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?

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 28 FEBRUARY 2019

PUTIN SPEECH. (Eng) (Rus) As I concluded from reading his 1999 essay, Putin at the beginning had four broad intentions: to reverse economic decline, to re-establish central authority, to create a rule of law (or at least a rule of rules) and to make Russia count for something in the world. In 1999 I think he expected goodwill or at least benign indifference from the West. But, as time passed, he came to realise that that was not going to happen because the background rulers of Washington (pick a name: deep state/borg/blob/neocons/exceptionalists/war party) would never permit Russia to rise. The destruction of Libya was the event, I believe, that finally convinced him that the West could not be trusted, that no lasting agreements could be made with it and that its present power must be endured. But, I believe he also understood that hubris would bring its downfall; Russia had to survive through the dangerous times until the inevitable nemesis. (Beijing ditto in its own way, in its own time). Painful, frightening, difficult, dangerous but, with the right preparations, survivable. This necessitated a change of emphasis: as he said at the beginning of the foreign policy/defence part of his speech “Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist”. In short, he (and his team – it’s not a one-man band: note Ivanov’s reappearance) concluded that Russia was in danger. For Russians, defence always comes first – Anglo-Americans have no comprehension of the Russian experience of war. Last year he described some Russian super-weapons – obviously in development for some time – that checkmated Washington. He mentioned another one this time and a subordinate explained how it will nullify whatever Washington comes up with to replace the INF Treaty it destroyed. Whatever Washington can dream up tomorrow Moscow has already blocked: “The U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Race Is Over, and Russia Has Won” (in Newsweek of all places). Now that security has been ensured (and better, I think, than at any time in Russia’s thousand-year history), the original program can be resumed. Therefore, most of his speech (83% by word count) was about the program: birth rate, poverty, infrastructure, administrative simplification, rule of law/rules and modernising. Few in the West get this. RFE has an amusing annotated version of the speech. Roman historical parallels are always fun and fashionable – these guys are like the Optimates: the Republic/world order they think they’re restoring no longer exists.

DEMOGRAPHICS. Karlin’s latest assessment. Summary: fertility boom over, now at EU averages. Life expectancy rising and infant mortality dropping. Read it all, many charts and facts.

INTERNAL POLITICAL CRISIS? From Southfront. Thesis is that sluggish living standards, stagnant political culture, increased taxes and the unpopular pension reform are seriously hurting the popularity of the government. My assessment is that, while there is something to it, the authors overstate the case. Hahn discusses some possible cracks in the inner circle. Certainly things to keep in mind and, if Putin does go at the end of his term (which I expect him to), there will some jostling, but Putin has many times shown that he sees far ahead and I anticipate a smooth transition to a carefully chosen successor. But I mainly make my case on the simple observation that if we compare Russia 2000-2019 with any Western country, the contrast jumps out at you: successful effective government in one and… well… not so much.

INFRASTRUCTURE. Awara report on airports. And, again, roads and bridges. Just talked to a friend back from a long river cruise, who has been there many times since the 1970s – everywhere new construction and restored old. Meanwhile from the Western media, same old, same old.

SKRIPALMANIA. The best theory I’ve seen so far. Of course, you’re free to stay with the official story which now requires you to contemplate why super-deadly “novichok” requires removing the roof of the house while Zizzi’s, old roof and all, is open for business.

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Maybe Russia is “aggressive” because “it feels threatened by the quality of Western institutions and Western alliances“. Then again, maybe not.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Warsaw and Munich. Two cases of the Europeans being rudely ordered to get on board. Last year I suggested Trump was being insulting on purpose in order to cut American foreign entanglements. He certainly has a gift for picking offensive spokesmen.

