RUSSIA THE ETERNAL ENEMY QUOTATIONS

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Michael Edward “Mike” Luckovich (born January 28, 1960) is an editorial cartoonist who has worked for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 1989. He is the 2005 winner of the Reuben, the National Cartoonists Society’s top award for cartoonist of the year, and is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes. He says “Normally with my cartoons I try to use humor to get across my point. After Sept. 11th, you just couldn’t use humor. The tragedy was so enormous, you couldn’t be funny. It’s almost like you have to come up with cartoons using a different part of your brain. I was just trying to come up with images that expressed the emotions that I was feeling and tried to focus in on different aspects of the tragedy that I thought were important.” (Wikipedia)

WE’RE NOT JUST TALKING TO OURSELVES – OTHERS FIND US

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation

Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.

(Often rephrased as: “You cannot reason people out of something they were not reasoned into”).

Jonathan Swift

This site (Strategic Culture Foundation) has attracted a large stable of writers; by and large, most of the time, generally speaking, we agree with each other pretty well. The point of view of most of the writers is counter Establishment. In today’s frenzied Russophobia that opens us to the charges of being Putinbots but, in truth, we write against the prevailing WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian view on many subjects. The fact that that commentary is now penetrated with demented fears that Putin is shaping minds and getting his stooges elected and so on, means that any denial of that delusion makes them call us Putin apologists. Just as, to take another case, Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Washington’s addiction to regime change wars makes her an Assad apologist and – insanity seeks out insanity – Putin’s favourite candidate. I have never had a word changed in anything I have written, but then what I write fits the editorial model of Strategic Culture Foundation. And so does what I read there.

On the other side of the divide are the writers and readers of the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian established media. They also generally agree with what they read, approve of each other’s writing and nod their heads in agreement. They are in their comfort zone.

Two solitudes – two bubbles. An agreeable agreement bubble for each: different bubbles to be sure but the same warm comfortable feeling of reassurance that they’re well-informed.

So what’s the point of writing? I already agree with you, you already agree with me. Our readers are here because they also agree. Writing becomes a mechanical operation, moving along a pre-determined course. No minds are changed, no minds are even engaged.

But there is one big and important difference between the two solitudes which leads us out of the my bubble/your bubble stalemate.

The well-informed person will be less often surprised than the poorly informed person.

There is an objective reality and people who actually do have a pretty good take on things, see that reality more clearly than those who don’t. In short, those who actually are well-informed will be less often surprised than those who aren’t. Surprise is the clue: it is both the consequence and the evidence of ignorance.

Surprise.

Here the difference between the two camps is very clear. We, over on our side of the great divide, were not surprised by what the leakers in the OPCW have to say. We were always sceptical of the proffered statements on Libya. We knew Trump’s communications were being listened to. We were not surprised that Milosevic was found not responsible. We are not surprised that the Russian economy is doing reasonably well. We already knew about Malaysia’s scepticism about the JIT. We are not surprised that protests in Moscow have pretty well fizzled out. We are not surprised that Guaidó’s coup is faltering. We comprehend the discontent in the Western World. We expect Beijing to be several steps ahead of Washington. We see through faked up colour revolutions. We weren’t surprised that Mueller found no collusion. We knew Browder was making it up.

(Of course we were surprised but in a different way: leaks from the sewn-up OPCW? The stooge ICTY makes an objective ruling? ECHR actually considers evidence? The Mueller investigation stops? But it’s a cynical – an informed – surprise.)

But the readers and writers of the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian bloc were surprised. They are certain that Assad gasses his own people when there’s no reason to; they believe that Qaddafi “bombed his own people“; they laughed when Trump said he was taped; they called Milosevic the “butcher of the Balkans“; they expect the Russian economy to collapse; they’re confident that the JIT is an honest investigation; they expect the protests will weaken Putin; they believe the “world community” recognises Guaidó; they are confident the West would be happy if Putin weren’t sowing discord; they expect that the next world problem will be managing China’s decline; they know where to find democracy in Hong Kong. And, especially, they were confident that Mueller will find a bombshell to blow up Trump. They remain believers in Browder’s story.

The devotees of the establishment media bloc are almost always surprised by the way things turn out. That, by itself, shows that they are poorly informed about reality. Everybody is surprised some of the time but the poorly informed are surprised all of the time.

