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Open Thread

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Is It Dangerous to Hit Targets Inside Russia?


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 4, 2022


  1. mugu

    Gee whiz willikers it’s December already — solstice time and Christmas all wrapped up in one. Ho ho ho.
    And what can we expect in our Yuletide stockings?
    Lumps of coal to heat our hands and a can of spam?
    Silver bells silver bells
    Peace on earth goodwill to (wo)man
    Soon it will be Christmas Day . . .
    Gonna be a rocking time in the hood with bombs a dropping everywhere
    Our goose is cooked with crouton stuffing so rub your hands and belly in anticipation of the next big blockbuster coming soon to a bunker near you.
    Not to be a bummer or anything. . .
    I sincerely hope for small miracles, epiphanies and some brotherly love in these dark days.
    Paz y amor y hasta la victoria y la luz.

  2. Jorge

    Really interesting article on possible long-term Russian plans. They are proofing out how to create and enforce a large-scale one-sided DMZ. I suspect this will be used as part of the strategic arsenal for managing their sector of Ukraine, rather than just creating a giant DMZ out of North-Western Ukraine.

  3. someofparts

    Yesterday I was checking Taibbi’s substack. I’ve been a subscriber since he launched the site. At $50/yr, even somebody like me, squeaking by on an inadequate pension, can afford to subscribe.

    I think of myself as inhabiting a quiet corner of the internet where other pointy-headed people hang out. Things remain civilized and interesting in our corner of the net, but we are a minority.

    Taibbi is one of the regular outposts in my quiet internet niche. So I go to the site yesterday and discover that my quiet corner of the online world is now the center of a media typhoon of epic proportions.

    As I was reading Taibbi’s mind-blowing Twitter feed I started thinking of all the other people who were certain to be reading it as closely as I was – Musk, Dorsey, Trump.

    This story will even get noticed overseas, come to think of it. I expect to hear it talked about on the Duran and the overseas press is absolutely going to run with in. Not only publish it, but laugh their asses off too. Just imagine when the Saudis hear about it, or the Australian and Canadian publics unavoidably get wind of it.

  4. bruce wilder

    Putin likes to create “frozen conflict” where he can kick the can down in the general direction of an imaginary road presumably waiting until there is a road. The Americans like a prolonged, preferably perpetual war that generates incomes for people in the Washington beltway. Does Putin strike an implicit bargain where he gives the beltway vampires what they want, somehow? Helmer seems to be trying to find a scenario where Putin does.

    There’s a certain sort of fantasist who becomes a “journalist” or news junkie and likes nothing better than applying their limited knowledge of world affairs to pretending to be Lord Curzon with a map. Russian media, with a war underway in “brother-country” Ukraine (that no doubt makes many, many Russians anxious about a lot of issues — “how authoritarian is Putin and what will his extreme-right allies demand in the culture wars?” among them), is full of speculation and cheerleading unopposed by sense (because expressing more than a modicum of good sense, empathy or humanitarian concern will get you fired if not jailed and the authorities make them very, very clear). John Helmer, who as far as I know hasn’t been anywhere near Russia in more than a decade, and figures like Gilbert Doctorow, are drawing from that mad milieu.

    It is impossible to know what is going thru the minds of Putin and Lavrov and others. Putin, characteristically, has apparently made an implicit bargain with fairly unsavory actors like the Chechen Ramzon Kadyrov or the mercenary Wagner Group — maybe on the theory that it takes a neo-Nazi to de-nazify a neo-Nazi.

    What one sees in public and official utterances is disgust at the agreement-incapable West. Without a wholesale change in personnel with power in the U.S. foreign policy establishment or German political leadership or EU or NATO political leadership, it is genuinely difficult to see a way forward to a cessation of hostilities. Up to now, in those places, some conservative resistance to the moralistic crazy has put limits on what the U.S. and its vassals in Europe have been willing to do. But, Ukraine fatigue is setting in — what does Ukraine fatigue portend? does it wear down the impulse to use perpetual war to get at Russia? or does it wear down the acceptance of sensible restraints placed on Ukrainian proxies or NATO principals and make escalation to rescue a losing position plausible?