NEW NWO. A Gallup poll asked respondents in 133 countries to rate four countries’ leadership: Germany 39% approval. China 34%, USA 31% and Russia 30%. The fall of the US is Trumpism (real and imagined) but the rise of Russia and China – especially given the hostility of the MSM – is striking.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

PREDATOR FISH AND PREY FISH

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation

I have found this analogy useful: grosso modo, over the past millennium, some countries have been predator fish and some countries have been prey fish. Predators and prey have completely different self images, behaviour and understandings of how the world works and how countries interact. Like all analogies, it’s a rough guide: few countries have been wholly one or the other and for a time, military superiority enabled all European countries to become predator fish on the rest of the world. But I believe that it is a useful analogy today and especially when applied to the calamitous misunderstanding of the Anglo-Americans about Russia; they get it completely wrong and that can have disastrous consequences.

England is the paradigm predator fish. Confined to their small island with their warlike Welsh and Scottish neighbours, the English subdued the first but never quite the second. When James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne he cleverly invented “Britain” and the British people and bound English, Scots and Welsh to a common cause. This new amalgam then created the largest empire of human history: so extensive, the boast went, that the sun never set on it. In its shorter life, the United States of America has likewise been a successful predator fish. Starting as a ribbon along the lower sea coast of a continent – every bit of which was claimed by some European power to say nothing of the autochthonous inhabitants – it spread over half the continent. Today American military dominance in its hundreds of bases (it’s always dawn in a US base somewhere), world-wide naval presence and its sovereign currency make the empires of the Nineteenth Century look half-hearted. Even though its relative power is failing, it remains the predominant power in most categories. And, as the latest Wikileaks revelations show, Washington is happy to use the so-called international instruments like the World Bank, OECD and IMF as weapons in its arsenal. The United Kingdom and the United States are, sequentially, the most successful predators ever; defeating every challenge, they have ascended to greater world power than any two other states in history. They are history’s apex predators.

In contrast African states and kingdoms were prey fish to European and Arab predators: slaves, raw materials and space for colonists. The civilisations of Central and South America were swiftly felled by European diseases and more deadly weapons. For several centuries non-European countries and civilisations were prey fish to Europe. Even Belgium, prey at home, could be a predator in Africa. Mighty China was a prey fish too and one can only hope, in its coming pre-dominance, that it will not seek revenge for its “century of humiliation“.

One should be wary of carrying the analogy too far: Zulus, Incas, Aztecs and Iroquois were successful predator fish in their ecologies until greater predators destroyed them. Sweden was a rapacious predator until defeat at Poltava marked the end and since then it has been quiet and peaceful. Former super-predators like Spain or Portugal, weakened by overextension and collapsed economies, have given up. Austria is a small land-locked country.

National myths have been profoundly shaped by the predator/prey dichotomy. Poland’s independence has been ended more than once: most recently the USSR dominated it and so, today, there is more antipathy towards Russia than to Germany or Austria. The Galicians currently setting the tone in Ukraine show more animosity to Russia than Poland or Austria for similar reasons.

The relevance of this analogy to today’s war on Russia is that Russia is in the unusual position of being half prey fish and half predator fish. For half of its thousand years it was a prey fish: maintaining its existence was a continual struggle with horse peoples in the south and Teutonic Knights in the north. A struggle lost to the Mongols, beginning a centuries-long endeavour to throw off the “Tatar yoke” and re-unite the Russian lands. The ejection of Polish-Lithuanian forces (two prey fish at their moment of predation) marked the end of the prey period and in the next five centuries Russia expanded in all directions, sometimes peacefully and sometimes by war, but always larger.

But the prey fish memory persists. In Russia monasteries are fortified and there are no castles; in Europe, monasteries are not fortified and there are many castles. Russia, in its prey fish time, had to fight for its very existence: given the centrality of Orthodoxy to the essence of Russianness, that meant its religion. Fortunately for the Russian Church, the Mongol conquerors were indifferent to their subjects’ religion but the Teutonic Knights and the Polish-Lithuanians were Roman militants, Napoleon treated churches as stables and Hitler cared nothing for Russianness. Therefore monasteries, as the essence of Russianness, had to be fortified for the wars of national survival. The absence of castles is explained because, as private strongholds, they embodied the ability of local powers to resist the central power; in Russia the central power was the guarantor and protector of Russian existence. Europe, for all its wars, never, since the victory of Tours (a fright at Vienna in 1683) was threatened in its very essence. (Spain, Portugal and the Balkans, however, have Russian-like histories: resistance to the alien and a long re-gathering of their lands).

