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Russia as an Enemy of the United States

2017 December 26
by Ian Welsh

I believe that most of the concerns about Russia are overblown. (See this for the argument.) In fact, I put it into the public hysterics category.

But to the extent that Russia is opposed to the US, and it is, I put most of the blame on the US. Russia desperately wanted to be part of the West, and for many years bent over backwards trying to be. (In this case, it is quite similar to secular Turkey, whose aspirations to EU membership were repeatedly crushed, leading to the rise of Erdogan’s Islamism.)

I want to quote an interview with George Kennan in 1998 about NATO expansion, in particular. For those who don’t know, Kennan was the architect of the Cold War containment policy towards the USSR: He was hardly a dove.

”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [The NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”…

‘I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

”And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia,” said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was US Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ”It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.” (Emphasis mine.)

Indeed, a lot of people have forgotten that Russia also asked to join NATO (under both Gorbachev and Putin) and was rebuffed. Russia wanted IN the club. In fact, it was pathetic how much they wanted in the club and I thought so at the time. The West, steeped in Russophobia, was never going to let them in, and the Russians wasted somewhere between fifteen and twenty years before they got the message that the West, and the US in particular, was implacably hostile and intended to remain so.

Russia has about half the GDP of California. It is a superpower only in terms of nuclear weapons, though its army, technology, and geographic reach mean that it is still a great power.

It has been pushed into the arms of the Chinese, which from a geopolitical POV is ludicrous: Siberia is the most likely point of conflict between the Chinese and the Russians, driven by the realities of climate change, demographics, and aquifer depletion. Siberia has hardly any population, lots of land, and tons of water, and in twenty to thirty years, the Chinese are going to need that water, and in forty years or so they’re going to need the land.

It would have been easy to spin Russia in and make it the Eastern end of West. Instead, it has been made into a foe, and if the hysterics looking for someone to blame for their own electoral failures have their way, made into an actual enemy. (An enemy with enough nukes to destroy the entire world more than once. Sanity suggests picking better enemies.)

Whether or not the majority of Americans “want” this, emergent American behaviour shows this to be the path the US and the West are on.

Those of us who would prefer the world to survive might wish otherwise, but in-group thinking and the death wish are stronger than sanity or reason.

Putin is a result of shock doctrine, imposed by the West. Russian animosity is largely a result of Western actions that the Russians could not but interpret as hostile (including the color revolutions and the Western-backed Ukrainian coup.)

If, at this point, the Russians are trying to return the interference (and they probably are, just not nearly to the extent or effect the propaganda suggests) that is only what is to be expected, and Americans crying about a little bit of interference look ludicrous, given the US’s record of backing actual coups and constant, regular interference in virtually everyone else’s elections.

If you don’t want enemies, don’t treat them like your enemies. If you do, don’t be surprised when they act like your enemies.

And for God’s sake, Democrats, stop blaming Russia for an electoral failure that was primarily your own damn fault. Look to what you can control–your own behaviour–rather than seeking a scapegoat.


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84 Responses leave one →
  1. December 27, 2017

    Nations have neither friends nor enemies, they have national interests. Russia naturally wants to re-absorb all of the quasi-independent nations that at one point in time were part of Russia, for the exact same reasons that they conquered those nations in the first place between the 16th and 20th centuries — economic resources, population resources, and geographical depth between the core of the Russian Empire and any potential enemies. That geographical depth was one of the reasons they won WW2 (which they did, killing 3/4ths of the Germans killed during the war), and they were always going to want to reclaim it.

    And the United States has a national interest in not allowing them to do so, because the U.S. right now is a unitary superpower — nobody else has the economic capability (on the part of Russia) or military technology (on the part of China) to challenge the United States. It is not in the best interests of the United States to allow the Russian Empire to be re-assembled.

    So there was always going to be conflict here because the interests of Russia and the United States differ. Whether it should have risen to its current level of animosity, that’s another question, and I think you have a good answer there: the U.S. has behaved in a ham-handed and arrogant manner that was almost guaranteed to get blowback.

    Regarding Russian interference in the election, that was just one of many things that ended up with Donald Trump being elected by a minority of Americans. That said, it needs to be revealed and held up to the light, because amongst other things it turns out that Russian agitprop operatives had a major role in amping up the Berniebro versus Hillbot wars that distracted and divided the Democratic party at a time that it needed to be focused on the common enemy. The Democrats have to own up to the fact that they got played, and played big, or else they’ll never be able to unite and get the job done.

  2. S Brennan permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Ian; great post.

    Badtux; you’re words exemplify the idiotocracy that has failed the USA at every juncture since the end of the Korean War. Many a good Soldier/Marine has died for the amusement of such as yourself…an upper class quisling.

    And your pathetic musings; they amount to nothing more than some adolescent defiling a Rodin with a juvenile’s obscene graffiti.

    But perhaps I have you wrong, please inform us of your heroic war record so that we may all know of your service to a cause in which you seek others to enlist? A silver star in Viet Nam, a combat ribbon in Korea…a purple heart in AF-PAK? Do tell, because without such a record you are the most abhorrent of cowards…calling others to war while you clinging to your mother’s skirt.

  3. Willy permalink
    December 27, 2017

    The great and mighty USA is the only nation that shall interfere in the elections of other nations. And never shall it be the other way around. This is the will of God. Trump knows this and has accursed the Dark One, the Mueller, with his blasphemy. And thus one must beseech, lo and behold, for it is good.

  4. Herman permalink
    December 27, 2017

    You can’t blame the Russians for hating the West especially after the West promoted shock therapy economic policies after the collapse of the Soviet Union that caused millions of excess deaths.

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-26671730072-5/fulltext

    The West has long harbored a hatred of Byzantine (really East Roman) civilization and its offshoots, including Russia. Think about all of the negative stereotypes associated with Byzantine civilization: autocracy, serfdom, obscurantism, treachery and cultural and scientific stagnation.

    The East has their own reasons for hating the West. In addition to the West’s promotion of shock therapy economics in countries like Russia there is also the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 and the recent support for West Ukrainian separatists whose ranks include outright neo-Nazis. You can go even further back in history to the Fourth Crusade and the sacking of Constantinople by the Latin crusaders.

    But despite all of that bad history there is no good reason why the United States and Russia should be enemies today. In the long run China is a much bigger threat to Russia than the United States for all of the reasons you state. But our leadership class is so arrogant and so shortsighted that they cannot figure this out or they don’t care.

    I honestly think that the 2016 election mentally devastated many Democrats. They were certain that they couldn’t lose to the clownish Donald Trump. When they lost they had to find a scapegoat and Russia seemed to be a good choice given our traditional rivalry with that country and all of the negative stereotypes associated with Russia.

    I see no signs that the Democrats will let go of the Russia issue or even think about it rationally. It is similar to their intense hatred for working-class white men. They just cannot get the image of the boorish Archie Bunker out of their heads. The same goes for Russia. The Democrats are tortured by images of the evil tsarist/Soviet/Byzantine Putin manipulating everything from his lair in Moscow. Really, it is not much different from right-wingers blaming everything that upsets them on Jews, Muslims or some secret communist cabal.

  5. December 27, 2017

    Most of the content of this post is inarguable fact, of course. I also think comment #1 was an attempt to explain the United States’ Integrated Theory Of Cold War Forever, rather than an endorsement of the strategy. But maybe not! It was a little hard to tell. Demanding that people refrain from political comment unless they’ve seen combat is a very General John Kelly thing to do, though, and probably not a great idea.