Another indicator of which bubble is better grounded in reality is that we know both bubbles – it’s not possible for us in the alternative media not to know what the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian bloc is saying (if for no other reason than we delight in searching for examples of their errors as I just did above). They, on the other hand, have been drilled to regard us as conspiracy theorists, fringe extremists or Putin/Assad/villain-of-the-moment bots: our opinions are doubleplusungood and must be prevented and the Atlantic Council, Big Brother’s ideal fact-checker, is helping Facebook weed out crimethink. We have a very good idea of what they say; they have very little idea of what we say. In short, we’ve been there but they haven’t been here.

Which brings me to my final point and the answer to the question of why do we in the Strategic Culture Foundation stable and the many other new media sources do it. Why do we spend hours obsessing, researching and writing if all we’re doing is painting the inside of our bubble? It is very unlikely – we’ve all tried it and we’ve all failed – to reason the consumers of the establishment media out of their assumptions. These are typical responses: “How do you know these things?” “Why do you think your sources are always better than mine?” “Don’t call me stupid”. They weren’t reasoned into their complacency and they won’t be reasoned out of it. There is little chance that some conventional believer will stumble across some piece in any alternative source and change his mind.

But people do change and our audience is growing. How can that be happening if we change no minds?

Because the individual makes the first step on his own.

Phil Butler’s 2017 book Putin’s Praetorians has stories of how people came to change their views. What struck me was that, in almost every case, these people had found us, we hadn’t found them. A very common cause of the conversion of Butler’s individuals was the coverage of the Sochi Olympics three years earlier. It was so one-sided, so over-the-top, so meretricious that they couldn’t believe it and went looking for alternate points of view. For Butler’s people it was mostly Sochi; for another it was the “hysterical Russophobia of the MSM and the Democratic Party since the 2016 election” that sent him looking “for sources that would broaden and deepen my perspective. Indeed, I found an avalanche of web material that rarely makes it through the gatekeepers in the U.S.”. The triumphant success of the Russian-hosted World Cup demolished the ranting of the Establishment (“England football fans visiting Russia for the World Cup are at serious risk of homophobic, racist and anti-British attacks“); it will surely lead more to conversions.

I use the word “conversion” because it is, like religious conversion, a life-changing revelation to realise that the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian bloc, when it’s not careless with the facts or mindlessly re-typing official handouts, is just out and out lying. (Paul Robinson points out a recent example from the WaPo.) To understand that a great deal if not almost all that you have been told by “trusted sources” is false; that a great deal of what is in your head is just plain wrong; that much of what you thought was true is not, is a life-changing event. It’s frightening and disturbing but, once you have absorbed that into your belly-feel, there’s no going back. This young man and his father will never again believe anything the conventional media tells them about Russia; and neither will this man – “Everything they told us about this place was a lie.” And not just everything “they” told you about Russia is a lie: the WaPo/NYT/Economist/Guardian bloc’s coverage of Iran, Syria and Ukraine is almost 100% lies, most of the coverage of China is ludicrously off-target, Venezuela is another subject of fake news, certain subjects are never mentioned, the Trump obsession is now as fact-free as the Putin obsession – indeed the two delusions merged long ago in a crescendo of craziness – watch this video from the NYT. It’s like unravelling a sweater: once you pull on one thread, it all comes apart. Apart from sports coverage or the comics, what is there left to trust in the “trusted sources”? Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus is a fundamental legal principle for a good reason: liars lie.

So this is the reason why we write and speak and – religious allusion again – testify. People we’ve never heard of, disgusted by the strident one-sided nonsense, surprised by some unexpected reality they bump into, stop passively believing, begin to doubt, search around and find us. Our writings then show them they were right to doubt and lead them to a better appreciation of reality. We don’t persuade them, they persuade themselves; we don’t convert them, they convert themselves. But we reinforce their conversion and show them that there is more reality (less surprise) on our side. Once gained to our side, they won’t leave. It’s conversion.

It’s happening: we’re growing, they’re shrinking. How fast I don’t know but I know it’s happening. And the attempts to regulate Twitter, Facebook and the others shows that they know it’s happening too.

So, it is worth the effort, even if we seldom hear of our successes.

 

 

REALLY STUPID THINGS SAID ABOUT RUSSIA

No wonder the East Coast elites and the “interagencies” know so little about Russia: they really think tripe like this means something.

