RUSSIAN MH-17 BRIEFING

(Also published at Sic Semper Tyrannis. Picked up by JRL/2018/171/27)
My thoughts on yesterday’s Russian MoD briefing.
1. The Russians have powerfully argued (and the logbooks are ready for inspection if you think they’re forged. Ought to be possible to show they really are 30 years old) that the Buk fragments suddenly discovered by Ukraine in May are from a missile that has always been in Ukraine. (Personally, I remain to be convinced that a Buk brought it down: not enough “bowtie” fragments.)
2. The videos are fake. The sightline evidence is, to my mind, apodictic. I’ve seen other arguments that they are fake but these are the most convincing. (I do like the backwards driving TEL).
3. The voice recording. Well, we’ll see. But don’t forget the Ukrainians did shoot down a civilian airliner in 2001 and lied about it until they could lie no longer.
4. Why have the Russians waited until now? Well the missile fragments only appeared in May, and it would take some time to search through all these mouldy old paper booklets to find it and there’s the usual security BS in clearing SS documents. As to the rest, all I can assume is that the Russians decided they might as well tack them on too.
5. Notice the hint that they have the radar info. (Kiev’s official line was that everything was down for maintenance.)
I expect the West/JIT to just pretend this never was said. But (one can naively hope) that now that the Netherlands have stopped supporting AQ-in-Syria and the “white helmets” that… maybe….
…but NO. Too naive of me. Too many lies, too hard to back out of them.
The West is lost and it won’t happen.

Addendum 19 Sep

Petri Krohn is unconvinced by the vanishing point argument pointing out that the Buk TEL does not sit flat on the trailer. But the vanishing point for the truck itself is wrong as the picture below shows. (Video at 15:03) The picture shows three vanishing points – the true one (green), the truck’s (blue) and the Buk TEL’s (yellow).

BUK VANISHING POINT

The second thing that occurs to me is that the Russians are now looking for the log book for all the rest of the missile: warhead, guidance system, fusing system and so forth which would (as far as I know) have been made in different factories.

Why would they keep such detailed notes? If a missile misfired they would want to be able to check all the missiles from that batch in order to see if they were defective too. Plus, in the full employment Soviet system, there were lots of jobs that didn’t necessarily make much economic sense from a free enterprise perspective.

RUSSIA-TURKEY IDLIB

(Quick response to Sputnik question about significance of Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib)

It’s not the end of the war, as the recent attack shows, but it’s another step. It presumably defers the threatened FUKUS attack until a different political constellation forms as Ankara-Washington relations worsen and the US mid-term elections either free Trump from the Russia hoax or lead the USA further towards dysfunction.

Meanwhile Moscow gives us a master class in war, showing that it’s more than just killing and destruction: diplomacy, talk and patience are also needed to move towards a settlement.

And FUKUS+I have been shown to be nothing but spoilers: all they can do is blow things up or induce their hired “moderate rebels” to do so. There have no positive role to play in Syria or, for that matter, elsewhere in the MENA area.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 SEPTEMBER 2018

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? PCR asks. Martyanov and Saker answer. PCR responds. More, more. A collapsing imperium is dangerous:What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta“. We are in serious times, folks.

ELECTIONS. The pedestal party won most but the communists and Zhirinovskiy won some. The same boring scene for years: the ruling party is dull but people support what stands on its pedestal. They’re not very enthusiastic (turnout in the low 30s) but neither are they very discontented. The political system works well enough. Pension protests continue.

RUSSIA INC. IMF predicts 1.7% growth this year (North America 2.8% and Europe 2.4%). Deloitte CIS expresses confidence; Fitch says coped with sanctions well. I say, considering the economic war being waged against it, that Russia isn’t doing badly.

SYRIA. Two facts: Idlib is the last stronghold of jihadists in Syria and Damascus sooner or later will have to take it. Numerous threats out of FUKUS about CW attacks (Assad must be a disciple of Sun Tznever). (Check this story out and see what you think.) Very dangerous. Optimistic view that the people running the US military aren’t that stupid; pessimistic view that the neocons are that stupid; Russia is winning with the patient game; no, it’s time to sink a US ship, it’s the only way Washington will get the message. Erdoğan is playing games. BUT. Fisk finds no signs of a big offensive (but would he?) and the Kremlin feigns ignorance. Which leads me to these thoughts. Moscow is certainly aware of the correlation of forces. Moscow is talking to everybody. The clearing out of the south was accomplished with very little fighting: most of it seems to have been pre-negotiated. Russians are masters of deception in war. So I suspect that the West is being played and that what, how and when will, again, surprise the punditocracy. But it is a very dangerous situation and, as VIPS says to Trump: “The best way to assure Mr. Putin that you are in control of U.S. policy toward Syria would be for you to seek an early opportunity to speak out publicly, spelling out your intentions. If you wish wider war, Bolton has put you on the right path.Watch this video and decide who runs State. As always, the most important question is who’s in charge in Washington? Well, maybe the truth is leaking: go to 4:20; the Netherlands awakes.

