… first of all, let's just recall that every state has the right to defend its constitutional system by force, and such citadels of democracy as the UK and the US have no qualms about invoking it. Secondly, the Russian criminal code has the article "Violent takeover of power or violent retention of power", punishable by from 12 to 20 years in prison. And I don't remember anything in the Constitution that says that hanging of government officials is a legitimized feature of a democratic process. The code also has the article "Calls to extremist actions". But let's leave that aside for a moment.

Navalny clearly states that he's working towards a typical colour revolution. First, I don't know what can be more undemocratic than a handful of raucous people changing power by riots and violence, simply because they don't like the government, the outcome of some election or any other quality. The opinion of the rest of the people is commonly ignored. It's also usually accompanied by tens or hundreds of corpses. Second, a common misconception is that power is transferred from bad authoritarian groups to "the people". That's a brazen lie; power simply gets transferred from one group to another, and the benefactor is well-known beforehand. Did anyone doubt that Yuschenko would become president when the Orange revolution succeeded? Or Saakashvili in Georgia? Third, and this is the most important point – there have been plenty of such revolutions. Has a single country benefited from it? Saakashvili's more and more authoritarian rule and the unleashed war are something that the Georgians dreamed of in 2003? Yuschenko's rating lying in the gutter is what the Ukranians stood in Maidan Square for? The deposing of Bakiev in 2010 by yet another revolution was worth launching the first one in 2005? Navalny suggests that "normal people will take over". Needless to say, that one statement will inspire laughter in any politologist worth his salt. Will these "normal people" spontaneously inherit another law framework and its institutions? Obviously, no. Then we have to take their word that after they come into power, these mysteriously benevolent "normal people" will start to limit their own authoritiy in favour of common people. Please remind me; how often has that happened in history? But OK, let's be believers for a while, so let's assume that they really are that incorruptible. In order to improve governance, the state should have better institutions and laws, so after the coup someone will have to write them. But what's stopping "normal people" from drafting them now, even promoting them? Maybe the current power will adopt them, so there will be no need for a revolution! And finally, who will determine the suitability of these people? Navalny?

I sincerely hope that this whole interview is just idle thoughts, and Navalny doesn't vest any serious meaning in them. But alas, evidence suggests the contrary. All the traditional components are present – branding authorities as hopelessly corrupt and despotic, the government's consummate demonization and alienation; praise from abroad of one group, presenting them as progressives; the preparing of key people in the West. It's also useful to attach to the big picture the recent interview of Kasparov, in which he repeats Vice-President Joe Biden's threat that if Putin should be reelected in 2012, the US will topple him with a colour revolution.

PeregrineSlim

The Washington War Party is shipping off its troops to the Ukraine in the coming week in defiance of the Minsk agreement.

sensitivepirate

It is not about right or wrong, because in this case there are wrongs on both sides.

Here we see the United States located on the other side of the world, standing up for its interests and investments in owning and controlling Ukrainian oil, gas, coal, manufacturing, transportation, strategic location, and agricultural resources in a country without any Americans.

Here we see Russia standing up for Russians.

Be careful what you wish for. With Russia, your ideals may never be realized.

henrihenri -> sensitivepirate

We live in world deprived of ideals. Money!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRIbUT6u7Q&feature=player_detailpage

therealbillythefish

"with the belief that the days of changing Europe's borders by force"

The Serbs of Kosovo were disabused of that belief by NATO.

therealbillythefish Sceptical Walker

The KLA started a campaign of murder and were suppressed with much less brutality than the yanks showed in places like Fallujah.

NATO handed Kosovo to the human organ traffickers of the KLA with the result that non-Albanians have been driven out and the economy is a basket case with thoussnds of Kosovans attempting to claim asylum in the EU every month.

johnbonn

Sanctions are not appeasement, so what is he talking about. Kiev has already done its best to destroy the east where ethnic Russians live.

If he wants something stronger, don't worry. The UK and the US are preparing for the invasion by restarting the civil war.
The Guardian does not report that the largest oil companies in the west have paid large amounts of money to Ukraine for the rights to drill off the Crimean coast.

These companies can't get their money back, so the west must invade.

McCain and Kerry and Cameron will insure that he and Europe will soon get their war with Russia. Sadly this will bring a major realignment of the middle east to this major war.

frombrussels

....Elephants NEVER forget, they say ......People however are the worst "forgetters"!.....

The Ukraine mess and all its horrible consequences started when Nuland b*tch and CIA decided to orchestrate a coup against a democratically elected, yet pro russian president, as a consequence of which Putin took back HIS Crimea and people in E Ukraine decided they wanted to belong to Russia ......

It s as easy as that....let s make it complicated though, to justify deliverance of lethal weapons to Ukraine by "godfather" USA !

amcalabrese2

Or maybe we (the US in particular and the West in general) needs to realize that this is not our war. Is Russia really a threat to the us? Russia is not the Soviet Union. Unlike the days of the USSR, there are no armies of people in the west willing to do the party's bidding. Those days the Soviets were a deep threat to us. Had the Soviets won, freedom would have been extinguished. And the Soviets could have won. The Russians are having trouble paying their state employees.

nnedjo

Given that we are talking about a chess genius, and with regard to this very eloquent text that he wrote now, Garry Kasparov, without a doubt, is an extremely capable man. That is why it is a very pity that such a man has not found the right way to help his country. As I already said, this text of Kasparov is really very eloquently written, but besides that, it's full of nonsense. That a man of such intelligence can write so many things contrary to common sense, can only be explained by his blind hatred against Putin's Russia.

But, for now, I will mention only one of the nonsense that Garry Kasparov wrote here.
He says, "police state is very good at keeping the monopoly of violence for themselves, and given that prominent opposition politician was killed in the immediate vicinity of the Kremlin, the chances that this occurred without any involvement of Russian security services is vanishingly small."

So, if the goal was to remove a vocal critic of the Kremlin, why was it necessary to do so near the very Kremlin? Does the state that holds the monopoly of violence could not do it in any other, less significant place. I do not see any sense in it, that the security services killed prominent opposition leaders at also prominent places, and not in some other places.

Especially those security services who are trying to maintain a monopoly of violence, as they are also trying to maintain the illusion of safety in the country, even when it is not like that. So, for Kasparov probably would not look anything absurd, even that Boris Nemtsov was killed at the same time when Putin and his entourage crossed the Red Square, and that the bullets that are missed Nemtsov whizzed around Putin's head. Or, perhaps Putin's involvement in the murder would be even more apparent for Kasparov that Nemtsov was killed in the lobby of Putin's office, and there would be no wonder that the Russian security services have not thought of it first.

I will repeat once again. In addition to being the chess genius Garry Kasparov is obviously a very talented writer. However, if he intends to devote to such a profession even more, I would recommend him not to write crime stories, but of another type, or from some other genre.

SalmanShaheen

It seems unlikely Putin had Nemtsov killed. What would he have to gain?

dropthemchammer -> SalmanShaheen

It would send a message to other around him.
If the sanctions are starting to bite and people close to Putin muttering then this action would get them to hold their tongues.

Oskar Jaeger -> SalmanShaheen

No man, no problem (J V Stalin).

henrihenri -> Oskar Jaeger

There was a man, true, but there wasn`t a problem.

FrancesSmith

I'm wondering. Here in the UK we could do with a better opposition, and we could also do with a better electoral system, and the ownership of the press is a serious issue, and the current government has appointed its close associates to run the BBC. And what about the way our political parties are funded, corrupt or what?

But what if there was some rich UK chess player went to the USA and started writing articles in the foreign press asking them to intervene and remove our elected government.

ok, we haven't invaded anywhere recently, and we haven't had an opposition leader shot dead, no need really they can't get past the tory press.

But just imagine how you would feel, putin demonisers, if there was someone from the UK talking about our government like this, and asking for intervention, and trying to impose a new government on us that has minimal support in the country.

ApfelD

The opposition movement that Boris and I believed in, and that Boris died for, should be openly supported

Kasparov makes me laugh
He is asking for the open support from the US
It's like Alex Salmond will ask Putin about the missile strike on London

PSmd

For all Kasparov's ideals for liberal transparency and a capitalist economy, what our press seems to not emphasise is that the Communists are the big opposition in Russia. They are the ones kept out possibly by United Russia, certainly by Yeltsin. They are big in towns and cities, among pensioners. In fact, theire following is a bit like UKIP, they recognise the grimmer past, but the certainties that came before the deracinatiing effects of globalisation.

BunglyPete

Its worrying just how easily history can be rewritten.

This BBC report titled Georgia 'started unjustifiable war' says

The shelling of Tskhinvali (the South Ossetian capital) by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia," the report says.
It adds later: "There is the question of whether [this] use of force... was justifiable under international law. It was not."
It also says Georgia's claim that there had been a large-scale Russian military incursion into South Ossetia before the outbreak of war could not be "sufficiently substantiated", though it said there was evidence of a lower-level military build-up.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8281990.stm

Now it does go on to say that Russia's response was over the top and illegal too, but the key point is it began with Saakashvili, Kasparov's ally, shelling a city.

Now we are told the conflict was provoked by Putin, is proof of his imperialistic plans, and that Saakashvili is a person we should take seriously.

If you want to do so I won't stop you, but to do so is foolish given the evidence against the Georgian regime from 2008.

Renfrow

Wow. Gary had turned into quite a radical. This article is definitely designed for the far right western audience. No wonder his support in Russia is close to 0.

aprescoup

Navalny is the first Russian opposition figure of any stature. Kasparov lost his credibility amongst Russians by becoming an obvious lackey of the West. Nemtsov never had any credibility amongst Russians because he could never clean himself of the tarnish of being associated with the Yeltsin years.

Navalny has an altogether different stature, and does have credibility with Russians, but probably only in the Moscow region. Navalny does not lick Western arses as much as Kasparov and Nemtsov because he knows what arse-licking of Westerners will do to his credibility amongst Russians.

In an October 2014 interview with Ekho Moskvy, Navalny said that he would not return Crimea to Ukraine if he were to become the President of Russia but that a "normal referendum" should be held in Crimea to decide what country the peninsula belongs to. Interestingly the West does not listen to the only Russian opposition figure with any proven credibility amongst Russians, hence Western policy-making towards Russia is becoming ad-hoc and ineffective.

MacCosham -> aprescoup

No, Zyuganov is the first opposition figure in Russia. The fact that he is not a US government stooge does not change this.

FrancesSmith -> MacCosham

But he's a communist! I just have a feeling, though I may be wrong, that these right wing neocons in the US wouldn't want to see Zyuganov replace Putin.

Though they should perhaps be a little careful what they wish for as according to wikipedia Boris Nemstov and others said after the 1996 election that the communists should have won.

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2107565,00.html

geedeesee -> Germaan

"The fact is that Putin unleashed war against Ukraine..."

Except it was Kiev regime which sent tanks over to Donbass to attack the separatists, and we saw the people come out and plead with the tank crews not to attack them. Then the Kiev regime sent aircraft to bomb the civilians - bombing their own people! Putin didn't tell the Kiev regime to send tanks and military aircraft to deal with civilians. The Kiev regime called it an anti-terror operation.

elias_ -> richard1

AFAIK the ruskies didn't invade georgia in 2008. Georgians attacked and killed numerous russian soldiers operating under UN mandate. In response russians gave the georgian military (partly trained by nato) a jolly good spanking before going back to where they were before.

aprescoup

Mexico's human rights crisis is even worse than Russia's, but no one in the West cares. The real reason Putin is so disliked by the West is not because Russians suffer under Putin, but because Russia under Putin (unlike Russia under Yeltsin) no longer takes orders from Washington. China's human rights crisis is also worse than Russia's, and again no one in the West cares, because everyone in the West knows that China is more powerful than the US, and that China will never take its orders from Washington. What particularly upsets Washington is that the US is losing its soft-power: the US has no soft power over China, no soft power over Russia under Putin, and no soft power over Israel under Netanyahu.

ID5868758

Is Kasparov's support in Russia 5%, or.5%?

MacCosham -> ID5868758

0.05%

JohnMc2015

I respect Mr Kasparov as an outstanding chess master very much, but his biting a cop in 2012 tells me that a chess player's skill has nothing to do with a serious opposition leader's decent behaviour who really could lead people. Even if such leader finds appropriate words, there appears to be some doubts concerning his adequacy in a critical situation. An opposition leader is supposed to be a cool cucumber.

PeregrineSlim

Kasparov seems to have lost sight of the fact that the chess board is in Ukraine and he is a long way from being able to move any pieces.

BloodOnTheWattle -> PeregrineSlim

he is still upset at Deep Blue...he cried rivers over the loss. so you must forgive him.

ID5868758

What the hell is the matter with the US Senate, hosting such a fringe politician from Russia, and one calling for the overthrow of the elected leader of a sovereign nation? Despicable behavior from the "land of the free", apparently you're "free" only if your opinion is in line with that of the US, otherwise we will make sure we help you change your mind.

StatusFoe ID5868758

What the hell is the matter with the US Senate

What do you mean? He's the US establishment's man in Russia, a Carrier of the Flame and honoured Bilderberger.

ApfelD Magyar2lips

let us nuke Hungary and Russia and that's all
wait a minute
and Azerbaijan
and Iran
and Ukraine (the most corrupted country according to Graun)
and Saudi Arabia (for gay rights)
and North Korea
and Switzerland+Lichtenstein (for the tax avoidance schemes)
and France (Madonna said that they looks like Nazis)
and Germany (they don't speak English)

BloodOnTheWattle ApfelD

and Germany (they don't speak English)

most germans do..but lets nuke 'em all the same...the bastards tried to talk to Putin about peace...peace imagine that Merkel escaped our firewall..

geedeesee

Russians are questioning events:

"Since the current US ambassador arrived in Russia, they killed Nemtsov, while he was in Georgia they killed Zhvaniya, and in Ukraine-Gongadze. Coincidence?"

Each of the three was a prominent opposition figure, and in each case his death had led to political upheaval. To quote Ian Fleming, "once is a happenstance, twice--a coincidence, three times--enemy action."

dmitryfrommoscow

Garri, why didn't you address the U.S. Congress with philippics in the 1990's when the oligarchs who propped up Yeltsin were pumping tens of billions of dollars out of Russia every month? When millions of your fellow-countrymen had to live from hand to mouth because the economy was totally divested of funds and lay dysfunctional? When people were dying at hospitals because there was nothing except aspirin there? When selling a bunch of homegrown dill or parsley at a local market was a matter of life and death for innumerable babushkas on a vast space from Vladivostok to the Baltic shores? Give us an answer...

aprescoup

As long as Russian opposition figures are arse-lickers of the West, cosying up with MPs, MEPs and Congress members, they will not mobilise Russians against Sistema Putin. The struggle between the West and Russia is between the West's idea of a Post-Westphalian order and Russia's (and China's and Israel's) preference for staying put with the Westphalian order that has been around since 1648. Anyone who does not understand the difference between a political Westphalian order (based around nation-States) and a technocratic Post-Westphalian order (based around technocratic organizations, eg Swift for finance payments, BIS for banking regulation, ICANN for Internet), and the consequences of the West's attempt to change its imperial control over the world from a Westphalian Empire to a Post-Westphalian Empire, is a fool. Ironically, it may have been the USSR that launched Post-Westphalianism with Comintern (Third International, 1919-1943).

willpodmore

Kasparov is another warmonger. NATO continues its march to the east. NATO aims to seize control of Ukraine, to complete the hostile glacis to Russia's west. The US government considered it had exclusive rights to run Ukraine: senior US diplomat Richard Holbrooke absurdly declared that Ukraine was part of 'our core zone of security'.

The US government is pursuing Zbigniew Brzezinski's strategy of trying to draw Russia into a 'prolonged and costly' war in Ukraine. Brzezinski had used this strategy in the 1980s, when he armed Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan as part of a proxy war against the Soviet Union. The US government aimed to do to Russia via Ukraine what it did to the Soviet Union via Afghanistan. Ukraine would become another wasteland of death and destruction, with the constant risk of a wider war, and Russia would descend into chaos.

US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the head of both the US European Command and NATO in Europe, insisted that we could not 'preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option' in Ukraine. At the Munich Security Conference, Republican senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham poured scorn on European negotiations with President Vladimir Putin. McCain summed up Merkel's speech at Munich, which included a statement of opposition to arming Ukraine, with one word: 'foolishness'. He added, "I can assure you that [Putin] will not stop until he has to pay a much higher price."

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for 'full scale war' with Russia. Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko stated, "there is no ceasefire, and so there is no precondition for a pull-back of heavy weapons." Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh announced that his private army and the Azov Battalion would ignore the agreement and fight on.

PeregrineSlim

As Milne points out, the West is already in the process of violating the Minsk agreement:

But it's certainly grist to the mill of those pushing military confrontation with Russia. Hundreds of US troops are arriving in Ukraine this week to bolster the Kiev regime's war with Russian-backed rebels in the east. Not to be outdone, Britain is sending 75 military advisers of its own. As 20th-century history shows, the dispatch of military advisers is often how disastrous escalations start. They are also a direct violation of last month's Minsk agreement, negotiated with France and Germany, that has at least achieved a temporary ceasefire and some pull-back of heavy weapons. Article 10 requires the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Ukraine.

ApfelD -> StatusFoe

it's difficult to understand why Russians don't like Kasparov

StatusFoe -> ApfelD

He certainly can come accross as an arrogant prick.

MacCosham -> richard1

What bollocks. Putin is not coming close to anyone. What is happening is that anti-establishment parties in Europe, whether left-wing (Die Linke, Podemos, Syriza), centrist (Five Stars) or right wing (FN, Fidesz) are following public opinion which sees that the establishment parties (socialists and conservatives) are puppets of US-based big money.

guster86

"I will continue to do whatever I can to draw support to the cause of returning Russia to the path of democracy."

Possibly sacrifice a few pawns.

dropthemchammer -> guster86

You say this after Putin had his opposition assassinated lol

Simon311 -> dropthemchammer

Did he? You have certain knowledge of this? Cause Global warming too did he.

jonno61

Kasparov has absolutely not credibility on this matter. Why the Guardian choose to publish his propaganda is beyond me ?

RobHardy -> jonno61

Fits into a general pattern of propaganda propagation by the Guardian in the last few years, probably much longer. no shortage of fellow travelers for the US management of Vichy Britain.

altergeist

"But we must cease to be surprised by the violence and hatred emanating from Russia today if we are to combat it successfully."

I am ceaselessly amazed by the near-complete unity in the chorous of anti-Russia/Putin propaganda.

" prominent critic of the regime,"

With roughly 5% popular support, and quite widely reviled for his part in the Yeltsin era pillage of Russia, when male life expectancy fell about 10 years in just 10 years - a spectacular collapse in living standards. 'Prominent' indeed. And certainly hardly a plausible electoral threat, his prominence and influence is largely hyped to western audiences. One could easily argue he was worth more to western sponsors dead than alive, while Putin had very little to gain from his murder, since it would be eagerly and predictably be blamed upon him... as we have seen: Many western media outlets were ready with their accusations.

"such as the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili - discussed the global danger presented by Putin's increasingly belligerent regime."

Says the belligerent in the recent, if brief, South Ossetian military adventure.

" cite the official statements of a dictatorship "

An elected dictator. Whatever next!?

Look I'm not saying Putin didn't do it, nor that I don't think he's capable of murdering his opponents, nor that I don't think he has murdered any in the past, but even the Russian opposition has quite broadly said it doesn't think he's responsible, that this is a 'provocation.' But shall we wait for some evidence to be in this time? It's all starting to smack a bit of MH17, Assad's chemical weapons, Iraq's WMDs, 45 minutes etc... Accusations without evidence, or bare-faced lies. It certainly does fit with a pattern of CIA led destabilization but then again, maybe Putin has used that plausibility as a cover. Who knows!?

What I do know is that this wholly unnecessary, largely western provoked West-East showdown is easily and singularly the most potentially dangerous geopolitical situation of my lifetime. Fascinating, but terrifying. Can't the US and Russian leadership just realise that they have a lot in common (democratic deficit, corrupted oligarchic rule, surveillance state, a long history of brutality) and get along?!

Socraticus

How much credence can be given to any of Kasparov's claims when he grossly exaggerates that "more than 100,00 people rallied to mourn Boris in Moscow last Sunday"?

According to the Guardian, the "Police put numbers at 7,000, while those involved said the protest drew 50,000".