    It’s also true that even if every allegation of Russian Meddling™ is true, what that actually means is that most Americans are dumbasses and chumps who will fall for the most transparent forms of manipulation imaginable so that they can then endure the privilege of being preyed upon by the wealthy — the entire construct, so far as it actually exists, seems to have a lot in common with Nixon’s Southern Strategy, in which dumb white people were encouraged to see black Americans as their enemies, and then commit economic suicide in reaction. The American political establishment has played similar dumb baby games with various waves of feminists since the 19th century. This is kind of what we do, I guess. Maybe I should be happy that Americans found themselves mindlessly reacting to an external agitator this round? Progress!

    The recent Democratic victories in previously “unwinnable” Southern states made me doubt the direct-hacking narrative. I do think Trump is guilty of multiple financial crimes, probably related to involvement with the oligarchs of Russia, and even in the face of that adultly-sourced LRB article I continue to wonder why a presidential candidate needed all that contact with a foreign power before winning an election. Was Trump’s campaign taking secret meetings with lots of spies and foreign agents from all over the world? If not, why not? This is all super-normal diplomacy shit, right? Why then are all Trump’s campaign staff being caught in multiple lies, if this is just normal-ass normal diplomacy? Why not just disclose and happily discuss all the perfectly normal diplomacy your campaign was engaged in during the run-up to the election? Even in the worst case that doesn’t amount to “treason,” of course, but it is shady as hell and deserves to be investigated.

    That doesn’t mean we punish Russia because we fucked up. That means we punish Trump and his erstwhile campaign, and take a long sad look in the mirror before our next national election.

    It’s a shame Russia and Turkey were turned away from inclusion in NATO & etc. in the past. I can see that they acquired their own Trump figureheads (only much more dangerous, obviously) ahead of the curve, because of Washington’s insistence on othering them. More needless suffering because of the US’s Risk game of a foreign policy, I suppose. Americans deserve more out of our government, and so does every other random group of people on the planet.

    I continue to be very confused about the enthusiasm on the far Left for Putin, though. I can understand the position, “Putin is no worse than, and has much in common with, modern American leaders.” I do not understand the position, “PUTIN IS A BLAMELESS HERO AND I WANT TO CRAWL UP HIS ASS AND DIE.” When you put up that other post about how all world leaders are evil, the comments were full of morons defending Putin exclusively. It was fucking unbelievable. Putin is admittedly a rank nationalist and a supporter of cronyism. Most leftists correctly hate those characteristics in an American politician, so why support them in a Russian politician? Putin openly promotes propaganda and offs journalists. That’s okay, I guess? He thinks gay people are all child molesters, but who cares? None of this makes any sense to me.

    Clearly what America needs is some kind of Russian outreach, performed by ordinary Russian citizens who voluntarily relocate to small towns and suburbs all over the country and gently explain to us that Russia is a beautiful country with problems and challenges and systems of oppression, different from but not entirely unlike our own. Or, you know what? We could fund public education with wealth siphoned from our own oligarchy so that entire generations of Americans didn’t grow up thinking disaster movie blockbusters were part of the historical record and that it is appropriate to torture every narrative so that American Greatness looks like the hero of every story.

    Extreme length, again. Clearly I have a lot of holiday opinions about Russia.

  6. December 27, 2017

    Well, more text from me! I’m having a very loquacious evening.

    @Herman

    I see no signs that the Democrats will let go of the Russia issue or even think about it rationally. It is similar to their intense hatred for working-class white men. They just cannot get the image of the boorish Archie Bunker out of their heads.

    That’s because dumb, rich Archie Bunker is president and is presiding over a groundswell of white supremacy and misogyny (to which most brown people and women can personally attest), and he was put there by a bunch of other Archie Bunkers who hilariously believe that they can take ‘their’ country back from evil SJW snowflakes whose dastardly combination of fragility and bullying has deprived working-class white men of the most important right of all — the freedom to do and say awful things without facing criticism.

    Pretend to be a black person or a woman on any social media service someday, and you’ll see why we’re all fixated on Archie Bunker. And that’s just the Lifestyle section, you won’t have gotten to the real news yet.

    It is true that white working-class men ought to be part of the broad coalition of Americans who will take down the American oligarchy. But before they join the club they have to stop supporting the hoary traditions that brought about their own economic demise, which means getting over the vision of themselves as deserving of any privilege that isn’t accorded to anybody else. That’s on Archie, not Democrats.

    (Most Democrats are horrible. But so is Archie.)

  7. mike permalink
    December 27, 2017

    As someone who used to read Badtux semi-regularly, I feel sad about how far he’s fallen. But that’s true of many tribal scribes for the status quo that got us Trump these days.

  8. Tom permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Again Erdogan is not an Islamist and runs a secular nation and party. Even after years of personally witnessing all his efforts to improve democratic access to the people and kicking out Islamists from his party and stopping an Islamist military coup, you still insist on calling Erdogan Islamist.

    If you want an Islamist Dictator look further south at Assad who has Sharia Law on the books and has Sharia Police keeping peace in re-captured territory.

  9. V. Arnold permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Ian; mostly, pretty correct, information re: the recent bullshit regarding Russia.
    But, OMG; what an uninformed pile of excrement from the commentariat.

  10. Jib Halyard permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Yes, it is indeed a tragedy that Russia’s recovery from communism was handled badly. It would have been a good thing to have incorporated Russia into the West, complete with strong institutions, rule of law and democracy, rather than Putinism.
    Though I suspect that in that parallel universe, Ian Welsh is currently writing a blog post bemoaning the eastward march of Western imperialism.

  11. highrpm permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @s bren,
    transference. since when is militarization a qualification for scholarship?

  12. realitychecker permalink
    December 27, 2017

    China is the bigger long-term threat, but our leaders and their friends are currently making big money off of China, and have very big plans for Asia generally, so shut the fuck up, any of you who are having thoughts that Russia might be a good ally to have against the future China megapower.

    Duh.

    Good post, Ian. Be careful or you may convert some binary thinkers into actual thinkers. 🙂

  13. Charlie permalink
    December 27, 2017

    The US establishment will choose China over Russia to their detriment, because after Mao’s massacre and the WTO entry, they became just as greedy as the Americans. And if the US establishment loves anyone, it’s their fellow greedy people.

  14. Webstir permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Ian, you remind me that, in all this deep state fetishizing the establishment Dems are doing right now, I have yet to see anything published that looks at the way in which the deep state manipulates otherwise good intentioned peacenik politicians. Trump is a text book example.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder why the peaceniks never hold to their word. My suspicion is that once they are in office the meet (and clash) with the national security apparatus, that apparatus tells them they have a childish view of the world and they need to take actions in line with what the military-industrial state wants. If they resist, they then inform them of the fact that they have dirt which they will use to destroy the politician. Said politician then falls in line. We’re seeing it happen before our eyes …. but no commentary. Why is that, do you think?

  15. nihil obstet permalink
    December 27, 2017

    We speak of nations, but there are no such things as national interests. If there were, the U.S. would not have hollowed out its productive base. The U.S. would not use “foreign aid” to allow dictatorships to buy U.S. military equipment, which then becomes the argument for how much more military spending the U.S. must have. There are individual and group interests within nations. Candidate Nixon’s sabotaging the Paris Peace talks on ending the Vietnam War, candidate Reagan’s courting of the hostage-holding Iranians, and candidate H.W. Bush’s footsie on Iran-contra advanced the interests of certain American groups. Candidate Trump’s footsie with the Russians advanced the interests of a different group. Since candidate Trump’s conspiracy didn’t result in any deaths (or, if you insist on nationalization, especially any American deaths), I tend to find the brouhaha enormously unpleasant. The Democratic candidate and national party praised Kissinger during the campaign — Kissinger! who was Nixon’s back channel to prolong an American shooting war for electoral advantage.

    A great tragedy of the 20th c. was the death of FDR with Truman as vice president. Truman had some small town virtues, but he thought being number one was important enough to drop atom bombs (against, we remember, the advice of his generals) and be manipulated by Churchill into supporting the attempted re-establishment of the British empire and the demonization of the great Communist menace in the great rival Russia.

