Really Stupid Things Said About Russia

Moscow is being forced to play these aggressive and risky games out of desperation. The country is in bad shape and it is getting worse. [Not according to Bloomberg which says it’s out of the recession.] The once great superpower now has an economy smaller than Canada’s and it continues to shrink. [This is just stupid and a byproduct of exchange rates. Russia is one of the very few “full service” economies in the world. Canada is not one of those]. Even though they spend 5 per cent of their GDP on defence, Russia’s military forces have grown so rusted out they can barely get their last aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean and back without breaking down. [Even so, it got where it was going, did what it had to do, and got home again]. Even the ragtag Ukrainians have fought them to a standstill. [They wish – they’ve been beaten by a civilian militia]. Diplomatically, Moscow has never been so isolated and powerless. You can count its friends on one hand, and it’s not an impressive list: Syria, Iran, Belarus. [Oh, and China too.]

Russia’s coming attack on Canada by Scott Gilmore, MacLean’s, 8 March 2017.

[My comments]

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

NATO has proved itself to be peaceful and the West’s CFE commitments add to that assurance. But as Russia recovers and rearms, as history suggests it will, Moscow’s imperialist urge might well rise again. Then it will be too late and ‘provocative’ to redraw the defence line.

William Safire, “U.S. can’t let Russian paranoia determine defense of Europe“, 3 October 1995

Really Stupid Things Said About Russia

It is not prudent to deny or forget a thousand years of Russian history. It is replete with wars of imperial aggrandizement, the Russification of ethnic minorities, and absolutist, authoritarian, and totalitarian rule.

My comment: Substitute any other country here and what difference would there be? Note in the thousand years he ignores periods in which Russia was prey and not predator – the Mongols, the Time of Troubles, Teutonic Knights and so forth. A fine example of selective facts and how much easier it is to say something than it is to refute it.

Ariel Cohen (Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation) “A New Paradigm for U.S.-Russia Relations: Facing the Post-Cold War Reality.” 6 March 1997.

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Why do the Russians still give us trouble even though the Cold War has long ended? Why do they invite the terrorist Hamas leaders to Moscow? Why do they cut off natural gas to Ukraine and thereby reduce its flow to Western Europe? Why do they harass foreign non-governmental organizations, accusing them of espionage and incitement to revolution? Why do they carry out joint military exercises with the Chinese, clearly aimed at Taiwan?

Richard Pipes: “Why the Bear Growls”, Wall Street Journal, 1 Mar 2006; http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB114117943450386098

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Since the Cold War ended, Russian leaders have built a shadow empire on the territories of Russia’s sovereign neighbors, extending Russian power where it is unwarranted and unwelcome by sponsoring “frozen conflicts” in southeastern Europe and the South Caucasus. This behavior, designed to maintain political and economic influence beyond Russia’s borders, impedes democratic development in states that aspire to join the West. It exports instability, criminality and insecurity into Europe. It threatens regional military conflict that could draw in the United States and other powers. It also bolsters anti-democratic forces within Russia who believe Russia’s traditional approach of subverting its neighbors’ independence is a surer path to security than the democratic peace enjoyed by the nations of Europe.

Ana Palacio and Daniel Twining (Palacio is the former Foreign minister of Spain. Twining is an Oxford-based consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Washington Post, 11 March 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/10/AR2006031001841.html

Russia Is Finished Quotations

The turbulent events of the past seven days are a defeat for President Boris Yeltsin, a huge setback to the cause of reform, and a warning to the West…[Zhirinovskiy] will be ideally placed in coming months to exploit popular discontent…Just over a hundred days ago, Yeltsin’s forces blew up the old Russian parliament and killed 147 people in the name of reform…The government is now dominated by men who have a strong taste for communist style state controls of the economy…the death of liberal Russia is a direct consequence of the free vote held on 12 December.