A REMINDER. OPCW Report “Destruction of declared Syrian chemical weapons completed” 4 Jan 2016. And a US company did it on a US ship.

VOSTOK 2018. Videos. MoD page. The parade. Of course the exercises are staged (I was on NATO exercises in The Day and so were they). Moscow is trying to get Washington to understand that your average gas station can’t do this.

CLINTON-YELTSIN. To summarise: please Bill, I beg you; Hah hah Boris, stick it in your ear. (IMO Yeltsin is doing what he can, but Russia is weak and USA is triumphant.) But Putin remembers.

SKRIPALMANIA. Nonsense piled on nonsense. The fabled principles of British law — presumption of innocence, prosecution must prove its case — are tossed when it’s Russians: now it’s petitio principii and “probably” all the way. The “executed” “hitmen” speak. Murray’s take: bad presentation but quite possible.

ANOTHER REMINDER. As wannabe “Russian poisoning” cases pop up, remember Karinna Moskalenko. It’s an old and tired movie.

WHO’S IN CHARGE IN GERMANY? Merkel supports Russia in Syria but may do a bit of bombing after the false flag CW attack. With its 4 planes? Unconstitutional and illegal. Last ditch desperation?

THE GWOT. Only 17 years from attacking al Qaeda to defending it. Even Graham Fuller, a creator of the policy of supporting jihadists there but not here, doubts the efficacy of the program.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES. Theories then, facts now. “Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Back Syrian Rebels“. “AQ is on our side in Syria“. Official admits Skripalmania and Syria are connected.

DONETSK. The leader was killed in an indiscriminate restaurant bombing. Probably the work of Kiev. Maybe a bit of help from Washington.

UKRAINE. The US Special representative for Ukraine wants the US to supply weapons to Kiev. (Why do none of these people ever wonder what became of Ukraine’s gigantic USSR legacy arsenal? Shipped to Georgia. (Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.) Well, Russia can play that game a lot more effectively. And perhaps it’s time it openly did. Again: who’s in charge in Washington?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

WHAT WE THREW AWAY

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation)

Forty years ago I was quite impressed by the books of Jean François Revel in which he argued that The West was pretty much doomed because it was messy and indecisive. On the other hand, the communist world was decisive, centrally controlled, had a goal in mind and was patient and cunning in achieving that goal (the communisation of the planet, of course). They pushed on all fronts, where the West woke up and pulled itself together enough to push back, the communists recoiled, but the advance continued elsewhere. And so, bit by bit, the world became redder. These were, as I recall, the principal arguments of The Totalitarian Temptation (1977) and How Democracies Perish (1983). And there were plenty of other people bemoaning the fact that the inchoate Western democracies were frittering away valuable time.

And then, suddenly, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR fall apart and essentially took communism into the grave with them. The West was left standing. Still argumentative, inchoate, indecisive and all the rest of it but – and this is my point – still existing when the other was dead. And come to think of it, we’d outlasted that other stainless-steel perfection of centrally directed will and power, Nazi Germany. And there had been plenty of people in the 1930s who thought that, between communism and naziism, the West was doomed. This set me to thinking that Revel and the others had missed something in their analysis.

We outlived them. We survived, they didn’t. And that what I wondered about – there must be something in the West’s way of doing things that led to survival and something in the nazi or communist systems that led to death. I thought some more and the analogy that occurred to me is that there are many kinds of trees. Big ones, little ones, in-between sized ones. Some live in the wet, others in the dry, others half drowned by the sea and so on. There is in fact, a tree, or several trees, for almost any conceivable environmental condition. And therefore, there will always be trees. Why? Because instead of one Perfect Tree, there is a multitude of different trees. And of fishes, beetles, birds and so on. Nature is pluralistic: many many solutions for every imaginable situation and the ability to change to meet new challenges. Arnold Toynbee called this “challenge and response”; a society responds to a challenge: a good response and it survives to meet the next challenge, a bad response and it fades away.

Could this be the clue? Naziism and communism had One Big Answer for every question. That answer worked for a time until it met some questions it couldn’t answer and down it went. To grossly oversimplify things: the nazis loved force and they went to war with everybody, but you can’t win against everybody else, although you may do well for a while; a hammer and a sickle do not really mentally equip you for life in the later twentieth century; “a road to a blind alley” as Putin called it. Grossly simplified to be sure. If you prefer, ideological societies can only function inside the ontological assumptions of that ideology. But no ideology is any more than a small subset of boundless reality.