    Our leaders see only competition, with winners and losers everywhere. So as not to be the loser, they continually attack elsewhere, where they can do it with profit to themselves. It is not in the best interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

  16. realitychecker permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @ nihil obstet

    I think you got that right.

    Unfortunately, we are so used to simple choices only. Remember when the big revelation was that, “Hey, there are TWO kinds of Arabs, called Sunni and Shia, who knew?”

    When multiple factors are involved, we typically shut our minds off, too much complexity, feels like work.

    But, we need to do the work, slowly and carefully, as you did in that comment. Thanks for it.

  17. December 27, 2017

    A couple of comments have hinted at it, but let’s be more pointed. Governments, ours specifically, do not act in the national interest. They act in the interest of their own reelection first, and of preserving the power of their political party second. National interest does not come third, it does not exist for them at all. The term “national interest” is an empty phrase which they utilize in the pursuit of their real goals of reelection and partisan power politics.

  18. Duder permalink
    December 27, 2017

    NATO was expanded in the 1990s mostly to push arms sales. New members have to refit their arsenal to NATO standards, ie. buy from US suppliers. That is a big reason why Russian joining was dead from the start. The US would not let its chief arms competitor into their monopoly racket.

  19. realitychecker permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @ Bill H

    You say: “They act in the interest of their own reelection first, and of preserving the power of their political party second.”

    Yes and yes, but always in the overall context of shepherding the interests, and keeping the favor, of the Owners.

    The Owners call the tune. The Owners have all the sticks and all the carrots.

    We have numbers, and our minds (if we use them).

  20. Willy permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Ideally, civics classes with a curriculum determined by respected rational humanists, historians, philosophers of wisdom, etc… would be mandatory at many education levels. But we don’t live in that world. As a result poor leaders are continuously chosen/allowed/sieg heiled who instinctively take advantage of common voter naïveté including the maintenance of mythical enemies the leaders and their enablers can benefit from, instead of more realistic enemies to the common good as a whole.

  21. S Brennan permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Emma;

    You comment is not quite accurate in it’s paraphrasing:

    “Demanding that people refrain from political comment unless they’ve seen combat” is in Emma’s view, “probably not a great idea.”

    An honest paraphrase would more on the lines of:

    Demanding that people refrain from ADVOCATING for WORLD WAR III unless they’ve seen combat is in Emma’s view, “probably not a great idea.”

    Now that the paraphrasing in approximately accurate, I stand by my original point, you shouldn’t advocate for WW III if you haven’t served a day.

  22. different clue permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @Emma,

    Technically speaking, Turkey was a Co-Founding Member of NATO. Turkey is still in NATO even unto this very day. Given the Erdogist decay of Turkey, perhaps it becomes time to expel it from NATO. Perhaps the best way to do that would be to expel NATO itself from existence.

    Perhaps the exclusion you are thinking of in Turkey’s case is Turkey’s exclusion from the EU, disguised as a careful slow walk towards a Xeno’s Paradox “never quite get there”. And again, given the probably incurable Erdogist decay in Turkey, maybe the EU doesn’t want to welcome in that source of political and cultural disease.

  23. different clue permalink
    December 27, 2017

    The Clintonites and their millions of cult-members are the prime believers in “Putin Diddit” and the main drivers of enemyship against Russia within the Democratic Party.
    The only way the “Democratic Party” can be relieved of its Clinton-based antirussianitic racist antirussianites is if every last trace of Clintonite sewage, both leaders and followers, can be flushed, pressure-washed, purged and burned and disinfected from out of every corner of the Democratic Party.

    As long as even one speck of Clintonite sewage is permitted to remain within the party, that one Clintonite fece will conspire to re-Clintonise the party all over again.

  24. Willy permalink
    December 27, 2017

    …flushed, pressure-washed, purged and burned and disinfected from out of every corner of the Democratic Party.

    Hard to do when so many donors are backed up by slick talking ‘elite’ economists and expert social manipulators, and these creeps operate on both sides of the aisle with no particular loyalties to what either was supposed to stand for.

    Populist movements to restore a system of two loyal oppositions may have to be non-partisan, lest the PTB do their tribal machination thing.

  25. Binky permalink
    December 27, 2017

    What no one seems to understand is that this is the unification of international organized crime wealth. It has nothing to do with the peace movement, socialism, communism, or geopolitics other than the contribution of those subjects to the creation of an international oligarch union. Putin’s cronies got their overseas wealth frozen and have been exposed by a pair of breaches to the electronic security of firms that made that possible.

    The billionaires will fight it out much as they always have. All the projection and politicization is secondary or tertiary to getting the money flow back into operation. While the disorganization and dissolution of the West is a bonus for Putin’s interests, his main goals appears to be the end of the Magnitsky Act.

  26. Hugh permalink
    December 27, 2017

    I largely agree with Ian. Russia has a GDP 7% that of the US with 30% of that related to oil and gas. Siberia is 5 million square miles and has a population of 40 million. Russia itself has a population of 144 million and is 6.6 million square miles.

    The Cold War ended because of Gorbachev. Gorbachev was a great man who saw the senselessness of the Cold War and its unsustainability from a Russian point of view. He had a vision of a world beyond it and acted upon this.

    The USSR ended because of Yeltsin. Besides being a corrupt drunk, he was also a Russian nationalist. Keeping the SSRs would have meant the imminent loss of the majority status of the Great Russian ethnic group. Cutting loose the SSRs ensured the Great Russian majority in the Russian successor state.

    Gorbachev’s vision was betrayed by the Cold Warriors in Washington, notably George HW Bush (Bush I). Rather than ease the transition of Russia into Europe and the West, they continued to see Russia as an adversary and sought to weaken it to the point of insignificance. Meanwhile Yeltsin imported free market idiots like Larry Summers and Jeffrey Sachs. The resultant uncontrolled privatization of the Russian economy led directly to the rise of the oligarchs. And these two events together laid the foundation for the reversal of democracy and the rise of dictatorship in the form of a thug, albeit a Russian natinalist one, like Putin.

    The Eastern expansion of NATO was seen as critically important to several Eastern European countries, most notably Poland, and some of the former SSRs, principally the Baltics. All this would have been a lot less problematic if the eventual inclusion of Russia as NATO’s eastern anchor had ever been seriously entertained by Western planners. But it was not. Western military and economic policy rather than stabilizing NATO’s eastern flank tended instead to destabilize it. In constructing an Eastern European policy without Russia, it all became about countering Russia. Otherwise why have it? If you were a Russian, it would be hard not to notice and react to this.

    I do not like Putin, but I have great respect and affection for Russians. The current conflict with Russia is manufactured, unnecessary, and unwise –for both sides. The Russians did meddle in our elections, but their meddling was minor compared to Israel’s/AIPAC’s 800 pound gorilla in the room interference. At the same time, I do not trust our mentally impaired President to conduct any policy, foreign or domestic, with anyone on anything. So I do not support his Russia policy. Nor can I say I support anything our hysterical elites have to offer either.

  27. different clue permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @Hugh,

    Are you sure that George “Opium Poppy” Bush betrayed the Reagan-Gorbachev gentleman’s agreement on no NATO expansion? I thought “Poppy” continued it. I know “Poppy” went to Ukraine and delivered a speech against independence for Ukraine in the upcoming referendum there. It was derided as the “Chicken Kiev” speech.

    I thought it was Clinton who broke that understanding and who eagerly accepted the Eastward Push of NATO. Am I wrong on the history? It was certainly Clinton who connived with Yeltsin to privatize every possible aspect of the Russian economy and society.

  28. December 27, 2017

    Brilliant. Well said.

  29. Charlie permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Far as the Clintonites not being flushed, that may have changed.

