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.)

Trump has criticized President Obama in foreign policy matters but refuses to say anything negative about Putin who he is clearly taking orders from in this Iran imbroglio. He is a comprised fool and a danger to our Nation.

I bet you Putin rang you and told you not too

 

Response to Trump tweets on why he didn’t attack Iran, 21 June 2019

A MONTH IN THE LIFE OF THE WORLD’S RICHEST MAN

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

Between one hundred billion and one hundred and sixty billion dollars. That’s a lot of moolah. Taking the lower number, that’s a line of thousand dollar bills half way to the Moon. Personal yacht? buy the latest Princess cruise ship, staff it, have it all to yourself forever and still have 99 billion or so to fool around with. A brand new Italian super car every day for ten years wouldn’t make much of a dent. You like to cruise? Reserve the Owner’s suite on every Princess cruise ship and have a private plane standing by 24/7 just in case. Hotels? Buy a couple in your favourite part of the world; permanently rent the Emperor’s Suite in a couple of dozen others. Put yourself into orbit on your private orbiter. Private planes? how about a double-decker Airbus? Only a billion for two. Private Caribbean island? Lots to choose from. Hire a bunch of healthy organ donors and a mobile hospital to follow you around. Anything. Build a new Great Pyramid, it’s chump change out of $100 billion. Endow a university chair to study your life and works. Fill Easter Island with giant statues of yourself. It would be impossible to spend that much in a human lifetime.

This, we are told, is the extent of Putin’s wealth.

In the book, “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy,” Aslund estimates that through the practice of “crony capitalism,” Putin has amassed a net worth between $100 billion and $160 billion, which would make him richer than the officially wealthiest man in the world, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.

(Love that “net” – sounds so precise.) Pfeh! says Browder: a measly one hundred – try two hundred billion! Nah! A trivial seventy billion says somebody else. Why not eleventy-seven squintillion? Net.

The origin of the “Putin is fabulously rich” story seems to have been this interview with Stanislav Belkovskiy (certainly he’s used as the source often enough.) Russia is about to collapse, nothing is working properly: agriculture, banking; all failing. But Putin & Co have trousered millions for the day when they will have to get out:

Putin knows that extremely destructive processes are going on that he simply can not control. Therefore, it is important for him to leave the game, as long as the explosion has not yet occurred. There will be no third term for him.

The acuity of this analysis is spoiled a bit by the fact that, twelve years later, Putin and Russia are still there. Belkovskiy turns out to be the cousin of Boris Berezovskiy which gives away his motivation. Boris Berezovskiy, by the way, was the chief anti-Putinist until he begged Putin to be allowed back in. Whereupon he committed suicide. They say.

And where, by the way, does Putin keep all the gelt?

Not a good idea to do it offshore, especially when you consider suggestions like “Why Exposing Putin’s Wealth Would Be Obama’s Best Revenge” or “Why not seize Putin’s assets?” or “US ready to target Russian president’s hidden $40bn stash“. But where inside? A gigantic bag of paper rubles will be worth nothing when Russia crashes. Gold? but gold is heavy and hard to move at the Last Moment. Title deeds? Gazprom shares? Same problem: if he’s squirrelling it away against the day the building collapses, it doesn’t make much sense to keep it in the building, does it?

But these are questions nobody asks.

Remember the Panama Papers? First they were about Putin; then when somebody noticed that the word “Putin” didn’t appear anywhere, they were by Putin. But bubbles keep bubbling. Leaked US diplomatic cables citing opposition sources (opposition sources are the gold standard of reliability, aren’t they?) NYT speculates away: “it [the Obama Administration] is sending a not-very-subtle message that it thinks it knows where the Russian leader has his money“. The Sun hit it out of the park in 2016: “many believe” “claimed” “claimed” “rumoured” “believe he could be” “alleged” “alleged” “said to be” “alleged”. How many tonnes of rumours equal one gram of fact?

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

Let’s have a look at how the world’s wealthiest man spent his time in April 2019. English and Russian.

  • Monday 1 April: telephone conversations with three foreign leaders, meeting with a businessman
  • Tuesday 2 April: more phone calls, another businessman, congratulations
  • Wednesday 3 April: visit to a factory, birthday greetings, meeting with a foreign leader and discussions, press statement on same
  • Thursday 4 April: meetings with two foreign leaders, an opening ceremony, condolences
  • Friday 5 April: government committee meeting, more greetings
  • Saturday 6 April: no activity noted
  • Sunday 7 April: greetings and a phone call to a foreign official
  • Monday 8 April: more greetings, talks with foreign officials, press conference on same
  • Tuesday 9 April: greetings, meetings with several foreign leaders, attend international forum
  • Wednesday 10 April: more greetings, meeting with foreign leader, meeting with Russian official, meeting with government committee, church visit
  • Thursday 11 April: greetings, ceremony, government meeting
  • Friday 12 April: congratulations, factory visit, meeting with foreign businessman, gala event
  • Saturday 13 April: quiet day: just greetings to a judo tournament
  • Sunday 14 April: no activity noted.

In the rest of the month, nine government meetings, two phone calls to foreign leaders, eight meetings with foreign leaders or officials, five meetings with Russians, five international talks or forums, two trips inside Russia, three news conferences or interviews, one foreign trip and two ceremonies. Two days off, one of which was Easter when he went to church. And so on; the month before the same and the month after. Month after month.