So what do we (or, sadly I have to ask, did we) have in the West? I think the three fundamental freedoms in the West are free speech, free politics and free enterprise. Looking at these through the lens of pluralism, they are pluralism of thought, pluralism of power and pluralism of action. Remember that the question I was trying to answer was why did the West survive? I wasn’t asking who’s better, more ideal, more moral; just why is one still around and the other two not? To me the answer was the same thing that allows us to be certain there will still be trees and beetles around in the future – pluralism: lots of different trees and beetles.

Take free speech or pluralism of thought. Everybody’s different, everybody has different ideas, insights, points of view. Let’s assume that, for some issue, mine is the winning idea today. But tomorrow you may have a better solution for the problem that appears tomorrow. If I suppressed you (“no man no problem”, as Stalin used to say) or otherwise prohibited your irrelevant (today) but relevant (tomorrow) idea, we would be in trouble tomorrow and less likely to survive until the next day. So, since we don’t know what tomorrow’s problems are, it’s best to let everybody think his thoughts because who can say whose ideas will be winners tomorrow? The same argument can be made for the other two pluralisms/freedoms. And so, by practising pluralism of thought, power and action, a society improves its chances of survival. That’s all: survival. But that was the question I asked myself in the first place.

So, to my mind, that was the great secret that communism’s fall had revealed – social or national survivability is best assured by pluralism of thought, power and action. So, in all humility, we should have understood that and proclaimed it. And, of course, the essence of pluralism is that you are free to be, and should be, yourself. All nations should be themselves: Russians should be Russian, Hungarians Hungarian and so on. Who can say who will have the next good idea? Who is so wise that he can direct his neighbour’s life? That to me was what should have been done and, had that been the message the West had preached, I think we’d all be better off today.

What instead? We had the fatuous proclaiming of “values”: we had ’em and they didn’t. All over the West stuffed shirts got up in parliaments to boast of “our values”. How we got them no one knew. Did God hand them out to some people but not to others? Russians, too lazy or shiftless or something, having missed the ceremony? Had they mysteriously grown in some national soil over long time? A relict of ancient Saxon customs that only their descendants could inherit? The product of centuries of learning? And what is a “value” anyway? A practical guide to action or a virtue that you either have or don’t? Was it something innate or something learned? Could they get these values? Could they be taught? But, whatever, we had ’em and they didn’t; we were virtuous, they weren’t. And there was another tiresome thing about this, especially when, as it often was, the values were given the adjective “European”. Franco, Hitler, Marx, Engels, Mussolini, Robespierre, Napoleon, Quisling and all the rest of them were Europeans. Every single one of them based his ideas and political views on sources deeply rooted in European thought and experience. And, for certain, had it not been for the Soviets and the Anglosphere, the “European values” Eurocrats and their flunkeys would have been boasting about today would have involved a lot more leather, jackboots and stiff-armed salutes. The whole enterprise resembled something from the movie Idiocracy: “Brawndo has what plants crave because plants crave what Brawndo has“. It was weirdly fascinating to watch.

Our “values” and our “virtue” entitled us to rule the world. We were licensed to do just about anything because we had “what plants crave”. And so triumphalist arrogance and complacent ignorance combined with the West’s monopoly of exportable brutal power. And so it went. An unexamined conceit, frighteningly widespread, became the justification, and cover, for less noble actions.

But some responses to challenges are not so successful and we must ask what has become of our boasted “values” today? Well, we’re still free to speak our minds. Not of course if it’s hate speech or fake news; who could defend that? And not, certainly, to offend anyone’s safe space. And you’d probably better not say anything in Russian. Political freedom? Not entirely gone I suppose, in those little corners not already bought up by lobbyists. And it would certainly be wrong to question anything said or done by “those brave men and women who put their life on the line for our safety”. Free enterprise of course still flourishes. In whatever tiny spaces a few gigantic and well-connected corporations have not yet got to.

Altogether, we can’t be very happy with the state of pluralism in the West. And if I’m correct that pluralism is the key to survival, how much longer do we have?

So who did win the Cold War in the end?

 

OBAMA MARRIES THE LIBERALS TO THE NEOCONS

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation)

When President Bush decided to attack Iraq in 2003 there were enormous protests in the United States and around the world. Not, of course, that they stopped the attack or even slowed it, but people did protest in large numbers. When Obama – “leading from behind” – and some NATO members decided to attack Libya in 2011 there were, as far as I know, no protests anywhere. Nor were there protests as wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and a secret war in Syria dragged on for nearly his whole eight years.