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-blocking-property-persons-involved-serious-human-rights-abuse-corruption/

    We’ll see.

  30. Hugh permalink
    December 27, 2017

    different clue, what I remember is that Russia sought US aid during the Bush years to ease the hardships and were told so sorry, no money in the budget.

  31. ttu permalink
    December 27, 2017

    People like me that comment after a number of comments have a bit of an advantage, though in my case the advantage arises solely out of my lackadaisical approach to commenting.

    In any event, though I am no European scholar, as the Wikipedia entry on NATO expansion somewhat aligns with my recollection I’ll just say that it seems much of the process was really driven by the states that historically had been dominated/incorporated into/within the sphere of influence of the Russian Empire/USSR/Russia. Americans generally don’t have long memories, so we might perhaps fail to remember that Russia had occupied almost half of Poland and all of Lithuania after 1800 till WWI; Estonia and Latvia were at best Russian protectorates; Hungary had been invaded by Russia in 1848 and was a satellite after WWII, and so on. So it’s not really a surprise that given an opportunity they would push the West to let them in, so to speak. Clinton looks to have not been much engaged until Yugoslavia’s nightmarish breakup (itself a consequence of centuries-old frictions). And yes at that point NATO showed up in a historically Russian-influenced/dominated land.

    Otherwise, it’s difficult to disagree with the assessment that a series of American administrations from Clinton to Obama never failed to take an opportunity to give Russia a bloody nose, so to speak. As to why, I would just add to the above as reasons (1) the American worldview has never recovered from Truman (hat tipping to commenter above, who reminds us just how much of the Cold War and National Security State blossomed with Truman-ugh) and (2) the somewhat prosaic observation that if only Russia had been more like China–that is, with a potentially huge market of new consumers coupled with a willingness to attract business by cutting every conceivable corner–the US might have taken a different stance as to Russia. I say might only because it does seem that we need a bogeyman, and while ISIS probably works for terror scares, it’s useful to have a state-sized enemy and while we excel at internal cognitive dissonance we don’t do it over the water very well, at least as to consumerism.

    At the risk of wading where I don’t belong, I don’t understand the argument that only those who have experienced war directly are entitled to opine on war. If nothing else, the further we get from WWII the fewer people exist who understand what unleashing a true world war might look like. Alternatively, if the suggestion is put forth because of the pervasive bellicosity of the American public, though we yap a great deal, I don’t think we have any stomach for what Americans would call a real war, namely a ground war somewhere where lots of Americans would die. I think it important to note here that this timidity doesn’t seem to extend to any reluctance to kill via remote control, and the people we kill by remote control are just as dead as dead Americans even if we don’t seem to comprehend that.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that though I would never in a gazillion years even consider voting for Trump, I was genuinely concerned about the animosity between Putin and H. Clinton. Given her abysmal performance as Secretary of State, (or more accurately as Secretary of US-Induced Catastrophe) I didn’t think it was terribly far-fetched to think Clinton might engage in some close-to-Russia adventurism, thus creating some horrendous conflict on a Russian border. You know, someplace like the Ukraine.

  32. Hugh permalink
    December 27, 2017

    Bush was a proponent of American imperialism, but was more pragmatic than his son (Iraq) and the current crop of Russian hysterics. I don’t think he thought the SSRs were worth the bother but they were a useful buffer.

  33. December 27, 2017

    It is difficult to refute Ian’s take on history. However, we must keep in mind that PUTIN remains an untrustworthy agent to invite to NATO. His KGB roots are remain quite apparent, and his Crimea adventure further validates suspicion.

    At the moment, I think it is a matter of spilt milk. There is no graceful way to put the post-Soviet milk back into the bottle. To make things even harder, the Middle East seems to be on the verge of all-out race war between the Arabs and the Persians, likely completely misconstrued by Westerners as a sectarian confrontation. While things play out, Russia and the ever-thirsty West are rooting from opposite bleachers.

    It is hard to accept the premise that Russian and US presence in the Middle East Add that there is all all about petroleum access given that both the US and Russia have ample natural reserves of the stuff, and that petroleum itself is seeing its global market shrink as the combustion engine loses market to more efficient electrical motors that do not lose energy to gearboxes and exhaust fumes

  34. Webstir permalink
    December 27, 2017

    This thread seems to have (as usual) turned from Ian’s central premise. Granted, he took a lot of words to get there, but the historical background is essential to arrive at the money quote:

    “Putin is a result of shock doctrine, imposed by the West.”

    This is why I love Ian’s blog so much. As he’s stated many times, his world view is simple and, kept so, has pretty damn good predictive power. We amurikans are always pointing the finger, while ignoring the three pointing right back at us.

    WE made Putin, and now we cry. WE made trump, and now we cry. We made our absurdly uneven economic paying field, and now we cry. All because we’d rather let the powers that be blast a bullet in our head every damn day — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ4aHCzML80 — rather than take any agency in our lives.

    Be careful what you allow others to wish for. They might just get it.

  35. Peter permalink
    December 27, 2017

    @Nihil

    There must be a pleasure zone in the Stalinist mind that is stimulated by this revisionist agitprop about Japan being the victim of the evil US and its Nukes. Truman did the right thing by insuring no more Allied or Asian lives would end because of Japanese imperialism. It was a hard and cruel decision and I doubt Truman slept well after those punctuation mark were imprinted on all of history.

    The Japs had their own definition of surrender and it was basically Yankee Go Home. It seems that some people back then, and now, were willing to appease them and cut a deal. They hoped their frenemies the Russians might help with their status quo goal.

    It took nine days for the Japs to announce their unconditional surrender after the first Bomb six after the second and the Russians declaring war on them. This doesn’t show a government willing and ready to capitulate but one weighing their options and there was a coup attempt because of the decision. They were desperate to learn if we had more Bombs and tortured a US officer who cleverly informed them we had a hundred.

    I don’t think Truman needed to demonize Stalinist Russia, it was already demon infested Stalinist Russia. He may have felt the need to distance his administration from the card carrying commies that flocked to FDR and his attempts at collectivism.

  36. Webstir permalink
    December 27, 2017

    This thread seems to have (as usual) turned from Ian’s central premise. Granted, he took a lot of words to get there, but the historical background is essential to arrive at the money quote:

    “Putin is a result of shock doctrine, imposed by the West.”

    This is why I love Ian’s blog so much. As he’s stated many times, his world view is simple and, kept so, has pretty damn good predictive power. We amurikans are always pointing the finger, while ignoring the three pointing right back at us.

    WE made Putin, and now we cry. WE made trump, and now we cry. We made our absurdly uneven economic paying field, and now we cry. All because we let the powers that be blast a bullet in our head every damn day:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQ4aHCzML80

    Our entire lives revolve around nothing more today than consumption. Americans have become THE apex consumers, and as such, have surrendered any ability to act with agency in the betterment of their own lives. If it’s not pre-packaged, it doesn’t exist.

    Be careful what you allow others to wish for. They might just get it. And boy … have they ever.

  37. Webstir permalink
    December 27, 2017

    “paying field”
    No pun intended. Seriously.

  38. Webstir permalink
    December 28, 2017

    @Binky–
    I read your comment after posting mine, supra. You nailed it. Never fetter the channels consumption. The oligarchs will spank you.

  39. V. Arnold permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Tomonthebeach
    December 27, 2017
    It is difficult to refute Ian’s take on history. However, we must keep in mind that PUTIN remains an untrustworthy agent to invite to NATO. His KGB roots are remain quite apparent, and his Crimea adventure further validates suspicion.