Meanwhile, in other international publications the figure has been cited to be closer to 21,000 and "not tens of thousands as reported by some media outlets", further elaborating that "The reason why official estimates are closer to the real numbers is because all demonstrators had to pass through metal detectors before joining the march and were registered by computers".

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/mar/01/boris-nemtsov-marchers-moscow-honour-murdered-opposition-politician-live-updates)

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/mar/01/boris-nemtsov-marchers-moscow-honour-murdered-opposition-politician-live-updates#block-54f305cde4b011581586e731

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/03/simple-murder-boris-nemtsov-150302081839658.html

uracan

Kasparov really is an idiot.

If Putin for whatever reason is deposed, does he really think the traitorous liberals will get into power.

It is the communists with their 20% of the vote that will gain the most.

It will take decades for the liberals to regain any credibility amongst the Russian general population.

CharlesBradlaugh

I'm on the left of politics and view the USA's imperialism with disdain and fear, but I agree 100% with this article, you have to be blind not to see that Putin is a dangerous adventurer who will undertake any aggression that will bolster his position.

SirHenryRawlins -> CharlesBradlaugh

I don't believe for one second you are on the left. You view the USA's imperialism with disdain and fear, US meddling in Ukraine, the backing of government that took power after the coup, and then say Putin is the adventurer and the aggressor.

Gooddoggy -> CharlesBradlaugh

Absolutely true, I am still sickened by Milnes atrocious view that Putin Imperialism is somehow acceptable whereas US Imperialism is not....clearly any sane and decent human being knows that both are unacceptable and need to be fought against with the tools of liberal social justice and liberal left democratic values.

johhnybgood

More propaganda. The constant attacks on Putin from the MSM, are an indicator of just how desperate the elite are to instigate some form of rebellion against him in Russia - hence the Nemtsov assassination. However, my reading of the situation is, that the general public across Europe are not buying the rhetoric. It seems that people are becoming far more discerning in their analysis of the propaganda headlines -such as "Russian forces invade Ukraine", with no supporting evidence. The PTB are losing the information war; the genie is out of the bottle, and cannot be put back. At last people's BS meters are now on full alert.

Time for the MSM to start some independent reporting, especially where Russia is concerned.

aprescoup

Kasparov, you completely overestimate the influence that the West, even with its all-powerful dollar refinancing sanctions and quasi-monopolies on advanced technologies, can have on nudging Russians, both oligarchs and ordinary voters, into overthrowing Sistema Putin. If pathetically weak North Korea can continue to defy the West in the ways it does, then don't you think it more likely that a Russia isolated by further sanctions will become more like North Korea? Get real: Putin will not be pushed out of power by sanctions.

It is time for the West to ignore the Russian opposition: not because the opposition is wrong to condemn Putin as a dictator, but because the Russian opposition completely underestimates the total power that Sistema Putin already has, and the absolute impotence of the West to undermine that total power. The likes of Kasparov, Nemtsov and Navalny are fools: they have underestimated what they are up against, and they are paying for that underestimation with their lives, alternatively with exile or house arrest and an accompanying fear of assassination.

henrihenri

Garry Kasparov was afraid of attending Nemtsov`s funeral under the pretext of being killed in Russia. As he explained he was nit ready to buy one-way ticket! Wow! Now every single leader of opposition says, I`m next! It is so ridiculous that even `The Ekho Moskvy`, their radio, laughed at this trend of theirs for a while. The matter, however, is none needs them. It`s just their coquetry. As to Mr. Kasparov none remembers him in his fatherland. Too many new, much younger and more handsome male stars!

ID5868758

Same propaganda, different mouthpiece. And don't you find it ironic, Kasparov complaining about "Putin's oligarchs", when he himself is in league with the all the oligarchs who escaped Russia with their stolen billions, and now fight from places like London and Tel Aviv for a return of Russia to the "good old days" of Boris Yeltsin, when the assets and resources of the Russian people were being sold off to the banks and the multinational corporations for pennies on the dollar.

Junkets

For a start, the assumption that Putin was behind Nemtsov's murder still remains to be proved. Jumping to conclusions based on political agendas is not the way a good investigator would go about things. After a bit of light from Seumas, didn't you just know that the Guardian would revert to type.

Appeasement suggests Nazis. Are there concentration camps in Russia? Is Putin engaged in a process of mass-extermination? I remember when Saddam Hussein was compared to Hitler and Tony Blair was praised for his 'Churchillian' qualities. The hyperbole is all getting a bit too transparent.

Keep on banging the war-drums, Graun, you might just get what you are looking for.

FOHP46

Mr Kasparov and Mr Saakashvili..wow! what a tandem, poor sods! Was it not Mr Saakashvili who started a war with Russia in 2008 when his army killed some Russian peace keepers? Is he not wanted for crimes in his country of origin Georgia? Nevertheless, he now lives in Boston, USA, the land of the free. Unbelievable.

underbussen

What a terrible article. Sorry but what the hell has happened to journalism these days? Why is "Putins Russia" responsible of this murder? This is like saying "Obamas America" is responsible for all the police shootings in the USA - clearly ridiculous. This article has Putin tried, drawn and quartered before the investigations even get really started. This is NOT journalism, this is propaganda. Shame on you Guardian.

dropthemchammer Evgeny Petrov

its quite easy to outsiders but the RUssian people have little access to free media

Simon311 dropthemchammer

You mean Rupert Murdoch? Lucky them

Continent

Yesterday I was in Washington DC, speaking to a US Senate subcommittee about how and why the Russian dictator must be stopped. Nearly every head in the room nodded in agreement as I and other invitees – such as the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili – discussed the global danger presented by Putin's increasingly belligerent regime.

global danger ... how shocking. I haven't realized it. I has been thinking that ISIL and its terror acts, the violant instability in Afghanistan and North Africa (especially in Lybia), the wars in Iraq and Syria, the atrocities in Nigeria and Sudan, Ebola and the aftermath left on the economic and society of Liberia were the global dangers we would have to deal with.

Rialbynot

Kasparov: "Yesterday I was in Washington DC, speaking to a US Senate subcommittee about how and why the Russian dictator must be stopped. Nearly every head in the room nodded in agreement as I and other invitees – such as the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili – discussed the global danger presented by Putin's increasingly belligerent regime."

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

RobHardy richard1

Has Britain ever been substantially different? We have Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind happily willing to sell their access to Chinese businesses. Media almost entirely controlled by corporate influences. Parliament and Civil Service increasingly manned by corporate lobbyists and loan staff. Our defence policy just a subdepartment of Pentagon policy making, GCHQ an outstation of the NSA.

Yes, we are different, there is the possibility of democracy in Russia, but nothing but a empty sham illusion of democracy in this country.

UnclePatsy -> dropthemchammer

Let's first agree on a definition for "invade". Possible definitions may include:
1. To enter by force in order to conquer
2. To move into
3. To infest or overrun.
4. To attack; to infringe; to encroach on; to violate.

I see civil internal strife within Novorussia and Kievan Ukraine aggravated by external forces, but not an outright invasion by NATO or Russia. Crimea was ceded to Ukraine SSR as a province along with Novorussia only in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev.

uracan -> jezzam

Don't you realize that what Putin is doing will consign Russia to poverty for a decade at least.

This is just wishful thinking.

Moreover Putin has destroyed any respect for Russia in the world

If your world consist of US/UK and assorted lackeys.

There is a bigger world out there than just the West and now that Russia has used the sanctions as an opportunity to do its own pivot to the cash , growing economies of the East, the future of Russia looks a whole lot better than the debt overburdened, decaying economies of the West.

cherryredguitar

The problem with the way that America has continually meddled in countries around the world for at least the last century is that every opposition leader in every country that America doesn't like starts looking like a neocon stooge. Because that's how the neocons work. It's their fault, not mine, that I think that way.

Ilja NB

Kasparov is a worthless peace of trash, he traveled all around the world on expense of Russian state, and then he suddenly decided he wanted to become a big shot politician, but instead of coming with some idea's that would benefit the country he only was bashing Mr. Putin while Mr. Putin was putting Russia on it's feet.

Pedro Garcia

That seems to be a law of life: you are good for one thing, you are bad for another. Kasparov is a despicable man, however a genius in chess. Just reading what he wrote, make me despise him. You don't like Putin, fine, but do you have to run into the US, too?

Nemtsov as a Politician was null for many years, Putin didn't need to do anything to him, because he didn't represented any threat: his popularity was less than 1%. Nobody, even in Russia, knew who he was till he was shot dead. Politkovskaya was shot dead on Putin's birthday, Nemtsov shot dead aside the Kremlim, don't you see it? The killer is desperately trying to point out Putin. This are not bread crumbs this are the whole chain of bakeries pointing at Putin.

This has happened before: Nisman in Argentina, to get rid of President Kirchner Party just before the elections, the killing of Hariri in Lebanon to blame Syria.

Look who is profiting from it and you'll find who's to blame.

Johhny Efex

With the end of the USSR the 'free west' had a golden opportunity to disband NATO. This would have given breathing-space for other democratic forms to develop naturally in all sorts of places, including Russia. But instead the USA thought they would go for broke with Full Spectrum Dominance and other ridiculous utopian plans like PNAC to 'install' democracy around the world. Too paranoid and power-hungry to relax their suffocating grip one tiny bit. This is one of the unfortunate consequences.

dropthemchammer Johhny Efex

"Full Spectrum Dominance"? NATO is a defense organisation. why disband it when USSR died. there were and are other threats around the world.

cherryredguitar dropthemchammer

NATO is a defense organisation


So why are Nato military generals continually making aggressive comments about Ukraine, which is not a member of Nato? Why is Nato defending non-member states? Because it is an expansionist organisation.

The original poster is right - Nato should have been disbanded at the end of cold war.


SASOVIET Johhny Efex

The North American Terrorist Organisation (NATO) has a new role since fall of USSR:
1. Terrorize Russians by annoying presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland
2. Gang up against third world countries to remove leaders that doesn't support US foreign policy like Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, etc...

Old_Donkey

Mr Kasparov's views can be compared to the open letter which descendants of the white emigration published in France.

The white emigres declare their "Solidarity with Russia during the Ukrainian Crisis". They also object to the way in which "Russia has been accused of every kind of crime, without any proof, it is judged to be guilty a priori, whereas other countries benefit from a particularly disgusting leniency, in particular, where human rights are concerned."

The emigres go on to protest against "the calumnies which day after day are heaped on modern-day Russia, its leaders and its President, who have been subjected to sanctions and vilified in defiance of all common sense."

The descendants of the white emigration are prepared to give a KGB Colonel the benefit of the doubt. So why can't Garry Kasparov? At this point, no one can prove whether Boris Nemtsov died for the Russian opposition movement or not. The law is no respecter of persons and everyone should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, even the President of the Russian Federation.

http://www.russkymost.net/spip.php?article70&lang=fr
http://stanislavs.org/descendants-of-the-white-emigration-against-russophobia-in-western-msm/

Standupwoman

This is very sad. We must make allowances for the fact that Kasparov was brought up in the old USSR and is clearly unable to shake off that way of thinking, but he must have had a good mind once, and it's hard not to wonder if he mightn't be ill.

His arguments are frighteningly bad. First he claims Putin is a murderer on the sole ground that a lot of US senators and a discredited war criminal (Saakashvili) agree with him - the kind of argument we would expect from the lowest CiF troll. It's absolutely true that there have been politically-motivated and gangland style murders in Russia, but I have no idea if Putin was responsible for any of them - and neither can Mr Kasparov. What we do know is that if the West had even the slightest shred of evidence against him they'd have plastered it over the media long ago.

Then he starts rewriting history. After the initial rush of 'blame Putin' in 2008, even the EU was forced to admit that Georgia was not only the aggressor but also responsible for serious war crimes. A good piece in the Guardian gives links to much of this, including some excellent reporting by the BBC. Kasparov is basing his entire argument on a history of 'Russian aggression' which never happened.

Then worst of all, he sweeps away any concept of fairness and justice. Putin has no motive for killing Nemtsov, he had every motive for not doing so, and there is not the slightest evidence against him - but to even mention these things (as the BBC does) is to be Putin's 'defence lawyer'. There is no need for the presumption of innocence, no need for evidence and a trial, and finally no need even for 'investigation'. Putin is guilty because Kasparov says so, and anyone who disagrees is a Kremlin troll.

This is frightening on many levels, but not least for where it leads. The sub-headline echoes the hate-filled argument that the only thing that matters now is making Putin look like a loser - and it is precisely for that argument that people are dying. The conflict in Ukraine could stop tomorrow, but the US can't allow anything that suggests Putin has 'won'. Crimea could be resolved instantly by a second, properly monitored referendum, but (as the Lords Report pointed out) this would imply we were 'condoning' Putin. People must go on suffering and dying for as long as it takes - just to ensure the US doesn't lose face.

That's chilling. In a world where people care about both Russians and Ukrainians, it isn't even sane. So yes, to hear someone like Kasparov come out with this dribbling hate-rant is very sad indeed.

BunglyPete -> Standupwoman

Very well written as usual sir/m'am :)

I don't get why its such a big deal if Putin 'wins' either. If the case against him is so strong, even if pulling out the UAF leaves swathes of Ukraine in Russian control, you can sort it out through the UN later.

The primary goal has to be the end of violence, not the removal of Putin.

VladimirM

It has never occured to me how aggressive [neo]liberals may be, how radical and prone to violence they are. Peacemongering efforts of hawks of peace, whose hatred is so blind that they are not fussy about the means to pursue their agenda, will lead to chaos rather than to prosperity of Russia. They are ready to attack BBC presenters if they are on their way, they are close to calling names when it comes to the EU leaders not living up to liberal expectations when dealing with Russia.


"I will continue to do whatever I can to draw support to the cause of returning Russia to the path of democracy. "

You are too agressive, tov. Kasparov. I don't like it. Please, make revolutions somewhere else. For example somewhere you live in, there are problems over there no doubt.

If you really want to do something, start a charity to help children of Donbass instead of begging for weapons. That would be a decent move.

SHappens

Despite all attempts by Kasparov to revive Nemtsov through mouthpiece for the US/NATO, it will not change the fact that on a political point of view Nemtsov was a nobody. Sure he didnt deserve to die but we must ask whom this crime profits.

It is obvious that Putin has been the target of this attack, together with all of Russia and, being the target, it is highly unlikely that he has been the author of this assassination.

So now we have Kasparov going for his propaganda by calling Putin a dictator, and Russia a dictatorship, and advocating a full war to defeat the Russian army. Seems that Kasparov didn't learn anything during in glory years as a chess player because that is not a good strategy, this is a loosing strategy for him and the West, Europe in particular, and Ukraine with certainty.

Nemtsov's death will fall in oblivion in a few months, that is, he will return where he came from. Nobody at least in the West knew this guy before the media rant. He was not even popular in Russia except for the 3%. Nothing to worry the Kremlin.

ElmerFuddJr

Astoundingly poor quality commentary in this thread. Y'all sound like American Republicans, or Bibi defenders...utterly incapable of dealing with complex subjects which, given that blood is being shed, require a modicum of understanding of world history these last 40 years (at least) and a bit of nuance here and there...

Viktor Gofman ElmerFuddJr

Serious commentary is for a serious article. Kasparov's article is a circus... So there is a circus in the thread as a result.

PeregrineSlim

Engagement with Russia has never been tried.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union the policy has been to drive NATO tanks to the Russian border.

American democracy is in a death spiral due to its militarism.

And America is hindering the peaceful and democratic development of other countries due to its interference in their domestic politics.

MacCosham

It is telling how Putin, who has got where he is by competitive elections is described as a "dictator" while president Mikheil Saakashvili who:

is described as a former "president"

[Mar 07, 2015] Russia detains two men in Boris Nemtsov murder inquiry by Chis Johnston

Note: Guardian did not risked to open comments for this article. Should somebody put a tattoo on Chis Johnston right arm with the words "Cue Bono", the classic Roman approach to such crimes. Why Putin on peak of his popularity would decided to eliminate political cadaver by converting him into real, much more dangerous cadaver. But there are two parties who can benefit from this killing. As the guy who with Chubais and his friends from Harvard sold Russia assets, he incite such level of hate in Russia that even 1% of votes (that means strictly Moscow fifth column of neoliberal globalization) are way too much for him. Why Chris Johnson is so shy to name them is understandable and despicable. Even presstitutes should sometimes behave... Also analogies with Politkovskaya killing and Litvinenko killing are way to obvious to ignore. The USA now try to fight off the challenge that Putin version of state capitalism and Chinese version of "neoliberalism within communist dogma" present and rising tide of nationalism in Europe, which threatens the fundamental postulates of neoliberalism and the USA role as Kremlin of neoliberalism (if we consider this neoliberal globalization as replay of Communist International ideas on a new level). Ukrainian nationalists, while reasonably good at destruction of the economy, proved to be incapable to rule the country and face financial default. They can resort to desperate means to postpone the day of reckoning. Russian newspaper Vzglyad noted that version of the involvement of Chechens fighting in the Ukraine was one of the most plausible. "Izvestia" citing law enforcement sources reported that the organizer of the assassination could be the Ukrainian security services, and assassins - Chechen militants from the so-called battalion named Dzhokhar Dudayev, which fights in Ukraine against DND and LNR.
.
By the way, the commander of this detachment Adam Osmayev was previous held as defendant in the case of the preparation of the assassination of President Vladimir Putin. Perhaps the plan was to discredit the Russian government and destabilize the political situation in the country.
Mar 07, 2015 | The Guardian

Russian authorities have detained two men in connection with the murder of the opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

The pair were named as Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, both from the North Caucasus, a volatile region of southern Russia plagued by insurgency.

Nemtsov was deputy prime minister in the 1990s in the government of Boris Yeltsin.

... ... ...

Putin has called the killing a "provocation", vowing that everything would be done to convict those who committed a "vile and cynical murder".

[Mar 04, 2015] Were the props and slogans for Nemtsov's memorial march prepared before or after his death

From comments: "The "Propaganda Kills" slogan is especially interesting because, well, whom exactly has propaganda killed?"
March 2, 2015 | Fort Russ

March 2, 2015
El Murid
Translated by Kristina Rus
... ... ...

A t-shirt with quality four-color print and the words in the Ukrainian language. March on March 1st. The murder took place almost at midnight on February 28. A little more then 24 hours before this photo.

That is, someone choking on tears, had to on February 28 run to order a batch of these t-shirts, and prudently - a batch in the Ukrainian language. He had to do a layout, divided by colors, to make the t-shirt, pick it up from the shop and organize the distribution to the right people - you will not hand out such an expensive item to random people. Ukrainian for Ukrainians, Russian for non-Ukrainians.

At the same time to place an order for standard pictures of the deceased, to make a large number of the same posters. While some of the posters (again typographic quality) was created on the basis of slogans suggested on the evening of February 28 (i.e., a half a day before the March), suggested by Khodorkovsky's "Open Russia" on Twitter:

... ... ...

I wonder, were these t-shirts and all these posters ordered exactly on February 28 or before? So to speak, during his lifetime?

Kristina Rus: This entire circus looks like a part of one big production, were the picture is the goal and media is a part of the act

J.Hawk

The "Propaganda Kills" slogan is especially interesting because, well, whom exactly has propaganda killed? Had Nemtsov lived, that slogan would have looked totally out of place, and the Boris/Fight one like a product of an ego trip.

Oh, and there's no mention of Ukraine in any of these slogans, even though the whole event was billed as an march against Russia's "invasion" of Ukraine! It's as if Nemtsov was the last one to find out what the March 1 event was really going to be about him. Everyone else knew.

kolokol

A genuine screen print would take too much time, however with modern machines, for instance plastisol printing or even inkjet heat transfers, it can be done. Still, considering the posters and everything else combined it does seem like a well oiled production. Haven't we seen this elsewhere with obscure flags suddenly appearing en masse, identical slogans in English, etc.

Nexusfast123

As an external observer the whole thing to me comes across as a paid for rent a crowd and set-up which obviously included the assassination. In such a short space of time to slick, too rapid and too well organised to be a purely a spontaneous response.

JahbJoan

I made exactly the point in the above article two days ago on a post under another story about the march. These products (the shirts, the posters, all the identical flags, the banner carried in the front of the march) were all professionally done and, in the mass, would have been quite expensive. So the questions are: who paid for them and how'd they get them out there so fast (unless they knew ahead of time that he was going to be killed)! I wonder, whenever I see these "spontaneous" marches, where the get (i.e. who pays for) all the expensive trappings.