Tony Barber, “Back to the USSR”, The Independent on Sunday, 23 Jan 1994

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Caspar Weinberger issued a powerful warning that American policy makers, in their preoccupation with NATO’s expansion, may be missing the fact that Russia has a truly ominous enlargement initiative of its own – ‘dominance of the energy resources in the Caspian Sea region.’ As he observes in the attached op.ed. article which appeared on 9 May in the New York Times… ‘If Moscow succeeds, its victory could prove much more significant than the West’s success in enlarging NATO.’

Center for Security Policy, Washington, 12 May 1997.

Russia the Eternal Enemy Quotations

Note July 2016. A favourite quotation. Of course, it wasn’t “Trotskiy’s” Red Army: the Soviet takeover of Georgia was orchestrated by the two Georgians in the Bolshevik government: Stalin-Jugashvili and Orjonikidze. And Abkhazia these days is predominantly Christian. And Georgia is still independent today. An early example of the Economist’s anti-Russia at any cost editorial policy.

An independent state of Georgia existed for 2 1/2 years, until Trotsky’s Red Army snuffed it out in 1921. Mr Yeltsin has given its successor exactly the same amount of time. More or less secretly, Russian forces have backed rebellions by Muslims in the Abkhaz region and by Georgian followers of the former president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. In this squeeze the current president, Eduard Shevardnadze…despairingly appealed to Moscow for help, and got it on terms that in effect mortgage his country’s independence.

The Economist 13 November 1993

NATO, Back in Business at the Old Stand

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/07/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand.html

JRL 2016/132/16

http://nato.trendolizer.com/2016/07/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand-by-patrick-armstrong.html

http://timberexec.co.uk/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand-patrick-armstrong/

https://www.reddit.com/r/russia/comments/4stb0d/nato_back_in_business_at_the_old_stand_by_patrick/

http://uk.makemefeed.com/2016/07/17/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand-patrick-armstrong-1788953.html

http://snapzu.com/AdelleChattre/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/nato-back-business-old-stand/ri15629

https://off-guardian.org/2016/07/21/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand/

https://theflippintruth.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/nato-back-in-business-at-the-old-stand/

Spare a thought for the travails of NATO drones over the past couple of decades. About 25 years ago I was in competition for a job on the International Staff at NATO. I’ve forgotten most of the details but it would have paid about US$100,000. Tax free. Plus benefits. What would have been the equivalent salary, in the real world, to that, do you suppose? In return, NATO started work sometime Monday afternoon and knocked off early on Friday and essentially took meetings the rest of the time. And Brussels is a convenient base for travelling around Europe. But I didn’t get the job.

The Warsaw Pact imploded, followed by the USSR and NATO’s raison d’être disappeared. A colleague who finally got a position on the Canadian delegation (no big IS salaries for them!) seriously wondered whether NATO would last through his time there.

Well, it did. Expansion (soon officially changed to the more anodyne “enlargement”) gave employment. NATO, it piously said, cannot stop people from freely applying to join, can it? Of course, given that most of these countries wanted to be neutral originally – the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine in 1990 has these words: “The Ukrainian SSR solemnly declares its intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs…” – it took time and money to persuade people to “freely” apply. In the case of Ukraine two decades, two colour revolutions and five billion USD and 500 thousand Euros. We see similar efforts today with the campaigns in Sweden and Finland. Nothing spontaneous at all, actually.

Kosovo was a problem for the NATO drones. Not in the initial execution that is; that narrative was smoothly crafted – walking blood banks, rape camps, genocide, the monster Milosevic – the MSM obediently fell into line. No, the problem was the terrifying realisation that it wasn’t working and that a land invasion might have to be fumbled together. But Chernomyrdin persuaded Milosevic to give up, the worst did not come to pass and everybody could congratulate themselves on writing a new page of military history: “virtual war“, air power alone can win wars and similar certainties that are not so certain today.

Then came 911 and NATO was required in Afghanistan. Expansion and Kosovo had been fun for NATO drones: visiting European centres as honoured guests treated to the best of everything, making speeches about stability and the necessity to make a stand against evil but not much in the way of hard or unpleasant work. Afghanistan, on the other hand, was a nasty dangerous place where the locals all hated you but concealed their hatred until you stopped paying them. Like most of the regime-change wars with which we have grown so familiar, Afghanistan started with a bang and the Taliban government was overthrown in weeks. But the war goes on and on. Obama will leave 8400 US troops there for his successor; he had promised to end it in 2014. John McCain thinks the US needs a “permanent presence” there. Complete, of course, with NATO allies.

