RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 20 AUGUST 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 942K; total deaths 16,099; tests per 1 million 229K. Russia has done 33.5 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s done the most tests per million.

SPUTNIK VACCINE. Bernhard covers the meretricious headlines in the Western media. CNN’s deduction is especially irrelevant “Putin and his interests are routinely supported by an unbelievable three quarters of voters. Three-quarters of Americans don’t agree on much of anything“. The foundation the vaccine is built on. Production photos. Official website so you can see for yourself what they claim.

WARNING. In what we must assume an official statement, two senior officers state that any incoming ballistic missile will be assumed to be a nuclear attack. So this is where we are after low-yield nukes, Obama’s modernisation program and killing arms control treaties. Balance of terror and MAD return.

SAME SAME. Navalniy “poisoned“. Again. He does appear to be seriously sick this time, though.

PRISONS. Russia has a large prison population, but has been gradually reducing it. It has fallen below 500K which is about half what it was twenty years ago. But still high by European standards.

MEDIA. “There is more diversity of thought – and criticism of government foreign policy – in the Russian mainstream print media than the American equivalent. That’s a fact.” (Brian MacDonald, an Irish reporter working for RT and living in Russia.)

EDUCATION. Russian universities rank low. USA UK rank best in pandemics. Ranking lists are GIGO.

US TROOP WITHDRAWAL. 12K out of Germany, half to USA, 1000 to Poland, rest stay in Europe.

THE DEATH OF IRONY. Twitter has decided to label “state media” starting with the P5. Amazingly enough, only two of the five qualify to be labelled. RFE/RL (“funded by the U.S. Congress“) is not. BBC World Service (government-funded) is not. And so on. Gaslighting.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA I. “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem“. Everything on Russian media is controlled by Putin. Everything Rachel Maddow says about Putin is true. Anyone who questions this is a dupe or puppet. Repeat for 77 pages. Senate report: ditto but take 1000 pages.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA II. Russia is backing Donald Trump, China is supporting Joe Biden and Iran is seeking to sow chaos in the U.S. presidential election…”. I guess that means that Russia and China will cancel each other out and Iran will choose the winner.

BELARUS. Obviously another colour revolution directed from outside. Lukashenka won the election (not by 80% – my guesstimate – 60% or so) but a lot of people are tired of him. He tried to play both sides but now understands that the West wants him dead or gone and only Putin can save him; that is why he has invoked the Union Treaty. And there is the military alliance. So, if Belarus’s independence is threatened from the outside (as it is) Moscow can intervene on request. The Russian mercenary story was a (typically incompetent) SBU plot; all are back in Russia. The West sternly warns Lukashenka not to shoot protesters in the eye with rubber bullets or kneel on their necks. (Pompeo, when asked if it’s hypocrisy: “Even your question is insulting.”) I expect the colour revolution to fail but Lukashenka will, as they used to say, “retire at his own request for health reasons”. Putin told Merkel and Macron outside interference was “unacceptable” (strong language for him). Lukashenka has told the Interior Ministry to restore order. Two facts you may not know: Lukashenka says he was offered a World Bank loan if he did a COVID lockdown and Belarus is important for OBOR. A third: the white-red-white flag the protesters all seem to have (another sign of a colour revolution – where do they all come from so suddenly?) was used by nazi collaborators. (The conductors of these performances really have no idea, do they? Belarus lost a quarter of its population in the war).

MOSCOW AND BELARUS. Moscow doesn’t care what kind of government Belarus has. Become part of Russia? Nice, maybe, someday; but not if its economy is a drain. What Moscow will not permit (and the treaties give it the entry) are Belarus becoming 1) a hostile military alliance base 2) a constant source of problems. Moscow would have been perfectly happy with a neutral, independent and prosperous Ukraine. (And in retrospect, I’ll bet most of the supporters of Maidan would prefer it too).

BELARUS AND ITS NEIGHBOURS. Not leaking population like the Baltics. Much better off than Ukraine. No wars like Russia. OK there’s Poland, but it got enormous help from the EU (and still does). Not such a paltry record, is it?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

AMERICANS, WAR – SLOW LEARNERS

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

Nothing short of genius can account for losing so consistently given the enormous resources available to American forces. In light of this very low level of military competence, maybe wars are not our best choice of hobby.

– Fred Reed (who probably learned this in Vietnam)

According to a popular Internet calculation, the United States of America has not been at war with somebody for only 21 years since 1776. Or maybe it’s only 17 years. Wikipedia attempts a list. It’s a long one. You’d think that a country that had been at war for that much of its existence, would be pretty good at it.

But you’d be wrong. The “greatest military in the history of the world” has doubled the USSR’s time in Afghanistan and apparently it’s unthinkable that it should not hang in for the triple. Should the President want to pull some troops out of somewhere, there will be a chorus shrieking “dangerous precedent” or losing leadership and months later nothing much will have happened.

One cannot avoid asking when did the USA last win a war. You can argue about what “win” looks like but there’s no argument about a surrender ceremony in the enemy’s capital, whether Tokyo Bay or Berlin. That is victory. Helicopters off the Embassy roof is not, pool parties in a US Embassy is not, “Black Hawk down” is not. Doubling the USSR’s record in Afghanistan is not. Restoring the status quo ante in Korea is not defeat exactly, but it’s pretty far from what MacArthur expected when he moved on the Yalu. When did the USA last win a war? And none of the post 1945 wars have been against first-class opponents.

And few of the pre-1941 wars were either. Which brings me to the point of this essay. The USA has spent much of its existence at war, but very seldom against peers. The peer wars are few: the War of Independence against Britain (but with enormous – and at Yorktown probably decisive – help from France). Britain again in 1812-1814 (but British power was mostly directed against Napoleon). Germany in 1917-1918, Germany and Japan 1941-1945.

Most American opponents have been small fry.

Take, for example, the continual wars against what the Declaration of Independence calls “the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions“. (Starting, incidentally, a long American tradition of depicting enemies as outside the law and therefore deserving of extermination.) The Indians were brave and skilful fighters but there were always too few of them. Furthermore, as every Indian warrior was a free individual, Indian forces melted away when individuals concluded that there was nothing it for them. Because there were so few warriors in a given nation, Indian war bands would not endure the sort of casualties that European soldiers did. And, always in the background, the carnage from European diseases like the smallpox epidemic of 1837 which killed tens of thousands in the western nations. Thus whatever Indian resistance survived could usually be divided, bought off, cheated away and, if it came to a fight, the individual Indian nation was generally so small and so isolated, that victory was assured. The one great attempt to unite all the western nations was Tecumseh’s. He understood that the only chance would come if the Indians, one united force, showed the Americans that they had to be taken seriously. He spent years trying to organise the nations but, in the end, the premature action of his brother Tenskwatawa led to defeat of his headquarters base in 1811. Tecumseh himself was killed two years later fighting a rear-guard action in Ontario. It is because defeats of American forces were so rare that Little Big Horn has passed into legend; but the American casualties of about 250 would have been a minor skirmish a decade earlier. And the victory led to nothing for the Indians anyway; they lost the Black Hills and were forced into reservations. Brave and spirited fighters, but, in the end, no match for industrialised numbers.

The USA fought several wars against Spain and Mexico, gaining territory as it did. Despite the occasional “last stand” like The Alamo, these were also one-sided. The Spanish-American War is the outstanding example: for about 4000 casualties (half from disease), the USA drove Spain completely out of the Americas and took the Philippines, obliterating the Spanish Fleet at Manila Bay. More easy victories over greatly outmatched adversaries.

The other group of wars the US was involved in before 1941 were the empire-gathering wars. One of the first was the take over of the independent and internationally-recognised Kingdom of Hawaii; the sugar barons organised a coup against Queen Liliuokalani with the help of troops from US warships and no shooting was necessary. Not so with the long bloody campaign in the Philippines, forgotten until President Duterte reminded the world of it. And there were many more interventions in small countries; some mentioned by Major General Smedley Butler in his famous book War is a Racket.

Minor opponents indeed.

Andrei Martyanov has argued that the US military simply has no idea what a really big war is. Its peer wars off stage (since 1812) made it stronger; its home wars were profitable thefts. It believes wars are easy, quick, profitable, successful. Self delusion in war is defeat: post 1945 US wars are failure delusionally entered into. To quote Fred Reed again:

The American military’s normal procedure is to overestimate American power, underestimate the enemy, and misunderstand the kind of war it is getting into.

The only exceptions are the Korean War – a draw at best – and trivial successes like Grenada or Panama. As I have argued elsewhere, there is something wrong with American war-fighting doctrine: no one seems to have any idea of what to do after the first few weeks and the wars degenerate into a annual succession of commanders determined not to be the one who lost; each keeping it going until he leaves. The problem is kicked down the road. Resets, three block war fantasies, winning hearts and minds, precision bombing, optimistic pieces saying “this time we’ve got it right“, surges. Imagination replaces the forthright study of warfare. Everybody on the inside knows they’re lost – “Newly released interviews on the U.S. war reveal the coordinated spin effort and dodgy metrics behind a forever war“; that’s Afghanistan, earlier the Pentagon Papers in Vietnam – but further down the road. When they finally end, the excuses begin: “you won every major battle of that war. Every single one”, Obama lost Iraq.

And always bombing. Bombing is the America way in war. Korea received nearly four times as much bomb tonnage as Japan had. On Vietnam the US dropped more than three times the tonnage that it had in the whole of the Second World War. Today’s numbers are staggering: Afghanistan received, between 2013 and 2019, 26 thousand “weapons releases“. 26,171 bombs around the world in 2016 alone. Geological bombing. Precision attacks, they say. But the reality is quite different – not all of the bombs are “smart bombs” and smart bombs are only as smart as the intelligence that directs them. The truth is that, with the enormous amount of bombs and bad intelligence directing the “smart bombs”, the end result is Raqqa – everything destroyed.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble… In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful — rubblize and rubblization.

The US Army once really studied war and produced first-class studies of the Soviet performance in the Second World War. These studies served two purposes: introducing Americans who thought Patton won the war to who and what actually did and showing how the masters of the operational level of war performed. Now it’s just silliness from think tanks. A fine example of fantasy masquerading as serious thought is the “Sulwaki Corridor” industry of which this piece from the “world’s leading experts… cutting-edge research… fresh insight…” may stand as an amusing example. The “corridor” in question is the border between Lithuania and Poland. “Defending Suwalki is therefore important for NATO’s credibility and for Western cohesion” and so on. The authors expect us to believe that, in a war against NATO, Russia would have any concern about the paltry military assets in the Baltics. If Moscow really decided it had to fight NATO, it would strike with everything it had. The war would not start in the “Sulwaki Corridor” – there would be salvoes of missiles hitting targets all over Europe, the USA and Canada. The first day would see the destruction of a lot of NATO’s infrastructure: bases, ports, airfields, depots, communications. The second day would see more. (And that’s the “conventional” war.) Far from being the cockpit of war, the “Sulwaki Corridor” would be a quiet rest area. As Martyanov loves to say: too much Hollywood, too much Patton, too many academics saying what they’re paid to believe and believe to be paid. The US has no idea.

And today it’s losing its wars against lesser opponents. This essay on how the Houthis are winning – from the Jamestown Foundation, a cheerleader for American wars – could equally well be applied to Vietnam or any of the other “forever wars” of Washington.

The resiliency of the Houthis stems from their leadership’s understanding and consistent application of the algebra of insurgency.

The American way of warfare assumes unchallenged air superiority and reliable communications. What would happen if the complacent US forces meet serious integrated air defence and genuine electronic warfare capabilities? The little they have seen of Russian EW capabilities in Syria and Ukraine has made their “eyes water“; some foresee a “Waterloo” in the South China Sea. Countries on Washington’s target list know its dependence.

The fact is that, over all the years and all its wars the US has rarely had to fight anybody its own size or close to it. This has created an expectation of easy and quick victory. Knowledge of the terrible, full out, stunning destruction and superhuman efforts of a real war against powerful and determined enemies has faded away, if they ever had it. American wars, always somewhere else, have become the easy business of carpet bombing – rubblising – the enemy with little shooting back. Where there is shooting back, on the ground, after the initial quick win, it’s “forever” attrition by IED, ambush, sniping, raids as commanders come and go. The result? Random destruction from the air and forever wars on the ground.

There is of course one other time when the United States fought a first class opponent and that is when it fought itself. According to these official numbers, the US Civil War killed about 500,000 Americans. Which is about half the deaths from all of the other US wars. Of all the Americans killed in all their wars – Independence, Indians, Mexico, two world wars. Korea, Cold War, GWOT – other Americans killed about a third of them.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 AUGUST 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 870K; total deaths 14,606; tests per 1 million 203K. Russia has done 29.7 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. The Health Minister says mass vaccinations will begin by October. Has Russia really won the vaccine race? this researcher believes so and gives his explanation.

KHABAROVSK. Protests continue (video of Sunday’s). A lot of things going on: Furgal was popular, his replacement, while from the LDPR, is unknown in the area, Khabarovsk feels ignored (Moscow is only 700kms closer than Vancouver), outside activists coming in, corruption. Moscow has handled it badly.

RUSSIA INC. Despite the usual predictions from the usual sources, Russia Inc is healthy: big FOREX kitty; low debts. And, furthermore, it’s about the closest thing to an autarky that exists today. Entertaining argument that it can only get better in the rest of the year. It’s just been suggested that there may be even more money available in a couple of oil and gas companies.

PUTINOLOGY. Sarkozy and Bill Clinton agree: he always keeps his word. I agree after years of observation: he says what he means and means what he says.

CHURCH. Some of the Church’s officials live very well indeed. An Abbess was requested to sell her Mercedes. This is drawing some attention. The Patriarch says such speculations “are designed to prevent the spread of God’s word”. Which is not an entirely satisfactory response. In the Yeltsin days the ROC was given a piece of the action of certain imports (tobacco for one) so as to fund itself. That seems to have stopped and revenue today comes from the state, sale of articles for church use and some business entities. Scandals come up from time to time and are forgotten as this one probably will be too. The wealth of religious organisations is not, of course, just an issue with the ROC.

FOREIGN CONNECTIONS. A Constitutional amendment prohibits certain officials from having foreign citizenship or residency permits. A KPRF Deputy says 39 Deputies from the pedestal party have; the Speaker has promised to look into it. Some one else has published a list of officials with a second passport. Quite a few; something to watch: presumably they formally renounce these things or are fired.

MOON. The Roscosmos head says that Russia and China are likely to build a Moon research base. Another sign neither sees Washington as reliable. I note Beijing is becoming blunter: a “bully” “undermining international law and order” “reckless provocation” “conspiracy theories“.

MILITARY. Airborne exercise video and a reminder that they’re the only one that routinely drops AFVs. Eastern Military District. Mediterranean. Sea of Japan. Black Sea. Baltic. Practice and messages.

BEIRUT DISASTER. First Russian aid arrived yesterday, more coming today.

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Source of The Dossier finally revealed – unimpressive, to put it mildly. Interesting link with Fiona Hill and Brookings. Even the CIA thought it was junk but the FBI insisted. Comey “went rogue”. (Are we ever going to get to the arrest and handcuff phase of this so that even WaPo and NYT readers can learn what happened?)

DOUMA. The Douma fake CW attack, the FUKUS attack, leaks from the OPCW and its cover-up finally hit the MSM thanks to Aaron Maté and The Nation. Neither fake attack nor coverup news to my readers.

BELARUS. Pretty mystifying. The Russians-sent-to-destabilise story is absurd (vide.) I know that Lukashenka has been playing Russia and the West, I see signs of a “colour revolution” (colours. Slogans). I’ve heard that the arrested Russians were on their way to be security guards for a facility in Libya. Now Lukashenka says US citizens have been arrested and that Putin’s his “elder brother“. It’s smelling to me like a Western regime change operation that hasn’t been very well prepared. I would expect Lukashenka to prevail and suggest he check his immediate entourage.

GERMANY-USA. Little by little the split grows. Some recent German polls show good support for American troop reduction. And good support for reducing dependence on the USA and improving relations with Russia.

FREUDIAN SLIP. “So we can all deter Russia and avoid peace in Europe“.

NORDSTREAM. Washington huffs and puffs, last opposition from Copenhagen over.

PROBLEMS WITH THE NARRATIVE. Sloppy, sloppy: the latest UK Russian hacker story debunks itself: documents reported in UK media two days before “Russian hackers” “hacked” them!

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

THE REAL “RUSSIAN PLAYBOOK” IS WRITTEN IN ENGLISH

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

I hadn’t given The Russian Playbook much attention until Susan Rice, Obama’s quondam security advisor, opined a month ago on CNN that “I’m not reading the intelligence today, or these days — but based on my experience, this is right out of the Russian playbook“. She was referring to the latest US riots.

Once I’d seen this mention of The Russian Playbook (aka KGB, Kremlin or Putin’s Playbook), I saw the expression all over the place. Here’s an early – perhaps the earliest – use of the term. In October 2016, the Center for Strategic and International studies (“Ranked #1“) informed us of the “Kremlin Playbook” with this ominous beginning

There was a deeply held assumption that, when the countries of Central and Eastern Europe joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, these countries would continue their positive democratic and economic transformation. Yet more than a decade later, the region has experienced a steady decline in democratic standards and governance practices at the same time that Russia’s economic engagement with the region expanded significantly.

And asks

Are these developments coincidental, or has the Kremlin sought deliberately to erode the region’s democratic institutions through its influence to ‘break the internal coherence of the enemy system’?

Well, to these people, to ask the question is to answer it: can’t possibly be disappointment at the gap between 2004’s expectations and 2020’s reality, can’t be that they don’t like the total Western values package that they have to accept, it must be those crafty Russians deceiving them. This was the earliest reference to The Playbook that I found, but it certainly wasn’t the last.

Russia has a century-old playbook for ‘disinformation’… ‘I believe in Russia they do have their own manual that essentially prescribes what to do,’ said Clint Watts, a research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former FBI agent. (Nov 2018)

The Russian playbook for spreading fake news and conspiracy theories is the subject of a new three-part video series on The New York Times website titled ‘Operation Infektion: Russian Disinformation: From The Cold War To Kanye.’ (Nov 2018)

I found headlines such as these: Former CIA Director Outlines Russian Playbook for Influencing Unsuspecting Targets (May 2017); Fmr. CIA op.: Don Jr. meeting part of Russian playbook (Jul 2017); Americans Use Russian Playbook to Spread Disinformation (Oct 2018); Factory of Lies: The Russian Playbook (Nov 2018); Shredding the Putin Playbook: Six crucial steps we must take on cyber-security—before it’s too late. (Winter 2018); Trump’s spin is ‘all out of the KGB playbook’: Counterintelligence expert Malcolm Nance (May 2019).

Of course all these people are convinced Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Somehow. To some effect. Never really specified but the latest outburst of insanity is this video from the Lincoln Project. As Anatoly Karlin observes: “I think it’s really cool how we Russians took over America just by shitposting online. How does it feel to be subhuman?” He has a point: the Lincoln Project, and the others shrieking about Russian interference, take it for granted that American democracy is so flimsy and Americans so gullible that a few Facebook ads can bring the whole facade down. A curious mental state indeed.

So let us consider The Russian Playbook. It stands at the very heart of Russian power. It is old: at least a century old. Why, did not Tolstoy’s 1908 Letter to a Hindu inspire Gandhi to bring down the British Indian Empire and win the Great Game for Moscow? The Tolstoy-Putin link is undeniable as we are told in A Post-Soviet ‘War and Peace’: What Tolstoy’s Masterwork Explains About Putin’s Foreign Policy: “In the early decades of the nineteenth century, Napoleon (like Putin after him) wanted to construct his own international order…”. Russian novelists: adepts of The Playbook every one. So there is much to consider about this remarkable Book which has had such an enormous – hidden to most – role in world history. Its instructions on how to swing Western elections are especially important: the 2016 US election; Brexit; “100 years of Russian electoral interference“; Canada; France; the European Union; Germany and many more. The awed reader must ask whether any Western election since Tolstoy’s day can be trusted. Not to forget the Great Hawaiian Pizza Debate the Russians could start at any moment.

What can we know about The Playbook? For a start it must be written in Russian, a language that those crafty Russians insist on speaking among themselves. Secondly such an important document would be protected the way that highly classified material is protected. There would be a very restricted need to know; underlings participating in one of the many plays would not know how their part fitted into The Playbook; few would ever see The Playbook itself. The Playbook would be brought to the desk of the few authorised to see it by a courier, signed for, the courier would watch the reader and take away the copy afterwards. The very few copies in existence would be securely locked away; each numbered and differing subtly from the others so that, should a leak occur, the authorities would know which copy read by whom had been leaked. Printed on paper that could not be photographed or duplicated. As much protection as human cunning could devise; right up there with the nuclear codes.

So, The Russian Playbook would be extraordinarily difficult to get hold of. And yet… every talking head on US TV has a copy at his elbow! English copies, one assumes. Rachel Maddow has comprehended the complicated chapter on how to control the US power system. Others have read the impenetrably complex section on how to control US voting machines or change vote counts. Many are familiar with the lists of divisions in American society and directions for exploiting them. Adam Schiff has mastered the section on how to get Trump to give Alaska back. Susan Rice well knows the chapter “How to create riots in peaceful communities”.

And so on. It’s all quite ridiculous: we’re supposed to believe that Moscow easily controls far-away countries but can’t keep its neighbours under control.

There is no Russian Playbook, that’s just projection. But there is a “playbook” and it’s written in English, it’s freely available and it’s inexpensive enough that every pundit can have a personal copy: it’s named “From Dictatorship To Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation” and it’s written by Gene Sharp (1928-2018). Whatever Sharp may have thought he was doing, whatever good cause he thought he was assisting, his book has been used as a guide to create regime changes around the world. Billed as “democracy” and “freedom”, their results are not so benign. Witness Ukraine today. Or Libya. Or Kosovo whose long-time leader has just been indicted for numerous crimes. Curiously enough, these efforts always take place in countries that resist Washington’s line but never in countries that don’t. Here we do see training, financing, propaganda, discord being sown, divisions exploited to effect regime change – all the things in the imaginary “Russian Playbook”. So, whatever he may have thought he was helping, Sharp’s advice has been used to produce what only the propagandists could call “model interventions“; to the “liberated” themselves, the reality is poverty, destruction, war and refugees.

The Albert Einstein Institution, which Sharp created in 1983, strongly denies collusion with Washington-sponsored overthrows but people from it have organised seminars or workshops in many targets of US overthrows. The most recent annual report of 2014, while rather opaque, shows 45% of its income from “grants” (as opposed to “individuals”) and has logos of Euromaidan, SOSVenezuela, Umbrellamovement, Lwili, Sunflowersquare and others. In short, the logos of regime change operations in Ukraine, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Burkino Faso and Taiwan. (And, ironically for today’s USA, Black Lives Matter). So, clearly, there is some connection between the AEI and Washington-sponsored regime change operations.

So there is a “handbook” but it’s not Russian.

Reading Sharp’s book, however, makes one wonder if he was just fooling himself. Has there ever been a “dictatorship” overthrown by “non-violent” resistance along the lines of what he is suggesting? He mentions Norwegians who resisted Hitler; but Norway was liberated, along with the rest of Occupied Europe, by extremely violent warfare. While some Jews escaped, most didn’t and it was the conquest of Berlin that saved the rest: the nazi state was killed. The USSR went away, together with its satellite governments in Europe but that was a top-down event. He likes Gandhi but Gandhi wouldn’t have lasted a minute under Stalin. Otpor was greatly aided by NATO’s war on Serbia. And, they’re only “non-violent” because the Western media doesn’t talk much about the violence; “non-violent” is not the first word that comes to mind in this video of Kiev 2014. “Colour revolutions” are manufactured from existing grievances, to be sure, but with a great deal of outside assistance, direction and funding; upon inspection, there’s much design behind their “spontaneity”. And, not infrequently, with mysterious sniping at a expedient moment – see Katchanovski’s research on the “Heavenly Hundred” of the Maidan showing pretty convincingly that the shootings were “a false flag operation” involving “an alliance of the far right organizations, specifically the Right Sector and Svoboda, and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland”. There is little in Sharp’s book to suggest that non-violent resistance would have had much effect on a really brutal and determined government. He also has the naïve habit of using “democrat” and “dictator” as if these words were as precisely defined as coconuts and codfish. But any “dictatorship” – for example Stalin’s is a very complex affair with many shades of opinion in it. So, in terms of what he was apparently trying to do, one can see it only succeeding against rather mild “dictators” presiding over extremely unpopular polities. With a great deal of outside effort and resources.

His “playbook” is useful to outside powers that want to overthrow governments they don’t like. Especially those run by “dictators” not brutal enough to shoot the protesters down. It’s not Russian diplomats that are caught choosing the leaders of ostensibly independent countries. It’s not Russians who boast of spending money in poor countries to change their governments. It’s not Russian diplomats who meet with foreign opposition leaders. Russia doesn’t fabricate a leader of a foreign country. It’s not Russia that invents a humanitarian crisis, bombs the country to bits, laughs at its leader’s brutal death and walks away. It’s not Russia that sanctions numerous countries. It’s not Russia that gives fellowships to foreign oppositionists. Even the Washington Post (one of the principals in sustaining Putindunnit hysteria) covered “The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere“; but piously insisted “the days of its worst behavior are long behind it”. Whatever the pundits may claim about Russia, the USA actually has an organisation devoted to interfering in other countries’ business; one of whose leading lights proudly boasted: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.

The famous “Russian Playbook” is nothing but projection onto Moscow of what Washington actually does: projection is so common a feature of American propaganda that one may certain that when Washington accuses somebody else of doing something, it’s a guarantee that Washington is doing it.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 23 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 795K; total deaths 12,892; tests per 1 million 178K. Russia has done 26 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. Russia claims to have a working vaccine that is safe and reliable and that produced antibodies in all who were tested. Mishustin expressed confidence to the Duma. In an amazing development Newsweek actually published this “What Russia Got Right About the Coronavirus—and What It Can Share With The World“.

KHABAROVSK. Two weeks ago the FSB arrested Sergey Furgal, governor of Khabarovsk Region, on suspicion of organizing murders in 2004 and 2005. He was one of the few governors not from the pedestal party but from the LDPR. Furgal was quite popular and there have been significant protests. Doctorow discusses the background: one of his conclusions is that there are misgivings in the Russian Far East about Moscow’s closeness with Beijing. Protest numbers have probably been exaggerated, but are still significant. Perhaps the appointment of another LDPR member as acting governor will calm things down. We will see. A terrorist plot in Khabarovsk was just prevented: would it be too cynical to wonder whether Moscow is telling the good citizens of Khabarovsk how valuable it is to them?

RUSSIA INC. Despite everything, Russia’s FOREX and gold kitty keeps growing – now worth 569 billion USD. Of course, quite a bit is the increase in the price of its gold holdings (about 2300 tonnes).

RUSSIA-EXERCISE. Snap combat readiness test of Southern Military District. Kinzhal launch. Video. Not aimed at anybody or anything, just routine, blah blah blah, but, should anyone be watching…

CHINA. Another conversation between the two presidents about their “comprehensive strategic partnership”. China FM Wang told Lavrov the USA had “lost its mind, morals and credibility”.

NYT BIAS. Historian David Foglesong has written a piece about the long-time Russophobia of the NYT: “propaganda…is not necessarily untrue.… It is a method of emphasis calling attention to that which it is desired to have known”. It is desired to have known. Free media indeed.

WESTERN VALUES™. Today’s bloviation: “America is fundamentally good… America, uniquely among nations, has the capacity to champion human rights and the dignity of every human being made in the image of God, no matter their nation… And to the world, America is the star that shines brightest when the night is the darkest…”. And so on. Does any other country say this sort of thing routinely?

MEDDLING. The CIA has been authorised to make cyberattacks on other countries including Russia. You only do this if you think you’re better at it than your targets; otherwise you’ve just stuck a kick me sign on your back. Are the Americans better at this? Doubt it.

NORDSTREAM 2. Washington is going all out in sanctions; Berlin is determined to finish it. Well, Washington is going to lose this one; then what?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. All lies. “The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost two and a half years. Moreover, the statements by Strzok raise troubling questions as to whether the FBI was impermissibly unmasking and analyzing intelligence gathered on U.S. persons.”

STEELE. Troubles are catching up to him. He just lost a court case in the UK against two Russian bankers over claims he made in the infamous Dossier. The fines plus court costs may bankrupt his company. And more revelations about the worthlessness of the sources of the junk in the famous Dossier. Bit late for this to come out – anybody with a bit of nous knew it was garbage from the start.

BUT THEY’RE STILL AT IT. The UK report is the same old crap from the same old sources (Steele too!) – don’t pay it any attention. GIGO. Flying vampire bats with smart phones. (And Soviet stars – natch.)

NUGGETS FROM THE STUPIDITY MINE. Today’s story is that Russian big wheels were getting the vaccine months ago, I guess we’re supposed to forget last week’s story that Russia was trying to steal our vaccine.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Why do Russia’s enemies fall from balconies? Oops! Can we re-write that?

HISTORY. “Canada’s Nazi Monuments“. And don’t think there aren’t policy implications today.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

RUSSIANS DON’T WANT TO BE EUROPEANS

Pravda lied to us about the USSR, but it told the truth about the West.

– Contemporary Russian joke

For fifty years, secretly and openly, we wanted to live like you, but not any longer.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT

First published Strategic Culture Foundation

In a previous essay I argued that Russia was not a European country. It was its own thing – a civilisation-state. I used a Toynbeean argument that the history of Europe could be written without ever using the word “Russia” up until the time of Peter the Great. I expected to cause some angst given the associations that the word “European” has accumulated over the five centuries of world rule. Promotion to European status was attractive: vide Mohandas Gandhi looking quite unusual in a stiff collar and tie. Russians felt this appeal especially in the late 1800s when so many rich cultured Russians were to be found in the fashionable watering-holes of Europe that it was worth building churches for their use. The height of sophisticated table service was à la Russe. A Russian was one of Freud’s most famous patients. Russians were especially welcome in France as an ally against Germany.

The Bolshevik coup rather spoiled this trend – even if Soviet Russia became a new sort of ideal for world communists. But with the end of the USSR, the idea re-surfaced. The height of the notion that Russia had “joined” or even “re-joined” Europe was in the Gorbachev years of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals, or even from Vancouver to Vladivostok. “A new era of Democracy, Peace and Unity” “a time for fulfilling the hopes and expectations our peoples have cherished for decades”. Attractive, appealing; many welcomed it. But not all: for them Russia, with or without communists, was The Enemy. Whatever Moscow was actually doing – breakup of the Warsaw Pact, collapse of the USSR, taking on the USSR’s debts, moving tanks and guns out of Europe, signing on to every declaration the West asked it to, filling its government with Western advisors – it was just biding its time and plotting revenge.

NATO has proved itself to be peaceful and the West’s CFE commitments add to that assurance. But as Russia recovers and rearms, as history suggests it will, Moscow’s imperialist urge might well rise again. Then it will be too late and ‘provocative’ to redraw the defence line. (William Safire, International Herald Tribune, 3 Oct 1995.)

Russians have no one to blame but themselves for the brutal dictatorship they built in their own country and imposed on their neighbours. (Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times, 29 May 1996.)

Caspar Weinberger issued a powerful warning that American policy makers, in their preoccupation with NATO’s expansion, may be missing the fact that Russia has a truly ominous enlargement initiative of its own – ‘dominance of the energy resources in the Caspian Sea region.’ As he observes in the attached op.ed. article which appeared on 9 May in the New York Times… ‘If Moscow succeeds, its victory could prove much more significant than the West’s success in enlarging NATO.’ (Center for Security Policy, Washington, 12 May 1997.)

As is generally known, Russia has had great difficulty adjusting to the fact that its empire, built by conquest over centuries, disappeared in 1991, depriving it of rich borderlands and nearly half its population. (Richard Pipes: “Russia’s Designs on Georgia”; http:/www.intellectualcapital.com 14 May 1998.)

There is an expansionist mentality among Russia’s ruling elite, deeply rooted in the country’s past, which makes it difficult for them to consider forming a partnership with the West. This almost permanent urge for territorial expansion has at the same time become a scourge for the Russian people, who continue to live in appalling poverty in a country rich in resources. (Jan Nowak “What NATO can do for Russia” Washington Times, 19 Apr 2000.)

Note that the quotations above date from the Yeltsin period. When he left, the whole period was re-marketed, re-polished and re-truthed into a potential golden age:

The U.S. will remember Boris Yeltsin as someone who, despite his limitations, meant well and worked to bring his country back to the family of nations, to freedom and humanity, which have been so often lacking in Russia’s tortured history.

These people won the opinion battle: rather than comity, unity, hopes and expectations, reality recorded NATO expansion, the NATO/US war in Kosova, NATO/US interventions everywhere, NATO/US colour revolutions, NATO/US meddling in Russia’s neighbours, NATO/US wars in the Middle East – the never-ending “serious security challenges” of Russia, Russia, Russia.

Russians today must wonder whether all the welcoming words and happy thoughts were just a fraud to get the tanks out of Eastern Europe. To older Russians, NATO expansion was a military alliance ever closer; to young Russians, a slamming of a door in their faces. To George Kennan, “a tragic mistake“. There’s little point in going through the three decades since the Charter of Paris: none of it happened. I’m not here interested in attempting to ascribe blame – although the importance of NATO expansion cannot be glossed over with piffle like “Just as the origins of NATO expansion were benign, so too has been its impact on Russian security” – but many Russians agree with the bittersweet joke quoted above: Pravda was lying when it said the USSR was wonderful but telling the truth when it said the West was bad.

Years of accusations that Putin kills reporters, shoots down airliners, poisons people, steals money, invades his neighbours, has too many watches, sics his dog on Merkel, gunslinger walk and so on and on: no accusation too stupid to gain eyeballs. Conclusions presented before evidence, evidence too secret to be shown, trials in camera, verdicts pre-written. 2012 “The Dictator” 2016 “Vladimir Putin will always be America’s enemy” 2017 “Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy” 2020 “Putin, a criminal and incompetent president, is an enemy of his own people“. The people who called Russia the once and future enemy were on the margins in the Yeltsin period, now they set the tone. You can even get Pulitzer Prizes for making up anti-Russia stories.

One accusation fades, another one appears. Rachel Maddow doesn’t apologise to her audience for all their time she wasted, nor does Hillary Clinton admit she lost the election fair and square. Nor will either apologise to Putin. Silence about the last Putindunnit fraud as we invent the new one: the riots in the USA are out of the “Russian play book“. And, when Russians aren’t met with hostility, it’s the most absurd condescension: Mercouris gives a perfect illustration of Macron trying to treat Putin like a colonial subject come to learn manners.

Well, Russians have figured it out: they weren’t welcome, they aren’t welcome and they never will be welcome. They are forever aliens. A 2014 poll shows it:

Russians’ attitudes toward the United States and President Barack Obama are extremely unfavorable and have grown sharply more negative in the last couple of years. While opinions toward the European Union also worsened, Russians increasingly view China favorably. Russians see China as an ally and the United States and the European Union as adversaries

It is unlikely, to put it mildly, that another 6 years of hysterical Russophobia will have convinced the Russian public that the West is more welcoming.

At the same time Russians – who it should be understood are well exposed to happenings in the West: lots of them travel, lots of them have Internet and can read and see what’s out there – are deciding that the West is not as attractive as they thought it was. Westerners obsess on LBGT issues but it’s far deeper than that. Russia is, by current Western standards, pretty conservative on social issues. Which is to say that it is much as the West was in the 1950s. They aren’t impressed by what they see. In 2004 only 29% thought the West was a “good model” and four years later that had dropped four points. Ten more years of riots, unemployment, police violence, wars and opioids will not have added any points.

So, as far as Russians are concerned, the West has lost most of the attractiveness that, in the USSR days, they thought it had. Rejection, blame, accusations, condescension, insult, propaganda – a fast tarnishing model.

Gordon Hahn, an astute observer, saw this a year ago. For three centuries Russia has been “on its Western journey”. Which, Hahn argues, by entangling Russia in Europe’s ever-shifting alliance patterns and wars, was not much to Russia’s advantage: “a weighty downside”. He concludes that, after the Western rejection of all Moscow’s overtures and after observing the West’s actual practice of its lofty “values”,

Putin’s Russia now rejects the post-modernist West and its neo-imperial civilizational, indeed, ‘civilizationalist’ ambitions in Russia’s neighborhood and beyond. Instead of seeking to be part of the West or defeat the Western geopolitical paradigm, it seeks along with China and, in some respects, India and several more regional powers in building an alternative global civilization to that in the post-modern West, with which Russia, China and others will merely seek to coexist.

Perhaps, one day, he concludes, Russia will turn West again but it won’t be soon. Vladislav Surkov, a man who has been in and around power in Russia for some time, thinks the same: Russia tried the East, tried the West, nowhere has it been welcome.

Russia is a west-eastern half-breed country. (Россия это западно-восточная страна-полукровка.)

We have just had Putin himself call Russia a “separate civilisation“.

I agree, it’s over. The romance has been burned out, trampled on, spat on. We return to Simonyan’s essay. She spent a year in the USA so she’s hardly ignorant of the actuality. The title says it: “Why we don’t respect the West anymore” – it should be read. I think she speaks for a lot of Russians (and many, many others in the world as well).

with all your injustice and cruelty, inquisitorial hypocrisy and lies you forced us to stop respecting you. You and your so called ‘values.’

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 9 JULY 2020

RUSSIA AND COVID. Latest numbers: total cases 707K; total deaths 10843; tests per 1 million 151K. Russia has done 22 million tests (third after China and USA); among countries with populations over 10M it’s second in tests per million and of those over 100M first. RT reports a survey finding that most Russian physicians are sceptical of the official numbers. Its counting rule is strict; a looser rule would create bigger numbers: I don’t take any numbers very seriously. (Vide chaotic UK counting.)

CONSTITUTION. Passed comfortably. The ads I saw varied between happy families and – the one projected on the US Embassy facade – in 1993 we were yours and now we’re ours. Sums up the main changes. As to the term reset many argue that it is designed to kill any succession in-fighting (or foreign fiddling): even if Putin quits after this term, he can still come back. I still see it as a cheap trick.

ESPIONAGE. Ivan Safronov was arrested on Tuesday and charged with espionage. The claim is that he passed information on weapons sales to the Middle East and Africa to Czech intelligence which then passed it the the USA. He denies the charges. He had worked for several newspapers covering space and defence and had been hired by RosKosmos in May. The authorities say they had been watching him for several years (from which we can deduce that the information passed on was probably false – the Russians are very very good at this). Meanwhile it has been officially denied that an exchange is been considered for Whelan (which, I guess, means that it either is or isn’t).

MH17 TRIAL. Hops along to its pre-ordained conclusion: “‘The relevant records relate to the years 1986 and 1987,’ the judge claimed. ‘In that light, the court does not see how interviewing this witness [Konashenkov] can contribute to the question of where a specific missile mentioned in that record is located‘”. So we’re not going to look at the provenance of the conveniently discovered missile bits; wouldn’t suit the guilty verdict. A farce.

DEJA POO. Let’s make up a story that 1) keeps the Russia enemy theme going 2) can be used to harm Trump 3) will stymie negotiations to get out of Afghanistan and 4) fool the simple-minded. Should run for a week or two and then we’ll come up with something else. Meanwhile, in the real world, survivors or families are suing US companies that paid protection money to Taliban.

ICEBREAKERS. Russia starts an even bigger one. Russia dominates the icebreaker business.

WADA YA KNOW. Der Spiegel dares to question the US/Canadian Russia mass doping story.

MORE SANCTIONS. The UK has just revealed new sanctions against Russians (and others). Moscow says it will retaliate.

THE EMPTINESS OF FORMER FLAPS. Shrinks or slammer. Once the West’s darling. Do you think HRW will get excited about this “sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry“?

AMERICA-HYSTERICA. Every time I think the insanity has reached the top, somebody shoves it up another notch, the “Lincoln Project” with this absurdity. But then that is surpassed by some Democrat politician: “Wakes up every morning, goes to be every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.” And these people are spectacularly ignorant: Russia is bulging with new infrastructure; even the Moscow Times reports it. Americans get in a tizzy over their enemy du jour but when they kill him (Qaddafi, Hussein) or jail him (Milosevic) they calm down. How much more frenzied can they get?

NEW NWO. Interesting poll about COVID: about half the Europeans polled thought the EU had been irrelevant; 60% said they thought less of the US than before. The pollster concluded that “Europeans have lost faith in the United States in its power and competence to lead the world”.

BIO-LABORATORY. In Tbilisi. What’s the story? Russian Foreign Ministry expresses concern. Russian disinformation. Perfectly OK says Washington. Sinister purposes say other Americans. Even creepier says investigative reporter. I don’t know, but if the purposes are benign, why can’t they be done at home? Fauci-funded gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan?? USAF admits to collecting Russian genetic material?? Some serious questions here, I think. Certainly one could understand Moscow and Beijing taking a mistrustful view.

EUROPEANS ARE REVOLTING. Nordstream advances. Washington contemplates sanctions, Berlin, committed to it, bites back. Merkel says Europe has to prepare for a future in which USA not a world power. Schroeder says the sanctions would mark the “definite termination of the Transatlantic partnership“. Copenhagen gives approval for the final bits. An important defiance of Washington’s diktat.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer

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.)

Every time you think you’ve found bottom, some crazy American digs out another sub-basement. Putin doesn’t care about anything except wrecking the USA. Watch it. And marvel at his ignorance – Russia’s infrastructure is growing fast. When I was a kid in Canada, we all knew they were crazy down there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wreu1QG32k

And then I discover that this guy was saying this during the impeachment thing (anybody remember that?) so he actually precedes my other examples. So I admit — American craziness has actually slipped a bit. But still… I wonder. First thing in the morning, last thing at night. But what does Putin do at lunch? Ah…. got it. think about undermine American allies.

But seriously folks, where and how does this insane, demented, obsessional, failure-driven American anti-Russia hysteria, invention, hyperbole end?

Nuclear war?

 

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.)

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, this comes along. From the Lincoln Project (“Dedicated Americans protecting democracy”).

Clinton loses an election, blames Putin, deep state and garbage media chime in, more and more, finally we’re all nuked to ashes.

Martian historians can’t figure out what happened.

Watch the video. (We DEFINITELY need a whole new set of words in English for “crazy”)

As Anatoly Karlin tweeted “I think it’s really cool how we Russians took over America just by shitposting online. How does it feel to be subhuman?”

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.)

As I’ve said before, in the McCarthy days, there was a bit of reality to the craziness

Trumputin

Daily Kos, 28 Jun 2020