As a result of these historical realities, Russians have a completely different view of war: for Russia it’s life or death. For medieval Europe it was a sport for kings, ruinous in its neighbourhood but of limited effect elsewhere: from the peasant’s perspective King A or King B meant little. The destructive wars of religion and revolution never threatened Europe qua Europe because they were civil wars between different types of Europeanness.

Russians remember the prey fish period better than they do the predator fish period. The prey fish memory makes it very difficult for the Russians to think of the Great Caucasus War or the wars in Central Asia as the predations that they actually were. They see the wars against the Persians or Ottomans as wars of liberation rather than the eating of weaker predators. The prey fish memory remains strong not only just because the early experience set the pattern but because of the powerful reinforcement of 1941-1945.

The Anglo-American experience of war has no memory like that. They have never been in a war in which every soldier that get to the enemy capital has passed through endless wastes of destruction of his homeland. (Americans: think of Sherman’s march to the sea through the entire Confederacy and then extend it to take in the rest of the country on the Atlantic coast. Britain has nothing to match this other than, on a much smaller scale, the desolation of the Scottish borders under Edward I or the Highlands after Culloden.) This book makes the point that the USA and the UK have no conception of a war of annihilation but Russia has known many. The scars of the latest are still visible: there are nearly half a million dead Leningraders in Piskaryovskoye Cemetery alone: more than all the dead of Washington’s overseas wars. A completely different conception of “war”. This makes Russians defensive, suspicious and ready to fight for the Motherland but not very willing to acknowledge their predator period. The Anglo-Americans expect another profitable predation and sugar coat their predation with moralistic posturing as we perfectly see today in Venezuela: we must seize its oil for humanitarian reasons. A clash is inevitable.

While Russia cannot forget the prey period, its neighbours only remember its predator fish period. The contrast of memories is well expressed in this video from the Russian side of the benefits brought to the prey by “Russian occupants”. But from the Lithuanian prey fish point of view, we have this completely different take of death and destruction. Each is true, each is false: but the difference in perception must be understood.

In other words, prey fish remember being eaten; predator fish have no such memory, or even appreciation of such fears. Predators cannot imagine being pushed to the edge because it’s never happened to them, prey fish remember when they were; predators eat well, prey fish fear extinction. And so today the Anglo-Americans, unable to eat Russia (so confident they were that it was prey so short a time ago! gas station masquerading as a country, makes nothing), project their predatory disposition onto Russia.

The Anglo-Americans, after decades of successful predation, think they can push Russia back forever. But Russia cannot forget its prey period and its bred-in-the-bone understanding of what happens to prey. The danger is that, at some point, it will decide its very survival is at risk and then it will, as it has before, do whatever it needs to do, at whatever the cost, to survive.

Certainly, it would be a global disaster for humanity; a disaster for the entire world. As a citizen of Russia and the head of the Russian state I must ask myself: Why would we want a world without Russia?

It’s a dangerous and possibly fatal misunderstanding given Russia’s immense arsenal; unstoppable says a American general (retired and so able to see reality).

THE CHARGE SHEET

From time to time somebody sets out a list of all the accusations against Russia/Putin. Here is the latest. I won’t waste my time commenting except to say that “from RFE’s point of view” and “alleged” should have been used more often.

Putin omits all the reasons why relations with Europe are strained, so it might be useful to recap some of them: Russian interference in numerous elections and referendums in EU countries over the last decade; Russia’s active disinformation campaigns across the EU; Russian-based cyberattacks targeting numerous EU countries; provocative Russian military flights in and around EU and NATO airspace; Russia’s alleged interference with GPS navigation systems in Scandinavia; Russia’s continued deployment of “peacekeepers” in Moldova despite that country’s repeated requests that Russian troops be replaced with UN peacekeepers; Russia’s 2008 war against Georgia and its continued occupation of some 20 percent of Georgian territory; Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region; Russia’s intense involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine, which the ICC in November 2016 ruled “an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation”; Russia’s obstructionism in implementation of the Minsk agreements to end the Ukraine conflict; Russia’s role in the 2014 downing of a passenger airliner over Ukraine that killed 298 people; Russia’s alleged poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko in London in 2006; and Russia’s alleged attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.

