The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Stopping Violent International Aggression

We need to clear up some fundamental thinking.

US politicians and foreign policy groupniks spew about how Putin is the next Hitler and must be stopped.

The implication here is that Putin will keep doing bad things if he isn’t forced to not do them.

What are the bad things that Putin’s Russia has done?

Put down an uprising in Chechnya, through mass killing, and with the justification of a likely false-flag attack. Note that Chechnya was, and is, part of Russia. This was a domestic operation.

Attacked Georgia over a couple of provinces which were majority ethnic Russian, and (sotto voce) because Georgia was talking about joining NATO.

Annexed Crimea, the majority of whose population wanted to join them. (There was a referendum in the 80s, which got the same results as the most recent referendum.)

Interfered in the Eastern Ukraine, which is majority ethnic Russian.

All of this happening after a coup, run by neo-Nazis and supported by the West, which would likely have (drumroll) lead to the Ukraine joining NATO.

Bombing the hell out of parts of Syria in rebellion against the Syrian government after being invited in by Syria. Russia has been Syria’s ally for decades and has interests there. Russia regrets allowing a no-fly zone over Libya after being assured by Clinton herself that it would not be used for regime change.

Now, what has the US done over the same span of time?

Invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban said they would turn over OBL if evidence was given to them that he was behind 9/11. You may not believe them, but the US did not even attempt to give that evidence. The US is still there, fifteen  years later, occupying a foreign country. (Yes, occupying, the Kabul government would fall if the US left, and we all know it.)

Invaded Iraq, which had done nothing to the US and was no threat to it, on the basis of lies (including that it was behind 9/11). Occupied it for years, and essentially destroyed it as a modern secular country (this after having subjected it to a bombing campaign in the 90s, which, among other things, targeted civilian sewer systems, then subjected it to punishing sanctions which restricted basic medicines and probably caused the deaths of half a million children, as well as many more deaths amongst adults).

Supported an attack on Libya which wound up destroying that country and leaving it in anarchy.

Supported the destruction of Syria, which has led to millions fleeing that country. The likely next US President wanted a no fly zone. This is, essentially, an explicit alliance with at least one al-Qaeda affiliate.

Meanwhile, the US runs a nearly worldwide drone assassination program which has killed thousands and regularly hits weddings and funerals. It is widely acknowledged that this program often kills civilians, often targets “the wrong” people based on an algorithmic “Well, he’s probably a terrorist” calculations, and has even been used to kill an American citizen without due process. This program, lacking all respect for sovereignty or due process, is clearly terrorism by any definition which doesn’t say “The US can’t engage in terrorism.”

So. Russia has acted to: (1) prevent nations on its borders, many of whom have been part of Russia for centuries, from joining NATO, which it considers an existential threat; (2) put down a rebellion in its own territory, and; (3) aid a multi-decade ally who is in danger due to a US- and US ally-supported uprising (these allies include Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States).

The US has attacked three countries, only one of whom may have attacked it, all of which are half the world away. Two of them were clearly no threat to the US, and the third threat was questionable (and there were plans on the shelf to just go in, and take out OBL without occupying Afghanistan). The US kills people with impunity throughout the world, with little regard for civilian casualties, in countries it is not even at war with.

Who is the rogue state? Who needs to be stopped before they kill, and kill again?

One can disagree with much of what Russia has done (the unfettered bombing of Aleppo and the atrocities of Chechnya inparticular) and still say that the US is clearly a rogue nation, and the greater threat to world peace.

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Transcript of Peter Thiel’s Speech On Trump


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  1. XFR

    Meanwhile the US runs a nearly worldwide drone assassination program which has killed thousands and regularly hits weddings and funerals. It is widely acknowledged to often kill civilians, often target “the wrong” people based on algorithmic “well, he’s probably a terrorist” calculations,

    Note that the “algorithm” in question amounts to “are they actin’ kinda furrin’?”

    and has even been used to kill an American citizen without due process.