The surface explanation is that Obama, as a Democrat, the First Black President, an “intellectual” and a Nobel Prize winner, got the free pass that Bush as a Republican and an “incurious idiot” did not get. But there was another factor at work, I believe.

In the Obama years the marriage of the neocons and the humanitarian interventionists was effected. The neocons, with their doctrine of American Exceptionalism are always ready for an intervention and their justification is always the same: “American moral leadership”:

Our world needs a policeman. And whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job.

So there was never any difficulty getting neocons and their ilk to support another bombing campaign to do a bit of “morally exceptional police work”. The Obama change is that liberals, whose historic tendency is to oppose another war, are now in the War Party. And so there was hardly anyone was left to go out on protest.

Their first date, as it were, was NATO’s intervention in Kosovo/Serbia in 1999. That experiment proved that liberals would happily agree to go to war if the intervention could be coloured as morally acceptable: “genocide” and “rape” being especially powerful words. And, on command, it happened. “Serbs ‘enslaved Muslim women at rape camps‘”. Hundreds of thousands missing, feared murdered. 10,000 in mass graves. But the ur-source was the official NATO spokesman, Jamie Shea. (The following quotations are from NATO press briefings I collected at the time. I do not know whether they are still available on the NATO website, although, like the first one, many are still visible.) In March he told us that “we are on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster in Kosovo the likes of which have not been seen in Europe since the closing stages of World War II.” The NATO operation was conducted to “stop human suffering” (15 April). On 20 April he gave us a catalogue of Serb horrors: hundreds of Kosovar boys possibly preserved as living “blood banks for Serb casualties”; Kosovar human shields tied to Serb tanks; “chain gangs of Kosovars” digging mass graves; “systematic destruction of civilian homes”; rape camps. On 4 May “at least 100,000 men of military age are missing”. And so on: how could you not support the “alliance of civilised nations” (his description) intervening to stop these horrors? And CNN was there every step of the way; later we learned that US military psyops personnel had “helped in the production of some news stories“. Other media outlets were equally quick on board, again with occasional “help” from US intelligence:

In the case of Yugoslavia, the gullibility quotient has been breathtakingly high: Only material that conformed to the reigning victim-demon dichotomy would be hunted down with tenacity and reported; material that contradicted it, or that served to weaken and disconfirm it, would be ignored, discounted, excluded, even attacked.

Entirely one-sided with the media (predominantly liberal in sympathy) following the choir leader.

Later, too late in fact, we learned that it wasn’t so simple. A UN court ruled that it wasn’t “genocide” after all. Milosevic, dead in prison, was exonerated. Not so many mass graves after all. And, after all those deaths, whom did NATO put in power and give a whole country to? Organ harvesters and arms smugglers. And yes, the CIA was in there from the get go. A completely manipulated discussion. And the Serbs have been driven out of Kosovo right under NATO’s nose. Too late indeed.

In his essay, “Hidden in Plain View in Belgrade“, Vladimir Goldstein discovers, under the heading “What For?”, a memorial to the people killed in the attack on the TV centre. His conclusion, with which I agree, is:

Thus was R2P implemented—with no protection for Yugoslav Serbs. They had to die in the experiment to explore the limits of U.S. power and the limits of its resistance.

The experiment worked: it showed that an aggressive war could be packaged so that liberals signed on: all you had to do was push the war crimes/humanitarian/genocide button. And, as a bonus, it was discovered that when the truth finally came out, no one remembered and you could sell the same shabby story again; and so, Serb-run “rape camps” became Qaddafi’s men with Viagra.

It was around this time and these circumstances that the responsibility to protect (“R2P”) idea began to gain traction. Finally formalised at the UN in 2005, the essence was that governments are obliged to protect their populations from atrocities and that the “international community, through the United Nations” may intervene. That was the magic potion: if the war party could make a case for R2P (and, as Kosovo showed, the case didn’t have to last any longer than the war did) liberals would cheerfully sign on.

Obama celebrated the liberal-interventionist/neocon marriage at West Point in 2014. Starting with the neocon foundation on which all their wars are erected, that America will and must lead, comes the liberal deal-clincher: “not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.” And that leading involves a “backbone”, not of example or persuasion, but of bombs: “The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership”. When should the USA use “that awesome power”? Certainly when “core interests” demand it but also when “crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction”.

Which brings me to the fourth and final element of American leadership: Our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity.

And, he assured us, it all works out for the best in the end:

remember that because of America’s efforts, because of American diplomacy and foreign assistance as well as the sacrifices of our military, more people live under elected governments today than at any time in human history.

And, finally, this paladin of liberalism declared:

I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.

When the “victim-demon dichotomy” media siren is turned on, any war, any bombing campaign, can be massaged to fit “core interests” and/or “human dignity”. We’re all exceptionalists now.