Robert Coalson, Senior Correspondent RFE/RL

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.)

The spy chief said he did not know why Russia was so aggressive, adding: “Perhaps it feels threatened by the quality of Western institutions and Western alliances.”

Alex Younger, head of MI6, 16 February 2019

I’m sure that’s the reason: Putin and his inner circle sit around bemoaning the fact that, as Russians, they just never will have that mysterious quality.

RUSSIA THE ETERNAL ENEMY QUOTATIONS

All the clichés in one neat package.

  • Poor little NATO: just quietly minding its own business when those pesky Russians start doing exercises on its borders.
  • And again with the “rules-based order” claptrap: our rules, your disorder Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Venezuela.
  • What “Western interests” in the Middle East?
  • Amazing the “interference” a few grand on Facebook can produce, isn’t it?
  • Military activity in the rather large chunk of the Arctic it owns.

Ah well, the Bubble is strong and I’m sure the authors are paid to believe what they believe to be paid.

Geography still matters. Russia—NATO’s largest, most militarily capable neighbor—remains NATO’s principal external challenge. Russia under President Putin ignores international commitments; violates Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldovan sovereignty; conducts provocative exercises and maneuvers along NATO’s borders; expands military activity in the Arctic and North Atlantic; intervenes in parts of the Middle East against Western interests; and interferes in democratic processes within members of the Alliance, aspiring members and partners. President Putin’s objectives seem clear: secure his leadership position within Russia and prevent regime change; undermine the international rules-based order in favor of a Europe re-divided into spheres of influence; assert increasing influence on the Russian periphery, especially in Ukraine and Georgia, to prevent the success of democratic, pro-European governments whose example could undermine his own kleptocratic system; seize every opportunity to erode the cohesion of NATO and the EU; and widen divisions within individual member states.

NATO at Seventy: An Alliance in Crisis, Nicholas Burns, Douglas Lute, February 2019

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 14 FEBRUARY 2019

RUSSIA COLLUSION. US Senate says none. Clinton’s excuse for her shattered campaign has generated much damage: censorship, stronger war party, hysterical TV, attacks on anyone who bucks the war party, destruction of the last bits of “journalistic standards”, bogus charges, mangled innocents like Maria Butina. And more aggression against Russia. How much better off we’d be if Trump had never uttered the words “Russia” or “Putin”. We’re at the end state I feared: no Trumputin (remember this from the NYT?) but much more evil Putin. I doubt Schiff will ever stop and CNN and MSNBC still have time to fill.

CURRENCY WARS. The Central Bank of Russia continues its strategy: total USD holdings down to 22% from 46%, Euros and Renmenbi holdings up; gold 2,112 tonnes. Total external debt $453.7 billion, lowest in nearly 10 years. Moody’s upgrades debt rating. Washington’s economic war is failing.

INFRASTRUCTURE. Lots of roads being built and improved. Bridges too.

IVANOV. We learn what Sergey Ivanov has been doing. “Environmental Activities, Environment and Transport“. I guess Avangard changes the security environment and is a form of transport.

ROC. I think Helmer’s over-reacting — I see the Patriarch saying the Church is independent of the state.

FAKE NEWS. Only liars try to control the news. (A propos: BBC producer says Douma films faked.)

NOT SUCH FUN NOW. Remember when it was fun to poke the bear? “Weak and dying”, “really weak”, “not strong”, “deceptively weak military”? Second thoughts now. Missile defence systems fail. Chinese and Russian space technologies. S-400 iron curtain against US airpower. US military outgunned. Of course, not a millisecond’s consideration of a diplomatic solution: it’s all “we are not investing enough to keep up“. Delusion rules in Washington.

