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Predator states and debt enslavement

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Introduction


"American imperialism has been made plausible and attractive in part by the insistence that it is not imperialistic."

Harold Innis, 1948

I call it a tribal phenomena. A tribe can be a religion, a nation, a gender, a race, or any group which is different from the group you identify with. It is not confined to religion.

And it seems to be an inherent trait in the human species that was one aspect of our evolution. Only when we learn that it is better to cooperate with each other rather than kill each other will we be free from this deadly disease which may, in the end, destroy us all.

sheridan44 comment in The Guardian

When you talk about the effectiveness of American imperialism, you highlight the fact that part of the reason it's so effective is because it has been able to be largely invisible, and it has been invisible, you point out, through, I think, two mechanisms, one, that it trains the elites in other countries in order to manage affairs on behalf of American imperialism, and also because it disseminates, through popular media, images of America that in essence--I'm not sure you use this word exactly--indoctrinate or brainwash a population into allowing them to believe that America is instilled with values that in fact it doesn't have, the ability of imperialistic forces to supposedly give these values to the countries they dominate.

I mean, that is a kind of a raison d'être for economic and even military intervention, as we saw in Iraq, in planning democracy in Baghdad and letting it spread out across the Middle East, or going into Afghanistan to liberate the women of Afghanistan. That, as somebody who spent 20 years on the outer edges of empire, is a lie.

Chris Hedges

Days of Revolt The Making of Global Capitalism

Neoliberalism is a fundament and, simultaneously philosophical justification of predator capitalism. Today the signature feature of neoliberal societies, including but not limited to the USA, G7 (especially Germany and France), and to a lesser extent Russia and China, is predation, both in respect of their own citizens as well as weaker states.

While precise definition of what can be called “predatory capitalism” is difficult we can say that in this social system the top 1% (or less) rich and connected feast on decaying infrastructure objects and factories built during previous generation for wider population and belonging to state or its agents. As well as on less well-off part of country population. With full legal impunity. Economist Jamie K Galbraith book suggests that modern (Bush-Cheney) Republicanism was and is first of all about the creation of a "predator state".

Neoliberal markets that are emerging throughout Latin America and xUSSR countries are characterized by little regulation, a minimal state presence, cult of money and speculation. (as opposed to more collective or communitarian visions of society). Governments are very much pro-business. Such markets, in turn, support a peculiar form of capitalism, one that we would call predatory capitalism with its own part of the elite, which we would call "predatory class".

The predatory class is just a tiny upper crust of the wealthy; and it may be opposed by many others of similar wealth. But it is the defining feature of the modern USA and other neoliberal societies. It is the neoliberal society driving force. Its agents are in full control of the government. For in a predatory regime, nothing is done for public reasons. Indeed, the ideologists of the Casino Capitalism do not recognize that “public purposes” are legitimate. Only predation is. It is a capitalism that preys on those without economic resources -- the popular sectors, noncompetitive industries, weaker countries. And it further deprives them of resources via debt slavery and policy prescriptions ( Bresser Pereira, Maravall, and Przeworski 1993). Neoliberalism has its own dynamic and tends to disproportionately reward those who already exercise some form of power (particularly economic power). The severity of the socioeconomic dislocations caused by the rapid neoliberalization of Latin America (stating with Chilean coup d'état) and strongly associated with predatory capitalism has led some to draw interesting parallels with the latter part of the nineteenth century through the 1920s ( Korzeniewicz and Smith 1997; Smith and Korzeniewicz 1996). This was the last period during which economic liberalism dominated the region.

From this perspective, the very predatory nature of capitalism makes it unlikely that it will be long lasting. Just as nineteenth-century economic liberalism led to the emergence of powerful labor movements and other actors that successfully struggled to reign in capitalism by ultimately erecting the modern welfare state. It is unclear which forces will try to give a fight for neoliberalism during the current period, but emergence of left government in many Latin American countries will work to erect new state institutions that can correct many, if not all, of predatory capitalism's most pernicious elements. Polanyi summarized the challenge that unregulated markets posed for society in the early twentieth century in a way that seems almost prophetic for Latin America in the 1990s:

"the [ nineteenth century] idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society. . . . Inevitably, society took measures to protect itself" ( 1944: 3).

Here is a summary of James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State book and the concept from Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought blog

James K. Galbraith’s The Predator State is undoubtedly one of the most important books on the economics of our era. Galbraith sets himself the task, not only of exposing the discredited economic orthodoxies of our generation, but also documenting the economy as it really exists, and setting an agenda for the future. It is a book that desperately needs to be listened to. And, even better than all that, it’s a fun read. Go out and buy it immediately.

That said, here is a brief, abbreviated summary of the book, to better pull out its themes and spread its message. It is of necessity less clear and less well-argued than the book itself, which you should actually read if you want to argue, but it should give the gist of things.

  1. The Reaganites swept into power on the arguments of economic conservatives: lower taxes, tight money, and an assault on all opponents of market forces (government, regulation, unions). Their views were tried and failed completely. They have no remaining defenders in academia and only slogans and cronies outside of it. There is no longer any vision on the right; the left should leave its defensive crouch and start proposing something new.
  2. Friedman and friends said that markets would lead to democracy — that “economic freedom” begets political freedom. But economic freedom isn’t what it sounds like; it’s not freedom from economic want but instead, as Friedman put it, “the freedom to choose” or, in other words, “the freedom to shop”. But control over production is as unfree as in the Soviet Union, with advertising for propaganda, R&D for planning, and Wall Street analysts for government inspectors. “Lines form, under capitalism, every day.”
  3. Supply-siders argued that a) saving is a public good because it leads to investment, b) America does not save enough compared to other countries, c) saving would be unleashed by lowering taxes on it, d) the resulting investment would spur an economic boom. Every piece of this is wrong: a) in an efficient market, all the benefits from investment are captured by the investor; thus investment cannot be a public good unless markets are inefficient, in which case the government should step in more, b) the correct amount of saving is a policy decision, there’s no reason to believe other countries have it right (the Soviet Union had a 40% level of saving right up to its collapse), c) rich people save most of their money anyway (it’s impossible to consume that much) and changes in interest rates dwarf changes in tax rates; furthermore, real investment is encouraged by high personal taxes, since this forces people to keep their money in corporations, d) personal saving is less than 1% of GDP; almost all investment comes from corporations or overseas.
  4. Milton Friedman claimed that high inflation (it was 10% in the 1970s) was just the result of printing too much money. Reagan’s Fed adopted this belief, sending the US and many foreign countries into deep recession. Eventually, the policy was completely abandoned and high inflation has not been seen since. Serious inflation isn’t caused by printing money, but by wage-price spirals — the price of oil shot up, causing rising prices to cover oil costs, causing workers to demand higher wages to pay those prices, causing prices to rise even higher, and so on. Today, most prices are set by overseas manufacturers and labor unions are so weak that workers can’t demand wage increases. Inflation is dead.
  5. Democrats (and some Republicans) repeatedly insist that we need to balance the budget or face fiscal collapse. But the budget is ruled by a simple equation: the total amount the government owes + the total amount the public owes = the total amount we owe to foreign countries. This is simple logic: whatever is not owed within the country must be owed to another country. But the international economy depends on other countries keeping large reserves of dollars (see 14), meaning our trade deficit must be high. As long as this is so, we must either have the government run large deficits or ask people to do so. The budget deficit was closed in the late 1990s because citizens picked up the slack with high credit card spending and home equity loans, inevitably leading to a slump. Balancing the budget is for suckers; Democrats should spend the money on public goods instead, promoting economic growth and thus raising tax revenue.
  6. The argument for free trade comes from Ricardo’s “comparative advantage” — a clever textbook exercise, but irrelevant to the real world since it assumes constant costs. In reality, either you produce manufactured goods, in which your costs go down as you make more, or you sell off commodities, in which case your costs go up as you make more. With the former, it takes time for local industry to build up the advantage (requiring protectionism). With the latter, you end up like Mongolia, which opened up its animal husbandry market, swelling herd sizes, turning grass into permanent desert, and killing off the entire market. With no other exports, such a country is in big trouble. Ricardo was wrong: diversification, not specialization, is the way to develop — and how every successful country has. Unfortunately, we’ve forced this broken system on most of the world. (China has escaped, letting state-supported banks fund money-losing new companies until they grow large enough to succeed as exporters. In the mean time, they dump their products on local Chinese, allowing them to have a very high standard of living at very low wages.)
  7. There is no trade-off between equality and efficiency. Instead, equality leads to efficiency. Denmark is one of the most equal countries in Europe, and as a result one of the wealthiest. The rest are on a continuum down to unequal and inefficient. Full employment and high wages require companies to make the most of the employees they have, increasing efficiency. Raising the minimum wage doesn’t raise unemployment, it lowers it — unemployment and inequality have risen and fallen together since 1920. Higher wages lead to more job taking and less quitting. The remaining increase in inequality was caused by stock market giveaways to dot-commers and Bush giveaways to government contractors — which is why it was limited to Silicon Valley and the Potomac, respectively.
  8. The US is not a free market. Of GDP, 17% is health care (where experts, not consumers decide how to spend), 16% is housing (subsidized by quasi-public mortgage firms and tax deductions), 15% is federal welfare, 14% is local welfare, 4.5% is military spending, 3% is higher education (paid for mostly by government or conspicuous philanthropy1 and consumed for status and not value). Together, 70% of US GDP is planned; it’s just that our facade of a free market makes us less efficient at planning than other countries (especially in health care).
  9. In the 1970s, American industry (particularly steel and cars) was being challenged and weakened by Japan. Reagan’s assault on inflation (see 4) dealt them a death blow, sending their foreign and domestic markets into deep recession, driving up the value of the dollar (making their exports more expensive than their competitors’), and raising interest rates. In the 1980s the technical staff left for Silicon Valley, and 1990s financial fraud killed off what remained. When new startup founders paid themselves exorbitant salaries from VC money other CEOs rushed to keep up, making them all wealthy enough to become a separate class. They used their new power to prey on the corporations that they ran.2
  10. Previously, regulation kept the predators in check — unions, NGOs, and progressive businesses pushed government standards to kill regressive competitors. But newly-wealthy predator CEOs had the Republicans take over and gut regulation. The result is the Predator State, where every new law is a corporate giveaway. Prescription drug benefits for Big Pharma; NCLB to defund and deskill schools (building support for vouchers); and Social Security reform to give workers’ paychecks to Wall Street. (Democrats have so far prevented the latter, but corporate-funded think tanks now aim to take them down from inside.) The programs allow further predation; privatizing college loans has led loan companies to bribe student loan officers. It’s not that Republican government fails at tasks like stopping Katrina; it’s that such tasks of governance are not its goal — opening up New Orleans for Halliburton contracts is.
  11. The great liberal economic agenda is “making markets work” — small fixes for market failures. The canonical example is job training to fight unemployment. But job training does not create new jobs, economic growth does; the tech boom was the last time we saw a real decrease in unemployment. Similarly, some Dems propose universal preschool since experiments find kids with free preschool grow up to get better-paying jobs. But those preschools did not create jobs, they just gave their students an advantage in getting them. Universal preschool would give everyone that advantage, leaving no net impact. And creating markets in unmarketable goods (health care, energy, the climate) is doomed to failure. In these industries markets will not work; planning is required.
  12. Planning is alleged to have been disproven by the Soviet Union’s fall. But it is unavoidable. The market, even when it does work, fails to take into account the wishes of the poor and the needs of the future, since neither can buy things today. New Orleans fell not because of a lack of foresight (it was predicted by the local paper) or technology (the Army knew how to build strong levees) but because we lacked a plan — nobody in power bothered to do anything about it. Similarly, climate change will melt Antarctica and drown New York, Boston, South Florida, Houston, the Bay Area, London, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Shanghai. Stopping it requires a plan; an enormous one ranging from elementary school classes to government-funded research centers to a WWII-level restructuring of the economy.
  13. Deregulation can have three effects:
    1. Increasing competition and lowering wages and prices,
    2. Speeding technological change and increasing quality,
    3. Creating monopolies and raising prices.

    Trucking deregulation did 1, airline deregulation did 1 and 2, but telecom, banking, and energy deregulation did 3. Charles Keating donated to the government, leading VP George H. W. Bush’s task force to deregulate his industry and allow the Savings and Loan Scandal. Ken Lay was Bush’s largest contributor, leading VP Dick Cheney’s task force to deregulate his industry and allow the Enron energy scandal.

  14. The solution is to lower CEO pay, raise the minimum wage, and set wage standards in between. Some liberals claim trade is the problem and the solution is to set environmental and labor standards on other countries. These are unenforceable and will be ineffective (companies moving overseas already build clean factories since that’s most efficient and no significant exports are made using child or prison labor). Instead, we should set wage standards at home, like Scandinavia, forcing companies to increase productivity and pay fair wages. Wage standards should also apply to undocumented workers; illegal immigration is caused by employers who send recruiters to Mexico for compliant and low-paid workers. Applying wage standards to all will end these abusive practices.
  15. Any country that can pay for its imports entirely with exports can organize its internal economy (its people and resources) however it likes. Countries that do not balance their trade depend instead on global capital markets and must play by their rules. But the US is a special case: after World War II (1944) it set up the Bretton Woods system of international exchange, pegging all currencies to the dollar and backing the dollar with gold reserves. But during Vietnam’s deficits (1971), Nixon broke the system, devaluing US currency and wreaking havoc on the rest of the world. Reagan’s tight money policies (1981) caused so much instability that other countries were forced to build up reserves of US Treasury Bonds in exchange for military, economic, and export security. US bubbles and the Soviet Union’s fall make this system less secure than before, but as long as it remains the US can do whatever it likes economically. And it might as well, since economic success will strengthen the system and the policies proposed here will lead to economic success.
  1. Conspicuous philanthropy is like conspicuous consumption, a way for the rich to flaunt their wealth, only far more effective — you can outdo your neighbors simply by adding another zero to the check, the buildings with your name on them live on after you die, and the government gives you a tax deduction.
  2. See the classic Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class for more on predation.

The term "predator state" originated with the concept of military industrial complex

The term "predator state" originated with the concept of military industrial complex. There are other similar terms such as neofascism,  national security state, disaster capitalism, etc which describe the same phenomenon, stressing different aspects of it.  For example, here is what Thomas Palley writes about predator state (Asia Times Online):

Economist Jamie K Galbraith's recent book [1] describes modern (Bush-Cheney) Republicanism as creating a "predator state". Its predatory aspects are starkly visible in the gangs of corporate lobbyists who roam Washington DC, the Halliburton Iraq war procurement scandal and the corruption and incompetence that surrounded the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

However, the broad concept of a predator state needs qualification as we are really talking of an "American corporate" predator state. Thus, the predatory nature of contemporary US governance is quintessentially linked to corporations, and it is also a uniquely American phenomenon.

Kleptocratic predator states, such as Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe or Sese Seko Mobutu's Zaire in Africa, are fundamentally different. There is no equivalent in Europe, and none in East Asia where ruling elites have a sense of obligation to the nation even as they often enrich themselves illicitly. Nor is there an equivalent in Latin America because government there never reached an economic size proportional to that of government in the US.

It is important to understand the social origins of the American corporate predator state because understanding is a necessary part of developing responses for caging the predators and replacing them with another, better, order. Those origins clearly trace back to the military-industrial complex that president Dwight Eisenhower warned about in his final televised address to the nation on January 17, 1961.

That complex has captured politics and corrupted the business of government, including of course the conduct of national security policy. The fact that it has wrapped itself with the flag makes it impossible to confront without being charged as unpatriotic. Worst yet, its enormous enduring profitability has provided a model for imitation by other industrial complexes like Big Pharma and Big Oil.

The political success of these predators is clearly linked to money's role in politics. Money gives the power to buy the political process, and that power is defended by a gospel of free speech that takes no account of the fact that out-shouting someone is qualitatively equivalent to silencing them. Economics also comes to money's defense with its absurd myth of a market for ideas in which participants compete on a level playing field and truth is effortlessly sorted from error.

The American worship of business and businessmen, which Sinclair Lewis (Babbitt, 1922) wrote about long ago, also plays a role. This worship privileges business over thought and other activities, and is behind the dismissive sneer "if you're so smart, how come you're not rich?" As a result, Americans are all too willing to hand over their government to business predators. Today, it is in Goldman Sachs we trust.

Another feature of business worship is a tendency to conflate profit with free markets. That means the distinction between fair competition (which is good) and fat profits (which are bad) is lost, thereby providing cover for predators.

Lastly, there is the legacy of the Cold War which contributed to economic dumbing-down and suppression of awareness of class and class conflict. This suppression was seen as necessary for blunting the dangerous appeal of Soviet communism, but a consequence was to create blindness to the predators in our midst.