Despite a successful movie showing us, step by step, how to do it, the scam still pulls in the suckers: justifying the attack on Libya, Obama said (note he combines leadership and atrocities):

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action. [My italics]

The atrocities? In September 2013, after Qaddafi had been murdered and Libya destroyed, Harvard’s Belfer Center said the “model intervention” was based on false premises:

• The Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong. Libya’s 2011 uprising was never peaceful, but instead was armed and violent from the start. Muammar al-Qaddafi did not target civilians or resort to indiscriminate force. Although inspired by humanitarian impulse, NATO’s intervention did not aim mainly to protect civilians, but rather to overthrow Qaddafi’s regime, even at the expense of increasing the harm to Libyans.

• The Intervention Backfired. NATO’s action magnified the conflict’s duration about sixfold and its death toll at least sevenfold, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors.

The cynic would say, the real lesson is get the intervention over before anybody notices the atrocity stories have been “sexed up“. When they do, it’s too late and few remember. And it will work the next time around. And so the happily-married couple proceeds: “The West cannot stand by in Syria as we did for too long in Bosnia.

That is Obama’s real legacy: the union – marriage – of the neocon assumption that America must “lead” with the liberal desire to “do good”. And the issue from the happy marriage? “The US is running out of bombs — and it may soon struggle to make more.”

 

 

 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 AUGUST 2018

PENSIONS. Responding to protests, Putin addressed the nation. He explained the necessity of reforming the pension system so as to keep it funded, explained other alternatives the government considered and explained why it rejected them, and made some softening modifications. As I expected, a little exercise to show that Batyushka listens. In essence, he has said “trust me”. And, because they do, I would expect the protests to die down. And, changing the system is both necessary and appropriate.

RUSSIA INC. Industrial production January to July 2018 is up 3.1%. A bit better than the USA or EU.

FOREIGN CURRENCY. The Central Bank of Russia will not purchase foreign currency for the next month. No doubt to see what happens next.

LONG GAME. “[Stolypin said] ‘Give Russia 20 years of internal and external peace and quiet and it will change beyond recognition.’ Vladimir Putin and his team follow this dictum to the letter.” Read it.

SYRIA. The final battle is being prepared. An informed opinion on the coming Idlib battle. Russian warships are gathering. Another faked up chemical attack is in the news: Moscow says it has evidence of preparations being made; Washington is warning. (Will the trained sheep again bleat “Assad has once again done the one thing that could stop his victory!”) A new twitter girl has appeared on cue. Should there be another “attack”, I have no idea what FUKUS will do. I am mystified: the last two US-led strikes could not have been less militarily effective; noisy indeed, but just blowing up stuff to no effect at all. Fake CW attacks met by fake responses; all I can think of to explain this is that it’s theatre for the simple-minded to distract from some deeper game: well, Washington is talking to Damascus. Iran and Syria just made a military agreement. Iran has become stronger and more influential. This is an unplanned consequence of the failed neocon/liberal-interventionist wars wars in the area.

US SANCTIONS. Trump says he would consider lifting sanctions in Russia “if they do something that would be good for us.” What I think he is doing here is preparing the ground for lifting sanctions. It’s part of the art of persuasion. Up until now sanctions have had no conditions on them: Russia’s bad and must be sanctioned until some future unstated something happens: don’t forget that the years-obsolete Jackson-Vanik sanctions stopped just as the faked-up Magnitskiy sanctions began. Sanctions never end, only the excuses change. Trump has just moved the horizon a bit: “something good”. Well, that’s anything he says it is, isn’t it? For those who don’t understand what I’m saying, read this.

WHO KNEW? The USA imports oil from Russia. Quite a lot too: 15 million barrels in May. Canada’s pipeline confusions create another market for Russian oil. Something else for counter-sanctions.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The departure of McCain may reduce the passion for a time.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. “Russia trolls ‘spreading vaccination misinformation’ to create discord.” (Don’t forget to read “Why you can trust BBC News” at the bottom.)

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. The interesting fact is that, despite the non-stop hysteria over Russia and Putin that we have seen for what – decades? or just one decade? – it’s not really having such a strong effect. A recent Gallup poll shows 58% of respondents think it is more important to improve relations with Russia than to take steps against it. 58%!!!! The “Russia interfered” story has been sold to the masses but Dems think it affected the outcome and Repubs do not (which is evidence of confusion as to just what the “interference” was.)