Fun eh? Where’s the time to play with his yachts, visit his palaces, wind up his watch collection? The man works all the time. What’s the point of being the world’s richest man if you slave away in meeting after meeting, interviews, endless paperwork, strategy sessions, planning meetings, briefing notes, meeting preparations, debriefings? Doesn’t sound like some guy who’s trousered huge sums of money, does it? More like the hard-working president of his country.

But maybe the wealth is more of a concept, really. Navalniy, “Russia’s Last Opposition Hero“, helpfully suggests “The czar of corruption owns everything and nothing“. I guess that means Putin’s wealth is some figure between zero and infinity.

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

So, we’re supposed to believe that Putin has used his position to steal vast sums which he can safely hide neither at home nor abroad, sums of which he doesn’t spend a kopek because he’s too busy sending greetings to The Age of Archaeology: Discoveries, Goals, Perspectives International Forum, answering media questions about the latest meeting with the President of Turkey and holding meetings with the Russian Security Council. On his off days, he spends two hours standing in church.

But it’s all a GIGO circle: people with a grudge against Putin (Berezovskiy’s cousin, the inventor of the Magnitskiy fraud, Integrity Initiative trolls) tell the punters what they want to hear. There are lots of folk-tales about smart little guys tricking stupid giants (ATU 328 in fact); the giant, hearing what he wants to hear, believes it. Russia, they imagine, is a sort of mafia project of which Putin is the capo di tutti capi and dips his beak into every deal. After being told what they want to hear by people who want to tell them what they want to hear, they decide that sanctioning the underbosses will make them turn against Putin. And, with Washington’s customary expectation that changing the Boss will change the whole country, they do this. Over and over again.

And they never learn. Years of unbroken failure never seem to teach them anything. The sanctions aren’t working because the assumption is wrong. These are the very same people who promised a quick victory in Afghanistan, a quick victory in Iraq and are now promising a quick victory in Iran; their learning curve is absolutely flat.

As someone observed: the US bench (read NATO and the UK too) on Russia is very shallow. Their intelligence is lousy and their unbroken record of failure should teach them that.

But it doesn’t, they continue and people make money and serve their own ends by encouraging them to do so. Jack tricks the giant and gets a bag of gold. Two million quid in the case of Integrity Jack.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 13 JUNE 2019

CORRUPTION. I haven’t written much on the subject lately not because corruption in Russia has stopped, but because I haven’t seen much to comment on. But there are some things this week that are worth reporting. An official has been charged with fraud: in essence taking money for something that wasn’t done. Another more complex case combines organised crime, officials, embezzlement on state projects and incomplete plea bargains made earlier by a defendant. The third case involves a traffic accident and the collusion of a forensic expert to get the guilty party off. Further investigation revealed the fake forensic report but the punishment of the expert appears to be trivial. Details are at Southfront. Probably the most interesting case is that of Ivan Golunov. a reporter specialising in corruption stories. He was arrested on drug charges on Friday; immediately his lawyer said the drugs were planted. On Saturday a court released him into house arrest. On Monday three newspapers came out in his support and the Interior Ministry said several different DNA signatures were on the drugs. On Tuesday the prosecution dropped the case, he was freed, the police who arrested him were suspended and an investigation into their conduct opened. Two senior police generals were fired today. Two things strike me: how quickly it happened, and the fact that the Interior Ministry swiftly produced evidence suggesting the drugs were planted. (RFE/RL amusingly spins it as if Putin had personally been behind every step until forced off by public pressure.) My conclusion from all this: plenty of fraud, embezzlement and police misbehaviour but also a system that is, at the very least, making it more difficult for the bad guys.

PUTIN POPULARITY. Also from RFE/RL is this: “Russians’ Trust In Putin Sinks To New Low“. The reference is to a May VtsIOM poll. But there were two questions: in the question of approval of institutions, “President of Russia” scored 65.8%; in the open question of which politician do you trust, “V.V. Putin” scored 31.7%. The Kremlin asked VtsIOM to explain how twice as many people could “approve” as “trust” and the answer was the difference between closed and open questions. I’m a bit confused myself (can there be anybody in Russia who doesn’t know that Putin is President?) but I don’t think that Putin & Co have much to worry about. (And the poll showed that his pedestal party was still well in front. Contrary to what you’d think if you believed the Western media, as customary, the KPRF is second and Zhirinovskiy third; Navalniy is lumped in with the pack sharing 10% support).

SPIEF. Just wrapped up; each year’s bigger than the last. 19 thousand participants from 145 countries, 650 agreements worth 3.1 trillion rubles ($48 billion).

RUSSIA/CHINA. Putin and Xi spent quite a lot of time together: Putin: “truly comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction”; Xi: “high level of bilateral relations and close strategic cooperation”. Putin’s spokesman says it would be wrong to think they were “coordinating efforts” against Washington. Well… not perhaps in exactly those words: maybe they’re just making plans, or taking action.