    Your’s is an excellent example of fact free commenting.
    Crimea? A referendum passed by a democratic vote; 96.77% in favor.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_status_referendum,_2014
    I very much doubt Putin personally had much to do with that. By treaty arrangement with Ukraine; Russia already had 25,000 troops at the navy base there. There was no invasion.
    As to Putin’s trustworthyness? Kindly state one time he broke his word on anything. And I seriously doubt you know much of anything about his KGB/FSB activities.
    My understanding is he was never a spook.
    The U.S. has lied, murdered, and tortured its way around the world.
    It seems most American’s feel an obligation to demonize Russia and especially Putin lest they be accused of being a Russian fan-boy.
    Having been married to a Russian for 9 years I remain a Russophile; an historical giant among the planet’s countries and 600 years older than the U.S.
    Is Putin a good guy? Hell if I know; but he’s one hell of an impressive world leader; a statesman of proven integrity.
    The U.S., historically, has broken every single treaty it ever signed.

  40. December 28, 2017

    Brennan. you are an ass, and I am not going to respond to your vicious lies and slander. Go fuck yourself.

    Now, back to what I was mentioning: From a geopolitical point of view, nation-states strive to dominate, and nation-states strive to keep other nation-states from being in a position to dominate. That is a fact. It is not a fact that I endorse or condone, but that is a fact.

    Based on that fact, Russia would always desire to put back together the Russian Empire in order to dominate Eurasia, and the United States would always desire to prevent them from doing so. Again, this is not something I endorse or condone, but this is a fact that is obvious from studying the history of nation-states. There is no nation-state, anywhere, that has behaved in any way different than this if they have any chance at all of dominating some or all of the world. It appears to be human nature that when a political class develops in a nation-state that this political class, once having consolidated power in their own nation-state, then wishes to expand their power to elsewhere in the world and prevent any possible competitors to their power from developing. If you do not recognize this reality of how political classes in nation-states operate, you are delusional and probably need to get back to your safe place.

    Regarding China, I agree that long term they are playing for that exact same position of domination of a large swathe of the planet that the Soviet Union once held and that the United States currently holds. The operative words, there, however, are *long term*. The political class in the United States doesn’t operate over that long of a term and is determined to fight the last (cold) war, believing that it is more important to prevent the Russian Empire from re-assembling than to deal with China. Again, this is their belief, not mine.

    The question of the long-term viability of the United States as a nation-state is, of course, dubious. The political system in the United States has become so corrupted that it is acting contrary to the benefit of the majority of the population. The majority of Americans either do not vote or voted against the current government, which was imposed by a minority of Americans in states that represent a minority of the population. Long-term this situation devolves either into a vicious police state (and we’re much of the way there anyhow, as any reader of Radley Balko’s column knows) or collapses into political disorder as pieces spin apart and become independent nation-states (the collapse of the Soviet Union being an example of that). This may be one reason why our political elites are so eager to deal with short-term threats to their world domination and not worry about long-term threats like the Chinese. For the short term they are maximizing their power and thus profit. For the long term… they don’t expect there to be a long term, either the United States becomes so vicious a police state that its economy collapses (that *always* happens in police states, because people under a repressive regime do the minimum needed to survive, nothing more), or falls apart to secession and revolution. At that point they fly off to their safe havens elsewhere, and count their money.

  41. V. Arnold permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Badtux
    December 28, 2017

    Yeah, I’d consider that a fair appraisal of the geo-political game plan.
    However; at this juncture I’d posit that Russia and China are open to multi-polarity; the U.S. is not, under any circumstance; much to it’s discredit.
    Mackinder, Spykman, and Mahan’s eurasian world view is germane to today’s realities.
    China has already secured the sea trade routes in the south Pacific. BRI will secure the rest with Russia’s, Iran’s, Pakistan’s, Afghanistan’s, and many other’s partnership.
    The hegemon (U.S.) is actively fighting the inevitability of a multi-polar world; it will and is, paying a dear price: But it seems blind to its future in this geo-political gambit.
    I have oft said; there is another super power in the world; the rest of the world…

  42. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 28, 2017

    “We,” as in the Rabble, have essentially no influence or power to affect change in the course of events — as we’ve seen over and over again when we attempt to bend the arc of time toward peace, justice and community. It doesn’t happen. And it’s not because we’re wrong. It’s largely because we don’t have the power we think we do or think we ought to.

    Ian’s use and some of the commentariat’s use of the term “we” when describing the actions of the US government or governments of “western” nations vis a vis the Middle East and Russia shows a perhaps inadvertent identification with the ruling cliques of these governments that is fascinating — and inappropriate. They are not “you” and “we” are not they. They operate quite independently of “we” — and for the most part are completely unconcerned with what “we” think and do or don’t think and do.

    This separation between those who rule us and “we” is one of the keys to the success and maintenance of power of the ruling neoLibCon paradigm and elites who are actually in control of events that “we” can’t realistically influence — especially not when “we” identify with them.

    On the other hand, we do have substantial power outside the parameters our rulers impose on us, and it is by tapping into that power that we can ultimately change things for the better.

    As David Graeber refers to it, a “revolution in reverse.”

    “We” — as in the Rabble — did not make Russia or Putin what they are. “We” do not inflict ruin and despair on the suffering peoples of the Earth.

    But by now we should know who does.

  43. Peter permalink
    December 28, 2017

    @Badtux

    You started out so well, infuriating the snowflakes with your cold-blooded analysis sans any anti-Americanism. This non-PC approach without TDS is like fingernails on a blackboard to the Stalinists as the comments above showed.

    Your last paragraph was a letdown with an emotional fatalistic tone rejecting the electoral system that saved the Republic from a cultish psychopath, her minions and enablers with the anti-Russian fixation you decry.

    Trump may produce fear and loathing in many soft and conditioned minds but his approach of not allying with Russia but dealing with them is sound. His positions and urgency in dealing with China is what you seem to want and it has produced some results. The most critical threat in Asia today, NK, has ended up where it belongs in China’s sphere of responsibility with some Russian help.

  44. Sid Finster permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Who said we had to like Putin or Russia?

    All I ask is that we stop continually poking the bear with a stick.

  45. Willy permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Che’s right. They are not us. They are not like us at all. And no amount of projecting our own values onto them, would make them more like us at all.

  46. December 28, 2017

    realitychecker: “Remember when the big revelation was that, ‘Hey, there are TWO kinds of Arabs, called Sunni and Shia, who knew?'” There are quite a few more kinds of Arabs. Some are Christians. Some are Jews. What you’re talking about are Muslims, not Arabs, but maybe you knew that and constructed the quotation for comedy effect.

    Che: “But by now we should know who does.” Who’s “we” here? This is mildly comical after so many disavowals of other we’s.

  47. realitychecker permalink
    December 28, 2017

    wer
    LOL I’m just old enough to recall when the average American would have thought all Muslims were Arabs.

    My point, which I bet you agree with, is that we Americans tend to see everything in simplistic terms, and are not well equipped to deal with complexities, so we just spout off in our ignorance.

    There are hundreds of kinds of Arabs, but Americans were bothered when they had to learn about just two kinds, Sunnis and Shia.

    My point was about our limitations due to ignorance, myopia, and sheer intellectual laziness.

  48. realitychecker permalink
    December 28, 2017

    @ Hvd

    You know, I have long thought you were a lawyer. Maybe just because I’ve seen you weigh in on many things where you appeared to have a professional level of understanding. But this conversation has mad.e it clear you are not familiar with how the legal community works and thinks.

    I note you have said your work was cited in legal contexts, so now I am wondering what is the flavor of your expertise area or areas? Not to ad hominem you (like I get ad hominem’d if I reveal my legal background lol), just to understand better what your training looked like and where you are coming from. Because we have truly had a lot more difficulty communicating here than one would have expected. I know you are intelligent, so I seek an understanding/explanation of why.