NEW NWO. Some people think Putin’s meeting with Merkel was very big: Ishchenko, Escobar, Doctorow, Bloomberg. Wait and see: it will be a long, complicated process of small moves, some forward, some back. But see below.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Or are they? On the one hand, Macron says Europe must stop depending on Washington for security and have more cooperation with Russia and again today; the German Foreign Minister says much the same; the German Finance Minister says Europe must develop its own payments system. On the other, Siemens is pulling out of Iran, Total has already gone, Airbus is scrambling. Does Europe still have “two feet” to stand on? EU’s loss is Russia’s and China’s gain.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. As the excitement over last year’s Zapad exercises ends, it’s time to wind up the alarm for the Vostok exercise. (Dumbest comment is, and will remain, this one: “One of the reasons that Russia invited Chinese forces to the exercise was to defray any concern in Beijing that the wargames are directed towards China.“)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 AUGUST 2018

TURKEY. As everyone knows, Ankara-Washington relations are bad and getting worse. There are many factors involved in Turkey’s economic problems but Washington’s pressure is exacerbating them and it is using the opportunity/excuse to force Erdoğan back into line. The situation creates, to put it mildly, a tremendous opportunity for Russia and China to offer a better deal, thereby weakening NATO and strengthening their own “Eurasian bloc”. Erdoğan spoke to Putin on Friday and Lavrov has just been in Ankara, possibly presenting the bill. Erdoğan is changeable and could go either way, but it’s a major decision point: going Washington’s way would be a big surrender whereas a deal for Chinese and Russian investment in return for leaving NATO and getting out of Syria could be a big win. Turkey’s value to NATO was never the “common values” tripe we hear so much about today but instead its large army and important real estate. Possibly a huge development in the new New World Order coming.

DEFENCE. More steps to protect against what Medvedev calls “economic warfare“. Putin has signed a law allowing Russian-owned foreign operating companies to be re-registered in two areas in Russia. The Finance Minister speculates about abandoning the USD in oil trade. An argument that Russia didn’t sell as many US Treasuries as thought but moved some elsewhere.

VISAS. Many complain that the cumbrous Russian visa system is a deterrent to tourism. The World Cup was a great victory for Russia in the information war, and it’s interesting that they have decided to extend visa-free entry for holders of fan IDs until the end of the year. I think people saying what a good time they had there is a powerful counter to anti-Russian propaganda.

CASPIAN. After years and years the Caspian Sea Convention has been signed by the five littoral countries. Not every last detail is nailed down but the generality is clear: local economic zones, relatively free use and no foreigners. This is essentially what I foresaw in 1998 although it has taken much longer than I anticipated. We are reminded that, thanks to the Kalibr, Russia’s Caspian Flotilla has a greater significance than Washington ever suspected.

MAGNITSKIY MOVIE. An authorised version is available on Vimeo here. I urge you to watch it: not only does it complete destroy Browder’s case, it is an interesting detective process as the film-maker gradually perceives the inconsistencies and manipulations. Browder’s story has been extremely important at setting up the anti-Russia dancing mania: if it’s a lie, then what?

EUROPEAN REVOLT? Well, will they defy Washington? Tough talk from Mogherini, also Britain, France and Germany. The “blocking statute” is being activated. Meanwhile a reminder of the cost of Washington’s last sanctions effort: food exports to Russia cut in half. (And China just snapped up France’s business in a gas project in Iran.) In short, there must be more than a few Europeans realising that the cost of joining Washington’s crusades is too high. But it’s rather hard to imagine Europe’s current rulers daring to think outside the “Atlanticist” box let alone acting on such thoughts.

WESTERN VALUES™. In the Cold War the USSR undertook an enormous (but futile) exertion to block our news and propaganda; we, confident that we were in the right, didn’t bother. Today Facebook, advised by Atlantic Council people, is blocking “Russian propaganda”. To defend against this attempt to impurify our precious bodily fluids, a US Senator (Dem of course) is floating a proposal for more government-imposed controls. Those who are mostly telling the truth don’t do this. Maybe NATO could buy old Soviet jamming equipment.

SYRIA. More endgame. UN observers, with assistance from Russian Military Police, return to the Golan Heights. China may participate “in some way” in the battles around Idlib. The Russians and the UN say there are about 6.6 million Syrian refugees in foreign countries of whom 1.7 million say they are ready to return. So far this month 16 UAVs have been shot down at the Russian airbase. Apparently the YPG has switched sides. Peter Ford’s assessment. Pat Lang’s.

SKRIPALMANIA. Dumb, dumber, dumbest and dumbester.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “U.S. senator says Russians have penetrated Florida election systems“; “Governor Demands Bill Nelson Back Up Claims That Russia Hacked Florida Voting Systems“. Well, ummm errrr.

NEW NWO. Not there yet, but more steps: Turkey, Caspian and EU defiance. (I haven’t stopped thinking that this may be just what Trump intends.)

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

THE NOVICHOK TALES, PART √-1, SECTION DUMBER

(Overheard in the Kremlin by our secret source)

Bad news Boss! Those damned Brits have figured it out.