DOLLAR. “International financial organisations need to adapt and reconsider the role of the dollar, which, as a global reserve currency, has now become an instrument of pressure exerted by the issuing country on the rest of the world.” Said Putin at SPIEF, after much talk with Xi Jinpeng. Neither engages in empty talk or boasting: I think they’re ready to roll. Once Washington started using SWIFT as a weapon it stopped being convenient.

D DAY. Rather curious guest list but this is the rationale. Russia (and other former USSRs) not invited; sets off usual fuss. But two balanced Western takes: AFP and New Statesman. This interesting set of polls show that the Russians do have some reason to feel neuralgic. I will have something soon on SCF arguing that many Russians underestimate the importance of D Day even if Westerners over-hype it. It was an essential part of the 20%.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. “How British spies smuggled secrets about Putin’s new supersonic bomber out of country…” Yeah, sure; then they boasted to the DM. Sounds like the sort of story the Integrity-Challenged Initiative would invent thinking it was a wizard jape.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. According to a Spanish newspaper, Washington is demanding closer integration in weapons manufacturing between the USA and Europe. American LNG is now “freedom gas“, almost twice the price of Russian gas (but, as we all know “freedom isn’t free”:) And Ankara has until 31 Jul to drop the S400 purchase or no F35s (a threat or a promise? Latest F35 catastrophe). Erdoğan remains defiant. Trump mulls sanctions over NordStream 2. “From now on, the US will put might over market” and Europe may have to choose between the two.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

VICTORY DAY

First published Strategic Culture Foundation under the title “Why Russia’s Victory Day Was Crucial for the Survival of ‘European Values'”

This is the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Belgium on 18 April 2018. It has been performed every night since 1928 except during the German occupation. What you see above is, as I calculate, the 31,237th performance; at the moment of writing, it has happened another 401 times and will again tomorrow night. Through this gate – much rebuilt – passed the majority of British Empire soldiers in the First World War. Including my Great-Uncle Roland Lines (killed in 1916) and my wife’s Grandfather John Thompson who made it all the way through.

Battle of Britain Day is commemorated with flypasts and solemn ceremonies. In the USA Memorial Day honors veterans and military graves are tidied and decorated. For decades there has been a standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. Remembrance Day, celebrated throughout the Commonwealth (and even in Moscow once) attracts ever-larger crowds in Ottawa. In 2000 an unidentified body was recovered from one of the Canadian grave sites around Vimy Ridge and interred in a sarcophagus at the National War Memorial in Ottawa with a huge crowd watching. Since 1945, the Netherlands has sent Ottawa tens of thousands of tulip bulbs in thanks for liberation by the Canadian Army. Since 1947 Oslo has sent a giant Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square. D-Day commemorations are larger every year. The Juno Beach Centre was opened in 2003 – 59 years after the event. The Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center was opened four years later.

We shall remember them“. People do remember: in different ways, at different times. Tim Cook describes how the memory of the Canadian Corps victory at Vimy Ridge has waxed and waned over the years until today it eclipses everything else.

It’s true that governments have different motives for emphasising this or that, but, if the people do not follow, the memorials fall flat. And traditions grow: in Canada placing one’s poppy – the World War One symbol throughout the Commonwealthon the Grave appears to have developed spontaneously. All these varied ceremonies, retrospective memorials, changing attitudes go on in many countries without the accompaniment of snarky op-ed writers babbling about ostentation, legitimise, ominous nostalgia, personality cults, military muscle, rattling swords or perpetuating a war mystique to shore up failing popularity.

Except about Russia.

Of course, not, never, not about Russia.

Victory Day – 9 May in Russia because of time zones rather than the 8 May VE-Day celebrated by the Western Allies. Here is a video of the real thing and here is a re-enactment.

Some numbers. There is a rough agreement that 80% of the German and German allied military casualties occurred on the Soviet front; the rest of us – UK, USA, Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand and all the European resistance movements – accounting for the other 20%. In the process, according to the latest numbers, 27 million Soviet citizens died.

A political officer polled his rifle battalion in January 1945 and found that 208 of the 300 soldiers had had a family member killed by the Germans; I doubt that any of the American, British or Canadian battalions attacking on D-Day would have found the same. Soviet soldiers who made it from Moscow to Berlin – and I actually met one once – spent months fighting through the total destruction of their homeland. Anglosphere wars are usually fought offstage: we have no idea. For the Soviets some numbers of the destruction — estimates, of course. Sacred War has become the anthem, and Russian audiences stand and uncover when they hear it. Other countries have other songs, but for Russia the Second World War was the slaughterhouse.

For us the slaughterhouse was 1914-1918 when about 60,000 Canadians were killed (population then about eight million). Gregory Clark’s father told him and his brother to walk down the back alley because, of all the sons on that street, they were the only ones still alive. (And it irritates me that most Canadians have never heard of Canada’s Hundred Days or know what 8 August means.) 1939-1945 killed about 40,000 Canadians (population about eleven million) so, naturally, the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month is more sacred to us than 7/8 May.

These are sacred dates. Were the wars “worth it”? Who can say? Alternative history is not convincing. What happened, happened. But the suffering and sacrifice is worthy of honour and remembrance.

But, even so, who would dare say that the defeat of Hitlerism was not a “sacred war”? Only “self-hating Russians” as Paul Robinson puts it: “the self-hating Russian has to deny anything positive about Russian history as well.”