    And then kill his son, who hadn’t done anything except have the wrong parents.

    This merely really happened, so it was okay, and nothing to remark about, while Trump suggested doing it, which was utterly unconscionable.

  2. Self-righteousness is quite the ultimate ego trip
    …and should be regarded as a type of mental illness in its own right.

  3. Bill Hicks

    Afghanistan did not attack the US–an independent organization operating in Afghanistan attacked the US. That makes the US 3 for 3 in attacking countries that have not attacked it.

    OBL could have pursued the way Ramzi Youssef (who committed the exact same crime in 1993–he just did not succeed in bringing down the towers) was pursued. Youssef was captured in Pakistan, brought back to the US, tried in civilian court, convicted an imprisoned in the SuperMAX penitentiary in Colorado.

  4. V. Arnold

    Tal Hartsfeld
    Bill Hicks

    Nothing to add, but I second your comments.
    @ Tal; Psychopath comes to mind…

  5. Ian Welsh

    Cache issues seem to have kept this from appearing properly on the front page, so I’ve kicked it back to the top.

  6. shargash

    I think it is important to note that the Georgian war started when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and tried to roll over some Russian peacekeepers in the process, killing 7 of them.

  7. Shh

    I appreciate what you’re trying to say here, however, your characterizations of Russian action in Georgia and Crimea in particular, are factually inaccurate. The other examples you cited are poisoned with the same infuriating spin everyone in the West feels they need to put on Russia.

    It’s a jarring inconsistency here considering how spot on you are about most topics. It may prove an interesting journey for you to investigate if you feel so inclined. The stories are hard to parse given so many biased hands in source material – and in “correcting” source material, but the journey is enlightening to say the least.

  8. There are times to be involved, and times not to be. The question for the US is: what will happen if we are there? The US is still the world’s police officer.

  9. Shh

    @Sterling. It’s a sorry state to agree that the US acts like a cop: abuse every trust, break every law, pretend to some vague moral authority and beat the fucking daylights out of anyone who dares say a word against it.

  10. Tom

    Two US Soldiers died in Kunduz last night during a raid. The US retaliated by blowing up Civilian Houses and killing 26 civilians, mostly children.

    As for Syria, that is totally on Assad, he and he alone is responsible for the Civil War. Everyone else jumped in later and only when their direct interests were threatened. For all the talk about the Rebels being backed by the Gulf, the facts are that the majority of Rebel Weapons (95%) are from captured SyAA Stocks, 4% come from homegrown manufacturing, and 1% outside suppliers. Gulf Aide is rather pitiful for the armament needs of the Rebels.

  11. So, there are two routes to go – and though they are the same at the top level and have different ends. One is to stop the US from being the world’s police officer, the other one is to make it a better police officer.

    Which do you want?

  12. peonista

    Us involvement in Latin America:

    Other from Wikipedia:

    2000 – Sierra Leone: On May 12, 2000, a U.S. Navy patrol craft deployed to Sierra Leone to support evacuation operations from that country if needed.[RL30172]
    2000 – Nigeria: Special Forces troops are sent to Nigeria to lead a training mission in the county.[10]
    2000 – Yemen: On October 12, 2000, after the USS Cole attack in the port of Aden, Yemen, military personnel were deployed to Aden.[RL30172]
    2000 – East Timor: On February 25, 2000, a small number of U.S. military personnel were deployed to support the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). [RL30172]
    2001 – On April 1, 2001, a mid-air collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals surveillance aircraft and a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States and the People’s Republic of China called the Hainan Island incident.
    2001–2014 – War in Afghanistan: The War on Terror begins with Operation Enduring Freedom. On October 7, 2001, U.S. Armed Forces invade Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks and “begin combat action in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban supporters.”[RL30172]
    2002 – Yemen: On November 3, 2002, an American MQ-1 Predator fired a Hellfire missile at a car in Yemen killing Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, an al-Qaeda leader thought to be responsible for the USS Cole bombing.[RL30172]
    2002 – Philippines: OEF-Philippines, As of January, U.S. “combat-equipped and combat support forces” have been deployed to the Philippines to train with, assist and advise the Philippines’ Armed Forces in enhancing their “counterterrorist capabilities.”[RL30172]
    2002 – Côte d’Ivoire: On September 25, 2002, in response to a rebellion in Côte d’Ivoire, U.S. military personnel went into Côte d’Ivoire to assist in the evacuation of American citizens from Bouaké.[11][RL30172]
    2003–2011 – War in Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 20, 2003, The United States leads a coalition that includes the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland to invade Iraq with the stated goal being “to disarm Iraq in pursuit of peace, stability, and security both in the Gulf region and in the United States.”[RL30172]
    2003 – Liberia: Second Liberian Civil War, On June 9, 2003, President Bush reported that on June 8 he had sent about 35 U.S. Marines into Monrovia, Liberia, to help secure the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania, and to aid in any necessary evacuation from either Liberia or Mauritania.[RL30172]
    2003 – Georgia and Djibouti: “US combat equipped and support forces” had been deployed to Georgia and Djibouti to help in enhancing their “counterterrorist capabilities.”[12]
    2004 – Haiti: 2004 Haitian coup d’état occurs, The US first sent 55 combat equipped military personnel to augment the U.S. Embassy security forces there and to protect American citizens and property in light. Later 200 additional US combat-equipped, military personnel were sent to prepare the way for a UN Multinational Interim Force, MINUSTAH.[RL30172]
    2004 – War on Terror: U.S. anti-terror related activities were underway in Georgia, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Eritrea.[13]
    2004–present: The U.S deploys drone strikes to aid in the War in North-West Pakistan
    2005–06 – Pakistan: President Bush deploys troops from US Army Air Cav Brigades to provide Humanitarian relief to far remote villages in the Kashmir mountain ranges of Pakistan stricken by a massive earthquake.
    2006 – Lebanon: part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit[14] begins evacuation of U.S. citizens willing to leave the country in the face of a likely ground invasion by Israel and continued fighting between Hezbollah and the Israeli military.[14][15]
    2007 – The Mogadishu Encounter, on November 4, 2007, Somali Pirate’s boarded and attacked a North Korean merchant vessel. Passing U.S. Navy Ships and a helicopter that were patrolling at the time responded to the attack. Once the ship was freed from the pirates, the American forces were given permission to board and assist the wounded crew and handle surviving pirates.
    2007 – Somalia: Battle of Ras Kamboni, On January 8, 2007, while the conflict between the Islamic Courts Union and the Transitional Federal Government continues, an AC-130 gunship conducts an aerial strike on a suspected al-Qaeda operative, along with other Islamist fighters, on Badmadow Island near Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia.[16]
    2008 – South Ossetia, Georgia: Helped Georgia humanitarian aid,[17] helped to transport Georgian forces from Iraq during the conflict. In the past, the US has provided training and weapons to Georgia.
    2010–present – al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen: The U.S has been launching a series of drone strikes on suspected al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab positions in Yemen.
    2010–11 – Operation New Dawn, On February 17, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that as of September 1, 2010, the name “Operation Iraqi Freedom” would be replaced by “Operation New Dawn”. This coincides with the reduction of American troops to 50,000.