What now?

Remember all those BSL-4 labs that Ivan Ivanovich said we should set up in public toilets all over Britain?

Yeah.

That fool thought it would be a good idea in case we wanted to whack somebody out and then remix the binary agents so we could re-package them in perfume atomisers.

Da da da. The guy with all the bright ideas, the Elon Musk of the Cheka we used to call him.

Anyway, the Brits have finally figured out that that’s where we do our preparations and they will be shutting them down all over the place. More millions wasted.

Yeah Ivan. Well, he’s going on an all expenses paid tour of the cold parts of Siberia. Won’t be seeing him around any more. But thank heavens that Durakchok can be made anywhere and Russians are naturally immune to it.

LATEST AMERICAN SANCTIONS

Response to a question from Sputnik. https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201808141067172415-usa-russia-opcw-inspection-absurd/

The official justifications for this latest set of sanctions proves that they are not the real reasons because they are too ridiculous to be taken seriously by any thinking person. The ever-changing Skripalmania story, preposterous at the outset, has descended into incoherence as the crack Russian assassination team is now said to be using public toilets to remix “novichok” to put into perfume atomisers. The OPCW certified last October that Russia had eliminated its CW stocks; who is supposed to certify that it still has? “Election interference” is a loose and shifting collection of accusations, with no evidence presented, which is said to have made no difference to the final result but is nonetheless Pearl Harbor, Kristallnacht and 911 rolled into one. These so-called reasons are the leaky krisha erected over Washington’s latest attempt to make Russia submit to its diktat or break it. The upshot? The Moscow-Beijing alliance will be strengthened and Moscow’s determination to reduce its exposure redoubled.

Now that Washington punishes countries and businesses that do not go along with its sanctions, the sanctions will hurt its allies. And probably, as with the earlier sanctions and counter-sanctions, hurt them more than Russia. The upshot? Following the abrogation of the Iran agreement by Washington, relations between Washington and its minions will be further strained. One of these days, they will break.

This move is also part of the deep state coup against US President Trump (concisely described here) because it curtails his freedom of action. The upshot? The USA moves a bit closer to terminal dysfunction. Or has the second civil war already begun?

Altogether another small step in the Decline and Fall of the Imperium Americanum.

I think it is time for Moscow to educate the many in the US government who believe it is a weak fragile minor state that “makes nothing”. Time to show them that it makes rocket engines, Boeing’s titanium and ISS taxis. And one of America’s favourite guns. And, if we’re talking about closing air routes, the largest country on earth. And the supply route into the endless American war in Afghanistan. Or demand payment for oil and gas in anything but USD? But I’m sure the clever people in the Kremlin can think of many more things than I can.

NATO TRUMPED

First published at Strategic Culture Foundation

Picked up by The Duran; JRL 2018/135/17; Zenith News; South Front; Straight Line Logic;

Those of us who regard NATO as one of the primary sources of international instability thanks to its wars of destruction in the MENA and provocation of Russia were looking forward with delighted anticipation to Trump’s appearance at the NATO summit. We were not disappointed. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Trump came late to the meeting where Ukraine and Georgia were banging on about the Russian threat, started ranting about spending and blew up the decorous charade. Ukraine and Georgia were then dismissed and a special meeting was convened. (A side effect of his “creative destruction” was that the Ukrainian President delivered his speech to a practically empty room). He started his assault before the meeting, opening Twitter fire on Germany, returning to the attack in his breakfast meeting with NATO’s GenSek:

Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting from 60% to 70% of their energy from Russia, and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that’s appropriate because I think it’s not and I think it’s a very bad thing for Nato.

Good fun for some of us but a stunner to the Panjandrumocracy: “meltdown“, “tantrum“, “latest diplomatic blowup“, “making bullying great again” and so on.

As ever, Trump’s statements were extreme and his numbers might not stand up to examination but most commenters (typically) left out the context. Which was a piece by German Chancellor Merkel herself in which she called for NATO to focus on the threats from Russia: “the alliance has to show determination to protect us”.

This gave Trump the opening to pose these questions (posed in his own way, of course, in a strategy that most people – despite the example of North Korea – have still not grasped). You tell us that NATO ought to concentrate on the Russian threat. If Russia is a threat, why are you buying gas from it?

        1. You tell us that Russia is a reliable energy supplier. If Russia is a reliable supplier, why are you telling us it’s a threat?
        2. I hope you’re not saying Russia is a threat and its gas is cheap but the USA will save you.