In a word, The USSR, with significant help from the rest of us, defeated Hitler and changed the world away from that dark and horrible future. At enormous cost.

So, Masha Gessen, lose your snark: it is your Grandmother’s day: I know that you’re paid to believe what you believe to be paid but there’s a reality out there and without Zhukov and the rest of them (Stalin too) you wouldn’t have been alive to leave the USSR in 1981. Self-hating.

Wars are terrible. People are killed by mistakes, corruption, incompetence, accident, random events. Bravery and self-sacrifice too. Higher ups decide that this regiment has to make a diversionary attack; hundreds killed. Somebody isn’t paying attention, reads the map wrong, looks in the wrong direction; hundreds killed. It’s never a contest between the Archangel Michael and Satan: it’s only humans. But all this has to be commemorated and respected: people – your people – suffered and died to make the future you live in.

Yes, the history of Victory Day in the USSR/Russia has varied, is malleable and has been re-purposed to fit The Story Of The Moment. There was a big celebration in June 1945Zhukov on a horse, Nazi banners. But Stalin didn’t like to share the limelight and Zhukov got a bit too big and the celebration faded away. Victory Day began to re-appear in 1965 and grew until 1985. It suffered in the general decline until its reappearance in 1995 – the fiftieth anniversary – brought it back. It has now subsumed the May Day military parade and is the Big Day of modern Russia.

But Russia/USSR is not alone in redesigning the past: why would Canada wait 80 years to decide it needed a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier killed in a battle in 1917; why would Americans decide six decades later that D-Day needed a commemorative museum? It’s complicated, it’s involved: there is no easy answer. People don’t forget but they do need to be reminded and governments think they will gain some advantage from reminding them. So in the West, so in Russia.

So, yes. Putin, or somebody in his apparat, may very well have said we need a big military parade on Victory Day (which we’re going to turn into a Really Big Event) because NATO is expanding, Washington and the EU are sanctioning, and the united voice of the Western MSM is accusing and we need support. Time to

  • push the Great Patriotic War
  • which we won
  • and show that today we have lots of pretty effective weaponry
  • in case somebody tries to do it again.

But if the population doesn’t go along with it it falls flat. I mentioned the poppies on the Grave in Canada as a sign that, whatever cynical motives you may ascribe to governments, the population either responds and makes it real, or does not and exposes it as fake.

Back to Russia: the Immortal regiment. A spontaneous development that shows the Western commentariat’s smirking scorn to be “a tinkling cymbal“. Begun in Tomsk in 2011, the idea was that ordinary people, bearing portraits of ancestors who endured the war, should march after the official parade. The notion has spread throughout Russia and around the world. There is nothing to suggest it won’t get bigger. And why not? What would the world look like without their their 80% and our 20%? Read RFE/RL’s snarky and ignorant take; after that, to cleanse your palate, read Gilbert Doctorow’s respectful and understanding take.

They died so that we might live.

Oh, and speaking of “European values”; without the Soviets (80%) and the Anglosphere (20%), today’s “European values” would have a lot more leather and straight-armed salutes than they do today, wouldn’t they?

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 30 MAY 2019

THE LIE. The Mueller report kills half of the lie (Trump colluded) but the other half (Russia interfered) is still alive. But things are happening. One well-informed reporter says Trump told AG Barr to “find out what happened”; Barr ran into resistance; went back to Trump who gave him the authority to declassify everything. The Trump conspiracy began with several entrapment efforts (mostly done in the UK so as to create a bogus “intelligence trail”); one of the innocents is suing. She was supposed to be “Putin’s honeytrap” for Flynn: details here. Flynn was an important target because, as former head of US military intelligence (DIA), he knew where many bodies were buried. George Papadopoulos, victim of another entrapment attempt, has been speaking out. Details occasionally make it into the corporate media.

VICTORY DAY. Immortal Regiment. Moscow parade. I say Western media hacks should lose the snark.

CHURCH. There’s a kerfuffle about re-building a church in Yekaterinburg. Some want The Boss to decide; the Boss wisely said it’s a local issue and perhaps a poll should be taken.

BUTINA. Her show trial is over: “jailed for the crime of being Russian“.

PATIENCE AND THE LONG GAME. Russia’s voting rights have been restored in the Council of Europe. I don’t know how significant that is, but it’s a change from the pattern. After all, Moscow’s not going anywhere but Washington might be.

AVIATION. The Prosecutor-General says the recent jet crash exposed the serious lack of proper standards and enforcement in the Russian aviation industry.

RAND. Has published a study on how to defeat Russia. And it’s…. drumroll… more sanctions! More pressure on allies not to buy Russian gas! Usual rubbish about Russia being a weak state, over-dependent on oil and gas, tiny economy, with many fault lines. Russia should be encouraged to over-extend itself militarily. (That’s projection; but whatever, the authors were paid.) A more intelligent consideration would look at 1) how and where the sanctions have strengthened Russia’s economy 2) how Russia has managed to checkmate US military superiority by focussing on its weak points and 3) how it is that Russia constantly surprises people like the authors of pieces like this one. Leading to an understanding that the the “US government has a very shallow bench on Russia“.