It is cheese that Russians write home about when they go abroad. “It’s my first time in Europe after all that’s happened,” the journalist and filmmaker Inna Denisova, a critic of the annexation of Crimea, wrote on her Facebook page in February. “And it’s exceedingly emotional. And of course it’s not seeing the historic churches and museums that has made me so emotional — it’s seeing cheese at the supermarket. My little Gorgonzola. My little mozzarella. My little Gruyere, chevre and Brie. I held them all in my arms — I didn’t even want to share them with the shopping cart – – and headed for the cash register.” There, Ms. Denisova wrote, she started crying. She ended her post with a sort of manifesto of Europeanness and a question: “Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage. I want my normal life back — can it be that it’s gone forever?”

Masha Gessen (who else?): What the Russians Crave: Cheese;

NYT (where else?), 4 July 2015

WHAT ABOUT WHATABOUTISM?

(First Published Strategic Culture Foundation Picked up by JRL,)

Vladimir Putin has made a national sport of what-abouting. In 2014, when a journalist challenged him on his annexation of Crimea, Putin brought up the U.S. annexation of Texas. The American invasion of Iraq is constantly what-abouted on state television, to excuse all kinds of Russian behavior.

– Dan Zak: “Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump“. Washington Post, 18 August 2017

“Trump Embraces One Of Russia’s Favorite Propaganda Tactics — Whataboutism”

Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR, 17 March 2017

Essentially, it’s an appeal to hypocrisy ― a logical fallacy also known as “tu quoque.” Instead of proving that your opponent’s claim is wrong on its face, whataboutism argues that it’s hypocritical of the opponent to make that claim at all.

And, the author helpfully goes on to explain: “Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the Trump administration’s murky ties to Vladimir Putin and his associates, whataboutism is viewed by many as a Russian import.” Trumputin again! (Written, of course, before Mueller crashed.)

The author is half right: it’s hypocrisy, but it’s not an appeal to it, it’s a revelation of it.

As the quotations above show it’s a real meme: Google has thousands of hits on “trump putin whataboutism” – accusing someone of whataboutism, as apparently routinely practised by both, is supposed to be a final, complete and crushing response. Whataboutism is “a constant diversion away from actual relevant news items, facts, and arguments into constant accusations of hypocrisy” and a commonplace of Russian propaganda.

In a court of law someone who is accused of murder cannot defend himself by saying that his accuser has a dirty nose or, even, that he is himself a murderer. And neither is it accepted that the defence against an accusation of a dirty nose is saying that the accuser is a murderer. In a court of law the charge, whether dirty nose or murder, has to be proven to the satisfaction of the judge or jury; the personal behaviour of the accusing lawyer is not relevant.

But we’re not talking about a court of law here – we’re talking about an information war in which accusations are crafted to sway public opinion. In that “court” it is relevant to point out when the accusing dirty pot is calling the accused kettle black. Not to do so is a “diversion away from actual relevant facts” by changing the subject and pretending that the only subject is your crimes, not mine.

For example. Russia is routinely accused of violating the “Rules-Based International Order”. (What a great name: who wouldn’t want to live in a Rules-Based International Order and shun those who tried to overturn it?) A quick search turns up these accusations: “The Russian government wears its disdain for the rules-based international order as a badge of pride“; “What can the West do to keep Russia in check, when the country’s state policy is fundamentally at odds with the rules-based international order“; “It is Russia’s actions which threaten the international order on which we all depend“; “Today, I will set out how the Russian government under President Putin is taking steps that are weakening the rules-based order“; “Russia – a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council – has repeatedly attacked the global rulebook of normal behaviour.” Lots more examples can easily be found. Said Rules-Based International Order is praised as having kept world peace, as a “cornerstone” and other kinds of goodnesses. So, clearly, Putin & Co, by trying to overthrow it, are committing a crime.

But, actually, the accusation is only another propaganda shot at the contumacious Putin. Leaving aside the self-satisfied hype, we’re supposed to agree that this “order” is worldwide although few in, say, Africa or Asia would have happy feelings about it. But, most significantly we are required to not listen to what Putin actually says; over and over again, year after year: (this month): “Let me reiterate: truly mutually respectful, pragmatic and consequently solid relations can only built between independent and sovereign states“, or his essay in the NYT in 2013 when he said “The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus”.

But enough of reality, back to whataboutism.