AMHants > JahbJoan

It normally leads back to Soros and no doubt his new buddy Kolomoisky lent a helping hand?

A Simple Guest

this was my first thought: a meeting with A LOT of Nemtsov pret-a-porter banners and Tshirts

I think the Russian opposition has a great industry of banners and Tshirts, and a great amount of money to produce them personalized when needed :)

very well prepared... in advance!

KM

I have also been thinking about the flower bouquets after Maidan in Kiev. We all know how much a big bouquet of imported flowers costs in the middle of the winter. People of Ukraine were not rich before Maidan either. But looking at the pictures we can see thousands of bouquets of imported flowers packed in plastic, all exactly the same. It would have cost many, many thousands of euro/dollar. And not a single "simple" flower och twig or anything a poor person could offer. Who paid for all these imported flowers -- and so quickly, only a few hours after the killing stopped....

Forever

They did know. They are masters at lying, and these props prove the lies.

skuppers

They MUST have been made in The West and shipped to Moscow before-hand because, you know, "Russia doesn't make anything..."

'Несогласные' жалеют, что не успели предать СССР

2013.03.25 версия для печати

aquilaaquilonis: Подумалось. Советского Союза, к счастью, больше нет, поэтому я, к сожалению, уже не могу его предать. Желание предать Советский Союз - один из основных признаков, отличающих русского человека от советского скотораба.

kutalo: Не совсем законченная мысль. Чтобы не быть скоторабом, нужно предать еще детище СССР - РФию. И не просто предать, а уничтожить.

От редакции: И почему даже не удивляет, что процитированные блогеры являются активистами оппозиции?

Источник: aquilaaquilonis.livejournal.com

Рашевский компрадор - WordReference Forums

Research Topics - CDI - Center for Defense Information - Security ...

2011.09.25 | версия для печати

Нет, вы не ошиблись. Впрочем, не стоит ждать сенсаций и дошедшего черепашьим ходом инсайда из курилки. Речь не идёт о тех лицах, кто действительно консультирует главу государства по вопросам внутренней и внешней политики, по вопросам аппаратным. Речь идёт о тех, кто себя таковыми считал.

Как уже много раз говорилось, в политическом сегменте социальных медиа - активные участники сражаются не друг с другом, они сражаются в первую очередь за умы.

Или, если угодно, за сердца тех людей - которые либо только входят в активный политический процесс, желая присоединиться к дискурсу, либо являются сторонним, но от этого заинтересованным наблюдателем. Нет, конечно, в мире политических дискуссий хватает и перебежчиков - не раз менявших свои политические взгляды (в том числе и на диаметрально противоположные).

Сегодня, определённая группа людей (которую возможно лучший публичный философ современной России Андрей Ашкеров, называет "последовательными демаркаторами") в очередной раз продемонстрировала свою истинную натуру. Всем. И своим апологетам, и - что самое главное - еще не навесившим на себя ярлык "тора, рала, иста". Ради таких моментов и стоит заниматься политикой, право слово. Ты видишь не просто поражение своего идеологического противника, не просто его самоунижение. Ты чувствуешь, что происходит кристаллизация.

Реакция на решение тандема по конфигурации-2012 со стороны так называемой "либеральной общественности" - состоящей из журналистов и колумнистов определённых СМИ, оппозиционеров - относящих себя к "правым", но являющимися ультралевыми, так называемых правозащитников и других - была весьма разнообразной.

Президента Медведева, надо сказать, данная категория лиц, критиковала и раньше. Критика всегда сопровождалась предшествующим ей "эффектом разочарования". Какого характера была критика? Давайте вспомним наиболее яркие моменты:

  1. Президента критиковали за то, что он не отправил в отставку первого заместителя главы своей администрации, Суркова. Критиковали дважды - в конце осени 2010 года. Критиковали его и в сентябре 2011 года, когда якобы Владислав Юрьевич лично требовал от миллиардера Михаила Прохорова исключить из партии Евгения Ройзмана, а потом, якобы звонил Алле Пугачевой. Пугачёва - фигура, почитаемая широкими общественными слоями. И хотя либералы любят в этот колодец плевать - говоря о том, что народ России "глуповат да сер и некультурен" (Роман Доброхотов), что надобно его резать и стричь (Ольга Бакушинская), что он мешает модернизации (Игорь Юргенс) - но за водой к нему идут. Итог этой "части" можно подвести... Олегом Кашиным. В 2010 году именно его избиение стало причиной нападок на Суркова со стороны несистемной оппозиции и "политтусовочки" (гордящейся, что формируют в читаемом президентом твиттере нужный им медиафон.

  2. Критиковали президента и за то, что в своем выступлении перед парламентариями в конце 2010 года он слишком много времени уделил вопросам материнства и семьи. "Никакой политики" - кричали правозащитники (получающие пусть и не очень большие, но все же деньги "на защиту материнства и детства" из нескольких международных фондов. "Какая-то социальная скукота" говорили те, у кого в памфлетах прописаны шаги к повышению уровня жизни граждан.

  3. Критиковали его и в мае, на встрече с журналистами в Сколково. Часть критиковала за непредоставление микрофона Евгении Альбац - так сказать, вскормившей и выносившей на руках Яшина, Барабанова, Гайдар, Навального и милую секретаршу Наташу Морарь. Другая часть критиковала главу государства за разрушение своей мечты о том, что выйдет он на трибуну и скажет "отставляю правительство и благодаря вашей поддержке в социальных сетях, я набрался сил и мужества и решил, что пойду на выборы в 2012 году". Не дождались.

А вместо этого президент работал. Работал напряжённо.

Именно благодаря его работе вместе с премьер-министром и правительством мы не разбились о дно "кризисной пропасти" в 2009 году. Россия останвила и наголову разбила грузинскую агрессии. В России начали строить сверхсовременный наукоград, развили и укрепили торгово-экономический союз в СНГ, усилили ОДКБ, открыли Северный Поток и находимся в стадии разработки Южного. В конце концов, была запущена и реформа МВД.

За эти годы было, увы, и много печального, трагического. Была авария на Саяно-Шушенской ГЭС, были теракты в метро и аэропортах, тонущие корабли, лесные пожары, сепаратисты в Сибири, волнения на Манежной, была "Распадская", была Сагра, был "Невский Экспресс" и "Хромая Лошадь", падали самолёты с арбитрами, хоккеистами, и не известными википедии людьми, потеря которых - невосполнима.

Казалось бы - есть за что хвалить руководство страны или, если угодно, выражать ему доверие. Есть о чём печалиться. И есть даже поводы обвинать. Но ни на том, ни на другом "разочарованные" не концентрировались. Больше всех они радовались, когда в отставку был отправлен Юрий Лужков - словно это была их, личная победа. Они с наслаждением обсуждали то, как президент пожурил главу одной из госкорпораций или высказался по Ливии - видя в этом якобы внешнее расхождение его позиции с премьер-министром, некое осознанное проявление борьбы со столь ненавистным им Путиным.

Проблемы и трагедии они списывали на метафизического врага - "коррупционного чиновника". Реальные успехи и достижения в социальной, экономической, внешнеполитической областях они не замечали. А если и видели - одобрения это не вызывало, лишь цедимое сквозь зубы "показуха".

И вот, наступила развязка.

"Консультанты" кричат, что их обманули в лучших ожиданиях, что "все потеряно". Кто-то кричит, что Россию спасёт только снайперская винтовка - как бы намекая на необходимость физического устранения. Вот только кого? Оставшегося безучасным к их лайкам, ретвитам и перепостам? Или того, кто был безучастным к ним с самого начала? Кто-то кричит, что Президент "оказался пустышкой". Кто-то - как обиженная отказом в покровительстве профурсетка, так и не доросшая до статуса приближённых к придворным дамам - удаляет страницы Президента из лент друзей. Какие люди - такие и поступки. Кто-то (в особенности бывшие политические консультанты, политтехнологи, политологи, и горе-экономисты, изображающие из себя "советников) как в песне "пророчат на землю российскую грозные беды".

Помимо истерики и разочарования этих людей объединяют ещё разговоры о скорейших сборах и стремительному бегству из страны. Причем вместе со своей неудавшейся "консалтинговой" карьерой они "обещают" увезти не только 100 миллиардов долларов, но и ещё тысяч 800 граждан. Граждан, которые в массе своей, надо думать и не слышали о том, что есть такие "эксперты", политконсультанты. И, тем более, абсолютно не планирует - не видя объективных поводов - "спасаться", побросав свои дачные сотки, кредитные авто, квартиры, стариков и любимые бары.

Тем и прекрасна эта кристаллизация, что видит её не только "сословие внутриполитическое", но и сторонник люди. В книге "Тень Ветра" Карлоса Руиса Сафона есть строки "Есть разочарования, делающие честь тому, кто является их источником".

Собственно, пусть едут - те, кому померещилось в звуке ударов топора о деревья виселицы и крах.

Но это новую Россию строят. Сильную и мудрую.

Николай Чернов

The Kremlin Stooge

It is an excellent rule to be observed in all disputes, that men should give soft words and hard arguments; that they should not so much strive to vex as to convince each other.

Rolling in on the Wheels of Inevitability – It's Good to be King

Gas Princess Tymoshenko Goes Down In Flames: Amnesty International Channels

Fox News

Managed Democracy in Russia: Unmasking the Magic

October 4, 2011 by marknesop

Uncle Volodya says, "Know the difference between a misfortune and a calamity? Well, if Kasyanov fell into the Neva, that'd be a misfortune. If somebody pulled him out....that'd be a calamity""

Did you follow the events in Libya via the international media, through the imposition of the no-fly zone right to the messy conclusion? How about the frequent reports of Assad's thugs mowing down protesters in Syria; a deliberate provocation to get NATO involved in another revolution there? A commenter on Anatoly's blog who appeared quite knowledgeable on the subject suggested the latter intervention was a non-starter based on the relative superiority of Syrian air defence, as compared with that of Ghaddafi. I'm not sure how that will be affected as fighter aircraft edge closer and closer to unmanned vehicles – but that's a subject for another day.

Something the two situations have in common are the use of a desired end-state (removal of the leader) as a starting point, and shoring up of the subsequent process with a blitz of media bulletins – nearly all of which relied on sources who had a direct interest in the outcome. Time after time, media reported anti-Ghaddafi forces initiating another assault in terms that expressed no doubt they would take the objective, and time and again they were hurled back until NATO bombing ahead of the advancing rebels began to turn the tide. Whenever the Ghaddafi administration offered journalists tours of Tripoli, the resulting reports complained that they "only saw what Ghaddafi wanted them to see", and managed conveniently to overlook a pro-Ghaddafi demonstration that drew more than a million supporters. Simply put, everything Ghaddafi told reporters was a lie, while everything the rebels said was the unvarnished truth. Similarly, every report I've seen that details Assad's vicious suppression of dissent is followed by, "according to activists".

Since this blog deals mostly with Russian issues, of course there's a Russian connection. The criminally awful coverage of Russian politics, immigration, economics and policy results almost exclusively from people who are not Russian and do not live in Russia as a part of Russian society, but have a special interest in pushing a narrative and repeating it until it assumes the appearance of truth. Kathy Lally. Ed Lucas. Leon Aron. Anne Applebaum, as well as many others you know well, all respected in the west as scholars, academics, experts….and all painters of journalistic masterpieces on Russia rendered in subtle variations of purest horseshit.

I can offer you something different. An insider's unbiased view of the cut and thrust of Russian politics, the effect of domestic and foreign policy on the nation's people and a candid appraisal of current events in Russia from a Russian viewpoint. I'm not talking about myself, of course – I don't live in Russia, and have never lived there as a resident. I'm talking about kovane, whom I managed to drag out of semiretirement with the threat of a pay cut. Without further ado…..

Managed Democracy in Russia: Unmasking the Magic

The question if there is democracy in Russia long ago turned into something akin to the question if there is life on Mars. Some people are positive that there is, others are dead set that there isn't, but the majority doesn't care that much. Quite characteristically, as opposed to the riddle about Mars, both groups are right in a sense. The former are just looking at the standard definition of democracy – do citizens elect representatives? Check. Is there evidence of mass-falsifying these elections? No, the results largely match polls conducted by a plethora of organisations, both independent and state-owned. Well, democracy it is. The latter camp, on the other hand, try to compare Russia with a spherical model of democracy in a vacuum, where branches of power are completely independent, freedom of speech is not influenced by corporate interests and the influence of separate power brokers on the political process is negligible.

So, who is closer to the truth? While there is hardly a country that matches the Procrustean bed of preconditions proposed by the purists, one thing is undeniable – there are so many hidden terms in the equation of the political process that it places Russia very far from the said ideal. Much farther than a whole number of countries, it's safe to say. In fact, as we will see below, the Kremlin holds so much sway over the political process that it would take a significant amount of dissent to push the situation out of control. And provided how nimble the Kremlin has been in the handling of it – mostly with reasonable concessions, but not shying away from using force if necessary – it would be a very unlikely scenario.

The foundations of Russia's modern political system were laid in 1993 with the adoption of the new Constitution. The circumstances of its adoption were tragic, as it was preceded by bloody conflict between the president and the Congress of People's Deputies. According to the then-current Constitution, the Congress had supreme power – something that didn't sit well with Yeltsin. The long pent-up hostilities broke out into violence, which resulted in the shelling of the building of the Congress with tanks – definitely not an act from any Constitution. Yeltsin won and, on the tide of his success, voted through a new version of Constitution, effectively turning Russia in a presidential republic: with the balance of power tipped heavily in favour of the president, at that.

During Yeltsin's term the Constitution and main legislations regulating Russia's political life largely remained unchanged (save for amendments regarding regions' name changes), so Vladimir Putin inherited the same core set of laws in 2000. Nevertheless, its prior implementation showed a wide variety of predicaments that pestered the country and impeded its development: wilfulness and separatism of regions that Yeltsin initially supported; the sweep of organised crime that became a major power in many regions capable of deciding elections, and the bacchanalia of oligarchs who had whole ministries on their payroll and owned major TV stations.

All these problems became evident to Putin shortly after the beginning of his first term, in the aftermath of the submarine Kursk catastrophe. The ORT TV Channel (now First Channel), controlled at the time by oligarch Boris Berezovsky, launched a media attack against Putin. But he clearly showed that such methods would not be tolerated, and that the house rules were about to change. After three months the Prosecutor General's Office announced that a criminal case had been opened against Berezovsky, who preferred to not return in Russia and sold his shares of ORT to Abramovich, an oligarch who is much more loyal to the Kremlin's cause. Thus began Putin's campaign for reshaping the political landscape of Russia.

Enter Vladislav Surkov. He was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff to the President of the Russian Federation in 1999, and now is considered the demiurge and ideologue of Russia's political system as well as one of the most notable thorns in the side of the liberal opposition and its sympathizers – demands for his resignations are second most popular, right after "Putin must go". It's remarkable that Surkov has held his post all these years and through Medvedev's presidency, adding the title of Presidential Aide in 2004. Unfortunately, he is quite a private person, and there are very few interviews with him, which certainly aids his demonising – most recently the oligarch Prokhorov, who unsuccessfully dabbled in politics, called him a "puppet-master". Quite ironically, Surkov's first wife is the creator of a puppet museum.

So, what did the process of gathering uncontrolled pieces of power look like? Mass media proved its enormous strength back in 1996, when it actually revived a political corpse; Boris Yeltsin had a single digit approval rating before the election, but managed to win it after an aggressive media campaign, sponsored by a consortium of oligarchs. So Putin had to get control of such a powerful weapon, which could be directed against him. After ORT another channel, NTV – controlled by another oligarch, Gusinsky – followed. Finally, in 2002, the last independent channel (TV6) was closed.

Today of all federal channels covering news and politics only one, Ren-TV, is private; others are under state ownership. But the independence of Ren-TV is very relative: the Kremlin has more than enough measures to ensure that it toes the line. It's no secret that Surkov stays in contact with producers of major channels and coordinates the presentation of important events. Also, there's a practice called stop-lists – an enumeration of political figures whose appearance on TV is highly undesirable. The lists are flexible – for example, Boris Nemtsov can grace some programmes, provided that he is chaperoned by a right person; but major channels seem to be completely off-limits for Kasparov and Limonov.

But the Kremlin's oversight is actually not the most decisive factor in limiting the freedom of press: self-censorship is. Media producers who control cash flow from advertising are so unwilling to risk losing their lucrative positions that they cut the most innocent episodes that might be interpreted as a violation. Thus, recently, First channel cut out a sketch from the humour TV show KVN mocking Medvedev's clumsy dance moves. After some derision from Internet users they reinserted the number in a rerun. While Surkov's deviousness is not to be underestimated, surely he doesn't preoccupy himself with such minutiae.

But actually Russian television is not that bad. It's certainly complicit in the sins to which all media is prone: lies by omission, presenting a limited spectrum of opinions and generously seasoning news with spin. Basically, it's no different from any western media network; the problem is that there are other competing networks that would be quick to point out lies and inconsistencies. In Russia, only peripheral media can do that along with Internet users; so these arguments often escape the scrutiny of the general public. Another advantage of television to which the Kremlin occasionally resorts is short but vicious media campaigns against certain individuals, pressure on whom is expedient to the moment. So far the most notable victims are Luzhkov, Lukashenko and, most lately, Evgeny Roizman.

While the Kremlin reserves television as the most influential media to itself (according to this poll, TV is the most important source of information for 80% of Russians), it is much more liberal with other sources of information: newspapers, radio stations and the Internet. Moreover, having learnt the hard way the lesson of the USSR, the Kremlin strives to provide opposition with controlled media platforms for venting their righteous anger. Thus, the most popular opposition radio station "Echo of Moscow", whose guests and hosts seem to hate Gazprom's guts – judging by their words at least – is actually owned by none other than Gazprom's subsidiary. And the Pravda of the opposition, "Novaya Gazeta", is owned by former KGB spy and billionaire Alexander Lebedev. While he is no toady of Putin, there is plenty of leverage to keep him in check. But the audience of these media outlets is quite sparse – commensurate with the percentage of people who support opposition. The Internet is completely free, and because of that, gives shelter to most radical and fringe groups. Generally, the rule of thumb with media in Russia is the more influence, the firmer the Kremlin's control.

Media control is only one side of the story. It would hardly be so important without thorough control of the political process. In the beginning of the 90's, Russia was swept by a kind of euphoria of freedom in politics – there were dozens of different parties, sometimes with indistinguishable slogans. In the elections of 1993 the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LPDR) triumphed, whose leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky preached weapons-grade populism; in the 1996 elections The Beer Lovers Party got 0.6 percent of the votes, participating along with 42 other parties. Parliamentary sessions were spiced with fights, mutual insults and all manner of buffoonery. In other words, Russia's political life was as disorderly as it gets.

The elections of 1999 were probably the first occasion big business turned its eyes to Parliament – if before laws had meant much less than the person who executed them, times were changing, and the ability to set the rules became a valuable prize. Two new contenders were "Fatherland – All Russia" – led by Primakov, Luzhkov and Shaimiev – and the Unity party, supported by Yeltsin and Berezovsky. Fatherland initially supported Primakov's (or maybe Luzhkov's) bid for the coming presidential election, while Unity was created to back then-prime-minister Putin's bid. The 1999 campaign was marked by an unprecedented war of black PR. Berezovsky-owned ORT clashed with Gusinsky's NTV, who supported Luzkov, in what later became known as "The War of the TV-killers".

The results of the election came as a bit of surprise: being a firm favourite as late as the summer of 1999, in December Fatherland came only third, with half the votes of Unity, created only months before the election. To a large extent that was a result of the smear campaign in the media – which Berezovsky won handily – and the recently started second campaign in Chechnya, which rallied the country around Putin. Including MPs elected from constituencies, the Communist party (KPRF) held 88 seats out of 450, Unity – 83, Fatherland – 47, the Union of Right Forces (SPS) – 32, Yabloko – 21, and Zhirinovsky's bloc – 16. Besides, independent MPs formed their own parliamentary unions. Thus, no party had even a simple majority on its own.