BAD DAYS FOR THE FABRICATORS. In a puff piece about how difficult it is for the CIA Director to deliver “facts and assessments” to her attention-deficit (blah blah blah, etc etc), boss, the NYT made a major slip-up: she only got Trump to go along with the story when she showed him photos of dead ducks and sick children. But there were no such things. Her lies or British lies, but lies they were. And then somebody leaked the suppressed engineer report: no, not through the roof, placed there. A corporate media outlet finally mentions it. OPCW squirms unconvincingly.

WESTERN VALUES™ I guess the famous “Rules-Based International Order” doesn’t include the Vienna Convention any more. (Second time, BTW.) Wait until somebody does it to a US embassy.

NEOCONFUSION. Justin Raimondo suggests Trump may appointed Bolton and Pompeo to humiliate the neocons. If so, it’s working. After Washington sanctioned Venezuelan oil, imports of sanctioned Russian oil imports rose dramatically. Flop after flop in the Venezuelan regime change operation. The Pentagon boasts it deterred Iran from doing something it hadn’t done and wasn’t about to. Charging Assange may be backfiring. Now Bolton boasts that the US will have a year-round presence in the Arctic; “soon“. In the real world, the US Coast Guard dares not go there and Russia just launched its third monster icebreaker.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. “Tulsi Gabbard’s Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists.”

SATIRE IS IMPOSSIBLE. I publish this, this appears: eyes down, trust BB, Putinbots everywhere!

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. A Beluga whale that hangs around people; exactly the behaviour you’d expect from one of Putin’s spy whales! The NYT, welded to the lie, opines that Barr’s inquiry might expose a “person close to Mr. Putin”. Oops! NYT, you just did (shows that they don’t even read the handouts they re-type). English needs a new vocabulary for the concept of “stupid”.

UKRAINE ELECTION. He was invited everywhere, pressed the flesh with everyone, has a whole wall of ego pictures; in the end he was defeated by Anybody-At-All. I have no idea what Zelensky will turn out to be and I doubt anyone else does either. But the conclusion is that the entire “revolution of dignity” fiasco has been rejected: whatever Ukraine the voters want, it’s not the one Nuland & Co gave them.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR PROTECTING DEMOCRACY AGAINST PUTIN

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation titled “What If Mainstream Media’s Message About Putin Was Delivered in Orwell’s Language?”, picked up by ZeroHedge, SOTT, and others.)

The West is under attack by Putin; he is at war with us and wars demand extreme measures. Putin’s influence is spreading: everywhere he is nibbling away at the foundations of democratic society. He is the dictator of Russia; still evil, still an empire; Russians are genetically driven to co-opt and penetrate and gain favour: it’s who they are and what they do. Russian scum! Putin interferes in referendums and elections all over the democratic world. A world that, for no good reason except his own needs, he calls his enemy. When his bots swung the US election and made his puppet POTUS, the world community began to wake up to the threat. Putin is bent on restoring the USSR and, until he can, he assembles an empire of losers, basket-cases and rogue states. When the weather is cold, we should fear him more. Putin’s whole existence depends on having an enemy and we are that enemy. We must defend against Putin’s threat to democracy; he threatens our democracy because he hates democracy and he fears democracy. We must defend against these multi-faceted, aggressive, unacceptable, bullying, continual and sinister attacks on the Rules-Based International Order which our democracies uphold. (Added to which, he’s short and can’t hide the fact and that makes him a megalomaniac.)

I humbly offer a few proposals so that we can better defend our precious heritage of democracy against his attacks.

  • Putin hates democratic elections and seeks to twist them to his ends. He will interfere in Your Democracy’s elections. If your Ruling Party loses, it’s because Putin wanted it to lose and interfered with the voting: if your Ruling Party loses, Putin wins. Therefore, the “election” must be annulled and the Ruling Party must stay in power. That way Putin loses and we all win.
  • Putin seeks to sow division in Your Democracy. Disagreement with the Ruling Party’s policy helps Putin divide us. Russian bots are ceaselessly trying to sow division; therefore you, as a True Democrat, must resist all attempts to disagree with your Ruling Party. Remember, disagreeing with the Ruling Party is what Putin wants you to do and that means he wins; agreeing with the Ruling Party means we all win and Putin loses.
  • As a corollary, objectively speaking, if you disagree with the Ruling Party, you are agreeing with Putin and he wins. Putin hates what the Ruling Party stands for and you, as a True Democrat, shouldn’t hate what Putin hates. So love the Ruling Party: we all win and Putin loses.
  • Putin and his legions of trolls engage in hybrid warfare an important part of which is the spreading of fake news. Putin and his trolls know that, while full mind control may not be possible or practical, sowing doubt is much easier. The True Democrat will never risk the chance of having his opinions infiltrated and therefore will be careful to read only news that has been first authenticated by responsible news outlets. Reading unauthenticated stories can let Putin into your brain. Keep him out and we all win.
  • Putin uses social media to spread fake news and sow division in Your Democracy. It was one of the most important of his tools in winning the election for his stooge Trump. Putin is subtle – he even uses children’s cartoons and he has weaponised humour – and we must be protected if we don’t want him to win. The True Democrat will encourage efforts to regulate social media by trusted and reliable authorities such as the aptly-named Minister of Democratic Institutions in Canada. If Putin wins, we all lose!
  • Putin needs useful idiots in Your Democracy to further his aims. Therefore the True Democrat will continually examine his thoughts to see whether any doubt or divisions are taking root: Putin wants us all to live in his “paranoid and polarized world“. If you find any division in your mind, Putin has put it there and you should make full confession to the authorities so that the rot may be stopped early and the damage repaired. The True Democrat will monitor his neighbours for signs of infection. Always remember that doubting the Ruling Party is what Putin wants you to do: stop doubting and we all win and Putin loses.
  • Your Democracy’s security services work hard to protect our freedoms against Putin’s attacks. Putin wants us to criticise and impede the work of these brave men and women who put their lives on the line for us. Only Putin is served when these institutions are attacked. Support our brave men and women in all that they do to protect us. In that way we all win and Putin loses.
  • From time to time, although they never start wars, democracies must use military force to end evil in the world. Putin is on the side of evil – he opposes the Rules-Based International Order – and he supports, when he is not actually causing, most of the evil and suffering in the world. As a dictator himself, he invariably sides with dictators who are torturing their populations. Dictators are repugnant to True Democracies and, therefore, they must occasionally take up arms in order to secure peace and order and punish the dictator’s “cruel indifference to the suffering of his people“. True Democrats understand this and support the Ruling Party in its occasional but justified uses of limited force. Objectively speaking, opposing these wars is the same as supporting Putin. True Democrats understand that wars must be fought for the sake of peace so we can all win and Putin can lose.