  49. December 28, 2017

    I don’t like being propagandize or manipulated. But, it takes a lot more work to dig for the truth than to accept and then regurgitate conventional wisdom. I found it useful for my own education to actually read a couple of Vladimir Putin’s speeches and to view “The Putin Interviews” by Oliver Stone. The first speech is from 2008 and is a barn burner, quietly and forcefully delivered. Putin Davos Speech
    Watching it on You Tube is even better because the camera keeps cutting to John McCain and Joe Lieberman. (McCain had been working behind the scenes to destabilize the Georgia/South Ossetia/Russian regional situation). There is a lot of squirming by other world leaders as well. Putin Davos Speech on You Tube

    “Unfortunately, more and more often we hear that increasing military spending will help solve today’s social and economic problems. The logic here is quite simple. Additional allocations for military needs create new jobs.

    For reference:
    The growth of military spending:
    USA—$529 billion in 2006, $555 billion in 2007, and $583 billion in 2008. Experts expect $606 billion in 2009.
    Great Britain—£27 billion in 2006, £31 billion in 2007, £34 billion in 2008, and £35.2 billion planned for 2009.
    Germany—€23 billion in 2006, €24 billion in 2007, and €25 billion in 2008.
    China—$38 billion in 2006, $44 billion in 2007, $58 billion in 2008, and a 17% increase in 2009 (around $66 billion).
    Georgia (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)—$49 million in 2002, $80 million in 2004, $362 million in 2006, $592 million in 2007, and $1.104 billion in 2008.

    At a glance, it seems to be merely a method to fight the crisis and unemployment. Perhaps, in the short run, such a measure may yield some results. But in reality, instead of solving the problem, militarisation pushes it to a deeper level. It draws away from the economy immense financial and material resources, which could have been used much more efficiently elsewhere.

    I am confident that if we limit our military spending, at the same time strengthening global stability and security, this will definitely produce serious economic dividends as well.

    The second speech is at the 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015 and he talks about the lessons that Russia learned from trying to export communism to other nations. He now believes that was a mistake and instead believes in a concept and a phrase he coined called “sovereign democracies”. Putin’s 2015 UN Speech”
    For me, I appreciate a world leader who speaks in clear words with actual practical solutions. No matter your personal feelings about him, he is clearly much more of an intellectual than most world leaders who speak in endless cliches.

  50. realitychecker permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Aaargghhh!!!!! I mean to drop that last comment on the Torture thread. Too much skipping around lol. Ian, please feel free to delete that comment, and this one if you do. I will reproduce the comment where it belongs. 🙂

  51. Webstir permalink
    December 28, 2017

    @Che:
    I don’t think you’re referring to the we’s in my comment. Regardless, it’s a bit disturbing to read that many commenters on here seem to totally deny the agency of individuals — the collective “we.” Again, in just one more example of art preceding reality, I think Zach de la Rocha nailed it years ago. Go read the lyrics to “Bullet in the head.” This stanza stands out:

    Believin’ all the lies that they’re tellin’ ya
    Buyin’ all the products that they sellin’ ya
    They say jump and you say how high
    You brain dead? You gotta fuckin’ bullet in your head?

    Every individual decision we make collectively results in our powerlessness. We’ve been divided and conquered by each individuals personal consumer greed. Everything we watch or listen to in this country comes packed with finely tuned propaganda that is aimed toward one purpose — buy me and your life will be better. And everyone thinks it doesn’t apply to them because they’re too smart to buy into the propaganda.

    WE have collectively surrendered our agency one purchasing decision at time. Don’t say WE aren’t responsible. WE made this bed. Now we cry because WE have to lay in it. This is Ian’s point. Take some control of your life individually, or someone else will.

    Back to Ian’s point — WE are responsible for the current divisiveness between the U.S. and Russia because WE (our collective individual decisions) have enabled the plutocrats to pursue their nefarious aims one purchase at a time. A collective strike would go a long way to letting them know the pitchforks are coming.

  52. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Binky + Ché Pasa = Nailed It

  53. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    December 28, 2017

    WE have collectively surrendered our agency one purchasing decision at time. Don’t say WE aren’t responsible. WE made this bed. Now we cry because WE have to lay in it. This is Ian’s point. Take some control of your life individually, or someone else will.

    I have and I’ve been punished for it. Repeatedly. I’ve been ostracized. Rejected. Repudiated.

    I am not part of this “we” to which you refer. I denounced that “we” but when you do, there’s a terrible price to pay because most if not all refuse to denounce it and instead look the other way, or worse, go out of their way to normalize this insanity unfolding at an ever-quickening pace.

  54. S Brennan permalink
    December 28, 2017

    What a brown-nosing liar Badtux has become in his attempt to slither his way back into the neocolonial/neoliberal tent. Pathetically, he provides the evidence with his own words in an exercise of mental gymnastics that only a snotty sophomore would attempt straight.

    “Brennan. you are an ass, and I am not going to respond to your vicious lies and slander. Go fuck yourself. Now, back to what I was saying” – Badtux

    Let’s dissect that response that Badtux describes as not responding:

    [ad hominem] + [a baldfaced lie, hey dude you are responding at precisely the moment you tell the audience you are not] + [more lies] + [more ad hominem]

    You make yourself sound like a snotty boarding school sophomore.

    Again; my original point, you are advocating a sure path to war, what’s your street cred? Have you ever served a day in your life? No? Then stick your great “strategy” where the sun don’t shine Mr Wannabe Ezra Klien. How many Iraqi civilians, US Soldiers & Marines died so EZrah could fellate his way into a cushy gig? And now you think to try the same trick? Baxtud, all the great wars start from the shallow sophomoric thinking you so aptly displayed in original comment.

    As for bravely telling somebody whom you never met, to “fuck-off” to cover your personal cowardice of advocating wars for others, but not for yourself? WTF, that might work for fools, but will see you for what you are; a cowardly phony.

  55. someofparts permalink
    December 28, 2017

    “turns out that Russian agitprop operatives had a major role in amping up the Berniebro versus Hillbot wars that distracted and divided the Democratic party”

    if you have links on this I would love to see them
    haven’t run across any of this yet
    but it’s information I need to be armed with in my social circles

    S. Brennan –

    I’m with Emma here –

    “Demanding that people refrain from political comment unless they’ve seen combat is a very General John Kelly thing to do, though, and probably not a great idea.”

    and beyond that, disagree with Tux if you must, but he is no spoiled child of privilege
    he’s southern working class by origin
    that’s one of the reasons I listen to him
    I’m from that corner of the world my own self
    and I recognized Tux as being from that world because
    unlike most folks with his current standard of living
    he actually sees people without privilege as human
    and the fact that he even sees/understands such people at all
    was how I recognized him way back as someone with working class roots

  56. Willy permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Can’t we all just get along, in our purge of the Democratic party? Even Peter (who likely carries a Trump scrapbook everywhere he goes) could be of some use.

  57. Hugh permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Russia spends around 4.5% of its GDP on its military. This is even higher than the US, which is around 3.5% and would climb to 4.3% with the big Trump increase.

  58. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 28, 2017

    I tried to make clear that the collective “we” is not an appropriate designation for the philosophy, ideologies, and actions of the national ruling clique. We, the Rabble, on the other hand, is rather appropriate to describe everyone else — those who can have little or no influence on those who rule us.

    We largely do not share in the values, beliefs and actions of the ruling clique. They are as alien ss if they came from another and very ugly planet. They know this, and that’s part of why it is in their interests to pretend a kind of unity — a “we” if you will — between them and the Rabble they rule. Responsibility shared by so many, after all, leaves no one individually responsible, right? At least no one among the ruling clique and their favorite few can be held responsible. Not really, and ideally not ever. Haven’t we found that out over and over again?

    To hold the Rabble equally responsible for what the ruling clique believes and does reinforces the ruling clique’s power — power to be misused against other ruling cliques, with disastrous consequences for their Rabble. Simple, really, and that theory of power leads directly to such abominations as the slaughter and destruction unleashed on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and all the other US/Allied war theatres.