INF TREATY. Washington is leaving the INF Treaty, Moscow followed suit. I think this is the Trumpian overture (vide North Korea and NAFTA) to negotiating a new treaty to include China. We’ll see if it works. Russia has an immediate response: take the ship-borne Kalibr systems and put them on land. I agree with Orlov that the suspension of the Treaty actually works to Moscow’s benefit. Will the Europeans, with this new bullseye painted on their heads, protest as before – protests that helped create the Treaty – or have they been completely de-spined?

SOTU. 16% by word count on foreign affairs. More money for military, missile defence system, maybe we can negotiate a new INF, Korea going well, time to get out of Syria and Afghanistan. BUT. Time to interfere in Venezuela, Iran is the “leading state sponsor of terror” (where do they get that nonsense? there is an immense gulf between ibn Taymiyyah-inspired jihadists and Twelver Shiites. I know, silly question.) End three wars, start two more. Progress. Sort of.

WESTERN VALUES™. We arrive at cut-rate prostitution of something that, a couple of decades ago, had some content. The excuse: “Venezuela’s Humanitarian Crisis” (ever-compliant Human Rights Watch); the reason: “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” (Bolton) Pretty stupid not to recognise the pattern now.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Tulsi Gabbard is a Putinbot. Russia could freeze us to death! Trump spouts Russian propaganda. Russian fishsticks!!! “Russian disinformation” bunk from Canada. To paraphrase Planck: hysteria will recede funeral by funeral.

NORDSTREAM II. Despite Washington – the US Ambassador even wrote threatening letters – and a peculiar intervention by Macron, Berlin holds firm on building it.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Germany, France and the UK have set up a payments system – INSTEX – to avoid US sanctions on Iran. Or is it too late and will only affect small stuff on the margin?

AUTRES TEMPS, AUTRES MŒURS. Brave protester against Putin’s “diktat of a monolithic and unshakable order“, flees to France, repeats fire stunt. No “art of the political protest” there: arrested, 11 months in pre-trial detention, 2 years suspended and €21K fine. Gessen lionised him then, will she now?

UKRAINE. “Ukraine’s steady progress and growing momentum toward democracy are irrefutable… Ukraine’s accomplishments rival those made by any of the Central Europeans in the same time span since 1990. “Sounds like the sort of tripe the Integrity (Challenged) Initiative extrudes (when not smearing Corbyn). Still not the stupidest pimping Ukraine story: In Ukraine It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, and a Lot Less Like Russia remains the winner.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

WHY YOU HAVE RETIRE TO SEE REALITY

(I wrote this under a pseudonym three years ago today and we still see it all the time.)

Ex-President Sarkozy of France is recently quoted as saying two things: “Nous avons une civilisation en commun avec la Russie. Les intérêts des Américains avec les Russes, ce ne sont pas les intérêts de l’Europe avec la Russie”. Europe has a common civilization with Russia and our interests are not the same as Americans’. “La Crimée a choisi la Russie, on ne peut pas le lui reprocher”. Crimea chose Russia and you can’t blame it.

In doing so, he has added his name to a long list of ex-officials who contradict the official line on the Ukrainian catastrophe that we see promulgated by virtually all present office-holders.

Many people have noticed this and speculate why former office holders should have such different opinions from present office holders. One common theory is that they are blackmailed into obedience by Washington. Another, which we can see in Hungary and the Czech Republic today, is that speaking out of line can bring sudden “spontaneous protests” supported by the local American Ambassador and people who have some (later revealed) connection with USAID or the NED. “Exes” aren’t as vulnerable to blackmail or a Washington-orchestrated regime change as “presents”.

While I do not rule either of these explanations out – how could I? we know that Washington spies on everybody and we know that these “spontaneous” protests are nothing of the sort – I have been wondering and I believe there is a simpler cause that also operates.

I worked in a bureaucracy for several decades. Bureaucracies are pyramids. Most occupants – many think of little else – wish to rise and the easiest way to rise is by attracting the benevolent attention of a higher up. This leads to what might be called “schedule flooding” as people compete for the boss’s time. And so, the higher ups have almost no unscheduled moments. The only case in which a higher up would have any free time is when he has a truly powerful will and intellect to carve out that free time. But such individuals are not common; too many, in fact, are von Moltke’s stupid and industrious.