    2011 – 2011 military intervention in Libya: Operation Odyssey Dawn, United States and coalition enforcing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 with bombings of Libyan forces.
    2011 – Osama Bin Laden is killed by U.S. military forces in Pakistan as part of Operation Neptune Spear.
    2011 – Drone strikes on al-Shabab militants begin in Somalia.[18] This marks the 6th nation in which such strikes have been carried out,[19] including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen[20] and Libya.
    2011–present – Uganda: U.S. Combat troops sent in as advisers to Uganda.[21]
    2012 – Jordan: 150 U.S. troops deployed to Jordan to help it contain the Syrian Civil War within Syria’s borders.
    2012 – Turkey: 400 troops and two batteries of Patriot missiles sent to Turkey to prevent any missile strikes from Syria.
    2012 – Chad: 50 U.S. troops have deployed to the African country of Chad to help evacuate U.S. citizens and embassy personnel from the neighboring Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui in the face of rebel advances toward the city.
    2013 – Mali: U.S. forces assisted the French in Operation Serval with air refueling and transport aircraft.
    2013 – Somalia: U.S. Air Force planes supported the French in the Bulo Marer hostage rescue attempt. However, they did not use any weapons.
    2013 – 2013 Korean crisis
    2013 – Navy SEALs conducted a raid in Somalia and possibly killed a senior Al-Shabaab official, simultaneously another raid took place in Tripoli, Libya, where Special Operations Forces captured Abu Anas al Libi (also known as Anas al-Libi)[22]
    2014–present – Uganda: V-22 Ospreys, MC-130s, KC-135s and additional U.S. soldiers are sent to Uganda to continue to help African forces search for Joseph Kony.[23]
    2014–present – American intervention in Iraq: Hundreds of U.S. troops deployed to protect American assets in Iraq and to advise Iraqi and Kurdish fighters.[24] In August the U.S. Air Force conducted a humanitarian air drop and the U.S. Navy began a series of airstrikes against Islamic State-aligned forces throughout northern Iraq.[25][26]
    2014 – 2014 American rescue mission in Syria: The U.S attempted to rescue James Foley and other hostages being held by ISIL. Air strikes were conducted on the ISIL military base known as “Osama bin Laden camp”. Meanwhile, the bombings, Delta teams parachuted near an ISIL high-valued prison. The main roads were blocked to keep any target from escaping. When no hostage was found, the American troops began house to house searches. By this time, ISIL militants began arriving to the area. Heavy fighting occurred until the Americans decided to abandon the mission due to the hostages being nowhere in the area. Although the mission failed, at least 5 ISIL militants were killed, however 1 American troop was wounded. According to the reports, Jordan had a role in the operation and that one Jordanian soldier had been wounded as well. This was unconfirmed.
    2014–present – American-led intervention in Syria: American aircraft bomb Islamic State positions in Syria. Airstrikes on al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front and Khorasan positions are also being conducted.
    2014–present – Intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant: Syrian locals forces and American-led coalition forces launch a series of aerial attacks on ISIL and al-Nusra Front positions in Iraq and Syria.
    2014 – 2014 Yemen hostage rescue operations against al-Qaeda: On November 25, U.S Navy SEAL’s and Yemeni Special Forces launched an operations in Yemen in attempt to rescue eight hostages that were being held by al-Qaeda. Although the operation was successful, no American hostages were secured. In the first attempt, six Yemenis, one Saudi Arabian, and one Ethiopian were rescued. On December 4, 2014, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) threatened to execute the Somers if the U.S failed to the unspecified commands. AQAP also stated that they would be executed if the U.S attempted another rescue operation. On December 6, a second operation was launched. 40 U.S SEALs and 30 Yemeni troops were deployed to the compound. A 10-minute fire fight occurred before the American troops could enter where the remaining hostages (Somers and Korkie) were being held. They were alive, but fatally wounded. Surgery was done in mid air when flying away from the site. Korkie died while in flight, and Somers died once landed on the USS Makin Island. No American troop was killed/injured, however a Yemenis soldier was wounded.
    2015 – April 30, 2015 U.S. sends ships to the Strait of Hormuz to shield vessels after Iranian Seizure of commercial vessel: The U.S. Navy deploys warships to protect American commercial vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian interference. Concerns were also raised that Iranian gunships were trailing a U.S. container ship. Iran additionally fired shots over the bow, and seized, a ship registered in the Marshall Islands, part of a long-standing dispute between the two nations.[27]