War against Putin is Peace

Freedom to Question is Slavery to Putin

Ignorance of Putin is Strength

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

NOTE: Satire has become impossible these days. No sooner had my piece been published when this appeared: “How to avoid accidentally becoming a Russian agent” by Jennifer Grygiel,  an assistant professor of communications (social media) & magazine at Syracuse University.

American citizens are unwittingly becoming Russian agents. That’s an unavoidable conclusion of Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and an important problem that requires a change in thinking about how people interact on social media. Old adages like “Don’t talk to strangers” don’t really apply in a hyperconnected world. A more accurate replacement is perhaps even more worrying, though: “If you talk to strangers online, assume they are spies until proven otherwise.”

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME AFTER MUELLER

First published at Strategic Culture Foundation, picked up by ZeroHedge, Russophile, Southfront

The West – its governments and its governments’ scribes – are obsessed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Obsessed” is probably too weak a word to describe the years of impassioned coverage, airy speculation and downright nonsense. He is the world’s leading cover boy: military hats, Lenin poses, imperial crowns, scary red eyes, strait-jackets, clown hats; anything and everything. He’s the avatar of Stalin, he’s the avatar of the Tsars, he’s the Joker, he’s Cthulhu, he’s Voldemort, he’s Satan. He’s the palimpsest for the New World Order’s nightmares. Putin is always messing with our minds. He weaponises information, misinformation and sexual assault accusations. Childrens’ cartoons, fishsticks, Pokemon and Yellow Vests, “Putin’s warships” are lurking when they aren’t stalking; “Putin’s warplanes” penetrate European airspace; “Putin’s tanks”, massing in 2016, massing in 2018, still massing. His empire of rogue states grows. All Putin, all the time.

In an especially imbecile display in 2015, Western reporters (unable to find his website) thinking he hadn’t been seen for several days started a contest of speculation about coups, death, wars, plastic surgery, secret births and other nonsense; when he “re-appeared”, the story went down the Memory Hole.

For some reason, Americans personalise everything. In meetings with US intelligence agencies I was always fascinated how they would reduce every complicated reality to a single individual. But it isn’t Saddam, or Assad, or Qaddafi, or Osama, or Aidid, or Milosevic, or Maduro, or Castro or any of the other villains-of-the-day, it’s a whole country: these people got to the top for good reasons. Removing the boss makes some difference but never all the difference. They go but they never leave a Washington-friendly country behind and Washington does it all over again somewhere else. This peculiar blindness drives Putin Derangement Syndrome and has infected everybody else.

But Putin is much worse than the others. The other enemies had relatively weak countries but Russia could obliterate the USA. But worse, Putin’s team has steadily become more powerful and more influential. And worst of all, he’s still there: huffing and puffing has not blown him down, sanctions strengthen the economy and there is nothing to suggest he won’t be succeeded by someone who carries on the same policies. It’s a whole country, not just one man.

Vladimir Putin is the biggest man on earth.

Except that he’s short and can’t hide it. He’s a megalomaniac because he’s short; he’s trying to prove his bigness; napoleon complex says some shrink. Just another in a long list of crackpot “expert” opinions. From a list I complied in 2015: Asperger’s Syndrome, cancer of the spinal cord, personality disorders, gayness, Parkinson’s Disease, psychopath, people don’t like him so animals have to, sinister, lonely life, fears his own people, envious of Obama. Remember the gunslinger walk“? Oh, in case you hadn’t heard, he was in the KGB and that explains everything: “Once a KGB man, always a KGB man”. Nothing is too absurd.