All of this reveals a deep deficit in America's social and economic understanding (some deficits really do matter). And as long as this deficit remains, the predators will have a starting-gate advantage in the game of political persuasion.

Yet, how to close the deficit and insert another understanding is an enormous challenge. There are deep institutional obstructions in the academy, the media, and the Democratic Party. Moreover, raising these issues may create unsettling cognitive dissonance that pushes voters into denial and a closer embrace of the predators.

In effect, there is a paradox to be solved. Lasting progressive political victory requires transforming understanding, but the immediate political incentives are aligned to discourage engagement with such a project.

Note: The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, by James K Galbraith, Free Press, 2008.

Thomas I Palley is the founder of the Economics for Democratic and Open Societies Project.

 

Stephen M. Walt take on US predator capitalism with fig leaf of "promotion of democracy" attached

Skeptic view on American Exceptionalism is valuable for different reasons some of which were listed by Stephen M. Walt in his The Myth of American Exceptionalism (Foreign Policy, November 2011)

The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America's global role is that it is mostly a myth. Although the United States possesses certain unique qualities -- from high levels of religiosity to a political culture that privileges individual freedom -- the conduct of U.S. foreign policy has been determined primarily by its relative power and by the inherently competitive nature of international politics. By focusing on their supposedly exceptional qualities, Americans blind themselves to the ways that they are a lot like everyone else.

This unchallenged faith in American exceptionalism makes it harder for Americans to understand why others are less enthusiastic about U.S. dominance, often alarmed by U.S. policies, and frequently irritated by what they see as U.S. hypocrisy, whether the subject is possession of nuclear weapons, conformity with international law, or America's tendency to condemn the conduct of others while ignoring its own failings. Ironically, U.S. foreign policy would probably be more effective if Americans were less convinced of their own unique virtues and less eager to proclaim them.

What we need, in short, is a more realistic and critical assessment of America's true character and contributions. In that spirit, I offer here the Top 5 Myths about American Exceptionalism.

Myth 1: There Is Something Exceptional About American Exceptionalism.

Whenever American leaders refer to the "unique" responsibilities of the United States, they are saying that it is different from other powers and that these differences require them to take on special burdens.

Yet there is nothing unusual about such lofty declarations; indeed, those who make them are treading a well-worn path. Most great powers have considered themselves superior to their rivals and have believed that they were advancing some greater good when they imposed their preferences on others. The British thought they were bearing the "white man's burden," while French colonialists invoked la mission civilisatrice to justify their empire. Portugal, whose imperial activities were hardly distinguished, believed it was promoting a certain missão civilizadora. Even many of the officials of the former Soviet Union genuinely believed they were leading the world toward a socialist utopia despite the many cruelties that communist rule inflicted. Of course, the United States has by far the better claim to virtue than Stalin or his successors, but Obama was right to remind us that all countries prize their own particular qualities.

So when Americans proclaim they are exceptional and indispensable, they are simply the latest nation to sing a familiar old song. Among great powers, thinking you're special is the norm, not the exception.

Myth 2: The United States Behaves Better Than Other Nations Do.

Declarations of American exceptionalism rest on the belief that the United States is a uniquely virtuous nation, one that loves peace, nurtures liberty, respects human rights, and embraces the rule of law. Americans like to think their country behaves much better than other states do, and certainly better than other great powers.

If only it were true. The United States may not have been as brutal as the worst states in world history, but a dispassionate look at the historical record belies most claims about America's moral superiority.

For starters, the United States has been one of the most expansionist powers in modern history. It began as 13 small colonies clinging to the Eastern Seaboard, but eventually expanded across North America, seizing Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California from Mexico in 1846. Along the way, it eliminated most of the native population and confined the survivors to impoverished reservations. By the mid-19th century, it had pushed Britain out of the Pacific Northwest and consolidated its hegemony over the Western Hemisphere.

The United States has fought numerous wars since then -- starting several of them -- and its wartime conduct has hardly been a model of restraint. The 1899-1902 conquest of the Philippines killed some 200,000 to 400,000 Filipinos, most of them civilians, and the United States and its allies did not hesitate to dispatch some 305,000 German and 330,000 Japanese civilians through aerial bombing during World War II, mostly through deliberate campaigns against enemy cities. No wonder Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the bombing campaign against Japan, told an aide, "If the U.S. lost the war, we would be prosecuted as war criminals." The United States dropped more than 6 million tons of bombs during the Indochina war, including tons of napalm and lethal defoliants like Agent Orange, and it is directly responsible for the deaths of many of the roughly 1 million civilians who died in that war.

More recently, the U.S.-backed Contra war in Nicaragua killed some 30,000 Nicaraguans, a percentage of their population equivalent to 2 million dead Americans. U.S. military action has led directly or indirectly to the deaths of 250,000 Muslims over the past three decades (and that's a low-end estimate, not counting the deaths resulting from the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s), including the more than 100,000 people who died following the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. U.S. drones and Special Forces are going after suspected terrorists in at least five countries at present and have killed an unknown number of innocent civilians in the process. Some of these actions may have been necessary to make Americans more prosperous and secure. But while Americans would undoubtedly regard such acts as indefensible if some foreign country were doing them to us, hardly any U.S. politicians have questioned these policies. Instead, Americans still wonder, "Why do they hate us?"

The United States talks a good game on human rights and international law, but it has refused to sign most human rights treaties, is not a party to the International Criminal Court, and has been all too willing to cozy up to dictators -- remember our friend Hosni Mubarak? -- with abysmal human rights records. If that were not enough, the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the George W. Bush administration's reliance on waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, and preventive detention should shake America's belief that it consistently acts in a morally superior fashion. Obama's decision to retain many of these policies suggests they were not a temporary aberration.

The United States never conquered a vast overseas empire or caused millions to die through tyrannical blunders like China's Great Leap Forward or Stalin's forced collectivization. And given the vast power at its disposal for much of the past century, Washington could certainly have done much worse. But the record is clear: U.S. leaders have done what they thought they had to do when confronted by external dangers, and they paid scant attention to moral principles along the way. The idea that the United States is uniquely virtuous may be comforting to Americans; too bad it's not true.

Myth 3: America's Success Is Due to Its Special Genius.

The United States has enjoyed remarkable success, and Americans tend to portray their rise to world power as a direct result of the political foresight of the Founding Fathers, the virtues of the U.S. Constitution, the priority placed on individual liberty, and the creativity and hard work of the American people. In this narrative, the United States enjoys an exceptional global position today because it is, well, exceptional.

There is more than a grain of truth to this version of American history. It's not an accident that immigrants came to America in droves in search of economic opportunity, and the "melting pot" myth facilitated the assimilation of each wave of new Americans. America's scientific and technological achievements are fully deserving of praise and owe something to the openness and vitality of the American political order.

But America's past success is due as much to good luck as to any uniquely American virtues. The new nation was lucky that the continent was lavishly endowed with natural resources and traversed by navigable rivers. It was lucky to have been founded far from the other great powers and even luckier that the native population was less advanced and highly susceptible to European diseases. Americans were fortunate that the European great powers were at war for much of the republic's early history, which greatly facilitated its expansion across the continent, and its global primacy was ensured after the other great powers fought two devastating world wars. This account of America's rise does not deny that the United States did many things right, but it also acknowledges that America's present position owes as much to good fortune as to any special genius or "manifest destiny."

Myth 4: The United States Is Responsible for Most of the Good in the World.

Americans are fond of giving themselves credit for positive international developments. President Bill Clinton believed the United States was "indispensable to the forging of stable political relations," and the late Harvard University political scientist Samuel P. Huntington thought U.S. primacy was central "to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world." Journalist Michael Hirsh has gone even further, writing in his book At War With Ourselves that America's global role is "the greatest gift the world has received in many, many centuries, possibly all of recorded history." Scholarly works such as Tony Smith's America's Mission and G. John Ikenberry's Liberal Leviathan emphasize America's contribution to the spread of democracy and its promotion of a supposedly liberal world order. Given all the high-fives American leaders have given themselves, it is hardly surprising that most Americans see their country as an overwhelmingly positive force in world affairs.

Once again, there is something to this line of argument, just not enough to make it entirely accurate. The United States has made undeniable contributions to peace and stability in the world over the past century, including the Marshall Plan, the creation and management of the Bretton Woods system, its rhetorical support for the core principles of democracy and human rights, and its mostly stabilizing military presence in Europe and the Far East. But the belief that all good things flow from Washington's wisdom overstates the U.S. contribution by a wide margin.

For starters, though Americans watching Saving Private Ryan or Patton may conclude that the United States played the central role in vanquishing Nazi Germany, most of the fighting was in Eastern Europe and the main burden of defeating Hitler's war machine was borne by the Soviet Union. Similarly, though the Marshall Plan and NATO played important roles in Europe's post-World War II success, Europeans deserve at least as much credit for rebuilding their economies, constructing a novel economic and political union, and moving beyond four centuries of sometimes bitter rivalry. Americans also tend to think they won the Cold War all by themselves, a view that ignores the contributions of other anti-Soviet adversaries and the courageous dissidents whose resistance to communist rule produced the "velvet revolutions" of 1989.

Moreover, as Godfrey Hodgson recently noted in his sympathetic but clear-eyed book, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, the spread of liberal ideals is a global phenomenon with roots in the Enlightenment, and European philosophers and political leaders did much to advance the democratic ideal. Similarly, the abolition of slavery and the long effort to improve the status of women owe more to Britain and other democracies than to the United States, where progress in both areas trailed many other countries. Nor can the United States claim a global leadership role today on gay rights, criminal justice, or economic equality -- Europe's got those areas covered.

Finally, any honest accounting of the past half-century must acknowledge the downside of American primacy. The United States has been the major producer of greenhouse gases for most of the last hundred years and thus a principal cause of the adverse changes that are altering the global environment. The United States stood on the wrong side of the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa and backed plenty of unsavory dictatorships -- including Saddam Hussein's -- when short-term strategic interests dictated. Americans may be justly proud of their role in creating and defending Israel and in combating global anti-Semitism, but its one-sided policies have also prolonged Palestinian statelessness and sustained Israel's brutal occupation.

Bottom line: Americans take too much credit for global progress and accept too little blame for areas where U.S. policy has in fact been counterproductive. Americans are blind to their weak spots, and in ways that have real-world consequences. Remember when Pentagon planners thought U.S. troops would be greeted in Baghdad with flowers and parades? They mostly got RPGs and IEDs instead.

Myth 5: God Is on Our Side.

A crucial component of American exceptionalism is the belief that the United States has a divinely ordained mission to lead the rest of the world. Ronald Reagan told audiences that there was "some divine plan" that had placed America here, and once quoted Pope Pius XII saying, "Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind." Bush offered a similar view in 2004, saying, "We have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." The same idea was expressed, albeit less nobly, in Otto von Bismarck's alleged quip that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States."

Confidence is a valuable commodity for any country. But when a nation starts to think it enjoys the mandate of heaven and becomes convinced that it cannot fail or be led astray by scoundrels or incompetents, then reality is likely to deliver a swift rebuke. Ancient Athens, Napoleonic France, imperial Japan, and countless other countries have succumbed to this sort of hubris, and nearly always with catastrophic results.

Despite America's many successes, the country is hardly immune from setbacks, follies, and boneheaded blunders. If you have any doubts about that, just reflect on how a decade of ill-advised tax cuts, two costly and unsuccessful wars, and a financial meltdown driven mostly by greed and corruption have managed to squander the privileged position the United States enjoyed at the end of the 20th century. Instead of assuming that God is on their side, perhaps Americans should heed Abraham Lincoln's admonition that our greatest concern should be "whether we are on God's side."

Given the many challenges Americans now face, from persistent unemployment to the burden of winding down two deadly wars, it's unsurprising that they find the idea of their own exceptionalism comforting -- and that their aspiring political leaders have been proclaiming it with increasing fervor. Such patriotism has its benefits, but not when it leads to a basic misunderstanding of America's role in the world. This is exactly how bad decisions get made.

America has its own special qualities, as all countries do, but it is still a state embedded in a competitive global system. It is far stronger and richer than most, and its geopolitical position is remarkably favorable. These advantages give the United States a wider range of choice in its conduct of foreign affairs, but they don't ensure that its choices will be good ones. Far from being a unique state whose behavior is radically different from that of other great powers, the United States has behaved like all the rest, pursuing its own self-interest first and foremost, seeking to improve its relative position over time, and devoting relatively little blood or treasure to purely idealistic pursuits. Yet, just like past great powers, it has convinced itself that it is different, and better, than everyone else.

International politics is a contact sport, and even powerful states must compromise their political principles for the sake of security and prosperity. Nationalism is also a powerful force, and it inevitably highlights the country's virtues and sugarcoats its less savory aspects.

But if Americans want to be truly exceptional, they might start by viewing the whole idea of "American exceptionalism" with a much more skeptical eye.

Links to disaster capitalism

The term disaster capitalism reflects the strategy of neoliberal elite to use political unrest, natural disasters and other, including manufactured, social crisis such as the result of color revolution in Serbia, Libya, Ukraine and other countries for plunder. In his article Debt and deficit as shock therapy ( Asia Times, Nov 06, 2013) Ismael Hossein-zadeh wrote:

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

When Naomi Klein published her ground-breaking book The Shock Doctrine (2007), which compellingly demonstrated how neoliberal policy makers take advantage of overwhelming crisis times to privatize public property and carry out austerity programs, most economists and media pundits scoffed at her arguments as overstating her case. Real world economic developments have since strongly reinforced her views.

Using the unnerving 2008 financial crash, the ensuing long recession and the recurring specter of debt default, the financial oligarchy and their proxies in the governments of core capitalist countries have embarked on an unprecedented economic coup d'état against the people, the ravages of which include extensive privatization of the public sector, systematic application of neoliberal austerity economics and radical redistribution of resources from the bottom to the top. Despite the truly historical and paradigm-shifting importance of these ominous developments, their discussion remains altogether outside the discourse of mainstream economics.

The fact that neoliberal economists and politicians have been cheering these brutal assaults on social safety-net programs should not be surprising. What is regrettable, however, is the liberal/Keynesian economists' and politicians' glaring misdiagnosis of the plague of austerity economics: it is all the "right-wing" Republicans' or Tea Partiers' fault, we are told; the Obama administration and the Democratic Party establishment, including the labor bureaucracy, have no part or responsibility in the relentless drive to austerity economics and privatization of public property.

Keynesian and other liberal economists and politicians routinely blame the abandonment of the New Deal and/or Social-Democratic economics exclusively on Ronald Reagan's supply-side economics, on neoliberal ideology or on economists at the University of Chicago. Indeed, they characterize the 2008 financial collapse, the ensuing long recession and the recurring debt/budgetary turmoil on "bad" policies of "neoliberal capitalism," not on class policies of capitalism per se. [1]

Evidence shows, however, that

Indeed, it could be argued that, due to his uniquely misleading status or station in the socio-political structure of the United States, and equally unique Orwellian characteristics or personality, Obama has served the interests of the powerful financial oligarchy much better or more effectively than any Republican president could do, or has done - including Ronald Reagan. By the same token, he has more skillfully hoodwinked the public and harmed their interests, both in terms of economics and individual/constitutional rights, than any of his predecessors.

Ronald Reagan did not make any bones about the fact that he championed the cause of neoliberal supply-side economics. This meant that opponents of his economic agenda knew where he stood, and could craft their own strategies accordingly.

By contrast, Obama publicly portrays himself as a liberal opponent of neoliberal austerity policies (as he frequently bemoans the escalating economic inequality and occasionally sheds crocodile tears over the plight of the unemployed and economically hard-pressed), while in practice he is a major team player in the debt "crisis" game of charade, designed as a shock therapy scheme in the escalation of austerity economics. [5]

No president or major policy maker before Obama ever dared to touch the hitherto untouchable (and still self-financing) Social Security and Medicare trust funds. He was the first to dare to make these bedrock social programs subject to austerity cuts, as reflected, for example, in his proposed federal budget plan for fiscal year 2014, initially released in April 2013. Commenting on this unprecedented inclusion of entitlements in the social programs to be cut, Christian Science Monitor wrote (on April 9, 2013): "President Obama's new budget proposal ... is a sign that Washington's attitude toward entitlement reform is slowly shifting, with prospects for changes to Social Security and Medicare becoming increasingly likely."