So Putin came into a rather precarious state of affairs. He could only rely on Unity for passing required laws. In order to do that, any law should have been approved by a simple majority of the Parliament at first, and then by the Council of the Federation. Considering that the Council was comprised of regional governors and heads of assemblies, who amassed great independence and economic strength during Yeltsin's terms, the Kremlin had little leeway in changing the legal system. Many regions wrote their own legislations contradicting federal laws; Tatarstan, Bashkiria and Yakutia decided to pay only 1 percent of the income in the federal budget instead of 10%. So naturally, curbing these dangerous tendencies became a top priority.

The first attack was launched in 2000, with new administrative reform. The Institute of Federal Districts was created, and governors received the President's special representatives to watch them. Later, Putin proposed a reform of the Council of the Federation: appoint two representatives from each region – one by the governor, the other by the region assembly – instead of the old system. The proposal was met with approval – after all, governors spent most of their time in Moscow, so finding time to actually govern their regions came only as a second priority. The problem was that governors themselves had to approve this law, basically stripping themselves of power and – more importantly – immunity from criminal prosecution. And after the tumultuous 90's, when the fight for assets in the regions was accompanied by all kinds of violence and crime, most of them sure as hell could use it. The other way was to override the Council decision with a constitutional majority (2/3 of votes) in the Parliament, but it was equally difficult. It's hard to imagine what kind of coercing and appeasement it took, but the Council of Federation passed the bill.

By 2001, Unity and Fatherland bridged their differences and decided to join forces, forming a new party – the present day behemoth "United Russia". Along with several independent parliamentary groups, the new party provided a stable platform for effective law-making – the coalition held 235 seats out of 450. That made it possible for the Kremlin to continue with core reforms. In July of 2011 the law "About political parties" was passed, obliging all parties to undergo registration at the Ministry of Justice. That gave the Kremlin an effective tool to control emergence of new parties. Today, only 7 are afloat, and several parties have been denied registration which was accompanied by public scandals. Among them liberal ParNaS, left Rodina – Common Sense and Limonov's NBP.

Any party wishing to be registered should apply its political programme and charter and meet the following requirements (according to the latest edition of the law): it must have more than 45000 members and have regional branches in more than half the subjects of Russia. But the real trick is hidden in the possible grounds for denial: the Ministry of Justice can turn a party down if its chapter contradicts any minor law, or, more importantly, if the information it applied is incorrect. That gives the Ministry a huge field for cavilling at details. For example, a classic version of denial looks something like this: the Ministry finds some discrepancy in the charter and incorrect information in the members list. And if a dozen of the members out of 50000 suddenly issue a statement that they actually don't have anything to do with the party, or another dozen happen to not exist – that's reason enough. Picking on the charter is even more preposterous – in 2007 the Ministry found fault with the charter of Rogozin's party "Great Russia", despite the fact that it was a word-for-word copy of the charter of an already registered party. The same scenario was used against ParNaS.

With the high starting demands for a new party, the Kremlin ensures that it can be only created with serious financial backing. Therefore, the number of those who can foot the bill is limited, and they are more or less in the open. Besides, without access to media, the efficiency of money spent on a new party would be very low (in terms of boosting popularity). For the especially stubborn, the Ministry of Justice is always there to keep any undesirable party out of the official political scene. The bottom line is no party can reach the Parliament without the Kremlin's direct consent.

The 2003 elections were the next step in establishing full control over political life. Capitalising on Putin's popularity and through generous use of state-controlled media, United Russia improved on the previous results: it got 37.5% of the votes. But the true miracle took place in regions, where United Russia won an overwhelming majority of elections in constituencies. That brought the total count of UR's seats to 220 – almost a simple majority. For the first time both liberal parties – SPS and Yabloko – failed to pass the election threshold. Parliament finally fell under the Kremlin's control, as United Russia could easily press other parties in order to get a constitutional majority. All that was needed to launch the most cardinal reforms was a good excuse.

Which followed shortly. In 2004, after the terrible terrorist attack on Beslan, Putin brought forward a law repealing governor elections, allegedly as a measure in the war on terror. Needless to say, Parliament found no objection to that, and the law was approved without a hitch. It stirred a wave of protest among the opposition (KPRF and SPS in particular), and to this day remains one of the most anti-democratic reforms of Putin. On the other hand, it certainly quashed any remnants of chaos in regions and restrained local barons. Thereafter, by the terms of the new law, governors have been appointed from candidates proposed by local assemblies. Considering that the latter were dominated by UR representatives, most governors preferred to join the party or were replaced. Also a campaign for ousting governors that held the post for too prolonged a period was started, finishing only in 2010.

After that the framework of the new system was largely finished. Only small touches remained, and by the 2007 elections laws were passed raising the election threshold from 5 to 7%, cancelling the option "Against Everyone" on ballot papers and repealing elections in constituencies. Those measures almost completely eradicate any chance that random people can get into Parliament and effectively hide the last legal way to displaydiscontent. It goes without saying that the 2007 elections resulted in a tremendous win by UR with 64% of the votes.

The present-day political system displays all kinds of duality: it's democratic by formal indications, but in reality every step is controlled by the Kremlin; the opportunities for the opposition are severely restricted, but there's no true support for it among the general public, while the Kremlin enjoys genuine popularity. All of the numerous restrictions that exist are completely legal and were adopted after due deliberations, but they to a great extent contradict the spirit of the Constitution. For all that, the Kremlin continuously shows real effort to tune the political system to real demands among the public and seems to use data from polls. For example, while liberal parties flopped on the last two elections, Surkov tried to bring to life the idea of a liberal party under the Kremlin's wing, or at least that was the pretence.

One frequently raised issue by the Kremlin's critics is if elections are rigged or not. While the opposition regularly bemoans a welter of violations, and watchdogs from the OSCE wag their finger, nobody presents viable evidence supporting the allegation of mass falsifications. Moreover, the question why the results of elections almost precisely match exit-polls and party ratings remains unanswered. On the Internet, stories about falsifications often surface, some of them stating that poll stations were throwing in ballot papers, but for all participants proportionally. For United Russia the main enemy now is not any other party, but the apathy of voters, so polishing the turnout numbers is important. All the aforesaid applies only to federal elections, local ones are still the subject of much more manipulation.

While it's fun to have a Beer Lovers party in Parliament or skimp on HBO and watch great fights in its sessions, the need for a more mature political system was understood and supported by many. And it was anticipated that these changes might be taken too far. Some figures associated with the Kremlin hinted that the tight regulations might be eased in the future – thus, Medvedev promised to lower the election threshold, and the Minister of Justice supported the repealing of the mandatory party registration. The artificial conditions created for United Russia are certainly harmful for political life in general, and the party itself above all. Adding to natural weariness from the party, the pressure and discontent will only grow, and the authorities will be forced to react and compromise.

Here, and in many Western publications, the terms "the Kremlin", "the state" and "Putin's regime" are a bit overused, and no explanation as to what is behind those vague descriptions is provided. Though it's hard to make out the true disposition of forces that participate in the power struggle under the carpet, the main architects of the described political reforms are Putin and Surkov. That endeavour was evidently supported by the group known in the West as "siloviki". The integrity of pro-Kremlin forces shouldn't be overestimated – for example, Medvedev, the closest ally of Putin, made several critical statements about the present political system and is of moderately liberal leanings.

Looking back at where Putin started, and comparing it with his present position, some self-evident observations can be made – he is a brilliant politician. And the meaning of "politician" here is someone who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and manoeuvring. The political system he created and the popularity he commands allow him to pursuit any policy he pleases. His critics often emphasize that Putin has done very little for the country and he has been just lucky, using growing energy prices. There's certainly a grain of truth here – he used simple and obvious measures: stabilising the financial system, reining in oligarchs and regional barons, putting the tax system in relative order. The impression of simplicity should not fool anyone – their implementation was extremely difficult. But even those measures were enough for the country to bounce back from what seemed at the time a free-fall. Now the country faces very different problems, and their solutions are not as evident. Will Putin be able to prove himself a great statesman as well?

We have at least 6 years to see.

156 Responses to Managed Democracy in Russia: Unmasking the Magic

    kievite October 5, 2011 at 2:30 am

    We need to understand the context in which Putin came to power. I think the foundations of Russia's modern political system are partially the result of an immune reaction of the society to the way West treated Russia after the dissolution of the USSR and the true nature of neo-liberal revolution that Russia experienced (often called "economic rape of Russia").

    I think the among other things the collapse of the USSR was related to the efforts to install the neo-liberal regime from above by corrupting and brainwashing part of nomenclature (Gaidar, Yakovlev, etc). So in a way the collapse was a neo-liberal revolution from above.

    At this time neo-liberalism became a dominant ideology of the West. The expanding financial markets, equipped with all necessary hard- and software, were in urgent need of new play- grounds.

    "Shock therapy" privatization, hyperinflation and brainwashing followed. Results are well known.

    First of all international financial oligarchy imposed certain conditions to those poor folks who happened to live is say Ekaterinburg or Norilisk. The rules of the game were to get as much assets as possible for pennies on dollar using the fifth column inside Russia and to bring labor cost close to zero (while destroying general living conditions) as well as to neutralize those who disagree. This local fifth column - global financial oligarchy link was fundamental to the success and the scheme was polished in many third-world countries.

    Much like anywhere else neoliberal revolutions produced weak state with unstable and unbalanced economic growth ("banana republic"). For the substantial part of the population, especially less educated part, it led to increased poverty, confiscation of savings due to hyperinflation, social oppression backed by the police, intense social, moral and geographical dislocation, the establishment in power of corrupt and unproductive comprador elites, and severe damage to the environment. Some tiny percent of labor for that has skills valued at West prospered. Many of them immigrated. Programmers and technical scientists with advanced degrees were one such category ("brain drain"), sex workers another.

    Like Anatol Lieven noted the Yeltsin regime closest historical analogy might be the "cacique" system of Spain and much of Latin America in the later 19th and early 20th Centuries – a system admittedly with certain analogies to a kind of " feudalism", but without any traditional mutual obligations between lord and serfs typical for feudalism. Such governments never ceased to trumpet their allegiance to constitutionalism, law, and progress, but real power on the ground was held by corrupt local political chieftains (cacique comes from the Caribbean Indian word for a chief) who distributed patronage and government contracts, fixed or "made" elections on behalf of their patrons, and occasionally killed inconvenient political opponents, critical journalists, trade union activists. Such system can generate economic growth but tends to be plagued by very high levels of organized crime, personal insecurity, high level of sexual exploitation of women and children, atrocious public health, bad public education, rampant corruption of state bureaucracy and law enforcement, and vicious exploitation of the poor (the majority of the population) and the environment. At the end of 90th Russia was close to total Latin American style collapse including collapse of state services - a classic "banana" state.

    The problem of fifth column of compradors while typical has "Russian specific" due to which from the very beginning they were extremely criminalized. Forming of them started under Gorbachev with the conversion of Komsomol infrastructure into private sector and emergence of the private banking system. The "Komsomol bankers" got their starts in business with money they stole from state so it is accurate to call all of them crooks and the new political system under Yeltsin semi-criminal.

    Other then that there was not much new about the way in which Russian public property was grabbed by powers that be in the course of "neoliberal privatization" which was performed for the benefits of the international financial oligarchy and with help and under direction of Harvard mafia. No wonder that the net result was mass stealing of existing state property by Yeltsin cronies and increased exploitation of existing resources rather than new investment, and general economic stagnation under Yeltsin regime. It is exactly what has always happened during neoliberal revolutions, which are prepared to justify almost anything in the name of "progress" and "democracy" (aka fast money for foreign banks). Post-Soviet Russia probably suffered an added hit because of the totally comprador nature Yeltsin regime with strong ethnic component among new "oligarchs".

    So it is important to understand that after neoliberal revolution the only realistic alternative to the current, demostratably imperfect, political system would be rule of compradors or like let's call them "Khodorkovski & Berezovski", the total colonization of the country and impoverishment of the population, not any real form of democracy.
    I think that talking about democracy in a weak, burdened by debt country with decimated infrastructure and industrial base in the condition of existence of global financial oligarchy is an extreme form of political naivety. In a way I see authoritarism as a defense, imperfect but somewhat effective defense against subversive role of international capital after neoliberal revolution and the danger of total colonization of the country in best Latin American traditions.

    All that said we should not forget that Putin himself also represents this new neoliberal regime, a specific version with overtones that we can call "neoliberalism with human face"

    kovane October 5, 2011 at 6:32 am

    the foundations of Russia's modern political system are partially the result of an immune reaction of the society to the way West treated Russia after the dissolution of the USSR

    I wouldn't be so quick to blame the West for what happened to Russia. After all, most of the top bureaucracy became far better off after the liberal reforms. So, if they were deceived by the West, it's how Pushkin put it: "There's no need to fool me, I'm glad to be fooled myself". Just compare what, say, a member of Politburo had, and what lifestyle some mediocre official enjoys now.

    For the substantial part of the population, especially less educated part, it led to increased poverty

    Quite the contrary, I think. If people who were skilled in some kind of manual labor always had opportunities to eke out a living, it were minor scientists and teachers who suffered most.

    global financial oligarchy link was fundamental to the success

    Not to that extent. Yes, they lent money, Khodorkovsky was one of the most notable recipients, and tried to influence the situation as best as they can (providing consultants, proposing reforms). But amidst the chaos of the 90s Russia, oligarchs double-crossed anyone and did as they pleased. Just look at the adventures of Soros in Russia, when he tried to buy Svyazinvest.

    I think that talking about democracy in a weak, burdened by debt country with decimated infrastructure and industrial base in the condition of existence of global financial oligarchy is an extreme form of political naivety.

    Another extreme form of political naivety is to think that the more authoritarianism the better. Russia needs technologies and markets of the West, and there's more productive way of cooperating with the Western financial elites. But giving them free rein would be very foolish indeed.

    yalensis October 6, 2011 at 11:33 am

    @kievite: Excellent analysis. Respekt!

    kievite October 7, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Thanks yalensis.

    I just think that the key for understanding democracy in Russia is understanding mechanic of neoliberalism as global system or neo-colonialism via sophisticated use of the financial system instead of old fashioned direct colonial rule. In this scheme Russian is assigned a certain role and it is not very enviable role. And sliding county into this unenviable position is achieved first and foremost by integration of country financial system into global financial system and conversion of owners of local financial institutions into key elements of comprador class.

    Some important effects of neo-liberalism on the country are (See Washington concensus in Wikipedia and elsewhere):

    1. Growth in international trade and cross-border capital flows (which in essence means free access of foreign capital to country financial system and its subordination to international monetary system with its good and bad effects)

    2. Elimination of trade barriers (while open talk is about goods, the key here are financial products - elimination of barriers for financial products aka "Hello gentlemen from Goldman Sacks")

    3. Cutbacks in public sector employment (especially in agencies regulating and monitoring financial capital)

    4. The privatization of previously public-owned enterprises (and first and foremost bank system including Central Bank under the disguise of independence from the government and via pre-selection of its presidents by financial sector).

    5. The transfer of the lion share of countries' economic wealth to the top economic percentiles of the population (which naturally transfer it abroad as it does not feel secure in its own country)

    If a country wants to limit those effects without complete isolation it needs to create a strong state which can serve as sand in the wheels of financial liberalization. And that instantly will be declared undemocratic and viciously attacked by various elements of fifth column of neo-liberalism including first and foremost Western media and its agents within the country. That means that in pervert way "more democracy" drive serves a Trojan horse for establishing compete dominance of foreign capital in the country (which essentially means colonization of the country and chronic powerty of its population - look at Ukraine as a good example).

    I think that's why democrats are called "dermocrats" in Russia - on intuitive level people understand what will happen if they come to power and fear that Yeltsin years will return with vengeance (with new incarnation of Berezovski, Gusinski, Khodorkovski, Guidar, Chiubaytis, Jeffrey Sacks and so on and so forth). In other words, they are afraid of another round of shock therapy which is the essence of "disaster capitalism" (see THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, by Naomi Klein )

    That does not mean that those who want "more democracy in Russia" are all tools of financial capital (fifth column). Some are but many are just kind of "useful idiots" (the term which was used for Soviet sympathizers in Western countries but is pretty much applicable here). Like in old proverb "Roads to hell are paved with good intentions". I might exaggerate a little bit but at least ny analisys suggests that situation is very tricky and far from black and white "more democracy is good - less democracy is bad" and its natural generalization "All pigs are equal but some (financial pigs) are more equal then others" . Because one interesting question is "Democracy for whom?" and if answer is "for Goldman Sacks" that the value of such democracy is very suspect.

    I think that the key problem for the country is not "more democracy" (which in any case is limited to elite including comprador part of the elite) but creation of a system of self-defense against unrelenting assault of foreign financial capital, to the extent that is possible within already "neo-liberalized" country. In a way the country condition is not a good one for implementing "more democracy". And if comprador part of the elite can be somehow neutralized (first of all by cutting oxygen - restricting its access to TV and newspapers) I think less democracy is not so bad and might help to increase well-being of country population as less wealth will end in the coffers of foreign banks. But this might well be impossible in a long run with Putin or without. After all the role of personality in history is a limited one. He can just serve as a catalyst or inhibitor for something that has already has independent "right for existence" on a historical scene.

    marknesop October 7, 2011 at 3:53 am

    Russia will have zero growth – or very low – without foreign investment, and the conference on the regions will hammer on that theme, so it's well recognized that some foreign capital is necessary. The rest is just sparring for advantage, with Russia trying to give away the minimum of control while foreign industries struggle to gain a controlling interest in the company. We talked about that awhile ago, with Browder as the example, using a variety of tricks to try and acquire more stock in GAZPROM than it is permissible for a foreigner to own. Russia says, "we can't allow foreign control of state energy industries because our economy is dependent upon them, therefore such control is a matter of state security" while foreigners look hurt and say "you can trust us – you're just afraid of western business practices and you want our business but you won't let us make any money". There would be no foreign investment unless the possibility of significant profits existed, because foreign investors generally are short on altruism.

    But messing in national politics, courting activists among the population and encouraging dissent are all tried-and-true staples of the western democratizing toolbox. For some reason, Russia is still perceived as an existential enemy (while China, orders of magnitude more powerful and dangerous, is not), and western participation in the Russian economy has more of the hostile takeover about it than partnership. Russia is wise to watch its back.

    rkka October 7, 2011 at 9:50 am

    "For some reason, Russia is still perceived as an existential enemy (while China, orders of magnitude more powerful and dangerous, is not)"

    China lives by overseas trade, and must import vital natural resources over seas the US Navy controls. The Anglosphere has a firm hand on China's windpipe. The Anglosphere likes that a great deal.

    Russia is the only major power that is able to sustain its economy and way of life without importing vital things over seas the Anglosphere controls.

    The Anglosphere, and the Globalist bankster overlords running it that "a" speaks for really hate that, and therefore, Russia.

    marknesop October 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    That's a good point, but it's all the more reason China may consider Mr. Putin's proposal with interest. There's not much the west could supply China that Russia could not, and there are some things Russia can offer that the west cannot – energy and energy security.

    yalensis October 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    These are very good points. China's Achilles Heel is its geographical isolation on Pacific Ocean, which is a very large ocean controlled by USA.

    kardon October 12, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Are you f-ing crazy? I'd like to see Russia try to "sustain its economy and way of life" without exporting oil and gas. A lot good it'd do sitting in the ground…

    Also, Russia has to import a lot of food.

    The whole world is interconnected. Russia too.

    marknesop October 12, 2011 at 3:00 am

    That's what they say about Saudi Arabia, too – all it's got is oil. For some reason, it's never phrased as a criticism. In Libya, the western oil giants can't wait to make the Libyan people totally dependent on oil revenues, and they make it sound like they should be grateful for such a priceless opportunity. Curiously, when oil is present in large amounts on the territory of a western ally or a newly-acquired western stepchild, it's a virtue. In Russia, it's a curse that prevents people from being truly free and independent, because they're slaves to gas prices. Equally curious, Russians don't seem to take it seriously.

