RUSSIA IS FINISHED QUOTATIONS

And yet more from the Russia is doomed collection. Alternate this with Russia is winning! Russophrenia.

Russia’s ongoing attacks on Ukraine and its persistent subversion of Western states demonstrates that Washington and Brussels have failed to restrain Moscow’s imperial ambitions.Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.Russia is more fragile than it appears, and the West is stronger than it is portrayed. Under the regime of Vladimir Putin, which will soon enter its third decade, the country has transitioned from an emerging democracy to an unstable authoritarianism.

Janusz Bugajski, “Managing Russia’s dissolution“.

And here he is, a decade ago, saying the same thing:

NATO expansion in the Caucasus has been thwarted and the humiliation of the Mikheil Saakashvili government is a terrible warning to other westward-looking leaders around the Black Sea. Hopes that the Nabucco gas pipeline project can by-pass the Kremlin stranglehold on Europe‘s energy have also been shaken. Yet celebrations by the Vladimir Putin-Vladimir Medvedev tandem may be premature. Having started the fire of secession, the Kremlin now risks being burnt by its flames.”

Blah blah blah. Bet he turns up on an “Integrity” Initiative list.

C’EST TOUJOURS LA MÊME CHOSE

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation. Picked up by Oriental Review.)

I have just read the memoirs of General Armand de Caulaincourt who accompanied Napoleon throughout the Russian venture. He was France’s Ambassador to Russia from 1807 until 1811 and got to know the Emperor Alexander quite well. Napoleon recalled him and he eventually resumed his tasks as his Master of the Horse.

His account begins with a long conversation with Napoleon. Just before he left St Petersburg, Alexander called him in for what was, unmistakeably, a message and warning to be passed on. De Caulaincourt really tries hard – but unsuccessfully – to make Napoleon get the point. He tells him that Alexander said he had learned something from the Spanish resistance to France and that was that Napoleon’s other opponents had given up too early; they should have kept fighting. Napoleon is unimpressed: his generals in Spain are incompetent and and his brother (to whom he had given the Spanish throne) is an idiot; he sees no larger lessons and believes that Spain is not important in the great scheme. De Caulaincourt reiterates that Alexander kept returning to that point, giving other illustrations of giving up too soon and emphasised that, if Napoleon invaded, he would persevere: he would keep fighting from Kamchatka if need be; Russia was very large and the weather very severe. One good battle and they’ll give up insists Napoleon. Napoleon then mentions how angry the Poles are getting with Russia. De Caulaincourt retorts that the Poles he knows, while they would certainly prefer a free and independent Poland, have learned that living under Russia is not as bad as they thought it would be and that real freedom might cost more than it would be worth. De Caulaincourt then, no doubt repeating what Alexander has told him, describes the compromise that would settle the problems between him and Russia; but Napoleon’s not interested. After five hours of this, Napoleon dismisses him but de Caulaincourt asks leave to say one more thing: if you are thinking of invading (now de Caulaincourt realises that he’s set on it) please think of France’s best interests. Oh says Napoleon, now you’re talking like a Russian.

Well, the similarities just leap off the page don’t they? Napoleon today is played by Washington. (One may hope that Trump’s pullout from Syria marks the beginning of real change. But let’s wait and see what actually happens.) There have been years of ignorant overconfidence in Washington – just like Napoleon’s – Russia is a gas station pretending to be a country, it doesn’t make anything and its GDP is less than Canada’s or Spain’s or some other not very important country. (In truth, since Russia’s arrival in Syria, some hawks are starting to sound less confident: as a recent example an American thinktank warms that the US Navy might not prevail against Russia and China.) But the popular expectation remains that one more push and Putin will cave in: he won’t be holding out in Kamchatka. Russia today is played by Russia, of course. As to who’s playing Poland, Ukraine makes a good stand-in (although Poland may be trying to reprise its role). Napoleon’s assertion that Poland wants war with Russia is replicated by today’s Kiev regime: it is doing its best to make it happen. But, like de Caulaincourt’s account of actual Poles, there is little to suggest that ordinary Ukrainians have much stomach for a war and one may suspect that a majority would be happy to a return to the (miserable, but not as miserable) time before the “revolution of Dignity”. Who plays the role of Spain, the nation that didn’t understand that it had been beaten? Today gives us several candidates: you may choose from Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

But, what’s really contemporary, and he repeats it several times, is Napoleon’s sneer that de Caulaincourt has become a Russian: even two centuries ago, long before RT, Sputnik or Facebook ads, Russia’s malign “information war” and “fake news memes” were polluting Western minds! Then, as well as today, anyone who deviated from the received wisdom must be echoing Russian falsehood.

As I said, the similarities jumped out at me a couple of pages into de Caulaincourt’s account. On the one hand we see the man who actually knows what he’s talking about and who is trying to relay an important message to his superior; on the other the arrogant superior who knows everything and calls all disagreement Putinism Russianism. And, in the background, the yappy little players trying to wag the Imperial Dog. And, airily dismissed, the years-old failures on other battlefronts.

