RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 MARCH 2019

TIME AND PREDICTIONS. Gorbachev became GenSek 34 years ago on Monday. I remember Dr Leonid Abalkin saying first stage six months, second stage three years, third stage 30 years. And I’ve kept that in the back of my mind ever since. Well, here we are, plus or minus: 1985.25+33.5=2018.75 years. (Remember that he said this back when people were babbling about how you can’t cross a chasm in two steps, shock therapy, 500 days and similar feel-good bromides. Read Janine Wedel’s book and go back to the day when some American operator knocked on a door in St Petersburg, recognised his doppelganger, and they realised how much they could steal. Now Russian luxury cars in Swiss car shows which is a sign of something.) I met him again when I was a dip on Moscow: I think he didn’t become world-famous because he didn’t speak English but, truth to tell, English fluency probably wouldn’t have helped because what he was saying didn’t Fit The Story. But the people who were proved wrong well before he was proved right are still out there gilding turds; for example.

ARMS CONTROL. Of the four important arms control treaties left to us, only one remains and it probably won’t survive. Washington has killed them (although, typically, blaming Moscow as it did).

TAXI! Is Russia going to lose its monopoly as the Only Taxi Service to the ISS?

SANCTIONS. RUSAL profits up and Russia’s European gas market share up. Not working. Three reasons: the West’s so-called world community isn’t that large; Russia is not just a “gas station” – it’s a full-service economy; Russians don’t give in. (And a fourth – Washington’s “shallow bench” on Russia.)

GUNS. Shoygu addressed a Duma committee: 316 weapons tested in Syria. In six years 217 new nuclear missiles; 3 SSBNs; 57 spacecraft; 7 submarines; 3,712 new and upgraded tanks; more than 1,000 planes and helicopters; 161 surface ships. See below and below.

YET ANOTHER NEW WEAPON. A large version of these. UK media gets another fit of the vapours.

WAR GAMES. Some attention has been given to the findings of RAND that the US has “its ass handed to it” in war games with Russia and China. (In their home ground, of course: the USA remains almost 100% safe from foreign attack.) No news to some of us (I here and here) but somewhat of a shock at home. But, you’ll be happy to hear, the problem can be fixed with a few billion dollars. (The US already outspends the next eight countries but just a few more bucks and it’ll be done.) What is striking about this sort of thing is that there is never any consideration of what diplomacy could do or that the US should stay out of Russia and China’s home ground. Reminds one of Einstein’s supposed remark about insanity, doesn’t it?

HOW WE LOST RUSSIA. US Ambassador explains. Haven’t read it but a colleague has so I don’t have to: “our junior partner” “post-traumatic stress disorder” “little inclination to concede much to a declining power.” “Putin has a remarkable capacity for storing up slights and grievances, and assembling them to fit his narrative of the West trying to keep Russia down.” Poor Americans! What can you do with such an sulky neighbour?

LEXUS AND VOVAN DO VENEZUELA. They catch both the puppeteer and the puppet. These two produce more truthful revelations than a year’s subscription to the NYT.

TRUMP AND THE GORDIAN KNOT. Washington is said to be considering charging hosts for US bases (at 150%); threatens Turkey; threatens Germany; threatens Italy. I still like my theory that Trump’s doing it on purpose to make them cut the knot.

US MEDIA. A poll shows that “hardly any confidence at all in the press” is the winning answer.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. The bottom is still far away: Dostoevskiy and measles.

NATO. Creating new enemies wherever it goes. “They’re terrorists because their orange groves have been destroyed and they’ve got nothing to do.”

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. The OPCW report of the alleged CW attack in Douma (used as the excuse for an attack by FUKUS – love that acronym!) says no nerve agent. MSM does its best (there are many traces of chlorine in your house) and the US State Department sticks to its line. Its new line that is: yesterday’s line was “Douma symptoms consistent with nerve agent: U.S. State Department“.

UKRAINE. We’re now told that Ukrainian troops in Crimea were ordered to shoot and refused orders. As few in the West remember, most of them either joined the Russian Armed Forces or quit.

UKRAINE ELECTION. The actor is presently leading; nazi groups are taking sides. 17 days to go.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms. They are chosen to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Scientific researchers say Russian social-media trolls who spread discord before the 2016 U.S. presidential election may also have played an unintended role in a developing global health crisis.

From the US state broadcaster RFE/RL

The biggest measles outbreak is in Ukraine which hardly has a state-of-the-art medical system.

And yet………….. it’s the RUSSSSSSHUNZ wot dunnit.