Obama has since turned that "likelihood" of undermining Social Security and Medicare into reality. He did so by taking the first steps in turning the budget crisis that led to government shutdown in the first half of October into negotiations over entitlement cuts. In an interview on the second day of the shutdown (October 3rd), he called for eliminating "unnecessary" social programs and discussing cuts in "long-term entitlement spending". [6]

Five days later on October 5th, Obama repeated his support for cutting Social Security and Medicare in a press conference, reassuring congressional Republicans of his willingness to agree to these cuts (as well as to cuts in corporate tax rates from 35% to 28%) if the Republicans voted to increase the government's debt limit: "If anybody doubts my sincerity about that, I've put forward proposals in my budget to reform entitlement programs for the long haul and reform our tax code in a way that would ... lower rates for corporations". [7]

Only then, that is, only after Obama agreed to collaborate with the Republicans on ways to cut both the entitlements and corporate tax rates, the Republican budget negotiators agreed to the higher budget ceiling and the reopening of the government. The consensus bill that ended the government shutdown extends the automatic across-the-board "sequester" cuts that began last March into the current year. This means that "the budget negotiations in the coming weeks will take as their starting point the $1 trillion in cuts over the next eight years mandated by the sequestration process". [8]

And so, once again, the great compromiser gave in, and gave away - all at the expense of his (unquestioning) supporters.

To prepare the public for the long-awaited attack on Social Security, Medicare and other socially vital programs, the bipartisan ruling establishment has in recent years invented a very useful hobgoblin to scare the people into submission: occasional budget/debt crises and the specter or the actual pain of government shutdown. As Sheldon Richman recently pointed out:

"Wherever we look, there are hobgoblins. The latest is … DEFAULT. Oooooo.

Apparently the threats of international terror and China rising aren't enough to keep us alarmed and eager for the tether. These things do tend to wear thin with time. But good old default can be taken off the shelf every now and then. It works like a charm every time.

No, no, not default! Anything but default!". [9]

Economic policy makers in the White House and the Congress have invoked the debt/deficit hobgoblin at least three times in less than two years: the 2011 debt-ceiling panic, the 2012 "fiscal cliff" and, more recently, the 2013 debt-ceiling/government shutdown crisis - all designed to frighten the people into accepting the slashing of vital social programs. Interestingly, when Wall Street speculators needed trillions of dollars to be bailed out, or as the Fed routinely showers these gamblers with nearly interest-free money through the so-called quantitative easing, debt hobgoblins were/are nowhere to be seen!

The outcome of the latest (2013) "debt crisis management," which led to the 16-day government shutdown (October 1-16), confirmed the view that the "crisis" was essentially bogus. Following the pattern of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 budget/debt negotiations, the bipartisan policy makers kept the phony crisis alive by simply pushing its "resolution" several months back to early 2014. In other words, they did not bury the hobgoblin; they simply shelved it for a while to be taken off when it is needed to, once again, frighten the people into accepting additional austerity cuts - including Social Security and Medicare.

The outcome of the budget "crisis" also highlighted the fact that, behind the apparent bipartisan gridlock and mutual denunciations, there is a "fundamental consensus between these parties for destroying all of the social gains won by the working class over the course of the twentieth century". [10] To the extent there were disagreements, they were mainly over the tone, the temp, the magnitude, the tactics, and the means, not the end. At the heart of all the (largely contrived) bipartisan bickering was how best to escalate, justify or camouflage the brutal cuts in the vitally necessary social spending.

The left/liberal supporters of Obama, who bemoan his being "pressured" or "coerced" by the Tea Party Republicans into right-wing compromises, should look past his liberal/populist posturing. Evidence shows that, contrary to Barack Obama's claims, his presidential campaigns were heavily financed by the Wall Street financial titans and their influential lobbyists. Large Wall Street contributions began pouring into his campaign only after he was thoroughly vetted by powerful Wall Street interests, through rigorous Q & A sessions by the financial oligarchy, and was deemed to be their "ideal" candidate for presidency. [11]

Obama's unquestioning followers should also note that, to the extent that he is being "pressured" by his political opponents into compromises/concessions, he has no one to blame but himself: while the Republican Party systematically mobilizes its social base through offshoots like Tea Partiers, Obama tends to deceive, demobilize and disarm his base of supporters. Instead of mobilizing and encouraging his much wider base of supporters (whose more numerous voices could easily drown the shrill voices of Tea Partiers) to political action, he frequently pleads with them to "be patient," and "keep hope alive."

As Andre Damon and Barry Grey have keenly observed, "There was not a single mass organization that denounced the [government] shutdown or opposed it. The trade unions are completely allied with the Obama administration and support its policies of austerity and war". [12]

Obama's supporters also need to open their eyes to the fact that, as I have shown in an earlier essay, [13] Obama harbors ideological affinities that are more in tune with Ronald Reagan than with FDR. This is clearly revealed in his book, The Audacity of Hope, where he shows his disdain for

"...those who still champion the old time religion, defending every New Deal and Great Society program from Republican encroachment, achieving ratings of 100% from the liberal interest groups. But these efforts seem exhausted…bereft of energy and new ideas needed to address the changing circumstances of globalization". [14]

(Her own shortcomings aside, Hillary Clinton was right when, in her bid for the White House against Obama, she pointed out that Obama's economic philosophy was inspired largely by Reagan' supply-side economics. However, because the Wall Street and/or the ruling establishment had already decided that Obama was the preferred choice for the White House, the corporate media let Clinton's comment pass without dwelling much on the reasons behind it; which could readily be examined by simply browsing through his own book.)

The repeated claim that the entitlements are the main drag on the federal budget is false - for at least three reasons. To begin with, the assertion that the large number of retiring baby-boomers is a major culprit in budgetary shortfalls is bogus because while it is true that baby-boomers are retiring in larger than usual numbers they do not come from another planet; before retiring, they also worked and contributed to the entitlement trust fund in larger than usual numbers. This means that, over time, the outflow and inflow of baby-boomers' funds into the entitlement trust fund must necessarily even each other out.

Second, even assuming that this claim is valid, the "problem" can easily be fixed (for many years to come) by simply raising the ceiling of taxable income for Social Security from the current level of $113,700 to a slightly higher level, let's say, $140,000.

Third, the bipartisan policy makers' hue and cry about the alleged budget/debt crisis is also false because if it were true, they would not shy away from facing the real culprits for the crisis: the uncontrollable and escalating health care cost, the equally uncontrollable and escalating military/war/security cost, the massive transfer of private/Wall Street debt to public debt in response to the 2008 financial crash, and the considerable drop since the early 1980s in the revenue side of the government budget, which is the result of the drastic overhaul of the taxation system in favor of the wealthy.

A major scheme of the financial oligarchy and their bagmen in the government to substitute the New Deal with neoliberal economics has (since the early 1980s) been to deliberately create budget deficits in order to justify cuts in social spending. This sinister feat has often been accomplished through a combination of tax cuts for the wealthy and spending hikes for military/wars/security programs.

David Stockman, President Reagan's budget director and one of the main architects of his supply-side tax cuts, confirmed the Reagan administration's policy of simultaneously raising military spending and cutting taxes on the wealthy in order to force cuts in non-military public spending: "My aim had always been to force down the size of the domestic welfare state to the point where it could be adequately funded with the revenues after the tax cut". [15] That insidious policy of intentionally creating budget deficits in order to force neoliberal austerity cuts on vital social needs has continued to this day - under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Although the bipartisan tactics of austerity cuts are subtle and obfuscating, they can be illustrated with the help of a few simple (hypothetical) numbers: first (and behind the scenes), the two sides agree on cutting non-military public spending by, let's say, $100 billion. To reach this goal, Republicans would ask for a $200 billion cut, for example.

The Obama administration/Democratic Party, pretending to represent the poor and working families, would vehemently object that this is too much ... and that all they can offer is $50 billion, again for example. Next, the Republican negotiators would come up with their own counter-offer of, let's say, $150 billion. Then come months of fake haggling and passionate speeches in defense of their positions ... until they meet eventually half way between $50 billion and $150 billion, which has been their hidden goal ($100 billion) from the beginning.

This is, of course, an overly simplified hypothetical example. But it captures, in broad outlines, the essence of the political game that the Republican and Democratic parties - increasingly both representing big finance/big business - play on the American people. All the while the duplicitous corporate media plays along with this political charade in order to confuse the public by creating the impression that there are no alternatives to austerity cuts, and that all the bipartisan public bickering over debt/budgetary issues vividly represents "democracy in action."

The atmosphere of panic and anxiety surrounding the debt/deficit negotiations is fabricated because the central claim behind the feigned crisis that "there is no money" for jobs, education, health care, Social Security, Medicare, housing, pensions and the like is a lie. Generous subsidies to major Wall Street players since the 2008 market crash has lifted financial markets to new highs, as evinced by the Dow Jones Industrial Average's new bubble above the 15000 mark.

The massive cuts in employment, wages and benefits, as well as in social spending, have resulted in an enormous transfer of economic resources from the bottom up. The wealthiest 1% of Americans now own more than 40% of the entire country's wealth; while the bottom 80% own only 7%. Likewise, the richest 1% now takes home 24% of the country's total income, compared to only 9% four decades ago. [16]

This means that there really is no need for the brutal austerity cuts as there really is no shortage of financial resources. The purported lack of resources is due to the fact that they are concentrated largely in the deep coffers of the financial oligarchy.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007) and Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser's Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). His latest book, Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis: Parasitic Finance Capital, will be forthcoming from Routledge Books.

Pepe Escobar provided an interesting analysis of Libya case in Disaster capitalism swoops over Libya [Voltaire Network]:

Think of the new Libya as the latest spectacular chapter in the Disaster Capitalism series. Instead of weapons of mass destruction, we had R2P, short for "responsibility to protect". Instead of neo-conservatives, we had humanitarian imperialists.

Voltaire Network | Sâo Paulo (Brazil)

But the target is the same: regime change. And the project is the same: to completely dismantle and privatize a nation that was not integrated into turbo-capitalism; to open another (profitable) land of opportunity for turbocharged neo-liberalism. The whole thing is especially handy because it is smack in the middle of a nearly global recession.

It will take some time; Libyan oil won’t totally return to the market within 18 months. But there’s the reconstruction of everything the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed (well, not much of what the Pentagon bombed in 2003 was reconstructed in Iraq ...).

Anyway - from oil to rebuilding - in thesis juicy business opportunities loom. France’s neo-Napoleonic Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David of Arabia Cameron believe they will be especially well positioned to profit from NATO’s victory. Yet there’s no guarantee the new Libyan bonanza will be enough to lift both former colonial powers (neo-colonials?) out of recession.

President Sarkozy in particular will milk the business opportunities for French companies for all they’re worth - part of his ambitious agenda of "strategic redeployment" of France in the Arab world. A compliant French media are gloating that this was "his" war - spinning that he decided to arm the rebels on the ground with French weaponry, in close cooperation with Qatar, including a key rebel commando unit that went by sea from Misrata to Tripoli last Saturday, at the start of "Operation Siren".

Well, he certainly saw the opening when Muammar Gaddafi’s chief of protocol defected to Paris in October 2010. That’s when the whole regime change drama started to be incubated.

Bombs for oil

As previously noted (see "Welcome to Libya’s ’democracy’", Asia Times Online, August 24) the vultures are already circling Tripoli to grab (and monopolize) the spoils. And yes - most of the action has to do with oil deals, as in this stark assertion by Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at the "rebel" Arabian Gulf Oil Company: "We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil."

These three happen to be crucial members of the BRICS group of emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which are actually growing while the Atlanticist, NATO-bombing economies are either stuck in stagnation or recession. The top four BRICs also happen to have abstained from approving UN Security Council resolution 1973, the no-fly zone scam that metamorphosed into NATO bringing regime change from above. They saw right through it from the beginning.

To make matters worse (for them), only three days before the Pentagon’s Africom launched its first 150-plus Tomahawks over Libya, Colonel Gaddafi gave an interview to German TV stressing that if the country were attacked, all energy contracts would be transferred to Russian, Indian and Chinese companies.

So the winners in the oil bonanza are already designated: NATO members plus Arab monarchies. Among the companies involved, British Petroleum (BP), France’s Total and the Qatar national oil company. For Qatar - which dispatched jet fighters and recruiters to the front lines, trained "rebels" in exhaustive combat techniques, and is already managing oil sales in eastern Libya - the war will reveal itself to be a very wise investment decision.

Prior to the months-long crisis that is in its end game now with the rebels in the capital, Tripoli, Libya was producing 1.6 million barrels per day. Once resumed, this could reap Tripoli’s new rulers some US$50 billion annually. Most estimates place oil reserves at 46.4 billion barrels.

The "rebels" of new Libya better not mess with China. Five months ago, China’s official policy was all ready to call for a ceasefire; if that had happened, Gaddafi would still control more than half of Libya. Yet Beijing - never a fan of violent regime change - for the moment is exercising extreme restraint.

After a Libyan "rebel" official warned that Chinese oil companies could lose out after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, China urged Libya to protect its investments and said their oil trade benefited both countries.

Wen Zhongliang, the deputy head of the Ministry of Trade, willfully observed, "Libya will continue to protect the interests and rights of Chinese investors and we hope to continue investment and economic cooperation." Official statements are piling up emphasizing "mutual economic cooperation".

Last week, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), told Xinhua that all deals and contracts agreed with the Gaddafi regime would be honored - but Beijing is taking no chances.

Libya supplied no more than 3% of China’s oil imports in 2010. Angola is a much more crucial supplier. But China is still Libya’s top oil customer in Asia. Moreover, China could be very helpful in the infrastructure rebuilding front, or in the technology export - no less than 75 Chinese companies with 36,000 employees were already on the ground before the outbreak of the tribal/civil war, swiftly evacuated in less than three days.

The Russians - from Gazprom to Tafnet - had billions of dollars invested in Libyan projects; Brazilian oil giant Petrobras and the construction company Odebrecht also had interests there. It’s still unclear what will happen to them. The director general of the Russia-Libya Business Council, Aram Shegunts, is extremely worried: "Our companies will lose everything because NATO will prevent them from doing business in Libya."

Italy seems to have passed the "rebel" version of "you’re either with us or without us". Energy giant ENI apparently won’t be affected, as Premier Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi pragmatically dumped his previous very close pal Gaddafi at the start of the Africom/NATO bombing spree.

ENI’s directors are confident Libya’s oil and gas flows to southern Italy will resume before winter. And the Libyan ambassador in Italy, Hafed Gaddur, reassured Rome that all Gaddafi-era contracts will be honored. Just in case, Berlusconi will meet the TNC’s prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, this Thursday in Milan.

Bin Laden to the rescue

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu - of the famed "zero problems with our neighbors" policy - has also been gushing praise on the former "rebels" turned powers-that-be. Eyeing the post-Gaddafi business bonanza as well, Ankara - as NATO’s eastern flank - ended up helping to impose a naval blockade on the Gaddafi regime, carefully cultivated the TNC, and in July formally recognized it as the government of Libya. Business "rewards" loom.

Then there’s the crucial plot; how the House of Saud is going to profit from having been instrumental in setting up a friendly regime in Libya, possibly peppered with Salafi notables; one of the key reasons for the Saudi onslaught - which included a fabricated vote at the Arab League - was the extreme bad blood between Gaddafi and King Abdullah since the run-up towards the war on Iraq in 2002.

It’s never enough to stress the cosmic hypocrisy of an ultra-regressive absolute monarchy/medieval theocracy - which invaded Bahrain and repressed its native Shi’ites - saluting what could be construed as a pro-democracy movement in Northern Africa.

Anyway, it’s time to party. Expect the Saudi Bin Laden Group to reconstruct like mad all over Libya - eventually turning the (looted) Bab al-Aziziyah into a monster, luxury Mall of Tripolitania.

Links to American exceptionalism

American exceptionalism should probably be more correctly called US-specific version of far right nationalism. and as any other nationalism is it is the fundament of empire building. Along with Neoliberalism it is the main force that shapes predator state behavior of the USA in foreign affairs. Like in case of Medieval Crusades which plunder Egypt, Iraq as well as plunder Constantinople and destroyed Byzantium empire it has distinct religious overtones and can be called "Democracy Crusade" and US neocons can be called "democracy crusaders".

The first deep analyses of American exceptionalism was done by Niebuhr from the religious positions in his famous book The Irony of American History. Niebuhr as a theologian considered it to be a sin that inevitably lead to the false allure of simple solutions and lack of appreciation of limits of power. In his opinion "Messianic consciousness" which constitute the core of American exceptionalism, was partially inherited form religious dogmas of early religious sects which came to colonize America.

But while its origin is different in all major manifestations it is identical to far right nationalism.

The policy which oppose exceptionalism is often called Noninterventionism

Noninterventionism is a rather clunky and unappealing label for a set of very appealing ideas: that the U.S. should mind its own business, act with restraint, respect other nations, refrain from unnecessary violence, and pursue peace. If future administrations took just a few of these as guiding principles for the conduct of foreign policy, America and the world would both be better off.

There were several important thinkers who contributed to understand of this complex phenomena:

See also neo-conservatism which is a related phenomenon. In this case the pre-eminence of the USA as the sole superpower needs to be maintained at all costs.

Recent events in Ukraine led to a disappointing conclusion: nationalists can behave as compradors: as enthusiastic servants of the US neoliberal in plunder of their own country by international banking cartel. Ukraine is one example, Serbia and Georgia are other but very similar examples of this new type of plunder...