Well, we all know what happened, don’t we? Napoleon put together an army (with lots of Poles) and invaded. De Caulaincourt was there at his side every step in and out. And Russia proved (as it did again in 1941) that it didn’t realise when it had been defeated. De Caulaincourt takes us through it. Napoleon’s confidence that the Russians are falling back and he will defeat them in detail. The shocking losses of horses and the gradual wearing away of cavalry scouts. The invisibility of the Russian army. Scorched earth – de Caulaincourt compares the Grande Armée to a vessel alone on a huge, empty ocean. Supply problems. More horse losses. Distance and more distance and still no victorious battle. Guerrillas. No prisoners. No information.

Let us consider Smolensk. Napoleon occupied it and, after a brief fight (and the burning of the city), took possession. David Glanz has convincingly argued that the Battle of Smolensk in 1941, while a German victory, was actually Germany’s defeat because it meant that the short blitzkrieg victory Berlin counted on was no longer possible; in a long war, the USSR’s mighty industrial capacity would come into play. And so it was for Napoleon: too late, too little and still no negotiations. But he convinced himself that there would be peace in six weeks (he is now about the only optimist left in the Grande Armée). Messengers are sent to Alexander. No answer. The Grande Armée marches east in search of The Battle. At last – Borodino, one of the bloodiest days in warfare – but the Russian army disappears again. He takes Moscow – now Alexander must talk. He – another echo of today – has convinced himself that Russia’s nobles (big businessmen) will force Alexander (Putin) to give in because they are losing so much. But they don’t. Through de Caulaincourt’s reporting we see the adamantine self-delusion of Napoleon. At last Napoleon gives up, goes home and the Russian Army follows him all the way back to Paris. See the famous graph.

Napoleon still doesn’t get it: one of his sillier complaints is that Kutuzov doesn’t understand strategy; well it’s not Kutuzov who’s plodding through icy roads littered with abandoned equipment, butchered horses and dead soldiers, is it? “I beat the Russians every time, but that doesn’t get me anywhere”. Winning every battle and losing the war is not as uncommon as all that: we have seen it from Darius and the Scythians to the US and Afghanistan.

Everything turns out as de Caulaincourt warned him. Except that, in the end, Alexander doesn’t go to Kamchatka, he goes to Paris instead. The story is that the French bistro owes its name to the Russian быстро! (quickly!). True or not, there once were Russian soldiers in Paris demanding quick service. There are already bistros in Washington, So after Napoleon (USA/NATO) invades Russia (Russia) ignoring de Caulaincourt’s (lots-of-people-on-this-site’s) advice, what new culinary event will Russian (Russian) soldiers leave behind in Paris (Washington)? A Ёлки-Палки on every street? Kvas trolleys?

Oh, and Poland, after 70,000 casualties in the Russian war, remained partitioned.

We return to today. Napoleon (USA/NATO) professes its desire for peace but… those pesky Russians (Russians) are making trouble for Poland (Ukraine – or is it Poland again?) which presses for an attack. The Spanish (Afghans/Iraqis/Syrians) say, whatever Napoleon (USA/NATO) may think, they don’t feel beaten yet. Alexander (Putin) says “he would not fire the first shot, but also that he would sheathe the sword last”.

To quote Field Marshal Montgomery, who had more experience in big wars and standing on the victory podium than any US general since MacArthur: “Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: ‘Do not march on Moscow'”. (His second rule, by the way, was: “Do not go fighting with your land armies in China.” As Washington’s policy drives Moscow and Beijing closer together…. But that is another subject).

I don’t know who the next US Defence Secretary will be, but I have a suggestion for some introductory reading.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 3 JANUARY 2019

BALANCE. The first successful test of the Avangard hypersonic vehicle is announced. Super fast (Mach 27 they say) and highly manoeuvrable, development began when Washington withdrew from the ABM Treaty. Putin promised that Russia would “act independently”, it did and here we are today. Avangard nullifies the entire US ballistic missile defence effort: “We don’t have any defense“. Impossible to shoot down: there’s only about 20 minutes from launch to anywhere and it can be coming in from any direction. Putin, in his presser, said Avangard “maintains the balance”. It’s important to understand Moscow’s point of view and not respond with petulance. Because, here as elsewhere, Moscow has got it right: the danger of ballistic missile defence development is that one side might come to believe that its defence is good enough to save it from a response and might be tempted to do a first strike. (Who’s stupid enough? Well, that’s what all this stuff is about: removing the possibilities). The ABM Treaty preserved the crazy, but stable, balance of mutual assured destruction. It was stable because, each side knew that, whatever the start state, whatever happened in between, the end state would always be the same: destruction of both. But Washington, convinced it would be supreme forever, tossed the Treaty in 2001. Russia now has a weapon that cannot be stopped; therefore there is no possible way to stop a retaliatory strike and so no first strike is conceivable. We’re back to the crazy stability of mutual assured destruction. This is rebalancing. But it would have been much easier, cheaper and safer to have kept the original Treaty.