    If I were Russian, I think I know what I would hope for: a Ukrainian patriotism (encompassing a Slavic kinship for Russia, natch) and a sense of national self-interest that would want to supplant Zelensky’s regime with one focused on rescuing a rump with a future. To my mind, Putin seems to be implicitly offering a bargain that would permit that. The destruction of the electrical system, with its focus on transmission and distribution facilities — leaving generation alone — creates a situation in which Russia is the only conceivable source of rapid reconstruction (being the only source of 330v equipment in quantity). Leaving Odessa alone for the time being is also an offer in a way — a rump Ukraine with Odessa is economically viable.

    What is to be feared, of course, is what Helmer is speculating about: a revanchist rump dominated by crazy neo-Nazi’s with nothing left to lose. (Having nothing-to-lose is a big part of the foundation of Ukrainian extreme right-wing nationalism as it is.) Continually supported by the perpetual war lobby in the U.S., of course.

    I do not know if the Russians can do anything to create a Ukrainian regime willing to concede vast territory for peace. The West, presumably would cut such a regime off from economic aid in a heartbeat and finance counter-revolution lavishly as they have the past two color revolutions. We are here because that is not a game Russia has been winning.

    Are the Russians waiting on regime change in Europe? The Polish government is openly hostile to Germany — that’s not going to go down well in Germany and is likely to drive a relatively rapid and radical reassessment of Germany’s political self-image, at the same time that de-industrialization is destroying its economic foundation and the weakness of its military has been made embarrassingly obvious. The long-anticipated Italian banking / public debt crisis will come to a climax eventually, undermining the EU even as it weakens. The UK seems on the verge of meltdown and breakup as one Tory coup follows another — next up is the Labour-Tory Keir Starmer — that is surely not going to go well. Especially if their idea of rescuing the UK from the terrible consequences of a mismanaged Brexit is to again tie Britain to the EU, just as the EU sinks like the Titanic after hitting the iceberg.

  5. Willy

    Trickle down culture in the form of influencer disinformation. Once the domain of big governments and the occasional fruit company looking to create a banana republic, now everybody’s doing it. Wouldn’t you like to be a Bongbong too? A whole lot of Filipinos sure did.

    But I’m starting to think this fad may have run its course. Do we have Kanye, Elon, and Trump to thank? (Kanye went from being lavishly praised as “wise” on Fox News to total dead silence after the Nazi thing, Elon’s interpretation of “free speech” actually means forcing corporations to advertise, and Trump’s calls to suspend the US Constitution.) Enough to make the House Judiciary Republicans delete a beloved tweet.

    And so we find other sources of influence. Me, I’m currently reading Caitlyn Jenner’s take on the whole “Klanye” fiasco.

  6. marku52

    The Hilbots went nuts when Comey reopened the investigation based on Weiner’s laptop. The DNC put a total media wide suppression on the eventually-determined-to-be-true Hunter laptop story, and Twitter censorship was a large part of that. And to their lasting discredit, the NYT and the Bezos Shopper went right along. (Democracy dies in Darkness–a little ironic, that!) And then there was the 30 “defense and intelligence analysts” dissing it (based on no information at all).

    Pretty stunning, the entire media galaxy revealed to be nothing but a propaganda tool of the DNC. And watch the new tweetstorm–about 95% of them use the exact phrase “Doing PR for the richest man in the world.” Almost as if the memo came down from the Ministry of Propaganda, or something

    Journalism, it aint. I used to think Mass Formation Psychosis was a joke. I’m not laughing anymore.

  7. Willy

    Big media is the propaganda tool for the DNC, and the DNC is the propaganda tool for corporate elites. It must be so, for how else they gonna get their money?

    I’d say: “Get your paws off me you damned dirty media apes!” Except the GOP’s media is even worse, almost enough to make one want to move into a ruined city and attend bomb worshipping services.

    So I’m curious. Where are the non-mutant humans hanging out these days, media-wise?

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