    The west could crush Russia's ambitions for national greatness overnight. All it need do is stop using oil. They seem not to want that in any meaningful way, as consumption trends steadily upward.

    kardon October 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Uh, you do understand the concept of a comment thread, right? How each one refers to the previous? As in when rkka says that, unlike China, Russia is self-sufficient, and I that Russia is in fact just as firmly tied to the international system? So your response regarding Saudi Arabia is a non-sequitur. Every country is tied in, including the U.S. and definitely including Russia. Cutting off a major country's trade as rkka presents it would be very damaging to everyone. This has nothing to do with being a virtue; it's a fact of life.

    marknesop October 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    I understand I'm wasting my time being polite. Comments viewed in the "comments" pane on the blog itself are in order of the time they were received, rather than immediately below the comment to which they refer. Besides, I was not aware we had some unspecified obligation to adhere to comment rules in which you get to designate the respondent. And if you were under the impression that being a surly prick conferred some sort of advantage, let me disabuse you of that notion.

    "I'd like to see Russia try to "sustain its economy and way of life" without exporting oil and gas. A lot good it'd do sitting in the ground…" Since that nyah-nyah-nyah couplet appeared above your signature, I assumed you were the originator. That being the case, Saudi Arabia – another nation which relies exclusively on oil and gas – is in no way a non sequitur. I'd like to see Saudi Arabia try to sustain its economy and way of life without exporting oil and gas. A lot of good it'd do sitting in the ground. But rkka's point was that transport of those resources is often vulnerable to sea control by another nation. Russia's is not, and therefore there would be no reason for Russia's assets to sit in the ground; China would buy every drop Russia could export, and not one of those drops would have to go by sea. Russia is indeed interconnected to the world, as you say. But less so than you seem to think, in terms of dependence.

    rkka October 13, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Russia needs little trade by sea, and therefore the US Navy cannot blockade and economically strangle Russia, like it can China.

    cartman October 13, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Russia and the US have an almost negligible trade relationship, so almost all the growth of the past decades comes from trade with German and Chinese investors.

    Don't underestimate the importance of sea routes. I think the purpose of Russia's naval base in Syria is to keep Turkey from closing the Bosporus, which is a very busy sea route. (Although I doubt there is much danger for Russia to lose that base since it is in Alawite territory which has long had aspirations for independence.) The United States wants Japan to have the Kurils because their possession would effectively close off the far east to Russia (like China is because of the Taiwan issue). The Arctic is the only coast that is totally free, but it is covered with too much ice.

    So Russia could do better to access Iran's ports through Central Asia. The infrastructure is already there, and the Volga-Caspian route is one of Russia's oldest trade routes. Another is across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro (these countries are good candidates for the Eurasia union).

    yalensis , October 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

    @kievite: Again, an excellent analysis. Internal democracy is important to a country, and yes, I would love to see nice multi-party parliamentary democracy in Russia with many progressive and socialist-minded parties, also lots more fluffy puppies and adorable kittens. But even more important is basic sovereignty, and I swear I would vote for Lucifer himself along with his repulsive zombie army if he could protect Russia against international finance capital.
    Globalization is inevitable process and cannot be stopped, but should be slowed down and resisted as much as possible. Also, monetized Russian assets should NOT be stored in American or European banks. Among other reasons, Iraq/Libya war shows that Americans/Europeans have no compunctions about freezing accounts of nation whose leader they hate (and, believe me, they DO hate Putin), and then help themselves to this $$$ to help pay for war to overthrow disliked "tyrant" and install new "democratic" puppet regime more to their liking. In Libya, they have installed an actual honest-to-god Al Qaeda puppet regime, and then tried to sell this off in their media as "Arab Spring" and "forces of democracy". Just five years ago, nobody would have even believed such a thing (a NATO/Al Qaeda military alliance) was possible, but there you have it, and nobody in mainstream media even blinks an eye, or shows any signs of cognitive dissonance. [Well, Orwell, predicted this, after all. One moment the crowds are chanting: "Down with Country A", then Big Brother appears on the screen and tells them Country A is the good guy, and now they should hate Country B, so without missing a beat, they start chanting "Down with Country B!"]

    In Russia international capitalsts would prefer to install somebody "nice" like Nemtsov or Navalny, but they would settle for bearded jihadists, if that was all they had. They would install a ham sandwich, if that was all they had. Their goal is to have all nations completely open and vulnerable to unprotected rapings by their financial instruments, and they simply do not care any more what they have to do to achieve that goal. As Lenin would say, they have completely tossed aside the flimsy figleaf!

    Anonymous , October 5, 2011 at 4:50 am

    "A commenter… suggested the latter intervention was a non-starter based on the relative superiority of Syrian air defence, as compared with that of Ghaddafi."

    Syrian air defense won't make much of a difference. Air defense systems aren't magic, they eventually run out of missiles, get overwhelmed by numerous targets, can be affected by electronic countermeasures and so forth.

    A good air defense will make the attack more expensive, more complex, will require more time and resources to be spent by the attacker, but that's about it. Eventually, the air defense system will crumble.

    hoct , October 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Except for the fact that NATO is not willing to incur losses. Therefore even modestly capable air defense is a significant deterrent to attack.

    marknesop , October 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Wish I had noticed your comment before I replied. Obviously, I agree completely.

    Anonymous , October 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    "Except for the fact that NATO is not willing to incur losses."

    What losses? Shooting cruise missiles at targets isn't a loss, it's an expense. One can even see it as an economy stimulation program. Keep shooting missiles until the air defense is exhausted and/or enough important targets are hit. After that you can send regular attack planes to finish the job.

    marknesop , October 6, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Well, we were actually talking about manned aircraft – using cruise missiles to "protect civilians" or enforce a no-fly zone is stretching their role envelope just a little. So far as I'm aware, cruise missiles have never been used when it was not an act of war and the aim was to paralyze enemy communications centres and selected military targets. Using cruise missiles in Libya certainly would saturate air defences, but the missiles would have to go somewhere after that, and it's kind of hard to sell that as being careful of civilians.NATO was careful to say that it was not at war with Libya and was only taking measures to safeguard civilian lives while the rebels dealt with Ghaddafi. That gradually evolved to NATO flying direct support missions for the rebels, but that's another argument.

    Anonymous , October 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

    You keep using those words like they mean something. "Protecting civilians" means pretty much whatever the US wants it to mean.

    More than 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck over 20 targets inside Libya today in the opening phase of an international military operation the Pentagon said was aimed at stopping attacks led by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and enforcing a U.N.-backed no-fly zone. President Obama, speaking from Brazil shortly after he authorized the missile attacks, said they were part of a "limited military action" to protect the Libyan people.

    marknesop , October 6, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Okay. Have it your way.

    yalensis , October 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    A lot of people on the pro-Libya blogs that I read are claiming that NATO are cowards and will only attack defenseless countries, etc. I think some of this is wishful thinking on the part of people who are extremely upset and outraged to see what this recent NATO/Al Qaeda alliance has done to Libya. Someone like me who regards NATO as an enemy – still, I think it is necessary to give the enemy his due and recognize that they are NOT cowards. Obviously they prefer an easier fight, unmanned bombing missions when possible, but it is necessary to see that they will also go in and fight the hard wars too. They will take many losses if they have to. These people have a project plan and are quite ruthless in following it. Fortunately, they suffered a much-needed setback when Russia/China vetoed the Western-sponsored resolution against Syria. This shows that if Russia/China can grow a spine and ally with other outcasts like Venezuela, then maybe they can slow down this relentless American/European crusade to re-colonize Third World.

    marknesop , October 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    That's quite true, but countries with plenty of cash – such as Libya – have been shown to be able to afford amazing stockpiles of things like missiles, and nobody wants to fly into a cloud of them. Knowing a serious capability confronts you is a pretty good deterrent, and NATO generally favours situations in which it can establish air superiority virtually or completely unchallenged. Shot-down aircraft and captured pilots – especially alive – are very bad PR.

    Ghaddafi's concentration on land forces and relative disinterest in air defence were well-known before the big push for a no-fly zone. By contrast, Iranian employment of the F-14 Tomcat during the Iran-Iraq war proved of tremendous psychological value, and records show an entire formation of Iraqi aircraft would break off the attack and sometimes not return for more than a week if even one AWG-9 (F-14 Tomcat radar) was detected over the target. They were afraid of it, and they were right to be. Similarly, detection of a missile radar in the acquisition phase while you are still far, far from the point where you could launch your own airborne attack provides a warning that might be effective even if the launcher was unarmed. Who wants to find out?

    It's true that throwing everything you have at a target will likely mean at least half your air assets will get through – but is NATO prepared to incur that sort of losses to pursue another unpopular colour revolution whose base of support is far from certain? Some day, maybe, but not now.

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    A good air defense will make the attack more expensive, more complex, will require more time and resources to be spent by the attacker, but that's about it.
    This is the aim of any defence, and any defence system will crumble under enough pressure. The point is to make the attack prohibitively expensive for your enemy.

    Captain Person (@captainperson) , October 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

    "a great statesmen"

    Also, not sure you meant to use "pretence" instead of "pretense".

    kovane , October 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

    thanks, I've corrected the typo. Aren't "pretense" and "pretence" respectively the American and English spellings?

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Yes, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Collins Cobuild English Dictionary.

    marknesop , October 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Sorry about that – I had trouble with the formatting when trying to insert kovane's post, and although I corrected that "statesmen" mistake at least 4 times, I must have deleted and reinserted the text 5 times.

    DimitriT , October 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    This is a very good history and explanation of the managed democracy in Russia and how it has become more management and less democracy over the past few years. I would like to think that United Russia could police itself and loosen control over the political parties and campaigns, free debate, and elections, but in fact, they have demonstrated in the past few weeks that they wish to exercise more control (evidenced by the treatment of Prokhorov and Kudrin.) Clearly Surkov is the mastermind here and he is doing a good job of protecting United Russia. However, the rest of the world, and thanks to the Internet, many Russians themselves, are beginning to see the results of this. Democratic freedoms are being revoked, progressive ideas are being stifled, and an entire generation of Russians is leaving for better opportunities in countries with more freedom and better chances to build new business. Meanwhile, Russia's economy relies almost solely on oil prices for survival and has nothing new to offer to foreign investment. And why should foreigners invest in Russia when the political system is moving closer to autocracy and away from true democracy? These things are contributing to a general dissatisfaction among the Russian people, despite what the polls say, and it will not be long before the liberals see that they must join forces under a charismatic, capable, and credible leader who can offer real competition to Putin et al. The only candidate who has a chance is Prokhorov, if and when he decides to return.

    kovane , October 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Well, thanks for the compliment, Dimitri.

    evidenced by the treatment of Prokhorov and Kudrin

    I have to politely disagree with you on the subject of Prokhorov and Kudrin. Prokhorov made every mistake there is to make, and showed himself an ignorant and conceited boob. Unfortunately, that's often the case with people who have much money – it must be hard to keep a cool head. Nobody forced Kudrin to make statements he did in America, but after that, there was no nice way out of it. Either he got sick and tired of his post or that's part of some grandiose political scheme of Putin. In any case, I don't see how any of that is evidence of the Kremlin exerting more control.

    progressive ideas are being stifled

    What exactly progressive ideas have been stifled? Like the 60-hours work week proposed by Prokhorov? Or maybe Nemtsov or Kasparov are holding back some super progressive idea how to turn Russia in a prosperous paradise, and the only reason why they keep silence is that they are effectively unelectable? Even a better breed of the opposition, like Navalny, despite all the fuss, has notably few fresh ideas beside "Let's all stop thieving".

    an entire generation of Russians is leaving for better opportunities in countries with more freedom and better chances to build new business.

    Oh, please. In order to do something positive, the first step is to part with old myths and lies. That one is so stale that I don't know how you can repeat it. 1, 2

    And why should foreigners invest in Russia when the political system is moving closer to autocracy and away from true democracy

    Another myths, even more stale that the one about mass-emigration. Investors don't give a damn about the political system; all they care is (in order of importance): 1)the safety of their investment. 2) profit. You won't say that China's political system is more democratic than Russia's, right? The hard truth is that there are many places that are more attractive for investors than Russia, with lower wages, better climate and a more flexible law system. Russia has to carry out a state economic policy in order to step away from the current oil-dependent economy. Any economic liberalisation will only make the present model take root even more.

    despite what the polls say

    And how is that?

    The only candidate who has a chance is Prokhorov

    Well, I can tell you that: despite my deep hatred of traveling and my love for Russia I would seriously consider emigrating if he became the president.

    marknesop , October 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I was struck by something I read the other day on Tim Newman's blog, White Sun of the Desert. Regulars will know Tim was a regular feature here at one time, and we used to have some spirited discussions centering around economics and the energy industry. The post was on the recent riots in Britain, and one conceptual phrase stood out for me – if you subsidize something, you get more of it.

    Russia, we are told, needs nothing so much as it needs progressive ideas and a liberalizing influence, originating with a new leader. But Russia is supposed to be incredibly corrupt, almost to the point you have to slip the magazinchik a couple of hundred rubles before she'll sell you cigarettes. Remember, broad-based application of legislation affects everyone – the gentle rain of liberalism falls upon the corrupt and the decent alike. What would be the immediate effect on corruption of significant deregulation and relaxation of state control, and the leader running around with his face painted blue and white and yelling about FREEDOM!!! like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart"? Would corruption be likely to just wilt and blow away in the face of this deluge of freedom from authority? I sincerely hope you don't think so.

    Is a liberal or an authoritarian model more likely to have the most beneficial effect on a corrupt system, do you think? Let's ask the UK – and few would disagree a system that sees unemployed youths running around in expensive clothes and sporting pricey toys they customarily obtained by theft, all the while the law enables their behavior, is corrupt. Just maybe not the style of corruption you're used to. More and ever more freedom is having no noticeable arresting effect on this behavior, and it appears to be gaining in strength. Few would disagree also, I think, that a sterner government line and a firmer hand in the UK would be just the ticket – bearing in mind that it affects the decent and the criminal alike.

    What would be the likely effect, given the current situation in Russia, of a Prokhorov government broadly relaxing state control of business, and letting business owners exercise a heretofore-unseen level of personal discretion over their affairs in a free-market atmosphere that says devil take the hindmost? Less corruption, or more? Take your time.

    A strange duality exists here – Russia is horribly corrupt, but it needs the state to stop meddling and just let people be free to do as they like in pursuit of a happy life and a good standard of living. These two conditions cannot coexist. Either Russia needs firm state control over enterprise, or Russia is nowhere near the corrupt world delinquent the western press likes to suggest it is.

    Foppe , October 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Well, I think one thing to keep in mind is that "corruption" is something that is simply another word for a "cost of business", and that it is basically a way to supplement bureaucratic wages. The problem with bureaucratic corruption is that it makes it harder for 'normal' people to get heard, since they have to be able to pay the fees (though from what I understand many such officials sometimes require bribes according to ability). As such, if you want a society where people have access to the system, you would want to raise wages in order to make it less necessary for the officials to be corrupt (and crack down on the corruption after, but it's important to keep in mind that the latter is unrealistic without the former).
    Anyway, the 'sterner line' in Britain is just a way to demonize the poor - while it may be that the poor display criminal behavior, who cares? City bankers have stolen and/or destroyed tens or even hundreds of billions in wealth, and they don't get punished either. The problem the poor have is one of PR - white collar crime is never felt to be as threatening as street crime, even though it causes damage that is orders of magnitude greater than that street crime. Bill Black (Savings & Loan investigator) explains its importance quite nicely here (but note that he is, of course, entirely ignored by TPTB, since the Federal Reserve still believes that fraud did not play a large role in the crisis).

    europaviews , October 6, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Great post, thank you very much for it. Barriers for political parties. Who controls TV. In which circumstances Putin came to State power. Who is Vladislav Surkov. How Parliament fell under the Kremlin's control. These are the themes which are silent. And moreover it's ineresting to read such articles written by a person, who doesn't live in Russia.

    Well, I'm Russian; I just leave outside Russia, so probably can judge from aside. What I would like to add about the situation with Prokhorov.
    Democracy, managed by Surkov in Russia will work badly. According to the polls, a lot of people in Russia have basic liberal-democratic values. The matter of fact is that lot of people in Russia would rather support Prokhorov, and would follow him, if he stays in politics. These people are further generation, middle class (40 of population of Moscow and 30% of the other cities), business class, intellectuals. Prokhorov's ideas were not crystal, but the point is, that people share these ideas. A lot of people are not satisfied with the situation, when they are neglected. The recent interview of Dmitry Peskov with "explanations" why Putin – Brezhnev is not so bad – it's just a rotten excuse (we call such things in Russia), all his words are lame arguments. Putin wins even if nobody comes to these elections. The other parties are looking like yesterday's trash. It's not even an opportunity to choose between two. It's like in Kazakhstan, where I lived, where a lifelong president Nursultan Nazarbaev – a "Führer" of a sovereign nation of Kazakhstan. But the times are changing rapidly.
    You said "Prokhorov made every mistake there is to make, and showed himself an ignorant and conceited boob". Well, he was professional enough to manage deals he did well in business (and innovation, I saw the auto, it's much better J that Lada Kalina, I had the honor to travel witL. They still insist on auto-industry in Russia – absurd), and courageous enough not to stay controlled by Surkov and to call things by their proper names at the end. Let alone the money he had.
    What concerns money, probably the term "saw up" is well known not only in Russia – blogger Navaly writes about this phenomenon, and I wonder how could people, who still watch TV, blame oligarchs and respect Putin&Co.

    The present-day political system displays all kinds of duality: it's democratic by formal indications, but in reality every step is controlled by the Kremlin; the opportunities for the opposition are severely restricted, but there's no true support for it among the general public, while the Kremlin enjoys genuine popularity. For United Russia the main enemy now is not any other party, but the apathy of voters, so polishing the turnout numbers is important.
    So, your analysis worth reading by mass.

    apc27 , October 6, 2011 at 6:04 am

    "According to the polls, a lot of people in Russia have basic liberal-democratic values"

    Please do give us a link to these polls, as they seem to go completely against the conventional wisdom that Russia is a fairly conservative country with Putin being more liberal than most of it population.

    "The matter of fact is that lot of people in Russia would rather support Prokhorov"

    Huh??? Right…maybe in another 40-60 years, when most of those who remember what the oligarchs did to their country will be in their graves, a descendent of an oligarch might, just might stand a chance of gathering any significant result, but not any sooner.

    Overall, yours and several other posts here provide a clear illustration why those opposed to Putin are such complete screw-ups (which undermines, a bit, kovane's argument that Putin is a brilliant politician, after all, how brilliant does one have to be to outsmart an opposition as dumb as that). Kovane gave you on a platter a whole set of relevant measured facts which could potentially be used as basis for a substantial real criticism of Putin and his system, but what do you choose to do with that? That is besides moaning, exaggerating, spouting cliсhes and lying? Do you offer even one concrete proposal which would have been more beneficial to Russia, than any of Putin's actions so well described by kovane?

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Actually, I didn't laud Putin's victories over the opposition (like Nemtsov and Kasparov), but his clashes in the beginning of the 2000s with oligarchs and regional barons. That was much harder, I think

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 7:03 am

    First of all, thank you for your kind words, but I'm Russian and I live in Russia.

    You say that many people support basic liberal values, but the interpretation of the term can be very broad. Speaking of poll, here's one. According to it, 10 percents support liberal values, 24% democratic values. But the interesting thing is that they consider Putin and Medvedev main bearers of these values.

    I'm sure Prokhorov is a great businessman, but that doesn't automatically make him a great concert pianist, writer or politician for that matter. Moreover, some qualities that helped him to succeed in business can be a serious obstacle in politics. Regarding his foray into auto-making, it's not very hard to produce a car better that Lada Kalina, the chief concern is to keep costs down, and and this department everything is not so shiny, I've heard. So I wouldn't chalk up this endeavour as a great success.

    Peskov defended not the idea of turning Putin into Brezhnev, but Brezhnev alone.

    Huh? , October 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    "These things are contributing to a general dissatisfaction among the Russian people, despite what the polls say,"

    Who gave you the authority to speak on behalf of the Russian people?

    kovane , October 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Exactly. The correct version is "a general dissatisfaction among my friends, despite what the polls say."

    hoct , October 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    There is no actual democracy anywhere. If the public had greater influence on state policy in Russia there would actually be more Russian economic nationalism as well as a more hard-line foreign policy. Fetishization of democracy is laughable and tiresome. Russia is either stepping in place or liberalizing slightly, but the US is clearly becoming more and more illiberal. Finally if it were not democracy it would be something else.