In short, NATO membership is not attractive if all it involves is interminable rotations through Afghanistan. A dreary prospect indeed.

Besides the multitude of unpleasant locations with few hotels and bars, another problem with the “War on Terror” is that the enemy is small and feeble – IEDs, suicide vests, small arms. Small money weapons that don’t require big money weapons systems to counter.

A third problem, of course, is that NATO & Co is not exactly winning these wars. So either it must stop talking about them (the word “Afghanistan” appears only 8 times in the Warsaw Summit communiqué) or start uttering complete nonsense as in “These efforts mark an important step to strengthen Libya’s democratic transition” (§30).

NATO must remain and expand – it’s a necessary control mechanism for Washington (and so is the EU, as we have just learned with the EU-NATO amalgamation). Let a former American official explain Why NATO is vital for American interests: “Vladimir Putin’s aggression”, “weakening and potentially fractured European Union” and “tsunami of violence spreading from the Levant and North Africa into Europe itself”. In short: Russia’s resistance to NATO expansion; the EU’s failure; instability resulting from NATO attacks in the Middle East. Compelling reasons indeed. To paraphrase that great American Statesman, Homer Simpson, NATO is the solution to the problems it creates. But it badly needs a new raison d’être in order to keep the members in, attract new ones and to allow bigger profits. Jihadists in Afghanistan don’t serve the purpose any more.

So, our drones need something more attractive to retain their enthusiasm, pay and perqs. The communiqué from the Warsaw NATO summit is their answer. This 16,489 word panegyric to itself modestly states that NATO is “an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law” (§2). The Warsaw Summit brings us back to the tried and true – Russia. The communiqué uses the word “Russia” 57 times and “Ukraine” 32 times for a total of 89. By contrast, “terrorism” and “ISIL” only 27 times, “jihad”, “Islam” and “Ebola” not at all. It’s clear where the emphasis now is.

Section 10 will serve as a summary of it all:

Russia’s destabilising actions and policies include: the ongoing illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise and which we call on Russia to reverse; the violation of sovereign borders by force; the deliberate destabilisation of eastern Ukraine; large-scale snap exercises contrary to the spirit of the Vienna Document, and provocative military activities near NATO borders, including in the Baltic and Black Sea regions and the Eastern Mediterranean; its irresponsible and aggressive nuclear rhetoric, military concept and underlying posture; and its repeated violations of NATO Allied airspace. In addition, Russia’s military intervention, significant military presence and support for the regime in Syria, and its use of its military presence in the Black Sea to project power into the Eastern Mediterranean have posed further risks and challenges for the security of Allies and others.

Nevertheless, NATO, ever patient and ever virtuous, says “We remain open to a periodic, focused and meaningful dialogue” (§2) with Russia.

NATO’s relentless expansion, its untrustworthiness (see Libya), military exercises in and around Russia, overthrow of governments in Ukraine and other neighbours, fall in this screed somewhere between unremarkable and non-existent: Russia is to blame for everything. The “serious deterioration of the human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula” is its fault (§7), the non-fulfilment of the Minsk Agreement is its fault (§9), Russia’s reaction to BMD is “unacceptable and counterproductive” (§59), as are its provocations “in the periphery of NATO territory” (§5).