But laughing has passed – Putin Derangement Syndrome has become dangerous.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton lost a sure-fire election to Donald Trump and, looking for an excuse, jumped on the Russia claim. Putin Derangement Syndrome was ramped up to a much more dangerous level. War-level dangerous.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said President Donald Trump’s administration is doing nothing to stop Russians from interfering in the 2018 election cycle, comparing the lack of action on the part of the president to the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks that killed thousands of Americans.

A popular actor made a video to tell us were were at war. “Warfare” says Haley, “act of war” said John McCain, could be says Cheney, 911 says Clinton, disappointed CIA guy agrees, Pearl Harbor says Nadler. Diplomatic expulsions and sanctions and more sanctions. These are much more serious than gassy op-eds about Putin’s gait or fish weights, these are actions: actions have consequences. Moscow doesn’t find war talk very funny.

Clinton’s victory was 99% certain until it wasn’t and excuses were needed. Clinton went through a lot of them but “Russian interference” was always the big one.

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.)

In What Happened, Clinton also says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for Trump was driven by his own anti-women sentiment, stacking the deck against her: “What Putin wanted to do was…influence our election, and he’s not exactly fond of strong women, so you add that together and that’s pretty much what it means.” At press events for her memoir, Clinton continues to warn Americans against Russia’s power over Trump and the country. “The Russians aren’t done. This is an ongoing threat, and that is one of the reasons why I wrote the book and one of the reasons I’m talking about it,” she said on Sunday at Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival. (Newsweek)

Her claim is, to put it mildly, unproven; the so-called “all 17 agencies” report notwithstanding. (The first premise that it was hacked is here disproved: downloaded by someone in the building). Her accusation moved Putin Derangement Syndrome away from the realm of mere craziness into war talk. Taking the hint, Western politicians, under attack for their lacklustre performances, were happy to push the blame onto Putin. He’s attacking democracy! Western media weighed in until it became completely accepted by some people that anything that spoiled the happy complacency of the Western world must be a result of Putin’s interference: gilets jaunes, “assistance provided to far-right and anti-establishment parties“, he’s the poster boy of the dreaded populism, his populist tentacles reach Hungary and Italy. And the next thing we knew, Putin was mucking around in everybody’s votes: Brexit; Catalonia; Netherlands; Germany; Sweden; Italy; EU in particular and Europe in general; Mexico; Canada. Newsweek gives a helpful list. Sometimes he loses elections: Germany, Ukraine but he goes on, unstopping. But his greatest triumph was said to have been in the US election: he “won” because Donald Trump was his willing puppet.

(None of these “experts” ever seem to wonder why Putin’s influence, so decisive far away, is so ineffective in Ukraine or Georgia. But then, it’s not actually a rational, fact-based belief, is it?)

The entire ramshackle construction is collapsing: if Mueller says there was no collusion then even the last ditch believers will have to accept it: Robert Mueller Prayer Candles are out of stock, time to toss the other tchotchkes, it wasn’t a Mueller Christmas after all. Clinton’s fabrication had two parts to it: 1) Putin interfered/determined the election 2) in collusion with Trump. When the second part is blown up, so must the first be. And then what will happen to all the loyal little allies crying “ours were interfered with too!”? The two halves of the story had the same authors and the same purpose: if one dies, so must the other. Now that Trump is secured from the obstruction charges that hung there as long as Mueller was in session, he is free to declassify the background documents that will show the origin, mechanics, authors and extent of the conspiracy. And he has said he will. In the process, both halves of the story will be destroyed: they’re both lies.

(For those who now realise there is something they have to catch up on: Conrad Black has a good exposition of the overall conspiracy and here is a quick round-up of the mechanics of the conspiracy. This may show its very beginning, three years ago).

Will the exposure of the plot and the plotters end the war-talk stage of Putin Derangement Syndrome? In a rational world, it would (but can its believers be embarrassed by the exposure of their credulity? Can they be made to think it all over again from the beginning?). It is true that Russia stands in the way of the neocons and liberal interventionists who have been guiding Washington this century, but that hardly means that Putin is the enemy of the American people. Because, properly considered, it’s the neocons/liberal interventionists and their endless wars burning up lives, money and good will that are the enemies of Americans; in that respect Putin (unintentionally) stands with the true best interests of the American people. But the propaganda is so strong and the hysteria so unrestrained, that anyone who suggests that blocking the war party is in the best interests of Americans would be run out of town on a rail. (As the attacks on Tulsi Gabbard show.) The USA is far down the rabbit hole. (Although I should say US elites: a Rasmussen poll shows that slightly more Americans think Clinton colluded with a foreign power than think Trump did. Considering the news coverage of the last two and a half years, that’s a very interesting finding.)

So, the sad conclusion is that Putin Derangement Syndrome will probably endure and the best we can hope for is that it is dialled down a bit and the “act of war” nonsense is quietly forgotten. Derangement was strong before the interference/collusion lie and it will exist as long as Putin does: the war party is too invested in personalities ever to realise that it’s Russia, not its president, that’s the obstacle. Let alone ever understand that much of what Moscow does is a pushback against Washington’s aggression.