So let us imagine President Smith of Yourland and his daily schedule. At the top of the pyramid of pyramids, thousands of underlings seek a few of the 1440 minutes a day he, and every other mortal, has. His schedule is filled with meetings and briefings for months in advance. And that’s just the expected meetings – inevitably some crisis will pack the schedule even tighter.

Very few of these people seizing some of Smith’s 1440 minutes will tell him he’s not doing a very good job or that the Conventional View of Things is defective. That would not attract his patronage.

Assuming Smith is intelligent, wise, a good manager, industrious, well-educated, knowledgeable, a good character judge with a strong sense of reality, he will just be able to keep his head above water and drive ahead the two or three issues that he really takes an interest in. Fortunately, in contrast with less-favored parts of the world, the electoral system in Western countries produces leaders who are all of these things and we never have to fear that schedule flooding will drown a stupid, incompetent, foolish, lazy, ignorant narcissist.

What happens when President Smith leaves office? I recommend this anecdote of former British Prime Minister Macmillan – The Telephone is immediately disconnected. Yesterday every minute of his time was competed for, today none is. He’s dug a hole in water.

But now he has some time to think quietly and some actually do think. Some, as Sarkozy apparently has, think their way to an understanding that Europe is being ruined in service to Washington and that it’s perfectly natural that Crimeans should want to get out of the Ukrainian catastrophe and return home.

So, one reason the exes outnumber the presents in this case is that they have the opportunity to contemplate the forest because they no longer have every minute occupied by people telling them how important the bark on their favorite tree is.

INTEGRITY INITIATIVE: BIG BROTHER’S MINIONS – OR FLIM-FLAM ARTISTS?

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation. Picked up by JRL2019/16/24,  ZeroHedge, South Front, Straight Line Logic, The New Dark Age, Trade for Profit, The Russophile, Viral News, Olduvai.ca, Truth in Our Time,

I’m not sure what to make of Integrity Initiative (what a great gaslighting name: integrity? Hah hah: no, just furtive paid propaganda and opinion steering). But I watch the unfolding revelations with fascination. Certainly, the whole thing is bigger than it seemed at first and all the documents being revealed appear to be true.

On the one hand, it looks like a group of superannuated old gits gassing on about how warfare today involves everything, especially “information warfare”, while last century it was only bullets. (Ever read any, say, Sun Tzu or Clausewitz? Or, speaking of the last century, Goebbels? How about Bernays?) And how we concerned individuals have voluntarily come together (assisted by £2+ million of the taxpayer’s money) to save democracy. Unpaid, unasked and unplotted. Completely conspiracy-free in fact. To individually and unconspiratorially assure you that only Russian dupes would try to tell us, contrary to all reason, that Russia, a nuclear superpower, has interests that we’d be wise to consider. Or that Western NGOs are often US State Department fronts. Or that the West promised Gorbachev it wouldn’t expand NATO (Too late, the documents are out). In short, that the essence of democracy is never to doubt what the Ministry of Truth tells you. There’s a naïve and bubble-like quality to this: they never think any thoughts but their own. So maybe these guys, instead of kveching at the mirror and shouting at the TV set, have figured out how to flim-flam the government into supplementing their pensions in return for pages of conspiracy-babble.

Or are we looking at something rather bigger? As John Helmer points out, there is a long history of British intelligence operating behind such “independent” and “disinterested” cover. Did they help start the Russia hysteria in the USA? Did they not only play up the Skripal affair but actually create it? Did they have an effect on Spain and Catalonia? Infiltrate Sanders’ campaign? What’s this “impose changes over the heads of vested interests. NB we did this in the 1930s” stuff? Is that a reference to the Zinoviev Letter forgery? (1924 actually, but they don’t look like people who bother to check details). Corbyn, of course, they see as another Kremlin stooge: is it time to “discover” a Dear Jeremy, How can I help you win? Your friend Vladimir letter? There is a danger these “clusters” of like-minded (and paid) flacks pose: in a time when the “news” media solemnly informs us that Putin has weaponised humour and Pokemon, to say nothing of killer squids, a group of “expert” “concerned citizens” who “voluntarily” appear can ratchet the hysteria up to further heights. (Although only a Russian troll would “emphasise the dangers of war in Europe (!!)”) They are trying to establish a base in the USA (“challenging the ignorance of, tolerance of or sympathy for the Russian activity” – tolerance!!?? the US media Russia-bashes 24/7!) So, no matter the temptation, we can’t write them off as silly old fools.