    Those who can and do opt out of this bloody madness — as more and more are doing — are exercising their own (limited) power by not acting as agents of an overriding authority. They deny the authority of “we”. I deny the authority of “we.”

  59. John permalink
    December 28, 2017

    I want to have sex with a hot lady

  60. Webstir permalink
    December 28, 2017

    @Che: I gotcha. We’re speaking the same language.

    @The Stephen Miller Band: Agreed. I give no shits about the attacks anymore. The only reason I’m really even on Facebook anymore is to school my useful idiot Democrat voting friends on the culpability of their party. I reject the “tyranny of amiability” as Phil Rockstroh put it. But wonder of wonders, I awakened just as many friends as I’ve alienated.

    @John: best use oven mitts.

  61. subgenius permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Worthwhile way to spend an hour viewing. Has relevance to aspects of this thread.

    https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-9270-dude_you_broke_the_future

  62. S Brennan permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Someofparts;

    I served in the US Army, most of my friends, black & white were of southern origin, it’s the nature of the service. If you think B-Tux represents southerners with his cowardly, [you fight ’em while I try to pick-up on your girl…now that you’re gone], you need to spend some quality time with those that serve.

    BTW, Someofparts, since you/Butdax speak for Southerners wanting war…where/when did you serve?

    FYI, most Southerners I know started rejecting DC’s war of neocolonialism around 2006…and that is because, they, or somebody they knew, had been killed or seriously wounded in an idiotic lies sold to the nation by “liberal” media, aka NYTimes/WaPo and Badtux’s hero, EZ-Rah Klein.

  63. S Brennan permalink
    December 28, 2017

    Ché ;

    Much as I hate to admit it; you are coming around to my POV…not that you’d ever agree.

    “I tried to make clear that the collective “we” is not an appropriate designation for the philosophy, ideologies, and actions of the national ruling clique. We, the Rabble, on the other hand, is rather appropriate to describe everyone else — those who can have little or no influence on those who rule us…We largely do not share in the values, beliefs and actions of the ruling clique.”

  64. Webstir permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @ S. Brennan:
    You say “we is not an appropriate designation for the philosophy, ideologies, and actions of the national ruling clique”
    Duh. That’s a no-brainer.
    But then you say the Rabble “can have little or no influence on those who rule us.” Is the second statement supposed to logically follow from the first? Are you saying the Rabble has NO agency over the oligarchs? Because, were that the case, I think a whole lot of history books are going to need to be rewritten.
    Thankfully, you’re wrong. Have the “rabble” been lulled to into obeisance since the height of unionization in the U.S. through novel corporate profit agglomeration techniques refined over the last several decades? Undoubtedly. Will that change if the “rabble is pushed too far? I suspect so, but only time will tell. I know I’ve woken from the consumer malaise. I know I’m pissed off like never before and rattling the cages of as many of my fellow rabble as I can to wake them from said malaise. I know once the herd stampedes it’s impossible to stop it.
    I just hav no clue how you can make that statement with a straight face. It’s asinine.

  65. Webstir permalink
    December 29, 2017

    S. Brennan: Apologies. That was Che’s statement. It’s still asinine.

  66. Webstir permalink
    December 29, 2017

    Subgenius: Thanks for the link. Good stuff.
    I haven’t read his lit but definitely will after listening to the talk. He nails it on the corporation as the original AI. Manufacturing need and consent takes on a whole new light. And as to his comment on Sociopaths? I think he came up short in not mentioning the ease with which their banally evil minions are willing to implement their immorality with batting an eye.

  67. Peter permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @Willy

    Channeling Rodney to promote your Stalinist party purge fantasies is somewhat clever but a useless fool’s errand. Whatever you do, don’t include me in your snowflake circle-jerk.

  68. Willy permalink
    December 29, 2017

    Peter,
    I’ve never once proclaimed a love for Stalinists. The Clintons are neoliberals, very different from Stalinists. I have never proclaimed any love for them either. You on the other hand, have repeatedly expressed a strong admiration for Donald Trump.

    Your comment makes no sense.

  69. December 29, 2017

    “No matter your personal feelings about him, he is clearly much more of an intellectual than most world leaders who speak in endless cliches.”

    Sure enough. Nikki Haley is currently the most annoying of spewers of hackneyed hypocritical platitudes, but it’s hard to find anybody in a position of power in the US foreign policy sector that is worth respecting.

    More significantly, Putin’s leadership helped roll back US+ally destabilization of Iraq and Syria. I believe he and Lavrov deserve a Nobel peace prize.

    Another thing I appreciate about Putin’s Russia (though I don’t think Putin has a whole lot to do with it) is that Christianity is making a resurgence in Russia. From “Russia Built 3 Churches Per Day, 1000 Per Year For 28 Years – A World Record” @ http://russian-faith.com/news-about-russia-church-politics/russia-built-3-churches-day-1000-year-28-years-world-record-n980

    ” “The epoch which we call ‘the second Baptism of Russia’ begun in our Church in 1988. The mass baptism of our population started in Russia in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” Metropolitan Hilarion said while relating the history of Orthodoxy in Russia to the Italian guests.

    “Today we have 35,000 churches. That means that we have opened 29,000 churches over twenty-eight years, opening more than 1,000 churches per year or three per day… Earlier we had three theological seminaries or academies, and today there are over fifty,” the metropolitan stressed.”

    However Putin has, in this vein, proven to be family-friendly. (See http://russian-faith.com/family-values/putin-spearheads-major-pro-family-movement-russia-russian-tv-news-n1269 ; I’m assume that single mothers or fathers will get not get this level of support.)

    In contrast, a civilizationally deracinated Western Europe is importing large numbers of foreigners who, often together with their offspring, not only don’t share their values, but have active contempt for the natives. (E.g.: https://www.frontpagemag.com/point/239615/uk-police-arrested-parents-trying-stop-muslims-daniel-greenfield)

    I used to be friendly with an interesting guy who was at home in liberal Princeton, being a liberal, himself. However, unlike any other liberal I’ve ever met, he used to talk wistfully of living in the 18th century. I think that, if he’d had the ability, he’d prefer to have lived as a contemporary of Voltaire.

    My own view is that the Enlightenment made Christianity more Christian, there being nothing that Christ would find Christian about the Spanish Inquisition, just for starters. So, I don’t think I’m so different from my former Princetonian neighbor.

  70. subgenius permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @Webstir
    If you like early Gibson/Stephenson/Richard Morgan type SciFi, go in on accelerando…starts in that kinda turf, and just…well…accelerates. madly. Plus the initiating protagonist is a venture-ALTRUIST…!

    If you prefer more here/now/gritty…rule34 is good.

    And if you need more of an h p lovecraft-meets-austin powers (seriously…) Then the laundry files series is ideal…

  71. highrpm permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @hugh,
    This is even higher than the US, which is around 3.5% … “only 18 year olds believe that shit.” what does the US spend its other 96.5% GDP on? student loans?

  72. subgenius permalink
    December 29, 2017

    Anybody advocating war is an ass imho.

    The cat is well and truly out of the bag. First world civilization is way too fragile to survive concerted attack, and it is purely by luck that non of the current posiblities have been attempted by a technologically aware insurgency of any kind. Not going to give details, for obvious reasons….the hints are all around if you care to look.

  73. rkka permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @different clue

    “Are you sure that George “Opium Poppy” Bush betrayed the Reagan-Gorbachev gentleman’s agreement on no NATO expansion? I thought “Poppy” continued it. I know “Poppy” went to Ukraine and delivered a speech against independence for Ukraine in the upcoming referendum there. It was derided as the “Chicken Kiev” speech.”