RUSSIA INC. From Putin’s presser. 2018 numbers so far. GDP up 1.7%, industrial output up 2.9%; fixed capital investment up 1.4%; real incomes showing small growth of 0.5%; expect to hit inflation estimate of 4%; unemployment down to just under 5%; trade surplus on track to be about $190 billion; gold and foreign currency reserves $464 billion. There will be a small budget surplus (first since 2011) and the National Welfare Fund has grown about 22%. Life expectancy up a bit to 72.9 years. The Energy Minister estimates Russia earned an extra $120 billion in two years of oil production cuts. Russia is surviving the West’s sanctions. Putin later added that Russia produces about 80% of “vital medications”.

PUTIN ON SOCIALISM. See this. Still a тупик (Russian slang for dead end).

THE COUNTRY THAT MAKES NOTHING. Moscow opens the 17th Metro station built this year. A 60-kilometre fence along the Crimea-Ukraine border is completed. The modernised Tu-22M3M has taken its first flight. 3 1/2 million cars have travelled the Crimea Bridge. (Winter bonus picture: Russia’s, and the world’s, second largest icebreaker at the North Pole).

RECIPROCITY? The FSB has arrested an American on espionage charges. It is possible that this is retaliation for the disgusting treatment of the wretched Maria Butina but if so, we may be sure that Moscow will be scrupulous in playing by the rules. If for no other reason than to make the point.

SYRIA. Predictable results from Trump’s withdrawal decision. Ankara holds back on its attack on the Kurds but continues threatening. Syrian Army took over a key town with Kurdish agreement. Moscow is the place to be: Kurds are there and so are Turks. The likely result will be Kurds and Damascus making an agreement that allows Damascus to control the territory and Ankara’s concerns taken into account. Recognising reality, Arab states re-establish relations with Damascus. The soldiers of Washington and its minions were the obstacle to peace. More to come apparently: Trump has ordered a big withdrawal from Afghanistan and that plans for full withdrawal be drawn up. Pat Buchanan sums up the complete failure of Washington’s wars in the MENA. Good analysis by Elijah Magnier.

SKRIPALMANIA. Putin: “Without the Skripal case, they would have come up with something else. This is quite obvious to me. Their only goal is to contain Russia and prevent it from emerging as a potential competitor.” Sochi toilets; MH17; doping; “invasion of Crimea”; election whatever-the-story-is-now; Masha and the Bear and on and on. Always something. (But I don’t think Russia is losing this, do you?)

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. This headline sums up the latest stage of nonsense: “Firm Who Warned America of ‘Russian Meddling’ Caught Running Fake Russia Bot Campaign. And yet the idiocy continues and can only get worse when this guy, who thinks Putin has a man follow Medvedev around threatening to smother him, is in charge of investigations. We’re finding out how stupid stupid can become. It would be funny if there was anything to laugh about taunting a nuclear superpower.

UKRAINE. Informative exchange between Putin and a Ukrainian reporter. To read it, search here for Roman Tsymbalyuk.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

TODAY’S PUTIN QUOTATION

Question at 2018 press conference: do you think that a restoration of socialism is possible in Russia?

Vladimir Putin: I think this is impossible. I believe that the deep changes that have taken place in our society make restoring socialism in the sense you mean impossible. There can be social elements in the economy and the social sector, but expenses will always exceed profits, and as a result, the economy would be at a dead end.

(…Возможны элементы социализации экономики, социальной сферы, но это всегда связано с расходами больше доходов, и, в конечном итоге, с тупиком в экономике.)

(My emphasis. Note that he called communism a road to a dead end in 1999.)

Putin annual press conference, 20 December 2018.

PSYCHOANALYSING NATO: THE DIAGNOSIS

(First published Strategic Culture Foundation, picked up by SouthFront, ZeroHedge, Straight Line Logic)

In previous essays I argued that NATO tries to distract our attention from its crimes by accusing Russia of those crimes: this is “projection“. NATO manipulates its audience into thinking the unreal is real: this is “gaslighting“. NATO sees what it expects to see – Moscow’s statements that they will respond to medium range missiles emplaced next door are re-jigged as the “threats” which justify NATO’s earlier act: this is “confirmation bias“. And, finally, NATO thinks Russia is so weak it’s doomed and so strong that it is destroying the tranquillity of NATOLand: this is a sort of geopolitical “schizophrenia“. (I must acknowledge Bryan MacDonald’s marvellous neologism of Russophrenia – a condition where the sufferer believes Russia is both about to collapse, and take over the world.)

I wrote the series partly to amuse the reader but with a serious purpose as well. And that serious purpose is to illustrate the absurdities that NATO expects us to believe. NATO here being understood as sometimes the headquarters “international staff”, sometimes all members in solemn conclave, sometimes some NATO members and associates. “NATO” has become a remarkably flexible concept: Libya was a NATO operation, even though Germany kept out of it. Somalia was not a NATO operation even though Germany was in it. Canada, a founding NATO member, was in Afghanistan but not in Iraq. Some interventions are NATO, others aren’t. The NATO alliance today is a box of spare parts from which Washington assembles its “coalitions of the willing”. It’s Washington’s beard.

NATO and its members are inexhaustible sources of wooden language and dishonesty. Take Washington’s demand that Iran get out of Syria while US forces stay there. Syria has a recognised government, that government invited Iran in; no one invited the USA and its minions in. A child could see the upside down nature of this: it’s a housebreaker demanding the host evict the guests and hand over their bedrooms. This, apparently, is what NATO calls the “rules-based order”. Here’s the American official insisting it’s all legal: “our forces are there under a set of legal and diplomatic documents… “; but he only mentions one and it’s an American one. Putin is condemned for saying “Whatever action a State takes bypassing this procedure are illegitimate, run counter to the UN Charter and defy international law“. We are expected to solemnly nod our heads rather than contemptuously laugh when unilateralism is meretriciously named “rules-based”. These inversions of reality are routinely fed to us by NATO and its mouthpieces.

A very recent revelation of NATO’s gaslighting is the Integrity Initiative (such a gaslighting name!) busy trolling away with a couple of million from the British taxpayer. Its remit, apparently, includes infiltrating political movements of an ally and it “defends democracy against disinformation” by smearing its own political actors with disinformation. Does Russia do this? Well there’s RT and Sputnik and “Russians” did spend nearly $5000 on Google and $7000 on Facebook fixing the US election. And almost one dollar on Brexit ads. And one should never forget the insidious effect of Masha and the Bear. But don’t dare laugh at these preposterous assertions: the BBC earnestly assures us that humour is Putin’s newest weapon. Against this mighty effort, there can be no vigilance too strong! The only way to protect our values is to trash them: defend freedom of thought by secretly planting fake stories, defend democracy by smearing the opposition as Russian stooges. Pure gaslighting, defended by projection and confirmation bias: “This kind of work attracts the extremely hostile and aggressive attention of disinformation actors, like the Kremlin and its various proxies“.

NATO hyperventilates about “Russia’s military activities, particularly along NATO’s borders“. Only in NATO’s counterfeit universe could this be imagined; in the real world Russia’s military is inside its own borders. Once again, the proper response is a contemptuous sneer rather than solemn head nodding.

NATO collectively and severally manifests a detachment from reality. Its website is full of pious assertions about being a defensive alliance that brings stability wherever it goes, replete with valuable values. And it always tells the truth. The reality? No rational person would regard Moscow’s concern about a military alliance creeping ever closer as “aggressive”. There is less stability in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan than before NATO entered them. Fooling around in Yugoslavia, Georgia and Ukraine have sparked actual shooting wars. NATO’s activities in Syria (illegal by any standards of international law, be it remembered) has not brought stability. More civilians killed, Raqqa obliterated, hospitals methodically destroyed. All “tragic accidents” of course; but don’t look here! look at Russia! Only in its imagination is NATO a bringer of stability. As to its values, they’re mutable – it’s good to break up Yugoslavia, invade Iraq and Afghanistan and destroy Libya but Crimeans taking the opportunity to return to Russia is a heinous crime. NATO’s so-called values are whatever NATO does. And as to NATO’s promises: well it did expand, didn’t it? (Here’s NATO’s official weasel-wording: “Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement”. And suddenly its narrative jumps to President Clinton. Wrong POTUS, actually; NATO’s caught gaslighting again.) Its intervention in Libya was very far from what the UN resolution approved: it was an armed intervention against the government on false pretences.

Here’s what NATO’s so-called “stability projection” has actually produced: riots in France, partly connected with the influx of “migrants” coming from the Libya that NATO destroyed. But, we supposed to believe it has nothing to do with NATO, it’s Putin! Only an idiot could believe that.

NATO had a purpose when it was formed, or at least it thought it did. It is true that, at war’s end where the Soviet Army stood “elections” were held and socialist or communist parties came to power and stayed in power. (Austria being an exception). There were at least two ways that one could understand this extension of Soviet power. One was that they were the actions of an expansionist hostile power that fully intended to go all the way to Cape Finisterre if it could and, if not prevented, would. In such an case the Western Allies would be fully justified in forming an defensive alliance to deter Soviet expansion. Another possible interpretation was that, after such a hard victory in so fearfully destructive a war, Moscow was determined that never again would its neighbours be used as an assembly area and start line for the forces of another Hitler. Such an interpretation would call for quite another approach from the Western Allies. We all know which of the two interpretations was followed by. I have speculated elsewhere that Reinhard Gehlen may have had a strong influence on that decision. But, for whatever reason, the NATO alliance was founded on that first assumption and it shaped the world in one direction rather than another.

Since the USSR broke up, taking with it NATO’s original raison d’être, NATO members, sometimes under the NATO flag and sometimes not, have helped break up Yugoslavia and Serbia, invaded Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Syria, destroyed Libya, incited a war in Georgia, carried out a coup d’etat in Ukraine and participate in the civil war there. That’s not stability. And, where NATO has set foot, it stays. KFOR is still bringing “peace and stability” in Year 19 and Kosovo is home to a huge US base. Afghanistan is in Year 15. Iraq is in Year 14. Syria is Year 4 and set to run forever. Ironically Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians are back in Afghanistan; different flag, same place. That’s not stability either.

And still the wooden language rolls out. But turn off your brain when you read it.

POLITICAL – NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.

MILITARY – NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.

 

Has post-USSR NATO ever peacefully resolved a dispute? Anywhere? Any time? It’s always military power. What did Article 5 (an attack on one is an attack on all) have to do with NATO’s war on Libya? Did it attack one of them? How about Serbia? One can argue that someone in Afghanistan attacked the USA but who did in Iraq? As to “democratic values”, well, it will be amusing to watch NATO’s reactions to Ukraine President Poroshenko trying to avoid the election. And nobody likes to mention the pack of organ harvesters and drug runners NATO gave a whole country to.

If NATO were a human individual on the couch, a case could be made that it is living in a fantasy world in which everything is reversed.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;

that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Delenda NATO est!

PSYCHOANALYSING NATO: SCHIZOPHRENIA

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation; picked up by SouthFront)

NATO sorrowfully explains its problems with Russia on its official website:

For more than two decades, NATO has worked to build a partnership with Russia, developing dialogue and practical cooperation in areas of common interest. Cooperation has been suspended since 2014 in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine but political and military channels of communication remain open. Concerns about Russia’s continued destabilising pattern of military activities and aggressive rhetoric go well beyond Ukraine.

None of this – of course – is NATO’s fault: on the contrary NATO is concerned that

Russia’s military activities, particularly along NATO’s borders, have increased and its behaviour continues to make the Euro-Atlantic security environment less stable and predictable, in particular its practice of calling snap exercises, deploying near NATO borders, conducting large-scale training and exercises and violating Allied airspace.

Suffice it to say that this statement would have a closer relationship with reality if the words “NATO’s borders” were replaced with “inside Russia”. And I would be interested to hear the details of “violating Allied airspace”. Why even the Daily Telegraph in 2015 with its suggestive headline of Mapped: Just how many incursions into Nato airspace has Russian military made? had to admit “The Ministry of Defence says the Russian bombers have never violated Britain’s sovereign airspace, which extends 12 nautical miles from the coast.” Likewise Violated US Airspace 16 Times In Last 10 Days turns out to be Air Defence Identification Zones which is not the same thing at all. Or Most Russian Plane Intercepts over Baltics Due to Error: NATO General. So NATO’s statement needs a further calibration so that “violating Allied airspace” becomes “flying in international airspace close to Allied countries’ airspace”.

Therefore, properly understood, NATO accuses Russia of 1) holding military exercises in its own territory, 2) flying in international airspace, 3) supporting secessionist movements in places that weren’t part of Yugoslavia or aren’t in the Middle East or North Africa. And they accuse it of invading countries that NATO didn’t invade first. NATO projects its behaviour, gaslights its audience and confirms its initial assumption when Moscow objects. But that’s NATOLand for you – the unicorns roam free and all is sunny until the bear smiles.

There is a striking schizophrenia among NATO’s members: Russia is, at one and the same time, so weak it’s “doomed” and so strong that it’s demolishing NATOLand.

Russia is forever, eternally, endlessly, doomed. Always on the edge of collapse. (But Russia has always been doomed here’s Time in 1927) and it was altogether finished in 2001. But doom dooms on. Has an ‘open society’ doomed Russia to fail? (September 2012); Russia Is Doomed (March 2014); Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed (April 2014); Putin’s Nationalism and Expansion Strategy Is Doomed to Fail (September 2014); Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed (December 2014); Remember Russia? It’s still doomed (January 2015); Morgan Stanley thinks Russia’s doomed (February 2015); Secretary of Defense: Russia Doomed to Fail’ in Syria (September 2015); Is Russia’s Economy Doomed to Collapse? (July 2016); Why The Saudi-Russian Oil Agreement Is Doomed To Fail (September 2016); Putin’s Bridge to Crimea Is Doomed to Collapse (January 2017); Russia’s Su-57 Stealth Fighter Is Doomed to Fail (December 2107); The Russian economy looks doomed (March 2018); Russia is doomed to steadily fall behind the rest of the world (August 2018); Why Putin’s 5-100 project is doomed to fail (October 2018). And its soccer team too! Aging and Inexperienced: Why Russia Is Doomed to Fail (June 2018).

You’d think, with all this doom dooming away at Russia, that no one would be much worried about it. Except of course for the risk of getting bits of it spattered on you when it finally crashes down. Said collapse confidently predicted three years ago by Alexander Motyl, who, making his wish the father of his thought, declaimed that Russia might even “disappear”:

As the new year begins, both Ukraine and Russia are making steady progress. The difference is that, while Ukraine is slowly, and more or less surely, adopting a raft of systemic reforms that will make it a normal Western market democracy, Russia is becoming a failed state. If current trends continue, as they probably will, Russia may even disappear.

But, amazingly, Russia has become more powerful than ever before. Not even Stalin in his wildest dreams imagined choosing the next US President. Yet, even as “weak and dying” Russia freefalls, Putin has done exactly that: “Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump” Trump being what Putin would design to “undermine American interests – and advance his own”. “Trump is Putin’s ally in Russia’s war on the West”. But even before he animated his Trumpenpuppet, his tendrils had slithered deep into Washington: “Putin’s Got America Right Where He Wants It: And that’s bad news for Obama”. So Putin, although he’s no genius, just another Brezhnev, has a puppet in the White House.

But not just there: Putin (Aspergers, “gunslingers’ walk”, lonely psychopath that he is), through his “useful idiots“, affects everything, everywhere. Brexit. French election. Italian election. German election. Austrian election. Dutch election. Canada’s next election. Catalonian separatism. Gilets jaunes. Hungary’s Prime Minister is a Putinist. And it’s more, so much more: Russia and the Threat to Liberal Democracy: How Vladimir Putin is making the world safe for autocracy. Moscow’s unstoppable “Hybrid War” weaponising Information, Culture and Money. Separatism, migrants, left wing right wing.

Sounds as if we’re the ones who are doomed.

In this race of the doomed: who will get to the FINAL DOOM first?

SYRIA, AFGHANISTAN AND MATTIS

(Question from Sputnik asking for my commends on Mattis’s leaving.)

Those of us who believed that Trump understood that the endless wars in the MENA were not “making America great” were very heartened by his sudden decision to live up to his promises to get the US military out of Syria. And then, in another followup, to begin a reduction of US forces in Afghanistan.

Mattis’s resignation is no doubt connected with these two decisions, possibly more with the Afghanistan drawdown. Long regarded by the anti-Trump camp as one of the few “adults in the room” trying to control him, Mattis is really just another American general determined that the defeat will not happen on his watch and prepared to kick the problem down the road for his successor to worry about.

These two momentous steps are deliriously condemned – confirming Obama’s marriage of the liberal interventionists to the neocons – both by the Sun Tzus of the cable talkfests and the Clausewitzs of Hollywood.

Will it actually happen? Will the borg/deep state continue the clandestine activities that started the whole mess in Syria? Will the war party Senators now look favourably on the inevitable impeachment frenzy the Democrats will produce in the House?

We may – finally – be reaching the point at which we discover which is stronger: the elected president or the war party.

So, either more of the same or a real change; I hate to use the bromide of the phoney expert, but time will tell. The struggle is on.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 DECEMBER 2018

SYRIA. The US is leaving. Here’s Trump (his saying ISIS is defeated is flim flam; he would remember the saying about Vietnam: “declare victory and leave”). Lots of speculation why and what: here’s the best I’ve seen so far. Everyone who hates Trump hates it: I look forward to pink pussy hat protesters. Will we have a sudden “Assad gases children” false flag? Will the borg just disobey him? Wait and see. But this is one of the reasons people voted for him: these wars do not “make America great”.

PUTIN PRESSER. Quick summary. I’ll cover it next Sitrep if I think he’s said anything new.

TODAY’S AMUSEMENT. US Coast Guard Turns Down Arctic Exercise Because 40-year-old Icebreaker Might Break Down And Would Require Russian Help“. “The country that doesn’t make anything” has the two most powerful icebreakers in existence. You can cruise on one of them.

SOLZHENITSYN. Putin attended the unveiling of a statue on the centenary of his birth and met with his widow in the Kremlin. I repeat, for those who think Putin worships Stalin or something, that excerpts from the Gulag Archipelago are required reading in Russian schools. (The NYT has a poor memory.)

STUNT OR REMINDER? Two White Swans visited Venezuela. Prompting this nugget from the stupidity mine: “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

GUNS. SIPRI reports that Russia is the second biggest arms exporter in 2017 (USA first at five times as much). Of course, apart from other things, Syria has proved to be a great showcase and test bed.

SANCTIONS. The US Treasury has announced that it has dropped its sanctions against RusAl (the second largest aluminum company) but will keep them against its – what now? former owner? absentee owner? Meanwhile more sanctions against some other Russian entities for some imagined involvement in some imagined crime.

WESTERN VALUES™. Months of solitary confinement, threats and emptied wallet and Maria Butina takes a plea deal. As Beria is said to have said “give me the man and I will give you the crime”.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Murdered by Kremlin!!!! Oops, natural causes. Reminiscent of the death of Badri Patarkatsishvili in 2008: another enemy of Putin dies; oops, Saakashvili’s enemy. (Meanwhile, in Georgia, a recording has appeared of Saakashvili ordering his death).

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. There’s a plan to strengthen the Euro’s international role. Merkel criticised Trump for “populism” and similar doubleplusungood things. The EU foreign policy chief says shortcomings of the IMF Treaty are no reason to scrap it. But, obediently the European Parliament praises Ukraine, condemns Russia and calls for stopping Nord Stream. (Germany will ignore the last). And it extended sanctions on Russia because of “zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements“. Moscow has no obligations under the agreement but that fact has never stopped them before. So baby steps away from Daddy, big steps back.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Some developments. The reporter who first spread the Dossier story now doubts it. Google CEA says “Russians” spent less than $5000. Nate Silver doubts there was much effect. The so called influence campaign was really a click-bait scheme to sucker advertisers. But it rolls on. For your amusement, a mash-up of how Trump is finished!!!!

PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. MoA lists all the things Putin has “weaponised”. But don’t dare laugh: the BBC solemnly informs us he’s weaponised humour. A US comic book has him as villain and a super hero whose sister was gassed “by Assad, the Russians’ puppet”. London Times: “Russian accounts fuel French outrage online“. Paris is investigating. And why not blame Russia? Everybody in the EU is as happy as happy can be, only the malign efforts of wicked Moscow could make them think they weren’t. McCarthyism wasn’t as crackbrained as this.

POLAND. The LNG deal is signed. 20 years FOB at Texas. This can’t be cheaper than Russian gas.

UKRAINE. Israel’s ambassador to Kiev ‘shocked’ after seeing that a region in Ukraine honors Nazi collaborator Bandera“. He just noticed? Not just a region. A parliamentarian says the EU cheated them. It is not inconceivable that the election, if Poroshenko can’t finagle his way out of it, may bring some change. The new president can blame the old and it will be a re-arrangement of the deckchairs and who knows what will happen in such an unhappy and unstable country? If Poroshenko orders an attack the certain defeat will stir more up. But change is more likely worse than better.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

THE WEST SLIPS DOWN ANOTHER STEP

(First published at Strategic Culture Foundation, picked up by ZeroHedge, JRL/2018/216/19, YouTube, WITSNEWS, The Good Fight, Viral News, The Fringe News)

There is much on the Internet these days about documents allegedly hacked by Anonymous; these documents belong to the “Integrity Initiative” and describe a multi-country effort, funded by London and Washington, to counter “Russian propaganda” and “fake news”. Since the initial story broke, a good deal of confusion has been laid down: Wikileaks is doubtful, and Anonymous itself is being evasive. On the other hand, Integrity Initiative doesn’t entirely deny.

But even if entirely false, they would be in that curious category of “fake but true”: Integrity Initiative does actually exist and here is its website. It is certainly engaged in anti-Russia propaganda. It publishes articles locking the barn door after the horses have escaped: yes, “Novichok” is terribly deadly but that doesn’t mean it will kill you. But, if it isn’t strong enough to kill you today, it may be strong enough to kill someone four months later. Its most memorable statement is surely this:

The Kremlin has invested more operational thought, intent and resource in disinformation, in Europe and elsewhere in the democratic world, than any other single player.

A statement that would stun anyone who’s ever been in a hotel and gone channel cruising: RT’s in there somewhere along with CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, DW, France Télévisions, Rai and so on. A tiny voice in a bellowing crowd. But, after all, these are the people who tell us that Russia affected the US election with one FB message per 400 million others.

The Integrity Initiative is one of many. We had, and still have, the Legatum Institute which worried about “Russian disinformation” back in 2013, a pair of British thinktankers two years later also worried about “Russia’s information warfare in the UK“. Then it was time for “hybrid war“, a supposed Russian invention. The so-called intelligence assessment (of “all 17 agencies“, but actually a hand-picked group from only three, one of which only had “moderate confidence”) on Russian hacking devoted nearly half its space to a four-year old rant about RT!

Such an obsession with RT and Sputnik! How many eyeballs do they reach? Not that many by all evidence. We’re talking small – not 1/413,000,000th small – but small. A good deal less than the BBC alone. Amazing! But the West bravely marshals its feeble power against the colossus of RT and creates the British Army’s “77th Brigade” of Twitter commandos, the US has its soldiers at Fort Bragg trolling away, NATO’s Centre of Excellence in Tallinn pumps it out and now the Integrity Initiative extrudes copy. Even little Canada has got into the act. Then we have the so-called independent think tanks busy creating “objective” “impartial” “scholarly” expliqués of the Russian threat. Some of these are nothing but beards for the arms industry. An example is CEPA (“a tax-exempt, non-profit, non-partisan, public policy research institute”) supported by, inter alia, the US Mission to NATO, NATO Public Diplomacy Division, US Naval Postgraduate School, US Department of Defense, US Department of State, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Company, European Defense Agency, Chevron Corporation, Bell Helicopter, Textron Systems and BAE Systems. Its “non-partisan” reports tell us Russia is sowing chaos, that we must defend the “Sulwaki Corridor”, Nord Stream is a bad idea and so on. You may not have noticed Moscow’s hand in Catalonian separatism, but they have. All very predictable and just the sort of thing a company making big weapons wants out there to buttress its sales pitch. Bearded guys in turbans and sandals with IEDs are not big business; Russians in tanks are. A rather curious idea of “non-partisan”.

But, despite this, we’re supposed to believe that RT and Sputnik have awesome powers and that one little tweet from a Russian bot has an overwhelming effect against which these “non-partisan” outfits have a tough struggle. An intelligent child can see the nonsense.

But enough sarcasm, this isn’t funny: it’s actually very serious. Apart from the dangers of building up war fever against a power that could obliterate the West, it’s a telling indication of the decline of the West. And so triumphant and so confident only two decades ago!

In the Cold War Moscow’s sin was that it was actively trying to overthrow us and send those of us it didn’t shoot to the GuLag. Today its crime is contumacy: it persistently refuses to accept the blame that the West puts on it.

But neither do many of us. So, if you, as I do, think that the Western version of the MH17 story is a bit fishy, doubt that Assad is dumb enough to do the one thing that would invite Western missiles, regard Whitehall’s Skripal story as laughably incoherent, doubt that Litvinenko could write a perfect English sentence, find it absurd to assume that Putin kills people by such easily noticed means, know that there were Russian troops in Crimea all along, notice that the White Helmets have received millions yet can only afford dust masks and flip flops, had heard of the Crimean Tatars before, notice that NATO has expanded up to Russia’s borders and not the other way around, know something about Ossetian-Georgian relations, know what the Ukrainian Constitution says about getting rid of presidents, remember Nuland’s telephone call, can remember all the people falsely demonised by the Western propaganda machine… If you dare to think those thoughts, these people will call you a victim of (or accomplice in) Russian disinformation and say you need re-education. Certainly they don’t want you to be heard.

Of course no one is calling for the end of freedom of speech, just a shutting down of “fake news”. Social media is doing its best to do so, advised by such “impartial” organisations, in the case of Facebook, as the Atlantic Council. Which is funded by, well, many of the same organisations as CEPA, but with more foreign governments and oil companies. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, United Technologies, Boeing: they’re not interested in funding a venue for people who question the Russian threat meme, are they?

Once upon a time truth was considered to be the best defence. In the Cold War there was little effort to silence Soviet propaganda. Anybody could listen to Radio Moscow, read Soviet newspapers or anything else. Most countries had a legal communist party working, under Moscow’s strict control, for a communist takeover and pumping out propaganda as hard as it could. Innumerable front groups pushed communist and Soviet policy under a variety of covers. We didn’t worry too much: truth was the best defence. But the USSR did worry and it spent enormous efforts jamming Western broadcasts. A child could figure it out: the side that’s blocking the other side is afraid of the truth, it’s afraid of dissent, it’s afraid of freedom.

Twenty years ago most Russians would have agreed that Pravda & Co were lying both about the USSR and about the West. But not any more: read what Margarita Simonyan, the head of the dreaded RT, says: “Лет пятьдесят – тайно и явно – мы хотели жить как вы, а больше не хотим” (“For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer“). Reflect on what produced this contemporary Russian bittersweet joke: “Pravda lied to us about the USSR, but it told the truth about the West”.

So, in the end, Russians didn’t “drink the Kool-aid”. Willing once to believe, they believe no more. And that is Russia’s sin. It’s not bolsheviks lusting for blood, with nooses in their hands, charging down Park Lane and Wall Street these days, it’s Russians stubbornly being Russian. And that is unforgivable to a West that has lost the confidence that its positions stand strong and unaided.

Which it has. Why else these attempts to manipulate public opinion and block disagreement? It is, in a word, Soviet behaviour. The side that’s mostly telling the truth isn’t afraid of the other side’s lies. Again, a child could figure it out.

What they are telling us (forget all that Magna Carta, freedom of speech and thought, European Values stuff they were boasting about a few years ago) is this:

We don’t trust you to make up your mind, so we’ll do it for you.

Accept, Believe, Repeat. It’s a big slip down the slope.

Remember the notion, popular at one time, that the Soviets and the West would converge? Well, maybe they did and just kept moving past each other. Soon we’ll be fully Soviet in our response to Big Brother: believe the opposite, read between the lines, notice what you’re not being told.

But the “Russia information war” pays good money for people who can say with a straight face: “Novichok is deadly except when it isn’t” or “Our intelligence agencies rely on Bellingcat to tell them what’s going on” or “Assad gasses civilians when he’s winning because he likes being bombed” or “Putin kills all his enemies except the ones who are telling you he does” or “the Panama Papers prove Putin’s corruption even though his name isn’t mentioned” or, indeed, “Russia swung the US election with a trivial number of social media posts”. Oh, and RT is rotting our minds. Even if no one you know has ever watched it.

They are paid to believe what they believe to be paid.