NATO-Land is like Laputa – it floats in some imaginary place where Crimea is a hellish nightmare for the inhabitants, Libya ever “transitions” towards democracy and scholars, looking for sunbeams in cucumbers, find Russians hiding under the cucumber beds. What “deterioration of human rights” in Crimea? The Minsk Agreement requires nothing from Russia: the word “Russia”does not appear in it; has any of these people read it? Is it Russia’s fault that this clause still awaits fulfilment “On the first day after the pullout a dialogue is to start on modalities of conducting local elections“? Is it really so outrageous that the Russians don’t believe that NATO has “no intention to redesign this [BMD] system”? (§59) There was “no intention” to expand NATO or to blow up Libya either; no wonder Moscow won’t trust NATO’s word. (Oh, and it would be wrong to suggest that NATO promised not to permanently station troops in its new territories – that promise only held until enough accusations could be manufactured. In any case, these new troops NATO promises (§40) won’t be permanent; they’ll just be permanently rotating.) Yes, Russia does have military exercises on the edge of NATO now that NATO has expanded to the edge of Russia; is it supposed to only have exercises in central Siberia now, or would they be provocatively close to American troops in Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria?

Always difficult out of this catalogue of nonsense to pick a favourite but I think this one is the standout: “[Russia’s] long-standing non-implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty” (§69) Russia actually ratified the amended treaty: no one in NATO did!

And, lest we forget weapons sales: “We welcome Allied efforts to address, as appropriate, existing dependencies on Russian-sourced legacy military equipment.” (§78)

So, after dreary years of trudging through the inhospitable mountains of Afghanistan or the deserts of Iraq, years of defeat, years of trivial profits, NATO drones have entered the sunny uplands. Russia is again the enemy, NATO has a big enemy that needs big money projects like the F-35, the Littoral Combat Ship, trillion dollar nuclear weapons programs, Crusader SPGs and decades-long deployments in places with good restaurants where the people don’t hate you.

Europe will again be united against the Russian Threat© under Washington’s leadership even more tightly now that the EU and NATO are openly under the same management. Promotions and prosperity all round!

All is well.

Apart for the niggling facts that NATO & Co are still losing their wars, haven’t got the money they used to have, are actually under attack from different enemies, have populations that are growing restive, are in a demographic decline, have militaries that are rusting out and fading away, have stagnant economies and populations that don’t actually want to go to war for Estonia. Oh, and European banks need a bailout. And NATO’s pressure brings Russia and China (0 mentions) ever closer. Repeating lies, nonsense and fantasies at twice the volume is not actually a sign of strength.

So, it’s not really a bright new future, it’s just Miss Havisham reliving the happiness of her engagement day.

Why Does the American Establishment Hate Russia So Much?

https://gianalytics.org/869-why-does-the-american-establishment-hate-russia-so-much

JRL/2016/83/5

First of all, let me start by saying I don’t know why the American Establishment is so obsessed about Russia. I can’t think of any good reason why it should be. All Russia wants is a quiet life so that it can rebuild things – as Putin himself said, back before he was President:

The current dramatic economic and social situation in the country is the price, which we have to pay for the economy we inherited from the Soviet Union.

That was not said by someone whose principal purpose is to re-create the USSR or the Russian Empire; it’s someone who wants to re-construct the defective “economic and social situation” of his country. And that requires peace and quiet. In the real world, Russia isn’t any kind of threat whatsoever to the USA. And, one would think, when the “Terror threat looms across the world” it’s a useful and necessary ally.

I do know, and my quotations collection shows, that hostility to Russia never stopped – or even moderated – after the USSR collapsed. Even in 1990 there were people insisting that nothing was real was happening because Russia, in its very essence, was expansionist, dictatorial and hostile to “our values”. Any so-called changes were only illusions calculated to gull the simple-minded. The only possible Russia was an Enemy Russia: all Russians qua Russians – never mind the absence of the temporary Soviet carapace – imagined, thought about, dreamed of, was enmity to Us and to Our Values. Russophobes – not Russia-fearers really, but Russia-haters – had little audience as long as it seemed that Russia was sinking into insignificance. With the revival of Russia’s prospects this century the Russia-haters have come to dominate the discussion.

We hear that Russia is an “existential threat” to the USA. That charge, at least, is true: Russia’s nuclear weaponry could obliterate the USA and render it uninhabitable for decades or centuries. (At the same cost to itself, of course). But the UK, France or China could cause unacceptable damage, if not outright obliteration, too. But Washington doesn’t worry about the first two and is not obsessed about the third. And one would think that Russia’s nuclear might should have been a reason to treat it with circumspection. Apparently not.