  13. Peter*

    I think that Ian is just fucking with people when he prints this rubbish about Russia owning these countries because Russia petty imperialism, then and now, brought them under their control.

    The Chechens have been fighting Russian imperialism for about two hundred years and Putin invaded an independent republic that had signed a treaty with the Russian federation. Many of the people in Chechnya and the Transcaucasia region converted to Islam to resist Russian imperialism and their church’s indoctrination.

    The Crimea is a similar Russian imperial holding that shares the distinction as being another one of Stalin’s targets for ethnic cleansing, I doubt that many if any of the Crimean Tartars who have returned home from exile voted to be annexed again by Russia. I’ve read that they are learning to live with the new/old reality and that the Russian kleptocrats have mostly ignored them seeking out more lucrative spoils from the ethnic Russians.

    All roads lead to Damascus in this fable where the Russian white knight is leading a holy war against the pesky Islamists. I could support their intervention if they were invited to defend Syria from a foreign military force invading that country but they are defending a bloody sectarian dictator by killing Syrians and it seems to be mostly for their own imperial needs.

    I think the best way to view Putin is as a Mini Me character compared to the Hegemon’s more formidable Dr Evil.

  14. Hvd


    That’s just plain silly in a universe in which th U.S. is put forward as counterpoint to evil Russian imperialists. All I need to say is Native Americans.

    In the history of any nation, if we go back far enough, is some form of subjugating some people to the interests of others.

    I see that you recognize the existence of the greater hegemon but your argument simply makes no sense in a world of nation states.

  15. Means-ends theory.

  16. Ian Welsh


    Americans own America because they genocided most of the previous occupants.

    Yes, Russia did own those lands. Conquest may not be nice, but, sadly, it does count.

    I guess the mistake the Russians made is that they didn’t genocide enough, unlike Americans (and Canadians). Reduce them to nothing but a tiny minority on reservations, and you can do as you will with their lands.

    (Note context and sarcastic tone.)

    I have nothing against the Chechens fighting. Good for them. But if Indians somehow managed to get a real fight going in, say New Mexico, don’t even pretend that America wouldn’t stomp them flat with armed force.

    (See the current protests over a pipeline for what they do to even peaceful Indian protesters.)

    And yeah, it is somewhat different from going half way around the world to fuck up Iraq.

  17. No, it is that the old order was beneficial for only a few individuals, and the present order is better for a much larger number of individuals. There are extreme problems with the way in which it was done, but one cannot maintain that the old order was better for most people. I speak as someone who has a great deal of native blood – there was no way that the native tribes could handle the influx from Europe. Messy situation all the ground, especially the racism of the conquerors.

    Remember, the old order was annihilated by the diseases that came in. The hidden flaw is that the old order had butchered for thousands of years, while the new was able to do so with merciless abandon in only 300. There is a reason why things worked out as they did, however brutal. what is more important, how do we compensate the native Americans? The past is not the question, it is the future – and the future does not look bright for the native Americans. Think climate change.

  18. Peter*


    I think your analysis of the Hegemon is accurate and fact based but I wonder what possible gain can be achieved from creating false narratives about Russia and their violent international aggression even if they are only capable of inflicting it on their near abroad. False narratives, some type of liberal relativism and good old Whataboutism won’t change the real history and reality about Russia nor do they change the history of the US when exceptionalists use them for their propaganda.

    The last Indian uprising here in NM was a little known Apache standoff with the US Military in the 50’s to help a White rancher save his land from White Sands Missile Range expansion. They were kitted out in warrior dress and paint armed and dangerous and included a NM Supreme Court judge and other professionals, they won the standoff.

    The tribes here learned that they couldn’t directly fight the State certainly not militarily so they educated a warrior lawyer force and MBA’s to compete with the White Eyes and they have been successful. The pueblo near my home sells millions of dollars worth of tobacco products and makes about $50 million in profit from their casino resort every year.