Niebuhr's contribution to understanding of American exceptionalism

In his brilliant foreword to Niebuhr's book Bacevich noted:

In Niebuhr's view, America's rise to power derived less from divine favor than from good fortune combines with a fierce determination to convert that good fortune in wealth and power. The good fortune cane in the form of vast landscape, rich in resources, ripe for exploitation, and apparently insulated from the bloody cockpit of [European] power politics. The determination found expression in a strategy of commercial and territorial expansionism that proved staggeringly successful, evidence not of superior virtue but of shrewdness punctuated with a considerable capacity for ruthlessness.

In describing America's rise to power Niebuhr does not shrink from using words like "hegemony" and "imperialism". His point is not to tag the United States with responsibility for all the world's evils. Rather, it is to suggest that it does not differ from other great powers as much as Americans may imagine.

...Niebuhr has little patience for those who portray the United States as acting on God's behalf. "All men are naturally inclined to obscure the morally ambiguous element in this political cause by investing it with religious sanctity," he once observed. " This is why religion is more frequently a source of confusion then of light in the political realm.". In the United States, he continued "The tendency to equate our political [goals] with our Christian convictions cause politics to generate idolatry."

Michael Ignatieff contribution to understanding of American exeptionalism

In the introduction to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights Michael Ignatieff identifies three main types of exceptionalism:

I would add to it

The contributors to American Exceptionalism and Human Rights use Ignatieff's essay as a starting point to discuss specific types of exceptionalism -- America's approach to capital punishment and to free speech, for example -- or to explore the social, cultural, and institutional roots of exceptionalism.

Anatol Lieven contribution

The second important contribution to to the studies of American exceptionalism is Anatol Lieven. He correctly linked American exceptionalism with far right nationalism which Wikipedia defined as

Far-right politics or extreme-right politics are right-wing politics to the right of the mainstream centre right on the traditional left-right spectrum. They often involve a focus on tradition as opposed to policies and customs that are regarded as reflective of modernism. They tend to include disregard or disdain for egalitarianism, if not overt support for social inequality and social hierarchy, elements of social conservatism and opposition to most forms of liberalism and socialism.

"America keeps a fine house," Anatol Lieven writes in his probably best book on the American Exceptionalism (America Right or Wrong An Anatomy of American Nationalism ) "but in its cellar there lives a demon, whose name is nationalism." In a way US neocons, who commanded key position in Bush II and Barack Obama administrations are not that different from Israeli Likud Party.

While neocons definitely played an important role in shaping the US policy immediately after 9/11, the origins of aggressive U.S. foreign policy since 9/11 also reflect controversial character of the US national identity, which according to Anatol Lieven embraces two contradictory features.

Both of those tendencies are much older then 9/11. The first aggressive, expansionist war by the US was the war of 1812. See American Loyalists, The Most Important War You Probably Know Nothing About - By James Traub Foreign Policy

The War of 1812 matters because it was America’s first war of choice. The United States did not have to declare war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, to survive as a nation and indeed President James Madison did not want to. The newly founded United States was growing westward but the “war hawks” in Congress pressed for a conflict with America’s former colonial masters in the hopes of gaining even more territory to the north. The term “hawk” was coined in the run-up to the War of 1812 and the hawks of U.S. foreign policy have been with us ever since.

The War of 1812 was America’s first neocon war. With an audacity that would become familiar, the war hawks appealed to a combination of personal pride — the British navy was forcibly conscripting Americans — and the prospect of material gain — the absorption of British Canada — wrapped up in love of country. No one said the conquest of Canada would be a “cakewalk,” but the hawks were confident the Americans would be greeted as liberators.

These two mutually-excusive impulses caused wild oscillations of the US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East and influenced the nature of U.S. support for Israel. Due to those oscillations those two contradictory impulses are undermining the U.S. foreign policy credibility in the eyes of the worlds and complicates reaching important national objectives.

Some attribute the term “American Exceptionalism” to Alexis de Tocqueville — though he never penned the phrase. In reality this term originated by German Marxists who were trying to explain weakness of worker movement in the USA. The idiom was popularized by neo-conservative pundits (aka former Trotskyites) soon after WWII.

In reality the term "American Exceptionalism is nothing but a disguised, more "politically correct" reference to America's Janus-faced nationalism. It has some mystical components like long vanished under the hill of financial oligarchy the "American dream" and its German-style refrain "God bless America". What is interesting about "God bless America" is that most founding fathers were Deists, profoundly critical of organized religions and they sought to separate personal -- what many of them described as mythologies -- from government. They were profoundly respectful of personal religious belief, but saw government as necessarily secular if freedom was to prevail. Not until the religious revivals of the 1820s through the 1860s can you find many identifying religion as a component of American exceptionalism.

As Martin Woollacott aptly noted in his review of Anatol Lieven book America, Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism ( Guardian):

He cuts through the conformist political rhetoric of America, the obfuscating special language of the "American dream", or the "American exception", which infects even foreign accounts. Even to use the word "nationalism" to describe an American phenomenon is, as he notes, not normal. Americans are not "nationalist", they are "patriotic". It is a patriotism which too often leaves no room for the patriotism of others, combining a theoretical care for all humanity with, in practice, an "indifference verging on contempt" for the interests and hopes of non-Americans. Nothing could be more distant from "the decent respect to the opinions of mankind" recommended to Americans in the early years of their independent existence

Lieven first paints a picture of an in some ways admirable American "civic nationalism", based on respect for the rule of law, constitutionality, democracy, and social (but not economic) equality, and a desire to spread these values in the world. But because this nationalism unrealistically holds that such "American" values can be exported at will, it blinds Americans to the different nature of other societies, sustaining the mistaken idea that if only particular rulers or classes can be displaced, "democracy" will prevail - a "decapitation" theory which contributed to the decision to attack Saddam. The American campaign to democratize other societies, Lieven says, harshly but fairly, "combines sloppiness of intellect and meanness of spirit". But, while in part mythic and not entirely rational, this side of American nationalism is of some value not only to the United States, but to the world as a whole.

...The result, Lieven argues, is that instead of the mature nationalism of a satisfied and dominant state, American nationalism is more akin to that of late developing and insecure states such as Wilhelmine Germany and Tsarist Russia.

"While America keeps a splendid and welcoming house," Lieven writes in his preface, "it also keeps a family of demons in its cellar.

His book supports Mark Twain quite to the effect that we are blessed with three things in this country, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and, thirdly, the common sense to practice neither one!

He also points at the very important side effect of Exceptionalism: "America's hypocrisy," (see for example Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair). An outstanding level of hypocrisy in the US foreign policy also is corroborated by other scholars, among them James Hillman in his recent book "A Terrible Love of War" in which he characterizes hypocrisy as quintessentially American (although British are strong competitors). Now after Snowden, Libya, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc we might be appear to be entering an new stage on which "The era of easy hypocrisy is over."

The regime of easy hypocrisy means that America position itself as a blessed nation created by God and (here’s the rub) therefore privileged in what actions it can take around the world and the nation that can safely ignore international norms, which are created only for suckers. It is above the international law.

We create our own reality

The source of the term, which implicitly stresses that the USA stands outside international norms and treaties and can act as it please, is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, The New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush (later attributed to [1]):

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."[2]

This is pretty precise definition of the idea of introduced by Nazi idea of “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. Decisionism is a defining feature of any totalitarian state. By extension if you find decisionism is rational to expect other features of such states. Umberto Eco has listed fourteen attributes along with two major features: irrationalism and decisionism. Eco has them listed as attributes 2 and 3.

The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.

3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action's sake.

Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and "universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.

Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

Fascism has an irrational element that rejects modern thought because it conflicts with traditional beliefs of the Christian religion and because fascism views communist ideology as a child of the Age of Reason and Jewish intellectuals. The Nazis were well aware that Karl Marx was a German Jew. Evolution is seen as modernist and is rejected in favor of Christian creationism. This debate is repeating itself today in American society with Christian fundamentalism attempting to gain control of state education.

Very closely related to irrationalism is “decisionism” in which action is seen as a value in itself. This is an existential element in fascism that elevates action over thought. Action is a sign of unambiguous power, and thought is associated with weakness and indecision. Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist, wrote that a decision is “(an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea).” The a priori is overshadowed by the posteriori. Actions over abstract principles, Fact over Idea, Power over pure thought, Certainty over ambiguity are the values and ideological norms that are primary in a totalitarian state.

After fleeing Germany, Marcuse wrote in 1934 a critique of German fascist society and attempted to identify those beliefs and philosophical themes found within fascist ideology. Marcuse believed that the seeds of fascism could be found in the Capitalist Democratic Liberal State, which over time mutate as Monopoly Capitalism gain control of the State as in the case of Germany. The evolution of Capitalism is also the concealed dialectic of Fascism. Those mutated liberal democratic ideas and values are betrayed by a totalitarianism based on action and force.

Using Germany as his example of a fascist society Marcuse writes:

And within the political sphere all relationships are oriented in turn toward the most extreme “crisis,” toward the decision about the “state of emergency,” of war and peace. The true possessor of power is defined as beyond all legality and legitimacy: “Sovereign is he who decides on the state of emergency.” (Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie,1922).

Sovereignty is founded on the factual power to make this decision (decisionism). The basic political relationship is the “friend-enemy relationship.” Its crisis is war, which proceeds until the enemy has been physically annihilated.

There is no social relationship that does not in a crisis turn into a political relationship. Behind all economic, social, religious, and cultural relations stands total politicization. There is no sphere of private or public life, no legal or rational court of appeal that could oppose it.
Negations, page 36.

From what social idea in Capitalistic Liberalism did this decisionism evolve? It is none other than the economic hero, the free independent entrepreneur of industrial capitalism.The idea of the charismatic, authoritarian leader is already preformed in the liberalist celebration of the gifted economic leader, the “born” executive. Negations, page 18.

The total-authoritarian state is born out of the Liberal state and the former concept of the economic leader is transformed into a Fuhrer. We can see this mutation of the concept of the “born” executive into the leader-state (Fuhrerstaat) in George Bush’s speech and actions.

An uneducated but privileged man, George Bush, has merged the idea of the CEO with that of the State Leader. But society has also made this same concatenation of ideas. He is a president of action and seen as a “strong” president. He is doer and not a thinker and his followers are proud of this persona. His opponents are “feminine” and members of the “reality based community.” Consequently, the Bush administration has attempted to engineer the executive branch to be the strongest in American history by claiming “inherent” presidential powers. It is precisely the concept of “state of emergency” that Bush has used to grab more and more state power in the name of security.

He has instituted the hyper-surveillance of Americas with the Patriot act, which is based on the same justification Nazi Law used to empower the Fuhrer. A Bush lawyer and advisor, John Yoo, wrote, Just two weeks after the September 11 attacks, a secret memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales’ office concluded that President Bush had the power to deploy military force “preemptively” against any terrorist groups or countries that supported them—regardless of whether they had any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Towers or the Pentagon. The memo, written by Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, argues that there are effectively “no limits” on the president’s authority to wage war—a sweeping assertion of executive power that some constitutional scholars say goes considerably beyond any that had previously been articulated by the department. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6732484/site/newsweek/

Carl Schmitt, a Nazi Law constitutional jurist in Hitler’s Third Reich, wrote a similar justification of power for the State Leader using the concept of the “exception” in his work “Political Theology,” Hence, the thundering opening of his treatise: 'The sovereign is he who decides on the exception.' It is a disturbingly 'realistic' view of politics, which, in the manner of Hobbes, subordinates de jure authority to de facto power: autoritas, non veritas facit legem. (The law is made by the one who has authority (i.e. power) and not the one who possesses the truth (the legitimate sovereign).)

The problem of the exception, for the constitutional jurist Schmitt, can only be resolved within the framework of a decision (an actual historical event) and not within that of a norm (an ahistoric and transcendent idea). Moreover, the legal act which decides what constitutes an exception is 'a decision in the true sense of the word', because a general norm, an ordinary legal prescription, 'can never encompass a total exception'. If so, then, 'the decision that a real exception exists cannot be derived entirely from this norm.' The problem of the exception, in other words, demarcates the limit of the rule of law and opens up that trans-legal space, that no-man's land of existential exigency, which is bereft of legal authority and where the decision of the sovereign abrogates the anomaly of the legal void. …against the legal positivism of his times, Schmitt seems to be arguing that not law but the sovereign, not the legal text but the political will, is the supreme authority in a state. States are not legal entities but historical polities; they are engaged in a constant battle for survival where any moment of their existence may constitute an exception, it may engender a political crisis that cannot be remedied by the application of the rule of law. From the existential priority of the sovereign over the legitimacy of the norm, it would also follow that according to Schmitt, law is subservient to politics and not autonomous of it. The Sovereignty of the Political Carl Schmitt and the Nemesis of Liberalism http://www.algonet.se/~pmanzoor/CarlSchmitt.htm

When the Bush administration argues that increased presidential power is needed to fight terrorism by suspending or overriding the constitutional protections against search and seizures, they are arguing the principles of Nazi constitutional law. Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday vigorously defended the Bush administration's use of secret domestic spying and efforts to expand presidential powers, saying "it's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years." Talking to reporters aboard his government plane as he flew from Islamabad, Pakistan to Muscat, Oman on an overseas mission, Cheney said a contraction in the power of the presidency since the Vietnam and Watergate era must be reversed. "I believe in a strong, robust executive authority and I think that the world we live in demands it. And to some extent, that we have an obligation as the administration to pass on the offices we hold to our successors in as good of shape as we found them," he said.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/20/D8EK28B82.htmlAgainst these ever expanding powers of the State stand the once traditional individual freedoms upheld by the Liberal Democratic State. The theologian and philosopher of the Age of Reason, Immanuel Kant wrote…Human right must be kept sacred, no matter how great the sacrifice it costs the ruling powers. One cannot go only halfway and contrive a pragmatically conditioned right….All politics, rather, must bend the knee before sacred human right…

The same idea from slightly different angle is reflected in term "Faith-based community" vs. Reality-based community ( Wikipedia )

Reality-based community is a popular term among liberal political commentators in the United States. In the fall of 2004, the phrase "proud member of the reality-based community" was first used to suggest the commentator's opinions are based more on observation than on faith, assumption, or ideology. The term has been defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality." Some commentators have gone as far as to suggest that there is an overarching conflict in society between the reality-based community and the "faith-based community" as a whole. It can be seen as an example of political framing.

The source of the term is a quotation in an October 17, 2004, New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind, quoting an unnamed aide to George W. Bush:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."[1]

Commentators who use this term generally oppose former President Bush's policies and by using this term imply that Bush's policies (and, by extension, those of the conservative movement generally) were (or are) out of touch with reality. Others use the term to draw a contrast with the perceived arrogance of the Bush Administration's unilateral policies, in accordance with the aide's quote. Its popularity has prompted some conservative commentators to use the term ironically, to accuse the left-leaning "reality-based community" of ignoring reality[2].

Imperial Outreach

The Republican Party — and more particularly the neo-con wing of the party — is particularly susceptible to imperial outreach. This imperial mentality is well exemplified by Fox News reporting.

For example, Matt Lewis, a conservative political Pundit on MSNBC attacked Barack Obama for saying “Any world order that elevates one nation above another will fall flat.” In response Lewis stated:

“I think that goes against the idea of American exceptionalism…most Americans believe that America was gifted by God and is a blessed nation and therefore we are better.”

For any conservative the concept of “American Exceptionalism” is rather bemusing. America is not more democratic, more free, more enterprising, more tolerant, or more anything else be it Canada, New Zealand or for that matter Australia. America is just a bigger country and due to its size, human resources and industrial potential it the leading Western country and the owner of world reserve currency, after Great Britain became financially exhausted after WWII. That means that American Exceptionalism is simply a politically correct work for a combustible mixture of nationalism (with Christian messianism component similar to Crusades with "democracy" instead Jesus) and Jingoism. In a very deep sense this is a negation of the idea "all men are created equal" and as such is anti-American ;-). The motto of Imperial America is "All animals are equal but some are more equal then other".

America is a blessed nation as everybody in the country is an immigrant, the nation that at some point of time was freer and more prosperous than many others, but as a great Nazarene once said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

Bill Moyers Journal . Watch & Listen | PBS

sample:

BILL MOYERS:

Here is one of those neon sentences. Quote,

"The pursuit of freedom, as defined in an age of consumerism, has induced a condition of dependence on imported goods, on imported oil, and on credit. The chief desire of the American people," you write, "is that nothing should disrupt their access to these goods, that oil, and that credit. The chief aim of the U.S. government is to satisfy that desire, which it does in part of through the distribution of largesse here at home, and in part through the pursuit of imperial ambitions abroad."