The anti-vaxx notion was given real impetus when the Russian trolls that run the British (but actually Putin-controlled) medical (but actually GRU propaganda outlet) journal Lancet (real name Ланцет) published a paper in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield (real name Эндрю Уэйкфилд) suggesting a link between certain vaccines and autism. The paper has since been retracted.

 

MCCARTHYISM THEN AND NOW: BUT THERE WAS REALITY THEN

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. (Karl Marx)

Humor is reason gone mad. (Groucho Marx)

Every now and again, we hear about a “new McCarthyism“. Usually it’s the alternative media like Truthdig or Consortium News or left-wing outlets because mainstream outlets are so sunk in Trumpophobia that they have forgotten what the expression means. It’s not Trump who’s the new McCarthy (Trumpism Is the New McCarthyism or Is Donald Trump The New Joe McCarthy?) it is they: Is Trump Putin’s Puppet?, Trump Is Making the Case That He’s Putin’s Puppet; calling other people Moscow puppets is precisely what McCarthy did. And today’s Russhysteria has spread outside the USA: France to Probe Possible Russian Influence on Yellow Vest Riots; Why Putin Is Meddling in Britain’s Brexit Vote; Spain: ‘Misinformation’ on Catalonia referendum came from Russia. Endless torrents of delirium, nothing too absurd: Russia could freeze us to death!, Russian cricket agents, 14-legged killer squid found TWO MILES beneath Antarctica being weaponised by Putin? The Russophobes find Moscow’s influence everywhere: childrens’ cartoons, fishsticks, Pokemon. People who like to imagine that they’re taken seriously suggest the Russians are threatened by our “quality”.

But not so threatened, it appears, by our mental qualities.

Joseph McCarthy, making much of (and perhaps improving upon) his war record, was elected a US Senator in 1946. After three years in which he attracted little attention, he rose to national prominence with a speech in February 1950 in which he claimed to have a list of Communist Party members active in the the US State Department. There is still debate today about the precise numbers he claimed and to what degree he was used by other actors. But he realised he was on to a good thing (he secured re-election in 1952) and kept “revealing” communists in the government and elsewhere. Televised hearings showed his vituperative and erratic nature; the Senate censured him in 1954 and he faded away. “McCarthyism” has become a doubleplusungood swearword so stripped of meaning that it can be shaped into mud to be thrown at Trump.

But – and a very big but – whatever McCarthy’s motivation or cynicism, however unpleasant, shifty and unshaven he looked on TV, there was a reality behind what he was saying.

  • ITEM. August 1945. Elizabeth Bentley approaches the FBI and eventually reveals the spying activities of the CPUSA.
  • ITEM. September 1945. Igor Guzenko defects in Ottawa, revealing the extent of spying on its allies by the USSR. Thanks to his information Alan Nunn May, part of the British contribution to the atomic bomb project, is arrested March 1946. A number of Canadians are arrested – including the MP Fred Rose.
  • ITEM. August 1948. Whittaker Chambers, a CPUSA member disgusted by the Hitler-Stalin pact, in testimony to HUAC, names Alger Hiss, a senior State Department official, as a CPUSA agent.
  • ITEM. January 1950. Klaus Fuchs, an important player in the atomic bomb project, admits to spying for the USSR. His confession leads to Harry Gold (arrested May, 1950) which leads to David Greenglass (arrested June 1950), which leads to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (arrested in June and August 1950). The Manhattan Project was well infiltrated by Soviet agents.
  • ITEM. February 1950. McCarthy’s speech.
  • ITEM. Beginning in summer 1951 with the defection of Burgess and Maclean and only ending with the discovery of the last member in 1979, the revelation of extensive penetration by the Soviets of British intelligence – the Cambridge Five – caused continuing investigations and suspicions which tied up the CIA and SIS for years.

In conclusion, whatever you think of the man himself, “McCarthyism” was based on reality: there was extensive Soviet penetration in the USA and elsewhere.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

And today? The equivalent of McCarthy’s speech are the Clinton campaign’s excuses for losing.

We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election. (Hillary Clinton, 19 October 2016.)

That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. [9 November 2016] Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument. (From Shattered, quoted here.)

After the story had been happily re-typed by the complaisant media, the “intelligence community” weighed in with two fatuous “intelligence assessments”:

ITEM. The DHS/FBI report of 29 December 2016 carried this stunning disclaimer:

This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.

ITEM. The DNI report of 6 January 2017 crazily devoted nearly half its space to a four-year old rant about RT. But the real clue that the report was nonsense was its equally stunning disclaimer:

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.

In other words, DHS told us to ignore its report and the one agency in the US intelligence structure that would actually know who hacked what refused to sign its name to it.