Let The Onion have the last laugh at this dismal matter:

“What the hell? I worked so hard on this—if I wasn’t colluding with the Trump campaign, who the hell was I colluding with?” said the dumbfounded Russian president, growing increasingly angry as he scrolled through his email inbox and recounted his numerous efforts at covert communication with individuals who he had thought were high-ranking Trump officials, but now he suspected were bots or anonymous internet trolls.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 11 APRIL 2019

IRONY. Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Moscow Region. In his Russian-built Aurus. His previous ride was a Mercedes. I suppose he would eventually have wanted a Russian-made limo, but I can’t help thinking this is another consequence of sanctions.

GPS. If (if) Russian technology really can spoof GPS signals, (if)… then… well… practically everything NATO does or has depends on GPS signals… Without Aegis and GPS, all NATO has left are bayonets, submarines and an expensive building.

RUSSIA/CHINA. It’s clear that a very consequential result of two decades of (stupid and obvious) PNAC machinations is that Moscow and Beijing, not sitting around waiting to be targetted, are drawing ever closer. I’ve been waiting for Beijing to become more active in the front line – so far it’s been letting Moscow take the heat – and it seems that it has. The reports of Chinese soldiers in Venezuela appears to be false, but Chinese aid is certainly arriving and Beijing has pointedly said that Washington does not own Venezuela. Protecting investments certainly, but the larger geopolitical purpose that both know they’re on Washington’s hitlist and are defending themselves cannot be ignored. And, a number of Russian banks have linked to the Chinese alternative to SWIFTCIPS. Beijing and Moscow have a multi-faceted strategy; more below.

PETRODOLLAR. Saudi Arabia is reported to have threatened to drop the “Petrodollar” if Washington goes ahead with certain legislation. It then denied it had done so: well, either way, the point is made, isn’t it? Meanwhile the Central Bank of Russia continues to buy gold, reserves are now reported to be 2,149 tonnes. China, usually silent, has announced its holdings: up 60% since the last announcement.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. In an interesting finding, given the non-stop Trumputin obsession of the corporate media, Rasmussen finds that slightly more respondents are suspicious of Clinton’s collusion with foreign entities than Trump’s. And, just on cue (or maybe it’s something we can expect in the post-Mueller world) the MSM notices Biden’s involvement and interference in Ukrainian corruption (Hill, Times) and a Ukrainian official wondering why Washington isn’t interested in their evidence of money and influence going to the Clinton campaign. Well, maybe Washington will be interested now.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Is the dam finally about to break? Barr Forms Team To Investigate FBI Malfeasance; criminal referrals from Nunes; Ukrainian involvement; FISA warrants; lawsuits; spying on Trump campaign; this. Stay tuned.

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. I speculate on PDS post-Mueller.

WESTERN VALUES. Canada’s Democratic Institutions Minister (apt title eh?) says the Internet should be regulated to protect against election meddling. Who knew Our Democracies were so delicate? I will have a piece coming out in Strategic Culture Foundation to explain how to protect our precious bodily fluids democracies against Putin.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. The US violates Swedish airspace more often than Russia.

TURKEY. When the coup failed two and a half years ago, I predicted that sooner or later, Turkey would leave NATO. Erdoğan blamed Washington for the attempt and there is the persistent story that Moscow saved his life. We move closer. More threats from Washington with Pence telling Ankara to choose between NATO or the S-400 (“done deal” says Foreign Minister); some US senators threaten too. Ankara threatens back and points out that there are other makers of fighter aircraft: Russia, for example. A book published by the US Naval Institute is said by a Turkish newspaper to include a scenario of a conflict with Turkey. Erdoğan was just in Moscow for talks with Putin: here’s the news conference: trade, investment, NPP, TurkStream, tourism, Syria. And weapons. None these subjects will make Washington happy. Why, BTW, would Turkey want Russian air defence missiles? Simple: in case it should become a former friend of Washington: a very dangerous thing to be.

UKRAINE ELECTION. A poll suggests that the losers’ votes are most likely to go to Zelensky in the runoff on the 21st. Putin is apparently a candidate, or is Poroshenko saying Zelensky is Putin’s puppet? More questions than answers: will Poroshenko contrive to cancel the election? Is Zelensky a beard for Kolomoisky? How’s Tymoshenko going to take being knocked out? Has she cut a deal with Zelensky? How much cheating? (And sotto voce: does anybody care any more?) Speculations.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

REALLY STUPID THINGS SAID ABOUT RUSSIA

The fact that Ukraine works as a real democracy, albeit a troubled one, is often cited as perhaps the most important aspect of the election. Unlike the Potemkin elections in neighboring Russia and Belarus, the contest in Ukraine offered voters a real choice, with the outcome unknown.

From the ever-amusing NYT, 31 March 2019

Ummm. Let us reason together. Poroshenko’s popularity is in the single digits; Ukrainians have the lowest trust in the government in the world; Ukraine’s experience since Maidan has been lawlessness, corruption and poverty. Putin, on the other hand, gets headlines in the NYT and other propaganda outlets when his popularity falls below 60%; Russians support their government and its performance under Putin and his team has been remarkable. As far as Belarus is concerned, it and Ukraine started out in about the same situation after the end of the USSR. Potyomkin indeed!

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.)

And the spreading of the story feels very Russian-inspired to me (seeding division). And the worst thing is that it de-legitimizes women who’ve suffered real and harmful incidences of sexual abuse.

A tweet 1 April 2019. It refers to the Biden touching problem.