In other words, you're saying that our foreign policy is the result of a dependence on consumer goods and credit.

ANDREW BACEVICH:

Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us. Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.

We want to be able to pump gas into our cars regardless of how big they may happen to be, in order to be able to drive wherever we want to be able to drive. And we want to be able to do these things without having to think about whether or not the book's balanced at the end of the month, or the end of the fiscal year. And therefore, we want this unending line of credit.

Anti-Americanism as blowback of American exceptionalism

Quite logically the imperial actions is a source of widespread Anti-Americanism. As Ian Tyrrell noted in What is American exceptionalism

It is also important to realize that there is a “negative” version of exceptionalism, i.e. that the US has been exceptionally bad, racist, violent. While this is less a part of the common myths about American history, the attempt to compensate for American exceptionalism by emphasizing unique American evils is equally distorting. We need to think more about this matter, especially when we deal with racial divisions and gender prejudice. Is the US experience a variant on wider racial and gender patterns? While social history has provided new perspectives on the role of women, African Americans, and ethnics in the making of American history, has that new history discredited or qualified ideas of American exceptionalism?

The actual term “American exceptionalism” was originally coined by German Marxists who wished to explain why the US seemed to have by-passed the rise of socialism and Marxism. (Actually the US had much class conflict, some Marxist parties and theorists, and a lively socialist movement, though the latter was not on the scale of, say, France and Germany.) But exceptionalism is much more than about class conflict.

Some historians prefer the terms “differences” or “uniqueness?” Are these suitable substitutes? Whatever the terminology, the implications of American difference/uniqueness have long been debated. Some have said the difference was temporary, and eventually the US would be like other countries. Others have argued that American “specialness” stems from its political, intellectual,


Export of democracy: neocolonial expansion via color revolutions

The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

~Hannah Arendt, On Revolution, 1963

Color revolution is the technology of changing the government, in the interest of particular country using as a pretext "export of democracy" or "fight with corruption". Such operations as mixture of open ("surface") actions and covert actions centered around the US embassy under the smoke screen cover of fighting for democracy, against corruption and other populist slogans.

In is important to understand that underneath "surface" actions of color revolution there is a well financed and strongly supported by State Detartment and the power of the USA three letter agencies covert military operation of "regime change". This operation involves local neoliberal fifth column, CIA, US embassy (and other Western embassies), set of pro-Western NGO, neoliberal press both inside the country and outside the country ("air support"), embassy cash for protestors delivered via diplomatic mail ("bombing country with dollars") and several similar technologies.

The technology of color revolutions was first developed by the USA in early 80th and first used in Phillipines(Colour revolution - Wikipedia). But events in Iran in 1953 also has distinct flavor of color revolution, so the technology is probably much older (The Coup 1953, The CIA, and The Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations )

One is struck with the healthy and vibrant Iranian democracy which existed before the coup. The nationalization of the oil industry was the result of a long democratic process -- not all Iranian politicians supported nationalization -- and was the result of legislative and congressional (in pre-coup Iran, called Mejlis) debates and discussions. One is struck with the futility and similarity -- then as in now -- of commercial and economic sanctions the Western powers imposed on the country short of actual intervention. One is also struck with the naked exercise of Western Imperialism by BP, the UK, and the US when all other non-invasive methods failed. To be clear nationalization was driven by the long history of officially- sanctioned business abuses and corrupt business practices of BP. Abrahamian goes into great, painstaking detail of these corrupt business practices and of how and in what manner BP systematically shortchanged the Iranian government of royalties due while the concessions were in effect while at the same time exploiting its natural resources.

It has nothing to do with peaceful change of power. In reality this is a new type of warfare, a covert operation with the active, cash-based financing ("bombing country with dollars ( delivered via diplomatic mail or other covert channels) " on neoliberal fifth column within the country (and such fifth column conveniently concentrates in the capital); bribing or intimidating politicians, government officials, key intellectuals , extensive PR-cover and direct participation of all staff of embassy (or several embassies like was the case with EuroMaidan), simultaneous highly coordinated work of three letter agencies, US embassy, set of NGOs, press, fifth column and squads of armed militants.

Great penetration up to dominance in local press is a very important, distinushing feature of color revolutions as a regime change operation. It is usually prepared in advance. It's role is very similar to air superiority in modern wars. It is presence of controlled media that allow to demoralize the government and neutralize power block (especially police and intelligence agencies) of the county.

Again, in its essence, color revolution represent a new military technology used by a powerful country (or a group of such countries). Typically the goal is to install a neoliberal regime. This is a new weapon of USA government and its development was a kind of new, neoliberal Manhattan project.

The concept was developer in early 80th and first successfully implemented in 80th People Power Revolution in Philippines and then in famous 1989 Velvet Revolution. They were also instrumental in the dissolution of the USSR (especially in separation of Baltic states and Ukraine from Russia)

The key idea of color revolution is far from new. It is essentially replicated and adapted to new conditions of neoliberal expansion the Trotskyites idea of permanent revolution. They just replaced the idea of "victory of communism" with the "victory of democracy" as the shining beacon that leads lemmings to the cliff. But generally there is one-to-one correspondence in strategy and tactic -- the same efforts for recruitment of students and unemployed of semi-employed youth (recently in EuroMaidan including especially football fanatics). The same idea of bribing part of intelligencia, expanded to part of government, military and politicians. Especially those who already have experience in clashes with police (in modern conditions the most important of such groups are far right nationalists and football ultras). In other words creating the canon fodder of color revolution.

It is "non-direct", highly disguised, but no less very effective form of aggression against sovereign states, which combine a huge injection of cash ("bombing country with dollars"), mass disinformation campaigns, cyber-measures, the use of special forces, sometimes disguised as local partisans, mobilization of local fifth column, intimidation of opponents through displays of strength and usage of ultra-right groups, pressure from Western government on legitimate government to avoid using direct means of suppressing the protest and other forms of intimidation including economic coercion. Sound familiar? Yes this is what Serbian revolution, Georgian revolution, Ukrainian Orange revolution and EuroMaidan were about to name just a few.

Among methods and technologies used in color revolutions the following should be noted and as you will see, reached a level certain perfection:

A very good summary of essential elements of color revolution was given in the post by Stephen Karganović Analogie mezi Jugoslávií a Ukrajinou (Russian translation is available at Сходство между Югославией и Украиной ИноСМИ - Все, что достойно перевода). Slightly edited Google translation follows:

The analogy between Yugoslavia and the Ukraine by Stephen Karganović

February 15, 2015 | Czech Free Press
Russian experts analyzed in detail the similarities in the methods and strategies used by the western coalition in connection with the Ukrainian crisis that has spawned and has exacerbated into brutal civil war. The same actors used those strategies developed in the 90's create the fertile soil for a brutal civil war which resulted in the destruction of the former Yugoslavia, are The reasons for such in-depth research are legion. First of all, if your not very imaginative or too arrogant enemy repeatedly acts according to the same template, knowing it provides you with a significant strategic advantage. It allows you to some extent to predict his actions and propose effective countermeasures.

Although chutzpa of western strategists undoubtedly allow to counter their schemes more effectively, however, it is very important carefully analyze the key similarities and differences in two different situation so that you are not fighting the last war. Here are key elements of the color revolution template:

  1. The ethnic and religious fragmentation. The starting point of any color revolution is Identification of the usable social tensions and their systematic aggravation so that that at the end they can serve as a detonator of the planned crisis. This means mutual divide constitutive of the community, with an emphasis on what sets them apart, and at the same time reducing the weight of what they have in common.

    In Yugoslavia this strategy began be carried out long before the visible signs of the crisis, forming of new ethnic identities (Muslim, Montenegrin and Macedonian) was financed and supported as well as separatist aspirations were systematically encouragement and refined in the context of the existing ones (especially among the Croats and Slovenians). The Ukrainian identity is also an artificial construction, which is defined not positively, but primarily in a hate of all Russians, as a militant negation of all Russian culture and language. In Ukraine, as before, in Yugoslavia, existing religious cleft between the Catholics and the Orthodox part of the country was also successfully used to increase, deepen and sharpen the existing animosity.

  2. Deceptive by promise higher standard of living and creation of various material temptations to support the politically desired behavior.

    In the former Yugoslavia, where there was by the end of the 80. years of a decent standard of living, has been used in the prospects for an even better life, which would have followed the dissolution of the socialist state, as a bait to encourage separatist tendencies. Yugoslavia Catholic west was promised to increase the well-being to the level of Germany, when they decide to separate and commit to the "civilizational choice" (nearly identical phrase was used in the context of Ukraine) in favor of the integration with EU. Muslims in Bosnia and in Kosovo were promised great benefit from close connection to the rich Islamic countries. In Ukraine the EuroMaidan events were triggered by the illusion of rapid inclusion into the European union as associated ability to travel to the Western countries without visa and dramatic raise of standard of living.

    The majority of the population in western and central Ukraine, who have responded positively to these fake prospects of improving their standard of living and totally failed to realize gravity of the real economic and social transition, and more importantly, didn't realize the existence of the strong "no new members" trend in the EU. As a result they were forced to act on the basis of completely unfounded assumptions.

  3. Control of MSM in the target countries for the purpose of influencing the perception and behavior of the masses.

    The penetration of western influences in the media space in the former Yugoslavia, the pioneer of which was Soros, started immediately as soon as the political liberalization at the end of the 80th allow it. From the early 90's. years, when the conflict was the feeded mainly from abroad and did not yet became self sustained, a big part of the local media in all of the Yugoslav republics fall under the direct control of the western owners. A similar transfer of MSM into western hands occurred in Ukraine during the last two decades, where before EuroMaidan all the major MSM including TV channels were under the firm control of the controlled by the west oligarchs such as Poroshenko and kolomyski. all of them simultaneously Promoted the almost uniform and factually incorrect narrative about the benefits that would come from a political alliance EU and NATO and the EU, and total alienation from Russia.

  4. As in Ukraine, as in Yugoslavia, there was a certain core of the population, which proved to be resistant to brainwashing and continues to hold its own narrative. It was politically marginalized.

    While those people Radically reject these false ideas, which were designed to guarantee the acceptance of the new political arrangement under the iron heel of the West. In Ukraine, it was the Russian speaking east, in Yugoslavia the Serbs.

    The rejection of these groups to accept peacefully the loss of their own cultural identity and political autonomy has led in both cases to conflicts. A clear answer is required whether the armed conflict (although he was in principle predictable) also the preplanned and intended consequence of the processes that have been put into operation.

    In the case of Ukraine we can be reasonably doubtful, because of the apparent intention of the new Kiev junta after regime change was to include the country to NATO and the EU under the guidance of a vassal government in Kiev and this goal does not include the political disintegration of the country. EU wanted to eat the whole peace, as a single country.

    In the case of Yugoslavia, it can be argued that the conflict leading in the Serbian military defeat was clearly part of the plan. It is possible, however, that was originally expected that the campaign will be much faster and more successful. As it turned out, by the fact that the instigators of the Yugoslav crisis reviews are written by free rein to their Croatian and Muslim protecting, perhaps inadvertently, created a clear existential threat to the Serbs, who were scattered throughout the territory of the former Yugoslavia, which greatly cemented their resistance and prolong the conflict longer than originally expected.

    In addition, it could lead to further unintentional result: a serious challenge to the Yeltsin's alliance with the West (although Russia played a role of Western vassal in this case). It has come to a critical stage in the time of the Kosovo war. The result was the rise of Putin and his political vision as a response to the war.

    Whether it was the original intention of the Ukraine anything (was probably only about the direction of cultural fragmentation while maintaining the overall political integrity of the country, albeit with a much more reliable western component, which would put to the untrusted east of the country into submission), it seems that failed as soon as it was when Kiev junta used brute force. As pointed out by informed analysts, power compromise between Kiev and Russian speaking east, which was possible two or three months ago [the article was written in September 2014, nb], is no longer possible because of the suffering and destruction Kiev junta has caused. The situation is evolving rapidly, while the regions that are culturally focused mainly on Russia, more and more refuse to have anything to do with Kiev, irrespective of the details of the proposed arrangement, if any. In this sense, today in Ukraine are getting a strong analogy with the spirit of the resistance, which was typical for Bosnian and Croatian Serbs during the Yugoslav conflict.

    One can imagine that if the West backed junta in both of the cases from the beginning took a more subtle and a more flexible attitude towards the Serbian and the Russian population, whose political role they want to diminish, it could proceed much more effectively, and might even prevent the radicalization of the opposition. And could it be truly successful, because in both cases, it was junta not the rebels, who, at least initially, intend to resort to violence.

  5. The west uses the most despicable social strata and dirty methods to achieve their goals. there are a number of documents that can shed light on the diabolic pact of the West with Iran (Iran-Contra) and other usage of more or less fundamentalist Islamic actors in order to strengthen the local Muslim forces in Bosnia, which was in line with the interests of NATO and the EU and the fight for control of the whole country.

    The participation of certain elements of the European far right in the war on the side of the right-center regime in Croatia was encouraged. A similar pattern can be observed in the Middle east, where the radical Islamic faction become a means to undermine the secular regimes, which were regarded as hostile to the West.

    In Ukraine there was a contract with the devil clearly included some of the most egregious of the local fascist forces, literally remnants and direct ascendants of forces that collaborated with Nazi during WW2. Their task was to provide a storm troopers for seizing power, and stage the coup d'état after which the West supported oligarchs and politicians in Kiev took power consolidate pro western neoliberal government. It seems that in both in Yugoslavian the Ukrainian case the key idea was :

    "Now we are going to use them for the removal of our main opponent and them we will deal with neofascists later."

    The probability that monsters which the West created at some point can refuse to obey their Western masters, was not taken into consideration. The post-war spread of radical Islam in Bosnia, where it previously never existed, and the consolidation of a strong fascist groundswell in Croatia is enough proof of this effect. In terms of the Nazi-inspired movements and armed formations in Ukraine, it seems that there is no clear plan as for how to bring them back to obedience once a conflict is over and they, presumably, outlived their usefullness for the west.

    Those tools, which the West amorally used to achieve their objectives, sow the Dragon teeth of the long-term instability as there is a distinct tendency of such forces to get out of control of their creators and even turn against them as happened with radical Wahhabism Islam.

    For Russia, the Ukraine is a serious problems, as those Dragon teeth, which was sown opportunistically by West as a tool for interference , will bear bitter fruits. Undoubtedly, they will prevent integration of Ukraine into the "Russian world", even if we limit to most basic cooperation as understood by the current Russian politicians. In other words Ukraine lost all Russian market.

  6. Covert support of Western puppets, while publicly proclaiming the policy of non-interference, which in practice is demanded only from other parties.

    Another important similarity lies in the fact that in the case of both the crisis of the West has initiated an embargo on the importation of weapons and logistical support to the conflicting parties, but on a regular basis is skirted in favor of their local clients. Rich evidentiary material, which was accumulated after the end of the 90. years, leaves no doubt about the fact that the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian forces in Yugoslavia were supplied by the west with a huge amount of weapons and large amount of training.

    Russia is the target of the process of demonization for not only the military, but even humanitarian aid to rebel regions in Ukraine. Western patrons insist on an almost unlimited right to support their clients, as in Belgrade in the 90's years, and Moscow now have similar privileges denied. Their insistence on a "level playing field" - the cliché which was often used at the time of the Bosnian conflict, turned out not to be what was in fact: it was the naked hypocrisy.

  7. A significant difference: Moscow has a clearly defined political objectives. You could say that one of the main reasons for the failure of the Serbian resistance in Croatia and only partial success in Bosnia was the lack of a clear political vision of both in their own ranks, and in Belgrade, which supported them.

    The Russian analysis of this experience has played an important role in ensuring that Moscow and its allies try to avoid to get into the swamp of the civil war without a clear definition of their goals and means to achieve them. No doubt that president , Putin does not want to imitate Slobodan Milosevic, who delivered a brilliant television speech, which contained a crucial insight about the machinations of his western opponents, but his timing couldn't be worse - it was delivered a few days before his overthrow.

It seems that the Balkan events led to a more sobering view on the USE and a lot of self-reflection of Russian politicians, and that has double effect. First of all, the Kosovo war and the bombing of Yugoslavia at the end of the 90. years clearly give rise to substantial upheaval that has contributed to the change of Russian leadership. As a result Vladimir Putin became Russian president and his vision now if dominant. However, the negative consequences of the tortuous policy of encouraging their protégés in Bosnia and Croatia, followed by Milosevic, have been for the Russians another huge lesson. This lies in the fact that if someone does not have a wider strategic vision and the ability to put it place, it is better to avoid such a risky and complex entanglements.