To any objective viewer Russia is not the aggressor. Those who believe that “Putin wants a new Russian empire” should – but never do – explain why it missed the chance to put Georgia into the bag in 2008. Those who believe Russia has invaded Ukraine, never explain why why the invader still hasn’t managed to get past the Donetsk Airport. A strange reluctance to take the full mouthful: a reluctance that cries out for an explanation. But no explanation is ever presented: in their vision Russia is forever reaching but never grasping, powerful but impotent, determined but indecisive.

It’s not Russia that expanded its military alliance up to the “doorstep” of the USA. It’s not Russia that has fomented, or tried to foment, “colour revolutions” in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Guatemala or the USA itself. Russian military bases do not surround the USA. Its media is not full of stories about Obama’s mistresses, offshore accounts, “information war“, “hybrid war“, troll factories, thuggish propensities, hatred of homosexuals, determination to conquer neighbours, bare chested macho posing, persecution of rock groups, murder of opponents.

So, why this bizarre fixation with Russia? As I said, I don’t know: there remains something deeply irrational about it; something buried deep in the dark that can’t quite be seen.

But, forthwith, I put forth a list of possible reasons.

  1. American lefties dislike Russia because it rejected socialism; indeed the Soviet experience stands as an indictment against the whole scheme.

  2. Righties dislike Russia because, communist or not (and how many think it still is?) it’s still Russia.

  3. Americans have to have a rival, an opponent, a counter, an enemy even. It’s geopolitical chiaroscuro: the City on The Hill must shine in the Darkness.

  4. Russia is the right size of opponent. To be obsessed with Venezuela (“national security threat” though it is declared) would be unworthy for such a “great” and “winning” country. China is too big and, because it owns so much of the US economy, too dangerous, to provoke. Russia is of sufficient size to be a worthy target.

  5. Russia is a safe target (or so Obama thought a year ago). US-Russia trade is small and there is little cost to being sanctimonious against Russia: bashing Russia gives a pleasing sense of moral superiority without uncomfortable consequences.

  6. Maybe Russia is an ungrateful child? In the 1990s there was much talk about US aid and advice reforming Russia, the “end of history” and all that. Russia was, evidently, on the edge of becoming “just like us”. But it didn’t and such back-sliding cannot be forgiven.

  7. Russia is a convenient palimpsest on which to write the presumptions you brought. Martin Malia wrote a fascinating book showing how Westerners from Voltaire onwards found Russia to be the perfect exemplar of whatever it was that they wished it to be. So, in Russia you can find whatever you’re looking for: a “geostrategic foe”, for example.

  8. Given that today “human rights” have been reduced to little more than applauding sexual preferences, (Watch this Ukrainian video on why the Dutch should have voted Yes, if you think I’m overstating things) Russia is so old-fashioned that all can hate it.

  9. They’re just trapped in it – they’ve been crying wolf so long and so loudly, they can’t stop.

  10. The people who actually run the USA (the White-House-and-Congress/the-Deep-State: your choice) know that the USA is losing the industrial production capacity that made it Number One. Their solution, so the theory goes (Pepe Escobar’s Empire of Chaos theory), is that the only way to keep the USA (relatively) on the top is to depress the others. Chaos and instability on its borders will bog Russia down. Europe can be bogged down by using the Russian threat – in this respect, the sanctions against and by Russia are hurting Europe more than anyone. At the end, the USA will still be king of the hill even if the hill is smaller.

  11. For some reason – it’s observable, even if it’s not explicable – Americans personalise everything. And, out there, visible everywhere, is Vladimir Vladimirovich. On Wednesday the Panama Papers are about him, on Thursday they are by him. Putin Derangement Syndrome sells papers and animates talk shows. Just in the month of April, for example, we have been told that Putin is going out with Murdoch’s ex-wife; we have seen both versions of the Panama Papers story; told that Dutch voters were thought-controlled by him, that he has a secret army in Europe and an army of “spy dolphins“. Putin Derangement Syndrome is getting crazier and crazier.