Here’s their website. And here’s some of their output, most of it written straight off the top of the head. Bellyfeel, as they say in Newspeak.

Deadly “Novichok” is not strong enough to kill you today, but is strong enough to kill someone four months later. Whatever – deadly, shmeadly – you read it, my head hurts.

Its [Russia’s, of course] ongoing lawfare activities have shaken the pillars of the post-WWII security architecture in Europe. Who knew? The very pillars!

Russian state media have succeeded in persuading some parts of the Arab world that Russia intervention is required to resolve the region’s disputes, which appears be the ultimate goal of Russia’s strategy in the region. I don’t think it’s Russian media, I think it’s these guys. Here they are again in Manbij.

The Thesis of Conspiracy: The Kremlin’s current world-view is stark, striking and scary. According to senior leaders, including Putin, America is attacking Russia. Silly Russians! NATO expansion, colour revolutions, sanctions, gas wars, rhetoric, tossing arms control treaties – all done to help you!

Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, lying that it was Georgia which had attacked Russia, absurd though this sounds when one compares the respective sizes of each country. A powerful argument, not heard before. (And not considered by the EU either; even its feeble report understood that Tbilisi attacked.)

Russia’s only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, is often presented as the most striking symbol of Russia’s resurgent military power. Really, by whom? I follow this stuff and I know Russians like to talk about Piotr Velikiy or their submarines but the elderly Kuznetsov is just functional. (Although, escort tug, belching smoke and all, it works and the British media gets the fantods every time it appears.) This piece tries to show that Russia’s infrastructure is falling apart. Maybe they should spend more time on YouTube.

The Kremlin lies. Repeatedly and seriously. This is the only conclusion which can be drawn if you accept the view of the British Government that the Russian state is behind the attack using a nerve agent on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yuliya. The Russian authorities have already put out at least 17 different versions of what happened. (47 here). Ah, but the prosecution doesn’t win if the accused can’t prove who did it. Presumption of innocence – isn’t that one of those fundamental principles you’re supposed to be defending? The problem with accepting the “view of the British Government” is that it requires superhuman doublethink and crimestop as this summary of the absurdities shows. The latest being that a bit of “Novichok” on a door handle requires removing the roof of the house while Zizzi’s, old roof and all, is open for business!

However, at no time has the Integrity Initiative engaged in party political activity and would never take up a party-political stance. Spain and Catalonia? Sanders? Corbyn? Stay tuned.

These guys really should get out more. If they were being paid by some private individual for this tripe that would be one thing; but the British government (and others?) is paying – in fact, it’s actually paying these people to influence its own policy. Think about that: that’s rather different. Even leaving aside all the stuff about “we did this in the 1930s”. It’s a bit Deep Stateish – it’s a lot Deep Stateish.

Or maybe it’s just a bunch of retirees swindling the government by writing fluff about how Russia is sapping and impurifying all our precious bodily fluids.

Sarcasm is fun but the big question is: who’s winning: these guys with millions and the support of most media outlets, or us with hundreds and sites like this one? But then we have reality on our side and, eventually, but it can be a long eventually, it bites.

You decide. Here and here are the hacks. Or are they leaks? Interesting question, eh? We owe much thanks to Anonymous for exposing these people. Add Kim Klarenberg to your Twitter feed – an actual reporter doing actual reporting! I think there’s lots more to be revealed.

I’m amused by Donnelly saying that the fact that their stuff has been hacked shows that they must be having an effect; no, there are people out there who are tired of the lies, secret manipulations and managed media campaigns whooping up war fever. They found you and they broke into your files. That’s all.