Source: vineyardsaker.blogspot.cz, translation: Charles Hyka

Taken from the www.kosovoonline.cz

Trotskyite theory of the Permanent Revolution in a new skin

The origin of the concept is Trotskyite theory of the Permanent Revolution adapted by neoliberal establishment to serve the spread of neoliberalism under disguise of spread of "democracy" instead of communism. "Domocracy" and "fight with corruption" are just smoke screens used to intelligence operation of regime change. Much like Bolsheviks attempts (not very successful) to stage socialist revolutions in Eastern Europe in 20th. Such an irony of history. Comrade Trotsky probably rolls in his grave ;-). Below is Trotsky quote:

The Bolsheviks were also implementing a new strategy – "Revolution from abroad" (Revolutsiya izvne, literally "revolution from the outside"); based around the assumption that revolutionary masses desire revolution but are unable to carry it out without help from more organized and advanced Bolsheviks.

Hence, as Leon Trotsky remarked, the revolution should be "brought on bayonets" (of the Red Army), as "through Kiev leads the straight route for uniting with Austro-Hungarian revolution, just as through Pskov and Vilnius goes the way for uniting with German revolution.

Offensive on all fronts! Offensive on the west front, offensive on the south front, offensive on the all revolutionary fronts!". The concept was developed in 1918, but officially published under such name first in 1920 (Wojennaja Mysl i Riewolucija, 3/1920, Mikhail Tukhachevsky.[3]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_westward_offensive_of_1918%E2%80%9319

While the second word in the term "color revolution" is "revolution", in fact this is a complex, multilayer intelligence operation, an externally organized and financed coup d'état.

The key features are:

The net result in case of success is friendly to the West neoliberal regime in which comprador elite that is allied with transactional corporation and exists to put their share of profits into Western banks put in power. Economic rape of the country goes in full swing with assets sold of pennies on a dollar ("disaster capitalism"). Look for example at Yeltsin and Gaidar, or, more recently, Yatsenyuk and Turchinov in Ukraine. Actually EuroMaidan can teach us a lot of valuable lessons about how color revolution is organized, financed and pushed toward victory by State Department and the US embassy.

As EuroMaidan had shown important part of this fifth column are University professors and deans of economics and several other University departments. This category of people has natural neoliberal leaning (especially in Economics departments) and as such they are easy and cheap to corrupt by grants, foreign trips, etc. In case of EuroMaidan it was they who, if not asked students to go to the street, at least encourages them by granted them "amnesty" from missing the classes. And they operated within the larger framework of staging color revolution, being just one element. The same was true in Hong Cong.

The start of color revolution means just a switch to active stage of of multifaceted intelligence operation using the US cash and assets in the country such as NGO, neoliberal journalists, corrupt officials within the government, law enforcement, etc. this is the part of the iceberg that is prepared for several years with street protest being just a tip of the iceberg, signifying switch to an active stage of coup d'état and start of active dispensing of cash to "protesters".

Those extras that show up on the streets just create a stage for public consumption. Real events of infiltration that make color revolutin possible happen on higher level and are hidden from the view. The goal is always to paralyze and neutralize both government and law enforcement by finding people who can be bought, coerced into supporting the coup d'état. And without "successes" in this direction the street protesters will never appear on the streets.

Their appearance probably always means that Nuland and her colleagues from Department of State made serious progress in creating the "color revolution infrastructure" and fifth column with the county elite. They probably are now keeping of short leash some corrupt officials both in law enforcement and government. Cash is now dispensed continuously as "the show must go on", independently of the level of enthusiasm of "protesters". In Kiev reported payments were $30 a night (200-300 hrivna). Of source some radical nationalist elements participated "for free" but a lot of extras were paid.

In other word the key precondition of color revolution is readiness of fifth column within the government to topple the current government. In case of Ukraine it was Lyovochkin and his people from Party of Regions, as well as elements within SBU and police (remnants from Yutchenko government) with strong nationalistic leanings. Also Nuland kept Yanukovich by the balls be threatening to confiscate his foreign assets.

So color revolution always has important "elite betrayal" component and that's why action of the government in suppressing protests are usually contradictory and inefficient.

While figures like Yatsenyuk and Turchinov are typical compradors, they still represent a pretty curious mixture of neoliberals (and that, by definition, means stooges of the USA) with ethnic nationalists. Such a perfect example of Doublethink (not to mix it with Doublespeak).

Doublethink is ... simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1] Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.

And such caricature figures of nationalists who somehow manage to be simultaneously the USA stooges and did not jump from the fifth or higher floor with the cry "Russians are coming" because of incompatibility of those notions, are pretty typical (Yatsenyuk who enhanced his university education by selling used cars full time is an interesting variation on Joe Biden theme and is completely unable to keep his tongue in the month; Turchinov is a unique mixture of former Komsomol boss responsible for Ideology, and, drums, Evangelical Pastor, and, drums, ethnic nationalist).

Nevertheless with strong US push they managed to unleash the forces of radical, far right Ukrainian nationalism and of bayonets of storm troupers of Western Ukrainian nationalistic military formations (Right Sector) to seize the power, deposing Yanukovich. Bribing of key figures in Yanukovich entourage ( especially important was Lyovochkin) which reminds bringing key figures of Iraq regime before capturing Baghdad, pressure and possibly threat of losing actives in Western banks for some oligarchs (Kolomoysky and Poroshenko) as well as corruption of Yanukovich who probably was equally afraid to lose stolen from Ukrainian people money in Western banks and to lose power also played a role.

That means that Ukrainian EuroMaidan has features of classic color revolution (support or Western MSM, role of NGO, finance flows, etc) and, simultaneously, a national-socialist revolution like Hitler coming to power in Germany (radical right as the core of the protest, xenophobia, anti-Semitism replaced by Russophobia, "Ukraine uber alles" mentality (aka Ukrainian exceptionalism ;-), etc). With those two elements co-existing and supporting each other. People who thought that (at least tactical, temporary) alliance of neoliberals and neofascists is impossible due to globalist character of neoliberalism should think again.

In a way dissolution of the USSR can be considered the first "modern" color revolution. As Anatol Lieven noted

"As I wrote in a previous book on the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, there was a real attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the Russian elites themselves, to turn Russia into a kind of comprador state, whose elites would be subservient to America in foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and transfer money to Western bank accounts."

The word "color" in the term is connected with one of the pretty superficial (but still historically consistent) feature of these revolutions -- the symbol of such a revolution often became a particular (probably assigned by NED ;-) color. For example, Ukrainian coup d'état of in 2004 that brought to power Victor Yushchenko is called the Orange Revolution. The "Russian color revolution" of 2011-2012 attempted before election of Putin the selected color is white, so it is often called "white revolution of 2011-2012".

Color revolutions are especially efficient instrument in "cleft countries". That includes former Western colonies were borders which were purposely made to comprise diverse ethnic and cultural groups to weaken the newly formed country (Iraq, Syria, Libya) as well as xUSSR countries with large Russian population (borders of which were created by Bolsheviks with the purpose to "dilute" part of the country that might represent a threat to their rule)

The theory of color revolutions borrows heavily from Marxist playbook, especially from writing of Trotsky. Essentially it is a plagiarism of Trotsky "permanent revolution" with neoliberalism instead of Marxism as an ideology and driving force. In this respect, in Marxist tradition, we can talk about several pre-conditions of "revolutionary situation" -- condition in the society in which color revolution became feasible, and which can be created both as result of internal development as well as external pressure or economic shock. There are several pre-conditions for success of a color revolution:

The USA possesses tremendous technological power as well as ideological advantage and due to this is critical force of promoting neoliberalism in the world. And it was and still is the dominant ideology within the USA since Reagan years by-and-large displacing Christianity as an official regulation.

Neoliberalism since 1980 defeated and displaced Marxism as dominant globalist ideology. In essence a color revolution is a scheme of using transnational actors within a given society as an active force to implement the US foreign policy objectives and install a new polyarchy regime ( the "regime change" component). It was first laid by Joseph Nye’s as the idea of "soft power" which called for harnessing the US's tremendous reserve of intangible resources such as culture, ideology and institutions for preserving world dominance as well as power of transnational corporations.

All in all color revolution demonstrate tremendous power and flexibility of the US foreign policy and its ability to adapt to new situation while vigorously pursuing the established goals. But the real question whether it corresponds to the US national interests. In essence the US destroyed the very concept of an open society but introduction corruption using foreign funds in the process.

They also put on the opposition label "made by CIA", which does not help. In is not accidental that that in Russia the recipients of foreign grants are now commonly called "grant eaters" and forces that support globalism (iether in the form of Euro centrism, or other) and the US foreign policy have a derogatory nickname Liberasts.

There is distinct need to have a strategy of counting such a color revolution , It is very difficult to respond to unconventional war. And first of all, you must understand that there is a war. It will not go anywhere and will not dissipate until regime change is achieved. And, as in any war, you can lose or win. In order to increase your chances of winning, it is necessary to understand the nature of the opposing problem and first of all incredible aggressiveness and ruthlessness of sponsors of such events. So the politics of appeasement which Yanukovich and Kaddafi tried, does not work.

Installing a new polyarchy regime under the smoke screen of "democratization"

The mechanic of staging of what is now called “Color revolutions” is a classic mechanics of destabilizing government and bringing to the power a minority elite groups with strong Western connections. In former USSR space those elite groups were sometimes (Baltic countries, Ukraine) former Nazi collaborationists. The key idea is the install a new polyarchy regime ( the "regime change" component )

After such a revolution a new, more pro-Western part of the elite comes to power and exercise often brutal monopoly power in the interests of the USA and transnational corporations. Typically privatization of the county is in the cards. Which regimes of Boris Yeltsin, Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili demonstrated all too well. Also important that as 1965 CIA report about Philippines stresses that "The similarity of the parties, nevertheless encourages moderation, readiness to compromise, and lack of dogmatism in the political elite". Philippines were a key client regime in 1950th and 1960th with Clark Air Base and Subtic Naval Base to be the largest military facilities outside US mainland (Promoting polyarchy globalization ... - William I. Robinson (p. 120)). Here is one Amazon review of the book:

Brilliant exposition of US policy and the global order June 12, 2001

By Geoff Johnson

In this difficult but extremely provocative and scholarly work, William I. Robinson presents a new model for understanding US foreign policy and the emergent global society as a whole. The crux of his thesis is this: US foreign policy has changed in the last twenty years or so from open support of authoritian regimes in countries where the US has economic and/or strategic interests to a program of "democracy promotion" that strives to place minority elite groups who are responsive to the interests of the United States and transnational capital at the head of the political, economic, and civic structures of "third world" countries.

Contrary to popular opinion (and that of much of academia), the real goal of democracy promotion, or what Robinson refers to as "promoting polyarchy", is not the promotion of democracy at all, but rather the promotion of the interests of an increasingly transnational elite headed by the US who seek open markets for goods and an increase in the free flow of capital. This marks a conscious shift in foreign policy in which the US now favors "consensual domination" by democratically elected governments rather than authoritarian leaders and the type of "crony capitalism" made famous by the likes of Ferdinand Marcos and Anastacio Somoza.

The first sections of the book introduce numerous theoretical concepts (drawing heavily on the theories of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, in particular his theory of hegemony) that are crucial to the understanding of the text. I personally found these sections extremely difficult but well worth the time it takes to read certain parts several times. Robinson then goes on to document four case studies-- the Phillipines, Chile, Nicaragua, and Haiti-- each of which fleshes out his conceptual framework in much more concrete terms. The result is a disturbing picture of US foreign policy and the current direction of "globalization." I would highly recommend this to anyone with a strong interest in foreign affairs and/or the future of humanity.

Disaster capitalism game plan in action

Implementation of color revolution follows "disaster capitalism" game plan, as it involves using some kind of crisis like close elections in the situation of economic difficulties or decline of standard of living of population (double whammy). In this situation the standard move from the playbook of color revolution is to declare that he/she won, and that elections were stolen and call for heavy propaganda bombardment by already entrenched in the political system of the country NGOs. And you can do a lot if you inject one billon dollars into a country election process via NGOs. It is essentially converting any election system into the US election system where candidate with the most money wins.

Such an approach of making already "warm" situation "hot" reminds Marxism as Marx considered a presence of a deep economic crisis as one of the most important preconditions for the revolution (Roche,2010)

Commercial Crises

After setting up this precondition, which he believes had been met by 1848, Marx turns to a lengthy discussion of commercial crises. According to Marx, “In these crises a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises there breaks out…the epidemic of over-production.”12 Effectively, the bourgeois economy produces more than it is able to consume and thereby falls into chaos and disarray. Arguably, World War I could have been considered a commercial crisis and some Bolsheviks argued that it was the final crisis of capitalism.13 However, Western and Central Europe emerged from the crisis without falling into communism and began a recovery that even the Bolsheviks recognized.14

Those real difficulties are used as a fuse to incite people anger and direct it at the "corrupt" government (which is often really inapt and corrupt, but typically a saint in comparison with the next government installed by foreign power after the color revolution).

The idea is to enhance the flames of people protest to the level when it destroys the current government of the country. And then get serious economic and political dividends by installing a puppet government. Color revolutions are extremely profitable for the sponsoring foreign power. Much more so then a direct invasion. Actually with any government the country in such a situation has no negotiating power as the society is encompassed in economic chaos, or, worse, in a civil war.

There is one exception here -- a small state that is designated as a carrier of the US interests in the region. In this case the consequences can be less bleak. Georgia is one example here. Actually there was some economic progress in Georgia after installation of puppet regime of Mikheil Saakashvili

From this point of view it can be called a variation of "divide and conquer" policy. The latter is leitmotif of in The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski. The book famous for predicting 9/11 events. Here is quote from Amazon review by R. D. Smith:

Three things in this book made my blood run ice cold. The first is the complete absence of any sense of morality in the whole discussion. I do not mean that this is an *im*moral book, it is not a moral book, it is *a*moral in that there is literally no discussion whatsoever whether what is being proposed is RIGHT or should be done. That the recommendations to grow the American Empire are valid is simply assumed, not proven or even argued. The second thing was the whole discussion on how the political center of mass was Central Eurasia (i.e. the region between Turkey and Pakistan and between Iran and Turkmenistan) and how unlikely it was that we were going to be able to have a substantial presence in the region (in the near term) unless we have SOME PERL HARBOR CLASS EVENT to accelerate the populations willingness to accept the costs. Also, This Was Bad because it would delay our needed expansion. Then, just on cue, we have the 9/11 attacks, and dang if we don't end up with a Whole Bunch of military presence all throughout the heart of Eurasia... Coincidence? Makes one wonder. As if that is not enough, the book closes with a clear and unambiguous reference to the steps needed to get us to the One World Government of the New World Order.

Typically the government that replaces the current "tyrannical" and "corrupt" government is even more tyrannical and corrupt, but at this stage all those "fighters for democracy" can't care less. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt aptly: Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."

I would like to think about this episode in a wider context of the mechanic of staging of what can be called "Color revolutions." And if we think this way it is far from "Yawn". It is actually pretty sinister development. Color revolutions is neoliberals rehash of the playbook of communist revolutions ("Red revolutions"), but for completely different purposes. They manage to enrich the quote of Thomas Carlyle "All revolutions are conceived by idealists, implemented by fanatics, and its fruits are stolen by scoundrels." :-) . In this case it became symmetrically Machiavellian as in "...conceived by one set scoundrels, implemented by the other set of scoundrels, and its fruits are stolen by the third set of scoundrels"

The technology is now well polished and extremely powerful against any "not so pro-western" country. Especially effective in xUSSR space. As such Russia is not an exception. For it too color revolution represents a grave threat like for any other government in countries with "not enough pro-Western" policy. So I think it is unwise to underestimate its power. It already proved itself in half dozen countries. There are several films and books that document this new strategy such as

Amazon.com Bringing Down a Dictator Ivan Marovic, Srdja Popovic, Otpor!, Steve York Movies & TV

The Time of the Rebels- Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century R…

The idea of using economic difficulties for destroying "inconvenient" regimes facing elections and overthrowing the government without overt external aggression is far from being new. Bolshevik's concept of a revolutionary situation <i>" when the lower strata does not want to live by old order and the upper strata can't maintain the old older"</i> is a century old. The new element is the method of artificially creating such a situation out of parliamentary or presidential elections. Even this is not new but can be seen as a variant of "divide and conquer" the strategy is as old as Roman Empire. Divide and rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a way this is a modern, more sophisticated implementation of the old Roman "divide and conquer" imperial strategy:

The maxims divide et impera and divide ut regnes were utilised by the Roman ruler Caesar and the French emperor Napoleon. There is the example of Gabinius parting the Jewish nation into five conventions, reported by Flavius Josephus in Book I, 169-170 of The Wars of the Jews (De bello Judaico).[1] Strabo also reports in Geography, 8.7.3[2] that the Achaean League was gradually dissolved under the Roman possession of the whole of Macedonia, owing to them not dealing with the several states in the same way, but wishing to preserve some and to destroy others.