  12. We cannot forget sheer profitability. Billions spent on an F-35 fighter, a Littoral Combat Ship, unending tank production, trillion-dollar nuclear weapons program and billions and billions more cannot be substantiated by fighting a handful of “terrorists” equipped with small arms, road-side bombs and suicide vests. Without a serious enemy, justifying big contracts, how can generals hope to get a second high-paid job in retirement? The enormous US military sector needs a capable and convincing enemy. And, other than Russia (or China – remember the pivot to Asia?), what is there?

  13. There is the argument that NATO is one of the principal ways that Washington maintains its dominance over Europe and the EU. The easiest and simplest justification for NATO is a return to its earliest purpose, as Lord Ismay wittily put it, “To keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down”. The director of Stratfor has opined that the “primordial interest” of the USA has been preventing any sort of condominium between Germany and Russia. The Russia-the-eternal-enemy position provides both a justification for the continuation of NATO and a prophylactic against a Berlin-Moscow axis. It ensures a Europe that cannot stand on its own.

  14. Sheer laziness. The 24/7 news cycle needs material and it’s always easiest to stick with what you have. Because Russia filled some time yesterday, it should do so again today. There’s always someone available to tell you that Putin is corrupt, or Russia is about to invade some country, or Russia is about to collapse, or Russians are hungry or some other click-bait headline. Better than celebrities and their drug or marital problems because it gives that soupçon of gravity that makes the audience feel it’s not wasting its time. The steady diet has its effect and so Russia-the-eternal-enemy comes to be casually accepted.

  15. It’s clear that Putin’s team is serious and so many Western leaders are not. Also, and this cannot be denied, the team is successful. This minor country that makes nothing, where no one wants to live and which is dying is setting the course. Meanwhile, in the West…… This must infuriate the Western Establishment and that is a motive for the unceasing attempts to demean Putin & Co. It is “magical thinking“: if they repeat the charm loudly and often, maybe Russia will go away and no Western population will have to contemplate the possibility that national governments might actually do what they are paid to do.

  16. The state of mind in the Obama Administration is not made better by million-view YouTube videos comparing his work-out style with Putin’s. Nor pages of sneering cartoons contrasting a macho image with a feeb. Nor pages of “Putin beats Obama”. It has been some time since people gushed over Obama’s “glistening pecs“. It would also go some distance to explain outbursts like “White House criticizes Vladimir Putin’s posture” or flippant – and self-deceiving – dismissals like “regional power acting out of weakness” or “Russia is the outlier“.

  17. A subset of the above is the realisation that the Putin team has out-manoeuvred Washington at every step in the past few years. Washington was not able to overthrow Assad in Syria. The US Navy will not have a base in Sevastopol. Ukraine is a failing nightmare and its chances of joining NATO are probably lower than they were ten years ago. The sanctions regime against Russia has backfired. Russia survives low oil prices. The Moscow-Beijing axis is stronger than ever. Russia is not “isolated”. The Western Alliance is surely weaker than before. And this returns us to the “magical thinking” that we see manifested in Washington’s confused and contradictory utterances.

So abusing Russia satisfies many needs for the American Establishment: a safe opponent to swagger over; a contrast that can be painted as dark as you like; an object of feel-good moral righteousness; a sullen teenager who won’t listen to Daddy; a blank slate on which to write; a pretend enemy we can make a fortune out of; a useful bogeyman to frighten allies into obedience; gossip for pseudo-intellectuals. Many things at once.

But, the cost is rising.

What has changed is the conviction that Russia is a low-cost opponent. It’s very interesting to read things like this “If Russia Started a War in the Baltics, NATO Would Lose — Quickly” and “I am very concerned about the increasing risk of loss of U.S. military technological superiority” from the US defence establishment. Perhaps it’s just an attempt to screw more money out of Congress but these are certainly not things that could have been said in 2000.

It’s amazing the effect that a few insignificant boats in the Caspian Sea had, isn’t it?