    The problem with the Indian genocide myth is that there weren’t enough Indians left by the time the US got around to the Indian Wars for them to be able to perform a respectable sized genocide on them. There certainly was a lot of displacement, ethnic cleansing and death before this time but the Spanish pig may have been the source of the diseases that decimated the Indian populations.

    I recently read a history of the Comanche bands on the southern plains. They were the only horse Indians who actually fought battles on their horses and they were deadly light cavalry until Sam Colt invented his revolver and evened the odds. When the US Army went after them after the Civil War they spent most of their time riding through endless empty high plains rarely ever seeing a Comanche. They did inflict extreme prejudice on them when they stumbled on a village but in the whole Indian Wars throughout the plains against all the horse tribes about 6500 Indian deaths were recorded.

  19. Hvd

    And so… this land was their land, this land is our land. What more is there to know. Again this all you have is a non-sequitor answer to questions about the real world.

  20. A great more… What are we going to do now – because that is only time that we can do something about. it is good to talk about Native Americans, if one is ranting, but much much harder to form a plan which encompasses all that we must do.

  21. But isn’t this just like the “respectable” class? Condemning others for doing the same or similar things they themselves do?

    How is what the U.S. has done in the world any different from what a lot of average citizens routinely do to each other via “social rank fascism” phenomenon?
    Or what officials and the civilian authorities do to lower-class citizens?

  22. Shh

    I love being a commenter (intended spelling).

    As much as our informed punditry elevates our nobility, humans have always been biased, rage filled murderers, both individually and culturally. We need enemies and will make them. No facts, wisdom or insight required. So Russia has to be an enemy for the US to sway its minions, like ISIS, or “freedom fighters.” What did King George think of Benjamin Franklin?

    So the Chechens need(ed) Russia to be an enemy to consolidate the collective sense of worth, etc.

    Blah, blah, blah. No one can do anything individually to alter the course the collective unconscious chooses. Not Ghandi, not Kennedy. Not Hillary, nor Trump will ultimately tip any scale as a result of individual actions. As evil and corrupt as the s/he demon may be, they are respondents to forces larger than themselves. Just like us here in Ian’s comment section. (thanks for the forum Ian!)

    Still, all these calls to actions, we must/we should, and laments about how utterly horrid, cruel, petty and vindictive humans are/havebeen/willbe are so much hubris floating like autumn leaves in a bitter wind. The projections of the human psyche onto individuals is a reflection only. The only way to “cure” humans is to evolve. Thankfully, we’ve changed the thermal gradient of the planet to such a degree that evolutionary pressures will come to bear in such a manner to, hopefully, facilitate that transition.

  23. Hugh

    Off topic: Today’s job stats are out. October is usually the heaviest month in the Fall/4thQ in the private sector, the “engine” of the economy. In 2014, the best year of the last three, jobs increased 557,000 seasonally unadjusted in October; in 2015, by 700,000; and this year 442,000.

    When you look at job growth seasonally unadjusted in the private sector from the beginning of the year through October, in 2014, there were 4.750 million jobs created; in 2015, there were 4.596 million; and this 4.099 million.

    What you have to keep in mind is that 2014 was an OK, not a stellar, year for job growth in the private sector. 2015 was not quite as good. And this year is shaping up as even worse. It is nearly half a million behind last year. Even with BLS’ habit of heavy year end revisions and edits, 2016 will remain a weaker year for jobs growth than the previous two years, neither of which were all that great.

  24. The neos do not know what to do – they want to be running China.

  25. nihil obstet

    You mentioned cache issues above. The site is not updating for me. If I come here through a simple bookmark, I see this post as the latest. I can get to what I suppose is the latest post by clicking on a link from Twitter. This happened last week, when the site did not update for about 4 days.

  26. Ché Pasa

    Moi aussi; c’est la même chose.

  27. markfromireland


    What is both remarkable and deplorable is that your posting needed to be written in the first place.

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