    The fault of Russia is not that it is not democratic enough, but that it is independent. Unlike (virtually) all the other Eastern European countries it is not interested in Western tutelage, but acts with the self-confidence befitting a bearer of a distinct (sub-)civilization and is therefore content to carve its own path. No wonder then this should fill the minds of Western intellectual types with terror, when in their mindset the role of Eastern Europe is as the internal foil to the refined, rational and developed West. Any Eastern European country that does not accept to copy the West is therefore doing something primitive, wild and barbarian by default.

    Hysteria of the Western press isn't about democracy in Russia. It is about the need of Westerners for constant self-congratulation. At present this need demands they believe three things. One, they have democracy. Two, democracy is better than having hot steaming sex with Carmen Electra and more important than eating your breakfast. Three, the Russians (barbarians) don't have democracy. They're obviously wrong on at least two of their points, but you can't argue with articles of faith.

    kovane , October 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Yes, I agree here. The fetish of democracy exists. If before that role was assumed by religion – Christian nations against heathens, crusades, relations with the Pope – now it is all about democracy. The backdrop is different, but the gist is surprisingly the same. Democratic nations against authoritarian regimes, humanitarian bombings, relations with the citadel of democracy.

    Anyone who has studied history would know that Russia was perceived as an alien body long before the democracy bandwagon. I recommend reading up on the demonisation campaign in England before the Crimean war. Nothing ever changes. The main problem of Russia is that it is too big, and therefore, a potential competitor, and secondly, it is very weakly integrated into the world economy. That makes it a perfect target for turning into a scarecrow. The additional feeling of self-gratification is a pleasant bonus.

    cartman , October 6, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Slavic untermensch – especially Orthodox Christian ones – must be destroyed. Catholic Slavs are much easier to control. Witness that Poland has the presidency of the EU at the same time Merkel is giving ultimatums to the Serbs and German soldier are once again shooting Serbs at the border checkpoints (which are illegal under UNSC 1244). No matter what they say, it is totally irrelevant as a power.

    marknesop , October 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    What's it gonna be, boys? Democracy…..or Carmen Electra? Democracy… Carmen Electra? You don't have to make up your mind right now, but don't think about it too long….you can't have boooootttthhhh…..

    Sorry, I don't mean to make light of a great comment, and a great comment it was. Would you be interested in doing a guest post sometime? You seem very much on solid ground with this theme, and I'm sure something embodying the stubborn focus established in your third paragraph will offer itself. I like your style.

    yalensis , October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    In case you are tallying votes, please add one vote for Carmen Electra.

    hoct , October 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    That sounds good actually, but I have a lot on my plate right now. I may drop you a line should things change in the future.

    kievite , October 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    IMHO you are going a little bit too far both in regard of the value of Russian independence and existence of democracy.

    As for independence. nobody cares too much about Russian independence as long as most oligarchs have London real estate, keep money in Western banks, teach children abroad in best colleges, etc.

    As for democracy it does exists, but only for a tiny fraction of population - the elite and upper middle class. And this is nothing new. Historically democracy always existed mostly for the members of ruling class. For Greece that was class of slave-owners. Nothing essentially changed. This dream of "perfect democracy" is just a propaganda trick. And here you are right: "perfect democracy", "mass democracy" or "democracy for everybody" does not exist and never existed. Some strata of population and first of all low income strata historically were always excluded and marginalized. A simple question is: Does democracy exists if a party accepts $100K contributions?

    But situation is more subtle. If the people's ability to vote candidates in and out of office has no meaningful influence on the decisions they make while in office, does democracy exist? The second important question is: "How much civil liberty and protection against government abuse remains in the system?"

    In view of those arguments I think it is more correct to say that what in most cases what is sold under the marketing brand of "democracy" should be more properly be called "inverted totalitarism". Like with totalitarism the net effect is marginalization of citizens to control the direction of the nation through the political process. But unlike classic totalitarian states which rely on mobilization around charismatic leader, here a passive populace is preferred (famous "Go shopping" recommendation by Bush II after 9/11).
    Barriers to participation like "management" of elections using two party system and by preselection of candidates by party machine are used as more subtle and effective means of control. Formally officials purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. In reality manipulation the levers of power excludes everybody but a tiny percentage of the population (oligarchy).

    Like in classic totalitarism propaganda dispensed by schools and the media, not to mention the entertainment. The stress is on eliminating the audience for anybody who does not support the regime. Ideology is supported by powerful research institutions (aka "think tanks") and is adapted to modern realities by well paid "intellectual agents". Milton Friedman is a classic example. The goal is the same as in classic totalitarism: the dominance of official ideology, especially in schools and universities. But this is achieved without violent suppression of opposing views, mainly by bribing and ostracizing instead of the key ingredient of classical totalitarism - violence toward opponents.

    AK (@sublimeoblivion) , October 6, 2011 at 2:17 am

    The part about media self-censorship is at least every bit as prevalent in "free" societies such as the US as in Russia. Noam Chomsky's concept of the propaganda mode cannot be mentioned enough. The latest example is how The Guardian and NYT – and remember, print newspapers everywhere are more sophisticated than TV – colluded in with-holding from publication many Wikileaks cables that cast a bad light on the power elites.

    Another question is ask is, which of these countries has the most democracy – one where many policy decisions are based on the wishes of corporate lobbyists; and one where many policy decisions are made as per opinion polls and the interests of the "overwhelming majority." Much of the "free" West is in the former category; Russia and China are in the latter.

    kievite , October 6, 2011 at 2:45 am

    AK: "Noam Chomsky's concept of the propaganda mode cannot be mentioned enough"

    I think the right term is "Manufactured Consent". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manufacturing_Consent:_The_Political_Economy_of_the_Mass_Media

    It describes five editorially-distorting filters applied to news reporting in mass media:

    1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners – often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.

    2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a "de-facto licensing authority".[1] Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.

    3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that "the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media's costs of acquiring [...] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become 'routine' news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers."[2]

    4. Flak and the Enforcers: "Flak" refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet's public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.[2]

    5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the "War on Terror", as the major social control mechanism.[3][4

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I agree, Anatoly. Western media networks have a wide variety of opinions on a limited number of issues only, and sing in startling unison on the some other extremely important matters. Wikileaks is a great example, the policy on Israel in the US is another.

    The real difficulty of politics is making weighted decisions that would be beneficial for the future of the country, listening both to lobbyist and the popular opinion. And mistakes can be made on both extremes. In retrospection, few would argue that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act in the US was made under significant pressure of financial lobby and it seriously contributed to the 2008 meltdown. But populism is equally dangerous, as it is evidenced by Greece. Adopting policies only because they are popular, without considering the long term effect, can be a ruin of any country. Keeping a right balance between these two approaches is the key.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 9:57 am

    'Managed democracy' is a front, and I would say it's kind of refreshing that we can stop living this hypocrisy now. And it's not because of Prokhorov and Kudrin, but because of bizzaro way in which Putin and Medvedev announced that they decided 'years ago'(!) about the job swap. And not even United Russia knew what was going on. What does it make United Russia then?

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

    A party that supports the bid of the most viable candidate?

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I'm sure they would have rather voted for Putin. That's not the point.

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 10:30 am

    So let's get things straight. Putin is the most popular politician in Russia at the moment. So popular that his endorsement was enough to elect Medvedev president. The goal of the party is to support a candidate with best chances to be elected. Medvedev decided not to run, and his decision is quite understandable – his term was rather controversial. So UR supported Putin's bid. What's so undemocratic about that? And what's your point?

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 10:39 am

    OK so, Putin and Medvedev decided years ago in the back room that Putin will be the next prez candidate. And their party (of which Putin is not a member last time I checked) along with everybody else was kept in the dark about it. And this is democratic.

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

    They could agree on who would be running for president back in kindergarten for all we know, that's their personal choice. And their party (whose goal is to elect their candidate – regardless of who, Putin or Medvedev – I repeat) supports whomever is running. In this case – Putin, who is the party chairman last time I checked. Or maybe the true sign of a vibrant democracy is that every member of every party provides it with his schedule of presidential campaigns for 20 years ahead? I wonder what's all the comedy with Chris Christie in the US means then…

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

    So democracy – public discussions, consultations among the elites etc. is reduced to what two guys decided on 4 years ago or "back in kindergarten". And this is still democracy?
    I could maybe compare it to Gordon Brown succeeding Tony Blair, but their party was booted out of office for this kind of stuff.

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Democracy, first and foremost, is about the wishes of the voters. Putin can run all he wants, but if he doesn't get elected, their decision will be worth as much as my decision to run, for instance. And that's democracy and all that matters. By the way, why do you conclude that since Putin and Medvedev simply announced their decision, there were no consultations, etc?

    yalensis , October 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    @grafomanka: I don't think the main problem is what goes on within United Russia and how they internally pick their candidate. It is the job of any political party to nomiate their best candidate who, in this case is obviously Putin. The real problem is that they are the ONLY viable political party. So, Russia is effectively a one-party system now. True democracy requires multi-party system.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Yes, basically….

    kievite , October 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    "True democracy requires multi-party system."

    You are mixing apples and oranges. Democracy requires that citizens are equal before the law and have equal voting rights. By extension it leads to such thing as "tyranny of majority" which is inevitable (that's why Hegel prefer monarchy). Democracy also presupposes that alternative parties are not banned.

    But representation is completely another thing. If you are representing 3% of population and to get to Parliament requires 5% you are f*cked absolutely legitimately within this framework and can do nothing without undermining the notion of democracy as expressed.

    Also you can have an illusory alternative parties system like the USA two party system with "winner takes all" provisions in each state which make success of the third party extremely unlikely. My impression is that the existing two party system in the USA is just an improved version of one party system that existed in the USSR with the only difference that that two wings of the same party (let's say that one that represents mainly Wall Street but is friendly to military-industrial and Energy complex and that other the represents mainly Military-industrial and Energy complex but also is quite friendly to Wall Street) are staging the theatrical battles to amuse the electorate.

    I hope you are not proposing special anti-democratic regime of affirmative action to change that situation (as you might remember from Okudzhva song "A pryanikov sladkih vsegda ne hvataet na vseh").

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Two party system is just like 'upgraded' one party system. Right. But in one political change is possible, in the other it isn't.

    yalensis , October 7, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Ha ha! No, I do not believe USA 2-party system is true democracy. How can there be any democracy when 1% of the population owns 99% of all the wealth? Is ridiculous situation.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    @kovane

    They certainly pretended that there were consultations for the last 4 years, with Medvedev not ruling out that he's going to run, with the talk about some kind of modernizing fraction in the Kremlin. Now it turned out that none of this was for real. I have more respect for Putin, at least he chose not to violate Russian constitution.
    And about wishes of the votes, please. I read that opposition ads in some Russian regions were banned from state TV. Let's not pretend this is a democracy.

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    So you suppose that if "elites" (that's a very democratic term, straight from the Constitution) were unanimously opposed to Putin's nomination, he would be running anyway? Just because he and Medvedev allegedly made the decision 4 years ago?

    Yes, if Nemtsov's talking head was on every channel 24/7 then the opposition would have every chance to win the election. The Muslim Brothers in Egypt were banned altogether, let alone the access to media, but that didn't stop them from being the most popular movement. So let's not pretend that isn't a democracy, having own TV network is not one of the God-given rights last time I checked.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    If you didn't mean consultations within the elites then what consultations did you have in mind?
    TV coverage is crucially important, because as Kremlin PR masters know right TV coverage can add as much as 15-20% support to a party/candidate. And they have no competition. TV is used for black PR all the time. I don't think Egypt is the fair example, for many reasons, religious etc.

    Putin is popular and quite probably Putin is what Russia needs now. It doesn't make Russia a democracy. Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion….

    kovane , October 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I meant exactly consultations within elites, though "consultations" is a very unsuitable term. Maneuvering and falling behind the right candidate, that's how I would put it.

    TV coverage is crucially important
    That's what I wrote in the piece. And that's why the Kremlin controls TV so zealously.

    Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion

    That's not democracy, that's a spherical model of democracy. Let's talk about two countries that are usually presented as model democracies, the UK and US. Does anybody discuss the policy on Israel in the US media? Did they discuss if the US should get into the war on Iraq? Bailout of the big banks in 2008? Or any major problem for that matter. And by being discussed I mean not presenting 1001 reason why it should be done. The UK mass media is even more pitiable in that regard. So, please, get off your high horse and stop gluing labels.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I don't want to go into 'In America they…' If Russia is a democracy then where are the mechanisms for political change? They are technically there but in reality the Kremlin makes sure that they are useless. I certainly don't see anything democratic about how politics is handled.

    kovane , October 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Oh, no, you're not going to reduce it to lynching Negroes. The mechanism for political change is present in Russia, and you know it. When the citizens become dissatisfied with the government UR will be forced to make some changes. In many respect the Russian system is more responsive to negative tendencies in public sentiment, because UR can't shift blame on Democrats or Republicans or the Labour party. Whatever happens, everyone knows that's UR's fault.

    grafomanka , October 7, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Seen this?

    And you thinks this party is 'more responsive to negative tendencies in public sentiment' than it would be, had it to worry about losing their comfy seats SOON? Bees against honey? The changes will be cosmetic, and stuff like this will not be shown on TV.

    By the way, there are people in United Russia that really want to changes something, but it will be very difficult for them to try to change the party from within. It's like asking bees to be against honey.

    yalensis , October 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Well, this is how it is with artists, they experience everything in a vivid emotional manner and are not always rational thinkers. The good news is: Bondarchuk DID show up for work the following day (ergo, he was not whisked away to death star for torture by Putin). I like his rant, I like the way he talks. But I am still scratching my head: what specific policy changes is he asking for? If he decides to build his own faction within United Russia, then he will need a platform of proposed policies. Is not enough to show: "Look how brilliantly I am expressing my emotions! I should be the next Hamlet!"

    kovane , October 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

    By the way, since you're obviously such a great fan of Bondarchuk, I'm little surprised that you chose such a mild display of his supreme political reasoning. Here's a much more deep reflection: "Bondarchuk: Russia is sliding into a totalitarian ass" I think we should urgently get him elected: the guy obviously knows how to make Russia better.

    yalensis , October 8, 2011 at 2:09 am

    Yeah, Bondarchuk needs to be elected Prez, he will put an end to disgusting internet onanism:

    …стране нужны такие герои, как Максим и Гай, а не расплывчатые личности, занимающиеся онанизмом в Интернете.

    This is important issue.

    grafomanka , October 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    pfft, my point wasn't about electing Bondarchuk into anything (artists make lousy presidents), but about rare dissent in United Russia.
    "Russia is sliding into totalitarian ass" – I like how you translated this

    kovane , October 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Sorry, it's just that I persistently dislike Bondarchuk, so I came a bit too strongly on a sarcastic side. Your comment obviously didn't deserve such a response. My point was that positive political changes won't come from a TV broadcast of Bondarchuk's convulsions. Dropping support for UR will bring it, and it's inevitable in a sense. And some level of dissent in UR is natural – it's quite big and, after all, the only place with no dissent at all is a morgue.

    artists make lousy presidents

    You take that back! Or Reagan's apparition will haunt your sleep for years.

    I like how you translated this

    As if! That's his direct quote If I remember correctly, but later he disowned saying it – turns out that it's not only hard to be a god, but a member of UR while saying such blasphemy as well

    PS And I'm offended that you leaved out Volochkova's rant against UR, at least she can dance, as opposed to Bondarchuk's directing skills.

    kovane , October 7, 2011 at 9:21 am

    O, yes, Bondarchuk's wrath is an ominous sign. Probably means that Russia is doomed.

    So governors in Russia don't get fired because their ratings drop too low? Ministers who fail don't lose their chairs? And you consider Bondarchuk's rant something that's even remotely constructive and able to bring about positive changes?

    grafomanka , October 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I think Bondarchuk's frustration pretty much encapsulated what desire for change you normally get in United Russia. Hopefully Medvevev will display some drive for change when he's completing his new cabinet.

    grafomanka , October 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    You take that back! Or Reagan's apparition will haunt your sleep for years.#

    well… ekhm… there was also an actor president in Poland, and a PM, twins in fact

    By the way, your post is very good. Didn't necessarily agree with the title because I see the flop of Just Russia and Правое дело as a failure of 'managed democracy'.

    kovane , October 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    You consider Kachinsky an example of a good president? I have to admit, I'm not that conversant with Polish politics, but that's not the impression I have. Reagan, on the other hand, is an iconic president for the right in America. I realise that the term "good presdent" is more than simply vague, though.

    Thanks for the compliment. The flop of Just Cause is Prokhorov's failure, not that of "Managed Democracy". Who could've thought that he would turn out such a headache and muddler. Besides, you can't fault Surkov for not trying to create a legitimate right party. It's the thought that counts! I'm sure that he will succeed in that ultimately. The quintessence of Managed Democracy is to soak up public sentiment by artificially created parties, after all.

    grafomanka , October 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Kaczynski is certainly an iconic president for the right in Poland, but only since he died. Ironic.

    apc27 , October 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    That desire for a "public discussion" is a common criticism of the way Putin makes decisions, as he seems to prefer to keep his cards close to his chest. Some "discussion" is necessary, but all too often there is that annoying Russian delusion that "any housewife can run a country", that dictates peoples' desire to discuss things, rather than any practical considerations.

    The decision as to who will run for a president may have huge implications, but at the end of the day, it is a deeply personal one. What good would our uninformed discussions could have done, besides rocking the boat and setting the power elites on the course for a direct confrontation? Plus, its not as if people's opinions are not considered. There plenty of polls and, of course, the elections themselves where Russians can have their say.

    People often use US as an example of the way democracy should work, but what they themselves do not appreciate is that only in US can such polarising and all encompassing "discussions" NOT lead to chaos and ruin.

    marknesop , October 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    The impression that running a country is little more complicated than baking a cake or changing a tire is common to a great deal wider group than Russians. Please don't think I'm endorsing politicians, but politics and government are their business and they typically have some educational background that suits them to the purpose. The notion that a farmer who spends 70% of his waking hours running a farm and doesn't have time to watch more than the local news can engage at an international level and make decisions that will affect complicated relationships of which he is not even aware is beyond silly. But people insist on the right to be involved with the political process without exercising their own due diligence of informing themselves on the issues, and persist with the fiction that anyone could do the job just as well. Anyone who thinks mistakes in that respect are of little consequence, and any damages caused by a foolish choice based on sloganeering and jingoism are easily repaired should review the G.W. Bush and Yeltsin presidencies.

    Putin is largely respected and trusted by the Russian people because his policies have generally brought Russia success, and under his guidance Russia has prospered while avoiding most of the stumbling-blocks placed in its path. They believe he can continue this record of success, and they believe it more than they believe Boris Nemtsov could achieve a similar level of success. Nemtsov was a Deputy Prime Minister – it is unrealistic to imagine there is a significant group of voters who do not know who he is and his name on the ballot would be instantly recognizable to nearly all voters. Voting in Boris Nemtsov, or Kasyanov or Kasparov just to prove the validity of the multiparty system would have consequences far beyond the immediate.

    Just once, I wish the government would not mess with Nemtsov – would allow him all the free advertising time he wanted and access to the voters as he pleased. Of course the government could not let him just blather and make shit up the way he does in his egregious "white papers", but rebuttal should be confined to calm, reasoned ripostes that do not attempt to overpower his message, rather offering citizens the opportunity to fact-check his claims. When Nemtsov still lost by a wide margin, as I'm sure he would, he would have to confront the fact that he has nothing to offer Russians but a big ego, a big aggreived pout and an inflated sense of self-worth.

    yalensis , October 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Why cannot a housewife run the country? Was Katherine the Great not a housewife before she became Emperess? Most historians agree she was pretty good ruler, except for that unpleasant business surrounding Pugachev uprising.

    marknesop , October 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I assume you were joking, but ruling – as a member of the nobility – in days gone by is quite a bit different than ruling in the superpower age when all is comprised of alliances, "what have you done for me lately?" expectations and constant jockeying for advantage. Resolving international conflicts is unlikely to be brought about by challenging the enemy to a pie-making contest, winner take all. The more you don't possess any background knowledge in – political science, international affairs, foreign policy, trade….the more you must rely on advisors: and then, not only is the resulting policy not your own, you don't even understand it well enough to know if you've been sold a bag of shit that will have serious negative effects on the country.