In modern times, Traiano Boccalini cites "divide et impera" in La bilancia politica, 1,136 and 2,225 as a common principle in politics. The use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule. Machiavelli identifies a similar application to military strategy, advising in Book VI of The Art of War[3] (Dell'arte della guerra),[4] that a Captain should endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men in whom he trusted, or by giving him cause that he has to separate his forces, and, because of this, become weaker.

Elements of this technique involve:

I see the following key ingredients of "color revolutions" in action in Russian elections:

  1. The whole process is always staged around election fraud (the best conditions are if two opposing candidates get around 50% of votes, or governing party get close to 50% of votes, but can be used with different percentages as well). It works in two main phases:
    1. Attempt of de-legitimating of elections and forcing a new elections that supposal should rectify falsifications of the previous one. Gorbachov's "two cents" about the necessity of new elections are pretty telling move in this respect if we are talking about Russia. Old fox knows how best to serve his masters.
    2. Parallel de-legitimatization of existing government candidates via charge of election fraud and subsequent overthrow of the weakened opponent "by peaceful means" via second round of elections. Here is one Amazon comment from The Time of the Rebels- Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century R…

      I regularly screen Bringing Down a Dictator in my courses at Swarthmore College. This film does an excellent job of introducing students to the fundamentals of nonviolent power. Students come to understand that authoritarian regimes, while formidable, are often more fragile than we imagine. Milosevic's regime, like others, relied on a mixture of apathy, fear, and cynicism that the students of Otpor fought to dispel through humor, appeals to nationalism, and tireless public outreach. Like any large institution, Milosevic's regime depended on the loyalty of its functionaries (such as the police) and at least a veneer of public credibility. Otpor students carefully undermined both through its broad grassroots organizing, popular nonviolent resistance, and by awakening a multi-party political opposition.

  2. The government in oligarchic republics like Russia always has a degree of distrust from people as it is well known that it is corrupted. Also due to neoliberal brainwashing expectation of considerable part of urban population which wants to enjoy Western standard of life are completely unrealistic. That why classic in "color revolutions" moment for challenging "power that be" is when the election results in the election of the incumbent president or preserve the ruling party majority. A very plausible claim that "old guard does not want to turn over the power voluntarily" and resorts to fraud to maintain status quo is used. It is attractive to considerable percentage of population in all xUSSR space. And often is true. But even if false can destabilize situation to the extent that new possibilities are opened for the initiators of this process. Also so previous supporters of the "old regime" might jump the ship (remember that their accounts and often families are at the West) or at least bet of both horses. Economic difficulties in addition to elections make a perfect combination. In this respect Putin's decision to be the candidate for the next president of Russia probably did served as a fuel in this particular episode. Because this does smell with the CPSU. In this respect dual party system is much more advanced and much more suitable for the oligarchic republic (and architects can rely on rich, century old USA experience).

  3. The starting point is always the immediate and coordinated campaign of forceful denunciation of "mass falsifications" no matter what actually happened at the elections. Statements of influential figures (like Hillary Clinton's recent statement), etc in support of the claims about mass falsifications. This is followed by creating of "artificial reality" around this claim via well coordinated press campaign with the direct and prominent support of major Western MSM. Direct forgery of video and other documents can be used pretty successfully. Medvedev understands this but the real question is does he has the political will to prosecute perpetrators ? Use of "nonpartisan exit polls" as a pressure cooker for questioning the results. Falsifications and exaggeration of ballot fraud, especially "ballot staffing" via selectively interpreted exit pool data. Here is important to achieve some level of demoralization of authorizes to avoid prosecution of people involved or the whole scheme will fall like a house of cards. The Teflon cover of "fighters for democracy" is used to prevent prosecution. Same trick as with Khodorkovsky. In the latter case it did not work. We will see in this case.

    See http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/gmj/sp07/graduate/gmj-sp07-grad-venger.htm

  4. Cutting the space for maneuvering of existing government by stressing that this not a direct interference into country affairs, but just support of democratic forces. As long as democracy is the "sacred cow" and Western democracy is the only legitimate form/model to which you need to progress from the current "wild", unlawful, criminal and authoritarian state of total darkness, the Western powers are by definition the arbiters of this progress. There is no defense from this claim in you have foreign observers on the ground. This way the current government itself betray its own legitimacy by delegating it to foreign powers, who can abuse their role at will for benign or not so benign motives: without leaving hotel, the western elections observers will state about mass violation during elections, playing the role of the Trojan horse of the "color revolution". The government is caught is zugzwang as foreign observers are by definition the arbiters of the legitimacy of elections. Any move makes the situation worse.

  5. Systematic, long term attempts to build and maintain student/youth based and heavily financed (60% in case of Ukraine) fifth column of "professional protesters", the move that actually mirrors Bolshevik's reliance on "professional revolutionaries". Students are the most suitable target as they are more easily brainwashed, are excitable, often dream about emigration to Western countries, always need money. Perfect "canon fodder" of the "color revolutions". Creation of set of martyrs "for the just cause of democracy and freedom", especially among young journalists who were arrested during protests and, even better, mistreated, is a part of this tactic. As emigration is considered as desirable future by considerable percent of young people, we have a pool from which it is easy to recruit fighters for the "democratic future" of the nation with the hope that after reaching critical mass the process become self-sustainable. And often it is. Also after being arrested and/or expelled from the university those people have nowhere to go but to became "professional color revolutionaries". Some of then are pretty talented and can do a lot of damage. This was pre-emptive creation of a well-organized "anti-fraud front" tremendously helps to create legitimacy problem for the government as initiative is instantly lost to government opponents. The government is too bureaucratized, unprepared and is taken by surprise the strength of the response. They try to convince that election process was completely legitimate people who does not want to be convinced and just laugh at their efforts. As in any revolution loss of initiative is half of the defeat: the "democratizers" have plan, have hard currency, have hopes about their future in the West and the will to achieve their goals. In Ukraine the "anti-fraud" front has worked under the succinct slogan Pora— "It's Time" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution#Involvement_of_outside_forces )

    Activists in each of these movements were funded and trained in tactics of political organization and nonviolent resistance by a coalition of Western pollsters and professional consultants funded by a range of Western government and non-government agencies. According to The Guardian, these include the U.S. State Department and US AID along with the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, NGO Freedom House and billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute. The National Endowment for Democracy, a U.S. Government funded foundation, has supported non-governmental democracy-building efforts in Ukraine since 1988. Writings on nonviolent struggle by Gene Sharp formed the strategic basis of the student campaigns.

  6. Use of press influence as the most easily hijackable "forth branch" of government to undermine the other three. If this part works for color revolution, and press turns against the government, the government is doomed. Under the cover of "freedom of the press" systematic use of all controllable media, Internet, web sites, social media, mobile communications for spreading the "truth" about mass falsifications. As Goebbels used to say

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Substitute "State" for "color revolution". Press also serves for coordination and maintaining the direction and unity of the movement. Operation "Occupation of the press" is supported by heavy use of well-financed NGO as the brain trust and coordinating center for the movement:

    Throughout the demonstrations, Ukraine's emerging Internet usage (facilitated by news sites which began to disseminate the Kuchma tapes) was an integral part of the orange revolutionary process. It has even been suggested that the Orange Revolution was the first example of an Internet-organized mass protest. [31] Analysts believe that the Internet and mobile phones allowed an alternative media to flourish that was not subject to self-censorship or overt control by President Kuchma and his allies and pro-democracy activists (such as Pora!) were able to use mobile phones and the Internet to coordinate election monitoring and mass protests.[32][33]

  7. Attempt to provoke police brutality so that "public demonstrations" against attempts by the incumbents "to hold onto power through electoral fraud" became definitely anti-government and status quo. The goal is to undermining police loyalty through carefully stage campaign about police brutality and "befriending policemen" neutralize then to allow "free hands" in undermining the current government. See Nonviolent_Struggle-50CP

  8. The use of "end justifies the means" politic at all stages. Promiscuity in building coalition and seeking allies. Anybody opposed to "brutal and dishonest current regime" is welcomes to join "antifraud front". Are ultra-nationalists now best friends of democracy? There was never such a good friends. Are communist now best friends of democracy? No question about it.

    So this is in a perverted way this is Trotsky idea of "permanent revolution" implemented on industrial scale.

Mercenaries of non-violent struggle -- creating a paid strata of protesters

The tragedy for the participants of color revolutions is that they with their hands and their sacrifice install the government that makes living conditions in the country worse for people and while providing the feast for the international corporations on the ruins of the old regime. Instead of resolving economic difficulties that were exploited to depose the current regime, economic conditions typically became worse and the prosperity of citizens suffers blow after blow. In other words the typical net result of color revolution for citizens of the particular country is quite opposite of expectation. Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia can serve of a litmus test of this statement.

It is actually pretty sinister politic trick that uses false flag of "democracy" for subduing the county in question to the international financial cartel. The main playbook was taken from Bolshevik manual, or more correctly form Trotskyites (some of prominent US Trotskyites join the US establishment before the WWII and brought "new ideas" with them).

As Marxism taught it is important to create a political party that will guide the masses in their struggle against oppressing regime. New element in this Marxist playbook used by color revolutions is that the core of such a party can consist of paid activists -- mercenaries of non-violent struggle

This huge infusion of cash (which at the end of the day is much cheaper then direct military invasion) is a new element of color revolution playbook.

Bombing the country with dollar proved to be very effective. Huge infusions of cash (often delivered illegally across the border to feed selected "dissidents") can really change the game. Again, the key idea here is to create a cadre of Mercenaries of non-violent struggle (Color Revolution Counterpunch « what's left) based on those hard currency inflows:

“In Serbia dollars have accomplished what bombs could not. After U.S.-led international sanctions were lifted with Milosevic’s ouster in 2000, the United States emerged as the largest single source of foreign direct investment. According to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, U.S. companies have made $1 billion worth of ‘committed investments’ represented in no small part by the $580 million privatization of Nis Tobacco Factory (Phillip Morris) and a $250 million buyout of the national steel producer by U.S. Steel. Coca-Cola bought a Serbian bottled water producer in 2005 for $21 million. The list goes on.” (12)

This enlisting of paid grassroots activists to bring down socialist or economically nationalist governments in order to privatize the country state-owned assets for the benefit of U.S. corporations and investors is a new element in comparison with Bolsheviks template. There are several classes of such activists:

This mechanism of creating Fifth column includes using noble slogans invented in "think tanks" funded by Western governments, but their agendas are formulated to serve strategic Western interests.

The Social Base of Fifth Column: Compradors & lumpenelite

Role of Fifth column is very important.

A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within. A fifth column can be a group of secret sympathizers of an enemy that are involved in sabotage within military defense lines, or a country's borders.[1] A key tactic of the fifth column is the secret introduction of supporters into the whole fabric of the entity under attack.[2] This clandestine infiltration is especially effective with positions concerning national policy and defense.[2] From influential positions like these, fifth-column tactics can be effectively utilized, from stoking fears through misinformation campaigns, to traditional techniques like espionage.[2]

Self-preservation efforts suggest limitation or outright prohibition of flow of money and creation of "professional protestors" cohort. This is difficult undertaking as higher standard of living in Western countries attract a lot of people for whom protest activity is just a springboard to emigration of favorable terms. Also the balance of economic power matters. For example the USA managed to stop Russia from adopting some restrictions of NGOs in 2006. See The Backlash against Democracy Assistance for some constructive steps used by various states.

In practice, of course, legal constraints are supplemented and reinforced by extra-legal sanctions, ranging from surveillance and harassment to expulsion of democracy assistance NGOs and even the killing of local partners. We gauge and describe the impact of such measures principally with reference to the experience of NED’s core institutes. Indeed, the prevalence and the range of legal and extra-legal measures are indicated by the experience of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, the NED’s labor affiliate.

“There is no region or sub-region where the Solidarity Center and its trade union partners do not encounter obstacles to implementing or improving democratic principles,” it reports. The Solidarity Center cites impediments ranging

Nor are U.S.-based democracy assistance groups and their grantees or partners the only groups affected. The UK’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy reports that restrictive measures are resulting in “an inability of local partners to obtain licences to operate, censorship, interrogation, travel restrictions, office raids, dismissals, seizing of electronic office equipment and paper files, unreasonably rigorous bureaucratic and financial controls, and detention.”

In addition to legal constraints, many regimes seek to impede democracy assistance NGOs and related groups through unofficial means, from the creation and mobilization of pseudo-NGOs in an attempt to contest and confuse public and international opinion to the deployment of thugs or auxiliary forces—as in Cuba and Egypt—to assault, intimidate or harass activists. In Uzbekistan, for instance, a Freedom House training session was disrupted by 15 protesters who forced their way into the seminar and accused Freedom House of being Wahhabi Islamist extremists and enemies of the Uzbek state.

Egyptian NGOs are impeded by restrictive laws and the “extra-legal” actions of the Security Services, according to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Civil society groups face severe restrictions under the law governing NGOs. The security services scrutinize and harass civil society activists even though the law does not accord them any such powers,” says the report. HRW cites instances of the security services rejecting NGO registrations, determining the composition of NGO boards, harassing activists, and interfering with funding.

For further details of ICNL’s distinctive and pioneering work on these issues, go to http://www.icnl.org/.

“Margins of Repression: State Limits on Nongovernmental Organization Activism,” Human Rights Watch, New York, 2005.

The issue of NGO harassment is assuming greater political salience, and not only within the world of democracy assistance organizations and civil society. The Russian government’s new measures against independent NGOs acquired diplomatic significance as senior figures from the State Department prevailed upon the Putin regime to refrain from more restrictive measures. The issue is unlikely to fade given Russia’s accession to the chair of the G8 grouping of advanced industrial democracies. Furthermore, as the Bush Administration continues to make democracy promotion a foreign policy priority, it is increasingly likely to confront resistance from autocrats and authoritarians.

At the November 2005 Forum for the Future in Bahrain, for instance, the question of NGO independence prompted Egypt to veto a final declaration and sabotage the launch of a Foundation for the Future designed to promote democratic change within the region. A draft declaration pledged delegates “to expand democratic practices, to enlarge participation in political and public life, (and) to foster the roles of civil society including NGOs.” But participants failed to agree to the draft after Cairo insisted that NGOs be “legally registered in accordance with the laws of the country.”

Egypt’s foreign minister complained that the U.S. and Europeans wanted “an open season for everybody,” a carte blanche for funding political NGOs through which “anybody can acquire anything from anybody at any time.”

The developments outlined above “are not isolated events,” observes the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, noting that “recently, over twenty countries have introduced restrictive legislation aimed at weakening civil society,” joining “scores of others with existing laws, policies, and practices that stifle the work of civil society organizations (NGOs).” The study, produced by ICNL specifically for this report, reveals that a number of countries have enacted or proposed laws that significantly restrict the activities of civil society (the appendix to this report details ICNL research covering the relevant countries, laws, and provisions). “We are witnessing a marked increase in the use of restrictions on NGO formation, operation, and financing by foreign governments,” ICNL contends. These restrictions pose serious obstacles to both foreign and domestic civil society groups’ ability to form, function effectively, and sustain themselves. Restrictive provisions are found in virtually every region of the world, but tend to be more prevalent in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union.

As the ICNL notes, states with restrictive laws tend to exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

The rationale for the proposal and enactment of repressive measures varies with context and circumstance. Governments often propose an “official” rationalization for a proposed law that does not match the reasons perceived by the international community and local civil society groups. The threat of terrorism is increasingly invoked to justify clampdowns and to deflect international criticism. For example, the Russian government has described its new NGO law as necessary to regulate the NGO sector, counter terrorism, and stop money laundering.

In Thailand, opposition, media, and civic groups are constrained by an emergency law promulgated in July 2005 by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra purportedly to curb Islamist violence in the Muslim south. The Emergency Powers Law allows the Thai government to impose curfews, detain people without charge, and ban public gatherings. Under the guise of a crackdown on money laundering, the Uzbekistan government effectively stopped the transfer of foreign funds to all Uzbek civil society groups. A resolution of the council of ministers requires NGOs to report activities to a “bank council” before releasing funds. The banking sector is so tightly controlled that it would be impossible to make these transfers. In short, NGOs and business associations are simply not able to function legally using foreign funds.

In some cases, restrictive legislation is projected as an attempt to improve NGO governance and regulation or to curb malpractices. However, in virtually all of the cases cited, the means deployed are more restrictive than necessary to fight NGO malpractice or poor governance, and are often contrary to obligations to protect the right to free association required by the country’s constitution or under international conventions. Restrictive laws are often a continuation of long-standing patterns of repressive government tactics (e.g., Belarus, Zimbabwe).