Many of these fulminations cite Crimea as the moment when Putin’s Russia irredeemably breached the Rules-Based International Order but the accusation was commonplace long before Putin appeared. Russia wanted “the right to do what it pleases in its own backyard” in 1994; was probably not going to be “an equal and fair player” and believed that “countries become strong only by making other countries weak” in 1996; was “subverting its neighbors’ independence” in 2006. In short “Russia is remarkably resistant to progress, material and moral“. In other words, fashions change but Russia is always the enemy: Russia wanted to dominate the energy reserves in the Caspian in 1997, but signed on to an equitable division in 2019. Never mind that accusation (and who remembers it now?) on to the next accusation! In 1997 we knew Russia wanted to trash the Rules-Based International Order, in 2019 we still know but fresh accusations replace the worn-out ones.

So, setting aside the fact that the Ukrainian constitution was nullified with the violent overthrow of the elected President, ignoring the fact that violence against Crimeans had already started, forgetting that the first action of the coup was to outlaw their language, ignorant that Crimea had the status of an autonomous republic, never mentioning there were already Russian troops legally there, pretending that the referendum was done at gunpoint, shedding crocodile tears over the suddenly discovered Crimean Tatars, carefully refusing to visit the place to see whether reality conforms to illusion and all the rest of it, let us do a little whataboutism.

If the return home of Crimea – that’s what the Crimeans call it – is to be considered a violation of the Rules-Based International Order, what was the smashing up of Yugoslavia? A popular expression of the self-determination of peoples or a foreign intervention for less shiny principles? What was the invasion of Afghanistan? Rules-Based or not? If the invasion of Afghanistan was “Rules-Based” on self-defence principles (still – 18 years later!) what was the “Rules-Base” for the invasion of Iraq? How about the destruction of Libya? By what principle of the Rules-Based International Order are US and allied troops in Syria? Especially “guarding” the oil fields? Where’s the “Rules-Base” that says Washington should care about what Maduro does in Venezuela, or is it a fundamental principle of the Rules-Based International Order that “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“?

I reiterate that we are not in some courthouse in which, say the case of Crimea’s incorporation into the Russian Federation is being tried in Courtroom Number 1 and the NATO attack on Libya in Courtroom Number 2, the NATO presence in Syria in Courtroom Number 3 and so on. In that case the Russian defence team would not be justified in saying that the other guys are in court too; it would have to argue the case at hand (relying no doubt heavily on Article 1.2 of the UN Charter); in the other courtroom the defence would be relying on… good question.

We are in the “court of public opinion” and here it is relevant that NATO & Co accuse Russia of doing things without admitting that they do much worse. After all, in Russia’s so-called sins – Crimea, South Ossetia and Abkhazia – we can find solid majority support from the local population. NATO would have a harder time finding that support in its various post Cold War interventions. Or, to put it more plainly: Ossetia, Abkhazia and Crimea are pretty peaceful places; the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya etc etc are not. (To say nothing of the departure of US troops from Syria being hastened with jeers and stones.)

Occasionally Western news/propaganda outlets will confess to “the long history of the US interfering with elections elsewhere” but only to airily dismiss the issue because “the days of its worst behavior are long behind it”. (Ukraine, Venezuela, Russia and Hong Kong are not, we must assume, “interferences” and it would be “whataboutism” to suggest that they are somehow worse than the imaginary Russian intervention in the US election.)

In short, what is dismissed as “whataboutism”, and therefore unworthy of discussion, is reminder to the listener of reality; in a world of moralistic accusations that Russia has violated the sacred Rules-Based International Order it is a pointer to the West’s hypocrisy. If we are supposed to think that Russia did something bad and unlawful in Ossetia or Crimea violating the so-called Rules-Based International Order why is it wrong to point out that NATO this century has never paid a moment’s attention to the UN Charter or any other part of the, admittedly feeble, structure of international law?

The Bible advises us not to obsess about the tiny speck in the other person’s eye while ignoring the big hunk of wood in our own: “For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And if that’s not “whataboutism” what is?

 

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: CRAZIESTER AND MORE CRAZIESTER

Remember the Spinal Tap scene where the witless band member explains that because their numbers go to 11 they can always get that little bit extra? Putin Derangement Syndrome went past 11 a long time ago: we need a whole new set of superlatives, “craziest” just won’t do any more

After writing this compendium of nonsense about Putin from Western sources in 2015, I ran a short series on Putin Derangement Syndrome; I gave up when Putin Derangement Syndrome and Trump Derangement Syndrome merged into a crescendo of craziness, far past what I could have imagined.