Good questions to be sure; questions that crystallise the contradiction of NATO. If Russia is such a big military threat to them – as NATO communiqués incessantly say it is – then why aren’t the Europeans, presumably first on Moscow’s cross hairs, doing more to meet that threat? And, if, as their doing so little about their defence suggests, they don’t fear Russia, then why do they say that they do? From the latest NATO communiqué:

meeting Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order.

I always like to count words in these cliché-ridden screeds: it gives a metric of importance and saves force-marching my eyeballs through 12,000 words of self-satisfied pap. In the countries where NATO forces are actually deployed, the communiqué mentions Afghanistan twice, Kosovo six times and Iraq 14 times. NATO destroyed Libya but it only gets six references; it’s doing its best to repeat the performance in Syria (nine). But Russia leads with 54 mentions, none of them complimentary. Why even NATO’s favourite mush words, “values” (16) and “stability” (26), appear fewer times. Ukraine, on the other hand, has 25 appearances, all in what could be called the phantasmagorical verbal mood: “We welcome significant reform progress”. So, in NATOland, Russia’s back. By contrast, the Riga Summit communiqué in 2006 mentioned Afghanistan 17 times, Iraq eight times and Russia ten times (“values” and “stability” scored 15 each). But NATO was still looking for a purpose then:

It recognizes that for the foreseeable future, the principal threats to the Alliance are terrorism and proliferation, as well as failing states, regional crises, misuse of new technologies and disruption of the flow of vital resources.

The logic of NATO’s very existence creates the contradiction. NATO, having lost its raison d’être when the Warsaw Pact and the USSR disappeared, having floundered around in out-of-area operations and the “War on Terror”, has returned to “the Russian threat”. (But in a bureaucracy nothing ever actually stops: this week’s meeting approved a NATO training (!) mission in Iraq Year 15 and more British troops in Kabul Year 16.) Without the “Russian Threat” there would be no reason for NATO to exist, and certainly no big arms contracts, and all the warm butterscotch sauce of “common values” or “projecting stability” could not keep it together. Because, the brutal truth is that military alliances are kept together, not by common values, but by common enemies.

But, no question about it, it’s Washington that bears the major responsibility: Washington pushes NATO expansion, adding monomaniacal anti-Russian members; Washington foments colour revolutions; Washington blew up Ukraine and tried to snatch the Sevastopol naval base; Washington “twists arms“; Washington demands European sanctions and Magnitskiy Acts; Washington’s failed wars in the MENA suck in NATO members; Washington dropped the ABM Treaty inspiring Russia to create its super weapons. The truth is that, whatever might have happened otherwise, Washington drove NATO in the anti-Russia direction.

But Donald Trump is not that Washington: he is the anti-Washington. He tosses bombs into gatherings of complacent apparatchiks: if you believe what you’re saying, act on it; if you don’t act on it, stop saying it. Then he threw the spending bomb. For years there has been a vague commitment that NATO members should spend 2% of their GDP on defence; the commitment appears to have been formalised in 2014. (14) But the members aren’t paying much attention. Few have achieved it and the downward trend, begun at the end of the Cold War, has continued. Regardless of whether “2%” makes any sense or how it is calculated, Trump was right to remind NATO members that they themselves agreed to it. Again Trump raises the pointed question: why don’t you act as if you believe what you’re saying?

Indicators of European NATO members’ actual readiness and combat capability are stunning; the latest being “Only 4 of Germany’s 128 Eurofighter jets combat ready — report“; “Ground force: Half of France’s military planes ‘unfit to fly’“. “Britain’s ‘withered’ forces not fit to repel all-out attack“. “Europe’s Readiness Problem“. Obviously they’re not expecting a Russian attack any time soon. NATO is, as I have argued here, a paper tiger. It is questionable whether NATO members can conduct any operation without the USA providing satellite navigation and observation, air defence suppression, airborne command and control, inflight tankers, heavy lift and ammunition resupply to name a few deficiencies. So, either the Europeans are not worried; or, as Trump likes to say, they are free riders.

Six months ago I suggested that Trump may be trying to get out of what I called the “Gordian knot of entanglements

President Trump can avoid new entanglements but he has inherited so many and they are, all of them, growing denser and thicker by the minute. Consider the famous story of the Gordian Knot: rather than trying to untie the fabulously complicated knot, Alexander drew his sword and cut it. How can Trump cut The Gordian Knot of American imperial entanglements? By getting others to untie it.

 

He stamps out of NATO leaving them quaking: if you say Russia is the enemy, why do you act as if it isn’t; and if you act as if it isn’t, why do you say it is? And firing, over his shoulder, the threat: 2% by next January.

I believe it is a threat and a very neat one too:

If you don’t get up to 2% (or is it 4%?) and quickly too; I warned you. Goodbye.

If you do get your spending up, then you don’t need us. Goodbye.

Another strand of the knot gone.