And not “all 17”, only three. Then – the final nail – not really the three but only “hand-picked” people from them. Eventually, the NYT issued a correction. (“Correction” being presstitute-speak for “you caught us”.)

The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community. (New York Times correction, 29 June 2017)

And that was the beginning of the story that has consumed so much effort, done so much damage, metastasised so far and continues today. No Elizabeth Bentley, no atomic spies, no Venona. Only 1) an excuse for losing, 2) “hand-picked” writers, 3) forced plea deals and 4) the pompous indictment of a Russian click bait farm.

The fons et origo of today’s Russhysteria, I am convinced, was a conspiracy in the security organs to derail Trump’s candidacy and when that failed, to overthrow him. Little by little that story is dribbling out:

Congressional testimony backs up former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s account that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was talking to high-level officials about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.

One can only hope that the conspiracy will finally be so revealed and so proven and so obvious that even the consumers of CNN, MSNBC, The Guardian, the NYT and the rest will understand what was really going on. Then, maybe, we can hope to edge away from the highly dangerous anti-Russia hysteria.

McCarthyism was based on reality, today’s recurrence is not. A significant difference indeed.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Lavrenti Beria is reputed to have said “give me the man, and I will give you the crime”. And sleep depravation and teeth and blood on the floor delivered the confession. How little he understood his craft. Maria Butina, an innocent if naïve Russian girl who liked the Second Amendment, arrested, stuck in solitary, on suicide watch (sleep deprivation – Beria knew about that), innumerable charges, after months, makes a plea deal. Michael Flynn, innumerable charges, savings burnt up, makes a plea deal. Paul Manafort, early morning SWAT attack (Beria recognises that), innumerable charges, makes a plea deal. Cohen, Papadopoulos and so on. That’s the American justice system – not Stalin’s “beat, beat and beat again” – just innumerable charges, bankruptcy by lawyers’ fees, endless interrogations, SWAT raids. Then the plea deal. Beria was an amateur.

So the Marx brothers are both wrong: the second time it’s a much more dangerous tragedy and, when you actually see it in reality, reason gone mad isn’t actually very funny.

THE END OF THE INF TREATY

(Question from Sputnik. Picked up by UrduPoint — I’m always fascinated to see how far these things go.)

The Cold War left us with four important arms treaties. The ABM Treaty (1972) forbade anti ballistic missiles, the INF Treaty (1987) forbade intermediate range nuclear weapons, the CFE Treaty (1990 and modified) limited conventional weapons and the START Treaty (1991 and renewed) limited nuclear weapons. Washington abrogated the ABM Treaty in 2002; NATO never ratified the modified CFE Treaty and invented so many new conditions that Russia, which had ratified it, pulled out in 2015; Washington has just pulled out of the INF Treaty. All that remains is the New START Treaty of 2011, and given that Trump has called it a “bad deal”, we cannot expect that one to last either.

So it looks as if the entire arms control regime inherited from the Cold War will be gone in a few years: in all cases the initiative has come from Washington although Moscow has (of course) been blamed.

One can interpret Trump’s decision as the latest step in a exceptionalist/unipolar tendency in which Washington, confident that it can secure “full spectrum dominance”, throws out all agreements which limit it: Trump has boasted that the US will outspend everyone else. (And that it certainly will but are US weapons today designed to fight wars or generate cost overruns?) On the other hand, it may be another example of Trump’s negotiation style which we’ve seen with Korea and NAFTA: awful threats, extreme statements, bluster and then a negotiated settlement; Trump has several times suggested that he would like a new treaty, this time including China.

How realistic this strategy is remains to be seen. I don’t see any particular incentive for Beijing to bother and Moscow, which had foreseen the future when the ABM Treaty was dropped, already has weapons that can counter any intermediate threat Washington can come up with whether it’s Kalibre cruise missiles on land or Tsirkon hypersonic missiles in submarines off the US coastline.

And, now that their ally has painted targets on their backs, what will the Europeans do? They certainly weren’t happy the last time Washington wanted to base intermediate missiles there.

COMMENTS FROM THE LOCKED WARD

(Miscellaneous comments from pieces dealing with Russia I’ve collected. Most of them anonymous or with pseudonyms. They are chosen to illustrate either rabid hostility to everything Russian or stone-dead ignorance of present reality. I post from time to time when I have enough, spelling mistakes and all.)

Found out today that my son is being required to read a Russian book, the Brothers Karamazov, for his AP English class. What has our country come to when we are being REQUIRED to consume Russian propaganda in our schools? Can’t wait for Mueller’s report.

— Tweet from some anti-Trump “resistance” member.

Is this a parody? Maybe, but how can you tell these days?