(And Trump Derangement Syndrome is also past 11 – “Why Ivanka Trump’s new haircut should make us very afraid“.)

In the past, American hysteria campaigns against the enemy-of-the-moment ended when their target did. Noriega went to jail, Milosevic died in jail, Hussein and Qadaffi were killed, bin Laden was killed, Aidid – but who remembers him? The frenzy built up and up and stopped at the end before it got to 11. But Putin is still there and growing stronger by the moment. And the frenzy therefore has to go past 10, past 11 and ever upwards. One of the craziest (to say nothing of disgusting) things was this absurd cartoon from the (formerly) staid NYT. But that was a whole year ago.

No longer bare chests, Aspergers, big fish, gunslinger walks – in 2015 they were laughing; today Putin has super powers. Two events sent it past 11. Somebody leaked e-mails from the DNC showing that it was rigging the nomination for Clinton and she lost a 99% certain election. Immediately, her campaign settled on blaming Russia for both.

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.)

The bogus – bogus because most of the people on his team were part of the conspiracy and knew there was no collusion – Mueller investigation dragged on until – despite the endless “bombshells” – it finally stopped. But the crazies insist… not guilty but… not exonerated! And Trumputin’s principal conspiracist rants on.

Wikipedia tells us that “A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable.” The CIA, referring to the Kennedy assassination, is said to have coined the expression in 1967. The “trusted source” media (an description it likes to award itself) is dead set against “conspiracy theories” and quick to denounce them as crazy, prejudiced and criminal. For example, Trump’s statement that Mueller was a hitman, is a “conspiracy theory” as are Trump’s ideas about the Bidens and Ukraine.

Everything I mention below comes from “trusted sources”. Therefore we must assume that all of them – Putin wants Trump to buy Greenland, Russians want to get Americans arguing about pizza, Russians have no moral sense and all the rest – are not “conspiracy theories” but honestly “more probable”.

Mere evidence – for example that the DOJ Admits FBI Never Saw Crowdstrike Report on DNC Russian Hacking Claim… or No Evidence – Blame Russia: Top 5 Cases Moscow Was Unreasonably Accused of Election Meddling or U.S. States: We Weren’t Hacked by Russians in 2016 or The Myth of Russian Media Influence by Larry C Johnson.. or Biden admitting to doing what USA Today insists is nothing but a conspiracy theory invented by Trump – makes no difference. The dial is turned up one more and we are solemnly and (incoherently – Paul Robinson again) warned that Russia might/could meddle in Canada’s forthcoming election.

Anti-Russia prejudice can have unhappy consequences. We have just learned that Putin phoned Bush a couple of days before 911 to warn him that something long-prepared and big was coming out of Afghanistan. Other Russian warnings had been dismissed by Condoleezza Rice – supposedly a Russia “expert” – as “Russian bitterness toward Pakistan for supporting the Afghan mujahideen”. One is reminded of Chamberlain’s dismissal of Stalin’s attempts to form an anti-Hitler alliance because of his “most profound distrust of Russia” (see Habakkuk comment). In some alternate universe they listened to Moscow in the 1930s and in the 2000s, but, in the one we live in, they didn’t. And they don’t.

Or maybe (foolish optimism!) this is starting too end: after all, it’s been a complete failure. I especially enjoyed the NYT, that bastion of the Russian-conspiracy/Putin-superpowers/Trump-treason meme, solemnly opining: “That means President Trump is correct to try to establish a sounder relationship with Russia and peel it away from China. But his approach has been ham-handed and at times even counter to American interests and values.” Ham-handed! – here’s the NYT’s view of the Trump-Putin “love affair” again if you missed it the first time. And now it’s Trump’s fault that relations with Russia aren’t better! French President Macron has recently said that “I believe we should rebuild and revise the architecture of trust between Russia and the European Union.” And Trump rather brutally delivered the message to Ukraine’s new president that he ought to talk to Putin.

Well, we’ll see. Russophobia runs deep and the Russians have probably got the message. As long as we’re stuck in a mindset of “Nine Things Russia Must Do Before Being Allowed to Rejoin the G7” it’s not going to change. An arrogant invitation is not an invitation.

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.

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?

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.