    George W. Bush is an excellent example of the radical pursuit of a narrow ideology that can result when someone is elected on his folksy charm and his devoutness, and not much else. He relied on a tight, like-minded circle of advisors to coalesce his opinions for him, decided things based on "gut feeling" rather than analysis and was not well-read in any subject except baseball despite having had the benefits of an excellent education. And he was a member of the political class!

    While some modest, ordinary citizens might make excellent leaders on a community scale or with a simple problem in a subject with which they are acquainted, international politics are generally beyond them and they are not prepared for the infighting among their own political system that will make it difficult to get anything constructive done. I'm not suggesting ordinary citizens are too stupid to be politicians – merely that their life experiences have not prepared them for the political arena and I don't understand why anyone would invest their formative years in preparing for such a career (except that you can make quite a lot of money for doing little but talking and voting).

    Foppe , October 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    You cheeky anarchist, you. But yes, I agree. Consensus conferences are splendid affairs, though they take rather a lot of work organizing them, especially when it comes to finding decent (non-ideological) sources of relevant information/viewpoints.

    marknesop , October 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Sorry if I sound a little disillusioned with politics and politicians right now, but I'm still steaming after watching this video from Leos Tomicek's Austere Insomniac, which shows members of the European Parliament showing up at 7:00 AM just to enregister for the day – and pocket their 284-Euro allowance for doing so – and then buggering off for the weekend: many of them have their suitcases with them. I'm not sure what the language is, but it sounds like German and the film takes pains to point out EU Parliamentarians can earn more than Chancellor Merkel for basically doing dick-all. The reporter who is filming this gets kicked out by EU Parliament security.

    marknesop , October 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    "Democracy is run on institutions, fair competition, public discussion…."

    Please provide an example of somewhere that occurs absent influence or interference by the party currently in power.

    yalensis , October 7, 2011 at 12:42 am

    …or absent influence of big money interests…

    marknesop , October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    This is the crux of the argument for me – let's not pretend this is a democracy, but while we're caught up in the tide of refreshing honesty, let's stop pretending there is real democracy anywhere. In that light, Russia is no better and no worse than anywhere else, so let's stop with the finger-pointing and the self-righteous pontificating. I'm not opposed to criticism of Russia, provided it is not hypocritical or unfair.

    The Italian papers wouldn't run a toothpaste ad without consulting their guidelines, because Berlusconi owns the media – but nobody suggests Italy isn't a democracy or is a managed democracy. In every country that exercises a simple vote and is not a monarchy, the leaders maneuver behind the scenes to gather more power for themselves and reduce or eliminate the possibility of successful challenge by opposition – by control of media outlets, by manufactured scandal and by inflation or fabrication of their own accomplishments. When everyone drops the pretense that they're a real democracy, the accusation that this country or that country oppresses its citizens by unduly and unfairly influencing their exercise of a free vote will lose its sting altogether. Hey, you, you're a crook – say, fellow crook; like to get together for a drink after work, and compare notes?

    On the opposite pole of the argument are the voters, who don't know shit about governance or running a country, much less the nuances of international relationships and alliances, but are ready to vote for the leader with the best hair or the most affable public-speaking style. Let's not pretend that's democracy, either.

    grafomanka , October 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    If we think that there's no democracy anywhere then there's no point to this discussion
    But I can't say this with a straight face, tho the bulk of Russian government can. Medvedev comes to mind when he remarked that he's like Hilary Clinton to Putin's Obama.

    marknesop , October 7, 2011 at 12:04 am

    There is no democracy anywhere – and hasn't been for a long time – like the idealized model you describe. I know you don't want to get involved in a Russia-vs-the USA discussion, but the USA sets itself up for just such a comparison by regularly expounding that American-style democracy is so wonderful they simply must export it to others, and by virtue of the fact that most of Russia's harshest critics are Americans or products of American agencies.

    Russia is not an ideal democracy, as kovane already pointed out, in that not all parties have equal access to media and the ruling party has extensive control over both voting mechanisms and the rulebook for viability of new parties. However, the USA is similarly deficient in democratic values in that it uses gerrymandering, redistricting and voter disenfranchisement to manipulate the popular vote, and the current opposition seems perfectly willing to use the filibuster to crash the economy so that its chances of regaining power are improved. That's manifestly not what the electorate wants, since polls regularly reveal jobs and the economy as its biggest concerns. Granted, that's the opposite problem to Russia – in that the opposition has too much power and can highjack every economic initiative by misusing the supermajority rule – but it ushers in what some analysts describe as "the normalization of extortion politics", and is plainly not democracy because party discipline supersedes loyalty to the constituent. "Tame" media outlets like Fox News regularly report outright falsehoods, misstate the qualifications of their guests and frequently push made-up narratives as if they were real news – is that democracy?

    grafomanka , October 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Mark, in America Democrats and Republicans are locked in constant battle, and of course it has negative effects like extortion policies and Fox News. Maybe It's even too extreme and bad for the country. Quite probably Chinese with their 5-year plans will turn out to be more effective in governing because they're not locked in constant competition battle. But America is democracy and China isn't. Americans don't have it ideal, half of the country alienated when Bush became president. But it is democracy, power shifts, you can watch the daily show which takes a piss out of Fox News.

    Foppe , October 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    However nice TDS may be, it still behaves as though there are important differences between the two parties when, when it comes to (all-important) economic policy, there really isn't. Both parties encourage outsourcing, both give huge subsidies to industries while cutting back on redistributive programs, neither party is willing to regulate and prosecute corrupt businesses/behavior (Cheney).. Certainly they differ a bit in the area of abortion/gay rights/etc., but they're doing as little as possible while still seeming distinct.

    grafomanka , October 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    They differ economically too, but both pander to big businesses, yes. I think if Russia had more diversified economy and more different big businesses maybe politics would be a different story. But when big business in the country are oil and gas, why wouldn't the elites collude instead of competing? Collusion makes more sense to them.

    About 'made-up narratives' I think Americans arrived at the conclusion that it doesn't matter what you say as long as it evokes emotional response. In the end it's emotions that win elections, not rational thinking. That's why Sarah Palin, Fox News, etc feel that they can spawn any bullshit.

    marknesop , October 9, 2011 at 4:17 am

    Again with the "Russia needs a more diversified economy". I'll buy that it would be an improvement, because having all your eggs in one basket is never wise, but Russia has loads of raw materials and could easily be a major player in steel, forestry products and a number of mineral markets. Oil and gas are the big ones, but they're only two out of the top ten.

    Besides, going big or going home when you have oil is exactly the right thing to do. Who says so? The UK says so – you know, the USA's "special friend" and sometime second banana in the "let's make fun of Russia for having nothing but oil" chorus. They must have a different kind of oil in Libya, because according to the BBC, "Libya's long-term prosperity depends on one thing above all others". Spoiler alert – it's not logging. Nope, it's oil; "Libya's oil industry, therefore, holds the key to the success of Libya's fledgling regime and the wealth of its people." Not in Russia, though – their oil is a big risk, because the bottom is going to fall out of crude any day now and Putin is going to be left holding a huge deficit. In fact, Libya having some kind of magic oil is pretty much the only explanation – why yes, yes, it does: Libya produces a very fine crude that needs little refining (coincidentally, so does Iraq, although they weren't mentioned). We're told that the whole world has a stake in the Majors getting into Libya as quickly as possible and getting that crude flowing again. Not Russia, though. Russia is stupid to depend on oil, because….well, just because. But Libya is encouraged to depend on oil, and the western oil giants are anxious to help them. But the war was absolutely not about oil.

    And the fierce battle for Sirte has nothing to do with most of the pipelines being located there, in the Sirte Basin.

    yalensis , October 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    @kovane: I just wanted to comment that this was an excellent post. Very well written and logically reasoned, lots of interesting and well-researched facts. Good job!

    yalensis , October 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

    A bit off-topic, but I promise there is a Russian angle:
    Update on news about the supposed Heritage Oil deal with Libya. As you recall, this company, which is based on the London stock exchange, has many oil acquisitions going on all over the world, but primarily in Africa and Russia.
    Anyhow, a few days ago they announced the acquisition of Benghazi-based Sahara Oil Services. But today, Libya's National Oil Council (NOC) claims to have vetoed the deal

    The NOC has traditionally controlled Libya's oil industry, awarding exploration licences and producing about half of the oil itself. Ahmed Al-Taghdi, the director of international cooperation of NOC, said: "I have been instructed to deny these reports [of the Sahara deal]. We have put it on our website that it is not true."
    Heritage reacted angrily to the NOC's comments, saying it had no control over the deal and dismissing its comments as irrelevant.
    Heritage said that the group had not sought permission from the National Transitional Council (NTC), the NOC, or any other party other than Sahara, because it did not need it.

    Did not need it?? I guess Heritage is used to simply taking what they want at the point of a gun.
    Research reveals that Heritage CEO is a rather dodgy character named Anthony Leslie Rowland (Tony) Buckingham, who has a shady past running mercs in Africa:

    Buckingham is a former partner of the mercenary provider or private military company Executive Outcomes.[1] He has had no involvement with such organizations since 1999 and has focused his time on running Heritage.

    Now dear little Tony is apparently very ticked off that the Libyan NOC has dissed him and refuses to hand over their oil. Tony's company has been losing money two years in a row. So Tony had a big come-back planned: he would grab the Libyan oil, re-sell it on the stock exchange, swap it for derivatives or whatever these guys do, and pocket the cash!

    Foppe , October 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Now that is quite bizarre. But where is the russian angle? :p

    yalensis , October 8, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Oh, the fact that this guy also dabbles in Russian oil.

    kovane , October 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Good news, everyone: today, the State Duma lowered the election threshold back to 5%; and another law, making the process of party registration as simple as just notification, is being prepared.

    yalensis , October 8, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Woo hoo!

    sinotibetan , October 8, 2011 at 6:32 am

    Thanks kovane! I enjoyed your post! Too bad nowadays I'm too busy to comment….but I agree with Foppe's post regarding 'democracy' as the 'new Gospel' of the West replacing the old 'Christian' one. Western criticism on Russia is because of Western FRUSTRATION of their inability to subdue Russia into a semi-independent vassal that is of smaller size(maybe just confined to 'European Russia' – Siberia can be 'donated' to China as long as the West has a free hand in raping its natural resources) in which the political elites are under the tutelage of the wise ones in Washington, London and Brussels. Putin is a PERSONIFICATION of this Western failure and thus the object of complete hatred by the Western political elites. Western 'attacks' on Putin(or otthers like him) will never stop unless Russia becomes what these elites imagine it should be – a vassal 'incorporated' into the West.

    sinotibetan

    kovane , October 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    thank, sinotibetan, my pleasure. Although I'm still kind of mad at you – because I haven't forgotten how you ignored my address to you in almost perfect Chinese earlier.

    I wouldn't sing hosannas to Putin for his alleged adamant stand against the West, he actually made more than enough concessions. Let's not forget that a lion share of Russia's reserves is invested in treasuries, and his closest allies are basking under the bright sun of Londongrad with their tight purses handy. But he is definitely trying to dance his own jig, which is something to be respected. His next term (if he get elected, ha-ha) is crucial in many respects, let's hope he won't blow it.

    marknesop , October 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Interestingly on the reserves point, I read elsewhere that Kudrin offered to commit Russia's reserves to buying up European debt.

    The origin is a little flaky, as Lyndon Larouche is something of a nutbar, but the source of his information is frequently reliable and this is suggested as not the first time Kudrin has made such an offer. Had you heard this before? It sounds incredibly risky to me, and quite a few "old" European countries must be feeling buyer's remorse as regards the EU concept. By the way, the UK wouldn't be one of them as they are lost in their own misery; the austerity budget thus far has proved a disaster and is merely strangling growth.

    kovane , October 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Yes, this story hanged around in the headlines recently, but it's hard to discern what is behind it so far. It could be a standard diplomatic curtsy, like "Of course we're ready to participate in the saving of the EU" and then buying exactly 1 euro of the debt. Or actually unloading tons of money into a very dubious enterprise at best. Besides, Kudrin is kinda old news.

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 8, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    The offer to buy European debt made by Kudrin is true. I commented about it on Anatoly's blog link.

    sinotibetan , October 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Dear kovane,
    "Although I'm still kind of mad at you – because I haven't forgotten how you ignored my address to you in almost perfect Chinese earlier. "

    I am truly sorry for that. It's totally unintended. As I've said in Anatoly's blog, I am not a Chinese from China but from Malaysia and I don't really READ Chinese well, although I speak Mandarin. BTW, did you address me in Chinese here or in Sublime Oblivion? I think you and Anatoly's written Mandarin has probably far surpassed mine.
    [language is never my forte]

    Regarding Putin and investment in treasuries…..well, I think it's very difficult for any leader – be they occasionally antagonistic towards Washington – to shun the West entirely(nor should this be made into a policy!) and especially when the whole global economic system is Western-dominated and construct. I do agree with you that Putin is not without defects. As I've said some time in the past, Russia needs more political leaders who are CREDIBLE challengers to current ones(i.e. Putin predominantly) – certainly not the Nemtsov-type! I think that is one real challenge indeed(and it's not specifically a Russian problem, I think it's a problem in almost every nation).

    (something addressed to grafomanka as well)

    As to WHETHER Russia is a democracy or not – well, my opinion is Russia is indeed a democracy. Just like my country is one also. 'Imperfect' ones, though. But there are NO perfect democracies anywhere in the world and certainly not even the US can claim 'democratic perfection' or even the 'best democratic model' as she often does. One difference between Western democracies and so-called 'undemocratic' non-Western democracies , in my opinion, is the 'subtlety' in 'managing the democracy'- to even think that Western politicians are lovable, innocent, dove-like pristine democrats while other non-Western politicians are dirty, corrupted pseudo-democrats would be plain naivete. I'd think that Western politicians do their lying(when some of them do so, that is) and politicking with greater finesse and subtlety, having grown accustomed with the 'democratic process'. Authoritarian China would certainly appear crude and their obstruction to certain personal and political freedoms of Chinese citizens would appear (and are)repressive. 'New democracies' like Russia would have a Putin diving for a too-clean looking 'artefact' - in the West, they'd probably made sure those antiques really look 'antiquated' with some quip from a prominent academic or more likely such a 'crude' publicity would not be thought of at all!For example, I'd see my personal freedoms in Malaysia as not too bad compared to an average American(except with regards to racism being a Malaysian government policy and the lack of freedom of religion/beliefs – i.e. I cannot preach Christianity to Muslims but the reverse is encouraged, for example) and even in terms of 'political freedoms', I'd think an average American would always think that they actually have more political freedom than we poor Malaysians living in a 'pseudo-democracy'. However, the latter is an 'illusion', in my opinion. Most of the opposing parties in Western nations are like two sides of the same coin. Eg. Democrats and Republicans – I agree they differ in some areas but in practical matters – whether foreign or domestic, they are pretty close. I'm not American nor have I ever been to the USA – but this is my observation as an outsider. Thus, Americans are luckier than the Chinese in China in having political choices(and thus remind them they live in a democratic nation) but I think those two choices aren't great choices.

    Sorry for this rambling but what I'm trying to get at is that "American democracy" may not be so different from non-Western 'pseudo-democracies' and that electoral choices in Western nations may not be 'greater' than that of struggling nascent democracies like most Western media want many to believe. My opinion.

    sinotibetan

    kovane , October 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

    sinotibetan,

    I was joking of course That was at True/slant, back when it was afloat.

    Can't agree more on the real need for political competition.

    sinotibetan , October 8, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Anyway, any comments on Putin's recent proposal of a 'Eurasian Union' – perhaps an EU-like organization?

    http://www.eurasianet.org/node/64282

    Sorry for my lack of comments nowadays. Very busy. Take care.

    sinotibetan

    kievite , October 11, 2011 at 4:07 am

    I am not a specialist but I think that creation of this economic union is very difficult as nobody wants to play fair and due to this it can be costly for Russia and personally to Putin.

    This stage of development of the xUSSR space is dominated by rabid nationalist forces that are by definition strongly anti-Russian. This is often disguised as "search for national identity" and "anti-colonial sentiments" but the essence is the same: "Russians go home".

    So I think there need to be a higher level of separation before some form of economic cooperation became politically possible. Now the specter of the "new USSR" dooms the efforts.

    Deepening of the current economic crisis might speed up the process. But most countries now realized that there is a possibility to balance pro-Kremlin moves with pro-Washington and pro-China moves to get some concessions from each player (althouth in case of Washington it proved to be pretty difficult; the USA played those republics like a master chess player) and you get the picture.

    Some former republics might be more cooperative that others. Kazakhstan might be one althouth anti-Russian feelings are widespread too and there is an islamist party that wants to exclude Russians from the republic. Some are close to lost case. For example Georgia under Saakashvili is one.

    Azerbaijan might be close to the lost case too as it fought with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh region, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagorno-Karabakh_War ), Armenia ia a Russian ally and althouth Russia was neutral in the conflict bad feelings exists.

    Turkmenistan also has distinct anti-Russian position and discriminates Russian ethnic minority access to education.

    The number of ethnic Russians who are forced to leave those republics annually due to nationalism is estimated to be around 10K. Might be much higher.

    Ukraine for all practical purposes is a Western colony with crushing debt so it does not have an independent foreign policy. Also significant percentage of Western Ukrainians wants Russians to be deported from the country (5-7% I think). In this respect Western Ukraine is closer to Baltic countries. As the same time large number of Ukrainians, including Western Ukrainians work in Russia and Ukraine strongly depends on money they bring to the country.

    One positive in this respect development is growing realistic assessment of the West and the USA and growing understanding that cut of economic ties with Russia dooms many of the remaining industrial facilities. But how effective this line of thinking can be for economic integration remains to be seen.

    sinotibetan , October 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    @kievite

    Thanks for your comments. Just some thoughts:-
    1. With the current difficulties engulfing the EU, why is Putin keen on an organization similar to it? I think EU is unworkable unless it devolves into a loose association of European nations OR European nations within EU cease to be sovereign states.
    2. I think Putin ,on the near term, is more interested in Ukraine joining the Customs Union and ultimately the Eurasian Union for mostly strategic reasons. Does the imprisonment of Tymoshenko present Russia with this opportunity?
    3. I think Kazakhstan has less anti-Russian sentiments compared to most Central Asian states and I think most Kazakhs are not in favour of Islamism. That said, why do you think Kazakhstan joined the Customs Union? Kazakh opposition leaders are against that union.
    4. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are said to be keen to join the Customs Union.
    http://en.trend.az/regions/casia/kyrgyzstan/1944379.html

    sinotibetan

    yalensis , October 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Here is something truly interesting: Here is Ivan Marovic, leader of Serbian OTPOR movement (color-coded "revolutionary") addressing the well-meaning hippie crowd occuping Wall Street. These naive anti-capitalist American youths obviously have no clue who this guy is and the fact that he is a paid agent of that very same Wall Street. Fortunately, many angry Serbs hopped onto the comment page of this you-tube video to unmask this imperialist double-agent. My Serbian is a little rusty now, but good enough to comprehend such comments as:

    IVANE IVANE,SISO SMRDLJIVA,I TU SU TE POSTAVILI DA LAZES I VARAS!!JEBEM TI MAMU IZDAJNICKU SLUGO MASONSKA!!ZNAMO BAGRO ZA KOGA RADIS!!!

    "Jebem ti mamu izdajnicku" - hey, Serbian is a lot like Russian!
    Here is another comment, this one in English:

    I am se SERBIAN and i was in OTPOR in 1990is,OTPOR is an CIA organisation!We were fighting for freedom for SERBIA but OTPOR brought us CORPORATION NEW WORLD ORDER MAFIA and CHEMTRAILS!

    DONT TRUST THEM,they now have best jobs in SERBIA and are propagating NATAO and EU!!They are HIJACKING every movement for REVOLUTION!They were in UKRAINE,GEORGIA,SERBIA,TUNESIA­,EGIPT , SYRIA,NOW IN US!

    ITS AN JESUIT ZIONIST MASONIC ORGANISATION!

    The FIST in the CIRCEL means that you will be FUCKED IN THE ASS!!