    Words are one thing. Actions another. When German Chancellor Kohl suggested a program of economic assistance to the USSR in return for the many concessions Gorbachev had made, Daddy Bush said “to hell with that. We’re not going to let them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!” Daddy Bush insisted that the USSR die, and that the new Russia begin her existence bankrupt. He made the delivery of food aid conditional on continued repayment of the Soviet debt, which policy continued until the new Russian government had totally exhausted her foreign currency reserves in early 1992. He wanted Russia to fall as far and as hard as possible.

    “I thought it was Clinton who broke that understanding and who eagerly accepted the Eastward Push of NATO. Am I wrong on the history? It was certainly Clinton who connived with Yeltsin to privatize every possible aspect of the Russian economy and society.”

    Had Daddy Bush won in ’92, I doubt his policy would have differed significantly.

    Putin. His job is to defend Russia’s interests, and that’s it. That’s what the Russian people hired him for. He is open to cooperation with the West, but by now understands that the West demands abject Russian submission as a precondition for just about everything, so it really isn’t possible. However, it isn’t his job to lead global resistance to Hegemony. He will not lift a finger against it, unless it acts against some vital Russian interest. Even then, he will use force parsimoniously, for strictly limited objectives, and will stop as soon as those objectives are secured, instead of being tempted by success into expanding his war aims.

    That’s probably the biggest reason his military actions succeed, and do not produce decade-long quagmires, unlike US wars.

  74. Webstir permalink
    December 29, 2017

    Subgenius: Thank you, sir. I’ll track ’em down. Love it when I’ve got some good reading on the horizon.

  75. Peter permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @HR

    You are over-revving and confusing the government budget with the GDP. The governmet spends about half of the budget on the military which is required by the Constitution. There is nothing in the Constitution about student loans but the government does make a nice profit from its student loan programs.

  76. subgenius permalink
    December 29, 2017

    @webstir
    Actually rule34 is a sequel, the previous is ‘halting state’, so maybe read that before 34.

  77. December 30, 2017

    I find it interesting that some people here appear to believe they know my opinions and beliefs better than I do, and in fact appear to believe that their wild imaginings of my opinions and beliefs are more accurate than thirteen years of my own writings on my own blog. I suppose there is nothing more hilarious than a fool and his certitude. So it goes. No, I have not stopped beating my wife, because I never did beat her. Stupid “gotcha” nonsense is stupid, and some people should be ashamed, but won’t, because the kind of people who spew stupid “gotcha” nonsense have no shame to begin with.

    Regarding the likelihood of the electoral system saving the United States, the core problem is one of demographics and geography. Those who are educated, sane, and productie cluster increasingly in a small number of cities and states, leaving the majority of the American geography to be occupied by dullards and dimwits who are easily swayed by preachers, charlatans, and demagogues. The problem is that the easily swayed dullards and dimwits are the minority of the American population but get the majority of the vote in America’s gerrymandered political system. The end result is similar to that of the American South in the late 1800’s, where the elites of those states used racism and demagoguery to seize power using the force of the ignorant and easily swayed. It took outside force to break the power of those elites in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, including the 101st Airborne, and that force applied by the national government onto the recalcitrant region where the elites were running the next best thing to a dictatorship over the majority was possible only because the Communist Bloc was quick to point out America’s shame and use it to sway countries into their sphere, thus terrifying the national elite into putting out the force needed to suppress the Southern elites in order to retain geopolitical dominance.

    But there is no more Communist Bloc, and there is no outside force capable of forcing the current U.S. elite out of power. It took outside force to free the majority in the American South, they were not able to free themselves through a rigged and gerrymandered electoral system, and the same applies to the U.S. as a whole. This is one reason, I suspect, that Russia terrifies our elites so much. Not because Russia is an existential threat, but, rather, because, as someone pointed out, it isn’t the U.S. versus Russia. It’s the U.S. versus the rest of the world, and if Russia reassembles its empire and rebuilds a bloc opposed to the United States, the Rest of the World may well force the political elites in the United States to have free and fair elections rather than the current gerrymandered show elections or else face the destruction of the nation as it becomes an ostracized pariah. Russia is already demonstrating their prowess at the propaganda arts that would be necessary to build such a coalition, what they lack currently is the geopolitical stature to go with that prowess. The possibility of them gaining such sends U.S. elites to bed with nightmares at night.

    I do believe democracy would be the solution to our problems. Democracy is not perfect, but the only alternative to rule by the majority is rule by a minority. We have a word for rule by a minority, and that word is “tyranny”, which rarely works out in the end. Too bad we don’t have democracy. Our past Presidential election where a minority of Americans imposed their candidate upon the majority is a perfect example, but it happens at the state level too. For example, in the state of Florida Democrats outnumber Republicans by a significant amount. Yet virtually all of their legislators in Congress as well as virtually all of their state elected officials are Republicans. Whatever is happening, it has only a notional relationship to the concept of “democracy”, much as a Soviet or Gitmo show trial had only a notional relationship to the concept of “justice”.

  78. different clue permalink
    December 30, 2017

    @rkka,

    Thank you for your comment. I did not know any of this about Senior Bush’s opposition to assisting Russia with recovery. Did Kohl make his suggestion to Bush when the USSR still existed in its USSR form? Or did Kohl make his suggestion after the breakup and was his suggestion targeted to the Russian Federation specifically?

    It makes me wonder anew just what Bush meant by his phrase “New World Order”. Did he in fact mean that USSR and then Russia was to be broken up into “protectorates” assigned to whatever big economic power bordered each helpless rump Protectorate? I believe that was the Brzezinski plan ( or at least hope) for Russia.

    Your doubt that Daddy Bush would have done any differently than Slicky Bill if Bush had won the 1992 election is interesting in what it says about Slicky Bill. If Slicky Bill did to Russia the same as what Daddy Bush would have done anyway, then Slicky Bill was never anything but a New World Order Bushite anyway. But of course his support for NAFTA, WTO Membership imposed upon America, MFN for China, and etc. already revealed that fact to all those who could bear to see.

  79. rkka permalink
    December 30, 2017

    What Daddy Bush meant by “New World Order” was Full Spectrum Global Dominance. And yeah, Bill fell right into like when Rubin explained his job to him, and he never strayed.

  80. highrpm permalink
    December 30, 2017

    @rkka,
    Full Spectrum Global Dominance. pax judaica, 2018. finally.

  81. V. Arnold permalink
    December 31, 2017

    @ Hugh

    Comparing Russia GDP to the U.S. is ludicrous; Russia’s debt to GDP is 10.6% (lowest of any country) and cash reserves of in excess of $500 billion; gold reserves of more than 1,800 tons and counting. GDP is a meaningless, economic metric, as applied to today’s world. Much, much more information is required, which escapes western, so called, economists.
    Russia’s strength is in the “bang to the buck” it gets from its manufacturing base and agricultural accumen. World’s largest wheat exporter.
    A really good read is from F. William Engdahl;
    http://katehon.com/article/russia-and-china-challenge-dollar-domination
    The U.S. sanctions have hurt its allies and net, helped Russia’s economy.
    Western “educated” idiots, spinning the western (U.S.) meme, wax on and succinctly demonstrate their ignorance.

  82. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 31, 2017

    Riiiiight…14 million joooooooooooooos roooooooool. Seek help, highrpm.

  83. rkka permalink
    December 31, 2017

    @highrpm

    The US government has been largely hostile to Russia since about the 1880s. Mahan, the American seapower guru, advocated alliance between the US, the British Empire, the German Empire, and the Japanese Empire, to contain Russia until collapse.

    Israel & the Jews have nothing to do with it.

  84. different clue permalink
    January 2, 2018

    @rkka,

    I think the highrpms of the world are just taking this opportunity to throw their usual jello up to the top of the flagpole to see who salutes what sticks.

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