Rotating on Your Tanks

(A question from Sputnik: what do I make of the US Army forces moved to Europe and what do I think US President-elect Trump will do about it.)

The first thing to do is calm down: I’ve seen headlines with “thousands”, “hundreds” or “scores” of tanks. What we are actually talking about, according to the US Army in Europe, is the “3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division” of “3,500 personnel, 87 tanks, 18 Paladins; 419 multi-purpose Humvees and 144 Bradley tanks”. (And why are they in desert tan and not European green, by the way?) In other words 87 actual tanks (120mm gun), 18 self propelled guns (155mm gun), 419 of the most expensive Jeeps ever made and 144 infantry fighting vehicles (not “tanks”) (25mm gun, two anti-tank missiles). These troops are the first of “back-to-back rotations of armored brigades in Europe as part of Atlantic Resolve” – “rotations” gets NATO out of its 1997 pledge against “additional permanent stationing“. NATO is also planning to place a (rotating) battalion group in each of the three Baltic countries and Poland. In short, rounding everything way up: a maximum total of 10K soldiers, 100 tanks, 40 serious artillery pieces and 250 IFVs. That’s the high end. The actual reality will be smaller, under-equipped, very multi-national, always re-learning the ropes and therefore not very effective. In return Russia has reactivated the First Guards Tank Army. This Russian formation will have much more modern and more powerful kit than NATO’s and would brush aside the US brigade without pausing and ignore the battalion groups.

The purpose one assumes (if we ignore standard NATO-issue boiler plate about “security” “stability” “aggressor” and so on) is to emplace a “trip wire” – if you attack Estonia, you will be attacking us all. But that’s the point of the NATO alliance already: “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.” In theory that is. But there are plenty of polls showing that “NATO’s European Allies Won’t Fight for Article 5“. So I guess it’s supposed to be a reassurance to the little ones that NATO really really means it. So in that sense, it’s thought to be a deterrence.

But the assumption is quite idiotic. Moscow knows full well what the NATO Treaty means. The only circumstances under which it would attack any NATO country would be if it feared an attack on itself by all NATO countries. And then there would be no holding back: Moscow would know who it was fighting and why it was fighting and would go full out from the beginning.

This move – in the waning days of the Obama Administration – violates two Trumpian principles. First it is calculated to irritate Moscow and hobble US President-elect Trump in his stated intention to repair relations. Second it contradicts his ideas that NATO members should pay more for their own defence. (And a third: better relations with Russia obtained through diplomacy would eliminate the “threat” this deployment is supposed to be countering). Thus it is very probable that the whole thing will be reversed on the 21st. It should be remembered that Trump not only has a number of senior generals on his team but that there is plenty of evidence – “After 15 years of war, America’s military has about had it with ‘nation building’– that the US military are tired of endless wars. He’s not flying blind. And he’s not flying alone.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 5 JANUARY 2017

PREDICTION FOR 2017. The revolution will continue. And spread. And there will be more harbingers of that change – here’s this week’s.

RUSSIA HACKED THE ELECTION. Read the disclaimer – not even the authors of the DHS/FBI report believe it. (Were the Russians listening? Of course they were and so was everyone else. As soon as it was learned that the Ukraine coup was plotted on open cellphones and Clinton was wedded to her Blackberry, you can be sure that every hacker in the world started looking. And when they found an insecure private server, dopey passwords, phishable dupes and plenty of juicy information – a hacker’s paradise! Clinton’s decision to ignore State Department security procedures is one of the biggest security leaks in US history. Here’s Tuesday’s interview with Assange: not Russia and not a state.

PUTIN-ABE MEETING. While no breakthrough on the territorial issue (Moscow is not giving it up: if ever possible, the opportunity has passed), a number of agreements that will lead to others. Tokyo broke the G7 boycott of Russia, Washington will be next and then the rush. I bet Ottawa will be last.