    Hmm… well, I doubt if OTPOR is either Jesuit, Zionist, or Masonic. But aside from that, everything else is true, including the bit about the fist in the circle…

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 10, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Soros expressed his sympathy for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. It'll be a very big fist.

    yalensis , October 10, 2011 at 10:37 am

    So, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a Soros project? I am shocked! I thought this was a spontaneous eruption of alienated American youth. But then I am a gullible type – when Tunisia revolution first started, I also thought that was spontaneous, but then turns out it was OTPOR all along. Same deal with Egypt. Same deal with Libya. And when I watched "Sixth Sense", I was really surprised by the twist at the end when I learned that Bruce Willis was a ghost.
    What is Soros' angle in OWS, I wonder? I am trying to figure this out, and it kind of doesn't make sense. But I have 2 theories:
    (1) to help Obama re-election? [Not sure about this theory; American voters not usually influenced by hippie street mobs, but maybe Soros doesn't realize that, he is a European, and they are more tolerant towards rebellious youth.]
    (2) some kind of power play against a Soros banking rival? [Not sure about this one either...]
    Either way, there must be some devious plot going on, because where there is OTPOR, there is Soros, and where there is Soros, trouble is sure to follow…

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I can't say that it is a Soros project, or if he is just trying to hijack it. US conservative media are sure about the former option, i.e. that OWS is not grassroots but "limousine liberal" astroturfing, see this as an example. Just like the progressive media are sure that the Tea Parties are conservative astroturfing.
    Either way, the fact that US elites are resorting to grassroots movements/astroturfing for their infighting is an ominous sign that things aren't going well.

    hoct , October 10, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Two original and well laid out views of the demonstrations:

    One

    Two

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks, interesting readings. It looks like that the OWS movement is made by middle class left-leaning people that feel they're sliding into poverty. Just like the Tea Parties, with the difference that these are made by right-leaning people. I think that, like the Tea Parties were absorbed by the Republican party, making it more extreme, the OWS will be absorbed by the Democratic party, with similar results.
    What strikes me the most about the Tea Parties/OWS people, is their refusal to talk to each other. "Brainwashed idiot" and "Socialist scrounger" is what they think about each other.

    yalensis , October 11, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Thanks for the info and links. I'm starting to get a clearer picture of this curious OWS phenomenon. The right-wing Tea-baggers are idiots, of course, but their intuition that this whole thing is a puppet show orchestrated by Obama is probably correct. It fits in with his fake populism and acts as safety valve to let off steam and prevent explosion by the forces whom the oligarchs truly fear: labor, poor people, unemployed African Americans.
    If these narcissistic middle-class youth down on Wall Street really want to change the world and build themselves a society in which they have guaranteed jobs and a debt-free college education, then: They need to break away from Democratic Party, become true steely-eyed communists and, for starters, demand nationalization of the banks. I have a feeling they won't do that, especially if Soros/OTPOR are financing them.
    Their call for taxing of millionaires is silly, and just mimics Obama's proposed "Warren Buffett" law. Sure, millionaries should be taxed to within an inch of their lives, no argument there. But it won't raise that much money, in the scheme of things, and is a lame substitute for real structural changes.
    Like I said, demand to "nationalize the banks", and then I will start to take you seriously, damn hippies!

    Foppe , October 11, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Sorry, but that is simply ideological crap (Spiked is run by a bunch of right-wing libertarians.). See, e.g. this post by Glenn Greenwald for a generic rebuttal.
    If you want to know what OWS stands for, better to read this op/ed by David Graeber (he's part of the movement, afaik) in the Guardian (UK), or "OWS is a church of dissent, not a protest" and "Welcome to the Police State: NYC Cops Mace Peaceful Protestors Against Wall Street".
    This has some background on the anti-hierarchical consensual deliberative processes they're using, this is a decent column by Krugman which has some more info, and this is a nice speech by Naomi Klein that should give you a further hint as to what's going on.
    One of the more interesting things about OWS is that they have so far refused to put out a list of "demands", and this has flummoxed most of the media types. As a result, the media keeps calling for the "maturation" of the movement, as though this must happen before it can be taken seriously.. Never mind that they're getting huge amounts of attention already, and never mind that it is quite obvious what at least some of the issues might be. But once they would do make a list, then the bargaining would have to start, whereas now, everyone is trying to appease them, which gives them a far stronger position that they would have if they behaved in "the proper way".

    Foppe , October 11, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Or "Why #OccupyWallStreet Doesn't Support Obama: His "Nothing to See Here" Stance on Bank Looting"

    Despite the efforts of some liberal pundits and organizers (and by extension, the Democratic party hackocracy) to lay claim to OccupyWallStreet, the nascent movement is having none of it. Participants are critical of the President's bank-coddling ways and Obama gave a remarkably bald-face confirmation of their dim views.
    As Dave Dayen recounts, Obama was cornered into explaining why his Administration has been soft of bank malfeasance. His defense amounted to "They're savvy businessmen": "Banks are in the business of making money, and they find loopholes."
    Is breaking IRS rules a "loophole"? How about making repeated false certifications in SEC filings? Or as Dayen points out, fabricating documents? Or making wrongful foreclosures, aka stealing houses?

    Their chief target is Wall Street, but many of the demonstrators in New York and across the U.S. also are thoroughly disgusted with Washington, blaming politicians of both major parties for policies they say protect corporate America at the expense of the middle class.
    "At this point I don't see any difference between George Bush and Obama. The middle class is a lot worse than when Obama was elected," said John Penley, an unemployed legal worker from Brooklyn.
    The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began last month with a small number of young people pitching a tent in front of the New York Stock Exchange, has expanded nationally and drawn a wide variety of activists, including union members and laid-off workers. Demonstrators marched Thursday in Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Anchorage, Alaska, carrying signs with slogans such as "Get money out of politics" and "I can't afford a lobbyist."

    marknesop , October 11, 2011 at 3:51 am

    It is part (maybe all) of the Republican strategy to make the electorate disgusted with Washington, in the hope of once again seizing power on a wave of "throw the bums out". This is achieved through lockstep obstruction of every single initiative brought to the floor, even if a win would not be tactically significant or if allowing the bill to pass would be of immediate benefit to ordinary Americans including – especially – the enraged middle class. It is a simple and verifiable fact that the slide in lost jobs stopped as soon as Obama took over, and slowly began to reverse. It is now back in positive territory, although a country with a population the size of America's needs a hundred thousand new jobs every month just to stay even. But the suggestion the middle class is worse off is just plain wrong, although such quotes probably make the Republicans rub their hands together with glee.

    If Americans fall for the old bait and switch again and elect a Republican government, they will be sorry. For one thing, the Republicans have no jobs plan. At all. For another,. even a tax on millionaires will not happen, because they are part of the Republican sugar tit that keeps them fat and sassy and able to say "We know how you feel" without laughing when they talk to the middle class even though none of them are actually part of it.

    A study reported in the New York Times, conducted by a reputable researcher, compared Republican administrations and Democratic administrations from 1948 to 2007, over 26 years of Democratic rule against 34 Republican. It concluded that growth averaged out at almost double under Democrats what it was under Republicans, and that the difference over 8 years would equate to a 9.3% difference in average income. Nobody except the very, very rich saw anything close to that from Bush's tax cuts.

    Although Obama supported the bank bailout, the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was actually signed into law by Bush.

    Obama gets little to no credit for anything he achieves because of the barrage from the noise machine. History will reveal him as a pretty good and relatively progressive president whose agenda was shamelessly sandbagged by the Republicans. It's hard to say what state America will be in by the time it realizes this, because I doubt it'll survive another Republican administration. Their plans are for more of the same – more tax cuts, more alienation of the rest of the world and more throwing their weight around. And there's only so much money, so there's only so long they could keep it up. And sticking a thumb in Russia's eye will only make oil prices go up.

    hoct , October 11, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Foppe, I know who Spiked is run by, I read it every day. The fact it is ran by a "bunch of libertarians" is hardly going to make me turn on my heels and run away in disgust, I am a libertarian myself. Spiked is a magnificent outlet that regularly produces absolute classics like The rise of the laptop bombardier or Face it, the FSB is just not that into you . Especially important for me is their informed and courageous coverage of issues relating to former Yugoslavia. In fact its precursor magazine was shut down by British courts for exposing the fake Bosnia death camp photo.

    I'll be sure to check out the Glenn Greenwald piece as I value his opinion, just as sure as I I'm going to skip the Guardian op/ed, I have very little interest in reading an outlet that was in the absolute forefront of the campaign to satanize and bomb Yugoslavia.

    Foppe , October 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

    That is up to you, of course. It may well be that they can report decently on issues that happened in Yugoslavia; I am, however, unimpressed with their coverage of stuff happening closer to home.
    Let me qualify my earlier statement, though, as I did not make it clear before that my suggestion that these articles are "ideological crap" does not come simply from the fact that they were published in Spiked. I did read the articles first; it is just that I then became interested in answering the question why they are so utterly misleading when it comes to describing the mind-set of the protestors.
    Having said that, even if you ignore the piece published in the Guardian (which strikes me as rather silly, as Graeber is about as far from an 'establishment liberal' as they get), this still leaves a number of other links that are all quite worth reading. I would encourage you to read them, before dismissing OccupyWallStreet as being organized by petulant or spoiled children.

    hoct , October 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    What is silly is how you were trying to scare me and others away from the Spiked pieces in a veritable 'aaarg-there-be-right-wingers' panic mode, but then suggested something from an outlet that was instrumental in bombing my people. Classic!

    I'd qualify my statement, but I need to keep this civil.

    Foppe , October 12, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Yes, I should've simply focused on the fact that the articles you linked to offered incorrect information; however, I had encountered a spiked article once before (about British politics), and it too was crap, hence my assumption it has something to do with the ideological leanings of the authors/editors. It may well be that they are more accurate when writing about government abuse in foreign countries (since they presumably dislike their own governments), but it seems that they are quite dishonest when writing about stuff happening closer to home.

    yalensis , October 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I have noticed a curious phenomenon that some right-wing sources (that I wouldn't agree with otherwise on any other issue) have been consistently CORRECT and PRINCIPLED about Yugoslavia. In fact, they opposed the Clinton-Kosovo thing from the very beginning. They made a movie called "Wag the Dog" which satirized the Clinton-liberal war in Kosovo. Anybody have any theories why they can so wrong about other stuff, but so right about Serbia?
    P.S. (hoct + Foppe) please be friends, I like both of you, you both have very good comments.

    hoct , October 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Yalensis, that is hard for me to say without you providing a specific example from among these sources. It is for example conceivable they are right about other things as well, and it is you who is in the wrong.

    Secondly, what made you think of this now? I hope it is understood that just because I am not arguing with Foppe on it does not mean I concede the point that Spiked is crap on issues other than Yugoslavia. On the contrary, I find it excellent on most things.

    Also, it doesn't come close to being right-wing. I let that characterization stand because it did not matter to the subject at hand, but in reality it is run by former members of the now defunct Revolutionary Communist Party (UK), traces its lineage to Living Marxism Magazine and specifically opposes Capitalism. Normally good libertarians are neither left, nor right wing, but that's certainly not true for the devoted leftists editing Spiked.

    cartman , October 10, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Reuters declares that Medvedev is echoing Stalin in a speech to United Russia. Stalin!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/08/us-russia-medvedev-party-idUSTRE7971GM20111008

    Or maybe he was inspired by a motivational poster. Hang in there, baby!

    yalensis , October 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

    In related news, Angela Merkel called on the German people to work hard to re-elect herself and her party: "Arbeiten fur die Partie! Arbeiten fur ihren Fuhrer! Arbeiten! Arbeiten" thus evoking still-raw memories of Adolph Hitler.

    kovane , October 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

    That's not what she said. The actual words were: "Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!!!"

    yalensis , October 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for correction, kovane. My German is a little rusty these days.

    yalensis , October 11, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Continuing hoct/Foppe thread on OWS movement with some thoughts of my own:

    Many of the OWS protesters are obviously great people, some even with great ideas. And I regard Naomi Klein as one of the good guys, no doubt about that. I wonder if she knows who OTPOR is, and with whom she is sharing the stage?

    In my reading of American history, the only time a mass student movement did NOT become coopted into Democratic Party was toward end of 1960's. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), started off in early 60's as a liberal-left (mostly) white student movement. One of their major issues was Vietnam War and draft. Later, they also formed alliances with African-American civil rights movements. Towards end of 1960's, under leadership of Mike Klonsky, there was a moment when a reporter approached Klonsky and asked him, very timidly, if he was aware that "communists" had infiltrated SDS. Klonsky replied: "What you talkin' about, dude, we're ALL communists here. So quit your shuckin' and jivin'…" Indeed, SDS had split into 3 major factions, all self-identified communist (with a small "c"). Mostly Maoist, actually, with several smaller factions self-identified as Trotskyist or even Stalinist Classic. When they marched against Vietnam war, they waved red flags with hammer and sickle and openly called for victory of North Vietnam over American army, chanting: "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, NLF is gonna win!"

    Openly communistic leanings of movement, plus SDS alliance with black-panther party, saved them from becoming a wing of the Democratic Party. Dems did not want to have anything to do with them, and viciously suppressed them at 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, with all possible police brutality.

    Based on this history, OWS can go in one of two directions: (1) they can become community organizers for Obama's re-election campaign, or (2) they could get truly radical and start to demand, e.g., nationalization of banks and government buying up their personal debt. They then could start reading Marx and chanting communist slogans. Would be fun to watch look of horror on Soros' face.

    Either way, I am betting money that there will be factional split in this movement very shortly. History shows that ALL movements based on "consensus" and "lack of hierarchy" inevitably split into factions. Also inevitably the most "libertarian" and "consensus"-based faction always ends up coming under the control of a charismatic leader.

    Foppe , October 11, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Given that they've (OWS anyway) already indicated they think Obama is a snake oil salesman, I doubt (1) will come to pass, unless the movement indeed is hijacked. But basically, time is their friend, in that the slower they grow, the bigger the chance that a coherent core set of ideas will start to circulate, which is not dependent for its input on the news being peddled by the MSM.

    marknesop , October 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Say, folks; our hit-counter took a jump this morning on searches for "Tymoshenko". You can probably guess why – the verdict is in: guilty. Tymoshenko was found guilty by the Pechersky court of exceeding her authority (which she most certainly did if the allegation is true – as apparently it is – that she forced a subordinate to sign the deal after the Verkhovna Rada refused to support it) and of costing the country 1.5 Billion Hryvnia.

    This has implications far beyond the immediate, although she could get 10 years. More importantly, as a convicted felon, she cannot stand for election next year. Of course, her supporters shout that this was the whole motivation for the trial, as if she did nothing wrong. Also, it will have a direct – and likely negative – impact on Ukraine's bid for EU association.

    Foppe , October 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Yeah, our equivalent of the nyt already called her "The Ukrainian gasprincess" today, though the article is fairly ambiguous (muddled presentation) and lacking a lot of background information.

    yalensis , October 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    My darling Yulichka… my blonde-braided goddess… that brute Yanukovich is is going to put her in a CAGE?

    AK (@sublimeoblivion) , October 12, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Seven years… ouch.

    Though, talking of cages, as a Facebook friend pointed out, the silver lining are the inevitable hot prison fantasies related to Tymoshenko.

    yalensis , October 12, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Yeah! They will make a movie called "HOT UKRAINIAN GIRLS GO WILD IN PRISON!" There will be some hair-pulling cat-fights, a prison riot, ass-kicking kung fu, and also a lot of snuggling in bunk beds. Yulichka must have her golden tresses braided every morning by her special "bunk-girl".

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 12, 2011 at 12:49 am

    There is an interesting analysis on RIA Novosti about Tymoshenko's verdict. According to the author, it is a kind of "Khodorkovsky's arrest" moment for Ukraine. He reports that "Over the last year and a half, criminal charges were brought against 78 members of the former government" (78!) and that according to a recent poll "46% of respondents see the charges against Tymoshenko as justified, while 34% think that the trial is politically motivated. Only 13% were prepared to protest in support of Tymoshenko" and actually only 2000 supporters protested outside the courthouse.

    yalensis , October 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Yeh, if this is a "Khodorkovsky" moment for Ukraine, then European outrage might well push Yanukovich back into arms of Kremlin. Heh heh heh! Those idiot Europeans don't know how to treat Slavic leaders with respect. They already alienated Lukashenko, they could have had him at "hello", but instead insisted on berating and insulting him.
    If I were Yanukovich's advisor, I would advise him: "Orient back towards Russia, but bargain hard. Putin wants you more than you want him. Offer him recognition of Ossetia/Abkhazia in return for cheap gas."

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I agree that ideological idiocy plays a big part in such decision, but I would add that there are economic reasons as well. A country like Ukraine in the EU would add a lot of expenses in aids to the underdeveloped regions, with the added risk of getting a bigger version of Greece. There are already open talks about jettisoning the PIIGS out of the Eurozone, so the idea to add Ukraine could only be considered in a distant future.
    Re. cheap gas, to my knowledge the condition has been already given: enter the Custom Union along with Belarus and Kazakistan.

    Giuseppe Flavio , October 12, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Given that they've (OWS anyway) already indicated they think Obama is a snake oil salesman, I doubt (1) will come to pass
    Foppe, protesters like these made much more radical statements during the '68 "rebellion", claiming to be Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist/Maoist/etc. but, besides a few that really remained true to their words, they lived comfortable middle-class lifes and their bosses entered the "bourgeois political establishment", often with right wing parties.

    Foppe , October 12, 2011 at 8:24 am

    that is, of course, true.

    kievite , October 13, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Actually Former Trotskyites played important role in the revitalization of Republican Party.

    Particularly James Burnham, brought a strong tendency towards viewing all political national questions purely in ideological terms and rejected the idea of fair play. The idea of 'export of democracy' is a modification of Trotsky original idea of "exporting revolution" using bayonets. Michael Lind in the New Statesman from April 2004 wrote that, "…neoconservative defense intellectuals…call their revolutionary ideology 'Wilsonianism' (after President Woodrow Wilson), but it is really Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution mingled with the far-right Likud strain of Zionism".

    They also introdued the new level of understanding of political struggle and first of all the preeminent importance of total control of media and courts.

    James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings - some weakened opposition, illusion of "free press" and a controlled "circulation of the elites."

    From National Review:

    "…..This path had been pioneered much earlier by two Trotskyists: James Burnham, who became a founder of National Review, and Irving Kristol, who worked on Encounter magazine. Burnham was joined at NR by Suzanne LaFollette, who, piquantly enough, retained some copyrights to Trotskyist material until her death. But they were not the only people on the right who remained, in some degree, sentimental about their left-wing past. Willmoore Kendall, for example, was, as I recall, a lifelong contributor to relief for Spanish radical leftist refugees living in France. Above all, Burnham and Kristol, in a certain sense, did not renounce their pasts. They acknowledged that they had evolved quite dramatically away from their earlier enthusiasms. But they did not apologize, did not grovel, did not crawl and beg forgiveness for having, at one time, been stirred by the figure of Trotsky……"

    yalensis , October 13, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Okay (sighing wearily), I gotta stand up for Trotsky again. Trotsky had his issues, but really should not be blamed for the treachery of some of his ex-followers like Burnham, people who switched sides in the class war from supporting proletariat to supporting bourgeoisie. Any more than it would fair to blame Stalin for subsequent careers of analogous renegades, who made the same evolution. (For example, Browder, among others…)

    I would concede that ex-Trotskyists make more effective imperialists than ex-Stalinists, because Trotskyists are generally more intelligent and have a clearer view of political/economic relationships. Stalinists tend to be lower-IQ people who think in more simplistic black/white terms and cannot handle shades of gray. When a Stalinist flips, he becomes a petty crook out to make a buck by selling his past. When a Trotskyist flips, he becomes a formidable opponent to oppressed masses of the world.

    I would go further and say that ANY kind of Marxist intellectual training, however rudimentary, can be a devastating weapon if placed in the wrong hands.

    Christopher Hitchens said the same thing once in an interview: He said that his early training as a Marxist (which he no longer is, as he now roots for international imperialism) helps him correctly analyze objective forces and relationships in the world in a way that, say, your typical anti-intellectual capitalist propagandist is incapable of doing.

    hoct , October 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Christopher Hitchens blowing his own horn - now there's a surprise.

    yalensis , October 12, 2011 at 10:51 am

    @Foppe: I hope you are right, that OWS movement realizes Obama is "snake oil salesman." If they are tempted to join his campaign organizers, they should remember how he stabbed Acorn in the back: He used this African-American community organization (=Acorn) to bring out the vote for him in 2008, and then abruptly disbanded them later, after a fake scandal.

    yalensis , October 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Julian Assange interview with RT some interesting thoughts on Libya war: