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Demonization of Putin

‘Vladimir the Terrible’: the US Deep State desperately needs a Russian Villain to cover its tracks;
Unending series of neoliberal MSM witch hunt and false flag operations by Western intelligence agencies designed to weaken and discredit Russian leader

Reuters/David W Cerny

PseudoScience > Who Rules America > Pathological Russophobia of the US elite

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Europe has manufactured an artificial "Russian enemy"
 in order to create an artificial "European identity"

Guy Mettan

Demonization of Putin is integral part of policy of the US and British elite toward Russia, designed to weaken, and, if possible, dismember the Russian state. It is also an instrument of increasing national unity by creating a demonized external enemy.

Russophobia of the US elite should be understood in the context of Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism as Russia represent an obstacle for complete domination of the globe by the US neoliberal empire. Nothing personal here, just business. Recent statements by Putin made at Valday club in Sochi (October 24, 2014) also do not produce any love to Putin from the global and first of all the USA neoliberal elite as well as London-based financial oligarchy. Not accidentally for both the US and GB elite Putin is a "Great Satan".

Like anti-Semitism, Russophobia is based on standard mechanism of Demonization (Wikipedia):

In colloquial usage, the term demonization is used metaphorically to refer to propaganda directed on delitimization of particular individual or group.

Delegitimization is the psychological process which undermines or marginalizes an individual or entity by presenting value judgments as facts which are construed to devalue legitimacy. The ultimate goal of justifying harm or war.

The concept applies to a wide spectrum of social contexts but generally means categorization of individual or groups into extreme social categories which are ultimately excluded from society. Delegitimization provides the moral and the discursive basis to harm the delegitimized group, even in the most inhumane ways.

It is related to stereotyping in a sense that it leads to prejudice when people emotionally react to the name of the person, ascribe evil intention and characteristic to the person or group without evaluating objective evidence.

As always in such cases three-letter agencies are in the vanguard of such complains (Is the CIA Running a Defamation Campaign Against Putin - Russia Insider)

A major topic in the Russian media is mystification with how Putin is portrayed in the Western media. Wildly popular at home, and seen as a decent, modest, an admirable person, and Russians don't understand how there can be such a disconnect with Western impressions.

Recently, leading Russian commentators and politicians have been suggesting that this can only be explained by a deliberate campaign to defame Putin, by governments or other groups.

Yesterday, at a briefing to foreign journalists, Sergey Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff, arguably the 2nd most powerful man in Russia, spoke of an "information war" consisting of "personal attacks" on Putin.

The western media hit a new low...
>The day before another member of Putin's inner circle, Vyasheslav Volodin, made similar remarks, telling foreign journalists "an attack on Putin is an attack on Russia."

The logic, they argue, is that by defaming the leader of a country, you weaken his power domestically by undermining popular support for him, and internationally, by rallying popular opinion to support policies against that country. The ultimate goal, they argue, is to weaken the country itself. They also talk about regime change.

They argue that if one looks at the facts, that there is evidence of ongoing character assassination which cannot be explained by a vague popular zeitgeist in the West, but is more likely the result of a dedicated effort to introduce this defamation into the news flow.

Newsweek has been one of the most virulent Putin-bashers for years

The issue of manipulation of news by intelligence services has been in the news recently with revelations that the CIA and German Secret Service (GSS) have long-running programs to influence how media executives and top journalists convey and interpret the news, including direct cash payments.

Here are some examples they point to:

RI sat down with The Saker, a leading analyst of Russia in international affairs, and asked him what he thinks:

So, is there any credence to this line of thinking, or is this conspiracy theorists running wild?

There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the US is waging a major psyop war against Russia, although not a shooting war, for now, and that what we are seeing is a targeted campaign to discredit Putin and achieve "regime change" in Russia or, should that fail, at the very least "regime weakening" and "Russia weakening".

And the Economist has been the very worst of them all...

So this is a US government program?

Yes, Putin is absolutely hated by certain factions in the US government two main reasons:

1. He partially, but not fully, restored Russia's sovereignty which under Gorbachev and Yeltsin had been totally lost … Russia then was a US colony like Ukraine is today … and,

2. He dared to openly defy the USA and its civilizational model.

… a free and sovereign Russia is perceived by the US "deep state" as an existential threat which has to be crushed. … this is a full-scale political assault on Russia and Putin personally.

So what the Russians are saying, that the constant personal attacks against Putin in the global media are partly the result of deliberate efforts by US intelligence services, … basically, planted stories…

Yes, absolutely

It seems like “Operation Mockingbird” all over again… Are you aware of other instances aimed at Putin?

(Editors Note: Operation Mockingbird was a CIA program started in the 1950s to influence the US media, which was gradually exposed by investigative journalists starting in the late 60s, culminating in sensational televised congressional hearings in 1975 which shocked the nation, forcing the program’s termination. Critics maintain that the same tactics have continued since, under different programs. Wikipedia)

Yes, of course. Since this defamation has very little traction with the Russian public … Putin's popularity is higher than ever before .., there is an organized campaign to convince them that Putin is "selling out" Novorussia, that he is a puppet of oligarchs who are making deals with Ukrainian oligarchs to back-stab the Novorussian resistance…

… So far, Putin's policies in the Ukraine have enjoyed very strong support from the Russian people who still oppose an overt military intervention…

… but if Kiev attacks Novorussia again - which appears very likely - and if such an attack is successful - which is less likely but always possible - then Putin will be blamed for having given the Ukrainians the time to regroup and reorganize.

Warm and fuzzy...

So you are saying that if the Ukrainian military strengthens its position enough to deliver a serious blow to the East Ukrainians, the US can use this as a method to strike at Putin’s support base…

Yes, that’s right ... there are a lot of "fake patriots" in Russia and abroad who will reject any negotiated solution and who will present any compromise as a "betrayal". They are the "useful idiots" used by western special services to smear and undermine Putin.

Is it limited to government special ops, or are there other groups who might have an interest in doing this?

Yes, well here is something that most people in the west don’t appreciate… there is a major behind-the scenes struggle among Russian elites between what I call the "Eurasian Sovereignists" (basically, those who support Putin) and what I call the "Atlantic Integrationists" (those whom Putin refers to as the "5th column).

The western media talks about this as the struggle between Russian liberals and conservatives, reformers and reactionaries, right?

Well its sort of like that, but not exactly…

The former see Russia's future in the Russian North and East and want to turn Russia towards Asia, Latin America and the rest of the world, while the latter want Russia to become part of the "North Atlantic" power configuration.

The Atlantic Integrationists are now too weak to openly challenge Putin - whose real power base is his immense popular support - but they are quietly sabotaging his efforts to reform Russia while supporting anti-Putin campaigns.

Regarding the revelations of CIA activities in Germany, do you think this is going on in other countries, in the US?

I am sure that this is happening in most countries worldwide. The very nature of the modern corporate media is such that it makes journalists corrupt.

As the French philosopher Alain Soral says "nowadays a reporter is either unemployed or a prostitute". There are, of course, a few exceptions, but by and large this is true.

This is not to say that most journalists are on the take. In the West this is mostly done in a more subtle way - by making it clear which ideas do or do not pass the editorial control, by lavishly rewarding those journalists who 'get it' and by quietly turning away those who don't.

If a journalist or reporter commits the crime of "crimethink" he or she will be sidelined and soon out of work.

There is no real pluralism in the West where the boundaries of what can be said or not are very strictly fixed.

Ok, but is it like what has been revealed in Germany, …similar specific operational programs in France, the UK, Italy, Latin America, etc.

Yes, one has to assume so – it is in their interests to have them and there is no reason for them not to.

As for the CIA, it de-facto controls enough of the corporate media to "set the tone". As somebody who in the past used to read the Soviet press for a living, I can sincerely say that it was far more honest and more pluralistic than the press in the USA or EU today.

Joseph Goebbels or Edward Bernays could not have imagined the degree of sophistication of modern propaganda machines.

If the US is doing it, can't one assume other governments are too? Are the Russians doing it against western leaders?

I think that all governments try to do that kind of stuff. However, what makes the US so unique it a combination of truly phenomenal arrogance and multi-billion dollar budgets.

The US "deep state" owns the western corporate media which is by far the most powerful media on the planet. Most governments can only do that inside their own country ... to smear a political opponent or discredit a public figure, but they simply do not have the resources to mount an international strategic psyop campaign. This is something only the US can do.

So foreign governments are at a great disadvantage in this arena vis-a-vis the US?

Absolutely.

Quotes from Putin speech and answers to the questions at the meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

 


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[Jan 21, 2020] BBC faces existential threat. In the 21st century, it has nobody left to lie to -- RT Op-ed

Jan 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.

Whoever replaces outgoing BBC Director General Tony Hall, be sure that establishment interests will be in safe hands. But multiple scandals the broadcaster has been involved in damaged it quite possibly beyond repair.

... ... ...

Corbyn had to be destroyed at almost ANY cost. Their news and current affairs output (and appointments) over the Corbyn era of 2015-2019 was as crude, and crudely effective, as any screaming, screeching Rupert Murdoch tabloid. Perhaps they were worried the ghost of Sir Alasdair Milne would return to haunt them in the form of his son Seumas Milne, Corbyn's director of communications and strategy and right-hand man. The junior Milne – also Winchester and Oxford – is a considerably harder nut to crack than anyone the BBC had ever had to deal with before

[Jan 21, 2020] HBO hires 'king of fake news' Brian Stelter from CNN to produce documentary on the dangers of fake news

Notable quotes:
"... "disinformation and the cost of fake news." ..."
"... "how post-truth culture has become an increasingly dangerous part of the global information environment," ..."
"... To say Stelter's involvement in the documentary attracted mockery online would be an understatement. "This is like Harvey Weinstein doing a documentary on sexual assault," lawyer and journalist Rogan O'Handley wrote. ..."
"... "HBO has hired Brian Stelter to do a documentary on Fake News. That's like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach accounting. Like hiring Michael Moore to host a fashion show. Not to mention [Stelter] is the dullest human ever on television," ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.rt.com

If you were making a documentary on fake news and wanted to get journalists involved behind the scenes, there are a few people you may want to avoid. One of those is CNN host Brian Stelter. The HBO network is rightly being mocked for putting Stelter – the host of a CNN show ironically named 'Reliable Sources' – on the team for an upcoming documentary on fake news.

According to Stelter himself, the documentary will investigate "disinformation and the cost of fake news." The film, for which Stelter was executive producer, will dive into "how post-truth culture has become an increasingly dangerous part of the global information environment," according to WarnerMedia.

HBO just announced something I've been working on for a couple of years: A documentary titled "AFTER TRUTH: DISINFORMATION AND THE COST OF FAKE NEWS." The film will premiere on TV and online this March. Directed by @a_rossi !

-- Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 15, 2020

To say Stelter's involvement in the documentary attracted mockery online would be an understatement. "This is like Harvey Weinstein doing a documentary on sexual assault," lawyer and journalist Rogan O'Handley wrote.

"HBO has hired Brian Stelter to do a documentary on Fake News. That's like hiring Bernie Madoff to teach accounting. Like hiring Michael Moore to host a fashion show. Not to mention [Stelter] is the dullest human ever on television," radio host Mark Simone added.

[Jan 21, 2020] Russian Hackers May Have Interfered With Vote on Church Potluck, Local Man Suspects

Dec 23, 2019 | www.anti-empire.com

Putin “needs to keep his commie hands” off of the sovereign Independent Baptist church’s affairs

According to sources, local man Clarence Williams has urged his church’s lead pastor as well as local law enforcement to move forward with an investigation into Russian hacking, claiming that there was ample evidence to support the theory that malicious foreign agents infiltrated and influenced the outcome of a vote on the date for next month’s potluck at Second Baptist Church.

... ... ...

The Babylon Bee 23 Dec 19 Society 625 0

[Jan 21, 2020] Putin Eliminates the Medvedev Faction From the Kremlin

Jan 21, 2020 | www.anti-empire.com

Putin Eliminates the Medvedev Faction From the Kremlin Putin's reorganization a huge setback for system liberals John Helmer 17 Jan 20 17 Jan 20 Politics 2051 9

In law courts, justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. In politics, too.

The problem with what President Vladimir Putin announced in his Federal Assembly address this week, and what he did immediately after, is that things don't look the way he says they should.

The difference was written on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's face. He thinks Putin has destroyed the political forces of the candidate with the best chance of winning the presidential election of 2024 -- himself. The businessmen and government officials who have depended on Medvedev are acknowledging this realization on the telephone.

An hour after this picture was taken, at a meeting with Putin of the assembled ministers at Government House (Kremlin term for White House), Medvedev announced : "as the Government of the Russian Federation we must give the President of this country an opportunity to make all the necessary decisions for this. Under the circumstances, it would be correct for the entire Government of the Russian Federation to resign in accordance with Article 117 of the Constitution."

He looked and sounded unconvinced that his exit was "correct".

The constitutional provision to which Medvedev referred is a notorious relic. Article 117 was created by President Boris Yeltsin after he used the military to crush parliament's opposition in October 1993. Several hundred people inside the White House were killed.

The new constitution was voted two months later by the disputable margin of 58% in a disputable turnout of 54%. Article 117 then gave the president the power to block a prime minister's resignation ; veto a vote of no-confidence in the government by the State Duma; and the power to decide whether and when to dissolve parliament and hold new elections.

In Putin's speech on Wednesday, he began his proposals for a constitutional amendment with the announcement: "We have overcome the situation when certain powers in the government were essentially usurped by oligarch clans." Usurpation of power by Yeltsin at the expense of the Congress of People's Deputies in 1993 was not explained then, nor since, by the operations of the oligarchs. They came later. In Russian public opinion, the oligarchs continue to be extra-constitutionally powerful today. The polls show Putin's claim is not believed.

The proposals Putin has announced change the balance of power between the presidency and the parliament. But they also change the balance of power between the houses of parliament, and also between the central power in Moscow and the regions. The State Duma, according to Putin, will have the new power to appoint "the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and then all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers at the Prime Minister's recommendation. At the same time the President will have to appoint them, so he will have no right to turn down the candidates approved by the Parliament." This implies the State Duma will be able to exercise a veto over ministers' performance with votes of no-confidence the president cannot override. This is not yet certain.

Also unclear is who would prevail if the president decides to dismiss the government which holds the confidence of parliament. Putin said he proposes to keep "the right to dismiss the prime minister, his deputies and federal ministers in case of improper execution of duties or due to loss of trust." The constitution is silent on the terms, improper execution and loss of trust. They are powder the president aims to keep dry for himself.

The Kremlin has immediately convened what it calls a "working group on drafting proposals for amendments to the Constitution". No elected constitutional convention; no constitutional assembly provided for in Chapter 9 of the present charter; no principle of representation; no decision or voting rules for the novel body. It was hand-picked by the President's staff -- "75 politicians, legislators, scholars and public figures". The Kremlin has published photographs, but no list of the names yet.

The oligarch class, as Putin calls them, is represented by Alexander Shokhin (centre picture above, left); the working class – to whom no one refers – is represented by the man seated by the Kremlin next to Shokhin, Mikhail Shmakov, head of the trade union federation.

Noone in uniform is seated at the Kremlin table. The military appears to have one seat; that's occupied by retired Army General Boris Gromov (above right), 76, now titled "Chairman of the Brothers in Arms National Veteran Public Organisation". Gromov's political career after the Army rules him out as representing the General Staff or the Defence Ministry.

Putin's proposals create a fork in the balance of power by assigning domestic policy-making, including the budget, to the parliament's appointees to government; while reserving defence, military, and security powers, and their budgets, to the executive. "The president also exercises direct command over the Armed Forces and the entire law enforcement system. In this regard, I believe another step is necessary to provide a greater balance between the branches of power. In this connection, point six: I propose that the president should appoint heads of all security agencies following consultations with the Federation Council."

This preserves the imbalance – Putin's terminology -- let's say concentration of policy-making and enforcement powers in the Kremlin; it also guards the incumbent president during the transition between now and 2024, as well as afterwards. "I believe," said Putin, "this approach will make the work of security and law enforcement agencies more transparent and accountable to citizens." The Russian public opinion polls are very sceptical.

The first test of what this step will mean in practice will be the names of the new ministers of defence, internal affairs, foreign affairs, the Federal Security Service, the intelligence agencies, and the two state law enforcement organs, the Prosecutor-General and the Investigative Committee. In the small print of Putin's speech, he proposes to centralize authority even more than the present by reducing the power of regional authorities to control their prosecutors. "I am confident that a greater independence of prosecution agencies from local authorities would be beneficial for citizens regardless of the region," Putin said. Public distrust of both federal and regional prosecutors, recorded in the polls, suggests otherwise.

The Putin scheme also creates a competing source of legislative power by expanding the State Council , hitherto a talking shop; and by expanding the powers of the Constitutional Court to rule, on the Kremlin's application, against parliament, as well as against regional governors and regional parliaments.

The State Council in its last Kremlin session, December 26, 2019. In his speech on Wednesday Putin proposed to "cardinally increase the role of governors in decision-making at the federal level . As you know, back in 2000 the State Council was restored at my initiative, where the heads of all regions participate. Over the past period the State Council has proven its high effectiveness; its working groups provide for the professional, comprehensive and qualified examination of issues that are most important for people and Russia. I believe it would be appropriate to fix the status and role of the State Council in the Russian Constitution." On Thursday he ignored the State Council by appointing a different group to consider the constitutional amendments. No Russian commentator has published the question, why

In theory, Putin is creating more checks and balances than have existed before . Differences of view and interest between experts, parties, factions, the military, and classes – Putin's term – are inevitable and natural. The vote to adopt the proposals will, however, be an all-or-nothing one. "I believe it necessary to hold a vote of Russian citizens on the entire package of the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The final decision must be made only on the basis of its results," the president concluded in his speech.

This looks like a referendum, but Article 136 of the current Constitution is ambiguous. The 2008 amendments to the Constitution were adopted , not by referendum but by votes of the State Duma and the Federation Council. There has been no referendum under the present constitution.

How much of the proposed scheme is a fine distinction of powers without a change in their division? Putin told Medvedev at the meeting with the outgoing ministers:

"There is a clear-cut presidential block of issues, and there is a Government block of issues, even though the President, of course, is responsible for everything, but the presidential block includes primarily matters of security, defence and the like. Mr Medvedev has always been in charge of these matters. From the point of view of increasing our defence capability and security, I consider it possible and have asked him to deal with these matters in the future. I consider it possible and will, in the near future, introduce the position of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. As you are aware, the President is its Chairman. If we need to amend the applicable law, I will do so soon and I want State Duma deputies to support this as well. We just need the lawyers to provide assessments on this account."

Sources in Russian business and government interpret Medvedev's new job as a gold-plated watch -- consolation prize for losing the presidential succession race. Sources are unanimous in judging what has happened to be the liquidation of the Medvedev faction.

Politically, the rationale is obvious. Public disapproval of the government's performance, and the stress which the ongoing US war is inflicting on Russia's domestic growth, have been showing a consistent trend.

It is equally clear that the Medvedev faction, and also the pro-American supporters behind Alexei Kudrin at the Accounting Chamber, German Gref at Sberbank, and Anatoly Chubais at the state high-technology conglomerate Rusnano, are the short-term losers of the reorganisation Putin has proposed. The short-term gainers are not so obvious. Sources among them ask why the Kremlin staff calculated that a renovation of the government ministers should be dressed up as a constitutional reform.

These sources suggest that on the sincerity test, Putin's proposals will not be believed for what he says they are. They add they are encouraged, also hopeful, that he is acting now to restrict the damage that faction-fighting over the succession can do over the next three years. Liquidating one of the factions has been an option advocated by many for some time. On the other hand, the sources point out that if Putin were sincere in his commitment to enhanced power-sharing with the parliamentary political parties, why sack the present prime minister now, and not wait for the State Duma to vote its approval for the new man under the new rules? This is a question which answers itself, most Russians think.

By the war test -- how the proposals will affect the regime-change strategy of the US and NATO – the combination of constitutional plans and the replacement of Medvedev by Mikhail Mishustin (lead image, in car next to Putin) is judged to be no gain, no concession to the other side. Not yet.

That leaves the poll test. To choose Mishustin to become the prime minister is the biggest surprise of the week , and a curious selection to win public approval. If Gogol were to use the name, he would be tagging its possessor with something like the caricature, "busy baker", since to the Russian ear, the roots of the word suggest someone who makes his living mixing things, like a baker; and who is visibly busy at that work. Mishustin himself likes to identify his recreation as ice-hockey. On the rink he plays forward and back, but not goalie.

Left: Mikhail Mishustin makes his nomination speech at the State Duma, his debut as a national political figure. Watch the speech , which was read from a paper script and lacked direct eye or any other personal contact with the deputies. They responded to the speech with brief, tepid applause. Right: Mishustin in his hockey uniform

The Russian biographic record for Mishustin, records his long technocratic training in computer science and economics; his PhD was on tax administration. He first started in state tax agency in 1998.

A 53-year old native of Moscow, Mishustin is reported to be part-Armenian by origin ; his Soviet birth certificate may indicate that at birth one of his parents held Armenian nationality. If so, he would automatically hold Armenian citizenship . According to Putin's constitutional proposals, the prime minister and other senior officials may "have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state."

A protégé of Boris Fyodorov in the Yeltsin-era finance administration, Mishustin spent a brief period, 2008-2010, working in the Moscow investment banking business of UFG Partners, first established by Fyodorov. By the time Mishustin arrived, the company was owned by Deutsche Bank and run by Charles Ryan, an American; Fyodorov died of a stroke a few months into Mishustin's term at UFG. In April 2010, Mishustin returned to run the tax agency, and he has remained there for a decade. Tax evasion and embezzlement of value added tax (VAT) fill the kompromat records which have been published about Mishustin over this period.

Mishustin told the State Duma yesterday he is in favour of reducing the regulatory burden on Russian business. The Communist Party faction announced it would abstain from voting to confirm the prime minister because it was impossible to know what policies he stands for. Suspicion that Mishustin will try to cut social welfare benefits is widespread. The confirmation vote was 383 in favour; 41 abstentions; no one opposed. For the record of the Duma vote, read this .

One oligarch vote of confidence in Mishustin has been announced. Vladimir Lisin , head of the Novolipetsk steel and coal-mining group, told a Moscow newspaper: "We evaluate Mikhail Mishustin's work as head of the Federal Tax Service positively. Under his leadership, the service increased tax collection, virtually eliminated schemes used by unscrupulous businesses in competition, and reduced the number of on-site inspections several times by introducing a risk-based approach. Despite the fact that we had quite difficult debates, we always found a common
civilized solution."

Mishustin has appeared only once before this week in Putin's Kremlin office. That was on November 21, 2016, Tax Workers' Day. In their meeting Mishustin's recital of his agency's performance was unexceptional. Putin said nothing out of the ordinary. In the Russian photo archive for Mishustin, not one picture shows a smile on his face. A reluctant grin he managed for his last birthday, March 3, 2019, according to the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Putin has selected factotums before, men whose technical expertise was their asset, along with their lack of political constituency and electoral ambition. Mikhail Fradkov was the first, between 2004 and 2008; Victor Zubkov the second, between 2007 and 2008. When Putin appointed them, they made no changes to the power ministries. Mishustin is the third in this line. If he announces the end of the long terms in office of Sergei Shoigu and Sergei Lavrov, and General Valery Gerasimov is replaced at the General Staff, then Putin is deciding much more than he has admitted so far.

Source: Dances With Bears

[Jan 21, 2020] The Middle East Strategic "Balance" Shredded -- Strategic Culture

Jan 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

The U.S. was having some success with turning protest messaging against Iran – until, that is – its killing and wounding of so many Iraqi security force members last week (Ketaib Hizbullah is a part of Iraq's armed forces).

Escalation of maximum-pressure was one thing (Iran was confident of weathering that); but assassinating such a senior official on his state duties, was quite something else. We have not observed a state assassinating a most senior official of another state before.

And the manner of its doing, was unprecedented too. Soleimani was officially visiting Iraq. He arrived openly as a VIP guest from Syria, and was met on the tarmac by an equally senior Iraqi official, Al-Muhandis, who was assassinated also, (together with seven others). It was all open. General Soleimani regularly used his mobile phone as he argued that as a senior state official, if he were to be assassinated by another state, it would only be as an act of war.

This act, performed at the international airport of Baghdad, constitutes not just the sundering of red lines, but a humiliation inflicted on Iraq – its government and people. It will upend Iraq's strategic positioning. The erstwhile Iraqi attempt at balancing between Washington and Iran will be swept away by Trump's hubristic trampling on the country's sovereignty. It may well mark the beginning of the end of the U.S. presence in Iraq (and therefore Syria, too), and ultimately, of America's footprint in the Middle East.

Trump may earn easy plaudits now for his "We're America, Bitch!", as one senior White House official defined the Trump foreign policy doctrine; but the doubts – and unforeseen consequences soon may come home to roost.

Why did he do it? If no one really wanted 'war', why did Trump escalate and smash up all the crockery? He has had an easy run (so far) towards re-election, so why play the always unpredictable 'wild card' of a yet another Mid-East conflict?

Was it that he wanted to show 'no Benghazi'; no U.S. embassy siege 'on my watch' – unlike Obama's handling of that situation? Was he persuaded that these assassinations would play well to his constituency (Israeli and Evangelical)? Or was he offered this option baldly by the Netanyahu faction in Washington? Maybe.

Some in Israel are worried about a three or four front war reaching Israel. Senior Israeli officials recently have been speculating about the likelihood of regional conflict occurring within the coming months. Israel's PM however, is fighting for his political life, and has requested immunity from prosecution on three indictments – pleading that this was his legal right, and that it was needed for him to "continue to lead Israel" for the sake of its future. Effectively, Netanyahu has nothing to lose from escalating tensions with Iran -- but much to gain.

Opposition Israeli political and military leaders have warned that the PM needs 'war' with Iran -- effectively to underscore the country's 'need' for his continued leadership. And for technical reasons in the Israeli parliament, his plea is unlikely to be settled before the March general elections. Netanyahu thus may still have some time to wind up the case for his continued tenure of the premiership.

One prime factor in the Israeli caution towards Iran rests not so much on the waywardness of Netanyahu, but on the inconstancy of President Trump: Can it be guaranteed that the U.S. will back Israel unreservedly -- were it to again to become enmeshed in a Mid-East war? The Israeli and Gulf answer seemingly is 'no'. The import of this assessment is significant. Trump now is seen by some in Israel – and by some insiders in Washington – as a threat to Israel's future security vis à vis Iran. Was Trump aware of this? Was this act a gamble to guarantee no slippage in that vital constituency in the lead up to the U.S. elections? We do not know.

So we arrive at three final questions: How far will Iran absorb this new escalation? Will Iran confine its retaliation to within Iraq? Or will the U.S. cross another 'red line' by striking inside Iran itself, in any subsequent tit for tat?

Is it deliberate (or is it political autism) that makes Secretary Pompeo term all the Iraqi Hash'd a-Sha'abi forces – whether or not part of official Iraqi forces – as "Iran-led"? The term seems to be used as a laissez-passer to attack all the many Hash'd a-Sha'abi units on the grounds that, being "Iran-linked", they therefore count as 'terrorist forces'. This formulation gives rise to the false sequitur that all other Iraqis would somehow approve of the killings. This would be laughable, if it were not so serious. The Hash'd forces led the war against ISIS and are esteemed by the vast majority of Iraqis. And Soleimani was on the ground at the front line, with those Iraqi forces.

These forces are not Iranian 'proxies'. They are Iraqi nationalists who share a common Shi'a identity with their co-religionists in Iran, and across the region. They share a common zeitgeist, they see politics similarly, but they are no puppets (we write from direct experience).

But what this formulation does do is to invite a widening conflict: Many Iraqis will be outraged by the U.S. attacks on fellow Iraqis and will revenge them. Pompeo (falsely) will then blame Iran. Is that Pompeo's purpose: casus belli?

But where is the off-ramp? Iran will respond Is this affair simply set to escalate from limited military exchanges and from thence, to escalate until what? We understand that this was not addressed in Washington before the President's decision was made. There are no real U.S. channels of communication (other than low level) with Iran; nor is there a plan for the next days. Nor an obvious exit. Is Trump relying on gut instinct again?

[Jan 21, 2020] The Many Matryoska Dolls to America's Way of Imagining Iran -- Strategic Culture

Notable quotes:
"... The Open Society and its Enemies ..."
"... "Since President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed [Soleimani – justified in terms of deterrence, and allegedly halting an attack] a handful of Trump's advisers, however, [espied another] strategic benefit to killing Soleimani: Call it regime disruption ..."
"... "The case for disruption is outlined in a series of unclassified memos sent to [John Bolton]in May and June 2019 their author, David Wurmser, is a longtime adviser to Bolton who then served as a consultant to the National Security Council. Wurmser argues that Iran is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. Its leadership, he writes, is divided between camps that seek an apocalyptic return of the Hidden Imam, and those that favour of the preservation of the Islamic Republic. All the while, many Iranians have grown disgusted with the regime's incompetence and corruption. ..."
"... "Wurmser's crucial insight [is that] – were unexpected, rule-changing actions taken against Iran, it would confuse the regime. It would need to scramble," he writes. Such a U.S. attack would "rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the regime depends for stability and survival." Such a moment of confusion, Wurmser writes, will create momentary paralysis -- and the perception among the Iranian public that its leaders are weak. ..."
"... "Wurmser's memos show that the Trump administration has been debating the blow against Soleimani since the current crisis began, some seven months ago After Iran downed a U.S. drone [in June], Wurmser advised Bolton that the U.S. response should be overt and designed to send a message that the U.S. holds the Iranian regime, not the Iranian people, responsible. "This could even involve something as a targeted strike on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies," Wurmser wrote in a June 22 memo. ..."
"... In these memos, Wurmser is careful to counsel against a ground invasion of Iran. He says the U.S. response "does not need to be boots on the ground (in fact, it should not be)." Rather, he stresses that the U.S. response should be calibrated to exacerbate the regime's domestic legitimacy crisis. ..."
"... Coping with Crumbling States ..."
"... Clean Break ..."
Jan 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

lastair Crooke January 20, 2020 © Photo: Flickr / DonkeyHotey On the 17 September 1656, Oliver Cromwell, a Protestant Puritan, who had won a civil war, and had the English king beheaded in public, railed against England's enemies. There was, he told Parliament that day, an axis of evil abroad in the world. And this axis – led by Catholic Spain – was, at root, the problem of a people that had placed themselves at the service of 'evil'. This 'evil', and the servitude that it beget, was the evil of a religion – Catholicism – that refused the English peoples' desire for simple liberties: " [an evil] that put men under restraint under which there was no freedom and under which, there could be 'no liberty of individual consciousness'".

That was how the English protestant leader saw Catholic Spain in 1656. And it is very close to how key orientations in the U.S. sees Iran today : The evil of religion – of Shi'ism – subjecting (they believe) Iranians to repression, and to serfdom. In Europe, this ideological struggle against the 'evil' of an imposed religious community (the Holy 'Roman' Axis, then) brought Europe to 'near-Armageddon', with the worst affected parts of Europe seeing their population decimated by up to 60% during the conflict.

Is this faction in the U.S. now intent on invoking a new, near-Armageddon – on this occasion, in the Middle East – in order, like Cromwell, to destroy the religious 'community known' as the Shi'a Resistance Axis, seen to stretch across the region, in order to preserve the Jewish "peoples' desire for simple liberties"?

Of course, today's leaders of this ideological faction are no longer Puritan Protestants (though the Christian Evangelicals are at one with Cromwell's 'Old Testament' literalism and prophesy). No, its lead ideologues are the neo-conservatives, who have leveraged Karl Popper's hugely influential The Open Society and its Enemies – a seminal treatise, which to a large extent, has shaped how many Americans imagine their 'world'. Popper's was history understood as a series of attempts, by the forces of reaction, to smother an open society with the weapons of traditional religion and traditional culture:

Marx and Russia were cast as the archetypal reactionary threat to open societies. This construct was taken up by Reagan, and re-connected to the Christian apocalyptic tradition (hence the neo-conservative coalition with Evangelists yearning for Redemption , and with liberal interventionists, yearning for a secular millenarianism). All concur that Iran is reactionary, and furthermore, the posit, poses a grave threat to Israel's self-proclaimed 'open society'.

The point here is that there is little point in arguing with these people that Iran poses no threat to the U.S. (which is obvious) – for the 'project' is ideological through and through. It has to be understood by these lights. Popper's purpose was to propose that only liberal globalism would bring about a "growing measure of humane and enlightened life" and a free and open society – period.

All this is but the outer Matryoshka – a suitable public rhetoric, a painted image – that can be used to encase the secret, inner dolls. Eli Lake, writing in Bloomberg , however, gives away the next doll:

"Since President Donald Trump ordered the drone strike that killed [Soleimani – justified in terms of deterrence, and allegedly halting an attack] a handful of Trump's advisers, however, [espied another] strategic benefit to killing Soleimani: Call it regime disruption

"The case for disruption is outlined in a series of unclassified memos sent to [John Bolton]in May and June 2019 their author, David Wurmser, is a longtime adviser to Bolton who then served as a consultant to the National Security Council. Wurmser argues that Iran is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. Its leadership, he writes, is divided between camps that seek an apocalyptic return of the Hidden Imam, and those that favour of the preservation of the Islamic Republic. All the while, many Iranians have grown disgusted with the regime's incompetence and corruption.

"Wurmser's crucial insight [is that] – were unexpected, rule-changing actions taken against Iran, it would confuse the regime. It would need to scramble," he writes. Such a U.S. attack would "rattle the delicate internal balance of forces and the control over them upon which the regime depends for stability and survival." Such a moment of confusion, Wurmser writes, will create momentary paralysis -- and the perception among the Iranian public that its leaders are weak.

"Wurmser's memos show that the Trump administration has been debating the blow against Soleimani since the current crisis began, some seven months ago After Iran downed a U.S. drone [in June], Wurmser advised Bolton that the U.S. response should be overt and designed to send a message that the U.S. holds the Iranian regime, not the Iranian people, responsible. "This could even involve something as a targeted strike on someone like Soleimani or his top deputies," Wurmser wrote in a June 22 memo.

In these memos, Wurmser is careful to counsel against a ground invasion of Iran. He says the U.S. response "does not need to be boots on the ground (in fact, it should not be)." Rather, he stresses that the U.S. response should be calibrated to exacerbate the regime's domestic legitimacy crisis.

So there it is – David Wurmser is the 'doll' within: no military invasion, but just a strategy to blow apart the Iranian Republic. Wurmser, Eli Lake reveals, has quietly been advising Bolton and the Trump Administration all along. This was the neo-con, who in 1996, compiled Coping with Crumbling States (which flowed on from the infamous Clean Break policy strategy paper, written for Netanyahu, as a blueprint for destructing Israel's enemies). Both these papers advocated the overthrow of the Secular-Arab nationalist states – excoriated both as "crumbling relics of the 'evil' USSR" (using Popperian language, of course) – and inherently hostile to Israel (the real message).

Well ( big surprise ), Wurmser has now been at work as the author of how to 'implode' and destroy Iran. And his insight? "A targeted strike on someone like Soleimani"; split the Iranian leadership into warring factions; cut an open wound into the flesh of Iran's domestic legitimacy; put a finger into that open wound, and twist it; disrupt – and pretend that the U.S. sides with the Iranian people, against its government.

Eli Lake seems, in his Bloomberg piece, to think that the Wurmser strategy has worked. Really? The problem here is that narratives in Washington are so far apart from the reality that exists on the ground – they simply do not touch at any point. Millions attended Soleimani's cortege. His killing gave a renewed cohesion to Iran. Little more than a dribble have protested.

Now let us unpack the next 'doll': Trump bought into Wurmser's 'play', albeit, with Trump subsequently admitting that he did the assassination under intense pressure from Republican Senators. Maybe he believed the patently absurd narrative that Iranians would 'be dancing in the street' at Soleimani's killing. In any event, Trump is not known, exactly, for admitting his mistakes. Rather, when something is portrayed as his error, the President adopts the full 'salesman' persona: trying to convince his base that the murder was no error, but a great strategic success – "They like us", Trump claimed of protestors in Iran.

Tom Luongo has observed : "Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate begins next week, and it's clear that this will not be a walk in the park for the President. Anyone dismissing this because the Republicans hold the Senate, simply do not understand why this impeachment exists in the first place. It is [occurring because it offers] the ultimate form of leverage over a President whose desire to end the wars in the Middle East is anathema to the entrenched powers in the D.C. Swamp." Ah, so here we arrive at another inner Matryoshka.

This is Luongo's point: Impeachment was the leverage to drive open a wedge between Republican neo-conservatives in the Senate – and Trump. And now the Pelosi pressure on Republican Senators is escalating . The Establishment threw cold water over Trump's assertion of imminent attack, as justification for murdering Soleimani, and Trump responds by painting himself further into a corner on Iran – by going the full salesman 'monte'.

On the campaign trail, the President goes way over-the-top, calling Soleimani a "son of a b -- -", who killed 'thousands' and furthermore was responsible for every U.S. veteran who lost a limb in Iraq. And he then conjures up a fantasy picture of protesters pouring onto the streets of Tehran, tearing down images of Soleimani, and screaming abuse at the Iranian leadership.

It is nonsense. There are no mass protests (there have been a few hundred students protesting at one main Tehran University). But Trump has dived in pretty deep, now threatening the Euro-Three signatories to the JCPOA, that unless they brand Iran as having defaulted on JCPOA at the UNSC disputes mechanism, he will slap an eye-watering 25% tariff on their automobiles.

So, how will Trump avoid plunging in even deeper to conflict if – and when – Americans die in Iraq or Syria at the hands of militia – and when Pompeo or Lindsay Graham will claim, baldly, 'Iran's proxies did it'? Sending emollient faxes to the Swiss to pass to Tehran will not do. Tehran will not read them, or believe them, even if they did.

It all reeks of stage-management; a set up: a very clever stage-management, designed to end with the U.S. crossing Iran's 'red line', by striking at a target within Iranian territory. Here, finally, we arrive at the innermost doll.

Cui bono ? Some Senators who never liked Trump, and would prefer Pence as President; the Democrats, who would prefer to run their candidate against Pence in November, rather than Trump. But also, as someone who once worked with Wurmser observed tartly: when you hear that name (Wurmser), immediately you think Netanyahu, his intimate associate.

Matryoshka herself?

[Jan 21, 2020] Russia A Groundbreaking Powershift by Peter Koenig

Jan 16, 2020 | dissidentvoice.org
In groundbreaking news President Putin announced today, 15 January, in his annual address to the Nation, major changes in his government. First, he announced that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his entire cabinet resigned and will eventually be replaced by a new PM and a new cabinet. A timeline was not given. In the meantime, they would carry on with their functions as 'normal'. Well, how normal can this be for a group of "lame ducks"?

A second important point of Mr. Putin's speech focused on shifting power away from the Presidency to the Duma, or Parliament. The Duma shall have more power in a better balancing act between the Presidency and the voice of the people; i.e., the Parliament. The possibility of referenda, with people voting, is also foreseen. A move towards more 'democracy'. Some interpret this as a reaction to western criticism of Russia being a dictatorial state and this move should alleviate Russia from this accusation. I don't think so. Western accusations are random, when it suits them, never based on facts, but on lies.

For example, the change in government power foresees some changes in the Russian Constitution, but not a rewrite at all, as Mr. Putin stressed. The term-limitation of the Presidency should also not change, no more than two. It appears the "no more than two in a row" – should be amended, and the "in a row" deleted. That would mean, that President Putin would have to leave the Presidency definitely in 2024 when his current term is up. This may be one of those Constitutional areas to be confirmed by the Duma – or not.

But could Mr. Putin become PM and still run Russia from behind the scene as he did from 2008 – 2012, under then President Dmitry Medvedev? This was not discussed.

When PM Medvedev explained his resignation, he referred to Article 117 of the Russian Constitution, which states that the government can offer its resignation to the president, who, in turn, can either accept or reject it. Mr. Putin, of course, accepted it, thanking PM Medvedev and his Ministers for their good work and service to Russia. Although there was no visible hostility between Putin and Medvedev, this move has most likely been discussed and negotiated months ago.

Mr. Medvedev was offered the post of Deputy Secretary of Russia's Security Council, a job that first had to be created, according to Mr. Putin. This rank is clearly a few steps down from Prime-Minister. PM Medvedev and President Putin are both members of the United Russia Party , but Medvedev has the reputation of being an Atlantist, meaning, leaning strongly towards the west, western political philosophy. The Russian financial sector is still infiltrated with Atlantists, some may call them Fifth Columnists.

All the while seeking to improve relations with Europe – a logical step – President Putin is adamant to detach from the US-dollar dominated "sanction-prone" economy. And rightly so. Might this explain the departure of PM Medvedev? As of this morning, there was no mention of a favored replacement as PM. This may take a while. Seemingly no problem as all the key activities are still covered by the "caretaker" government. The entire change of government was presented as "relaxed", "no big deal", a natural process for improving the functioning of the Russian government. Yet, this has never happened in "modern" Russia, in the last 20 years, under Mr. Putin's leadership.

Duma members interviewed saw it generally as a positive move. They will now have more power, and more responsibility. They will have a say in key appointments, including of the Prime-Minister and his cabinet, while the final decision rests still with the President.

What is important to notice is that the present "democratization" of the Russian government comes at a time when Mr. Putin's public approval is still around 70%, a slight drop since his reelection in 2018 with 77%.

The Duma, with its new powers, will be asked to look at some aspects of the Constitution (as of yet no details are officially defined) with a view of possibly modifying them. Given Mr. Putin's high popularity and Russia's economic and political stability, Russia's military superiority – despite the constant western interference, or attempted interferences – preserving that stability and continuous economic prosperity is important; i.e., continuity in the Presidency and the Government is crucial. Thus, wouldn't it be conceivable that the Duma might lift the term-limit for the Presidency altogether?

Although, at this stage much of this is speculation. But assuming that some of the strategy behind this change – the "power equalizing move" – goes in this direction, then the timing is perfect. A new Decade, a new Era. And Putin remains the key player – the one who has made of Russia what she is today – a proud, independent, autonomous nation, that has despite all sanctions and western demonization not only prevailed, but come out on top brilliantly as a sovereign world super power. Why would the Russian people want to risk giving up this hard-deserved privilege?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for independent media. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed - fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! - Essays from the Resistance . Read other articles by Peter .

This article was posted on Thursday, January 16th, 2020 at 7:02am and is filed under President Vladimir Putin , Russia .

[Jan 21, 2020] Bernie Sanders Walks Straight Into the Russiagate Trap

Jan 21, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Daniel Lazare January 20, 2020 © Photo: Wikimedia The New York Times caused a mini-commotion last week with a front-page story suggesting that Russian intelligence had hacked a Ukrainian energy firm known as Burisma Holdings in order to get dirt on Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win re-election.

But the article was flimsy even by Russiagate standards, and so certain questions inevitably arise. What was it really about? Who's behind it? Who's the real target?

Here's a quick answer. It was about boosting Joe Biden, and its real target was his chief rival, Bernie Sanders. And poor, inept Bernie walked straight into the trap.

The article was flimsy because rather than saying straight out that Russian intelligence hacked Burisma, the company notorious for hiring Biden's son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month job, reporters Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg had to rely on unnamed "security experts" to say it for them. While suggesting that the hackers were looking for dirt, they didn't quite say that as well. Instead, they admitted that "it is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for."

So we have no idea what they were up to, if anything at all. But the Times then quoted "experts" to the effect that "the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens – the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment." Since Trump and the Russians are seeking the same information, they must be in cahoots, which is what Democrats have been saying from the moment Trump took office. Given the lack of evidence, this was meaningless as well.

But then came the kicker: two full paragraphs in which a Biden campaign spokesman was permitted to expound on the notion that the Russians hacked Burisma because Biden is the candidate that they and Trump fear the most.

"Donald Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into lying about Joe Biden and a major bipartisan, international anti-corruption victory because he recognized that he can't beat the vice president," the spokesman, Andrew Bates, said. "Now we know that Vladimir Putin also sees Joe Biden as a threat. Any American president who had not repeatedly encouraged foreign interventions of this kind would immediately condemn this attack on the sovereignty of our elections."

If Biden is the number-one threat, then Sanders is not, presumably because the Times sees him as soft on Moscow. If so, it means that he could be in for the same neo-McCarthyism that antiwar candidate Tulsi Gabbard encountered last October when Hillary Clinton blasted her as "the favorite of the Russians." Gabbard had the good sense to blast her right back.

"Thank you @Hillary Clinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know – it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine ."

If only Sanders did the same. But instead he put out a statement filled with the usual anti-Russian clichés:

"The 2020 election is likely to be the most consequential election in modern American history, and I am alarmed by new reports that Russia recently hacked into the Ukrainian gas company at the center of the impeachment trial, as well as Russia's plans to once again meddle in our elections and in our democracy. After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddle in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn [sic] by Donald Trump ."

And so on for another 250 words. Not only did the statement put him in bed with the intelligence agencies, but it makes him party to the big lie that the Kremlin was responsible for putting Trump over the top in 2016.

Let's get one thing straight. Yes, Russian intelligence may have hacked the Democratic National Committee. But cybersecurity was so lax that others may have been rummaging about as well. (CrowdStrike, the company called in to investigate the hack, says it found not one but two cyber-intruders.) Notwithstanding the Mueller report, all the available evidence indicates that Russia did not then pass along thousands of DNC emails that Wikileaks published in July 2016. (Julian Assange's statement six months later that "our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party" remains uncontroverted.) Similarly, there's no evidence that the Kremlin had anything to do with the $45,000 worth of Facebook ads purchased by a St. Petersburg company known as the Internet Research Agency – Robert Mueller's 2018 indictment of the IRA was completely silent on the subject of a Kremlin connection – and no evidence that the ads, which were politically all over the map, had a remotely significant impact on the 2016 election.

All the rest is a classic CIA disinformation campaign aimed at drumming up anti-Russian hysteria and delegitimizing anyone who fails to go along. And now Bernie Sanders is trying to cover his derrière by hopping on board.

It won't work. Sanders will find himself having to take one loyalty oath after another as the anti-Russia campaign flares anew. But it will never be enough, and he'll only wind up looking tired and weak. Voters will opt for the supposedly more formidable Biden, who will end up as a bug splat on the windshield of Donald Trump's speeding election campaign. With impeachment no longer an issue, he'll be free to behave as dictatorially as he wishes as he settles into his second term.

After inveighing against billionaire's wars, he'll find himself ensnared by the same billionaire war machine. The trouble with Sanders is that he thinks he can win by playing by the rules. But he can't because the rules are stacked against him. He'd know that if his outlook was more radical. His problem is not that he's too much of a socialist. Rather, it's that he's not enough.

[Jan 20, 2020] Fake Investigations... Designed To Fool by Bryce Buchanan

Highly recommended!
Money quote: "The Deep State and the media appear to believe that we are fooled by these fraudulent investigations. We are not fooled. We are tired of the lies and the arrogance."
Notable quotes:
"... For the Deep State, hiding and destroying evidence of guilt is standard operating procedure. They simply report a "glitch" that destroyed the key evidence and that's the end of it. Or, they simply redact the portions of the record that would expose the truth. To my memory, no one ever suffers any consequences for this. Even now, Director Wray and others are tenaciously withholding evidence. ..."
"... When Anthony Weiner's laptop was found to contain over 340,000 Hillary emails in a file named "insurance", the FBI did not rejoice about finally getting the 'lost' email. No, they hid the discovery for weeks until a New York agent threatened to go public. Then, quite miraculously, Peter Strzok found a way to very quickly examine 340,000 messages and found that there was nothing at all that was incriminating. No rational person would believe that. ..."
"... The dirty cops are so confident in their ability to deceive the public that they just announced that the FISA court reforms will be managed by David Kris. Kris has been a defender of FBI misconduct and he attacked Devin Nunes for telling the truth about the FISA court. They don't even care about the appearance of fairness. They do what they want. ..."
"... Because there was nothing, and because it was known from the start that, " there is no big there, there ", the Mueller Team used several irrelevant legal actions to prolong the belief that they were closing in on Trump. Mueller arranged for their media partner, CNN, to film the early morning swat team raid on 67 year old Roger Stone's home. It was very dramatic and very un-necessary. Also, some small-time Russian troll farms were indicted so that the word "Russia" could fill the news, prolonging the desired myth. One of the indicted firms did not even exist. The others did not appear to favor any one candidate and much of their activity was after the election ..."
"... Mueller led a 40 million dollar investigation looking for a crime. That effort failed at finding any collusion, but it did play a role in the Democrats winning a majority in the House of Representatives. That then enabled another investigation of an imaginary crime for political purposes. A scripted hearsay 'whistleblower' submitted lies that allowed Adam Schiff to continue his own campaign of lies. You know the rest of the story. Trump is being falsely charged for doing what Biden bragged about doing. ..."
Jan 20, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Bryce Buchanan via The Burning Platform blog,

Many government officials with long entrenched power are unwilling to give up any of that power. In their minds, they have a right to control our lives as they see fit, with complete indifference to our wishes. To avoid rebellion, they need to hide this fact as much as possible. They want the citizens to believe the lie that we are a nation of laws with equal justice under the law. To advance this lie, they have staged many theatrical productions that they call "investigations". They try to give us the impression that they want to expose the facts and punish wrongdoing.

Most of the big 'investigations' in the news in recent years have not been at all what they pretended to be. The sham investigations of Hillary's email, or the Clinton Foundation, or Weiner's laptop, or Uranium One, or Mueller's witch hunt, or Huber's big nothing, or the IG's whitewash, or the Schiff-Pelosi charades, have all been premeditated deceptions.

There are three types of investigations that call for different deceptions by the Deep State.
  1. The first type is the rare honest investigation . Examples would be the attempt to find the truth about Fast and Furious (Obama's gunrunning operation), or the IRS scandal (Obama's weaponizing of government). In response to real investigations, the criminals do two things lie and hide evidence. Key evidence, even if it is under subpoena, just disappears. In the IRS case, Lois Lerner's relevant email and the email of 6 others involved in the scheme was just "lost". The IRS "worked tirelessly" to find the email, but hard drives had been destroyed and back-up drives were missing, so the subpoenaed evidence could not be provided.

    For the Deep State, hiding and destroying evidence of guilt is standard operating procedure. They simply report a "glitch" that destroyed the key evidence and that's the end of it. Or, they simply redact the portions of the record that would expose the truth. To my memory, no one ever suffers any consequences for this. Even now, Director Wray and others are tenaciously withholding evidence.

  2. The second type of 'investigation' is when the Deep State pretends to investigate the Deep State . In these 'investigations' the outcome is known in advance, but the script calls for pretending, sometimes for years, that it an honest investigation is underway.

    There was nothing about the Hillary investigations that had anything to do with finding facts. The purpose from the beginning was exoneration. Key witnesses were given immunity and many were allowed to attend each other's interviews. There were no early morning swat team raids to gather evidence. Evidence was destroyed with no consequences.

    When Anthony Weiner's laptop was found to contain over 340,000 Hillary emails in a file named "insurance", the FBI did not rejoice about finally getting the 'lost' email. No, they hid the discovery for weeks until a New York agent threatened to go public. Then, quite miraculously, Peter Strzok found a way to very quickly examine 340,000 messages and found that there was nothing at all that was incriminating. No rational person would believe that.

    The dirty cops are so comfortable about getting away with lies like this that Huber can announce that he found no corruption, when it is readily apparent that he did not interview key witnesses . He even turned away whistleblowers who wanted to submit evidence. A real investigator, Charles Ortel, could have given Huber a long list of Clinton Foundation crimes . Like the Weiner laptop fake investigation, you don't find crimes if you don't really look for them.

    The dirty cops are so confident in their ability to deceive the public that they just announced that the FISA court reforms will be managed by David Kris. Kris has been a defender of FBI misconduct and he attacked Devin Nunes for telling the truth about the FISA court. They don't even care about the appearance of fairness. They do what they want.

    IG investigations have proven to be flimsy exonerations of Deep State criminality. Any honest observer can see that there was a carefully organized plan by top officials to control the outcome of the Presidential election. This corrupt plan involved lying to the FISA court, illegal surveillance and unmasking of citizens and conspiring with media partners to make sure lies were widely circulated to voters. The government conspirators and the majority of the media were functioning as nothing more than a branch of Hillary's campaign. That's a lot of power aimed at destroying Trump.

    To an IG investigator, this monumental scandal was presented to us as nothing to be very concerned about. Yes, a few minor rules were inadvertently broken and there did appear to be some bias, but there was no reason at all to think that bias effected any actions. If the agencies involved make a training video and set aside a day for a training meeting, then that should satisfy us completely.

  3. The third type of investigation involves investigating an imaginary crime for political reasons . The Mueller investigation and the impeachment investigation are two examples of this. Probably as a justification for illegal surveillance they were already doing, the conspirators pretended that there was powerful evidence that Trump was colluding with Putin to win the election. Lies about this issue propelled the country into 3 years of stories about nothing stories and investigations about something that never happened. Never in the history of nothing has nothing been so thoroughly covered.

    Because there was nothing, and because it was known from the start that, " there is no big there, there ", the Mueller Team used several irrelevant legal actions to prolong the belief that they were closing in on Trump. Mueller arranged for their media partner, CNN, to film the early morning swat team raid on 67 year old Roger Stone's home. It was very dramatic and very un-necessary. Also, some small-time Russian troll farms were indicted so that the word "Russia" could fill the news, prolonging the desired myth. One of the indicted firms did not even exist. The others did not appear to favor any one candidate and much of their activity was after the election .

    Mueller led a 40 million dollar investigation looking for a crime. That effort failed at finding any collusion, but it did play a role in the Democrats winning a majority in the House of Representatives. That then enabled another investigation of an imaginary crime for political purposes. A scripted hearsay 'whistleblower' submitted lies that allowed Adam Schiff to continue his own campaign of lies. You know the rest of the story. Trump is being falsely charged for doing what Biden bragged about doing.

The Deep State and the media appear to believe that we are fooled by these fraudulent investigations. We are not fooled. We are tired of the lies and the arrogance.

We are increasingly angry that there is a double standard of justice in this country. There is a protected class of people who are not prosecuted for their crimes. This needs to end.


insanelysane , 9 minutes ago link

The sheeple are easily led including the opposition sheeple. Two quick examples:

1. In the email scandal, Hillary was guilty, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of violating the FOIA by conducting all State Department business via a personal email She was guilty. Yet her team, listen up sheeple, her team made it about whether or not classified information was transmitted. This is a gray area which could be defended. She knew she was guilty of the FOIA violation because it was the whole reason the server was set up in the first place. Yet she got away with it because everyone focused on the classifications of emails which was a gray area.

2. In the Weiner / Abedin laptop matter, it is and was illegal for any of these emails to be on a personal computer. Again, guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yet again everyone focused on what was in the emails and not the fact that just possessing the emails was illegal. So the FBI was able to say nothing new here and let it drop. If another group such as the US Marshals was in charge of this investigation, Weiner / Abedin would have been fully charged with possessing these emails. They would have been pressured to reveal why it was named Insurance and have been asked to cut a deal.

DonGenaro , 10 minutes ago link

Assange rots in jail, and Maxwell walks free, while Trump is busy pleasuring every Zionist in sight

East Indian , 23 minutes ago link

A comment in 'The Gateway Pundit':

"Andy McCabe admits lying to the FBI and nothing happens. The FBI lies to Gen. Flynn and he faces jail time. Justice in Deep State America."

- reader ricocat1

hardmedicine , 38 minutes ago link

his name was Seth Rich!

hoffstetter , 40 minutes ago link

The purpose of show trials is to fool those that don't pay attention. There are millions of US citizens that get their news from their neighbor or a narrow set of information that is disseminated by media that parrot their providers verbatim without challenge. Such people are quite regularly fooled and some vote.

buckboy , 57 minutes ago link

We, the People are free to bitch and moan.

marlin2009 , 1 hour ago link

The double standard justice system in America is appalling and even worse than communists. Americans really don’t have any credit to criticize communist countries. The ruling class is no better than them.

The media and ruling classes have tried decades to brainwashed the mass to believe that the less or even not corrupted.

Deep Snorkeler , 1 hour ago link

Trump's Non-Crimes

Trump University Fraud: Trump paid fine

Trump Taj Mahal Casino Money Laundering: Trump paid fine

Trump Foundation Fraud: Trump paid fine

Trump Campaign Law Violations: pending

Trump Obstruction:

Trump Abuse of Power:

Trump...

Old Hippie Patriot , 1 hour ago link

They could have never pulled off the JFK assassination had the internet existed back in 1963. Time for the Epstein *********** to be posted on the internet. Even the asleep would realize the unimaginable evil that has been controlling this world for millenia.

HANGTHEOWL , 1 hour ago link

I am not sure about that,,we have the net now,,and although there are many of us that pay attention and figure out their crimes and hoax's,,,,they still get away with them,,,,,,NASA still gets 59 million a day to fake the space program,,,

monty42 , 1 hour ago link

Why not? They pulled off 9/11. And what do we have? The same as with the JFK murder. People still arguing over how it was done, and ignoring the obvious, historically established now, of who benefited and why. Grassy knoll, 2nd shooter, or directed energy weapons or explosives, internet or not, still chasing the tail.

HANGTHEOWL , 57 minutes ago link

True, they murdered 3,000 of us on 9-11,,right on TV, using plainly obvious controlled demolitions, and to date they have still gotten away with it...

[Jan 20, 2020] Important clarification about MadCow disease

Jan 15, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

DC_rez , January 16, 2020 at 16:08

Are you insinuating Rachel Maddow is a journalist?

[Jan 19, 2020] Putin Proposes Changes to Constitution, Medvedev Resigns What's Going On Consortiumnews

Jan 19, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

As I've discussed many times before, Russia was on the verge of being a failed state in 2000 when Putin took the helm. There were crises in every major area of state governance: the military was in shambles, the economy had collapsed, crime was rampant, massive poverty pervaded the country, and Russians were experiencing the worst mortality crisis since World War II.

Putin's Three Priorities

Having studied Putin's governance and how Russia has fared over the two decades in which he has ruled, it's clear that he's had three main priorities for Russia in the following order:

Ensuring Russia's national security and sovereignty as an independent nation. In previous writings, I've explained the importance of national security to Russians as a result of their history and geography; Improving the economy and living standards for Russians; and, The gradual democratization of the country.

These three priorities are reflected in this week's address to the Federal Assembly, the equivalent of the U.S. president's annual state of the union. Putin reiterated to his audience that the first priority of national security and state sovereignty had been secured:

"For the first time ever – I want to emphasise this – for the first time in the history of nuclear missile weapons, including the Soviet period and modern times, we are not catching up with anyone, but, on the contrary, other leading states have yet to create the weapons that Russia already possesses.

The country's defence capability is ensured for decades to come, but we cannot rest on our laurels and do nothing. We must keep moving forward, carefully observing and analysing the developments in this area across the world, and create next-generation combat systems and complexes. This is what we are doing today."

Putin goes on to emphasize that success on this first priority enables Russia to focus even more seriously on the second priority:

"Reliable security creates the basis for Russia's progressive and peaceful development and allows us to do much more to overcome the most pressing internal challenges, to focus on the economic and social growth of all our regions in the interest of the people, because Russia's greatness is inseparable from dignified life of its every citizen. I see this harmony of a strong power and well-being of the people as a foundation of our future."

In light of the abysmal living conditions that Putin inherited in 2000, he did a remarkable job over the next decade of cutting poverty, improving infrastructure, restoring regular pension payments as well as increasing the amount, raising wages, etc. Russians, whether they agree with everything Putin does or not, no matter how frustrated they may get with him regarding particular issues, are generally grateful to him for this turnaround in their country. This progress on his second priority has underpinned his approval ratings, which have never dipped below the 60's.

But his comments during his address reflected mixed success currently as economic conditions for Russians have stagnated over the past few years. One contributing factor has been the sanctions imposed by the West in response to Russia's reunification with Crimea as a result of the 2014 coup in Ukraine.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko climb the stairs in the House of Chimeras in Kyiv, Ukraine, en route to a working lunch following a bilateral meeting and news conference on July 7, 2016. (State Department)

Putin has done a respectable job of cushioning the Russian economy from the worst effects of the sanctions and even using them to advantage with respect to import substitution in the agricultural and industrial sectors. However, polls of the population have consistently shown over the past two-to-three years that Russians are losing patience with the lack of improvement in living standards.

Another problem that is limiting economic progress is the pattern of local bureaucrats not implementing Putin's edicts. For example, in his 2018 and 2019 addresses, Putin laid out an expensive plan for economic improvement based on infrastructure projects throughout the country as well as improving health and education. Budget allocations were made for these projects and the funds released, but many have only been partially realized. Confirming what has been reported in some quarters , Putin complained about the deficiencies in the roll-out of these policies during his address.

I believe this is connected to the subsequent resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who will now step into the newly created role of deputy chairman of the Security Council, while his cabinet remains in a caretaker capacity until a new government is formed.

Medvedev has not been particularly effective as prime minister and has been very unpopular over the past several years as suspicions of corruption have swirled around him. He is also problematic ideologically as he has always embraced neoliberal economic policy which has no traction with most of the Russian people due to the experience of the 1990's when neoliberal capitalists ran amok. He also lacks the charisma and creative problem-solving skills of Putin.

Dmitry Medvedev with Vladimir Putin in 2008. (Wikimedia Commons)

But in all fairness, no prime minister will have an easy job in Russia if significant changes are needed or a transition is still in progress. Throughout Russia's history, whenever leaders wanted to reform the system, they've always encountered the problem of implementation in terms of the bureaucracy. Whether out of malevolence, fear of losing perceived benefits, inertia, or incompetence, bureaucrats lower down the chain don't always put the reforms effectively or consistently in place. Putin has complained at various times of local bureaucrats' intransigence and its negative effects on average citizens whom they are supposed to be serving.

Mikhail Mishustin. (Wikimedia Commons)

Not much is known about Medvedev's immediate replacement , Mikhail Mishustin , except that he is a former businessman and has served as head of Russia's Tax Service since 2010. In his capacity leading the tax agency, he is held in positive regard, credited with modernizing and streamlining the historically onerous tax collection system.

The third priority of Putin has been gradual democratization of the country. Putin is often characterized in the west as an autocrat and a dictator. However, as I've written before, there are many democratic reforms that have been implemented under Putin's rule that are often ignored by Western media and analysts. It is not that democracy has not been a priority for Putin, it's that it was to be subordinated to the other two priorities. Putin, as well as many other Russians, have been nervous about possible instability. With their history of constant upheaval over the past 120 years – two revolutions, two world wars, numerous famines, the Great Terror, and a national collapse – this is understandable.

Putin inherited a system of governance that featured a strong president and a weak parliamentary system as reflected in the 1993 constitution ushered in by Yeltsin – the origins of which are explained here . Putin has used this system effectively throughout his 20 years in power – 16 of them as president – to try to solve the various crises mentioned earlier. Such strong, centralized power is necessary when a state is dealing with multiple existential emergencies.

At this point, I think Putin realizes that Russia, though it still has significant problems to be addressed, is no longer in a state of emergency. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to keep quite the same level of power concentrated in the office of the presidency, which is open to abuse by future occupants. Here is what Putin said about this:

"Russian society is becoming more mature, responsible and demanding. Despite the differences in the ways to address their tasks, the main political forces speak from the position of patriotism and reflect the interests of their followers and voters."

The constitutional reforms Putin goes on to discuss include giving the parliament the right to appoint the prime minister and his/her cabinet, no foreign citizenship or residency of major office holders at the federal level (president, prime minister, cabinet members, parliamentarians, national security agents, judges, etc.), expanding the authority of local governmental bodies, and strengthening the Constitutional Court and the independence of judges. He also mentioned codifying certain aspects of socioeconomic justice into the constitution:

"And lastly, the state must honour its social responsibility under any conditions throughout the country. Therefore, I believe that the Constitution should include a provision that the minimum wage in Russia must not be below the subsistence minimum of the economically active people. We have a law on this, but we should formalise this requirement in the Constitution along with the principles of decent pensions, which implies a regular adjustment of pensions according to inflation."

In other words, Putin realizes that the system as it is currently constructed has outlived its usefulness and some modest changes are needed to keep the country moving forward. Despite the constant nonsense that passes for news and analysis of Russia in the west, civil society is alive and well in Russia. Putin is aware of the citizen-led initiatives that have been occurring throughout the country to improve local communities and it appears that he is ready to allow more space for this new participation of average Russians to solve problems for which the official bureaucracy seems to be stuck:

"Our society is clearly calling for change. People want development, and they strive to move forward in their careers and knowledge, in achieving prosperity, and they are ready to assume responsibility for specific work. Quite often, they have better knowledge of what, how and when should be changed where they live and work, that is, in cities, districts, villages and all across the nation.

The pace of change must be expedited every year and produce tangible results in attaining worthy living standards that would be clearly perceived by the people. And, I repeat, they must be actively involved in this process."

How these changes will actually be instituted and what the results will be is, of course, unknown at this time. Putin suggested that the eventual package of constitutional amendments will be voted on by the Russian people. It also appears that Putin will indeed step down at the end of his presidential term in 2024, but it is still very likely that he will remain in an active advisory role.

Unlike the knee-jerk malign motives that are automatically attributed to anything Putin does by the western political class, I see this as a calculated risk that Putin is ready to take to make further progress on his second and third priorities for Russia.

Natylie Baldwin is author of "The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations." She is co-author of "Ukraine: Zbig's Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated." She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians. She blogs at natyliesbaldwin.com .

This article is from natyliesbaldwin.com .

Eddie S , January 19, 2020 at 17:03

Good analysis/deep-background article! It's SO refreshing to read something about Russia here in the US press that isn't the simplistic 'Russia bad! US good! Anything else is Putin-stooge talk or what-about-ism'. I'm sure that the US & British MSM will attribute only evil motives by Putin for all of this and will somehow try to ascribe Russian world-domination designs to it, no-matter how much contortion and out-of-left-field fantasizing that requires, after all that's their job, they've had a lot of practice, and they get amply rewarded

ranney , January 19, 2020 at 16:29

Thank you Natalie ( and CN for publishing this); your explanations are extremely helpful . Also what a relief to finally read something that isn't filled with hate and false assumptions about Russia. When Rachel at MSNBC starts in on Putin I start to feel sick and I have to turn off the TV Her hatred is frightening.
I hope we'll see more of your writing, Natalie.

[Jan 19, 2020] Johnson was probably one of the architects of Skripal fake poisoning and now can't admit that this false flag operation failed

Jan 19, 2020 | www.politico.eu

https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-vladimir-putin-uk-russia-relations-still-poisoned/

In a statement , No. 10 Downing Street said: "He was clear there had been no change in the U.K.'s position on Salisbury, which was a reckless use of chemical weapons and a brazen attempt to murder innocent people on U.K. soil. He said that such an attack must not be repeated."

There was no immediate statement by the Kremlin, but Putin has rejected the British allegations as baseless and Russian officials repeatedly demanded that U.K. authorities come forward with hard evidence.

In its statement, No. 10 portrayed Johnson as unbudging in his insistence that Russia end its extra-territorial mischief and said he had reiterated the two countries' responsibilities as world powers.

"The Prime Minister said that they both had a responsibility to address issues of international security including Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran," the statement said. "The Prime Minister said there will be no normalization of our bilateral relationship until Russia ends the destabilizing activity that threatens the U.K. and our allies and undermines the safety of our citizens and our collective security."

Johnson and Putin were in the German capital for an international conference aimed at achieving a cease-fire to end a long-running civil war in Libya.

[Jan 19, 2020] Why Neocons Hate Russia Even More Than They Hate Any Other Nation

Jan 19, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Eric Zuesse July 27, 2018 © Photo: Public domain

Neoconservatism started in 1953 with Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the Democratic Party US Senator from the state of Washington (1953-1983), who became known as a 'defense' hawk, and as "the Senator from Boeing," because Boeing practically owned him. The UK's Henry Jackson Society was founded in 2005 in order to carry forward Senator Jackson's unwavering and passionate endorsement of growing the American empire so that the US-UK alliance will control the entire world (and US weapons-makers will dominate in every market).

Later, during the 1990s, neoconservatism became taken over by the Mossad and the lobbyists for Israel and came to be publicly identified as a 'Jewish' ideology, despite its having -- and having long had -- many champions who were 'anti-communist' or 'pro-democracy' or simply even anti-Russian, but who were neither Jewish nor even focused at all on the Middle East. Republicans Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and John McCain; and the Democrat, CIA Director James Woolsey -- the latter of whom was one of the patrons of Britain's Henry Jackson Society -- were especially prominent neoconservatives, who came to prominence even before neocons became called "neoconservatives." What all neocons have always shared in common has been a visceral hatred of Russians. That comes above anything else -- and even above NATO (the main neocon organization).

During recent decades, neocons have been hating Iranians and more generally Shiites -- such as in Syria and in Lebanon, and now also in Yemen -- and not only hating Russians.

When the Israel lobby during the 1990s and after, pumped massive resources into getting the US Government to invade first Iraq and then Iran, neoconservatism got its name, but the ideology itself did not change. However, there are a few neoconservatives today who are too ignorant to know, in any coherent way, what their own underlying beliefs are, or why, and so who are anti-Russians (that's basic for any neocon) who either don't know or else don't particularly care that Iran and Shia Muslims generally, are allied with Russia. Neoconservatives such as this, are simply confused neocons, people whose underlying ideology is self-contradictory, because they've not carefully thought things through.

An example is Vox's Alex Ward, who built his career as an anti-Russia propagandist , and whose recent ten-point tirade against Russia I then exposed as being false on each one of its ten points , each of those points having been based upon mere allegations by US neocons against Russia without any solid evidence whatsoever. Indictments, and other forms of accusations, are not evidence for anything. But a stupid 'journalist' accepts them as if they were evidence, if those accusations come from 'the right side' -- but not if they come from 'the wrong side'. They don't understand even such a simple distinction as that between an indictment, and a conviction. A conviction is at least a verdict (though maybe based on false 'evidence' and thus false itself), but all that an accusation is an accusation -- and all accusations (in the American legal system) are supposed to be disbelieved, unless and until there is at least a verdict that gives the accusation legal force. (This is called "innocent unless proven guilty.")

Earlier, Mr. Ward had headlined as if he were an anti -neocon, when he posted his "America is fueling the war in Yemen. Congress is finally pushing back." What can account for that seemingly incongruous article?

Mr. Ward is a Democrat -- an heir to Senator Jackson's allegedly anti-communist though actually anti-Russian ideology -- but, since Ward isn't as intelligent as the ideology's founder was, Ward becomes anti -neocon when a Republican-led Administration is doing things (such as Ward there criticizes) that are even more-neocon than today's Democratic Party itself is. In other words: 'journalists' (actually, propagandists) such as he, are more partisan in favor of support of Democratic Party billionaires against Republican Party billionaires, than in support of conquering Russia as opposed to cooperating with Russia (and with all other countries). They're unaware that all American billionaires support expansion of the US empire -- including over Yemen (to bring Yemen in, too -- which invasion Ward incongruously opposes). But politicians (unlike their financial backers) need to pretend not to be so bloodthirsty or so beholden to the military-industrial complex. Thus, an American doesn't need to be intelligent in order to build his or her career in 'journalism', on the basis of having previously served as a propagandist writing for non-profits that are mere fronts for NATO and for Israel, and which are fronts actually for America's weapons-manufacturing firms, who need those wars in order to grow their profits. Such PR for front-organizations for US firms such as Lockheed Martin, is excellent preparation for a successful career in American 'journalism'. If a person is stupid, then it's still necessary to be stupid in the right way, in order to succeed; and Ward is, and does.

This, for example, is how it makes sense that Ward had previously been employed at the War on the Rocks website that organized the Republican neoconservative campaign against Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries : the mega-donors to both US Parties are united in favor of America conquering Russia. And that's why War on the Rocks had organized Republican neocons to oppose Trump: it was done in order to increase the chances for Trump's rabidly anti-Russia and pro-Israel competitors such as Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio to win that nomination instead, which would then have produced the billionaires' dream contest, between Hillary Clinton versus an equally neoconservative Republican nominee. A bipartisan neoconservatism controls both of the American political Parties. A 'journalist' who displays that sort of bipartisanship can't fail in America, no matter how incompetent at real journalism he or she might be. (However, they do have to be literate . Stupid, maybe; but literate, definitely.)

The core of America's form of capitalism has come to be the US aristocracy's bipartisan, liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican, form of capitalism, which isn't merely fascist (which includes privatizing everything that can be privatized) but which is also imperialist (which means favoring the country's perpetration of invasions and coups in order to expand that nation's empire). The United States is now a globe-spanning empire, controlling not merely the aristocracies in a few banana republics such as Guatemala and Honduras, but also the aristocracies in richer countries such as France, Germany and UK, so as to extract from virtually the entire world -- by means mainly of deception but also sometimes public threats and clearly coercive -- unfair advantages for corporations that are within its borders, and against corporations that are headquartered in foreign countries. America's billionaires -- both the Democratic ones and the Republican ones -- are 100% in favor of America's conquering the world: this ideology is entirely bipartisan, in the United States. Though the billionaires succeeded, during the first Cold War -- the one that was nominally against communism -- at fooling the public to think they were aiming ultimately to conquer communism, George Herbert Walker Bush made clear, on the night of 24 February 1990, privately to the leaders of the US aristocracy's foreign allies, that the actual goal was world-conquest, and so the Cold War would now secretly continue on the US side , even after ending on the USS.R. side. When GHW Bush did that, the heritage of US Senator Jackson became no longer the formerly claimed one, of 'anti-communism', but was, clearly now and henceforth, anti-Russian. And that's what it is today -- not only in the Democratic Party, and not only in the Republican Party, and not only in the United States, but throughout the entire US alliance .

And this is what we are seeing today, in all of the US-and-allied propaganda-media. America is always 'the injured party' against 'the aggressors'; and, so, one after another, such as in Iraq, and in Libya, and in Syria, and in Iran, and in Yemen, and in China, all allies (or even merely friends) of Russia are 'the aggressors' and are 'dictatorships' and are 'threats to America', and only the US side represents 'democracy' . It's actually an aristocracy , which has deeply deceived its public, to think it's a democracy. Just as every aristocracy is based on lies and on coercion, this one is, too -- it is no exception; it's only that this particular empire is on a historically unprecedentedly large scale, dominating all continents. Support that, and you're welcomed into the major (i.e., billionaire-backed) 'news' media in America, and in its allied countries. This is America's 'democracy' . (Of course, an article such as this one is not 'journalism' in America and its allied countries; it's merely "blogging." So, it won't be found there though it's being submitted everywhere. It will be accepted and published at only the honest news-sites. A reader may Web-search the headline here in order to find out which ones those are. Not many 'news'media report the institutionalized corruptness of the 'news'media; they just criticize one-another, in the way that the politicians do, which is bipartisan -- the bipartisan dictatorship. But the rot that's actually throughout the 'news'media, is prohibited to be reported about and published, in and by any of them. It is totally suppressed reality. Only the few honest news-sites will publish this information and its documentation, the links here.)

However, actually, the first time that the term either "neoconservatism" or "neo-conservatism" is known to have been used, was in the British magazine, The Contemporary Review , January 1883, by Henry Dunkley, in his "The Conservative Dilemma" where "neo-conservative" appeared 8 times, and was contrasted to traditional "conservatism" because, whereas the traditional type "Toryism" was pro-aristocratic, anti-democratic, and overtly elitist; the new type was pro-democratic, anti-aristocratic, and overtly populist (which no form of conservatism honestly is -- they're all elitist): "What is this new creed of yours? That there must be no class influence in politics? That any half-dozen hinds on my estate are as good as so many dukes? That the will of the people is the supreme political tribunal? That if a majority at the polls bid us abolish the Church and toss the Crown into the gutter we are forthwith to be their most obedient servants?" "No: from whatever point of view we consider the question, it is plain that the attempt to reconstruct the Tory party on a Democratic basis cannot succeed." "The Tories have always been adepts at conservation, but the things they have been most willing to conserve were not our liberties but the restrictions put upon our liberties." "The practical policy of Conservatism would not alter, and could not be altered much, but its pretensions would have to be pitched in a lower key." "Here we seem to get within the smell of soup, the bustle of evening receptions, and the smiles of dowagers. The cares which weigh upon this couple of patriot souls cannot be described as august. It is hardly among such petty anxieties that the upholders of the Empire and the pilots of the State are bred." "The solemn abjuration which is now proposed in the name of Neo-conservatism resembles a charge of dynamite." He viewed neo-conservatives as being let's-pretend populists, whose pretense at being democrats will jeopardize the Empire, not strengthen it. Empire, and its rightness, were so deeply rooted in the rulers' psyche, it went unchallenged. In fact, at that very time, in the 1880s, Sir Cecil Rhodes was busy creating the foundation for the UK-US empire that now controls most of the world .

The modern pro-Israel neoconservatism arose in the 1960s when formerly Marxist Jewish intellectuals in New York City and Washington DC, who were even more anti-communist than anti-nazi, became impassioned with the US empire being extended to the entire world by spreading 'democracy' (and protection of Israel) as if this Israel-protecting empire were a holy crusade not only against the Soviet Union, which was demonized by them, but against Islam, which also was demonized by them (since they were ethnocentric Jews and the people whose land the 'Israelis' had stolen were overwhelmingly Muslims -- and now were very second-class citizens in their own long-ancestral and also birth-land). This was how they distinguished themselves from "paleoconservatism" which wasn't nearly so Messianic, but which was more overtly ethnocentric, though ethnic Christian, instead of ethnic Jewish. The "paleoconservatives" were isolationists, not imperialists. They originated from the opponents of America's entry into WW II against the imperialists of that time, who were the fascists. Those American "isolationists" would have given us a world controlled by Hitler and his Axis allies. All conservatism is absurd, but there are many forms of it, none of which makes intelligent sense.

The roots of neoconservatism are 100% imperialistic, colonialist, supremacist, and blatantly evil. They hate Russia because they still crave to conquer it , and don't know how, short of nuclear annihilation, which would be extremely dangerous, even for themselves. So, they endanger everyone.

[Jan 18, 2020] Patrick Armstrong on the Russian Reshuffle -- Strategic Culture

Jan 18, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

(Written on the evening of. So subject to reconsideration/revision/outright denial as we learn more.)

I didn't expect any of it. Neither did anyone else, whatever the so-called experts outgassing on the US Garbage Media may be pretending. I don't know what it all means. Neither does anyone else. (Well Putin & Co do, but they keep their cards close to their chests. As we've just seen.)

What do we know? Putin gave his annual address to the Federal Council ( Rus ) ( Eng ) and started off with how important it was that the birthrate should be raised. Fair enough: he wants more Russians on the planet, the government's programs have ensured that there will be quite a few more but there are still more to come. Many programs planned; some of which will work: after all, not everything works out as we hoped does it? He mentioned how dangerous the world is – especially the MENA – and said at least Russia is pretty secure (as indeed it is except against lunatics addicted to the Book of Revelation .)

Then the constitutional stuff. He believes the Constitution needs a few tweaks. Important officials should really be Russians and not people with a get-out-of-jail-card/alternate-loyalty-card in their vests. Reasonable enough: they should "inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances." (Good idea actually. Can we in the West steal the idea? We vote for X but who does he vote for?) Russian law should take precedence over decrees contaminated by the " Rules-Based International Order" (" we make the rules , you follow our orders "). The PM should be named by the Duma. (A pretty big change, actually: let's have more details on the division of labour please. In some countries the head of state is The Boss – USA, Russia (now), France – in others the head of government is The Boss – Germany, Canada, Denmark. There is a serious carve up of powers question here that has to be worked out in detail.) Constitutional changes should be approved in a referendum. The President either should or should not be bound by the no-three-terms-in-a-row-rule (I personally can't figure out what "этим" refers to in "Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим. Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим." But, no doubt we will soon learn.)

So, a somewhat less presidential republic. Details to be decided. Many details. But I'm confident that it's been worked out and we will learn. Putin & Co have shown us over 20 years that they don't make things up on the fly.

Then we learned that the entire government had resigned – but individuals to stay in place until replaced. Then we learned – a fast few hours indeed! – that Dmitri Medvedev was replaced by somebody that no one (other than Russian tax specialists) had ever heard of: Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin. ( Russian Wiki entry – none in English so far.) Those cheering Medvedev's dismissal (something predicted and hoped for by a sector of Russianologists) had to then swallow this: not tossed out into ignominy and shame, as they wanted, but something else. Putin says that there is a clear distinction between government and presidential concerns; defence and security are clearly in the latter. But Medvedev has always been closely following defence and security issues and it is suitable and appropriate that he continue to do so. So a new position, deputy heard of the security council, will be created for him. So what are we to make of this? Medvedev has been given the boot and a sinecure? Or he's been given a crucial job in the new carve-up of responsibilities?

After all, Russia's problems keep getting bigger but nobody is getting any younger. Especially the problems from outside. For some years Washington, an implacable enemy of Moscow, has been getting less and less predictable. Lavrov and Kerry spend hours locked up negotiating a deal in Syria ; within a week the US military attacks a Syrian Army unit; "by mistake" . Who's in charge? Now with the murder of Soleimani, possibly on a Washington-approved peace mission, Washington has moved to another level of lawlessness and is exploring the next depth as it defies Baghdad's order to get out. A pirate power. The outside problems for Moscow aren't getting smaller, are they? Washington is certainly недоговороспособны – it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up – is any foreign leader now to be assumed to be on Washington's murder list? Surviving its decay is a big job indeed. The problems are getting bigger in the Final Days of the Imperium Americanum.

So, maybe Moscow needs more people on the job.

So are we looking at a new division of labour in Moscow as part of managing the Transition? (To say nothing of the – what's the word? – Thucydides trap ? ). Mishustin looks after the nuts and bolt of Russia's economy and internal management. Medvedev looks after defence and security – something not likely to get smaller -- while Putin looks after the big picture?

But this is only the first step in The Transition and we will learn more soon.

NOTE 16 January. The Presidential website now has the actual words on the issue of defence and security:

There is a clear-cut presidential block of issues, and there is a Government block of issues, even though the President, of course, is responsible for everything, but the presidential block includes primarily matters of security, defence and the like.

Mr Medvedev has always been in charge of these matters. From the point of view of increasing our defence capability and security, I consider it possible and have asked him to deal with these matters in the future. I consider it possible and will, in the near future, introduce the position of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. As you are aware, the President is its Chairman.

patrickarmstrong.ca The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: Russia Vladimir Putin Print this article January 18, 2020 | Editor's Сhoice Patrick Armstrong on the Russian Reshuffle Patrick ARMSTRONG

(Written on the evening of. So subject to reconsideration/revision/outright denial as we learn more.)

I didn't expect any of it. Neither did anyone else, whatever the so-called experts outgassing on the US Garbage Media may be pretending. I don't know what it all means. Neither does anyone else. (Well Putin & Co do, but they keep their cards close to their chests. As we've just seen.)

What do we know? Putin gave his annual address to the Federal Council ( Rus ) ( Eng ) and started off with how important it was that the birthrate should be raised. Fair enough: he wants more Russians on the planet, the government's programs have ensured that there will be quite a few more but there are still more to come. Many programs planned; some of which will work: after all, not everything works out as we hoped does it? He mentioned how dangerous the world is – especially the MENA – and said at least Russia is pretty secure (as indeed it is except against lunatics addicted to the Book of Revelation .)

Then the constitutional stuff. He believes the Constitution needs a few tweaks. Important officials should really be Russians and not people with a get-out-of-jail-card/alternate-loyalty-card in their vests. Reasonable enough: they should "inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances." (Good idea actually. Can we in the West steal the idea? We vote for X but who does he vote for?) Russian law should take precedence over decrees contaminated by the " Rules-Based International Order" (" we make the rules , you follow our orders "). The PM should be named by the Duma. (A pretty big change, actually: let's have more details on the division of labour please. In some countries the head of state is The Boss – USA, Russia (now), France – in others the head of government is The Boss – Germany, Canada, Denmark. There is a serious carve up of powers question here that has to be worked out in detail.) Constitutional changes should be approved in a referendum. The President either should or should not be bound by the no-three-terms-in-a-row-rule (I personally can't figure out what "этим" refers to in "Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим. Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим." But, no doubt we will soon learn.)

So, a somewhat less presidential republic. Details to be decided. Many details. But I'm confident that it's been worked out and we will learn. Putin & Co have shown us over 20 years that they don't make things up on the fly.

Then we learned that the entire government had resigned – but individuals to stay in place until replaced. Then we learned – a fast few hours indeed! – that Dmitri Medvedev was replaced by somebody that no one (other than Russian tax specialists) had ever heard of: Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin. ( Russian Wiki entry – none in English so far.) Those cheering Medvedev's dismissal (something predicted and hoped for by a sector of Russianologists) had to then swallow this: not tossed out into ignominy and shame, as they wanted, but something else. Putin says that there is a clear distinction between government and presidential concerns; defence and security are clearly in the latter. But Medvedev has always been closely following defence and security issues and it is suitable and appropriate that he continue to do so. So a new position, deputy heard of the security council, will be created for him. So what are we to make of this? Medvedev has been given the boot and a sinecure? Or he's been given a crucial job in the new carve-up of responsibilities?

After all, Russia's problems keep getting bigger but nobody is getting any younger. Especially the problems from outside. For some years Washington, an implacable enemy of Moscow, has been getting less and less predictable. Lavrov and Kerry spend hours locked up negotiating a deal in Syria ; within a week the US military attacks a Syrian Army unit; "by mistake" . Who's in charge? Now with the murder of Soleimani, possibly on a Washington-approved peace mission, Washington has moved to another level of lawlessness and is exploring the next depth as it defies Baghdad's order to get out. A pirate power. The outside problems for Moscow aren't getting smaller, are they? Washington is certainly недоговороспособны – it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up – is any foreign leader now to be assumed to be on Washington's murder list? Surviving its decay is a big job indeed. The problems are getting bigger in the Final Days of the Imperium Americanum.

So, maybe Moscow needs more people on the job.

So are we looking at a new division of labour in Moscow as part of managing the Transition? (To say nothing of the – what's the word? – Thucydides trap ? ). Mishustin looks after the nuts and bolt of Russia's economy and internal management. Medvedev looks after defence and security – something not likely to get smaller -- while Putin looks after the big picture?

But this is only the first step in The Transition and we will learn more soon.

NOTE 16 January. The Presidential website now has the actual words on the issue of defence and security:

There is a clear-cut presidential block of issues, and there is a Government block of issues, even though the President, of course, is responsible for everything, but the presidential block includes primarily matters of security, defence and the like.

Mr Medvedev has always been in charge of these matters. From the point of view of increasing our defence capability and security, I consider it possible and have asked him to deal with these matters in the future. I consider it possible and will, in the near future, introduce the position of Deputy Chairman of the Security Council. As you are aware, the President is its Chairman.

patrickarmstrong.ca © 2010 - 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org . The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Also from EDITOR'S CHOICE EDITOR'S CHOICE Friedman's Hapless Fear-Mongering How the President Became a Drone Operator Cracks Appear in U.S.-China "Détente" Deal US to Iraq: 'Vote All You Want, We're Not Leaving!' #CNNIsTrash Trends As Pushback Grows Against Oligarchic Election Meddling Sign up for the Strategic Culture Foundation Newsletter Subscribe


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[Jan 18, 2020] Major Political Changes in Russia

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Major announcements in this State of the Nation speech on Jan 15, 2020.

Here is a very brief summary to get the conversation started.

Immediate politics :

who reduced uncollected VAT from 20% to 1%. Source tells me FM Sergey Lavrov rumored to be permanently retiring.

Constitutional changes :

Demographics :

continued fall in Russia's fertility rates to 1.5 children per woman this year (up from post-Soviet peak of close to 1.8 in mid-2000s), setting 1.7 children per woman as the new target for 2024. Reaffirmed demographics as the first national priority. Maternity capital to be increased by further 150,000 rubles and constitute 616,617 rubles (≈$10,000) for a family with two children, to be annually indexed.

***

Some very tentative thoughts :

(1) I have long thought now that Putin's end game is to transition into an overseeing "elder statesman" role, along the model of Lee Kuan Yew/PAP in Singapore [see 1 , 2 , 3 ]. This appears to be the final confirmation that this is happening.

(2) Questions about the succession revolved around (a) The Belarus variant, in which it effectively constitutes a new state with Russia, allowing Putin to become the supreme head of that state; (b) A constitutional reshuffle such as the one we're seeing here. This question has also been answered.


utu , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:16 pm GMT

" Putin's end game is to transition into an overseeing "elder statesman" role" – Not always does it work: King Lear, Benedict 16.

"Lear gave up a God-given duty and right to rule his people. His tragic flaw 'hamartia' is presumptuousness. He presumes that he can divest himself of what God invested him with (the Elizabethan idea of the divine rights of the ruler), he grows in tragic stature as the play progresses." – found on google.

AnonFromTN , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:28 pm GMT

Putin's end game is to transition into an overseeing "elder statesman" role

Looks more like he plans to become a powerful Prime Minister after 2024, rather than elder statesman. Might be good in the medium term: politicians of his caliber are rare. Still, in the longer term Russia needs a real successor: rule by committee never works, even in smaller and simpler countries.

Anatoly Karlin , says: Website January 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN I think (and it's already been said for years) that's he too tired for the role of PM, which is more intensive than the Presidency and involved dealing with boring domestic crap whereas the Presidency, at least, offers more in the way of Grand Strategy, diplomacy, etc.

I think the likeliest game plan is for him to chair a much more empowered State Council after 2024. (This is what Nazarbayev did with the Security Council after retiring last year).

Felix Keverich , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm GMT

Presidential candidates should have been resident in Russia for 25 years (previously 10 years) and never had a foreign citizenship. (This rules out a large proportion of Atlanticists and crypto-Atlanticists).

Does this imply, that they'll allow an actual election in 2024? I'm getting excited

Speaking of constitutional changes, they should just get rid of the entire Yeltsin's text, and write a new one. Yeltsin's constitution is a mishmash of French and American constitutions, completely detached from the country's realities and tradition.

So union with Belarus is still on the table right? But if that happens it would be Belarus joining a continuous RF, under the newly modified constitution?

My take on this is that Lukashenka told Putin to piss off, and he did. So no union.

JPM , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:44 pm GMT

Reaffirmed demographics as the first national priority.

How about not importing all of Central Asia, so that wages aren't depressed. Higher wages might boost that low TFR.

Maternity capital to be increased by further 150,000 rubles and constitute 616,617 rubles (≈$10,000) for a family with two children, to be annually indexed.

Will that will help subsidize the Chechens, Avars, Laks etc. the most relative to their population size because Russia is a "Multinational" state with equality for all of its "constituent" nations?

Speaking of which will Uzbek and Tajik guests be able to get in on that too? A future Russian Duma might need to grant more rights to them because Russia will need more workers to support its aging population. They speak Russian after all, and there is a shared history. So, they will integrate well into society. I feel like that is what a future Russian PM will be arguing a few years down the line.

AnonFromTN , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:46 pm GMT
@Boswald Bollocksworth s everything that is going to befall it.
Second, Lukashenko himself is a problem. He might be qualified to run a small agrobusiness, but certainly nothing greater than that. Yet his outsized ego (common among morons, think Bush Jr) won't let him fade away peacefully.
Third, Belarus is subsidized by Russia, and many Russian citizens believe that the money would be much better spent inside Russia or helping countries that deserve this aid, like Syria.
Maybe Putin thinks differently, but he does a lot to remain popular. So, after pension reform hit to his support I don't think he is going to do something most people disapprove of.
Anatoly Karlin , says: Website January 15, 2020 at 5:48 pm GMT
@JPM Fortunately, there's very little Central Asian breeding going on it Russia – the pattern is for them to make their money (5-10x what they can make at home) and raise families at home.

Chechens, Avars, etc. will benefit disproportionately, but the program is after all primarily intended as an incentive. Personally, I think a childlessness tax will be much more effective, since people react better to penalties than rewards – plus it will rake in a net profit – but I don't suppose its politically feasible in the modern age.

Thulean Friend , says: January 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm GMT
Seems like a good balance between a liberal direction – limiting any one president to two absolute terms while substantially increasing the say of the parliament – and some common sense requirements (like on citizenship).

Putting it to a referendum is also welcome. The will of the people should not only be heard but increased.

Putin bemoaned continued fall in Russia's fertility rates to 1.5 children per woman this year (up from post-Soviet peak of close to 1.8 in mid-2000s), setting 1.7 children per woman as the new target for 2024.
Reaffirmed demographics as the first national priority.
Maternity capital to be increased by further 150,000 rubles and constitute 616,617 rubles (≈$10,000) for a family with two children, to be annually indexed.

I doubt this will work.

The biggest problem for fertility all over the world is housing. As long as the housing sector is neoliberalised, it will be a major impediment. Affordable housing is per definition low-margin and hence not interesting to private developers. For them, a perpetual housing shortage pushes up the profit margin. All firms are constantly seeking to maximise profits, so their behaviour is rational from a purely market fundamentalist point of view. That's why market fundamentalism need to be overthrown. There has to be a massive building spree to lower the cost of housing to no more than 4-5 years of annual (net) wages for a median worker to buy without debt. That would be the real game changer. Import the churkas and get it done.

The second problem is ideology and religiosity. If you look at Israel, a major component of their high fertility is the massively increasing Haredi sector. Even outside the Haredis, they have a high share of genuinely religious jews. For the seculars, TFR is still a respectable 2.5, which is likely explained by nationalism. Whatever Russian nationalism is, it isn't very fecund. Russians aren't very religious either, though Putin seems to be. Church attendence in Russia is quite low. At this stage, I don't believe high fertility can be solved without going into artificial wombs and more exotic solutions. A cultural revolution doesn't seem to be on the cards.

(2) Questions about the succession revolved around (a) The Belarus variant, in which it effectively constitutes a new state with Russia, allowing Putin to become the supreme head of that state; (b) A constitutional reshuffle such as the one we're seeing here. This question has also been answered.

I still think Belarus will be swallowed by Russia within this decade.

[Jan 18, 2020] The new role of Russian Federation State Council in Putin plan

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Mitleser , says: January 15, 2020 at 6:13 pm GMT

@Aly so Chairman of the State Council.

The State Council includes the following members: the Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys to the federal districts, senior officials (heads of the highest executive agencies of state power) in Russia's federal constituent entities, and the heads of the political parties in the State Duma.

http://en.kremlin.ru/structure/state-council

[Jan 18, 2020] Mishustin is a genius at reforming bureaucracies with IT systems

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Philip Owen , says: January 15, 2020 at 6:28 pm GMT

Mishustin is a genius at reforming bureaucracies with IT systems. He is also an economist who thinks Russia should be less autarkic. He is in the Kudrin camp. For example, he is still scheduled to speak at the Gaidar forum. Shoigu seems to have fallen back. M is associated witht he Union of Right Forces.

There has been a huge Twitter storm of people/trolls posting this a Putin's effort to stay in power.

[Jan 18, 2020] More power to Parliament means Oligarchy control, like all western countries.

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

nickels , says: January 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm GMT

More power to Parliament means Oligarchy control, like all western countries.
Not good.
Maïkl Makfaïl , says: January 15, 2020 at 11:47 pm GMT
@nickels Exactly . Kudrin and his friends want parliament to have more power so that the russian people have less of it. They know they have 0 legitimacy , that the people hate them and that they would never survive at the top of the political elite if a real and intelligent nationalist comes to power in Russia one day ( Putin is a half-disapointment whose main merit is to have benefited from the work of Primakov ). They want the presidency to be paralysed . I hope they wont succeed and that there will always be a strong statesman on their way in Russia.
Thulean Friend , says: January 16, 2020 at 4:50 am GMT
@nickels control away from oligarchs, but that is more due to his own force of personality rather than the system itself.

In brief, whether a country will be beholden to oligarchs is less due to the governance structure and more about the general culture. Some countries have a very corrupt citizenry/culture and that will produce bad outcomes in most situations in the long run regardless of the political system. This can only be suspended temporarily by a very strong leader – but you only get them infrequently.

The only hope to reduce power of oligarchs when Putin leaves power is to attack corruption in society, at both high levels and ground levels.

nickels , says: January 16, 2020 at 3:17 pm GMT
@Thulean Friend 'The only institution ever devised by men for mastering the money powers in the state is the Monarchy.'
Napolean.

Belloc, for one, writes over and over on this theme.

Most European histories are Whig histories, and, hence, worthless on this topic. Which is not to discount your valid point about princes becoming indebted to jews. Aristocracy had this problem to a greater extent.

Daniel Chieh , says: January 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm GMT
@nickels advantage. Contrary to Thulean, I believe that universal rule of law actually weakens the state and its ability to control merchantile factions. Of course, casual acceptance of "rule of power" is a form of corruption and if it isn't limited to the strongman himself, results in wasteful factionalism.

However, this essential snubbing of the merchantile factions has the very obvious result of them working against the state, for "rule of law"(which benefits them), and of course, not helping their rivals in the warrior factions. In the long run, lack of access to liquidity can severely cripple governments that don't play well with potential creditors.

nickels , says: January 16, 2020 at 7:56 pm GMT
@Daniel Chieh

I believe that universal rule of law actually weakens the state and its ability to control merchantile factions.

Yes, I think this is the key factor. Government by committee is no government, which means the parasites will rise to take over.

Additionally, the western stupidity of tying everything to high flown abstractions, i.e. universal law and principles, is both idiotic and impossible. History demands the intervention of the intellect, i.e. the mind of the monarch or the autocrat.

Thulean Friend , says: January 16, 2020 at 8:06 pm GMT
@nickels e was not particularly involved in planning the conquest and the company self-financed much of the early stages of the conquest itself, ironically enough often from wealthy Indians who were given attractive financing options. The company innovated many things we take for granted today, such as the joint stock company. Of course, the British state did step in eventually but by that time much of the groundwork had already been set. Adjusted for inflation, the EIC was many times larger than either Google or Apple is today at its peak, closer to 4+ trillion USD.

Too much of history blindly focuses on kings and rulers while ignoring many non-state actors.

nickels , says: January 16, 2020 at 9:01 pm GMT
@Thulean Friend Sounds interesting, thx.
'Why War' by Frederic Clemson Howe had a similar theme about how the 'flag followed the dollar' in the lead up to WWI.
Philip Owen , says: January 17, 2020 at 12:11 am GMT
@Thulean Friend money from private trading as company employees were allowed to do. The less rich one commanded three regiments of cavalry at the 3rd siege of Seringapatam. He was elected Prize Officer and thus had an extra share.

They returned and with other East India men built a canal to a coal mine they opened on the hill above an iron works eventually connecting Clydach Gorge to the sea thus launching the industrial revolution in South Wales. So there are very direct links between profits from trade and the industrial revolution. They fed off each other. South Wales at one time produced most of the world's copper. This was in great demand in India for making brass.

[Jan 18, 2020] Today's Russia is a product of several factors

Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Today's Russia is a product of several factors:

[Jan 18, 2020] I mostly found Dimka to be that rarity in Russian politics a western-leaner with obvious admiration for western ways and the western lifestyle, but who genuinely loved Russia and wanted to do the best by it.

Jan 18, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman January 15, 2020 at 7:10 pm

"The evening network news shows described the change as a naked grab for power so typical of Putin."

Well, they would, because if he were a western leader that's what it would be; since they don't really understand anything about Russia and view it as an enemy which nonetheless governs itself more or less by western rules, they are consistently wrong. Never seems to teach them anything, though, and they're always leaning into their next opportunity to be wrong again.

I mostly found Dimka to be that rarity in Russian politics – a western-leaner with obvious admiration for western ways and the western lifestyle, but who genuinely loved Russia and wanted to do the best by it. He couldn't really hold the highest office because he was still too easily seduced by the west, which had only to frame something as a tremendous gift to Russia to have him eagerly grab at it, but I don't think any of his decisions were ever meant to hurt the country. Some suggest Putin kept him on to make him serve out a sentence in which western bait would be constantly dangled in front of him, but he didn't have enough power to snatch it, but I don't think so and his service was mostly commendable as long as he was not allowed to make any decisions involving the west himself. I don't know anything about the new guy beyond what others have posted here, but you can be sure he is already the focus of intense western interest.

The bottom line is that whatever they were hoping, Putin is not going to disappear from politics and the very next day, Washington finally gets its man in charge. The succession will be carefully managed to ensure there are no regime-change loopholes.

Mark Chapman January 15, 2020 at 8:07 pm
Yes, that's all true, which is why western regime-changers would be more likely to put their money on a politically-savvy oligarch like Prokhorov, who I am only using as an example. Such a person follows national politics closely and would be much more likely to know the insider information the western influencers would like to know, but do not.

Mind you, that kind of meddling was always a risk, including under the previous system. And it didn't work very well then. Then, though, Khodorkovsky did not seem to have Putin fooled for one second. It remains to be seen if that perspicacity will survive him.

[Jan 18, 2020] Putin is putting forward several changes:

Jan 18, 2020 | www.rt.com

Putin is putting forward several changes :

A two-term limit for Presidential candidates Barring dual citizens, or those born outside Russia, from running for President Increasing the powers of the Duma (Russian legislative body) Having the Prime Minister selected by the Duma, rather than the President Enshrining the Russian Security Council in the constitution That the Russian constitution takes precedence over International Law, especially where it might infringe the legal rights of Russian citizens

These changes are to be put to the Russian people in a referendum by the end of the year "if it all is solved quickly", according to Russia's Central Election Commission.

Immediately following these announcements, the entire Russian government resigned – including Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev – though he will be offered a new job, reports RT :

So, what happens next?

Why have Medvedev and his government resigned en masse? Will the proposed reforms pass a referendum? What is the overall aim behind these changes? Does Putin plan to stay on past 2024, or is he strengthening the role of PM with an eye to taking that job, as some western commentators seem to think? Who will be the next President of Russia? Rhys Jaggar Given the Russia-bashing by US warmongers the past 20 years, it's been a jolly good thing for Russians that they had a very strong President for 20 years. Otherwise, they would have been back in the 1990s with declining birth rates, mass poverty and bloodsucking foreign oligarchs nicking everything Russian in sight.

As for the future, you can read this one of two ways:

The first option is that Putin now genuinely believes that Russia as a state is ready for democracy, and thus he is seeking to weaken the Presidency and strengthen the Duma as a key plank in that.

The second option is that he thinks that he needs to stay on for quite a bit longer as long as lunatics are running the DC asylum, so he is making plans to be Prime Minister post 2024.

It could of course be that he thinks both will be true, just that democracy may only be strong enough to repel Western rapaciousness after he has been in power for another decade or so.

What can honestly be said about Putin is that he has acted in the interests of Russia, not Zionazi oligarchs.

And as he answers to the Russian people not to Western imperialists, that is precisely what he should have been doing.

OH but Boris Johnson, his predecessors and his successors could do the same for Britain . 13 -2 Reply Jan 16, 2020 6:29 PM Gall Gall I totally agree with your assessment Rhys. I've been reading RI, RT, Fort-Russ etc and contrary to the Western "Media's" sensationalism this transition of power seems to be fully supported by the Russian people.

What's hysterical is that once again CIA was left out of the loop but that's no surprise. Putin once again used the idiotic Russiaphobic morons to his advantage.

Too bad he was born in Russia and not the US because he'd make a great President.

"Putin for President" 🙂 4 -1 Reply Jan 16, 2020 9:26 PM Vierotchka Vierotchka Had Putin been born in the US, he would have made a great Presiden only for ten years, though, not enough time to do for the US what he has done for Russia. 0 0 Reply Jan 16, 2020 9:36 PM Gall Gall Actually 8 or 2 terms due to 22 Amendment ratified after Roosevelt won 4 terms. That said I think the Russian voters are more intelligent than the voters in the US who exist on a diet of MSM pap served up regularly rather than any thing substantive and live under the delusion that they have a "free press". You know 'cause the Constitution says so which aside from the Declaration of Independence has to be the most disingenuous document ever written in history. It took me decades to come to this conclusion.

Whereas the Russian's are pretty savvy having lived under Communism and know what a controlled media looks like up close and personally.

Unfortunately Tocqueville was right about the place and still is today. 2 -1 Reply Jan 16, 2020 11:36 PM Vierotchka Vierotchka Correction – 8 and not 19 years. 0 0 Reply Jan 17, 2020 1:32 AM Vierotchka Vierotchka Drat, that darned age-related macular degeneration
8 and not 10 years. 0 0 Reply Jan 17, 2020 1:33 AM wardropper wardropper Agreed, Rhys and Gall.
The pathetic thing about today's U.S. is that there are plenty of shrewd, perceptive, imaginative and morally decent Americans who would also make great Presidents, and they shouldn't have to look to Russia to find role models either.
But the simpleton-owned media routinely stop such people in their tracks. 0 0 Reply Jan 17, 2020 2:27 AM Berlin beerman Berlin beerman To me, it seems Mr. Putin is shifting strength internally to limit the power of the PM as evident with the appointing of Mr. Mishustin.

If I were running the show I would want to transfer more power to the General Security Council , place my confidant and trusted number two beside me ( Mr. Medvedev – as evident by creating the new post and appointing him to it ) and then steer the ship from that helm.

Mr. Putin is already the director of the RGSC and with the new changes proposed – he will keep that position at the end of his term.

Most Western reporters like the CBC's man in Russia will report blundering reports.

I predict the referendum will have the complete opposite outcome to the one Mr. Cameron tried.

This is a win win for the Russian people and the country unless Mr. Putin turns senseless and senile. 5 -1 Reply Jan 16, 2020 4:58 PM Dungroanin Dungroanin It all sounds pretty sensible.

Meanwhile over here WE are getting started on removing the Supreme Courts legal authority over 'political' issues.

So as many illegal prorogations as JRM & the Queen wants!

I think when the prewar german elections resulted in letting in a bunch of beerhall bullies their Parliament didn't last.

Our Weatherspoon parkbench bullies seem to be going the same way and as the ancient parliament crumbles it becomes likely that it may never be restored!

It seems our establishment has decided it wants Nandy as the safe Blairite leader of the Opposition – and are setting the ground incase another wronguns get in. 1 -1 Reply Jan 16, 2020 12:35 PM Dungroanin Dungroanin Ooh er upset someone eh? Get back to your park bench.

1. Dual Nationality – there is no record of how many dual (or more) nationals are in government in the US or the UK.

It is evident that having more than one master leads to treachery.

2. Russia, like China,are evolving governing systems don't forget they didn't exist 100 years ago – they appear to be dovetailing towards a system less subject to the vagaries of 'western democracies' – corporatists; aristocratic; pork-barrelled; lobbied; media manufactured; owned by bankers.

Given that the systems of both countries have delivered massive growth, elimination of poverty and greater benefits for its populations allowing free-markets, entrepreneurs and billionaires to emerge, whilst preserving their resources from the usual global robber barons – it is not surprising that they look to preserve this legacy beyond personal human age limits by institutionalising such oversight. Compare India with it's legacy system and mass poverty still.

Putin & co are looking at strengthening their nwo that will encompass two thirds of the worlds land mass and the majority of the planets Humans – many still unnecessarily in poverty and being robbed blind as they havd been for centuries by the cover of western 'democracies'. 4 0 Reply Jan 16, 2020 3:59 PM Seamus Padraig I'm sure Putin'll be PM again after his presidential term expires. He was already PM once, from 2008-2012. Personally, I find that reassuring. Putin is the greatest statesman alive–probably the greatest since Bismarck. Francis Lee Much talk of a 'demographic' crisis needs further analysis. Russia's population fell during the Yeltsin years but has stabilised at the present time. Fertility rate is 1.76 but needs to be at least 2.1 for population growth. But this is true of the whole of Europe, East and West and even a fortiori , Japan. The real demographic crisis, however, is taking place in the ex-Soviet republics and Eastern Europe ex-satellites, the figures from the Baltics and Ukraine are frankly disastrous and only marginally better in Romania and Bulgaria. Low birth rates, emigration, increased death rates, drugs and health problems are a real and present threat to the future of these states.

The substantive problem facing Russia is the ongoing struggle between the Atlantic integrationists and the Eurasian sovereignists represented respectively on the one hand by the oligarch in chief and ultra-liberal Alexei Kudrin, and, in the Red corner, Russia's answer to Michael Hudson, Sergei Glazyev. Putin himself balances precariously between these two factions. But this cannot go on. To quote W.B.Yeats 'Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.'

The type of long-term nation-building strategy – state capitalism from above – has been the proven route out of semi-peripheral status and which is imperative for Russia is, however, being thwarted by the existence of a cosmopolitan oligarch class whose interests run counter to any such strategy and, moreover, who are perfectly content take profits from extractive exports and then invest them back into the centre of the capitalist system, usually in the shape of paper assets like US Treasury Bills and/or property. Cronyism, corruption, incompetence are endemic characteristics of this powerful group and they are unfortunately firmly ensconced in positions of influence and power in Russia.

It would be reasonable to surmise that a political, parasitic system of Yeltsin-lite is now extant in Russia and that a domestic head of steam is, judging by its internal critics, building up in opposition. For every action there is a reaction. (Boris Kargalitsky) 7 -1 Reply richard le sarc Obviously I hope that the Baltics and Ukraine quickly enjoy a decent form of governance, but at present I fear that they are getting their just desserts for returning the spawn of WW2 fascists from emigre' communities in the West to power, and embracing neo-liberal capitalism and licking the boots of the Empire. Jen The case of Maria Butina, imprisoned for 18 months for supposedly being a foreign unregistered agent of Russia, and apparently subjected to full body searches during the five months she was in jail every time after she met with lawyers and Russian consular officials, comes to mind.

This and other cases where Russian citizens were detained and imprisoned without correct due process in the US and other nations, and denied consular access – the case of Sergei and Julia Skripal comes to mind – may have been the instigation for this proposal. 30 -2 Reply Jan 16, 2020 1:58 AM richard le sarc richard le sarc Sexual humiliation through forced nakedness and 'body searches' is a favourite tactic of the Israelis, to humiliate and terrorise the Palestinians. There it is used against civilians, even children, and, with added viciousness, like the smearing of 'menstrual blood' was gifted to the US as torture tactics in Abu Ghraib ec. And, can you believe it, it has traveled to Australia, where strip searches of young people going to music festivals, have become a frequent and preferred tactic of State police forces. Roberto Perhaps, or maybe undoubtedly, Mr Putin is familiar with the example of Sulla, who exercised power as dictator for 6 months as allowed under Roman Law, then relinquished the dictatorship, then served as Consul. The time frame differs, and Putin is a strong leader but no dictator; he did have an awful mess to clean up and restored Russia to self-reliant productive and stable growth and enterprise from the looted ruins that existed at the end of the '90s.

The stated aim of these changes is to restore more power to the Duma, which cannot be a bad thing. The resignation of the entire government allows the new Prime Minister to restructure the government. It may be that many of the preceding actors are restored in different ministries, or not.

[Jan 18, 2020] Curbs to Presidential power could be intended to preserve Russia from a West-backed President

Notable quotes:
"... The economic/social model in the neo-liberal West is one of outright parasitism driving ever increasing inequality and elite wealth, which is the expression in real life of the psychopathic elites' INTENSE hatred of others. For Russia to follow China in creating a society of utilitarian concern for ALL the population, of poverty reduction and of social solidarity between all levels of the population, increases the risk of what Chomsky called 'the good example' ..."
"... 'He might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch'. Surely a 'Yeltsin' must replace or join 'Quisling' in the popular lexicon as a title for a traitor, in future. ..."
Jan 18, 2020 | off-guardian.org

The US/NATO/EU bloc is eagerly awaiting the chance to replace Putin with a pro-Western neo-liberal. One who will increase national debt, implement austerity, privatise industry, gut the public sector, and open up Russia to the IMF just like has been done all over the Western world.

Search Jan 18, 2020 15 Russian Reforms: Is Putin planning for his successor? Curbs to Presidential power could be intended to preserve Russia from a West-backed President Kit Knightly Kit Knightly

Last week, after Putin put forward constitutional reforms that would "empower the legislative branch" and his entire government resigned, the Western press (and the West-backed "opposition" in Russia) went on at length about how Putin was preparing to "extend his power", to move to an office "without term limits", or something along those lines.

After years complaining about the amount of power the President of Russia has, the MSM decided that limiting those powers was ALSO bad (or perhaps, never even actually read the speech itself at all).

This isn't deliberate deception on their part, they are just trained animals after all. Criticising Putin is a Pavlovian response to the man saying, or doing absolutely anything.

There's no point in gain-saying it, or analysing it. It is dogs howling at the moon. Instinctive, base and – to a rational mind – entirely meaningless.

Forget what our press says. It is white noise. They have no insight and no interest in acquiring any.

However, even the alternative media are confused on this one. MoA is a good analyst, but he's not sure what's at play here .

.so what IS going on in Russia? Why the constitutional reforms?

Let's take a look at the headline proposals:

Limit the Presidency to a two-term maximum Empower the Duma to appoint the Prime Minister and cabinet, in place of the President Anyone running for President has to have lived in Russia for 25 years Dual-nationals are forbidden from holding public offices

Are these really steps designed centralize the power of the state in an individual? Do they logically support the argument "Putin wants to be in power for life"?

Given that list, I would say "no". I would say, quite the opposite.

The first two points limit the powers of the Presidency, whilst empowering the legislative branch. Why would Putin limit the powers of the President if he intends a third term?

Western "analysts" argue Putin plans to stay on as Prime Minister, but these rule changes don't empower the PM, they only empower the Duma to choose the PM.

If he were going to change the constitution to keep himself in power, why not just scrap term limits? Or increase the Presidental term length?

The third proposed change is interesting – "prevent dual nationals from holding public offices" – is this a way of limiting possible Western interference in Russian politics?

In the days of the Roman Empire, upon conquering a province the Romans would take children of members of the ruling class to back to Rome, to be fostered in Roman families and raised as Romans. Then, when they reached adulthood, the new Romanised Celts or Assyrians or Goths would be sent back to the land of their birth and rule as the province in Rome's name, serving Rome's interests.

The modern Rome, the United States, does exactly the same thing.

Juan Guaido is Venezuela's "acting President". He was educated at Georgetown University in Washington DC . Alexey Navalny is the "leader of the Russian opposition", he was a "world fellow" at Yale .

The US/NATO/EU bloc is eagerly awaiting the chance to replace Putin with a pro-Western neo-liberal. One who will increase national debt, implement austerity, privatise industry, gut the public sector, and open up Russia to the IMF just like has been done all over the Western world.

So: We have rules limiting the power of the office of President, and a rule clearly aimed at making it impossible for a US-backed puppet to be inserted into said office.

Here's where we get into some hardcore speculation:

I think, having done the hard work to fix many of Russia's societal and security-related problems, Putin is seeking to make systemic changes that prevent this work being undone.

I think Putin wants to go – or is at least considering it – and is trying to put rules in place to protect Russia from his possible successors.

To demonstrate my point, we should take a look at the other parts of Putin's speech – the parts no one in the Western press is interested in discussing.

In many ways, it was a speech you could have heard coming out of Jeremy Corbyn's mouth. Laying out a vision of Russia with improved healthcare, free (hot) school meals for all children, internet access for all Russian citizens. (You can read the whole thing here .)

If a British politician made this speech, it would be considered "radical". If an American had done so, they would be called a crazy socialist. But there's more to this than just socialist economic policies.

Here is Putin on pensions:

We have a law on this, but we should formalise this requirement in the Constitution along with the principles of decent pensions, which implies a regular adjustment of pensions according to inflation.

On minimum wage:

Therefore, I believe that the Constitution should include a provision that the minimum wage in Russia must not be below the subsistence minimum of the economically active people.

On local government:

the powers and practical opportunities of the local governments, a body of authority that is closest to the people, can and should be expanded and strengthened.

On the Judiciary:

The country's fundamental law should enshrine and protect the independence of judges, and their subordination only to the Constitution and federal law

On Russian sovereignty:

requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

On Constitutional law:

extending the powers of the Constitutional Court to evaluate not only laws, but also other regulatory legal acts adopted by various authorities at the federal and regional levels for compliance with the Constitution.

Is there a pattern here?

Enshrining economic reforms in the constitution Decentralizing the power for the federal government Legally protecting the independence of the courts Protecting Russian law from international bodies Reviewing future laws to make sure they don't breach the constitution

These could be interpreted as legal backstops. Safeguards on the progress Russia has made under Putin.

We've been over the numbers a lot. There's no need to repeat them. Suffice to say, under Putin Russian life expectancy, income, employment rate and birth rate are up. Violent crime, poverty, alcoholism and debt are down .

Under Yeltsin, Russia was a borderline failed state. Putin pulled them back from that brink.

Yeltsin's 1993 Constitutional Referendum drastically enhanced the powers of the President, he doesn't wield quite as supreme executive power as the office of POTUS, but it's comparable:

The referendum approved the new constitution, which significantly expanded the powers of the president, giving Yeltsin the right to appoint the members of the government, to dismiss the Prime Minister and, in some cases, to dissolve the Duma.

It could be argued Putin has used that power as it was intended – for the benefit of the Russian people. Perhaps he feels he cannot rely on anyone who comes after him to be as diligent.

By disempowering the role of President before he leaves office, he ensures that anyone who follows – be they a US-educated plant, a corrupt billionaire, or a hardline hawkish nationalist – can't undo all the good his administration has accomplished.

Whether or not Putin wants to be in "power for life" is an answer known only to the man himself, but there's nothing to suggest it in this speech, and none of the reforms put forward would appear to help in that regard at all. It looks more like a man securing his legacy.

Perhaps the question becomes not "does Putin want another term?", but rather does Putin even intend to serve all of this one?


Baron ,

(1) What he proposed isn't the final word, the proposals will be debated, (2) the danger of Navalny's getting in even with a strong push by the Americans, or their NGO poodles, is minimal, the greater risk is the communist and their fellow travellers gaining power, (3) the last twenty years have shown Putin may not be the ideal leader, but he's as close to an ideal as the Russians may ever hope to get, his remaining in a position of some power after his Presidency term expires should be a positive for Russia.

Putin infuriates the Western Governing Elites (GEs) because he totally contradicts their progressive, PC, woke agenda and, to make matters worse, his stance resonates with the Western unwashed. That's unforgivable for the GEs, but one hopes he'll continue doing so. Just as our Parliament functions best if the opposition has some muscle, so the world also needs a strong opposition to keep the GEs of the nation of the "exceptional people" in check.

Jen ,

The answer to KK's second question, that is, whether Putin intends to serve out his current term, is that any constitutional reforms such as what he proposed in his speech to the Federal Assembly need time to be discussed, analysed, put to referendum, approved and included in the Constitution. Also a succession plan needs to be in place by 2024 when Putin leaves the Presidency. By then we'll know if Mishustin or anyone else (Rogozhin? Glazyev?) might replace him as President....

richard le sarc ,

The economic/social model in the neo-liberal West is one of outright parasitism driving ever increasing inequality and elite wealth, which is the expression in real life of the psychopathic elites' INTENSE hatred of others. For Russia to follow China in creating a society of utilitarian concern for ALL the population, of poverty reduction and of social solidarity between all levels of the population, increases the risk of what Chomsky called 'the good example', like Cuba has been for sixty years as the rest of the Latin American continent, under US terror, descended into a charnel-house and mass immiseration. So 'Russia delenda est', and Putin is Hannibal, and, thankfully, the rotten cadaver called the 'Home of Free', in a fit of malignant self-delusion, ain't gonna produce no Scipios any time soon. They've been reduced to creating Pompeo Adiposus Minors.

Brianeg ,

...Watching a documentary about poverty and homelessness in America by Deutsche Welle, it is criminal what is going on in that country especially when it seems fit to up the military budget to $750 billion. Surely at some point civil war will come to that country to correct the gross imbalance.

Reading about the strange actions of the liquid magma going on deep underground, you almost wish that nature might intervene and deflect America away from its constant onslaught of war and interference in other countries politics.

RobG ,

Boris Yeltsin, (western installed) Russian President from 1991 to 1999, during which the former Soviet Union was totally plundered

https://www.youtube.com/embed/v9YnDirqwT4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

richard le sarc ,

'He might be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a-bitch'. Surely a 'Yeltsin' must replace or join 'Quisling' in the popular lexicon as a title for a traitor, in future.

[Jan 18, 2020] In a way the brainwashed Americans and neoliberal propagandists hatred of Russia is hilarious

Jan 18, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Wezz Gary Sellars a day ago

"Russiagate is a hoax" Where did I hear that before?

Oh yes, from Trump about 1000 times... strange that even though he said he was innocent he had to keep telling us every time he opened his mouth... it makes me suspicious for some reason. That and the fact that Trump has been caught lying a few times.

Antiphon Wezz a day ago
I usually assess the validity of such claims on something more substantial than OrangeManBad.
Aker Wezz a day ago • edited
Your hatred of Russia is hilarious. Doubly when Amerilards have a history of interference in other country's governments.

America is objectively a more violent country than Russia. It isn't Russia that has ridicously high violent crime scores despite its wealth. Invaded Afghanistan, attacked Iraq, provided aid for Islamists who'd go on to build ISIS.

I don't recall Putin's regime achieving a higher bodycount than America under Bush with Obama. Keep pretending Putin's some villain from childish stories like Harry Potter or Black Panther.

Aker Aker 20 hours ago • edited
https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

America's homicide level is Notably higher than West Europe's and Far Eastern lands like Japan. Russia's is only somewhat higher, and is notably less wealthy.

thelastindependentYankee Aker 6 hours ago
The Gulags were resorts I know.
Aker thelastindependentYankee 4 hours ago
Tell us when you plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay and end your dysfunctional prison system. Also, Murica supported enough regimes.
EliteCommInc. Wezz 21 hours ago
It would be interesting if had as much veracity as a hoax ---

but it lacks even that.

Aker Wezz 20 hours ago
https://www.washingtontimes...

https://www.nytimes.com/200...

Apologize for American interference in other countries' governments.

John Mann Wezz 12 hours ago
A stopped clock is right twice a day. Hey, Saddam Hussein turned out to be telling the truth about WMDs.
Aker Gary Sellars 20 hours ago
It's an attempt to assuage a failed presidential candidate and give a target to blame for how society is. If not Trump himself, then Russia.

[Jan 18, 2020] Putin plants to prohibit dual citizens to serve in government

Highly recommended!
Jan 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

Peripatetic Commenter , says: Show Comment January 17, 2020 at 9:43 pm GMT

I don't think it will be long before we see Congress in the US calling for invasion of Russia on the grounds of a lack of diversity, lack of respect for LGBTP and so forth.

[Jan 17, 2020] Russia fertility rate problem

Jan 17, 2020 | www.unz.com

Beckow says: January 15, 2020 at 7:12 pm GMT 200 Words @Anatoly Karlin All advanced countries need a no-children tax on free-loaders to survive. It is easy to implement and mostly fair (there are a few corner cases). It is not a penalty since it is a personal choice to be a parasite on the society and consume instead of raising children.

It can easily be implemented by including a number of children in retirement formula and in taxes. The no-kids parasites, the assorted barren women and gays, feminists and male scoundrels who abandon their families, would pay for the long-term support they get from the society – for the children that they will need to get pensions, medical care, etc Or we can just cut them off once they no longer work. No kids – no old-age benefits, unless you pay for them. This would be automatic in a normal society in the past.

Most modern people don't have children because they are lazy and because raising children is hard. It is a core role of any society to have families, so those who don't participate need to pay up.


Philip Owen , says: January 15, 2020 at 7:19 pm GMT

@Beckow The Soviet Union did have a tax on childless (or unmarried?) men for a while. It wasn't popular and didn't last.
Beckow , says: January 15, 2020 at 7:30 pm GMT
@Philip Owen opular with the parasites who have to pay, but all taxes are unpopular.

It is fundamentally the most fair way to handle generational issues – those who choose to be free-loaders, can't expect others' children to take care of them. This will happen regardless, all the pension obligations are imposed on people who never agreed to them, they will re-structure them in the future to benefit their own families.

In the West this is complicated by the diversity-migrant issue in the next generation – why should they pay for people who invited them for cheap labor? There is an assumption that they will pay, but why should they? This issue is coming.

AnonFromTN , says: January 15, 2020 at 8:08 pm GMT
@Philip Owen In Stalin's times that tax was imposed an all and gradually reduced with the number of children, so that only people who had three or more children did not pay "childless" tax. In Brezhnev's USSR that tax was on childless men and married childless women (on the assumption that marriage is male's choice, so a woman cannot be penalized when no one marries her).
inertial , says: January 15, 2020 at 8:23 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN Too many women whose potential husbands were killed in the war. Penalizing them with a tax on top of everything would've been heartless.
Abelard Lindsey , says: January 15, 2020 at 8:26 pm GMT
@Beckow The US already has this. One look at the IRS 1040 form and instructions will confirm this.
nonFromTN , says: January 15, 2020 at 8:30 pm GMT
@songbird Frankly, I don't know. I never lived in Stalin's times and never had enough siblings or three children. What I remember in the 1960s and 1970s, every school child in grade 1 (maybe 1 and 2) received a glass of free milk at school daily, and children from poorer families received free lunch (I never did).
Philip Owen , says: January 15, 2020 at 9:43 pm GMT
@AnonFromTN In the UK we had a small bottle, about a third of a pint, of free milk. The ones who needed it most never drank it. (My school was in a small town and contained all social classes). School meals were paid for by most but some had them free.

The Russian government has just introduced free school meals for all for certain years. I forget which.

[Jan 17, 2020] Putin plan will make US control of the positions of Russian President and Russian PM more difficult. It takes time, effort and money to build up a lobbying presence in a large parliament

Jan 17, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Jen January 15, 2020 at 7:55 pm

I should think that the transfer of powers from the Presidency to the position of Prime Minister, and the holders of executive power being chosen by holders of legislative power, will make US control of the positions of Russian President and Russian PM more difficult. It takes time, effort and money to build up a lobbying presence in a large parliament; for one thing, the West needs to know who are the most significant organizations and agencies in Russia to penetrate and infiltrate, and then influence. Then these people need to know which politicians and which parties in the Federal Assembly to target. A parliamentary system where the holders of executive power are not chosen directly by the public but by political peers is likely to be more resistant to foreign infiltration if only because there are more people to target. The Russian language and alphabet, and current political culture are also likely to be barriers to penetration.

It was much easier in the Yeltsin period when Yeltsin appropriated powers that should have belonged to the Federal Assembly, for the US to control the Presidency; Yeltsin was moving the country's political structure to a centralized one that to some extent the Americans could relate to, because then it began to resemble the structures they knew and had experience with.

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[Jan 16, 2020] After Putin: Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly

Jan 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Search Jan 15, 2020 14 TRANSCRIPT: Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly Editor Below is a full (translated) transcript of Vladimir Putin's speech to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday the 15th of January 2020. It is taken from the Kremlin's official website , and presented here for Western audiences who are curious to read it, but aren't likely to be bothered trawling the Kremlin's website looking for it.

Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, fellow Russians,

The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly is delivered at the very beginning of the year for the first time. We need to address large-scale social, economic and technological tasks facing the country more quickly and without delay.

Their content and guidelines are reflected in the national projects, whose implementation will require a new quality of state governance and work on the part of the Government and state bodies at all levels, as well as direct dialogue with citizens.

Our society is clearly calling for change. People want development, and they strive to move forward in their careers and knowledge, in achieving prosperity, and they are ready to assume responsibility for specific work. Quite often, they have better knowledge of what, how and when should be changed where they live and work, that is, in cities, districts, villages and all across the nation.

The pace of change must be expedited every year and produce tangible results in attaining worthy living standards that would be clearly perceived by the people. And, I repeat, they must be actively involved in this process.

Colleagues,

Russia's future and historical perspective depend on how many of us there are (I would like to start the main part of my Address with demography), how many children are born in Russian families in one, five or ten years, on these children's upbringing, on what kind of people they become and what they will do for the country, as well as on the values they choose as their mainstay in life.

There are nearly 147 million of us now. But we have entered a difficult, a very difficult demographic period. The measures we took starting in the mid-2000s have had a positive effect on demography. We have even reached a stage of natural increase. This is why we have more children at schools now.

However, new families are being created now by the small generation of the 1990s. And the birth rate is falling again. This is the main problem of the current demographic period in Russia.

The aggregate birth rate, which is the key index showing the number of births per woman, was only 1.5 in 2019, according to tentative estimates. Is this few or many? It is not enough for our country. It is approximately equal to the figure reported in many European countries. But it is not enough for Russia.

I can tell you by way of comparison that the figure was 1.3 in 1943, during the Great Patriotic War. It was only lower in the 1990s: 1.16 in 1999, lower even than during the Great Patriotic War. There were very few families with two children, and some couples had to put off starting a family.

I want to say once again that we are alarmed by the negative demographic forecasts. It is our historic duty to respond to this challenge. We must not only get out of this demographic trap but ensure a sustainable natural population growth by 2025. The aggregate birth rate must be 1.7 in 2024.

Demography is a sector where universal or parochial solutions cannot be effective. Each step we take and each new law or government programme we adopt must be scrutinised from the viewpoint of our top national priority – the preservation and increase of Russia's population.

As we build a long-term policy to support families, it must be based on specific life situations. We need to look closely at difficulties faced by new families, families with many children or single-parent families.

The most sensitive and crucial issue is the opportunity to enrol one's child in a day nursery. Earlier, we allocated funds from the federal budget to help the regions create 255,000 new places in day nurseries by the end of 2021. However, in 2018 to 2019, instead of 90,000, 78,000 new places were created, out of which only 37,500 places can actually be provided to kids. Other places are unavailable simply because an educational licence is still not obtained. This means that these nurseries are not ready to enrol children.

Governors, heads of other constituent entities, my dear colleagues, this is not how work is done. Come on! It means we have created 77,700 places that are still not fully available. Half of them cannot operate – and we must create 177,300 by 2021. I am asking you to do everything (although it will be very difficult now, however, it needs to be done) to close this gap. Once again, we must work across all areas of family support.

But there is a daunting challenge that directly threatens our demographic future and it is the low income of a significant part of our citizens and families.

According to various estimates, roughly 70 to 80 percent of low-income families are families with children. You are well aware of this. It often happens that even when not one but both parents work, the income of such a family is still very modest.

What decisions have already been made? From January 2020, families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per person will receive monthly benefits for their first and second child. Moreover, these benefits will be paid until the child reaches the age of three rather than 18 months as was the case before. The benefit amount will depend on the subsistence minimum in a specific region. The nationwide average is over 11,000 rubles per child per month. Once again, this is an average and depends on a specific region.

Additionally, with the support of the federal budget we have started paying benefits for the third child and subsequent children in 75 constituent entities, now including all regions in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

All of this amounts to substantial support. But the following thought has crossed my mind, and I believe that you also realise this. Parents stop receiving payments when their child turns three, and this means that their family can immediately face financial problems. To be honest, this is happening already. We must prevent this, especially since I realise that mothers often find it hard to combine working and caring for their children before they start school.

We know from the experience of our own children and grandchildren that they often fall ill. Their mothers are therefore unable to work. In this connection, I suggest we introduce monthly payments for children aged between three and seven starting already from January 1, 2020.

Who will be covered by this measure, and how is it supposed to function?

Families whose incomes do not exceed per-capita subsistence minimum will receive these payments. That is, it concerns families facing a very difficult situation.

To obtain these payments, they will only have to file an application and list their official legal incomes. I would like to note that this procedure must become as convenient and simple as possible, so that people would be able to apply without queuing and clearing hurdles. Or they should do this online on the relevant state website.

As I have already said, incomes may vary from region to region. First stage payments will amount to 5,500 rubles, or 50 percent of the subsistence minimum. But that is not all. We will have to analyse and assess the operation of this system. And we will take the next step, if we see that some families are unable to achieve the subsistence minimum while receiving 5,500 rubles. From 2021, we will pay the subsistence minimum in full, or over 11,000 rubles, that will vary from region to region. I repeat, the specific sums will vary, but on average it will amount to 11,000 rubles per child per month.

We will need substantial resources for implementing the proposed measure, and we will also have to adjust the federal budget. I ask the Government and members of the Parliament to do this as quickly as possible. The regions should also complete their share of regulatory work.

What else should we do equally quickly?

In my Address last year I said that we should expand the system of social contracts. It should become an individual programme whereby every low-income family will be able to increase their income and enhance their quality of life. Under these contracts, the state will make regular payments to such families, finance retraining and advanced training and help them to find employment or start a small business.

While providing comprehensive assistance to low-income people, society and the state have a right to expect them to take steps as well to deal with their problems, including finding employment and taking a responsible attitude to their children and other family members.

The regions are already introducing the mechanism of social contracts. But it is not sufficiently effective yet, and it is not helping much to fight poverty or to increase family incomes.

Therefore, first of all I would like to ask the Government to analyse the experience of the pilot projects and revise the principles of social contracts. Second, we must increase financial assistance to the regions so that all of them introduce this mechanism in 2021.

I would like all our colleagues, including the regional heads, to note that we will assess their performance not by the number of social contracts signed but by poverty decline figures.

Colleagues,

Back in 2006, I said the following in my Address to the Federal Assembly: "And now for the most important matter. Indeed, what I want to talk about is love." It was then that I proposed launching the maternity capital programme aimed at helping the families that decided to have their second child.

This programme will expire on December 31, 2021. I know than many people wonder what the state will do after that. We will extend this programme to December 31, 2026 at the least. We must do this without fail. But this measure only is no longer enough.

We must support young people who are starting their families and, I am sure, dreaming about having children. In this sense, I would like to introduce new, additional decisions concerning the maternity capital, which should also come into effect on January 1, 2020.

Even when the first child is born, the family will have the right to the full amount of the maternity capital, which is 466,617 rubles after the indexation in January 2020. This is the sum that was paid when the second or the next child was born. This support will give families a chance to prepare for the birth of their second child.

But I believe that this is still not enough in today's conditions, considering the demographic challenges Russia is facing. We can and must do even more. I suggest increasing the maternity capital by a further 150,000 rubles. Families will have the right to this additional money for the maternity capital when their second child is born.

This means that the total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will amount to 616,617 rubles. It will be indexed annually in the future.

At the same time I believe that if a family already has a child, we must provide the new, increased maternity capital when the second child is born, which is, as I have already said, 616,617 rubles.

Let me add that we have already made the decision that when the third child is born, the government pays 450,000 rubles towards the family's mortgage loan. This means that overall a family with three children will be able to invest over one million rubles to solve their housing problems with the help of the government. In many regions, cities, and even regional capitals this amounts to almost half of the cost of a house or a flat.

Let me also remind you that a reduced mortgage interest rate, six percent per year, for families with two or more children has been extended for the entire time of the loan, which resulted in the number of people using this support measure growing almost 10-fold at once.

A social programme for young families has been launched in the Far East: mortgage loans at 2 percent interest rate. I ask the banks, and not just the banks with state capital, to become more actively involved in its implementation.

And here is another highly important matter. I have already mentioned a new payment for children aged between three and seven. But this is not all that we can and must do. Yes, when children start attending school, their parents, especially mothers, get more opportunities to work and earn an additional income. However, families have to pay more in order to send their children to school, they face extra problems, and we have to support them at that stage. In this connection, I suggest providing free hot meals to all primary school students from grade one through four.

I will not conceal the fact that we have had heated discussions on this subject. On the whole, some colleagues do not object, but they say that it would not be very fair that people with decent incomes and low incomes should receive the same amount of support from the state. They are not saying this because they do not want to support the children. Indeed, this argument has its own logic. But there is another logic that prevails in our society: everyone must have equal opportunities, and children and their parents who are often demeaned by the current situation must not think that they are even unable to feed their children.

I believe that this is very important for our society. Yes, they tell me that these benefits were not available even during the Soviet period, when there was large-scale social support for the people. But there was no great social stratification at that time either. I believe that this measure will be justified.

In order to provide free hot and, most importantly, healthy meals, I suggest channelling funding from three sources: the federal, regional and local budgets. But money is not the only thing that matters. We need to create the required infrastructure at schools, set up cafeterias and lunchrooms and put in place a system for supplying high-quality food. I would like to note that this was not done even during Soviet times, as I have already said. This, of course, will require time. But free hot meals must be provided starting from September 1, 2020 in those regions and schools that have the required level of technical equipment. I ask our colleagues to expedite this work. Primary school students must start receiving high-quality hot meals free of charge in all regions from September 1, 2023.

So colleagues, here is the point I want to make, in short. I would like to emphasise – all the steps we are taking are aimed at creating a streamlined, large-scale and, most importantly, an effectively working family support programme, so that people's incomes, especially for those raising children, are high enough for a decent life.

Secondly, what I said at the beginning of the Address: the steps that we took in previous years in the field of demographic development have already brought results. They have yielded results back then: a large generation is growing up in Russia. I am referring to children who are in preschool and primary school now. It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country.

Colleagues,

Supporting families and family values ​​is always a forward-looking strategy addressing the generations that are to live in an age of tremendous technological and social changes, and something that will determine Russia's fate in the 21st century. So, to have these new generations participate in creating this future even now, to have them fully reveal their potential, we must create the necessary conditions for them, primarily for every child in every region of Russia to get a good education.

In the middle of the coming decade, Russia will have about 19 million schoolchildren, which is 6 million more than in 2010. Some say it is too difficult to influence objective demographic processes, so it is unadvisable to channel large resources for demographic development. However, in reality, we can see direct evidence of the opposite: family support policies are working, and sometimes their results even exceed our wildest expectations. It is great that there are so many children in our schools again. On the other hand, this situation should not affect the comfort and quality of their learning.

I ask the Government to coordinate with the regions, consider the demographic and other factors, estimate how many more children the schools need to serve, and make the necessary changes to the Education National Project. That will require flexible solutions: not only to build more schools, but also to efficiently use the entire educational and other infrastructure we have for these purposes, as well as the benefits of modern technology for education.

Almost all schools in Russia have internet access now. In 2021, they should no longer just be connected, but have high-speed internet access to fully embrace the digital transformation in national education; teachers and students should have access to advanced educational programmes; individual approach to teaching should be practiced to reveal each child's talents.

Our network of extracurricular technology and engineering centres is developing dynamically. Our children should also benefit from a modern environment for practicing music, art, and other forms of creativity.

Russia is allocating more than 8 billion rubles for equipment and musical instruments for children's art schools as part of the Culture National Project. But the problem is much wider. More than 1,000 art school premises are dilapidated and not fit for use as intended. I would like to ask the Government to help the regions improve them. And I ask the regional authorities not to forget that this is their responsibility.

Furthermore, a modern school implies forward-looking teaching staff enjoying high social status and prestige. By the middle of the next decade, the national professional advancement system should canvas at least half of the country's teachers, in the future including additional professional training, along with general education workers.

Class teachers are closest to their pupils. Their ongoing daily work including mentoring children and teaching them the right ways is a huge responsibility, and definitely requires special training and special support for these mentors. In this regard, I consider it necessary to introduce, from September 1, at least 5,000 rubles in additional payment to them financed from the federal budget.

There is a lot of controversy about this decision, because this is actually the responsibility of the regions. Those present in this room are well aware of this. But what is a class teacher? A mentor and supervisor, and those are federal functions.

But, of course, I would like to point this out: all current regional payments to class teachers should continue, colleagues; I am calling your attention to this. And I will definitely look at what will be happening in practice, in real life.

I pointed out more than once that the pay parameters for teachers, doctors and other public sector employees set out in the May 2012 Executive Orders must be strictly complied with. There is a reason why I keep returning to this subject. If we slacken control of this matter, this will create the temptation to neglect these provisions, as many of those present here know. This must not be allowed. I would like to emphasise that the issue concerns professionals working in the spheres of vital significance for society and the country, and they must receive good and fair pay for their work.

The number of school graduates will be increasing in the next few years. In light of this, we must ensure equal and fair access to free intramural university education. Therefore, I suggest that the number of university scholarships be increased every year. Moreover – what I am going to say next is very important, the priority in this matter must be given to regional universities, especially the regions that are lacking doctors, teachers and engineers.

Of course, we must not simply enrol more students but boost the development of regional universities with support from businesses and employers. In particular, we must strengthen their training, research and social infrastructure, as well as improve the system of training and advanced training of teachers for regional universities so that students receive up-to-date knowledge and can have successful careers in their regions.

The employment market is changing rapidly, with new professions appearing and higher requirements made to the existing ones. Our universities must be able to respond to these changes flexibly and quickly. I believe that third-year students must be offered an opportunity to choose a new path or curriculum, including related professions. This is not easy to do, but we must indeed do this. To ensure that talented and decent people play a major or leading role in our national development, we have launched the Russia – Land of Opportunity project. Over 3.5 million people have taken part in its competitions and Olympiads. We will continue to improve this system.

Colleagues,

Last year life expectancy in Russia exceeded 73 years for the first time, which is eight years longer than in 2000. This is the result of social and economic changes in Russia, the development of mass sports and promotion of healthy lifestyles. And, of course, the entire healthcare system made a significant contribution, especially the programmes of specialised, including high-tech aid, as well as maternity and childhood welfare and protection of health of mother and child.

The rate of infant mortality has reached a historic low. This indicator is even better than in some European countries. I am well aware that the public in many developed countries is very critical of the state of their national healthcare system, and you also know this. In fact, almost everywhere – no, everywhere – people criticise their healthcare system, however well organised it looks from here.

Still our achievements in this area show that if we set certain goals, we can achieve results. However, let me repeat this, people do not judge the healthcare system by figures and indicators. A person who has to travel dozens of kilometres to a polyclinic or spend a whole day waiting in line for an appointment with a specialist is not very interested in how life expectancy has grown on the average. People think about their lives, their health, about how to get high-quality and timely medical aid without obstacles and when they need it. This is why now we must focus our efforts on primary care, which all people and all families have to deal with. This is where we have the worst and most sensitive problems.

This year we are to fully complete the creation of a network of rural paramedic centres, as stipulated in the related national project. This does not mean, however, that all the problems of these rural paramedic centres have been settled. I would like to point out that the mission of these centres is not to make out prescriptions or refer patients to regional medical centres. Local specialists must be able to really help people by using modern equipment and high-speed internet. I would like to ask the Russian Popular Front to monitor the provision of equipment, construction and repair of rural paramedic centres.

On July 1 we will also launch a programme to modernise the system of primary healthcare. We will have to repair and provide new equipment to outpatient clinics, rural hospitals and first-aid stations in all our regions. We have allocated an additional 550 billion rubles for this purpose, more than 90 percent of which will come from the federal budget.

At the same time, I ask the regional authorities to find additional funds for providing housing to doctors and paramedics, in particular in villages, settlements and small towns, and to use all the available instruments towards this end, including employer-rented housing and private housing projects.

Training and recruitment are key elements of medical education. By 2024, all levels of healthcare, but first of all the primary healthcare level, must have the necessary number of specialists. In this connection, I suggest that the admission procedure to medical universities be changed significantly. For example, 70 percent of scholarships in the field of general medicine and 75 percent in paediatrics will be awarded to prospective students who will return to their native regions upon graduation. The quotas will be distributed based on requests filed by the regions, which must subsequently provide employment to the graduates who must be able to work where people need their services.

As for residency training, I suggest that almost 100 percent of scholarships be given to medical graduates in critically important spheres. Priority during enrolment will be given to those with practical experience in the field of primary healthcare, especially in rural areas. This system should be also stipulated for federal medical centres.

And lastly, just as we agreed, a new system of remuneration will be gradually introduced in healthcare starting this year. It is based on clear, fair and understandable rules, with a fixed share of salary in the overall income and a uniform list of compensation payments and commercial incentives for all regions.

I am aware that the implementation of all these goals requires extensive resources. If you go back to where I started, every goal needs a great deal of money. In this regard, I ask the Government to once again consider identifying priorities for our development while retaining the budget's stability. This is an advantage we have achieved in the past few years, and we must maintain it.

I know that last year a number of regions saw a disruption in medication supplies as the regions' purchases were not made, with certain officials treating it as if it were some sort of office supplies purchases claiming it was not a big deal and new tenders would be announced. But people were left without essential and vitally important medications. I should point out that such cases must never happen again.

This year, efforts will be made to launch an integrated comprehensive register of recipients of medications that are provided to citizens free of charge or with a considerable discount through a federal or regional subsidy to avoid any confusion in this regard in the future.

Also, certain legislative decisions have already been adopted that will allow for official and centralised imports of certain medications to Russia that are yet to receive regulatory approval. I ask the Government to promptly organise this work so that people, particularly the parents of sick children, do not find themselves in a desperate situation when they cannot legally find the necessary medications.

Control over pharmaceutical drugs will also significantly change. It will be tightened both at pharmaceutical companies and during all stages of medication circulation, including at pharmacy networks.

Colleagues,

In recent years, we have focused on strengthening macroeconomic sustainability, and it is something I just mentioned. The federal budget has had a surplus again. Our government reserves confidently cover our gross external debt. And here I am not talking about some abstract or theoretical indicators – I would like to emphasise that these figures are directly influencing the life of each and every person in our country, and have to do with the fulfilment of our social commitments. We can see the problems, even shocks that citizens of other states face, where government had no such cash cushion and their financial position turned out to be unstable.

The consistent work of the Government and the Bank of Russia has led to a stabilisation of prices. Last year, inflation stood at 3 percent, which is below the target level of 4 percent. True, the prices of certain goods and services have risen slightly, but overall, I repeat, inflation is at a predictably low level. The situation fundamentally differs from what it was five or ten years ago, when double-digit inflation was a tax on all citizens of the country, being an especially hard burden for those on a fixed salary or pension – retired people and workers in the public sector.

Now, relying on a stable macroeconomic foundation, we need to create conditions for a substantial increase in people's real incomes. Again, this is the most important responsibility of the Government and the Central Bank. To meet it, the national economy needs structural changes and higher efficiency. In 2021, Russia's GDP growth rates should be higher than the global ones.

To have this kind of dynamics, it is necessary to launch a new investment cycle, to seriously increase investment in the creation and upgrading of jobs, in infrastructure, in the development of industry, agriculture and the services sector. Starting this year, annual investment growth should be at least 5 percent, and investment share in the country's GDP, 25 percent by 2024 from the current 21 percent.

What needs to be done to encourage investment?

First of all, we agreed not to change the tax treatment for businesses over a period of the next six years and thus provide a wider horizon for investment planning. The deputies and the Government should speed up the adoption of a package of draft laws on protecting and promoting investment. As you are well aware, tax treatment for major important projects should remain unchanged for up to 20 years, and the requirements and standards for building production sites should remain the same for three years. These investor guarantees should become standard law.

Of course, in addition to major projects, small- and medium-sized businesses' initiatives should be supported as well. Today, the regions are entitled to provide an investment-based tax deduction and a three-year revenue tax break, but they rarely use them. It is clear why: they do so because regional budgets thus lose revenue. In this regard, we would like federal funds to compensate the regions for two-thirds of the lost revenue stemming from the use of an investment-related tax deduction.

Second, the reform of the oversight and supervisory activities must be completed in 2020, and businesses should thus see improvements in their operating environment.

Third, I have already submitted to the State Duma the amendments to remove vague criminal law provisions in part related to so-called frauds. Thus, entrepreneurs have repeatedly mentioned Article 210 of the Criminal Code, under which any company whose senior executives violated the law could qualify as an organised criminal group, meaning that almost all of its employees were liable. Tougher restrictive measures and punishment were put in place. Law enforcement agencies will henceforth be required to prove that an organisation or a company was initially deliberately created with an illegal purpose in mind.

Fourth. It is estimated that as soon as this summer the foreign currency reserves of the National Welfare Fund will pass the mark of 7 percent of GDP. We have accumulated these reserves to guarantee our stability and security, which means we can invest our additional revenue in development and the national economy.

Cost-effective projects that remove infrastructure restrictions for our territories must become our priority. This includes bypass roads for big cities, arterial roads between regional capitals and exit roads to federal motorways. These projects will inevitably bring about the growth of small businesses, tourism and social activity in the regions and locally.

Fifth. For investment to grow steadily, our economy needs long-term money. We all know this very well. This is a direct responsibility of the Central Bank. I appreciate its consistent course for making loans for the real sector of economy more accessible.

Of course, businesses, companies (especially large ones) must remember about their social and environmental responsibility. I would like to thank our parliament members for demonstrating integrity during their work on the emission quota law.

Obviously, it is necessary to act upon our plans faster. Our next steps include testing and implementing the air quality monitoring system and subsequently expanding this control system to cover the entire country. It is necessary to monitor not only the condition of air but also water and soil – that is, to develop a comprehensive environmental monitoring system.

Next. By the end of this year, at least 80 out of the 300 largest industrial facilities must complete the transition to best available technology and obtain complex environmental permits, which means a consistent reduction of hazardous emissions. Sixteen permits have been issued as of now but overall this work is on schedule. No matter what, we must not allow any disruptions here. It is necessary to drastically cut the amount of waste ending up in landfills, implement waste sorting and generally move towards the circular economy. By 2021, we must already launch the mechanism of extended producer responsibility when producers and importers of goods and packaging are responsible for recycling costs. To put it simply, contaminators must pay.

Colleagues,

I would like to stress that Russia is ready to support Russian and foreign scientists' joint research on ecology, climate change, environmental and ocean pollution. These are global development challenges shared by everyone.

Today the speed of technological change in the world is increasing manifold, and we must create our own technologies and standards in areas that define our future, such as, first of all, artificial intelligence, genetics, new materials, energy sources and digital technology. I am confident that we can reach a breakthrough here, as we did in defence. I will speak about this later.

In order to solve difficult technological tasks, we will continue to develop research infrastructure, including megascience-class facilities. I am sure that an opportunity to work with unique equipment and tackle the most ambitious tasks will encourage talented young people to work in science. This is already happening. According to estimates, by the middle of the decade every second scientist in Russia will be under 40.

We should give researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs the freedom they need to do their work and to conduct innovative scientific research. I ask the Government and State Duma deputies to fast-track the discussion of the technological legislative package. This year we must launch a flexible mechanism of experimental legal modes to design and introduce new technologies in Russia and establish up-to-date regulation of the big data turnover.

Next, we should establish a mechanism of social support for direct and venture finance tools based on the best global practices. The technological entrepreneur should have the right to take a risk, so that failing to implement an idea will not automatically mean inappropriate use of funds and a possible criminal prosecution. I mean that we should establish such legal and financial conditions that as many start-ups and pioneer teams as possible could become strong and successful innovative companies.

We need to support the export of high-tech products and, of course, to boost domestic demand for innovative products. In this context, I believe it would be right to fast-track the digital transformation of the real economy. A requirement should be set that national projects are largely carried out using domestic software.

We have already put in place, say, major digital television infrastructure, which, in terms of its technical characteristics, is one of the most advanced in the world. Currently, the digital television coverage in Russia is more expanded than, for example, in France, Austria or Switzerland.

The internet has become a must-have for people today. Russia is one of few countries in the world which has its own social networks, messengers, e-mail and search engines and other national resources.

Given all the things I've just mentioned, I suggest that the Affordable Internet project be developed and carried out and that free access to socially important domestic internet services be available across Russia. I repeat that in this case people will not have to pay for the internet service, for internet traffic.

Colleagues,

The high availability of the internet should become Russia's and our citizens' competitive advantage and create, across the board, an environment conducive to education, creative work, communications and the implementation of social and cultural projects. Of course, this means new opportunities for people to get involved in the life of the country. We appreciate every creative initiative of our citizens, public associations, non-profit organisations, as well as their willingness to contribute to national development.

It is very important that the volunteer movement is becoming more popular, and it unites schoolchildren, university students, and people of different generations and ages. The Victory Volunteers project embodies the tradition of mutual assistance and respect for older generations and our history.

This year, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. For Russia, May 9 is the greatest and sacred holiday. We are proud of the generation of victors and honour their feat, and our memory is not only a tribute to our heroic past, but it also serves our future, inspires us and strengthens our unity.

It is our duty to defend the truth about the Victory; otherwise what shall we say to our children if a lie, like a disease, spreads all over the world? We must set facts against outrageous lies and attempts to distort history. Russia will create the largest and most complete set of archival documents, film and photo materials on the Second World War, accessible both for our citizens and for the whole world. This work is our duty as a winning country and our responsibility to the future generations.

Colleagues,

We can see how unpredictably, uncontrollably events are developing in the world, what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa literally in recent weeks and recent days, how regional conflicts can rapidly grow into threats to the entire international community.

I am convinced that it is high time for a serious and direct discussion about the basic principles of a stable world order and the most acute problems that humanity is facing. It is necessary to show political will, wisdom and courage. The time demands an awareness of our shared responsibility and real actions.

The founding countries of the United Nations should set an example. It is the five nuclear powers that bear a special responsibility for the conservation and sustainable development of humankind. These five nations should first of all start with measures to remove the prerequisites for a global war and develop updated approaches to ensuring stability on the planet that would fully take into account the political, economic and military aspects of modern international relations.

Russia is ready to enhance cooperation with all interested parties. We are not threatening anyone or seeking to impose our will on anyone. At the same time, I can assure everyone that our efforts to strengthen national security were made in a timely manner and in sufficient volume. For the first time ever – I want to emphasise this – for the first time in the history of nuclear missile weapons, including the Soviet period and modern times, we are not catching up with anyone, but, on the contrary, other leading states have yet to create the weapons that Russia already possesses.

The country's defence capability is ensured for decades to come, but we cannot rest on our laurels and do nothing. We must keep moving forward, carefully observing and analysing the developments in this area across the world, and create next-generation combat systems and complexes. This is what we are doing today.

Reliable security creates the basis for Russia's progressive and peaceful development and allows us to do much more to overcome the most pressing internal challenges, to focus on the economic and social growth of all our regions in the interest of the people, because Russia's greatness is inseparable from dignified life of its every citizen. I see this harmony of a strong power and well-being of the people as a foundation of our future.

Colleagues,

We can move towards this goal only with the active participation of society, our citizens and, of course, intense and productive work of all branches and levels of government, the potential of which should be expanded.

In this regard, I would like to spend a moment discussing state structure and domestic policy, which are defined by the Fundamental Law of our country – the Constitution of the Russian Federation. I keep getting these questions all the time, including at the most recent annual news conference.

Clearly, we cannot but agree with those who say that the Constitution was adopted over 25 years ago amidst a severe internal political crisis and the state of affairs has completely overturned since then. Thank goodness, there is no more armed confrontation in the capital or a hotbed of international terrorism in the North Caucasus.

Despite a number of acute unsolved problems that we talked about today, the socioeconomic situation has stabilised, after all. Today some political public associations are raising the issue of adopting a new Constitution.

I want to answer straight off: I believe there is no need for this. Potential of the 1993 Constitution is far from being exhausted and I hope that pillars of our constitutional system, rights and freedoms will remain the foundation of strong values for the Russian society for decades to come.

In the meantime, statements regarding changes to the Constitution have already been made. And I find it possible to express my view and propose a number of constitutional amendments for discussion, amendments that, in my opinion, are reasonable and important for the further development of Russia as a rule-of-law welfare state where citizens' freedoms and rights, human dignity and wellbeing constitute the highest value.

Firstly, Russia can be and can remain Russia only as a sovereign state. Our nation's sovereignty must be unconditional. We have done a great deal to achieve this. We restored our state's unity. We have overcome the situation when certain powers in the government were essentially usurped by oligarch clans. Russia has returned to international politics as a country whose opinion cannot be ignored.

We created powerful reserves, which multiplies our country's stability and capability to protect its citizens' social rights and the national economy from any attempts of foreign pressure.

I truly believe that it is time to introduce certain changes to our country's main law, changes that will directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal framework.

What does it mean? It means literally the following: requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

Second, I suggest formalising at the constitutional level the obligatory requirements for those who hold positions of critical significance for national security and sovereignty. More precisely, the heads of the constituent entities, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, the prime minister and his/her deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal agencies and judges should have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state.

The goal and mission of state service is to serve the people, and those who enter this path must know that by doing this they inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances.

Requirements must be even stricter for presidential candidates. I suggest formalising a requirement under which presidential candidates must have had permanent residence in Russia for at least 25 years and no foreign citizenship or residence permit and not only during the election campaign but at any time before it too.

I know that people are discussing the constitutional provision under which one person cannot hold the post of the President of the Russian Federation for two successive terms. I do not regard this as a matter of principle, but I nevertheless support and share this view.

I have already said before that our goal is to ensure high living standards and equal opportunities for all throughout the country. It is towards this goal that our national projects and development plans are aimed.

At the same time, you know about the problems to do with education, healthcare and other fields created by a divide between the federal and municipal authorities – I have pointed this out more than once. This divide and, at the same time, the complex system of powers are having a negative effect above all on the people.

The rights, opportunities and guarantees, that are legally equal for all citizens, are not provided equally in different regions and municipalities. This is unfair to people and is directly threatening our society and national integrity.

I believe that the Constitution must seal the principles of a unified system of public authority and effective interaction between the federal and municipal authorities. At the same time, the powers and practical opportunities of the local governments, a body of authority that is closest to the people, can and should be expanded and strengthened.

And lastly, the state must honour its social responsibility under any conditions throughout the country. Therefore, I believe that the Constitution should include a provision that the minimum wage in Russia must not be below the subsistence minimum of the economically active people. We have a law on this, but we should formalise this requirement in the Constitution along with the principles of decent pensions, which implies a regular adjustment of pensions according to inflation.

Fourth, Russia is a huge country, and every region has its specifics, problems and experience. Of course, this must be taken into account. I believe it is necessary to cardinally increase the role of governors in decision-making at the federal level. As you know, back in 2000 the State Council was restored at my initiative, where the heads of all regions participate. Over the past period the State Council has proven its high effectiveness; its working groups provide for the professional, comprehensive and qualified examination of issues that are most important for people and Russia. I believe it would be appropriate to fix the status and role of the State Council in the Russian Constitution.

Fifth, Russian society is becoming more mature, responsible and demanding. Despite the differences in the ways to address their tasks, the main political forces speak from the position of patriotism and reflect the interests of their followers and voters.

At the same time, almost all the parties represented in the State Duma – and you know that I have regular meetings with their leaders – believe that the Federal Assembly is ready to take more responsibility for forming the Government. (Applause.) I expected this round of applause, but I think you will have another opportunity for applause now; please listen until the end.

More responsibility for forming the Government means more responsibility for the Government's policy. I completely agree with this position.

What is the situation like now? In accordance with articles 111 and 112 of the Russian Constitution, the President only receives the consent of the State Duma to appoint the Prime Minister, and then appoints the head of the Cabinet, his deputies and all the ministers. I suggest changing the procedure and allowing the State Duma to appoint the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, and then all deputy prime ministers and federal ministers at the Prime Minister's recommendation. At the same time the President will have to appoint them, so he will have no right to turn down the candidates approved by the Parliament. (Applause.)

All of this means drastic changes to the political system. However, let me repeat, considering the maturity of our main political organisations and parties as well as the reputation of civil society, I believe these proposals are justified. This will increase the role and importance of the State Duma and parliamentary parties as well as the independence and responsibility of the Prime Minister and other Cabinet members and make cooperation between the representative and executive branches of government more effective and substantive.

Colleagues,

I would like to emphasise that our country, with its vast territory, complex federal and administrative division and diverse cultural and historical traditions, cannot properly advance and even exist sustainably as a parliamentary republic.

Russia must remain a strong presidential republic. The president must undoubtedly retain the right to determine the Government's tasks and priorities, as well as the right to dismiss the prime minister, his deputies and federal ministers in case of improper execution of duties or due to loss of trust. The president also exercises direct command over the Armed Forces and the entire law enforcement system. In this regard, I believe another step is necessary to provide a greater balance between the branches of power.

In this connection, point six: I propose that the president should appoint heads of all security agencies following consultations with the Federation Council. I believe this approach will make the work of security and law enforcement agencies more transparent and accountable to citizens.

The principle of appointment following consultations can be applied to regional prosecutors as well. Currently they are appointed in coordination with regional legislative assemblies. Colleagues, this may lead to certain, including informal, obligations towards local authorities and ultimately to the risk of losing objectivity and impartiality.

As to the territories' position regarding a prosecutor candidacy in the constituent entities of the Federation, it can be considered during consultations in the Federation Council, which is in fact the chamber of the regions. We cannot have different local legislative systems in different regions; the prosecutor is a supreme authority who exercises control over the execution of laws irrespectively of any regional circumstances.

I am confident that a greater independence of prosecution agencies from local authorities would be beneficial for citizens regardless of the region. Colleagues, let us always be governed by the interests of our people.

And my seventh and final point: the judicial system – the Constitutional and Supreme courts – plays a key role in ensuring legality and citizens' rights. I would like to emphasise, along with judges' professionalism, their credibility should be unconditional as well. Being fair and having a moral right to make decisions that affect people's lives have always been considered of paramount importance in Russia. The country's fundamental law should enshrine and protect the independence of judges, and their subordination only to the Constitution and federal law.

At the same time, I consider it necessary to stipulate in the Constitution the Federation Council's authority to dismiss, on the proposal from the President, Constitutional and Supreme Court judges in the event of misconduct that defames a judge's honour and dignity, as well as in other cases provided for by federal constitutional law, that make it impossible for a person to maintain the status of a judge. This proposal is derived from the established practice. This is something Russia definitely needs today.

Furthermore, to improve the quality of domestic legislation, to reliably protect citizens' interests, I propose strengthening the role of the Constitutional Court, namely: to verify, at the President's request, the constitutionality of draft laws adopted by the Federal Assembly before they are signed by the head of state. We might also think about extending the powers of the Constitutional Court to evaluate not only laws, but also other regulatory legal acts adopted by various authorities at the federal and regional levels for compliance with the Constitution.

Colleagues,

Again, the proposals made today, by no means limit the discussion around possible amendments to the Constitution. I am sure that public associations, parties, regions, the legal community, and Russian citizens will express their ideas. The broadest public discussion is needed. But, opening this discussion, I would like to give it a start in a certain direction, or at least to show what challenges we are facing.

Please, do not forget what happened to our country after 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we still had the same ambitions and of course have preserved the colossal potential – the human, intellectual, resource, territorial, cultural and historical potential, and so on. But there were also threats, dangers of a magnitude no one could have imagined ever before. And that was a pity, as they should have thought about it in due time.

Therefore in our further state building efforts, we are facing seemingly contradictory tasks that serve as a guideline for values and may appear incompatible at first sight. What am I referring to? We must create a solid, reliable and invulnerable system that will be absolutely stable in terms of the external contour and will securely guarantee Russia's independence and sovereignty. At the same time, this system must be organic, flexible and capable of changing quickly in line with what is happening around us, and most importantly, in response to the development of Russian society. This system must ensure the rotation of those who are in power or occupy high positions in other areas. This renewal is indispensable for the progressive evolution of society and stable development that may not be infallible but ensures that the most important thing – Russia's interests ­– remains immutable.

What else do I consider important and would like to emphasise? The amendments that we will discuss do not concern the foundations of the Constitution and, hence, can be approved by Parliament in line with the existing procedure and law through the adoption of relevant constitutional laws.

At the same time, considering that the proposed amendments concern substantial changes in the political system and the work of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, I believe it necessary to hold a vote of Russian citizens on the entire package of the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The final decision must be made only on the basis of its results.

The opinion of people, our citizens as the bearers of sovereignty and the main source of power must be decisive. In the final analysis everything is decided by the people, both today and in the future. I am referring to both the choice of national development strategy and daily issues in each region, city or village. We will be able to build a strong, prosperous and modern Russia only on the basis of unconditional respect for the opinions of the people, the opinions of the nation.

The current year of 2020 is a landmark in many respects. It is a transition to the third decade of the 21st century. Russia is faced with breakthrough historical tasks and everyone's contribution is important for resolving them. Working together we are bound to change our lives for the better. I often mention the word "together" because Russia means all of us. I am referring not to the people present in this hall or rather not only to the people present in this hall but all citizens of this country because I believe that success is determined by our will for creation and development, for the implementation of the most ambitious plans, our labour for the sake of our families and loved ones, our children and their future, and hence, for the sake of Russia's greatness and the dignity of its citizens.

Thank you for your attention.

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Stephen Morrell ,

Putin clearly is the most informed and visionary bourgeois politician in the world today, by a country mile. He not only is attempting to address the very real real social, demographic and economic needs of Russia, in his usual comprehensive manner, but also and cannily is co-opting many of the expectations that the USSR used to fulfil, attempting to neutralise any socialist political sentiments in the Russian population. Putin is the Bismarck of Russia.

richard le sarc ,

Russia's economic situation, within the global capitalist system, with its large reserves, much in gold, no exposure to the toilet paper of US Treasuries, and substantial local self-sufficiency in agriculture (thank-you sanctions)means that when the Western debt Ponzi Himalaya implodes, the Russians will be pretty much immune to the consequences.

BigB ,

Fantastic set of propositions: of which there is nothing comparable – that I know of – in the West.

The problem is that I strongly suspect that no one can see the problem?

Our minds have become so dematerialised, idealised, and ecologically sanitised that I doubt anyone will agree? There are two things we cannot do going forward in the 21st century – exponentially grow the economy and/or exponentially grow the population. We have to degrow both – as compassionately and quickly as possible. We have too many people to sustain with depleting fossil fuels. We could sustain them agroecologically without: but we are not doing that. They may not be in the right places: but if Russia and China both try to correct demographic problems by increasing population the knock on effect is poverty and misery elsewhere.

As for material throughput: Russia's is quite large. In fact, they are the fourth primary energy consumer on the planet. With a pathetic renewables penetration of 3.6% of which only 1% is wind and solar. So good luck with decarbonisation and emissions targets. Which means only one thing: increased GDP is a function of increased hydrocarbon extraction and pollution. Russia faces another problem: its barely cured Dutch Disease a still high correlation of GDP to fossil fuel trading. An exogenous shock to the energy market will hit Russia badly as it did in 2008. They have diversified since then, only not enough.

With other countries set to decarbonise (barely disguised laughter) the overall market for fossil fuels will theoretically decrease which will hit the producers badly. And then there is the depression of global markets and the already extant oil glut. Good plan and beautiful state socialist sentiment only, has anyone got a spare planet?

Increasing hydrocarbon consumption plus all the other material resources allied to an industrial high-speed capitalist economy is another fossil relict. That is, if the ecological rationale is to survive. Growth is not an option. And population growth is irresponsible. What seems like a good state socialist plan falls apart ecologically. Of course, Russia is not isolated – the entire developed world wants to develop more 'sustainably'. Which is a form of insanity from a planetary perspective which too few have.

Consider, all those socialised benefits are equally viable if delinked from exponential GDP growth and thus delinked from exponential fossil fuel consumption. The best parts of socialisation are essentially free including the fucking for Mother Russia! Degrowth, decentralisation, decarbonisation do not mean less socialisation. They are totally dependent on holistic socialisation and cooperative social relations. Which are potentially permanent and truly sustainable with a just transition away from capitalism.

Why grow when it makes you vulnerable to exogenous market shocks? Russia has the resources to be quasi-self-sufficient internal to its own borders. There is no need to trade fossil fuels and prospect for more. We have too much carbon as it is: of which most should remain in the ground as 'unburnable carbon'. And there is definitely no need to make deals with despots and dictators like el-Sisi, Kagame, Museveni – who have murdered conservatively 12 million souls for corporate profit. Who now get their arms from Russia and their troops trained for free. And I could add Netanyahu and Erdogan, despots and murderers in their own right.

It has to start somewhere. Some group of people have to break ecological extinction's stranglehold and demand less. To transition monetised social relations to actual real social relations – independent of exponential fossil fuel extractivism, exponential market expansion, exponential GDP expansion, exponential population expansion (when the correct demographic is reached: will the population debreed?). It's a progressive plan: for the wrong planet at the wrong time.

But we will continue to grow – not degrow – both global economies and populations (with regional variations). Until we can't. When all those contingent and precarious market state socialisms will disappear. When we may live to rue the day we made our plans for social integration market and fossil fuel contingencies. We could have had it all if we were more savvy. If only everyone could see how.

Hugh O'Neill ,

Whilst I understand the gist of your argument (and you could not make it any more understandable, so please don't try) I still hold that the world is a better place because of Putin. With any other leader, the world would have been rendered uninhabitable by the Pentagon crazies. Russia has acted as the essential check on their warped ambitions to rule the Earth. The biggest threat to the planet is the US Military for the amount of oil they burn, the toxins they produce in their chemical warfare, their attempted theft of Ukraine for industrial farming, and their never-ending wars. Imagine if all the monies wasted on wars had gone to peaceful ends and proper support for renewable energy.
On the question of GDP, I would refer only to the speech by Robert Kennedy, in which he totally destroys the whole sordid concept of GDP as being a worthwhile measure of anything.

BigB ,

The world will be rendered uninhabitable by Russian extractivism, ecological expropriation, and human exploitation. Because Russian extractivism is not isolated: the entire globalist system is extractivist. Which is why ecologists use 'dynamic systems theory' to conceive of the emergent planetary 'super-organism' or 'fossil fuel amoeba'. When we isolate a bounded portion of the global extinction system; compare it with other isolated portions, and give it a human face we are invisibilising the ecological roots and genesis of capitalism's 'wealth' – oil and the exponential depletion of resources.

So what do we do when the life-ground of the planet no longer supports life? Celebrate the unequal distribution of rubles, pounds, yuan, and dollars? Or wish we had come to find a greater source of wealth in who we really are, when we are not destroying the planet and extracting surplus value from others less fortunate?

We live in a strange world when we cannot imagine life without capitalism and look beyond to see that the real source of wealth is humanity itself in its completeness. A completeness we will never know because of extractivism, ecological unequal exchange, and our own abdication of our self-alienated powers that make capitalism the taken-for-granted vehicle of extinctionism. If there is to be life after capitalism – and on the planetary scale there will be, though *homo economicus* is technologically fast bent on curtailing its species viability – some provision for systems transition has to be made now. The techno-dream bubble we can grow our way to humanism is about to burst then what?

richard le sarc ,

I agree entirely, but Putin has no alternative. Any chink in his armour and the USA will destroy Russia and break it up into fragments as they did in Yugoslavia, the USSR and wish to do in China. I rather think that Putin knows full well how dire is the global ecological situation, but he needs to balance less enlightened forces at home, and the 'Atlanticist' Quislings.

BigB ,

I don't disagree either: but that is not my point. The Atlanticists are waiting in the wings for another four years. Last time I checked: they still command 80% of Russian private property. And were expropriating $25bn pa annum in capital flight which has slowed slightly in the last few years. I read the Saker too. There is a deadlock and uneasy power sharing arrangement internally. But you may have missed the time when the Saker admitted "Putin is a neoliberal"?

It may be difficult to disentangle our vision from the neoliberal-statist-market ontology we are being repressed by but that is what we must do. We cannot expect neoliberal capitalist social inclusivity to save us from ecological catastrophe. Nor can we expect to grow economically into humanism: when exponential growth is what is destroying any lasting chance of a purely sustainable human-emancipatory freedom. Putin may not have a choice: but we do. The neoliberal-statist-market ontology is globally self-determined to produce total failure as its inevitable and only possible outcome. This is known a 'parametric determinism' when we automatically follow a maladaptive 'rational' self-optimising behaviour pattern long after it failed as it did in 2007. There is no recovery possible, and technology only speeds total failure whilst masking the ecological destruction it is accelerating.

States have to think and act in a pre-determined way that is true. But we do not have to think like that. Not if there is to be any alternative or succession of humanity ex-post the neoliberal-statist-market ontology which is morally, ecologically, humanistically and most importantly *actually* bankrupt at this point.

Do we exit a 350 year process of exponentially disproportionate wealth distribution, deliberate maldevelopment and global dehumanisation with all the wealth in the hands of those who benefited from the expropriation? Or do we attempt a redistribution and develop a new, hitherto unknown (and unknowable under capitalist alienation), value set where everyone globally has equal access to resources and a right to life as a birthright?

The decision is not beyond you or I: but it will take the development of the assessment of capitalism on other than its own neoliberal-statist-market ontological terms. No state or state leader can develop humanity on the path of less-is-more it needs to take but the people can. That's all.

richard le sarc ,

Putin is either a believing neo-liberal, in which case he is part of the problem you identify, or he is using it through necessity. I could not agree more with your diagnosis of the omnicidal nature of capitalism, and the inability of so many to visualise the end of capitalism-they more easily can conceive of the end of humanity. In fact I rather think that that is the way in which the ruling parasites intend to save their own bacon, by allowing the ecological Holocaust to cull the 90% of 'useless eaters' that the ruling elites fear and despise, and who they see only as a threat. Their labour is no longer required in an age of automation, robotisation and computerisation, and even their consumption is today superfluous. The ecological Holocaust has passed numerous tipping-points and points of no return, while the IPCC downplays the extremity of our situation, the Right still denies it is even happening, and the public is slowly waking up, too late of course. We've just experienced a fire Holocaust, yet the Pentecostal thug PM, 'Smoko' Morrison, who is surely seeing it all as God's Will and the sign of the coming End Times that his cult so longs for, utterly refuses to reduce CO2 emissions beyond a ludicrous 28% by 2030 from 2005 (base-line creep)levels, 'target', that we will not come close to. And now it is raining, a little, so the Great Austrayan Mediocracy can go back to their slumber. But they'll 'Wake in Fright', again, soon.

Hugh O'Neill ,

"It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country."

I know very little of Russia alas, but the over-riding impression I take from this speech is President Putin's depth and breadth grasp of detail and concern for every aspect of Russian society – and his frustration that decisions made at federal level do not transform into concrete action at regional levels. The curse of bureaucracy and local fiefdoms jealous of their power and autonomy.

I was fully expecting him to come up a resonating phrase like: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can for your country." For Russia to have (seemingly) escaped the rapacious talons of the vulture capitalists unleashed by the Yeltsin puppet ought to be a lesson for us all.

Finally, in international politics, he remains impeccably diplomatic, restrained and wise. Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Vierotchka ,

Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Imagine if the USA had a president like Putin

For starters, the Department of Defense would be just that, and not the Department of Offence with lipstick on.

Then, ponder this:

Just imagine if there was a Putin-like President of the USA

Hugh O'Neill ,

Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other. Looking at the calibre of Presidents since JFK, it seems that all the best candidates were either killed off or scared off. All the Unspeakable can do is kill in answer to any and all problems.

richard le sarc ,

Imagine the money freed if US military expenditure was not 90% graft and inefficiency.

Hugh O'Neill ,

In the quote I used above, how often do we hear world leaders – other than the Pope – speak of love? Twisted minds might dismiss Putin's call for more Russian children as to provide cannon fodder for the Russian military, but why would he also wish to ensure their creativity and their arts education? It is quite refreshing to hear Humanity discussed as a desirable asset, rather than non-stop pro-death, pro-abortion as a Human Right brigade, "bomb-bomb-bomb Iran" hatred. I expect a bit of flak for defending the unborn. I can take it.

richard le sarc ,

His manifest virtues are precisely why the vermin of the Western ruling elites hate him so psychotically.

[Jan 16, 2020] This article from RT says Putin leaving 2024, and is also taking2 away a lot of the powers of the President

Jan 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Debs , Jan 16 2020 1:48 utc | 204

This article from RT says Putin leaving 2024, and is also taking2 away a lot of the powers of the President

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/478381-russian-government-resignation-mishustin/

[Jan 16, 2020] RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 JANUARY 2020 by Patrick Armstrong - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Jan 16, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 JANUARY 2020 by Patrick Armstrong

Russian flag

THE GREAT RESHUFFLE . I do expect Putin to retire and assume him to be working on a succession plan to keep the team's aims in operation. He's due to go in about four years. I would not be surprised if we see something à la Kazakhstan where Nazarbayev still has a significant advisory authority.

1. NEW PM. Mikhail Mishustin, head of Tax Service . Is he the chosen one? (Would be a blow to the Hirsute Analytical Tool , though.) ( Мишустин bio on Russian Wikipedia.)

2. CONSTITUTION. Putin suggested constitutional tweaks. A ban on any form of dual citizenship for certain positions: they must "inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances". The Duma should appoint the PM and the PM the government although little was said about exactly how responsibilities were to be divvied up. (Did he support removing the two consecutive term rule? Don't know – depends on what you think " этим " refers to.)

3. PRECEDENCE. Back when the world was simpler and happier and Russians naïve, the Constitution (Art 15.4) said "If an international treaty of the Russian Federation establishes rules other than those stipulated by the law, the rules of the international treaty apply." Brutal reality has taught Moscow the true nature of the " Rules-Based International Order" and Putin has proposed to reverse the authority.

4. MEDVEDEV. Deputy Chairman of the Security Council . I think it's a real job and not a sinecure.

WHAT'S IT MEAN? My take . Doctorow . MacDonald . We are broadly in step. Robinson discusses possibilities. Those who see Russia as one man and many robots of course see this as Putin hanging onto power forever . But their predictive track record is pretty pathetic, isn't it?

FEDERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESS. In addition to the constitutional matters above, Putin's address ( Rus ) ( Eng ), touched on other subjects. He began with population – the births per woman were 1.5 and he wants to raise that to 1.7 and proposes more day care places and greatly extending existing financial support programs as well as spending to improve healthcare. All this is possible because "The federal budget has had a surplus again" and inflation is low. ( Robinson points out, quite correctly, that there's a gap between what The Boss decrees and what actually happens . Nonetheless I'd say Putin has been much more successful than most leaders.) Foreign matters received the barest mention: situation in MENA threatening, Russia ready to cooperate, "defence capability is ensured for decades to come".

RUSSIA INC. Awara does a study of Russian and American earnings and demonstrates that, in purchasing power, they're a lot closer than you would think. It's not just money: health, housing and education – big expenses in the USA – are negligible in Russia.

CORRUPTION. After an investigation, the Russian Academy of Sciences has forced the retraction of hundreds of scientific articles for plagiarism and other forms of fraudulent behaviour.

RUSSIA, SPORTS AND DRUGS. It's all fakery – Mark Chapman takes the trouble to put it all together .

USN ALWAYS HAS RoW. Again the US accuses the Russian Navy of dangerous behaviour, again it was the USN ship that should have given way . ( Give way to starboard vessel .) Speaking of rules-based.

IRAQ. It is reported that that Baghdad is in talks with Moscow on buying S-300 SAM systems . Baghdad orders Americans out; they refuse; Baghdad might need air defence that's independent of US backdoor programming.

TURKSTREAM . Formally launched by the two presidents in Turkey .

NOT IN YOUR "NEWS" OUTLET. Helmer discusses a German parliamentary report that shows that there really isn't any evidence that Russia "invaded" Ukraine or controls the rebels: "few reliable facts and analyses aside from the numerous speculations". It calls it a "civil war" (bürgerkriegs). Which is what it actually is (with assistance from NATO and Russia, to be sure). ( Report, German only ).

TROUBLE IN PARADISE. A contested presidential election led to pretty strong protests with the Supreme Court changing its ruling. The long and the short is that Raul Khajimba , an important player and President for six years, resigned on Monday . New elections will be held in March. Independent Abkhazia has not been very stable and I don't have any good sources to guide me on what's happening. Although I have been told it is determined on real independence, joining neither Russia nor Georgia.

NEW NWO. Iran has just demonstrated it belongs to the rather small club of countries which can precisely strike a target from far away . At least somebody got the message .

[Jan 16, 2020] Russia has risen in the ranking of the best countries in the world.

Jan 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile

January 15, 2020 at 4:45 am
Жить стало легче: Россия поднялась в рейтинге лучших стран мира
Россия поднялась в рейтинге лучших стран мира на одну строчку

15.01.2020, 14:10

Life has become easier: Russia has risen in the ranking of the best countries in the world.
Russia has moved up one point in the ranking of the best countries in the world.

Russia has moved up one place in the ranking of the best countries in the world according to the American magazine US News & World Report, occupying a position in the third ten best ranked. At the same time, the authors of the list stressed that amongst the most powerful of world powers, our country was in second place, behind only the USA. Tourists, according to the study, have begun to go more willingly to Russia, and the growth rate of the Russian economy only appears below 11 countries in the world.

According to the 2019 results, Russia is still second amongst the world's strongest powers. The US News & World Report reports that Russia is second only to the US in terms of power, overtaking China.

Amongst the best countries in the world there are 73 states. The rating is compiled every year by the publication on the basis of a variety of criteria.

The magazine's main rating is "The Best Countries in the World". First place, according to the American edition, was taken by Switzerland, second by Canada, third by Japan. A year ago, Japan was second.

The first five "best countries" also included Germany and Australia. Russia is in 23rd place. Our country has risen one place.

So its true!!!!!

Rasha weeeeeaaaak!!!!!!

Amerika stronk!!!!!

Of all the countries that are "better" and "stronker" than "Rasha", I wonder how many of them have had sanctions hurled against them by "stronk Amerika" and its lickspittle vassals?

And how many of them lost more than 22 million citizens in WWII?

And how many of them had to endure an 80-year-old experiment whose aim was to create socialism?

Cue you-know-who .

[Jan 16, 2020] Seems like the Yeltsin/USA constitution is being s-canned for something that gives more power to the Duma. We can expect less cooperation with the West.

Jan 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 7:55 am

https://sputniknews.com/russia/202001151078046470-russian-government-101-how-did-it-work-and-whats-about-to-change/

How does the Russian government work?

According to the current Constitution, adopted in 1993, the government exercises executive power; it drafts and implements the federal budget and carries out the national policy in the sphere of finance, foreign policy, education, healthcare, culture, science, and so on.

The government may submit its resignation to the President who also has the power to dissolve it. Another way to dissolve the government is for the Duma, the lower house of parliament, to pass a motion of no confidence, which can be vetoed by the President.

The President appoints the Prime Minister with the Duma's consent; Vladimir Putin appointed Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister twice, in 2012 and in 2018, after winning presidential elections.

The President also appoints the deputy heads of government (there are 10 of them in the current cabinet) and the federal ministers at the Prime Minister's suggestion. It is in the President's power to dismiss both the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers.
What is to change?

In a move that looks set to significantly boost the power of parliament, Vladimir Putin called for changes to the Constitution that would enable the Duma to select the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers instead of the President.

Having announced the redistribution of power, Putin has stressed that Russia still needs to remain a "strong presidential republic". According to Russian law, Putin now has two weeks to appoint a new Prime Minister.

Lawmakers have already started drafting the legislation to put Putin's proposals into practice.

Seems like the Yeltsin/USA constitution is being s-canned for something that gives more power to the Duma. We can expect less cooperation with the West. Also, it will undoubtedly be reported in the West, that Putin is trying to handcuff his successor by giving more power to the Duma.

All in all, it would seem to bode well for greater Russian independence as Putin will be less hampered by the Western-leaning faction.

James lake January 15, 2020 at 8:25 am
It will depend on who is in the Duma – if they elect people with good qualities it will be positive.

(Although looking at the parliament here in the Uk. In my lifetime I have see a real sharp decline in the quality of people who become Members of parliament. I'm not sure why

Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 8:30 am
The US has the same problem. Some of our congresspeople are devoid of common sense, intelligence or relevant knowledge on important issues. I think that Russians are too pragmatic to elect similar buffoons.
Mark Chapman January 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm
Voters only have the choice of those who stand for office. If the field consists of Clowns A through D, the winner is bound to be a Clown. The quality, altruism and dedication of the candidate pool has indeed receded, and that is throughout the western democracies.
Moscow Exile January 15, 2020 at 10:32 am
He's already chosen a replacement for Dimka:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited the head of the Federal Tax Service (FTS), Mikhail Mishustin, to become the new prime minister, TASS reports citing the Kremlin's press service.

source: Путин выбрал нового премьер-министра
19:12, 15 января 2020

Putin has chosen a new prime minister

Moscow Exile January 15, 2020 at 11:10 am
For Woden's sake! Kudrin is now spouting at the Gaidar Forum being held at RANEPA (The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, the largest federal state-funded institution of higher professional education located in Moscow, and where my elder daughter, Yelena Denisovna is now studying and who is going to be the first Madam President of Russia), as is Dimka, another Western wannabe -- always was and still is.

Ye gods, I wouldn't be seen dead at a meeting that has Gaidar's name attached to it!

And that other '90s prick Chubais was spouting today, saying what they did wrong in the '90s.

I tell you what they did wrong, arsehole: they didn't put you in prison!

Mark Chapman January 15, 2020 at 3:40 pm
Refreshing, at least, even bracing to hear someone who was in the liberal vanguard in the 90's actually say that things were done wrong in the 90's, if that's actually what he said. Normally the liberal elite of Russia affect to believe the only thing that went wrong in the 90's was that Russian weakness caused her to falter without seeing the golden time through to its capitalist conclusion. Some would not have made it to the celebration party, of course, but that's reality, innit? You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

[Jan 16, 2020] Russia's new proposed PM Mikhail Mishustin.

Jan 16, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

yalensis January 15, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Russia's new (proposed) PM Mikhail Mishustin. Never heard of him before, but did quickie research. According to VZGLIAD reporters Andrei Rezchikov and Natalia Makarova:

This guy totally reformed the Russian tax system and implemented electronic automated system (woo hoo!), also implemented electronic signatures and other high-tech bling-blang.
A 100% pure-blooded technocat (yay! my kinda guy!)

Born 3 March 1966 in Moscow. Graduated from super-duper tech school in 1989. With certification as "Engineer – System Technician."
In 2003 successfully defended his dissertation on the topic of "The mechanics of governmental tax administration in Russia." Almost won a Pulitzer for that.

Continued on as geeky tax specialist. In 2008-2010 entered the realm of private investment business, with UFG Capital Partners and UFG Asset Management.

Hobbies: Mishustin enjoys playing hockey, as does President Putin. One speculates they may have encountered one another on the ice.
Religious views: Very religious, and was awarded the Order of Serafim Sarovsky.
That was the nice Russian saint who lived with a bear. I wrote about him on my blog – little plug there, sorry

Jen January 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm
Checked his bio on Wikipedia: Mishustin did indeed attend a technological university and graduated with an engineering degree. This suggests he had no exposure to competing political and economic ideologies in his youth apart from what was required of him as a student living in Soviet times.

Not quite as dramatic as living in a cave as a teenager, then digging ditches and later picking up a chemical engineering degree.
https://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/xi-jinping-cave/

Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm
I thought only in America could the humble ever reach the top. My my, what a world we live in.
Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 7:03 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/SAYuR2jlzp0?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Seems like a can-do technocrat. Still good.

Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 5:45 pm
Definitely not an Atlanticist – all good so far.
Moscow Exile January 15, 2020 at 9:43 pm
And Dimka's gone! That's good enough for me!
Moscow Exile January 15, 2020 at 9:47 pm
re. the pingback below:

I didn't expect any of it. Neither did anyone else, whatever the so-called experts outgassing on the US Garbage Media may be pretending.

Yeah, Kremlin-Watchers, Kremlin Experts, Kremlinologists -- call them what you will -- they know sweet FA!!!!

I remember when the SU "fell" and none of these "experts" had any idea.

Of course, they al knew it was going to happen in hindsight.

[Jan 16, 2020] TRANSCRIPT Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly

Jan 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

This is about fight with fifth column... The time for those changes is long overdue.

I truly believe that it is time to introduce certain changes to our country's main law, changes that will directly guarantee the priority of the Russian Constitution in our legal framework.

What does it mean? It means literally the following: requirements of international law and treaties as well as decisions of international bodies can be valid on the Russian territory only to the point that they do not restrict the rights and freedoms of our people and citizens and do not contradict our Constitution.

Second, I suggest formalising at the constitutional level the obligatory requirements for those who hold positions of critical significance for national security and sovereignty. More precisely, the heads of the constituent entities, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, the prime minister and his/her deputies, federal ministers, heads of federal agencies and judges should have no foreign citizenship or residence permit or any other document that allows them to live permanently in a foreign state.

The goal and mission of state service is to serve the people, and those who enter this path must know that by doing this they inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances.

Requirements must be even stricter for presidential candidates. I suggest formalising a requirement under which presidential candidates must have had permanent residence in Russia for at least 25 years and no foreign citizenship or residence permit and not only during the election campaign but at any time before it too.

I know that people are discussing the constitutional provision under which one person cannot hold the post of the President of the Russian Federation for two successive terms. I do not regard this as a matter of principle, but I nevertheless support and share this view.

I have already said before that our goal is to ensure high living standards and equal opportunities for all throughout the country. It is towards this goal that our national projects and development plans are aimed.


Stephen Morrell ,

Putin clearly is the most informed and visionary bourgeois politician in the world today, by a country mile. He not only is attempting to address the very real real social, demographic and economic needs of Russia, in his usual comprehensive manner, but also and cannily is co-opting many of the expectations that the USSR used to fulfil, attempting to neutralise any socialist political sentiments in the Russian population. Putin is the Bismarck of Russia.

richard le sarc ,

Russia's economic situation, within the global capitalist system, with its large reserves, much in gold, no exposure to the toilet paper of US Treasuries, and substantial local self-sufficiency in agriculture (thank-you sanctions)means that when the Western debt Ponzi Himalaya implodes, the Russians will be pretty much immune to the consequences.

richard le sarc ,

I agree entirely, but Putin has no alternative. Any chink in his armour and the USA will destroy Russia and break it up into fragments as they did in Yugoslavia, the USSR and wish to do in China. I rather think that Putin knows full well how dire is the global ecological situation, but he needs to balance less enlightened forces at home, and the 'Atlanticist' Quislings.

BigB ,

I don't disagree either: but that is not my point. The Atlanticists are waiting in the wings for another four years. Last time I checked: they still command 80% of Russian private property. And were expropriating $25bn pa annum in capital flight which has slowed slightly in the last few years. I read the Saker too. There is a deadlock and uneasy power sharing arrangement internally. But you may have missed the time when the Saker admitted "Putin is a neoliberal"?

It may be difficult to disentangle our vision from the neoliberal-statist-market ontology we are being repressed by but that is what we must do. We cannot expect neoliberal capitalist social inclusivity to save us from ecological catastrophe. Nor can we expect to grow economically into humanism: when exponential growth is what is destroying any lasting chance of a purely sustainable human-emancipatory freedom. Putin may not have a choice: but we do. The neoliberal-statist-market ontology is globally self-determined to produce total failure as its inevitable and only possible outcome. This is known a 'parametric determinism' when we automatically follow a maladaptive 'rational' self-optimising behaviour pattern long after it failed as it did in 2007. There is no recovery possible, and technology only speeds total failure whilst masking the ecological destruction it is accelerating.

States have to think and act in a pre-determined way that is true. But we do not have to think like that. Not if there is to be any alternative or succession of humanity ex-post the neoliberal-statist-market ontology which is morally, ecologically, humanistically and most importantly *actually* bankrupt at this point.

Do we exit a 350 year process of exponentially disproportionate wealth distribution, deliberate maldevelopment and global dehumanisation with all the wealth in the hands of those who benefited from the expropriation? Or do we attempt a redistribution and develop a new, hitherto unknown (and unknowable under capitalist alienation), value set where everyone globally has equal access to resources and a right to life as a birthright?

The decision is not beyond you or I: but it will take the development of the assessment of capitalism on other than its own neoliberal-statist-market ontological terms. No state or state leader can develop humanity on the path of less-is-more it needs to take but the people can. That's all.

richard le sarc ,

Putin is either a believing neo-liberal, in which case he is part of the problem you identify, or he is using it through necessity. I could not agree more with your diagnosis of the omnicidal nature of capitalism, and the inability of so many to visualise the end of capitalism-they more easily can conceive of the end of humanity. In fact I rather think that that is the way in which the ruling parasites intend to save their own bacon, by allowing the ecological Holocaust to cull the 90% of 'useless eaters' that the ruling elites fear and despise, and who they see only as a threat. Their labour is no longer required in an age of automation, robotisation and computerisation, and even their consumption is today superfluous. The ecological Holocaust has passed numerous tipping-points and points of no return, while the IPCC downplays the extremity of our situation, the Right still denies it is even happening, and the public is slowly waking up, too late of course. We've just experienced a fire Holocaust, yet the Pentecostal thug PM, 'Smoko' Morrison, who is surely seeing it all as God's Will and the sign of the coming End Times that his cult so longs for, utterly refuses to reduce CO2 emissions beyond a ludicrous 28% by 2030 from 2005 (base-line creep)levels, 'target', that we will not come close to. And now it is raining, a little, so the Great Austrayan Mediocracy can go back to their slumber. But they'll 'Wake in Fright', again, soon.

Hugh O'Neill ,

"It is very important that they adopt the true values ​​of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia's development as a large and successful country."

I know very little of Russia alas, but the over-riding impression I take from this speech is President Putin's depth and breadth grasp of detail and concern for every aspect of Russian society – and his frustration that decisions made at federal level do not transform into concrete action at regional levels. The curse of bureaucracy and local fiefdoms jealous of their power and autonomy.

I was fully expecting him to come up a resonating phrase like: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can for your country." For Russia to have (seemingly) escaped the rapacious talons of the vulture capitalists unleashed by the Yeltsin puppet ought to be a lesson for us all.

Finally, in international politics, he remains impeccably diplomatic, restrained and wise. Would that there were more world leaders of such calibre.

Hugh O'Neill ,

Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other. Looking at the calibre of Presidents since JFK, it seems that all the best candidates were either killed off or scared off. All the Unspeakable can do is kill in answer to any and all problems.

richard le sarc ,

Imagine the money freed if US military expenditure was not 90% graft and inefficiency.

richard le sarc ,

His manifest virtues are precisely why the vermin of the Western ruling elites hate him so psychotically.

[Jan 16, 2020] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/jan/07/freedom-without-constraints-how-the-us-squandered-its-cold-war-victory

Jan 16, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

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News Opinion Sport Culture Lifestyle The long read Freedom without constraints: how the US squandered its cold war victory cwt Composite: Guardian Design/Getty The US believed the American way of life was humankind's ultimate destiny. But unrestrained greed has led to an era of injustice and division. By Andrew Bacevich

Tue 7 Jan 2020 01.00 EST Last modified on Thu 16 Jan 2020 06.09 EST

Shares 1,002 'W ithout the Cold War, what's the point of being an American?" Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the novelist John Updike's late-20th-century everyman, posed that question just as the "long twilight struggle" was winding down. More than quarter of a century later, the plaintive query still awaits a definitive answer.

Indeed, the passage of time has only sown confusion about whether there is a point to being an American. Even as the cold war was ending, Updike's everyman was not alone in feeling at a loss. By the 1980s, the cold war had become more than a mere situation or circumstance. It was a state of mind.

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Most Americans had come to take its existence for granted. Like the polar ice cap or baseball's status as the national pastime, it had acquired an appearance of permanence. So its passing caught citizens unaware. Those charged with managing the cold war were, if anything, even more surprised. The enterprise to which they had devoted their professional lives had suddenly vanished. Here was a contingency that the sprawling US national security apparatus, itself a product of the anti-communist crusade, had failed to anticipate.

On one level, of course, the surprise could not have been more gratifying. In the epic competition pitting west against east, the god-fearing against the godless and democracy against totalitarianism, "our side" had won. All-out nuclear war had been averted. The cause of freedom, which Americans felt certain they themselves embodied, had prevailed. Victory was decisive, sweeping and unequivocal.

In another sense, however, the passing of the cold war could not have been more disorienting. In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev , had warned: "We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy."

As the Soviet Union passed out of existence, Americans were left not just without that enemy, but without even a framework for understanding the world and their place in it. However imperfectly, the cold war had, for several decades, offered a semblance of order and coherence. The collapse of communism shattered that framework. Where there had been purposefulness and predictability, now there was neither.

Winning the cold war brought Americans face-to-face with a predicament comparable to that confronting the lucky person who wins the lottery: hidden within a windfall is the potential for monumental disaster. Putting that money to good use while avoiding the pitfalls inherent in suddenly acquired riches calls for prudence and self-awareness – not easily demonstrated when the big house, luxury car and holiday home you have always wanted are yours for the asking.

Similarly, the end of the cold war might have given Americans pause, especially since the issues at hand were of considerably greater significance than homes and cars. At least in theory, the moment might have invited reflection on some first-order questions, such as: what is the meaning of freedom? What does freedom allow? What obligations does it impose? Whom or what does it exclude?


O f course, Americans had been wrestling with such questions since well before 1776 , the answers evolving over time. During the several decades of the cold war, however, the exigencies of the east-west rivalry had offered a reason to throttle down impulses to explore freedom's furthermost boundaries. Except on the fringes of American politics, most citizens accepted the word from Washington that their way of life was under grave threat. In the pecking order of national priorities, addressing that threat – defending freedom rather than enlarging it – tended to take precedence over other considerations.

This is not to suggest that cold-war Americans were a compliant lot. They were not. From the 1950s, misleadingly enshrined as a decade of conformity, through the Ronald Reagan-dominated 80s, domestic crises and controversies were constants. Among the issues energising or enraging Americans were civil liberties, the nuclear arms race, mismanaged wars of dubious provenance, challenges to artistic tradition, leftwing and rightwing radicalism, crass materialism that coexisted with widespread poverty and a host of simmering issues connected to race, sex and gender. Yet through it all, a common outlook, centred on resistance to the "red threat", endured. For most citizens most of the time, the cold war itself sufficed to explain "the point of being an American".

The collapse of the Soviet empire between 1989 and 1991 robbed that outlook of its last vestiges of authority. Rarely, if ever, had the transition from one historical period to another occurred quite so abruptly, with such a precise set of demarcations, and with such profound implications. As if in an instant, the discipline that the cold war had imposed vanished. The absurdity of defining reality as an either/or choice – red or dead, slave or free, good v evil – now became blazingly apparent. The impact on American ambitions and expectations was akin to removing the speed limiter from an internal combustion engine. Suddenly the throttle opened up. The future appeared uniquely promising, offering Americans a seemingly endless array of choices, while confronting them with few evident constraints. Everything seemed possible.

Confident that an era of unprecedented US economic, military and cultural ascendancy now beckoned, members of an intoxicated elite threw caution to the winds. They devised – and promulgated – a new consensus consisting of four elements.

Germans on top of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 10 November 1989. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

The first of these was globalisation or, more precisely, globalised neoliberalism. Stripped to its essence, globalisation was all about wealth creation: unconstrained corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale in a world open to the movement of goods, capital, ideas and people would create wealth on a hitherto unimagined scale.

The second element was global leadership, a euphemism for hegemony or, more simply still, for empire. At its core, global leadership was all about order: unchallengeable military might would enable the US to manage and police a postcolonial yet implicitly imperial order favourable to American interests and values. Through the exercise of global leadership, the US would enforce globalisation. Order and abundance would go hand in hand.

The third element of the consensus was freedom, an ancient word now drastically revised. The new conception of freedom emphasised autonomy, with traditional moral prohibitions declared obsolete and the removal of constraints maximising choice. Order and abundance together would underwrite freedom, relieving Americans of existential concerns about safety and survival to which those less privileged were still obliged to attend.

The final element of the consensus was presidential supremacy, with the occupant of the Oval Office accorded quasi-monarchical prerogatives and status. Implicit in presidential supremacy was a radical revision of the political order. While still treated as sacred writ, the constitution no longer described the nation's existing system of governance. Effectively gone, for example, was the concept of a federal government consisting of three equal branches. Ensuring the nation's prosperity, keeping Americans safe from harm, and interpreting the meaning of freedom, the president became the centre around which all else orbited, the subject of great hopes, and the target of equally great scorn should he fail to fulfil the expectations that he brought into office.

All these elements together constituted a sort of operating system. The purpose of this operating system, unseen but widely taken for granted, was to cement the primacy of the US in perpetuity, while enshrining the American way of life as the ultimate destiny of humankind. According to the calendar, the end of the 20th century, frequently referred to as the American century, was then drawing near. Yet with the cold war concluding on such favourable terms, the stage appeared set for a prolonged American epoch.

This, however, was not to be.


T he US wasted little time in squandering the advantages it had gained by winning the cold war. Events at home and abroad put the post-cold war consensus to the test, unmasking its contradictions and exposing its premises as delusional. Although globalisation did enable some to acquire great wealth, it left behind many more, while fostering egregious inequality. The assertion of global leadership provided American soldiers with plentiful opportunities to explore exotic and unfamiliar lands, but few would mistake the results for even an approximation of dominion, much less peace and harmony.

Instead, Americans came to accept war as habitual. And while the drive for individual empowerment removed constraints, it did little to promote the common good. An enlarged conception of freedom brought with it a whiff of nihilism. As for exalting the chief executive as a visionary leader, it yielded a succession of disappointments, before imploding in November 2016.

The post-cold war moment, dating from the early 90s and spanning the administrations of Bill Clinton , George W Bush and Barack Obama, turned out to be remarkably brief. By 2016, large numbers of ordinary Americans had concluded, not without reason, that the post-cold war consensus was irretrievably defective. Globalised neoliberalism, militarised hegemony, individual empowerment and presidents elevated to the status of royalty might be working for some, but not for them. They also discerned, again not without cause, that establishment elites subscribing to that consensus, including the leaders of both political parties, were deaf to their complaints and oblivious to their plight.

https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/the-long-read

By turning their country over to Donald Trump , those Americans signalled their repudiation of that very consensus. That Trump himself did not offer anything remotely like a reasoned alternative made his elevation to the presidency all the more remarkable. He was a protest candidate elected by a protest vote. In that regard, the 2016 presidential election marked a historical turning point comparable in significance to the fall of the Berlin Wall a quarter of a century earlier.

As the cold war had evolved from the late 40s into the 80s, the rhetoric of freedom remained central to American political discourse. Among members of the intelligentsia, fads came and went, but none displaced freedom as the defining issue of the age. As the designated "leader of the free world", each US president was in turn expected to talk the talk. From Truman through to Reagan, with differing levels of eloquence, none failed to do so.

The way it ended – with euphoric young Germans dancing on the wall – imparted to the entire cold war a retrospective moral clarity that it did not deserve. The cold war tainted everything it touched. As an episode in world history, it was a tragedy of towering proportions. So its passing ought to have called for reflection, remorse, repentance, even restitution. Yet the prevailing mood allowed for none of these, at least as far as most Americans were concerned. Instead, out of an era punctuated throughout by anxiety and uncertainty came a sense that a dazzling future lay just ahead.

In effect, the passing of the cold war relieved Americans of any further obligation to exhibit more than nominal cohesion. Except as a matter of personal preference, virtues such as self-discipline and self-denial, once deemed essential to enabling a nation to stand firm against existential threats, now became passé. The spirit of the post-cold war era prioritised self-actualisation and self-indulgence over self-sacrifice.

The demise of communism removed the last remaining constraints on the operation of global capitalism. By leaving the US militarily pre-eminent, the end of the cold war removed any remaining constraints on the use of American coercive power. Similarly, for many ordinary Americans, particularly those of a progressive bent, the passing of the cold war did away with any lingering constraints on matters related to "lifestyle". No longer would they defer to the customary arbiters of propriety and "good taste" in determining what was permissible and what was not. For transcendent authority, progressives looked to the autonomous self.


'A t the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." So wrote supreme court justice Anthony Kennedy in a famous decision handed down shortly after the cold war ended.

Kennedy's reformulation of liberty, however grandiose, was well suited to the mood that swept through elite quarters at the end of history . By comparison, the inalienable rights specified in the famous Declaration of Independence in 1776 now seemed cramped, stingy and inadequate. Freedom was in line for a makeover.

The emerging post-cold war conception of freedom was nothing if not expansive. It recognised few limits and imposed fewer obligations, with one notable exception: compliance was non-negotiable. As always, the American definition of liberty, however recently revised, was universally applicable, as valid in Bogotá and Dakar as it was in Boston and Denver.

What did this signify in practice? Allowing individuals maximum latitude to reach their own conclusions regarding the concepts of existence, meaning, the universe and the mystery of human life yielded what sort of society? The quarter-century that elapsed between the fall of the Berlin Wall and Donald Trump's election provided a tentative answer to that question. Part of that answer came in the form of progress towards eliminating the remaining vestiges of racism, empowering women and reducing discrimination experienced by LGBTQ+ Americans.

Granted, progress does not imply decisive and irreversible success. Yet during the post-cold war period, American society became more tolerant, more open, more accepting and less judgmental. Attitudes toward people of colour, women and gays that in the 50s had been normative and remained widespread in the 60s and 70s had, by 2016, become unacceptable in polite society. Yet for more than a few Americans, Justice Kennedy's notion of liberty as an opportunity to ponder life's ultimate questions had little relevance. In practical terms, the exercise of freedom, undertaken in an environment in which consumption and celebrity had emerged as preeminent values, encouraged conformity rather than independence. At least notionally, Americans now enjoyed more freedom than ever before. Yet from every direction, but especially from Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Silicon Valley, came cues for how to make the most of the freedom now on offer. And however much you had, you always needed more.

President Ronald Reagan (R) with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington in December 1987. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

So along with freedom came stress, anxiety and a sense of not quite measuring up, or a fear of falling behind as the demands of daily life seemed to multiply. For some, freedom meant alienation, anomie and despair. It did nothing to prevent, and in some instances arguably fostered, self-destructive or antisocial behaviour.

So in 2016, as another presidential election approached, Americans were able to claim the following distinctions:

• One in six were taking prescription psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds.

• More than 16 million adults and more than 3 million adolescents were suffering from significant depression.

• More than 1.9 million Americans were regularly using cocaine, with a half million hooked on heroin and 700,000 on methamphetamine.

• That year opioid overdoses killed 46,000, a new record.

• Binge drinking had reached epidemic proportions, with one in six US adults binge drinking several times a month and consuming seven drinks per binge; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bingeing was especially common among younger and more affluent Americans.

• Nearly 45,000 were taking their own lives annually, the national suicide rate increased by 24% since 1999; within the previous decade the suicide rate of teenage girls had doubled and of boys had jumped by 40%.

• Smartphone addiction was joining more traditional compulsions, with the average person checking their smartphone 110 times a day, impelled by Fomo – a fear of missing out.

• Compulsive-buying syndrome, AKA shopping addiction, afflicted an estimated 6% of the population; a comparable number were compulsive hoarders.

• On a daily basis, 11 million Americans, mostly women, struggled with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, while roughly 40% of adults and nearly 19% of children and adolescents were obese.

• Cosmetic surgeons were performing more than 17m procedures annually, with buttock augmentation and labiaplasty enjoying a particular spike in popularity.

• Forty-million Americans were regularly visiting online porn sites.

• The number of Americans infected with sexually transmitted diseases in 2016 surpassed 2 million, according to the CDC, "the highest number ever".

• An estimated 24.7 million children were growing up in fatherless households, with such children substantially more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol and kill themselves; girls raised without a father present were four times more likely to get pregnant as teenagers.

• Although difficult to quantify with precision, 676,000 American children in 2016 were victims of abuse or neglect.

• Exercising their right to choose, American women were terminating around 650,000 unwanted pregnancies each year, despite the widespread availability of contraceptives.

• Exercising their right to bear arms, Americans had accumulated more than 40% of the planet's small arms; the US arsenal in private hands was larger than that of the next 25 countries combined.

• Meanwhile, more than 33,000 Americans were being killed in firearms-related incidents annually.

• Year in and year out, the US had the world's highest incarceration rate, no other developed nation coming anywhere close.

• Polling data showed that social trust – how Americans felt about government institutions and their fellow citizens – had sunk to an all-time low. Perhaps for that reason, when it came to voting, most Americans couldn't be bothered; voter turnout in the US lagged behind that of most other developed countries.

• In an increasingly networked society, with two-thirds of Americans on Facebook, chronic loneliness afflicted a large portion of the population.

• In a phenomenon described as "deaths by despair", the life expectancy of white working-class American males was dropping, a trend without historical precedent.

• The nation's birthrate had fallen below the rate needed to sustain a stable overall population; America had ceased to reproduce itself.

• Not to be overlooked, in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, Americans were polluting, wasting food and generating trash with abandon, leading the world in each category.


A rguably, Americans were enjoying more freedom than ever. Were they happier as a consequence? Polls suggested otherwise. In the 2007 "world happiness" standings, the US had ranked third among developed countries. By 2016, its position had plummeted to 13th.

By no means am I suggesting that a single such statistic holds the key to assessing life in the US. It does not. Nor do the various penchants and pathologies enumerated above. Yet taken together, they suggest a society in which discontent, dysfunction and sheer perversity were rampant.

As with globalised neoliberalism, some Americans not only coped with seemingly limitless freedom, but also luxuriated in the opportunities that it offered. For sophisticates inhabiting Brooklyn's Park Slope, radical autonomy could well prove to be a boon; for those stuck in a ghetto on Chicago's South Side, not so much. As for the accompanying underside, those in possession of sufficient resources could insulate themselves from its worst effects – just as the affluent were able to insulate themselves from the accumulating post-cold war military misadventures by simply allowing others to shoulder the burden.

What role did Trump play in shaping this US that worked nicely for some while leaving many others adrift and vulnerable? None at all. Globalisation, the pursuit of militarised hegemony, a conception of freedom conferring rights without duties, and a political system centred on a quasi-monarchical chief of state each turned out to have a substantial downside. Yet the defects of each made their appearance well before Trump's entry into politics, even if elites, held in thrall by the post-cold war outlook, were slow to appreciate their significance. None of those defects can be laid at his feet.

If anything, Trump himself had displayed a considerable aptitude for turning such defects to his own advantage. In the US, post-cold war, he was prominent among those who enriched themselves, lived large and let others do the dirty work, while also shielding themselves from the difficulties that made life a trial for many of their fellow citizens. In an era of con artists, cowards and cynics, Trump became a modern equivalent of showman PT Barnum, parlaying the opportunities at hand into fortune, celebrity, lots of golf, plenty of sex and eventually the highest office in the land.

Yet for our purposes, the key point is this: Trump did not create the conditions in which the campaign of 2016 was to take place. Instead, to a far greater extent than any of his political rivals, he demonstrated a knack for translating those conditions into votes. Here, the moment met the man.

Trump's critics saw him as an abomination. Perhaps he was. Yet he was also very much a man of his time. In the end, what won him the presidency was his capacity to push the buttons of millions of voters who believed themselves ill-served and left behind – abandoned, even – by establishment politicians of both parties.

Implicit in his promise to "make America great again" was an admission that greatness itself, which Americans had long since come to believe was theirs by right, had been lost, with no one taking responsibility and no one, apart from Trump himself, venturing to explain how it had even happened. The critical word that imparted to his campaign slogan its formidable persuasive power was "again". As Tom Engelhardt has written, it represented an acknowledgment that self-congratulatory terms such as "great", "super", "exceptional" or "indispensable" no longer reflected the actually existing American condition. Millions of ordinary citizens recognised this as self-evidently true. Arrangements, agreements and advantages that Americans had once prized had been squandered or thrown away. And yet no politician other than Trump dared to utter that truth aloud.

As a strategic thinker, Trump had no particular talent. Yet as a strategic sensor, he was uniquely gifted, possessing an intuitive genius for reading the temper of his supporters and stoking their grievances. Yet by no means did Trump create those grievances – they had festered during the quarter-century after the cold war ended. He merely recognised their existence and, in doing so, made himself the champion of the aggrieved and the one person they came to believe who might respond to their plight.

The post-cold war recipe for renewing the American century has been tried and found wanting. A patently amoral economic system has produced neither justice nor equality, and will not. Grotesquely expensive and incoherent national security policies have produced neither peace nor a compliant imperium, and will not. A madcap conception of freedom unmoored from any overarching moral framework has fostered neither virtue nor nobility nor contentment, and won't anytime soon. Sold by its masterminds as a formula for creating a prosperous and powerful nation in which all citizens might find opportunities to flourish, it has yielded no such thing. This, at least, describes the conclusion reached by disenchanted Americans in numbers sufficient to elect as president someone vowing to run the post-cold war consensus through a shredder.

Donald Trump's detractors charge him with dividing the country when, in fact, it was pervasive division that vaulted him to the centre of American politics in the first place. The divide is deepest and least reconcilable between those Americans for whom the trajectory of events since the cold war pointed upward, and those who found in those same events evidence of decline and decay, and who sensed they had been had. At the most fundamental level, the inhabitants of one camp believe that talent, skills and connections will enable them to determine their own destiny; they are masters of their own fate. In the other camp are those who see themselves as victims. As Obama put it while campaigning for the presidency in 2008, "they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations".

Trump did not create this cleavage. He merely turned it to his personal advantage. So, regardless of the date or terms of Trump's departure from office, the schism that allowed him to become president is likely to persist after he is gone. It's that schism, rather than the antics of the tycoon/reality TV star/demagogue who exploited it, that merits far more attention than it has received.

This is an edited extract from The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory by Andrew Bacevich, published by Metropolitan Books/Holt

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[Jan 16, 2020] Americans Beware! Russia Can Hack Your Brain, Make You Believe Joe Biden Unfit For Oval Office by Robert Bridge

[satire]
Jan 15, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

... ... ...

Courtesy of Bloomberg :

"U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are assessing whether Russia is trying to undermine Joe Biden in its ongoing disinformation efforts with the former vice president still the front-runner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump, according to two officials familiar with the matter

Part of the inquiry is to determine whether Russia is trying to weaken Biden by promoting controversy over his past involvement in U.S. policy toward Ukraine while his son worked for an energy company there."

So how exactly does Russia, in a scene straight out of A Clockwork Orange, tap into the frontal lobe section of the U.S. electorate and cause them to lose all confidence in their political favorites?

"A signature trait of Russian President Vladimir Putin 'is his ability to convince people of outright falsehoods,' William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement. 'In America, [the Russians are] using social media and many other tools to inflame social divisions, promote conspiracy theories and sow distrust in our democracy and elections.'"

Yes, somehow those dastardly Russians have outsmarted the brightest and best-paid political strategists in Washington, D.C. by brandishing what amounts to some really persuasive memes over social media, and for just rubles on the dollar. The techies at Wired went so far as to call this epic assault on the fragile American cranium, "meme warfare to divide America." By way of evidence, it cited a very creative meme that screamed, "F*CK THE ELECTIONS," which was intended, as the ironclad argument goes, to cause a number of impressionable Americans to throw up their hands in a fit of collective exasperation and say, 'Ok, that's it. I'm staying at home on Election Day.'

Yes, it's really that easy! Imagine all the money the Russians and their radical new political technologies could have saved guys like casino tycoon, Sheldon Adelson, who showered the Trump campaign with $100 million dollars.

Many of those divisive Russian messages wormed their way onto Facebook, purportedly, where God only knows how many voter brains' turned to maggots and mush just staring at them. Yet one individual who actually recalls seeing one or two of these dangerous memes was Rob Goldman, former Vice President for Advertising on Facebook, who revealed via Twitter, another infected social media platform, some interesting information:

"Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal ."

Clearly, Goldman seems to have been under the sway of some folk Russian brainwashing technique, probably passed down from the time of Rasputin. In any case, Donald Trump himself took great satisfaction from that particular revelation, retweeting it to his millions of minions.

Most of the coverage of Russian meddling involves their attempt to effect the outcome of the 2016 US election. I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal.

-- Rob Goldman (@robjective) February 17, 2018

Incidentally, it may or may not be relevant, but Goldman retired from Facebook in October 2019 after seven years with the company.

Russia, the gift that keeps on giving

Not only have the Democrats been able to use the Russia bogeyman as their excuse for losing the White House in 2016, they are able to summon this distant nuclear power whenever they wish to curb internet freedoms, which is pretty much every day now.

Now, fun-loving memes are under attack and may soon go the way of the DoDo bird ("A small office of Russian trolls could derail 241 years of U.S. political history with a handful of dank memes and an advertising budget that would barely buy you a billboard in Brooklyn," screamed insanely The Guardian ). At the same time, the freedom of speech is getting destroyed by vapid accusations of 'hate speech,' which, unless used to incite violence, is a totally meaningless term used to eliminate any conversation that is undesirable to the elite.

Meanwhile, only the mainstream media these days are permitted to dabble in 'conspiracy theories' even as their own false narratives have contributed to the pulverization of entire nations, as was the case in Iraq, for example, which sustained a full-blown U.S. military invasion in 2003 following debunked claims that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction. That was the mother of all conspiracy theories that was pushed unchallenged by the mainstream media.

So back to Joe Biden.

Do intelligent Americans really need help from Russia to prove that just maybe the former Vice President is mentally and physically unfit to stand for the White House? Probably not. From whispering sweet nothings into the ears of any female within groping distance, to sucking on his wife's fingertips at a political rally, something just doesn't seem altogether right upstairs with Joe Biden. So what is the real story for dragging Russia, once again, into the internal swamp pit known as Washington, D.C.?

The Bloomberg article provides a big hint: "This time around, the narrative about Biden and Ukraine is well-publicized and being advanced by Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the president's Republican allies in Congress."

And that "narrative" has everything to do with not only the Democrats' frozen impeachment proceedings against the U.S. leader, which promises to have major connections to Ukraine, Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and quite possibly dozens of other top Democrats. In other words, the Democrats understand that pushing ahead with impeachment could be their ultimate downfall.

Although few Americans seem to remember that back in May of 2019, Trump granted U.S. Attorney General William Barr "full and complete authority" to investigate exactly how claims that Trump was 'conspiring with the Kremlin' in the 2016 presidential election had originated, the Democrats certainly have not.

Their bogus 'Russian collusion' claim provided the rationale for a four-year-long 'witch hunt' that began when the Democrats, relying on the flimsy findings contained in the so-called 'Steele dossier, managed to get approval from the FISA court to spy on the Trump campaign. Now, some top-ranking Democrats – never imagining Hillary Clinton would actually lose in 2016 – are understandably nervous as to what Barr and his assistant, federal attorney John Durham will divulge to the public in the coming months.

With so much riding on the line in 2020 , is anyone surprised that Bloomberg, the news affiliate owned and operated by Democratic contender Michael Bloomberg, is now reporting "U.S. officials are warning that Russia's election interference in 2020 could be more brazen than in the 2016 presidential race or the 2018 midterm election."

In other words, the racist ploy used by Democrats to explain their monumental defeat in 2016 did not end with the Mueller Report.

The conspiracy theory, promulgated by a media that is in effect just another branch of the Democratic National Committee, is being primed to explain not only possible criminal charges aimed at top Democrats in the coming months, but how Democrats, like Michael Bloomberg, failed once again to beat the seemingly unstoppable incumbent, Donald Trump. Tags Politics

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[Jan 16, 2020] RUSSIAN RESHUFFLE by Patrick Armstrong - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Jan 16, 2020 | turcopolier.typepad.com

RUSSIAN RESHUFFLE by Patrick Armstrong

(Written on the evening of. So subject to reconsideration/revision/outright denial as we learn more.)

I didn't expect any of it. Neither did anyone else, whatever the so-called experts outgassing on the US Garbage Media may be pretending. I don't know what it all means. Neither does anyone else. (Well Putin & Co do, but they keep their cards close to their chests. As we've just seen.)

What do we know? Putin gave his annual address to the Federal Council ( Rus ) ( Eng ) and started off with how important it was that the birthrate should be raised. Fair enough: he wants more Russians on the planet, the government's programs have ensured that there will be quite a few more but there are still more to come. Many programs planned; some of which will work: after all, not everything works out as we hoped does it? He mentioned how dangerous the world is – especially the MENA – and said at least Russia is pretty secure (as indeed it is except against lunatics addicted to the Book of Revelation .)

Then the constitutional stuff. He believes the Constitution needs a few tweaks. Important officials should really be Russians and not people with a get-out-of-jail-card/alternate-loyalty-card in their vests. Reasonable enough: they should "inseparably connect their lives with Russia and the Russian people without any assumptions and allowances." (Good idea actually. Can we in the West steal the idea? We vote for X but who does he vote for?) Russian law should take precedence over decrees contaminated by the " Rules-Based International Order" (" we make the rules , you follow our orders "). The PM should be named by the Duma. (A pretty big change, actually: let's have more details on the division of labour please. In some countries the head of state is The Boss – USA, Russia (now), France – in others the head of government is The Boss – Germany, Canada, Denmark. There is a serious carve up of powers question here that has to be worked out in detail.) Constitutional changes should be approved in a referendum. The President either should or should not be bound by the no-three-terms-in-a-row-rule (I personally can't figure out what "этим" refers to in "Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим. Не считаю, что этот вопрос принципиальный, но согласен с этим." But, no doubt we will soon learn.)

So, a somewhat less presidential republic. Details to be decided. Many details. But I'm confident that it's been worked out and we will learn. Putin & Co have shown us over 20 years that they don't make things up on the fly.

Then we learned that the entire government had resigned – but individuals to stay in place until replaced. Then we learned – a fast few hours indeed! – that Dmitri Medvedev was replaced by somebody that no one (other than Russian tax specialists) had ever heard of: Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin. ( Russian Wiki entry – none in English so far.) Those cheering Medvedev's dismissal (something predicted and hoped for by a sector of Russianologists) had to then swallow this: not tossed out into ignominy and shame, as they wanted, but something else. Putin says that there is a clear distinction between government and presidential concerns; defence and security are clearly in the latter. But Medvedev has always been closely following defence and security issues and it is suitable and appropriate that he continue to do so. So a new position, deputy heard of the security council, will be created for him. So what are we to make of this? Medvedev has been given the boot and a sinecure? Or he's been given a crucial job in the new carve-up of responsibilities?

After all, Russia's problems keep getting bigger but nobody is getting any younger. Especially the problems from outside. For some years Washington, an implacable enemy of Moscow, has been getting less and less predictable. Lavrov and Kerry spend hours locked up negotiating a deal in Syria ; within a week the US military attacks a Syrian Army unit; "by mistake" . Who's in charge? Now with the murder of Soleimani, possibly on a Washington-approved peace mission, Washington has moved to another level of lawlessness and is exploring the next depth as it defies Baghdad's order to get out. A pirate power. The outside problems for Moscow aren't getting smaller, are they? Washington is certainly недоговороспособны – it's impossible to make an agreement with it and, if you should think you have done so, it will break it. A dangerous, uncontrollable madman, staggering around blowing everything up – is any foreign leader now to be assumed to be on Washington's murder list? Surviving its decay is a big job indeed. The problems are getting bigger in the Final Days of the Imperium Americanum.

So, maybe Moscow needs more people on the job.

So are we looking at a new division of labour in Moscow as part of managing the Transition? (To say nothing of the – what's the word? – Thucydides trap ? ). Mishustin looks after the nuts and bolt of Russia's economy and internal management. Medvedev looks after defence and security – something not likely to get smaller while Putin looks after the big picture?

But this is only the first step in The Transition and we will learn more soon.

[Jan 14, 2020] Freeland's New Role as Deputy Prime Minister Puts her 2nd in Command (of the Titanic?)

Notable quotes:
"... "positions her as one of the top candidates to take over the liberal party after Trudeau" ..."
"... Government Operations Committee ..."
"... "All liberal democracies in the world today are facing huge challenges, and for me the conclusion that pushed me to is; there are only 37 million Canadians. Hugely challenging world threats posed to the rules-based international order, greater threats since the 2nd World War. We have to be united in how we confront those challenges." ..."
"... Ever since her appointment to the role of Cabinet Minister in 2015, Freeland played the role assigned to her as a high level Rhodes Scholar and priestess of neo-liberalism. Springing from a Nazi-connected Ukrainian family based out of Alberta, Freeland made her mark working as lead editor in British Intelligence-controlled news agencies the London Economist, Thompson-Reuters, Financial Times and later Canada's Globe and Mail. Through these positions as "perception manager" of the super elite, she became friends with some of the most vicious Russian, Ukrainian and other eastern European oligarchs who rose to power under Perestroika and the liberalization of the east-bloc. ..."
"... The author is the founder of the Canadian Patriot Review and Director of the Rising Tide Foundation of Canada. He has authored 3 volumes of the series "The Untold History of Canada" and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com ..."
Jan 14, 2020 | canadianpatriot.org

editor / November 27, 2019 An interesting victory has been won for forces in Canada who have wished to clean up the mess made by the two disastrous years Chrystia Freeland has spent occupying the position of Foreign Minister of Canada. This victory has taken the form of a Freeland's removal from the position which she has used to destroy diplomatic relations with China, Russia and other nations targeted for regime change by her London-based controllers. Taking over the helm as Minister of Global Affairs is Francois-Philippe Champagne, former Minister of Infrastructure and ally of "old guard" Liberal elder Jean Chretien- both of whom have advocated positive diplomatic and business relations with China in opposition to Freeland for years.

As positive of a development as this is, the danger which Freeland represents to world peace and Canada's role in the New Emerging system led by the Eurasian Alliance should not be ignored, since she has now been given the role of Deputy Prime Minister, putting her into a position to easily take over the Party and the nation as 2 nd in command.

Already the Canadian press machine on all sides of the aisle are raising the prospect of Freeland's takeover of the Liberal Party as it "positions her as one of the top candidates to take over the liberal party after Trudeau" as one Globe and Mail reporter stated.

The Strange Case of Deputy Prime Ministers

The very role of Deputy Prime Minister is a strange one which has had many pundits scratching their heads, since the Privy Council position is highly under-defined, and was only created by Justin's father Pierre in 1977 as part of his "cybernetics revolution" which empowered the Privy Council Office and Prime Minister's Office under "scientific management" of a technocratic elite. Although it is technically the position of 2nd in Command, it is not like the position of Vice-President whose function has much greater constitutional clarity.

In some cases, the position has been ceremonial, and in others, like the case of Brian Mulroney's Dep. PM Don Mazankowski (1986-1993) who chaired the Government Operations Committee and led in imposing the nation-stripping NAFTA, the position was very powerful indeed. Some Prime Ministers have chosen not even to have a Deputy PM, and the last one (Anne McLellan) ended with the downfall of Paul Martin in 2006. McLellan and another former Deputy Prime Minister John Manley were both leading figures behind the creation of the think tank Canada2020 in 2003 that soon brought Justin and Obamaton behaviorists into a re-structuring of the Liberal Party of Canada during the Harper years, shedding it of its pro-China, pro-Russia, anti-NATO influences that had been represented by less technocratically-minded statesmen like Jean Chretien years earlier.

Personally, as a Canadian-based journalist who has done a fair bit of homework on Canadian history, and the structures of Canada's government, I honestly don't think the question of Freeland's becoming Prime Minister matters nearly as much as many believe for the simple reason that Justin is a well-known cardboard cut-out who simply doesn't know how to do anything terribly important without a teleprompter and experienced handlers. This is not a secret to other world leaders, and anyone familiar with the mountains of video footage taken from G7 events featuring the pathetic scene of little Justin chronically ignored by his peers goes far enough to demonstrate the point.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/JQwNIYB2Z6s?feature=oembed

Freeland's role in Canada has never had much to do with Canada, as much as it has with Canada's role as a geopolitical chess piece in a turbulent and changing world and her current role as Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs can only be understood in those global terms.

Unity for the Sake of Greater Division

For Canada to play a useful role in obstructing the Eurasian-led New Silk Road paradigm sweeping across the globe in recent years, it requires the fragmenting American monarchy be kept in line.

The problem for the British Empire in this regard, is that the recent elections have demonstrated how divided Canada is with the Liberal Party suffering total losses across the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec due to the technocratic adherence to the Green New Deal agenda and resistance to actual industrial development initiatives. The collapse of living standards, and the lack of any policies for rebuilding the industrial base that 30 years of NAFTA have destroyed, has resulted not only in the rejection of the Liberal Party but has also awoken a renewed demand for separation in all three provinces.

Referring implicitly to the crisis of such "authoritarian regimes" as China, Russia, Iran and Trump's USA, as well as the need to decarbonize the world, Freeland put the problem she is assigned to fix in the following terms : "All liberal democracies in the world today are facing huge challenges, and for me the conclusion that pushed me to is; there are only 37 million Canadians. Hugely challenging world threats posed to the rules-based international order, greater threats since the 2nd World War. We have to be united in how we confront those challenges."

To put it simply, if centralized control were to break down at a time when the Belt and Road Initiative ( and its Polar Silk Road extension ) is redefining the world system OUTSIDE of the control of the western oligarchy, then it is clearly understood that the Green Agenda will fail, but the dynamics of the BRI will become hegemonic as Canada realizes (like the Greeks and Italians currently) that the only viable policies for growing the real economy is coming from China.

Some final words on Freeland, Neo-liberal High Priestess

Ever since her appointment to the role of Cabinet Minister in 2015, Freeland played the role assigned to her as a high level Rhodes Scholar and priestess of neo-liberalism. Springing from a Nazi-connected Ukrainian family based out of Alberta, Freeland made her mark working as lead editor in British Intelligence-controlled news agencies the London Economist, Thompson-Reuters, Financial Times and later Canada's Globe and Mail. Through these positions as "perception manager" of the super elite, she became friends with some of the most vicious Russian, Ukrainian and other eastern European oligarchs who rose to power under Perestroika and the liberalization of the east-bloc. She also became close friends with such golems as George Soros, Larry Summers and Al Gore embedding their institutions ever more deeply into Canada since she was brought into Canada2020 (her move to politics was facilitated by fellow Rhodes Scholar/Canada2020 leader Bob Rae abdicating his position as MP for Ontario in 2013).

When Foreign Minister Stephane Dion committed the crime of attempting to heal relations with China and called for a Russia-Canada Summit to deal mutually with Arctic development, counter-terrorism and space cooperation , he had to go. After an abrupt firing, Freeland was given his portfolio and immediately went to work in turning China and Russia into public enemies #1 and #2, passing the Magnintsky Act in 2017 allowing for the sanctioning of nations for human rights (easily falsified when Soros' White Helmets and other CIA/MI6-affiliated NGOs are seen as "on-the-ground" authorities documenting said abuse).

Her role as champion of NAFTA which Trump rightly threatened to scrap in order to re-introduce protective tariffs elevated her to a technocratic David fighting some orange Goliath, and her advocacy of the Green New Deal has been behind some of the most extreme energy/arctic anti-development legislation passed in Canada's history.

Whether it is though individual provinces claiming their rights to form independent treaties with Eurasian powers around cooperation on the BRI, or whether Canada can be returned to a pro-nation state orientation under the "Chretien faction" in the federal government, the current future of Canada is as under-defined as the role of "deputy minister". Either way the nation chooses navigate through the storm, it is certain that any commitment to staying on board the deck of the Titanic known as the "western neoliberal order" has only one cold and tragic outcome which Freeland and her ilk will drown before admitting to.

The author is the founder of the Canadian Patriot Review and Director of the Rising Tide Foundation of Canada. He has authored 3 volumes of the series "The Untold History of Canada" and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Facebook Twitter WordPress Print Kindle It November 27, 2019 in Miscellaneous . Tags: deep state , freeland , rhodes scholar , world government Related posts Unravelling the Mystery of the 'Annexation Movement of 1849' The 'Greta Effect': Are We Really This Time, for Certain Certain, Heading for the End Times? Living Under the Spectre of Hyperinflation: 1923 Weimar and Today Filters Video Player

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7QByzhXiF1U?controls=0&rel=0&disablekb=1&showinfo=0&modestbranding=0&html5=1&iv_load_policy=3&autoplay=0&end=0&loop=0&playsinline=0&start=0&nocookie=false&enablejsapi=1&origin=http%3A%2F%2Fcanadianpatriot.org&widgetid=1 00:00 16:37 © 2020 The Canadian Patriot

[Jan 12, 2020] The Politics Behind Banning Russia From the Olympics -- Strategic Culture

Jan 12, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Michael Averko January 11, 2020 © Photo: Government.ru There've been ongoing propaganda pieces that skirt over some inconvenient realities, for those seeking to unfairly admonish Russia in the Olympic movement. One case in point is the January 2 Reuters article " Use 1992 Yugoslavia Precedent for Russians in Tokyo – Historian ". With a stated " some Russians ", that article suggestively under-represents the actual number of 2018 Russian Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang, while supporting a hypocritically flawed aspect, having to do with Yugoslavia in 1992.

The downplaying of Russian participation at Pyeongchang, is seemingly done to spin the image of many Russian cheats being kept out. At the suggestion of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) closely vetted Russians for competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics. In actuality, the 2018 Russian Winter Olympic participation wasn't so off the mark, when compared to past Winter Olympiads – something which (among other things) puts a dent into the faulty notion that Russia should be especially singled out for sports doping.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia had its largest ever Winter Olympic contingent of 232 , on account of the host nation being allowed a greater number of participants. The 168 Russian Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang is 9 less than the Russians who competed at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Going back further, Russian Winter Olympic participation in 2006 was at 190 , with its 2002 contingent at 151 , 1998 having 122 and 1994 (Russia's first formal Winter Olympic appearance as Russia) 113 .

The aforementioned Reuters piece references a " historian ", Bill Mallon, who is keen on using the 1992 Summer Olympic banning of Yugoslavia (then consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) as a legitimate basis to ban Russia from the upcoming Summer Olympics. In this instance, Alan Dershowitz's periodic reference to the " if the shoe is on the other foot " test is quite applicable . Regarding Mallon, " historian " is put in quotes because his historically premised advocacy is very much incomplete and overly propagandistic.

For consistency sake and contrary to Mallon, Yugoslavia should've formally participated at the 1992 Summer Olympics. The Olympic banning of Yugoslavia was bogus, given that the IOC and the IOC affiliated sports federations didn't ban the US and USSR for their respective role in wars, which caused a greater number of deaths than what happened in 1990s Bosnia. The Reuters article at issue references a United Nations resolution for sanctions against Yugoslavia, without any second guessing, in support of the preference (at least by some) to keep politics out of sports as much as possible.

Mallon casually notes that Yugoslav team sports were banned from the 1992 Summer Olympics, unlike individual Yugoslav athletes, who participated as independents. At least two of the banned Yugoslav teams were predicted to be lead medal contenders.

Croatia was allowed to compete at the 1992 Summer Olympics, despite that nation's military involvement in the Bosnian Civil War. During the 1992 Summer and Winter Olympics, the former USSR participated in individual and team sports as the Unified Team (with the exception of the three former Soviet Baltic republics, who competed under their respective nation). With all this in mind, the ban on team sports from Yugoslavia at the 1992 Summer Olympics, under a neutral name, appears to be hypocritical and ethically challenged.

BS aside, the reality is that geopolitical clout (in the form of might making right), is what compels the banning of Yugoslavia, unlike superpowers engaged in behavior which isn't less egregious. Although a major world power, contemporary Russia lacks the overall geopolitical influence of the USSR. Historian Stephen Cohen and some others, have noted that post-Soviet Russia doesn't get the same (for lack of a better word) respect accorded to the USSR. This aspect underscores how becoming freer, less militaristic and more market oriented doesn't (by default) bring added goodwill from a good number of Western establishment politicos and the organizations which are greatly influenced by them.

On the subject of banning Russia from the Olympics, Canadian sports legal politico Dick Pound, continues to rehash an inaccurate likening with no critical follow-up. ( An exception being yours truly .) Between 2016 and 2019 , Pound references the Olympic banning of South Africa, as a basis for excluding Russia. South Africa was banned when it had apartheid policies, which prevented that country's Black majority from competing in organized sports. Russia has a vast multiethnic participation in sports and other sectors.

As previously noted , the factual premise to formally ban Russia from the Olympics remains suspect. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is set to review Russia's appeal to have the recommended WADA ban against Russia overturned, as Western mass media at large and sports politicos like Pound continue to push for a CAS decision against Russia.

[Jan 12, 2020] The Skripal Affair A Lie Too Far -- Strategic Culture

Jan 12, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

Strategic Culture

Search World The Skripal Affair: A Lie Too Far? Michael Jabara Carley April 18, 2018 © Photo: Public domain

On 4 March 2018 it was a foggy day in southern England, and the MI6 Russian spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia stepped out for a stroll, stopped at the local pub in Salisbury, went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then took a walk in the park where they collapsed on a park bench. What had happened to them? Did they suffer from food poisoning? Or was Sergei Skripal involved in some dark affaire and the object of a hit by persons unknown, his daughter being an accidental victim?

The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. "The Russians" had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, "the Russians," so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal.

On 12 March the foreign secretary summoned the Russian ambassador to inform him that a nerve agent, A-234, had been used against the Skripals. How did you do it, Johnson wanted to know, or did the Russian government lose control of its stocks of chemical weapons? He gave the Russian ambassador 24 hours to respond. In point of fact, the Russian government does not possess any stockpiles of chemical weapons or nerve agents, having destroyed them all as of September 2017.

Later that day, the British prime minister, Theresa May, declared in the House of Commons that the Skripals, then said to be in a coma, were poisoned with "a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia " (italics added) called a 'novichok', a Russian word having various possible translations into English (beginner, novice, newcomer, etc.). May claimed that since the Soviet Union was known to have produced this chemical weapon, or nerve agent (also known as A-234), that it was " highly likely " that the Russian government was guilty of the attack on the Skripals.

Here is what the prime minister said in the House of Commons: "Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others." The hurried British accusations were redolent of those in 2014 alleging Russian government complicity or direct involvement in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 over the Ukraine. Within hours of the destruction of MH 17, the United States and its vassals, including Britain, accused Russia of being responsible.

The western modus operandi is the same in the Skripal case. The Tories rushed to conclusions and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Russian government to prove its innocence, or rather to admit its guilt. How was the so-called novichok delivered to London, did President Vladimir Putin authorise the attack, did Russia lose control of its stockpile? The prime minister and her foreign secretary had in effect declared Russia guilty as charged. No objective police investigation, no due process, no presumption of innocence, no evidence was necessary: it was "sentence first, verdict later", as the Red Queen declared in Alice in Wonderland .

On 13 March the Russian embassy informed the Foreign Office that the Russian Federation was not involved in any way with the Salisbury incident. We will not respond to an ultimatum, came the reply from Moscow. The eloquent Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariia Zakharova, characterised the British démarche as a "circus show". Actually, Foreign Office clerks must have told Boris Johnson that Russia would not respond to such an ultimatum so that it was a deliberate British attempt to provoke a negative Russian reply.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated for the record that "as soon as the rumors, fed by the British leadership, about the poisoning of Skripal appeared, we immediately requested access to this [toxic] substance so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons." After the British ambassador visited the Russian foreign ministry on 13 March to receive the formal Russian reply to the British ultimatum, the foreign ministry in Moscow issued a communiqué: " The [Salisbury] incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that." The Russian government in fact proposed that the alleged poisoning of the Skripals should be examined by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to procedures to which Britain itself had agreed when the OPCW was established in 1997.

On 14 March the British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and a few days later the Russian side expelled 23 British diplomats and shuttered the offices of the British Council in Russia. At the same time, the British appealed to their allies and to the European Union to show solidarity by expelling Russian diplomats. Twenty-eight countries did so, though for most it was one or two expulsions, tokenism to appease the British. Other countries -- for example, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal -- refused to join the stampede. Going over the top, the United States expelled sixty diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians responded in kind with sixty expulsions and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg. Momentum seemed to be building toward a major confrontation. The British prime minister even alluded to the possibility of military action .

In the meantime, President Putin weighed in. "I guess any reasonable person [has] realised," he said, "that this is complete absurd[ity] and nonsense. [How could] anybody in Russia allow themselves such actions on the eve of the [Russian] presidential election and the football World Cup? This is unthinkable." In any police inquiry, investigators look for means, motive and opportunity. On these grounds did the trail of guilt lead to Moscow?

Momentum is sometimes like a balloon, it blows up and then it suddenly bursts. The British case against Russia began to fall apart almost from the time it was made. In late March the Russian newspaper Kommersant leaked a British PowerPoint presentation sent to eighty embassies in Moscow. It asserted, inter alia , that the British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down had positively identified the substance, which allegedly poisoned the Skripals, as a Novichok, "developed only by Russia". Both these statements are false. On 3 April Porton Down stated publicly that it could not determine the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals. It also came out that the formula for making a so-called novichok was published in a book by a Russian dissident and chemist, Vil Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States. You can buy his book (published in 2008), which includes the formula, on Amazon.com . In fact, any number of governments or smart chemists or even bright undergraduate chemistry students with the proper facilities could make this nerve agent. Amongst those governments having access to the original formula are Britain and the United States. The Russian embassy in London noted in a published report that "neither Russia nor the Soviet Union has ever developed an agent named 'Novichok'." The report further stated that "While Soviet scientists did work on new types of chemical poisons, the word 'Novichok' was introduced in the West in mid-1990s to designate a series of new chemical agents developed there on the basis of information made available by Russian expat researchers. The British insistence to use the Russian word 'Novichok' is an attempt to artificially link the substance to Russia."

The British PowerPoint presentation did not stop with its two main canards. It goes on to refer to "Russian malign activity" including, inter alia , the "invasion" of Georgia in 2008, the "destabilisation" of the Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 in 2014, and interference in the US elections in 2016. All of these claims are audacious lies , easily deconstructed and unpacked. The referenced events are also unrelated to the Salisbury incident and were raised in an attempt to smear the Russian Federation. In fact, the British PowerPoint slides represent vulgar propaganda, bourrage de crâne , as preposterous as any seen during the Cold War.

As Minister Lavrov pointed out, the Skripal case should have gone for resolution to the OPCW in The Hague. Russia would then be directly involved in the investigation and would have access to the alleged toxin, and other evidence to try to determine what had happened and who were the perpetrators. The British government at first refused to go to the OPCW, and then when it did, refused to authorise the Russian government to have access to the alleged substance, which had sickened the Skripals. That idea is "perverse", said British authorities. Actually, not at all, it is the procedure laid out in OPCW statutes, to which Britain itself agreed but has refused to respect. When the Russian representative at the OPCW proposed a resolution to the executive council, that it should respect its own statutes, he could not obtain the required vote of approval. The British were attempting to hijack the OPCW as a potential tool against the Russian Federation. Thus far, that stratagem has not worked. On 12 April the OPCW released a report stating that it had "confirm[ed] the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury ." The report said nothing about the origin of the so-called "toxic chemical". The British accusation against Russia thus remained unsubstantiated.

What I could not understand when I read the OPCW communiqué, is why the Skripals were still alive. The OPCW says that the toxic chemical used against the Skripals was "of high purity". Was it a nerve agent? Oddly, the OPCW published report avoids a straight answer. If it was a nerve agent, being of "high purity," it should have been instant acting and killed the Skripals almost immediately. Yet both have survived at the time of this writing. Something does not make sense. Of course, there could be a simple explanation for this puzzling mystery.

On 14 April, Minister Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow provided the answer. The substance used to attack the Skripals was laced with a substance know as BZ which incapacitates rather than kills and takes longer to work than an instant acting nerve agent which kills immediately. The United States, Britain and other NATO countries have developed this toxin and put it into service; the Soviet Union never did so. Traces of A-234 were also identified, but according to experts, such a concentration of the A-234 agent would cause death to anyone affected by it. "Moreover," according to the Russian embassy in London , "considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning," Could Britsh authorities have tampered with the samples? The public OPCW report gives no details, and refers only to a "toxic chemical". Nor did the report say that the OPCW had submitted specimens of the substance to a well-known Swiss lab , which promptly reported back its surprising results. The OPCW authorities thus lied when they said that the tests "confirmed" the British identify of the "toxic chemical". Unless Porton Down knew that the substance used against the Skripals was a BZ type toxin, and so informed the OPCW, or, unless the Tory government lied in claiming publicly that it was a novichok nerve agent. The British attempted hijacking of the OPCW has compromised its independence, for the public report issued on 12 April is misleading. Moreover, since the BZ toxin is made by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, it begs the same questions, which the Tories put to Moscow: how did the perpetrators obtain the BZ toxin and bring it to Salisbury, did MI5 or MI6 authorise a false flag attack against the Skripals, or was it authorised by the British cabinet or by the prime minister alone? Or did British authorities lose control of their stockpiles? The trail of evidence does not lead to Moscow; it leads to London.

A prima facie case can be made that the British government is lying about the Skripal affaire . Suspicion always falls upon those who act deviously, who hide behind clever turns of phrase and procedural and rhetorical smokescreens. British authorities are now saying that they have other top secret evidence, which explains everything, but unfortunately it can't be publicised. Nevertheless, the British government appears to have leaked it to the press. The Times published a story about a covert Russian lab producing nerve agents and it spread like wild fire across the Mainstream Media. The Daily Mirror put out a story about a Russian secret assassins' training manual. These stories are laughable. Is the Tory government that desperate? Is the British "everyman" that gullible?

The secret assassin's manual reminds me of the 1924 "Zinoviev Letter", a counterfeit document produced by White Russians in Germany, purporting to demonstrate Soviet interference in British elections and planning for a socialist revolution. It was early days of "fake news". Parliamentary elections were underway in October 1924 and the Tories used the letter to attack the credibility of the Labour party. It was whipping up the red scare, and it worked like a charm. The Tories won a majority government. Soviet authorities claimed that the letter was bogus and they demanded a third party, independent investigation to ascertain the truth, just as the Russian government has done now. In 1924, the Tories refused, and understandably so, since they had a lot to hide. It took seventy-five years to determine that "the letter" was in fact counterfeit.

The Tories are again acting as if they have something to hide. It is déjà vu. Will it take seventy-five years to get at the truth? Are there any honest British cops, judges, civil servants ready to reveal the truth?

There is other evidence to suggest that the British narrative on the Salisbury incident is bogus. The London Metropolitan Police have sought to prevent any outside contact with the Skripals. They have taken away a recovered Yulia Skripal to an unknown location. They have until now denied Russian consular authorities access to a Russian citizen in violation of British approved consular agreements. Is there any chapter of international law, which the British government now respects? British authorities have denied access to Yulia Skripal's family in Russia; they have denied a visa to Yulia's cousin, Viktoria, to visit with her. Are British spooks grooming Yulia, briefing her to stay on the Tory narrative? Is she being manipulated like some kind of Manchurian Candidate? Have they induced her to betray her country in exchange for emoluments, a new identity in the United States, a house, a BMW and money? Are they playing upon her loyalty to her father? Based on a statement attributed to Yulia by the London Metropolitan Police, it begins to look that way . Or, is the message, sounding very British and official, quite simply a fake? The Russian embassy in London suspects that it is. What is certain is that British authorities are acting as though they have something to hide. Even German politicians, amongst others, have criticised the British rush to indict Russia. Damage control is underway. Given all the evidence, can any person with reasonable abilities to think critically believe anything the Tories are saying about the Salisbury affair?

"They are liars. And they know that they are liars," the late Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz once wrote: "And we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying ." Mahfouz was not writing about the British, but all the same, he could have been. Are not his well-known lines apposite to the present government in London?

The Tories are trying doggedly to maintain control of the narrative. Stakes are high for if it eventuates that the Tories have lied deliberately for political gain, at the risk of destabilising European, indeed world peace and security, the Tory government should be forced to resign and new elections, called. Then, the British electorate can decide whether it wants to be governed by reckless, mendacious Tory politicians who risk to provoke war against the Russian Federation. The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Tags: May OPCW United Kingdom Print this article Michael Jabara Carley April 18, 2018 | World The Skripal Affair: A Lie Too Far?

On 4 March 2018 it was a foggy day in southern England, and the MI6 Russian spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia stepped out for a stroll, stopped at the local pub in Salisbury, went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then took a walk in the park where they collapsed on a park bench. What had happened to them? Did they suffer from food poisoning? Or was Sergei Skripal involved in some dark affaire and the object of a hit by persons unknown, his daughter being an accidental victim?

The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. "The Russians" had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, "the Russians," so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal.

On 12 March the foreign secretary summoned the Russian ambassador to inform him that a nerve agent, A-234, had been used against the Skripals. How did you do it, Johnson wanted to know, or did the Russian government lose control of its stocks of chemical weapons? He gave the Russian ambassador 24 hours to respond. In point of fact, the Russian government does not possess any stockpiles of chemical weapons or nerve agents, having destroyed them all as of September 2017.

Later that day, the British prime minister, Theresa May, declared in the House of Commons that the Skripals, then said to be in a coma, were poisoned with "a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia " (italics added) called a 'novichok', a Russian word having various possible translations into English (beginner, novice, newcomer, etc.). May claimed that since the Soviet Union was known to have produced this chemical weapon, or nerve agent (also known as A-234), that it was " highly likely " that the Russian government was guilty of the attack on the Skripals.

Here is what the prime minister said in the House of Commons: "Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others." The hurried British accusations were redolent of those in 2014 alleging Russian government complicity or direct involvement in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 over the Ukraine. Within hours of the destruction of MH 17, the United States and its vassals, including Britain, accused Russia of being responsible.

The western modus operandi is the same in the Skripal case. The Tories rushed to conclusions and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Russian government to prove its innocence, or rather to admit its guilt. How was the so-called novichok delivered to London, did President Vladimir Putin authorise the attack, did Russia lose control of its stockpile? The prime minister and her foreign secretary had in effect declared Russia guilty as charged. No objective police investigation, no due process, no presumption of innocence, no evidence was necessary: it was "sentence first, verdict later", as the Red Queen declared in Alice in Wonderland .

On 13 March the Russian embassy informed the Foreign Office that the Russian Federation was not involved in any way with the Salisbury incident. We will not respond to an ultimatum, came the reply from Moscow. The eloquent Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariia Zakharova, characterised the British démarche as a "circus show". Actually, Foreign Office clerks must have told Boris Johnson that Russia would not respond to such an ultimatum so that it was a deliberate British attempt to provoke a negative Russian reply.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated for the record that "as soon as the rumors, fed by the British leadership, about the poisoning of Skripal appeared, we immediately requested access to this [toxic] substance so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons." After the British ambassador visited the Russian foreign ministry on 13 March to receive the formal Russian reply to the British ultimatum, the foreign ministry in Moscow issued a communiqué: " The [Salisbury] incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take 'punitive' measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that." The Russian government in fact proposed that the alleged poisoning of the Skripals should be examined by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to procedures to which Britain itself had agreed when the OPCW was established in 1997.

On 14 March the British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and a few days later the Russian side expelled 23 British diplomats and shuttered the offices of the British Council in Russia. At the same time, the British appealed to their allies and to the European Union to show solidarity by expelling Russian diplomats. Twenty-eight countries did so, though for most it was one or two expulsions, tokenism to appease the British. Other countries -- for example, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal -- refused to join the stampede. Going over the top, the United States expelled sixty diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians responded in kind with sixty expulsions and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg. Momentum seemed to be building toward a major confrontation. The British prime minister even alluded to the possibility of military action .

In the meantime, President Putin weighed in. "I guess any reasonable person [has] realised," he said, "that this is complete absurd[ity] and nonsense. [How could] anybody in Russia allow themselves such actions on the eve of the [Russian] presidential election and the football World Cup? This is unthinkable." In any police inquiry, investigators look for means, motive and opportunity. On these grounds did the trail of guilt lead to Moscow?

Momentum is sometimes like a balloon, it blows up and then it suddenly bursts. The British case against Russia began to fall apart almost from the time it was made. In late March the Russian newspaper Kommersant leaked a British PowerPoint presentation sent to eighty embassies in Moscow. It asserted, inter alia , that the British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down had positively identified the substance, which allegedly poisoned the Skripals, as a Novichok, "developed only by Russia". Both these statements are false. On 3 April Porton Down stated publicly that it could not determine the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals. It also came out that the formula for making a so-called novichok was published in a book by a Russian dissident and chemist, Vil Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States. You can buy his book (published in 2008), which includes the formula, on Amazon.com . In fact, any number of governments or smart chemists or even bright undergraduate chemistry students with the proper facilities could make this nerve agent. Amongst those governments having access to the original formula are Britain and the United States. The Russian embassy in London noted in a published report that "neither Russia nor the Soviet Union has ever developed an agent named 'Novichok'." The report further stated that "While Soviet scientists did work on new types of chemical poisons, the word 'Novichok' was introduced in the West in mid-1990s to designate a series of new chemical agents developed there on the basis of information made available by Russian expat researchers. The British insistence to use the Russian word 'Novichok' is an attempt to artificially link the substance to Russia."

The British PowerPoint presentation did not stop with its two main canards. It goes on to refer to "Russian malign activity" including, inter alia , the "invasion" of Georgia in 2008, the "destabilisation" of the Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 in 2014, and interference in the US elections in 2016. All of these claims are audacious lies , easily deconstructed and unpacked. The referenced events are also unrelated to the Salisbury incident and were raised in an attempt to smear the Russian Federation. In fact, the British PowerPoint slides represent vulgar propaganda, bourrage de crâne , as preposterous as any seen during the Cold War.

As Minister Lavrov pointed out, the Skripal case should have gone for resolution to the OPCW in The Hague. Russia would then be directly involved in the investigation and would have access to the alleged toxin, and other evidence to try to determine what had happened and who were the perpetrators. The British government at first refused to go to the OPCW, and then when it did, refused to authorise the Russian government to have access to the alleged substance, which had sickened the Skripals. That idea is "perverse", said British authorities. Actually, not at all, it is the procedure laid out in OPCW statutes, to which Britain itself agreed but has refused to respect. When the Russian representative at the OPCW proposed a resolution to the executive council, that it should respect its own statutes, he could not obtain the required vote of approval. The British were attempting to hijack the OPCW as a potential tool against the Russian Federation. Thus far, that stratagem has not worked. On 12 April the OPCW released a report stating that it had "confirm[ed] the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury ." The report said nothing about the origin of the so-called "toxic chemical". The British accusation against Russia thus remained unsubstantiated.

What I could not understand when I read the OPCW communiqué, is why the Skripals were still alive. The OPCW says that the toxic chemical used against the Skripals was "of high purity". Was it a nerve agent? Oddly, the OPCW published report avoids a straight answer. If it was a nerve agent, being of "high purity," it should have been instant acting and killed the Skripals almost immediately. Yet both have survived at the time of this writing. Something does not make sense. Of course, there could be a simple explanation for this puzzling mystery.

On 14 April, Minister Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow provided the answer. The substance used to attack the Skripals was laced with a substance know as BZ which incapacitates rather than kills and takes longer to work than an instant acting nerve agent which kills immediately. The United States, Britain and other NATO countries have developed this toxin and put it into service; the Soviet Union never did so. Traces of A-234 were also identified, but according to experts, such a concentration of the A-234 agent would cause death to anyone affected by it. "Moreover," according to the Russian embassy in London , "considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning," Could Britsh authorities have tampered with the samples? The public OPCW report gives no details, and refers only to a "toxic chemical". Nor did the report say that the OPCW had submitted specimens of the substance to a well-known Swiss lab , which promptly reported back its surprising results. The OPCW authorities thus lied when they said that the tests "confirmed" the British identify of the "toxic chemical". Unless Porton Down knew that the substance used against the Skripals was a BZ type toxin, and so informed the OPCW, or, unless the Tory government lied in claiming publicly that it was a novichok nerve agent. The British attempted hijacking of the OPCW has compromised its independence, for the public report issued on 12 April is misleading. Moreover, since the BZ toxin is made by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, it begs the same questions, which the Tories put to Moscow: how did the perpetrators obtain the BZ toxin and bring it to Salisbury, did MI5 or MI6 authorise a false flag attack against the Skripals, or was it authorised by the British cabinet or by the prime minister alone? Or did British authorities lose control of their stockpiles? The trail of evidence does not lead to Moscow; it leads to London.

A prima facie case can be made that the British government is lying about the Skripal affaire . Suspicion always falls upon those who act deviously, who hide behind clever turns of phrase and procedural and rhetorical smokescreens. British authorities are now saying that they have other top secret evidence, which explains everything, but unfortunately it can't be publicised. Nevertheless, the British government appears to have leaked it to the press. The Times published a story about a covert Russian lab producing nerve agents and it spread like wild fire across the Mainstream Media. The Daily Mirror put out a story about a Russian secret assassins' training manual. These stories are laughable. Is the Tory government that desperate? Is the British "everyman" that gullible?

The secret assassin's manual reminds me of the 1924 "Zinoviev Letter", a counterfeit document produced by White Russians in Germany, purporting to demonstrate Soviet interference in British elections and planning for a socialist revolution. It was early days of "fake news". Parliamentary elections were underway in October 1924 and the Tories used the letter to attack the credibility of the Labour party. It was whipping up the red scare, and it worked like a charm. The Tories won a majority government. Soviet authorities claimed that the letter was bogus and they demanded a third party, independent investigation to ascertain the truth, just as the Russian government has done now. In 1924, the Tories refused, and understandably so, since they had a lot to hide. It took seventy-five years to determine that "the letter" was in fact counterfeit.

The Tories are again acting as if they have something to hide. It is déjà vu. Will it take seventy-five years to get at the truth? Are there any honest British cops, judges, civil servants ready to reveal the truth?

There is other evidence to suggest that the British narrative on the Salisbury incident is bogus. The London Metropolitan Police have sought to prevent any outside contact with the Skripals. They have taken away a recovered Yulia Skripal to an unknown location. They have until now denied Russian consular authorities access to a Russian citizen in violation of British approved consular agreements. Is there any chapter of international law, which the British government now respects? British authorities have denied access to Yulia Skripal's family in Russia; they have denied a visa to Yulia's cousin, Viktoria, to visit with her. Are British spooks grooming Yulia, briefing her to stay on the Tory narrative? Is she being manipulated like some kind of Manchurian Candidate? Have they induced her to betray her country in exchange for emoluments, a new identity in the United States, a house, a BMW and money? Are they playing upon her loyalty to her father? Based on a statement attributed to Yulia by the London Metropolitan Police, it begins to look that way . Or, is the message, sounding very British and official, quite simply a fake? The Russian embassy in London suspects that it is. What is certain is that British authorities are acting as though they have something to hide. Even German politicians, amongst others, have criticised the British rush to indict Russia. Damage control is underway. Given all the evidence, can any person with reasonable abilities to think critically believe anything the Tories are saying about the Salisbury affair?

"They are liars. And they know that they are liars," the late Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz once wrote: "And we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying ." Mahfouz was not writing about the British, but all the same, he could have been. Are not his well-known lines apposite to the present government in London?

The Tories are trying doggedly to maintain control of the narrative. Stakes are high for if it eventuates that the Tories have lied deliberately for political gain, at the risk of destabilising European, indeed world peace and security, the Tory government should be forced to resign and new elections, called. Then, the British electorate can decide whether it wants to be governed by reckless, mendacious Tory politicians who risk to provoke war against the Russian Federation. © 2010 - 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org . The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. Also by this author Michael Jabara Carley Professor of history at the Université de Montréal. He has published widely on Soviet relations with the West What Poland Has to Hide About the Origins of World War II The Canadian Prime Minister Needs a History Lesson The Russian V-Day Story (Or the History of World War II Not Often Heard in the West) Why Canada Defends Ukrainian Fascism Lament for Canada Sign up for the Strategic Culture Foundation Newsletter Subscribe


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© 2010 - 2020 | Strategic Culture Foundation | Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture online journal www.strategic-culture.org . The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation. <div><img src="https://mc.yandex.ru/watch/10970266" alt=""/></div>

[Jan 12, 2020] Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

Notable quotes:
"... What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | smoothiex12.blogspot.com

Axiosromano 2 days ago

The tramp & nutNyahoo machismo show continues to be fun to watch. Both show off their penis worms as they arrogantly claim they can crush iran. Both the usa and israel keep banging on the doors and walls of their pissed-off neighbors' houses. That eventually gets you murdered whether in baltimore or baghdad.

A crushable iran is true if and only if they can mount a full-on nuclear war on Iran. But such horrendous cheating means all bets are off, and iran's allies will provide the nukes required to melt down the American homeland too. Nobody, not even Russia and china, can afford to stay in the sidelines in a nuclear war in the 2020s.

What i find truly amazing is that American Zionists still believe crushing Iran is easy enough. Israel, with 8 million jews stuffed in a small country, is nothing more than a carrier battle group marooned on land. Sitting ducks, with nice armor, nukes and all, are ... still sitting ducks. nutNyahoo should ask his technical crew just how few megatons are needed, or just a few thousand modern missiles are required to transform sitting ducks into nicely roasted peking ducks.

So a conventional war it is. The usa and israel has exactly zero, zilch and nada chances of winning a war with iran. The usa keeps forgetting that it is a dying empire with dying funding value and mental resources. Just like israel which oddly thinks dozens of f-35s will give it immunity through air superiority. Proof of this fact that iran will win comes from simply asking american and israeli war experts to go on cnn or the washington post on how they intend to win a war with iran.

Im sure these expert bloviators will say that it is as easy as winning a naval war against china, which is capable of launching only 3 new warships in a week. Or an even easier time against russia, which can launch only a few thousand hypersonic nuke missiles because its GDP is no bigger than that of texas.

Rob Naardin 2 days ago

The Pentagon is super slow to adapt and learn. If you understand that bureaucracy is an ancient organizational structure and that the organizational culture of the Pentagon is pathologically dysfunctional you could have predicted the moral and financial bankruptcy of America 15-20 years ago. The "Why?", finally made sense when I discovered what a sociopath was.

It's about time the US practices what it preachs and start behaving like a normal country instead of a spoiled narcissistic brat. see more

tic_Fox Rob Naardin2 days ago • edited

US military & strategic thought became lazy during the late days of the Cold War. It mirrored the decline & fall of the foundations of its opponent, USSR. Post-Cold War, US military & strategic thinking flushed into the sewer. It was all about maintaining the military as some sort of a social policy jobs program, operating legacy tech as the mission. And then came the "world-improvers" -- beginning w the Clinton Admin -- who worked to turn the world into a global "urban renewal" project; meaning to mirror the success US Big Govt showed in the slums of American cities from sea to sea. The past 30 yrs of US strategic thinking and related governance truly disgusts me. see more

Vasya Pypkin Arctic_Fox2 days ago

Soviet union fall had very different reasons and Soviet military thought was doing quite well then along with military. Current russian military wonders is completion of what was started then and not finished earlier because of the disintegration of the Soviet state.
The soviet fall however is extremely regrettable because there was a new way how things can be done that Soviet union was showing to the world. USA fall long term is a very good thing because USA is a paragon of how things should be done the old way and basically a huge parasite. Many negative trends that are afflicting the world were started by USA. Unlimited individualism and consumerism would be a couple of those. see more

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago
Why does almost every person on Earth feel the need to force others to bend the knee to their beliefs?

Religious beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in an afterlife, political beliefs are what one thinks should be done to promote survival in this world.

The world would be a far better, more civilized, of world if such beliefs were only shared on a voluntary basis.

As for individualism, I would rather be free than live in a modern day egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribe run by modern day psychopathic alpha-males.

That is certainly not a recipe for success. see more

AriusArmenian Arctic_Fox2 days ago

It also mirrors the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It was Emperor Augustus that decided the costs to further expand the Empire were too great after losing one (or two?) legions against the Germanic tribes.

The US has reached its greatest extent. We are living through it. The US didn't go forward into war with Iran twice. The odds of humanity surviving this immense turn of history is looking better. see more

Vasya Pypkin AriusArmenian2 days ago • edited

Frankly, nothing in common. I read this comparison all the time. Yes, Augustus decided not to continue along with expansion into Germany after losing 3 Varus legions due to ambush.

But he famously noted that it does not worth to go fishing with golden hook. Basically speaking, Germany was not worth fighting for. Poor and remote it had nothing to offer. Just a drain on resources. As long as conquest was moving smoothly it was ok, but after losses were inflicted Augustus decided it was not worth it.

Roman expansion under augustus was carried mostly to consolidate previous conquests and create strategical debth along core and strategical provinces also creating linkage.

When enemy far stronger than germans posed resources which made the whole conquest worthy no amount of resistance saved Dacians and Parthia also almost died under Trajan attack.

Roman policies were adequate and wise. Treaties were respected, allies supported and benefited. Empire was build around Mediterranean creating good communication and routes considering obviously limits of that day technology.

Rome did not behave like crazy and did not deliver threats that she could not follow through. When war was decided upon thorough preparations were taken. Political goals were achieved. Wars were won. When Adrian considered that empire was overextended in Parthis, he simply abandoned all conquered territories. Just like that.

Logical calm thinking USA,is not capable of. Rome truly based upon superior military and diplomacy dominance lasted many centuries. USA few decades. One hit wonder, lucky fool I would call it. see more

Arctic_Fox Vasya Pypkin17 hours ago

Interesting account of Roman strategic concept of forward presence, versus administering the internal lines of communication... see more

WHAT2 days ago

They left equipment in the open on that base and ran away. No AA fire whatsoever. This is how much they are ready to take a punch. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod WHAT2 days ago

Yes, this is somewhat puzzling. As I said, let's wait and see where it all develops to, but as Twisted Genius succinctly observed -- Iran now controls tempo because she has conventional superiority. Anyone who has precision-guided, stand off weaponry in good numbers will be on top. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .2 days ago

The old submarine saying is, "There are two kinds of ships; submarines, and targets."
.
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets." (And per the photos, those Iranian missiles were quite precise; bulls-eyes.)
.
Iran and its missiles demonstrated that the entire strategic foundation for US mil presence in the Middle East is now obsolete. Everything the US would ever want to do there is now subject to Iran's version of "steel rain." Every runway, hangar, aircraft parking area; every supply depot or warehouse; every loading pier, fuel site, naval pier. Everything... is a target. And really... there's no amount of US "airpower" and "tech" than can mitigate the Iran missile threat.
.
Meanwhile, related thinking... Iran's true strategic interest is NOT fighting a near-term war w/ USA. Iran wants US to exit Middle East; and Iran wants to be able to pursue its nuclear program. Soleimani or no, Iran appears to have its eyeballs fixed on the long-term goals. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod Arctic_Fox2 days ago • edited
The new version for land ops is, "There are two kinds of land-based military assets; precision-guided missiles, and targets."

Exactly, and Iran has long-range TLAMs in who knows what numbers, That, in its turn, brings about the next issue of range for Iranian indigenous anti-ship missiles. Not, of course, to mention the fact of only select people knowing if Russia transferred P-800 Onyx to Iran She certainly did it for Syria. If that weapon is there--the Persian Gulf and Hormuz Strait will be shut completely closed and will push out CBGs far into the Indian Ocean. see more

Vasya Pypkin smoothieX12 .a day ago

It is simply pathetic after decades of talking non stop about developments of anti missiles and huge amounts wasted and nobody is responsible. This is the way capitalism works.profits is everything and outcomes secondary. Thankfully russia has got soviet foundation and things so far are working well. I come to think that in our times no serious industrial processes should be allowed to stay in private hands. Only services and so.e other simpler stuff under heavy state control to ensure quality. Otherwise profit orientation will eventually destroy everything like with Boeing.

Drapetomania Vasya Pypkin16 hours ago observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I know, i already wrote a full scale war scenario in one of the comments. Iran can destroy all US bases in 2000 km range. But this does not mean that it can not be bombed back to the stone age, if the US really wishes so. The problem for the US is the high cost as well as the high debt levels, but it does have the technical capability to do that after 2 - 3 years of bombing.

Also low yield tactical nukes are designed to lower the treshold of the use of nukes in otherwise conventional war, producing less international outrage than the megaton city buster bombs. Why do you think the US is developing them again? Because they would want to use them in conventional conflicts.

Here btw is Yurasumy, he also says that the US can technically bomb Iran back to the stone age, but the cost will be too high.

Play Hide

https://cdn.embedly.com/

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited
if the US really wishes so.

Again--what's the plan and what's the price? Iran HAS Russia's ISR on her side in case of such SEAD.

Does the United States want to risk lives of thousands of its personnel (not to speak of expensive equipment) in Qatar, KSA, Iraq. Does Israel want to "get it"?

There are numbers which describe such an operation (it was. most likely, already planned as contingency). Immediate question: when was the last time USAF operated in REAL dense ECM and ECCM environment? I do not count some brushes with minimal EW in Syria.

Russia there uses only minimally required option, for now. Iran has a truck load EW systems, including some funny Russian toys which allowed Iran to take control of US UAVs, as an example. As I say, this is not Iraq and by a gigantic margin. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

I already said that debt levels do not allow it and the price would be too high, but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means. It is another question that it is not in good fiscal shape. Anyway, US ballistic missiles (non nuclear armed) will be hard to stop by EW. Even if Iran gets rid of 50 % of incoming TLAMs, the US will keep sending more and more until most infrastructure, bridges, oil refineries, power plants, factories, ports etc. are destroyed. This is why i said it would take 2 - 3 years. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago
but yes, the US does have the military capability to destroy Iran. By conventional means

That is the whole point: NO, it doesn't. Unless US goes into full mobilization mode and addresses ALL (plus a million more not listed) requirements for such a war which I listed in the post. Well, that or nukes. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Yurasumy is a pretty good analist and he thinks that they can. I do not see it for the US being too hard to produce more TLAMS, ICBMs and IRBMs (conventional) to sustain the effort for 2 years, by that time most iranian infrastructure will be destroyed. If the fiscal situation allowes it. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

I don't know who Yarasumy is and what is his background, but unlike him I actually write books, including on modern warfare. This is not to show off, but I am sure I can make basic calculations. This is not to mention the fact that even Sivkov agrees with my points and Sivkov, unlike Yarsumy, graduated Popov's VVMURE, served at subs, then graduated Kuznetsov Academy, then Academy of the General Staff and served in Main Operational Directorate (GOU) until retiring in the rank of Captain 1st Rank from the billet of Combat Planning group. So, I would rather stick to my opinion. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago

Why do you think that the US can not destroy Iran with IRBMs? Actually this is their strategy vs China. If they think its viable vs China, then it should be viable vs Iran too. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago • edited

Because unlike the US, Russia's Air Defenses have a rather very impressive history of shifting the balance in wars in favor of those who have them, when used properly. But then I can quote for you a high ranking intelligence officer:

A friend of mine who has expertise in these matters wrote me:

Any air defense engineer with a securityclearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia'sair defense technology surpassed us in the 1950's and we've never been able to catch up. The systems thy have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot 3's look like fucking nerf guns.

Read the whole thing here:

https://turcopolier.typepad...

Mathematics is NOT there for the United States for a real combined operations war of scale with Iran. Unless US political class really wants to see people with pitch-forks. see more

Arctic_Fox smoothieX12 .17 hours ago

"Mathematics is not there..."
.
Neither is the industrial base, including supply lines. Not the mines, mills, factories to produce any significant levels of warfighting materiel such as we're talking about here. Not the workforce, either. Meanwhile, where are the basic designs for these weps? The years of lab work, bench tests, pilot specimens & prototypes, the development pipeline? The contractors to build them? the Tier 2, 3, 4 suppliers? Where are the universities that train such people as are needed? Where is the political will? Where is the government coordination? Where is the money? Indeed, every Democrat and probably half the Republicans who run for office campaign on controlling military spending; not that USA gets all that much benefit from the current $800 billion per year. see more

observerBG smoothieX12 .2 days ago • edited

That would require S-500 - ballistic missile defense. Maybe 15 - 20 S-500 in Iran will be needed. And it is not yet in the army. see more

smoothieX12 . Mod observerBG2 days ago

You see, here is the difference--I can calculate approximate required force for that but I don't want to. It is Friday. You can get some basic intro into operational theory (and even into Salvo Equations) in my latest book. Granted, my publisher fought me tooth and nail to remove as much match as possible. But I'll give you a hint--appearance of S-500 on any theater of operations effectively closes it off effectively for any missile or aircraft operations when deployed in echeloned (multi-layer) AD. see more

[Jan 11, 2020] New category of Russian agents: The level of fake information in coverage of neoliberal MSM of Iranian event force people to read Sputnik and Xinhua

Notable quotes:
"... It's as if the entire capital city of the US has become a mental asylum / Hotel California ..."
Jan 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jen , Jan 10 2020 19:30 utc | 1

The sheer arrogance and wilful blindness expressed in the US State Department press statement and WaPo staffer Louisa Loveluck's tweets are astounding beyond belief. It's as if the entire capital city of the US has become a mental asylum / Hotel California , where one can enter but never leave spiritually and morally, though one can take many physical trips in and out of the madhouse.

Iraq definitely does need the S-300 missile defense systems. The most pressing issue though is whether the Iraqis will suffer the delays Syria suffered in acquiring those systems even after paying for them.

Time now is of the essence. Iraqi operators need to be trained in those systems. Syria may be able to supply some training but at the risk of letting down its guard in sending some of its operators to Baghdad and exposing them to US drone attacks.

[Jan 10, 2020] The level of disinformation produced by fake news outliets controlled by intelligence agencies is just staggering. You cna't beleve a single work in politically changed fortin covergarate

They really are able to turn white into black and black into white.
Notable quotes:
"... 1) Occurs as Iran is on brink of war with USA?; 2) Indications of USA using info war tactics; 3) airliner owner by Kolomoisky? 4) No communication with tower? 5) USA and Israel history of duplicity and narrative management (example: MH-17). ..."
"... NATO has weaponized aircraft accident investigations. Lawfare in combination with state terrorism. ..."
"... The Ukies know how to obliterate a debris field. MH-17 -- They used artillery for months to keep OSCE and Dutch officials away, and despite the locals working to protect the deceased and the debris, body parts have been found years later. ..."
Jan 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
Rob , Jan 10 2020 17:46 utc | 2
There were also clear sightings of a missile to bring down TWA 800. Except it didn't. As an Navy Pilot , flight instructor and 737 captain this does not at 1st or 2nd glance appear to be a missile strike. Catastropic engine failure is my bet. They made most of the turn back to the airport before losing integrity or loss of thrust.

Good analysis.


vk , Jan 10 2020 17:52 utc | 3

US Claim of Ukrainian Boeing 737 Plane Being Hit by Missile Aims to Manipulate Stock Markets
On Wednesday, Boeing's shares plummeted by 2.3 percent ($3.4bn) after the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed in Tehran due to encountering a technical glitch.

On Thursday, the stock rose by 3 percent after unnamed Pentagon officials claimed that the Ukrainian passenger plane was most likely brought down by anti-aircraft missiles, and US President Donald Trump implicitly supported the claim. This has been read by analysists as an attempt to manipulate the stock market; a measure that would both overshadow Trump's failure in Iraq and save Boeing from bankruptcy.

Russia says no grounds to blame Iran for Ukrainian plane crash: TASS

I didn't find the article on TASS. Maybe it was in its Russian version, or in its TV/Radio/Podcast version.

I don't discard a terrorist attack from the inside, or sabotage of the plane by the Ukrainian government. What I think is missile attack can be pretty much discarded: the evidence the Iranians already have through their air control data discard any possibility, by sheer logic alone, that that was the case.

Unless, of course, the Iranians are lying. But then there isn't any cui bono for Iran to lie about it (if it was a mistake they wanted to cover, they could blame a random independent militia so as to give plausible deniability) with the technical malfunction argument, and now Russia's foreign minister Ryabkov is on the boat with it - so I don't see the cui bono for Russia either.

ninel , Jan 10 2020 17:58 utc | 4
A little guide to Iran's modern history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988_executions_of_Iranian_political_prisoners
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chain_murders_of_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_student_protests,_July_1999
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahra_Kazemi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foreign_nationals_detained_in_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_in_Iran
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Iran

Perseus wore a magic cap so that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. Some of you choose to draw the magic cap down over your eyes and ears so as to make-believe that there are no monsters in Iran.

Per/Norway , Jan 10 2020 18:03 utc | 5
Posted by: ninel | Jan 10 2020 17:58 utc | 4

"Some of you choose to draw the magic cap down over your eyes and ears so as to make-believe that there are no monsters in Iran."

No, it is a lot easier than that.

Most of us dont get paid to post bs about the imperial enemies like you, and most off us still know how to use our brain.
That is it, nothing more nothing less.

PavewayIV , Jan 10 2020 18:10 utc | 6
Rob@2 - What do you make of the loss of ADS-B? Could a catastrophic engine failure take out both power buses? The ADS-B transceiver? I know a the turbine blades turn into little missile blades when they decide to leave the engine, but I have no idea of the way power is transferred when either bus or the standby goes down. I assume automatic? Are the transfer switches anywhere near the engines? Does the APU automatically fire up? I assume the ADS-B box is in the electronics bay, but where is the antenna?

karlof1 , Jan 10 2020 18:37 utc | 12
Thanks b! As I commented towards the end of the previous thread on this topic, the mundane evidence has already been shown. IMO, if a missile or bomb was employed, the Iranians would be yelling louder than anyone and the denials would be coming from BigLie Media instead of accusations. And as I answered psychohistorian, the massive coverage by BigLie media serves as narrative distraction from what's being obfuscated--casualties taken by Outlaw US Empire troops and the BDA presented by Iranian Military.

In that regard, The Saker's update sticks to the important facts of the now escalated ongoing war between Iran and the Evil Empire.


Jackrabbit , Jan 10 2020 19:11 utc | 17
Sorry, but there's good reasons to suspect foul play - as I and others have explained on the last thread.

1) Occurs as Iran is on brink of war with USA?; 2) Indications of USA using info war tactics; 3) airliner owner by Kolomoisky? 4) No communication with tower? 5) USA and Israel history of duplicity and narrative management (example: MH-17).

<> <> <> <>

Also: IMO it's dangerous for Iran to invite experts from a group of Western countries. What is likely to happen is that all the Western experts will be pressure to disagree with Iran's findings. CIA knows that people will believe the "group of experts!" over Iran.

!!

pleasebeleafme , Jan 10 2020 19:12 utc | 18
I don't know how anal Iran is about keeping track of ordinance but they must be pretty certain as to whether they downed the plane or not! Looks like they are being transparent and open. If they come out of this proving engine failure or something else then this could be a great pr coup.
There would be a lot of egg on many faces trying to explain how the intelligence is wrong yet again. I look forward to watching trudeau walk that back. Hopefully!
Gary , Jan 10 2020 19:17 utc | 19
One explanation is the Boeing was used as a human shield, a military plane hides behind a slow moving plane when detected. The ukrainians did it with the MH17 and the israeli with the russian plane and tried it with the attack on damascus. In both cases there was a lot of dis-info and blaming right away. But the iranian would have known what the target was, and mentioned it, so very unlikely.

Another question is the possibility a smaller missile only damaged the plane, also very unlikely.

Head of Iran Civil Aviation Organization Ali Abedzadeh exaggerates: "From a scientific viewpoint, it is impossible that a missile hit the Ukrainian plane."

"We can say that the airplane, considering the kind of the crash and the pilot's efforts to return it to Imam Khomeini airport, didn't explode in the air. So, the allegation that it was hit by missiles is totally ruled out," the official noted.

Walter , Jan 10 2020 19:25 utc | 20
Dude, when you're in Wyoming and see critter tracks down by the creek, you would assume it was Martians rather than antelope? Get real. The Ukie blew a crappy GE engine...they have this characteristic...

Stay real, use Occam's Razor + physical evidence. Otherwise it's distraction and TBS...

TJ , Jan 10 2020 19:26 utc | 21
@11 Ernesto Che

Craig Murray has been tracking a propagandist Wikipedia editor called "Philip Cross", here is the main article, but there are others on his site The Philip Cross Affair

karlitozulu , Jan 10 2020 19:38 utc | 24
ninel@ #4

here is a little reminder of Murica's recent history:

From 1945 until today - 20 to 30 million people killed by the USA

https://www.voltairenet.org/article204021.html

so, when you talk about monsters are you talking about yourself? ;)

Piotr , Jan 10 2020 19:39 utc | 25
ICAO is in contact with the States involved and will assist them if called upon. Its leadership is stressing the importance of avoiding speculation into the cause of the tragedy pending the outcomes of the investigation ...

ICAO may be a worthy organization (some staff changes seem to be warranted), but isn't it a bit too much?! If this is a sincere wish of democratically elected heads of democratic nations that they want to form a harmonious chorus and speculate, then no mundane power can stop them. BTW, what is wrong with Zelensky that he did not join? PTSD after the brutal telephonies calls? I would add it to the list of proven damages to the security of those several states that will be debated in the Senate. [end of snark, "several states" is the entity named in the so-called Constitution of The United States of America].

journey80 , Jan 10 2020 19:50 utc | 26
The flight originated in Teheran, bound for Kiev, but where was it before it arrived in Iran? It could have been sabotaged anywhere; then easy, right, to set off an onboard bomb by remote control from the ground? I'm sure Iran is crawling with Mosssad/MI6/CIA spooks.
ninel , Jan 10 2020 19:51 utc | 27
@karlitozulu

So you turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by other countries or peoples because the US government is responsible for the most? Did you even complete your high school education with that sort of reasoning? I never absolved the US or any other country. Simpletons like you seem to live in a black and white world in which one side must be chosen over the other. I feel unfortunate for b or anyone else who frequents this blog who does not view the world in such a profoundly problematic way.

I am far more informed about Iranian politics, history, culture and religion than most people here. Please don't allow your hate for the USA, well justified, to cloud your judgment.

Symen Danziger , Jan 10 2020 19:53 utc | 28
NATO has weaponized aircraft accident investigations. Lawfare in combination with state terrorism.

It's time for new rules and regulations. ICAO Annex 13 was drafted in different times. A rule based order is ancient history.

People should be able to chose their destination, route and carrier based on personal preferences like price and comfort, not on factors like the latest or next conflict zone, corruption in the countries along the route, military and political adventurism, etc.

The world has gone crazy.

Willy2 , Jan 10 2020 20:01 utc | 33
- As said before: I didn't believe for one second that that ukrainian plane was shot down. It would have given the US simply another stick to beat up the iranian government. I assume the iranians are smart enough to know that. They simply don't want to escalate the situation more. Although Iran has now the "moral high ground" it is still (very) vulnerable in a number of ways.

- I think the ukrainian tourists were small traders. I.e. buy stuff e.g. clothing and other "merchandise" in Teheran, bring it into the Ukraine and then sell that "merchandise" in Ukraine with a (big) profit.

William Gruff , Jan 10 2020 20:05 utc | 35
We have a distinguished professor in our midst! Quite unlike the lowly regular professors or inconsequential adjunct instructors that normally grace these pages. Let me kick back and get a tan from the brilliance pouring out of this one! Us high latitude types have to get our Vitamin D wherever we can.

As for my lack of criticism of Iran's government, that's the business of the Iranian people and none of my own. The Evil Empire attacking Iran? That, unfortunately, is everyone's business whether they want it to be or not.

Why is it that these wise guys from the West (Americans mostly) feel it is their duty to criticize everyone else's governments and cultures when the examples they are setting themselves are so appallingly bad? Maybe these distinguished critics of other peoples' ways of life feel that it is easier to fix those other peoples' societies than it is to fix their own. After all, they apparently feel that fixing other countries just requires some number of bombs, while fixing their own country... where do they even start? How do you fix perfection?

Jen , Jan 10 2020 20:06 utc | 36
I'd be curious to know whether the flight crew on board Flight PS752 had had sufficient rest. Three hours of resting do not seem like sufficient time but that depends on the journey the plane made to Tehran, the duration of that journey and where it started. Was the plane also checked for signs of wear and tear during the three-hour-plus pause?

Are UIA's owners (among them Ihor Kolomoisky) working their employees and hardware assets too hard and too cheaply as well?

Walter , Jan 10 2020 20:33 utc | 43
@ Rob | Jan 10 2020 17:46 utc | 2

Yes. I think so too. Looks like the engine ran at reduced thrust as they turned, and then failed entirely at below minimum control speed, with the expected result, asymmetrical stall, yaw, roll, bang.

There are pictures of severe erosion of what looks like compressor wheel from, presumably, ingestion of foreign material. Crap on the runway probably, and pencil-whipped maintenance, I should imagine.

foolisholdman , Jan 10 2020 20:36 utc | 44
bevin | Jan 10 2020 18:52 utc | 15

Reuters was bought by Rothschild some years ago.

PavewayIV , Jan 10 2020 21:01 utc | 49
journey80@26 - Kiev is Ukrainian Airlines main hub. The 737 arrived from Kiev earlier that morning and was returning there.

Jen@36 - No reason to do anything but a cursory safety check at Tehran. The airline's mechanics are in Kiev - anything beyond a normal pre-flight check involving maintenance would be done there, not Tehran. I doubt the crew was rested. That's not how UAI rolls on it's hub round-trips.

UAI is also bleeding money like crazy. They're nearly bankrupt and stole the money they collect from passengers for the Ukraine Civil Aviation Authority fees. Tens of millions USD. The new CEO promises to fix everything somehow. I guess by overworking crews, skipping maintenance and crappy service. Those are always money-savers for cheap, poorly-run airlines (prior to bankruptcy). Too bad. Supposedly it wasn't that bad of an airline when they first added passenger service to their existing cargo ops a decade ago, but has been going downhill ever since.

"Some real gems you got following your blog b."
So why are you here?

Peter AU1 , Jan 10 2020 21:39 utc | 56
Ocams razor... bookies odds... planes fall out o the sky from time to time for all sorts of reasons not related to malicious activity. What are the odds of this occurring in Iran shortly after an Iran strike on a US base.

The US has and does use terrorist tactics such as shooting down passenger jets. Trump threatened Iran with retribution against cultural sites and so forth (terrorist actions). Fifty two targets of fifty two ways of getting back at Iran.

What are the odds US would down a passenger jet in Iran within hours of Iran's strike against their base.

I have to go with US terrorist actions for that one. Similar to the protests in Iraq. The people had genuine grievances as do all good color revolutions but the were just too advantageous for the US for it not to be a made in the US color revolution style protest. We now know from the Iraq PM that is exactly what it was.

Walter , Jan 10 2020 22:05 utc | 58
The odds are unrelated unless there's agency. No agency has been credibly proposed. You know this is so, as the probability maths in se have been discussed previously @ MoA.

But of course, the US does murder all over the place, so if there is agency, then I tend to agree with the idea that "they" or their cohort in zionishland may be causative. What are the "odds" that the engine shown has severe blade erosion? Again 100% . Engine swallows scrap off the tarmac...a dependent relation, drop junk in engine, blades damaged, run at 100%, 100% "chance" of engine failure.

Repeating the essence of the matter of odds>

"Two events are independent, statistically independent, or stochastically independent if the occurrence of one does not affect the probability of occurrence of the other (equivalently, does not affect the odds). Similarly, two random variables are independent if the realization of one does not affect the probability distribution of the other."

ie without a dependent relationship the odds are whatever the odds are for engine failure and crash. And the other odds don't exist, because those events, the shooting, was not random or accidental. The odds of Iran firing rockets in reprisal was dependent on the US attacks, ie 100%

But if you're building engines at GE, or obsolete defective airplanes in Seattle, then of course the odds are that you devoutly wish it was a rocket up the tailpipe... Pay-day's come Friday, and all of that...

dave , Jan 10 2020 22:29 utc | 59
@PavewayIV

The APU will auto-shutdown for the following reasons:

Fire
Low oil pressure
High oil temperature / Fault
Overspeed

http://www.b737.org.uk/apu.htm

t , Jan 10 2020 22:38 utc | 62
Would like to see debunk the NYT video: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/09/video/iran-plane-missile.html

Have checked it myself (google earth etc) after being skeptical and the landmarks and sounds do indeed seem to match.

Bigben , Jan 10 2020 22:51 utc | 66
This link is worth reading. I can't play the video on my computer, but we will see if this theory gains traction during the next few days.

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2020/01/10/video-of-ukrainian-airliner-in-failed-landing-with-burning-engine-makes-trump-a-chump/

t , Jan 10 2020 23:02 utc | 69
@Poor,

I know NYT is a sham, and believe me I held my intellectual nose as I went into its site. It's not somewhere I frequent at all.

I did think about the point you made too, but there are 2 issues:

1) In the other 2 videos we see the plane as it's already burning, we don't see it in its "before" state. For me it's reasonable to imagine the hit on the impact caused some initial burning which was extinguished due to wind, and then started back up again a few moments after the NYT video ended and before the other 2 videos began.

2) If the NYT video is indeed doctored (and for me it would be a pretty convincing doctor), why wouldn't the creator simply keep the light going until the end of the vid?

Likklemore , Jan 10 2020 23:39 utc | 74
Iran to Announce Cause of Ukraine Jet Crash Tomorrow - Reports
Iran will announce the cause of the Ukrainian Boeing 737 crash after the accident investigation commission meeting on Saturday, the Fars News agency reported on Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

"Tomorrow, after the meeting of the civil aviation accident investigation commission, the cause of the crash of the Ukrainian passenger plane will be announced", the source said.

Domestic and foreign parties, whose citizens died in the crash, will take part in the Saturday meeting, the outlet added. They will announce the reason for the accident after reviewing the preliminary report.

Ukraine says Iran cooperating with Boeing crash probe, calls to reduce media speculation

[.]Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko asked that the media not spread "unconfirmed" information on Friday, pleading with reporters to "reduce the level of speculation" while the probe continues. The experts are still analyzing evidence, looking at the bodies of the victims and the wreckage in hope of gaining insight into what took down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, killing all 176 people on board.[,]
A User , Jan 11 2020 1:27 utc | 78
If no one had engaged with nine-drongos the thread would not have been disrupted and perhaps a useful dialog about the plane crash could have ensued. Those who did swallow the hook are just as guilty the original whatabouter of making this thread useless - good job. I would say exercise some discipline but that would be a waste of breath given the insecurities about their beliefs too many here apparently have. Letting some arsehole spout uninterrupted is a better indication of your point of view than anger, hysteria or ad hominem. Your stupidity has caused a thread to fail.
Red Ryder , Jan 11 2020 1:34 utc | 82
The Ukies know how to obliterate a debris field. MH-17 -- They used artillery for months to keep OSCE and Dutch officials away, and despite the locals working to protect the deceased and the debris, body parts have been found years later.

Patience, folks. The truth will come out.

Tom , Jan 11 2020 2:03 utc | 83
#57 posted by Poor Ramin Mazaheri who works for Press TV and has had many articles published on The Saker. He would describe the Iranian economy as socialist with Iranian charters. The link to the article below is an excellent source for information on Iran's economy.

What comes as a surprise to me is ICAO seems to have some integrity. It seems the US and friends haven't completely taken it over.

You can judge someone by their friends. NATO and the terrorists in Idlib have backed the killing of Soleimani. Who seems to enjoy killing civilians? The US just droned killed 60 civilians in Afghanistan. Information provided by the Iraqi prime minister showed the US is willing to use snipers and paid protesters to tear Iraq apart. They utterly destroyed Mosul and Raqqa without regard for civilians. The Syrian government has tried to avoid civilian deaths, which is why those who want to cause chaos in the region always accuses them of targeting civilians. So the US would have no problem getting MEK to or some other group to shoot the plane down but I'm leaning against that scenario.

The US has been planning to control oil for a long time. In 1975 a feasibility study was prepared for the Special Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on International Relations on "Oil fields as military objectives", better described as bringing Democracy to the Middle East. Well, they did that sorta in Iraq, and now the Iraq government has politely asked the US to leave and the Iranians have demonstrated to them why they should leave. I'm not sure if the Ukrainian plane crashing is the next move the US has made in this great game, but I would put my money on shoddy management of the Ukrainian plane. Why not, the country is barely functioning. I doubt the plane was hit with a missle. More likely the US can't pass up an opportunity for stirring trouble and the MSM has no problem memory holing another lie.

http://thesaker.is/sanctions-on-khamenei-ending-the-myth-of-the-millionaire-mullah/

[Jan 09, 2020] It looks like UK and the USA intelligences agencies run the contest to see who can come up with the most surreal anti-Russian propaganda psy-ops

Highly recommended!
For MI6 this level of detachment from reality is stunning
Notable quotes:
"... "The UK's Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6, has been scrambling to prevent President Trump from publishing classified materials linked to the Russian election meddling investigation. ... much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil throughout 2016." ..."
"... "Gregory R. Copley, editor and publisher of Defense & Foreign Affairs, posited that Sergei Skripal is the unnamed Russian intelligence source in the Steele dossier. ... In Skripal's pseudo-country-gentleman retirement, the ex-GRU-MI6 double agent was selling custom-made "Russian intelligence"; he had fabricated "material" that went into the Steele dossier..." ..."
Nov 24, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
Likbez,

It looks like UK and USA are engaged in the contest to see who can come up with the most surreal anti-Russian propaganda psy-ops.

British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns

That shed some light on the common origin of MH17, Russiagate and Scripal propaganda campaigns connecting all three with British government's psy-op operation called The ' Integrity Initiative ' which builds 'cluster' or contact groups of trusted journalists, military personal, academics and lobbyists within foreign countries. These people get alerts via social media to take action when the British center perceives a need.

And among others participants, William Browder is listed too:

Members of the Atlantic Council, which has a contract to censor Facebook posts , appear on several cluster lists. The UK core cluster also includes some prominent names like tax fraudster William Browder , the daft Atlantic Council shill Ben Nimmo and the neo-conservative Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. One person of interest is Andrew Wood who handed the Steele 'dirty dossier' to Senator John McCain to smear Donald Trump over alleged relations with Russia. A separate subcluster of so-called journalists names Deborah Haynes, David Aaronovitch of the London Times, Neil Buckley from the FT and Jonathan Marcus of the BBC.
Here is one interesting comment from MoA:

Anya, Nov 24, 2018 11:57:00 AM

The British government has been running a serious meddling into the US affairs:

https://www.zerohedge.com/n...

"The UK's Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6, has been scrambling to prevent President Trump from publishing classified materials linked to the Russian election meddling investigation. ... much of the espionage performed on the Trump campaign was conducted on UK soil
throughout 2016."
A Steele & Skrupal's anti-Russian / anti-Trump saga: https://spectator.org/big-d...
"Gregory R. Copley, editor and publisher of Defense & Foreign Affairs, posited that Sergei Skripal is the unnamed Russian intelligence source in the Steele dossier. ... In Skripal's pseudo-country-gentleman retirement, the ex-GRU-MI6 double agent was selling custom-made "Russian intelligence"; he had fabricated "material" that went into the Steele dossier..."
For M16 to expose this level of stupidity is stunning.

[Jan 09, 2020] Major General Soleimani's Assassination Isn't Going to Start World War III

Jan 09, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

Qasem Soleimani was assassinated on January 2nd, 2020 in Baghdad by a drone strike ordered by Israel-first Trump. The Iranian Commander of the 'Quds Force' was murdered alongside the leader of the Iraqi 'Popular Mobilization Forces', Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, aka Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in addition to at least 6 other persons.

It was a coward act by a coward President who's no better than a gangbanger on a drive-by shooting targeting unarmed individuals, who in this case were on a diplomatic mission .

Who was General Soleimani?

"It was through his leadership that the IRGC greatly assisted the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in its destruction of Daesh (ISIS). He's played a larger role than any individual in defeating terrorism in Syria and Iraq, and he was widely respected as among one of the most brilliant unconventional warfare tacticians in recent memory. It was because of his success, however, that he became a most hated foe He was therefore marked for death," wrote Andrew Korybko. By Andrew Korybko Global Research, January 03, 2020 Region: Middle East & North Africa Theme: US NATO War Agenda In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR?

The US carried out a de-facto act of war against Iran after assassinating Major General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force in Baghdad last night, but despite the doomsday scenarios that many in Alt-Media are speculating that this will lead to, the commencement of World War III is extremely unlikely for several reasons.

***

The "Decapitation Strike" That Shook The World

Trump's approval of the US' assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force in Baghdad last night amounts to a de-facto act of war against Iran, but it wasn't the decision of a "madman" or someone whose permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies ("deep state") didn't think this completely through. Rather, it was a premeditated "decapitation strike" carried out to prove the US' conventional "escalation dominance" in its regional proxy war with Iran, one which America surely knows will elicit a kinetic response of some sort from the Islamic Republic but which the Pentagon and its regional allies are prepared for. Contrary to the narrative bandied about in Alt-Media , the US didn't "surrender" the Mideast to Russia and Iran in recent years (who, to be clear, are not "allies", but anti-terrorist "partners of convenience" in Syria) despite some regional setbacks to its grand strategy, but merely adjusted the nature through which it intends to restore its influence there.

Background Context

Instead of continuing to waste hundreds of millions of dollars a day funding the counterproductive 100,000-strong occupation of Iraq and potentially exposing that many troops ("sitting ducks") to retaliatory attacks, it decided to scale down its conventional presence there and replace it with highly trained Marines and special forces that operate with the support of targeted missile strikes. It was one such strike earlier in the week against the Popular Mobilization Units' (PMU) Kataib Hezbollah, which is integrated into the Iraqi Armed Forces, that provoked the group's supporters (allegedly with the coordination of the IRGC according to the US) into besieging the American Embassy in Baghdad. Trump responded by immediately dispatching troops to the world's largest diplomatic facility and bragging on Twitter that this was his " anti-Benghazi " moment in a clear swipe at Obama's notorious failure to protect American diplomats back in 2012 when they were in similar circumstances.

Once the unrest died down following the organizers' decision to withdraw after they declared that their "message has been heard", US Secretary of Defense ominously warned that his country could take "preemptive action" if it detects any signals that Iran is supposedly planning more anti-American attacks in Iraq. The Islamic Republic denied that it played any role in the recent events unfolding in the neighboring country, but the US obviously didn't believe it. It therefore set out to assassinate Maj. Gen. Soleimani in order to send the message that it's serious about "deterring" any forthcoming allegedly Iranian-connected anti-American attacks seeing as how it blamed him for being involved in the latest ones. It also wanted to put additional pressure on Iran to withdraw from Iraq, but probably expected that it could exploit Tehran's response to this de-facto act of war as a pretext for further intensifying its pressure campaign through more "decapitation strikes". This attack therefore dangerously escalated tensions with Iran and made many observers fear the onset of World War III.

Some Words About Maj. Gen. Soleimani

What follows isn't an excuse for America's actions, but simply a cold, hard analysis explaining why Trump decided to assassinate Solemani and thus carry out a de-facto act of war against Iran, one which will not lead to World War III despite the fearmongering speculation that's taken social media by storm ever since. Simply put, Iran misjudged the US' resolve to regain its lost influence in the region and never thought that it would escalate the situation to this level, hence why Maj. Gen. Solemani had no fear of being killed in the heart of Baghdad despite the US' conventional air superiority and explicit warnings that it could take "preemptive action" against Iran if it believes that it played any role whatsoever in any forthcoming anti-American attacks. It doesn't matter whether or not the PMU's Kataib Hezbollah is justified in seeking the removal of US forces from the country through any means possible or if it coordinates those actions with the IRGC since all that's important is that the US was looking for a pretext to carry out its calculated "decapitation strike" against Maj. Gen. Soleimani.

A few words about him are appropriate at this point. It was through his leadership that the IRGC greatly assisted the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in its destruction of Daesh. He's played a larger role than any individual in defeating terrorism in Syria and Iraq, and he was widely respected as among one of the most brilliant unconventional warfare tacticians in recent memory. It was because of his success, however, that he became one of the US' most hated foes since he contributed to the defeat of Washington's regional proxy forces and thus was partly responsible for the decline in American influence there lately. He was therefore marked for death by the US, but Trump knew that killing him without any pretext would be an unnecessary escalation so he wanted to save that "ace up his sleeve" for later. Iran knows that the US wants it to withdraw from Syria and Iraq but steadfastly refuses because it has the legal right to remain there at the request of those countries' internationally recognized governments, but nevertheless, the US thinks that "might makes right" and is trying to force it out.

The Islamic Republic Won't Commit Suicide

American and "Israeli" strikes against allegedly IRGC-allied PMU forces over the past month or so were intended to achieve that outcome, which naturally prompted those forces to kinetically react by targeting a US base earlier in the week that afterwards served as the pretext for America's latest attack against Kataib Hezbollah which in turn triggered the embassy siege. There's no doubt that the US is escalating the situation in contravention of international law and targeting anti-terrorist forces that contributed to the defeat of Daesh, but polemics -- while having their "perception management" purposes -- are pointless when it comes to analyzing situations as objectively as possible and forecasting what might come next. Therefore, they're being excluded from this piece going forward. Having gotten that out of the way, it's now time to turn the article's attention towards rebutting the fearmongering claims that World War III is about to start after Maj. Gen. Soleimani's assassination.

Iran has the international legal right to defend itself, and its Supreme Leader already vowed a " harsh revenge " to that end, but it's extremely unlikely to take the form of direct attacks against the US or its allies. As much as the next phrase is going to trigger many Alt-Media folks, the US military is capable of destroying Iran in minutes so long as it's willing to bear the regional costs of its actions, both short-term in the sense of casualties and long-term as it relates to the geopolitical future of the Mideast. After proving his commitment to overwhelmingly respond to any anti-American attacks that his government alleges (whether truthfully or not) are carried out with any degree of Iranian coordination, Trump certainly wouldn't hesitate to bomb Iran itself if missiles were launched from there against his or his allies' forces. The Islamic Republic knows that it would literally be suicide to do such a thing, and despite what neoconservatives, Zionists, and Wahhabis claim about the Iranian authorities, they aren't an "apocalyptic death cult" and thus aren't going to start World War III.

Several Scenarios

There's no doubt that Iran could inflict very serious damage to its regional foes if it chooses to "go out with a bang" (whether after being provoked to do so or at its own prerogative), but it's much more likely that its response to Maj. Gen. Soleimani's assassination will take the form of intensified Unconventional Warfare against their interests. The US and its allies must have clearly foreseen this and will likely blame Iran for anything that happens in the coming days no matter whether it's truly involved or not, using that as a pretext for more "decapitation strikes" and other similar measures intended to decimate it and its allies' forces. The nature of conflict between the two sides is therefore asymmetric since the US has conventional dominance whereas Iran has its unconventional counterpart, and both might be put to the test in the event of another US Embassy siege in Baghdad, which is very probable in the coming days seeing as how Iraqi society is seething with rage and can easily assemble a critical mass of protesters to besiege the compound once again.

For as big of a prize as seizing the world's largest diplomatic facility would be for whoever can take it (be it Iran, Iranian-allied, or otherwise), there's no way that Trump would let that happen. Just like the Berlin Airlift of the Old Cold War, the US would carry out a Baghdad Airlift if it need be, which could entail leveling entire neighborhoods in order to prevent its enemies from hiding anti-air missiles there for taking down its air assets. One can only speculate how such a scenario would unfold, but there shouldn't be any question in anyone's mind about the US backing down, especially not during an election year and definitely not after Trump proudly boasted that this is his "anti-Benghazi" moment. Another potential retaliatory scenario is disrupting energy transit through the Strait of Hormuz, but that would affect more than just the US and surely elicit universal condemnation from everyone except perhaps allied Syria, just like if Hezbollah or other IRGC-allied forces decide to bomb " Israel " (in which case it and the US would certainly respond through military means).

Don't Expect Russia Or China To Save Iran

It's "politically inconvenient" for many of Iran's supporters across the world to accept, but the country doesn't have any state-based military allies willing to go to war alongside it except perhaps Syria, but the SAA has been utterly devastated over the last 9 years and is now a shadow of its former self. There is also absolutely no way that Russia would allow Syria to actively participate in any state-based military hostilities alongside Iran because doing so would endanger the forces and substantial investments that it has in the Arab Republic nowadays. Speaking of which, Russia isn't Iran's ally, but "Israel's" , though it wouldn't go to war alongside the self-professed "Jewish State" but rather stay out of any potential conflict between the two (which wouldn't last long considering that the US' conventional dominance could crush the Islamic Republic within days if Trump authorized it to be unleashed to its fullest extent and he was willing to accept the previously mentioned costs).

Neither Russia nor China would go to war in support of Iran, though they could be expected to issue very strong statements of condemnation against the US and anyone else who might conventionally attack it (whether "preemptively" or as "retaliation"). This objectively existing and easily verifiable statement of fact will likely take many in Alt-Media by surprise who have been indoctrinated over the past couple of years with fake news "analyses" alleging that those two Eurasian Great Powers are "anti-American" and willing to fight the US in order to "save the world". That will never happen unless one of them is attacked first (though even in that case, neither would go to war for the other because they've made it clear that they're not "military allies" ), which probably won't happen because of the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), at least not unless the US is able to surmount that "obstacle" through the combination of its anti-missile technology and "Space Forces". In any case, nobody should expect Russia or China to rush to Iran's aid and defend it from the US.

Concluding Thoughts

The most likely outcome of Maj. Gen. Soleimani's assassination is an intensified period of proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen which stays just below the conventional threshold given Iran's inability to survive an overwhelming US' "retaliatory" strike if Trump authorized one in response to the unlikely massive missile strike that some speculate Tehran might be preparing. The US might also carry out "surgical strikes" against places in Iran where it might claim other strikes were "organized", such as if Yemen's Ansarullah attempt to repeat their successful drone strike against Saudi Aramco from last September. "Decapitation strikes" might therefore become increasingly more frequent and nobody would be safe, not even Hezbollah's Nasrallah in the worst-case scenario, since the US just signaled that it has the political will to take out "high-value targets". As all of this unfolds, Russia and China will do their utmost to stay away from any regional fray and definitely wouldn't intervene to defend Iran. As such, Iran's expected responses will be purely asymmetrical and not conventional.

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