FAILING RUSSIA. Remember all that stuff you were told by the “experts” about failing Russia? Very, very poor predictions – when not simply purchased to order, they were a mixture of wishful thinking and profound ignorance. Here are photos of major infrastructure projects of 2016. A lot is happening.

“THE RUSSIAN THREAT”. Gone: it’s not a priority. I like the Tillerson appointment and either of the two people said to be short-listed for Ambassador will be good too.

WADA. Since I learned about Therapeutic Exemption Certificates, I’ve stopped taking WADA seriously.

NEW FAKE NEWS RECORD. Anti-Russia fake news used to last a few days (NYT photos, WaPo PropOrNot) but the WaPo has managed to put out and retract a story on the same day! Even CNN’s fake news story about the Anglo-American School in Moscow lasted a bit longer.

NUKES, TRUMP AND PUTIN. New nuclear arms race!!! More fake news: here’s my take.

OIL CUT. The agreement has gone into effect; Russia’s share of the cut is 300,000 barrels a day.

SYRIA. I recommend the following antidotes to the rubbish in the Fake Stream Media (FSM): Aleppo didn’t “fall”, it was “liberated. Eva Bartlett. Vanessa Beeley. Andrew Ashdown. Carla Ortiz (watch incredulity from the CNN hairstyle at 4:00). They’ve all actually been there: they don’t report on Aleppo from the UK. MSF, formerly respected, has disgraced itself. A ceasefire negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey is operating (under current management the USA is недоговороспособны). Russian engineers continue to clear Aleppo. Russian aircraft support Turkish operations in northern Syria. I was very interested to see Erdoğan‘s statement that he had evidence that the US coalition supports Daesh (of course it does. As he very well knows. Stay tuned). I would expect, under the new circumstances, that Gabbard’s bill will pass. She is, BTW, someone to watch.

FROM LAPUTA’S KITCHENS (SYRIAN BRANCH) TO YOU. Mona’s magic pyjamas save her again and again and again. Aleppo’s twitter girl has amazing Internet service and doesn’t like to speak Arabic (see also Ortiz video above). Anybody remember “Gay Girl in Damascus“? Fake Syrian atrocity videos in Egypt and in Norway.

UKRAINE. It’s never easy to know what’s really going on there – for example the Privat Bank nationalisation has several interpretations. But of greater import is oligarch Viktor Pinchuk’s piece “Ukraine Must Make Painful Compromises for Peace With Russia“. No EU or NATO membership, local elections in the Donbass and Crimea is Russian. It has the usual fantasies to sweeten the bitter medicine – Ukraine will be so rich in “15 to 20 years” that Crimea will beg to come back – and the usual claptrap blaming Moscow. But the recommendations remain. We will see whether anything comes of it but it’s momentous that a big player who thought he had secured his future (a BIG donor to the Clinton Foundation) realises his investment is gone and is trying to make another. Ukraine is pretty dysfunctional and there are a lot of people with guns who get extra votes, as it were, but the dream is over. Three years after Maidan Ukraine is ruined, in a civil war, overrun with nazis, as corrupt as ever, has got nothing from the EU and will get nothing from the USA. It will soon disappear off the West’s news pages joining Kosovo, Somalia, Libya and the other regime change triumphs nobody talks about today. USA Today discovers Crimeans like being in Russia. Expect more of this as the FSM adjusts to the new boss in town.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Strong Russia, Fake News

The combination of two remarks by Russian President Putin and a twitter from US President-elect Trump set off a fake news storm in what should be properly called the Fake Stream Media. This from Canada’s National Post will serve as an example: Vladimir Putin signals renewal of nuclear arms race: ‘We are stronger now than anyone’, “Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin fired the starting gun on a new nuclear arms race on Thursday as they both vowed to launch a major strengthening of their countries’ arsenals.” Why do I call this fake news? Well the headline does not accurately quote Putin and the piece makes no mention of US President Obama’s trillion dollar nuclear plan announced a few months ago. In any case, Trump is not yet President and he and Putin have yet to meet and begin to repair things. So the headline will soon be obsolete.

With that introduction let us turn to what Putin actually said in the 22 December meeting of the Defence Ministry Board (English) (Russian) and amplified the next day in his press conference (English) (Russian).

With regards to nuclear weapons, he said:

Our nuclear triad, which is vital for maintaining strategic parity, has been maintained in the required state. I would like to say that the share of modern weapons in our nuclear forces nearly reached 60 percent of total armaments.

На должном уровне поддерживалось состояние ядерной триады, которая играет ключевую роль в сохранении стратегического паритета. Отмечу, что доля современного вооружения в ядерных силах составила почти 60 процентов.

In next day’s press conference he expanded on the reasoning, repeating, as he has done many times, that the Russian nuclear buildup was a response to Washington’s abrogation of the ABM Treaty 15 years ago.

Once again, allow me to repeat something I consider extremely important. In 2001, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty. This agreement was certainly the cornerstone of the entire international security system… I said, “We will have to react somehow, we will need to improve our strike systems in order to defeat these missile defence systems.

As to the other remark, after listening to the Minister of Defence enumerate what had been done over the preceding year, Putin observed:

At the same time, many factors, such as military factors, our history and geography and the general mood in the Russian society, allow us to say confidently that today we are stronger than any potential aggressor. I repeat, any aggressor.

Вместе с тем уже сегодня, с учётом очень многих факторов, включая не только военные, но и нашу историю, географию, внутреннее состояние российского общества, можно с уверенностью сказать: на сегодня мы сильнее любого потенциального агрессора. Любого.

The next day he expanded on it:

What does it mean to be an aggressor? An aggressor is someone who can attack the Russian Federation. We are stronger than any potential aggressor. I have no problem repeating it.

None of this has anything to do with the National Post’s breathless headline (or those of other FSM outlets). In fact, it is not difficult to understand what Putin is saying and what he is not saying.

  • What he is saying is that if you attack Russia, you will lose the war.
  • He’s not saying that the Russian Navy can beat the US Navy in the South Pacific. He’s not saying that Russia can conquer Europe. He’s not saying that Russia can land an expeditionary force in Mexico and threaten the USA. He’s not even saying Russia could conquer (it could) and hold (see Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan etc etc: it couldn’t) Ukraine. Or even the Baltics (yes, overrun in a couple of days, but then what? See Iraq, Afghanistan).
  • He’s not saying that Russia is “stronger than anyone”.
  • What he’s saying is that Russia is strong enough to defeat anyone who attacks Russia at home either conventionally or with nuclear weapons. (Of course with nuclear weapons everybody loses.)
  • That’s all.

And he’s right. It wasn’t true 20 years ago, it was arguable 10 years ago, but today, for anyone who can see reality rather than exceptionalist fantasies, it is true. If you attack Russia, you will lose the war.

The other thing he’s saying is that Russia has modernised its nuclear weapons. Which, again, is true and he did warn when the ABM Treaty was cancelled that he would do this.

Twenty years of NATO expansion, regime changes, humanitarian bombing and threats (or, as Trump might put it, the mistakes of the past“) have done nothing to make him see things differently. Indeed, I have argued that he “came back” because the Libya war showed NATO’s untrustworthiness and aggressiveness and he knew bad times were coming for Russia. Two years ago he said:

Back then, we realised that the more ground we give and the more excuses we make, the more our opponents become brazen and the more cynical and aggressive their demeanour becomes.

At the Defence Ministry Board meeting, Putin intimated that modernisation and improvement would continue: he does not trust the West any more.

However, if we allow ourselves to relax even for a minute, if we make a single significant mistake in modernising the Army and the Navy and training military personnel, the situation will change very quickly, in light of the speed of global events. It can change in the wink of an eye. Therefore, we depend on you to carry on the work you have been doing for the past few years.

All this can change in a “wink of an eye”; and it did change in a “wink of an eye” with Trump’s election victory. But trust must be earned over time by deeds just as it was lost over time by deeds. When asked at the press conference about meeting with US President-elect Trump, he said he hoped the subject of such a meeting would be:

Issues that concern putting our relations back on track. During his election campaign, Mr Trump said that he considered it appropriate to normalise Russian-American relations. He also said that the situation would not be worse, as it cannot get any worse. I agree with him. So, together we will think about how to make things better.

In short, headlines will likely be different in a year’s time.

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

the mood and the actions of the Russian generals recall those of the German Reichswehr under the Weimar Republic…In the meantime, Russian generals, with the support of Yeltsin’s government, are laying the groundwork for the restoration of the empire. The Russian ruling elite has not reconciled itself to the separation of the fifteen dependent republics… Russia has introduced thousands of its troops into all the former republics of the Soviet Union except the three Baltic ones and Azerbaijan….Georgia which had been compelled to accept a Russian peacekeeping force to maintain order along the ethnic border separating it from the Abkhaz minority whom, coincidentally, the Russians had incited to rebel has not been able to get the visitors to leave….

Richard Pipes: “Russian Generals Plan for the Future”; 3 July 1994, (referred to at http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub142.pdf)

Trump, Tillerson, Russia

(Question from Sputnik on What can we expect from Rex Tillerson as secretary of state?)

I’m sure that we can all agree that the first step towards a good foreign policy is the acknowledgement of reality. The second step would be the acknowledgement of failure and Trump seems to be there already: “we will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past“.

Well, one of the “mistakes of the past” is Washington’s Russia policy.

Rex Tillerson seems to be open to the idea of Washington treating Moscow like a fellow inhabitant of the planet whose opinion deserves to be considered. Considered seriously. Which would be a good thing, because 1) Moscow actually is all that (plus nukes) and 2) because that would make a pleasant change in Washington’s behaviour (and not just to Moscow) from previous instaurations.

But seriously, (very seriously), if Trump can get the Russia-USA relationship right – and that requires a serious consideration of, respect for and listening to Moscow’s point of view – then a lot of the United States’ other international entanglements would sort themselves out pretty quickly.

Then, with a quieter world out there, Trump could concentrate on his real purpose of getting the USA working again.

In fact, he and Putin have a common aim which is getting their countries sorted out. The two have common problems (although Putin is a couple of decades ahead on the realisation curve): unemployment, loss of manufacturing capacity, desperation and loss, failing wars, general disaffection, and (very recently for the US) dropping life expectancy.

They’re both in the same business as it happens: making America/Russia great (for their citizens) again.

(PS none of this “greatness” involves blowing up people around the globe for random reasons. Which the USA has been doing quite a lot of this century.)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 8 DECEMBER 2016

HOPE AND CHANGE. And within a few days of each other, too. Trump: “we will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments… Our goal is stability… We will partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS… we will seek shared interests wherever possible.” Putin: “We are ready for a serious discussion on building a stable system of international relations… we affirm the principles of justice and mutual respect in international affairs… I certainly count on joining efforts with the United States in the fight against real rather than fictional threats, international terrorism being one of them.” A chance for a real meeting of minds and intentions, don’t you think?

PUTIN’S STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH. English, Russian. I suppose the theme would be this: “In recent years, we have had a hard time, but these trials have made us even stronger”. It’s true, Russia has survived – and prospered – despite Western sanctions and low oil prices. And it is undeniably stronger and in a better position, internally and externally. Its opponents are stumbling and facing internal revolts: even the neocons understand that “the triumph of the West is over” (although they still blame others – less “softness” or “retreat” and everything would have worked out). Putin’s foreign policy position is still the same: “We do not want confrontation with anyone. We have no need for it and neither do our partners or the global community. Unlike some of our colleagues abroad, who consider Russia an adversary, we do not seek and never have sought enemies. We need friends. But we will not allow our interests to be infringed upon or ignored.” As usual, the main emphasis was on domestic matters – a rather dry exposition of things done and things to do. What did catch my eye were these numbers: IT exports ($7 billion) were half the value of arms exports ($14.5 billion) which were lower than agricultural exports ($16.2 billion): the economy is diversifying and the sanctions and counter-sanctions have helped it to do so. Another great achievement – mostly unknown to the West because it doesn’t fit the story – is the turnaround in mortality figures: the fertility rate is now (2015) higher than the EU average and the infant mortality rate slightly better. But I was surprised to hear him saying that the defence industry must produce consumer goods: “conversion” had few successes in the Gorbachev period. But, generally speaking, the speech was dry and businesslike, as these things are: a record of what’s happened and what’s planned. The general impression being that the worst is over.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. My latest collection is here. I must say the “fake news” nonsense is more ridiculous than anything yet: the idea that Putin is controlling what Westerners think is more than merely ludicrous. The truth is that consumers of the WMSM are tired of being surprised by everything that happens: they’re searching for more reliable information elsewhere. Meanwhile the WaPo is trying to slither away from its PropOrNot story.

OIL. We appear to have an agreement to cut back oil production which will raise prices and they say Putin played a key role in getting agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. So, if it’s true, as some say, that Washington got Riyadh to drop prices to hurt the “Gas Station Masquerading As a Country”, then it’s another success for Moscow.

PRESSTITUTES. (I am indebted to Paul Craig Roberts for this evocative epithet). There’s a new boss in town and it will be amusing to watch the WMSM change its tune. The UK Independent may be out in front with “We have to accept that Assad will win in Syria – and the West should be ashamed of how we drew the conflict out” and This is why everything you’ve read about the wars in Syria and Iraq could be wrong“. (I stress that neither Dejevsky nor Cockburn has changed, it’s the fact that they are published – and with such headlines – that suggests the editors are changing the message). The WaPo, however, just digs its hole deeper: “How a 7-year-old Aleppo girl on Twitter became our era’s Anne Frank. (A more sceptical – and researched view here.) Schadenfreude is not admirable, but it is enjoyable: I look forward to bankruptcies.

SYRIA. Amusingly, after a phonecall from Putin, Erdoğan “clarified” his remark that the purpose of his incursion into Syria was to overthrow Assad: not at all, just to fight Daesh. Large sections of east Aleppo have been liberated (video; watch it, I doubt your local “news” outlet will show it) and Russian combat engineers are clearing UXOs; two Russian medics were killed when a field hospital was shelled.

UKRAINE. Independent again – allegations by an insider of enormous high-level corruption.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

Putin Derangement Syndrome October-November 2016

In which I collect all the examples of this strange mental defect that have caught my attention in the months of October and September in the seventeenth (and final?) year of The New American Century.

PUTIN, PUTIN EVERYWHERE!

PUTIN OF THE EVIL SCARY DEATH EYES

The Economist, one of the reliable goto sources for anti-Russian extrusions, sums up evil-eyed Putin:

Every week Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, finds new ways to scare the world. Recently he moved nuclear-capable missiles close to Poland and Lithuania. This week he sent an aircraft-carrier group down the North Sea and the English Channel. He has threatened to shoot down any American plane that attacks the forces of Syria’s despot, Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s UN envoy has said that relations with America are at their tensest in 40 years. Russian television news is full of ballistic missiles and bomb shelters. ‘Impudent behaviour’ might have ‘nuclear consequences’, warns Dmitry Kiselev, Mr Putin’s propagandist-in-chief—who goes on to cite Mr Putin’s words that ‘If a fight is inevitable, you have to strike first.’

(Editors note: shouldn’t you mention that he used to be in the KGB?). Even its readers don’t buy it – look at the most recommended comments. Soon The Economist will excrete a piece arguing that, for the sake of free speech and other Western values, those who disagree with Big Brother (aka purveyors or dupes of Putin’s “hacking and disinformation campaign“) should be silenced.

PUTIN AND THE AMERICAN ELECTION

The big story before the election, as Clinton was floundering, even in the polls that overstated her numbers, was that Putin was interfering in the US election. The Administration “officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections, including by hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations” and counter attacks were promised. Newsweek, a few days before the election, explained “Why Vladimir Putin’s Russia Is Backing Donald Trump” (no doubt a teaser for its Madame President edition). The Washington Post again hammered away at the meme: “Putin’s hope to ignite a Eurasia-style protest in the United States“. (Top comment “we need to deliver trump such a blow on november 8 the whole world will see the sane and reasonable are really still in charge here.”) Although more sober voices argued that there was no serious evidence of Russian involvement and the FBI found “no link between Trump and Russia”, the story had wide coverage: 6 million Google hits. Wikileaks was part of Putin’s conspiracy: by publishing revelations of malfeasance (and the author doesn’t doubt their truth) the media was forced to, well, how else to put it, reveal the malfeasance. That mental incoherence somehow proves “why Putin’s plan is so devilish: He’s undermining the credibility of two key American institutions in one go.

There was, of course, a giant logical problem with these Putin-is-trying-to-get-Trump-elected conspiracy theories using fake news (if I may emphasise): it put into peoples’ minds the idea that the election could be rigged – into 41% of American voters’ minds, to be exact. And Trump himself started saying that the election might be rigged and that he would reserve judgement on the results. This was not the purpose of the fake news, and the purveyors of these conspiracy theories had to try and walk the story back: the WaPo ran a piece to reassure the punters, “Reminder: There’s almost no chance our election can get hacked by the Russians“. The NYT incoherently squared the circle by saying it won’t be “rigged” but it could be “hacked”.

So as the election began early on 8 November the story was that Putin had but couldn’t and you should either be scared that he had or reassured that he couldn’t; in any case he wanted you to vote for Trump.

The election happened but the expected result did not. Leaving the readers of the WaPo, NYT at al concluding that Putin had indeed finagled the result. Now what? Nuke Russia? Declare the election null and void? Or fess up that the whole story was an invention to divert attention from the Clinton machine’s corruption of the process? The cover story had dangerous implications.

Fortunately, the White House has been responsible and acted to reverse the Russia-did-it meme. Not only did President Obama personally begin the transition by meeting with Trump but the White House stated that the results “accurately reflect the will of the American people” (of course, having got out on the limb in the first place, it couldn’t avoid mentioning “Russian attempts to undermine the presidential election”). But the next day a spokesman walked the story back even farther: he repeated that the results reflected the will of the people and added “The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day… We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.” I suppose that’s as close as we will get to an official admission that the Russia hacking story was fake news. To nail the coffin lid tighter, Five Thirty Eight had an analytic piece showing that “Demographics, Not Hacking, Explain The Election Results“.

As a final gasp we have this (WaPo of course): “If you’re even asking if Russia hacked the election, Russia got what it wanted: It’s all about sowing confusion and doubt”. So, even if the whole conspiracy theory was assembled out of fake news it’s really true.

So we’re just going to forget WikiLeaks and Russia helped Trump?” Well, if the story is bunkum – and most of the readers seem to think so – then maybe we should just forget about it.

FAKE NEWS

Because the WaPo was one of the principal purveyors of the fake news based conspiracy theory about Putin hacking the US election it is fitting that it should be the principal purveyor of the next chapter in the Putin Derangement Syndrome saga. (I have italicised these expressions to make the point that the real fake news is produced in locations rather closer to Washington than the Kremlin.)

Here’s the ur-source, the Washington Post 24 November 2016:

The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

The authority for much of this is an outfit called PropOrNot (website) whose criterion is absurdly widespread: “it does not matter whether the sites listed here are being knowingly directed and paid by Russian intelligence officers, or whether they even knew they were echoing Russian propaganda at any particular point“. In short, anyone who disagrees with the site. People like Ron Paul, Drudge or ZeroHedge. I won’t bother to criticise this latest fake news based conspiracy theory because Matt Taibbi has done it better than I could. “The ‘Washington Post’ ‘Blacklist’ Story Is Shameful and Disgusting“. The story is collapsing: when even The New Yorker trashes it (“a close look at the report showed that it was a mess“) it’s gone. Or, at least, this version is; I don’t think we’ve heard the last.

I can’t resist referring to a piece I wrote a couple of years ago on the motivation for this stuff: “The Western Spinners are Losing and They Know It“. The whole idea of Putintrolls writing content for our news outlets is preposterous:

Has your Local News Outlet mentioned the evidence that the Malaysian airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian aircraft? How about evidence that the “Heavenly Hundred” were actually killed by “elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing”? Any questioning of NATO’s commercially-obtained satellite photos? Mention of atrocities by “volunteer battalions” in the east? No, of course it hasn’t. You can only read about MH17 on sites like globalresearch.ca, the Maidan killers in academic journals, NATO’s evidence is only criticised on websites, only Russian news sites report atrocities. These are easily dismissed as, in order: crazy conspiracy sites, probably not peer-reviewed, pro-Russian websites and Kremlin funded so-called news organisations. None of it is “real journalism” and therefore none of it is worthy of inclusion in your LNO.

They’re losing and they’re trying to stop criticism and alternate points of view. It tells you where the truth lies: in the Old Days the Soviets jammed our broadcasts; we didn’t worry about theirs.

PUTIN’S WORLDWIDE MIND CONTROL

And its not just the spinning that’s coming apart: Brexit, politicians open to Russia winning in Bulgaria and Moldova, the Trumpquake, the Italian referendum and many many other signs of dissent. In a few years, the assertion that all these disparate but linked events were a Kremlin conspiracy will be seen as entirely laughable. But not (quite) yet. Russia is “brainwashing” Europeans says Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius: “In conventional warfare there was artillery attack before the real battle… Now there is no need to use artillery. You can brainwash.” As a former high official in the Communist Youth League of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic (Google it), he should have insider knowledge about brainwashing. A German newspaper worries that Russian “cyber attacks” may affect Germany. Putin is about to win the French presidential election: “France’s next president is likely to be part of a new, hardline Moscow-Paris-Washington axis: supporting Russia’s Vladimir Putin, appeasing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and turning geopolitics away from liberalism and human rights”. Amazing how influential RT and Sputnik are isn’t it? And on such a modest budget too.

Disclaimer. I confess to relying on a lot of sites on PropOrNot’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Why? Because after years – not years, just the last 12 months will do – of Putin’s gunslinger walk, secret love children, billions stashed in Panama, Russian submarines in Sweden, “last hospital in Aleppo” destroyed over and over again, Putin “probably” dunnit, verdicts based on social media, “moderate rebels”, “Crimea’s ‘new normal’ of repression”, Russian sports cheating and “barrel bombs” I have come to a simple conclusion:

“Fake news” from these sites is more reliable than “real news” from the WaPo and its tribe.

MISCELLANEOUS SCARY THINGS

Putin tells budding geography students that ‘Russia’s borders don’t end anywhere’ amid growing tensions with the West and NATO“. Actually he said граница (singular) and he’s pedantically correct – the border – the edge – of Russia (or any other country) is continuous. The kid answered the question “where does the Russia-US border end?” correctly but it was not the question Putin asked.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING Vladimir Putin’s nuclear warships pictured steaming towards the English Channel as Royal Navy prepares to scramble fleet“. Well, they didn’t invade the UK after all.

From The Guardian, another evergreen source of all things scary: “Aleppo, Ukraine, cyber attacks, Baltic threats: what should we do about Putin?“. “Putin, like a marauding Red Army tank, has no reverse gear”. “Assuming Trump loses, a Clinton administration has three possible courses of action….”. But he didn’t lose and other possibilities appear.

As an entry in the Putin Derangement Syndrome Scary Headlines that Have Nothing to do with the Content Category we have “Vladimir Putin’s secret CLONE ARMY of designer attack dogs taught to sniff out explosives.” Not so scary and not so secret either: the three dogs were cloned by a South Korean professor who presented them to the police in Yakutia where he is doing research.

And finally, the clear winner in the Putin Derangement Syndrome Return of Cthulhu Category from the UK’s Daily Express: “Is 14-legged killer squid found TWO MILES beneath Antarctica being weaponised by Putin? A KILLER giant squid that can hypnotise its prey and paralyse humans at a distance of 150 feet using poisonous venom is being developed as a secret weapon by Vladimir.” The short answer is “no”. Note to editors: research Lake Vostok and the plot of The Thing in Wikipedia. Mercifully, not even the WaPo or The Economist have seen fit to repeat this piece of fake news.

THE FUTURE

Will this be the last of my Putin Derangement Syndrome series? I don’t think so, the illness is too strongly held but I do hope that it will diminish. In the meantime, I leave you with this quote so easily applicable to the Putin Derangement Syndrome condition.

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

After the Trumpquake — Что делать?

http://us-russia.org/4507-coming-together-to-generate-ideas-for-a-new-foreign-policy-agenda.html

Question: (Coming together to generate ideas for a new foreign policy agenda). In the end, the 2016 US presidential campaign did what democracies are supposed to do: it gave the electorate a clear choice between two different visions of the country’s future and the policies each party proposed to take us there.  When faced with the prospect of “more of the same,” meaning more impoverishment of the middle and lower classes, more risks of new wars:  it ‘threw the bums out.”

Unfortunately, on the way to this happy outcome the level of political culture on display by the presidential candidates and their campaign staffs sank to unprecedented lows and vicious personal attacks on each other often obscured the policy differences between the candidates.

Nevertheless now that the outgoing President Obama and the incoming President Trump have shaken hands at their first transition meeting in the White House, it is time for the rest of us to make our peace with one another.  This, however, should not mean ending our differences of opinion on policies.  On the contrary, what the country needs now is a good dose of debate and in particular partisan, as opposed to nonpartisan discussion of our foreign policy issues, since we have for the past 4 years at least been stumbling into a very dangerous confrontation with both Russia and China without the benefit of free public discussion of our options.

What concretely can we all do to force the media, the foreign policy establishment to ‘come out and play’ now rather than sulk and spit venom at the victorious Trump team?

The encouraging truth is that reality eventually triumphs; the discouraging truth is that it only does so over a long and painful time. Trump’s victory is, in its way, a victory for reality but a mighty effort remains.

What can we do in forums like this one? Keep talking about reality I suppose: the reality that the neocon domination of Washington has failed in every way possible; the reality that Washington’s endless wars have been failures; the reality that every failed war has planted the seeds of the next; the reality that a extraordinary opportunity was squandered in the 1990s; the reality that making Russia into an enemy is stupid, unnecessary and extremely dangerous; the reality that “exceptionalism” is exceptionally dangerous, destructive and stupid; the reality that the MSM is lying about Syria, about Russia, about Ukraine and about almost everything else; the reality that Putin is not a “thug” determined to re-create the USSR; the reality that Russia is not “isolated”, in “economic freefall” or on the edge of “regime change”; the reality that “The West” has been on the wrong course for two decades. The reality that the neocon/liberal interventionist route leads to destruction.

We may eventually hope that our little drops of water wear away the stone. Perhaps some of us have had an effect on Trump’s thinking, or Flynn’s thinking, or Bannon’s thinking. But we will probably never know and, in truth, it’s almost impossible to work out the influence.

But if Trump can get the Russia relationship right, then a great number of Washington’s international entanglements will be easier to remedy. And he does seem to be interested in getting that right.

But I think, in the last analysis, we have to agree with the great physicist Max Planck:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

In short, a new foreign policy for the USA will have to advance, to paraphrase Planck again, “one political funeral at a time”.

But it’s encouraging that Trump’s election has produced so many political funerals.