In some cases, the recent initiatives appear to be motivated by a desire to forestall political opposition. Indeed, ICNL research indicates that governments often enact restrictive NGO legislation before elections, recognizing the critical role that civil society can play in advancing democracy. Most democracy assistance groups have experienced the following legal and extra-legal constraints: restrictions on the right to associate and freedom to form NGOs; impediments to registration and denial of legal status; restrictions on foreign funding and domestic financing; ongoing threats through use of discretionary power; restrictions on political activities; arbitrary interference in NGO internal affairs; establishment of “parallel” organizations or ersatz NGOs; and the harassment, prosecution, and deportation of civil society activists. Some of these measures may appear at first glance to be relatively benign, neutral, or legitimate attempts to regulate civil society. Some authoritarian regimes claim that not only is it appropriate to limit foreign interference in domestic politics—as most advanced democracies do—but falsely claim that their newly restrictive measures are based on legislation already in effect in established democracies. Of course, governments may legitimately seek to regulate foreign funding of domestic political actors and/or to regulate NGOs prone to malpractice or poor governance. But this is where context and intent matter.

...In Vietnam, for instance, NGOs must obtain an operating license and the Vietnamese authorities routinely intervene in NGOs’ internal affairs and governance, often insisting on the prerogative to appoint (or otherwise veto) personnel.

...Many governments closely guard the process by which NGOs can register, i.e., become a legal entity with the associated legal rights and prerogatives. Governments insist that groups, even some as small or informal as a neighborhood association, must register, allowing authorities to monitor groups’ activities. Regimes make registration difficult, impeding the ability of civil society organizations, particularly advocacy groups, to function effectively or even to exist. Tactics include making registration prohibitively expensive and/or unduly burdensome in terms of the type and amount of information required; excessive delays in making registration decisions; and requiring frequent re-registration, giving authorities the right to revisit organizations’ licenses to operate.

In Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, and Algeria, as ICNL reports, regulations governing registration are kept deliberately vague, giving considerable discretion to officials. Consequently, NGOs have difficulty registering; some are denied registration while others experience long delays or repeated requests for further information. In Azerbaijan, the registration of local NGOs has, in effect, been suspended as a result of overly discretionary implementation of registration laws. In March 2005, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructed representatives of the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, and IFES (formerly the International Foundation for Election Systems) to cease operations and leave Ethiopia within 48 hours. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the view that they were operating illegally, even though all three groups had made a good faith effort to register both through the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and through the Ministry of Justice in Addis Ababa. Tajikistan has been holding international organizations in limbo by neither refusing nor granting registration. As a consequence, groups like NDI and Freedom House are operating with local staff and cannot get visas for international personnel. All NGOs in Tajikistan’s Ferghana Valley have been put through audits and re-registration following the Andijon massacre in Kyrgyzstan. In Belarus, the government exercises considerable discretion over the registration process through a National Commission on Registration of Public Associations that advises, through a notably opaque process, the Ministry of Justice on which organizations it should allow to register. The law requires authorities to respond within one month to registration requests, says ICNL, but NGOs have waited over a year only to be denied registration without explanation. Unregistered status renders activists and organizations vulnerable to capricious and punitive actions on the part of the security services. On March 3, 2006, the Belarusian KGB arrested four election observers from an unregistered NGO associated with the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) which is funded by the National Democratic Institute.

Russia’s NGO law, even as amended following protests, requires foreign and de facto domestic NGOs to re-register with a state agency which will examine their activities before determining whether they can continue operations. The measure allows the Federal Registration Service, an agency of the Justice Ministry, to invoke threats to the “constitutional order” to justify terminating funding of certain activities. Government officials enjoy an unprecedented degree of discretion for deeming programs or projects detrimental to Russia’s national interests. Registration officials can exercise prerogatives to close the offices of any foreign NGO undertaking programs that do not have the objective of “defending the constitutional system, morals, public health, rights and lawful interest of other people, [or] guaranteeing the defense capacity and security of the state.”

Restrictions on working with “unregistered” groups in Uzbekistan In December 2003, the Uzbekistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) instructed the International Republican Institute to cease working with “illegal organizations,” meaning all unregistered political parties. The country’s foreign minister personally accused the International Republican Institute (IRI) of promoting a coalition of “anti-government forces that wish to overthrow the constitutional order of Uzbekistan,” and advised IRI to take the Uzbek government’s views on this seriously and “act accordingly.” Consequently, IRI postponed a scheduled seminar on “Government Mechanisms for Registration” for political activists. Selected international organizations were instructed to reapply for accreditation through the Ministry of Justice (instead of the Foreign Ministry) and to turn in current MFA accreditation cards before March 1, 2004. Under these circumstances, the U.S. Embassy recommended that IRI take a break from activity in order to assess the situation and plan for 2004. In April 2004, IRI received its official registration certificate, accompanied by a letter from the Ministry of Justice listing IRI’s alleged violations and a warning that registration would be canceled if IRI continued training activities with non-registered groups. In May 2004, the justice minister warned IRI that it was breaking the law by working with the unregistered parties Erk and Birlik. In response to the justice minister’s statement, IRI suspended initiative group training for non-registered movements. In November 2004, the Ministry of Justice, verbally and in writing, warned IRI not to have contact with or extend any kind of assistance to unregistered political movements. This warning came after IRI had hosted, at its office, individual consultations between a Ukrainian consultant and Uzbek activists seeking to run as candidates in the December 2004 Oliy Majlis election.

Restrictions on foreign funding and domestic financing

Restrictions on foreign funding of domestic civil society groups are increasingly common and government attempts to legitimize and gain support for these constraints are frequently couched in faux patriotic or xenophobic terms. In this respect, authoritarian regimes gain a “two-fer.” They impose technical restrictions on civil society groups’ ability to function while undermining them politically by suggesting that they are agents of or otherwise represent alien interests.

Russia, Venezuela, Egypt and Zimbabwe provide perhaps the most blatant and pernicious instances of this trend. “We are against overseas funding for the political activities [of NGOs] in Russia,” President Vladimir V. Putin has stated. “For some of these organizations the main objective has become to receive funds from influential foreign and domestic foundations,” he claims, insisting that “for others the aim is to serve dubious groups and commercial interests.”

In Venezuela, CIPE has noted various types of NGO harassment. “While not much of this can be attributed to specific laws (though that may yet happen),” CIPE notes, intimidation takes various forms including “harassment or the threat of it in the form of financial and tax audits” of grantees. The regime of Hugo Chavez is prosecuting civil society activists from Súmate, a voter education NGO, on charges of “conspiracy” resulting from a NED grant to promote education on electoral rights prior to the 2004 recall referendum. The regime has openly insisted that receipt of foreign funds is in itself subversive. “It is one thing to be involved in politics, and quite another to solicit support from a foreign government to intervene in internal affairs of the country,” says Luisa Ortega, a state prosecutor with Venezuela’s National Council. “There is conclusive proof in the contract with the accused for financial support from NED that shows intent to conduct politics against the current government,” stated Ortega. Article 10 of the recent criminal code reform bill specified that anyone who supplies or receives funds from abroad to conspire against the integrity of the territory of the republic or government institutions, or to destabilize social peace, may be punished with sentences of 20 to 30 years in jail. Although that provision was ultimately withdrawn from the bill, legal experts suggest that its provisions can still be interpreted to the same effect. T

...More generally, ICNL research identifies a wide range of legislative measures used to restrict foreign funding, including requirements that: NGOs must receive prior government permission to receive foreign funding (sometimes on a donation- by-donation basis, imposing further administrative burdens on thinly-stretched organizational resources); NGOs must not only register but frequently re-register with the government, and a government-controlled commission decides whether the organization will be allowed to receive foreign funding; overseas funding must be channeled through government agencies or via designated bank accounts that are easily monitored or even frozen; foreign funds are subjected to punitively high taxation; and foreign funding is restricted to a limited percentage of an NGO’s total income.

In Belarus, an August 2005 presidential edict prohibits organizations and individuals from receiving and using foreign assistance for “preparing and conducting elections and referenda; recalling deputies and members of the Council of the Republic; staging gatherings, rallies, street marches, demonstrations, picketing, or strikes; producing and distributing campaign materials; and any other forms of mass politicking among the population.” Regulations adopted in 2004 imposed reporting and approval mechanisms that ensure government control over donor funds and projects. NGOs are required to pay up to 30 percent tax on foreign aid, a stipulation that has prompted some overseas donors to reconsider the viability of financial support to Belarusian civil society.

In 2004, Belarus enacted provisions allowing the regime to close an NGO for violating laws restricting the use of foreign funds or for demonstrating in violation of a law curtailing mass meetings. In 2003, government officials dissolved 51 leading civil society groups, and in 2004 a further 20 groups were terminated. In 2004, Minsk refused renewal of registration permits for Counterpart and IREX, two U.S.-based organizations implementing U.S. government-funded programs. A December 2005 measure introduces severe penalties for activities deemed conducive to fomenting “revolution” in Belarus, notes 23 the ICNL, specifically: training people to take part in “group activities that flagrantly violate the public peace” and for financing such training would carry a jail sentence of up to six months or a prison sentence of up to two years; training people to take part in “mass riots” or its financing would carry a jail sentence of up to six months or a prison sentence of up to three years; appeals to a foreign country, a foreign or international organization to act “to the detriment of” the country’s “security, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” as well as the distribution of material containing these appeals, would carry a jail sentence of six to 36 months or a prison sentence of two to five years; and distribution of similar appeals via the media would carry a prison sentence of two to five years. A new article to the Criminal Code, titled “Discrediting the Republic of Belarus,” establishes a jail sentence of up to six months or a prison sentence of up to two years for “providing a foreign country, a foreign or international organization with patently false information about the political, economic, social, military and international situation of the Republic of Belarus, the legal position of citizens in the Republic of Belarus, and its governmental agencies.”

Restrictions on political activities

NGOs are frequently required to refrain from activities broadly defined as political, a severe if not disabling obstacle to democracy assistance groups. Even non-partisan or largely technical activities are vulnerable to malicious or willful misinterpretation, rendering activists and organizations vulnerable to potentially severe penalties.

In Kazakhstan, ICNL reports, the law prohibits “foreigners, persons without citizenship, or foreign legal entities and international organizations” from engaging in “activities that support (or make possible) the nomination and election of candidates, political parties, nomination of parties to the party list or the achieving of a specific result during elections.” Penalties for violating the prohibition include fines (for individuals and organizations) and deportation of the individuals involved.

Arbitrary interference in NGO internal affairs.

Even when civil society groups are allowed to form and secure official registration, governments continue to restrict their activities through unchecked oversight authority and interference in NGOs’ internal affairs. Failure to comply with government demands may prompt sanctions and penalties. Civil society groups are frequently impeded and harassed by bureaucratic red tape, visits by the tax inspectorate, and other below-the-radar tactics. Despite amendments to draft proposals, made after international protests and diplomatic representations, Russia’s NGO law still allows officials to utilize less public means of intimidating political opponents. The registration authority enjoys discretionary power to audit the activities and finances of noncommercial organizations, request documents, and attend meetings, including internal strategy or policy discussions.

...China offers a clear and disturbing instance of enhanced state interference and harassment of NGOs, particularly by the Ministry of State Security. Beijing’s concern about the “colored revolutions” and the potential role of civil society groups in fostering political change is well-documented. NGOs have been visited by state security representatives asking about sources of funding, specifically mentioning certain American funders, including NED, IRI, and NDI. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA), the government body responsible for registering NGOs, recently stopped processing applications for NGO registration.

...In Belarus, a law signed by the president in December 2005 provides for prison sentences for individuals who train others to participate in street protests, engage them to act against Belarusian sovereignty, or tell lies about the country. Organizing activities on the part of a suspended or closed nongovernmental organization or a foundation, or taking part in such a group carries a jail sentence of up to six months or a prison sentence of up to two years. Even prior to the new legislation, NGOs faced acute problems. Some 78 civil society groups ceased operations in Belarus in 2003 following harassment by government officials, the ICNL reports. In 2004, the government inspected and issued warnings to 800 others. The national security agencies and the Office of Public Associations questioned and searched a number of civil society groups and, in some cases, confiscated publications and print materials. Such inspections make it nearly impossible for organizations to focus on their primary activities.

...Punitive legal actions are another form of harassment, notably in Singapore. In February 2006, opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, was bankrupted and, as a consequence, barred from contesting political office, following a punitive defamation suit brought by former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Chee was barred from traveling to the World Movement for Democracy’s Istanbul assembly in May 2006 when immigration agents impounded his passport. As noted above, civil society activists who engaged in voter education prior to Venezuela’s presidential recall referendum are currently facing charges of conspiracy against the state for receiving U.S. funds. If convicted of treason, Alejandro Plaz and Maria Corina Machado face up to 16 years in jail. Civil society groups complain that the Venezuelan authorities are seeking to paint efforts to uphold the constitution as a conspiracy to undermine the government.

In Russia, NGOs associated with international democracy and human rights groups are frequently subject to harassment through inspections and criminal investigations. The field director of one democracy assistance group was detained on arrival at the airport for no apparent reason and would not have been able to re-enter Russia had the U.S. Ambassador not intervened. Later, she was effectively deported from the country after authorities refused to prolong her registration without explanation.

....Democracy assistance groups are consistent in stressing that the backlash against democracy assistance predates the color revolutions, particularly in Russia. It was in December 2002, for example, several months before Georgia’s Rose Revolution, that U.S. Peace Corps representatives were expelled from Moscow and the representative of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center was refused re-entry into Russia, leading to the eventual closure of its office. While programs often continue in the face of repressive actions, partners and grantees nevertheless become more cautious, circumspect, and wary of adopting a high profile. In some countries, for example, NED grantees have asked program officers not to visit them for fear of drawing the attention of the authorities. In other instances, prospective program partners or grantees have suggested that while they need external assistance and are willing to work with or accept grants from democracy promotion groups, the risks are too great to do so. Yet these instances are relatively rare and practitioners.

...In the case of the closure of the Solidarity Center’s Moscow office, for example, or the expulsion of the Open Society Institute, Freedom House, and IREX from Uzbekistan, democracy promotion groups are forced to relocate to adjacent territories or adopt “semi-detached” forms of engagement with grantees or partners, including provision of assistance through third parties. These measures have less impact on initiatives like the NED’s discretionary grants program that relies on direct grant aid, focusing resources on local activists and groups, and which rarely requires a local presence in the field. Democracy assistance donors are nonetheless affected by new restrictions on funding and, to some extent, disadvantaged by distance. Unlike field-based groups, including NED’s institutes, they are not usually in a position to reassure or placate suspicious local authorities by establishing relationships or providing access to programs.

...The new repressive climate in certain states has highlighted the benefits of non-governmental and civil society-based approaches. Maintaining and highlighting independence from government, such initiatives demonstrate that democracy promotion is most effectively undertaken by non-governmental organizations, particularly in regions like the Middle East and Central Asia where official U.S. support is sometimes shunned. Unlike official government agencies, often constrained by diplomatic or security considerations, democracy promotion NGOs, operating openly but largely below the radar screen, are able to avoid compromising the integrity and efficacy of programs. Groups like NED are able to engage and fund unlicensed organizations that tend to undertake cutting edge programs but cannot ordinarily access official funds.

...NED in particular has extensive experience of channeling aid and assistance to dissidents, labor unions, intellectual and civic groups, and other agencies for democratic change. For example, cross-border programs that require ample coordination and expertise are run by NGOs based in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania, which aid media and human rights groups in Belarus and farther afield in Central Asia. Similar work is undertaken by civil society groups in East and Southeast Asia.

Exploiting a "revolutionary situation"

Lenin defined a special term "revolutionary situation" (his well know saying is "A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution.") to describe the preconditions in which coup d'état against existing government has greatest chances of success (Translation from Soviet encyclopedia):

Revolutionary Situation is a political situation preceding a revolution and characterized by mass revolutionary ferment and the involvement of broad strata of the oppressed classes in active struggle against the existing system. A revolutionary situation serves as an indicator of whether sociopolitical conditions are ripe for a revolution, for the attainment of power by the progressive class.

A revolutionary situation has three basic symptoms.

  1. A “crisis of the upper classes,” that is, the ruling classes find it impossible to maintain their domination in unchanged form. The crisis in the policies of the ruling class creates a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes pour. For a revolution to take place, V. I. Lenin noted, “it is usually insufficient for ‘the lower classes not to want’ to live in the old way; it is also necessary that the ‘upper classes should be unable’ to live in the old way.”
  2. “When,” Lenin continues, “the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 218). The exacerbation may result from a deterioration of the economic position of broad strata of the population, from social inequality and the deprivation of the masses, from a sharp intensification of social antagonisms, and from other conditions stemming from the contradictions in a given system (for example, the threat of war, and the offensive of reactionary forces).
  3. A significant rise in the level of political activity among the masses (ibid.). Militant attitudes grow swiftly, and the masses are literally obsessed with politics.

... ... ...

A revolutionary situation is marked by a growing dynamism. As it develops, it passes through a series of stages, beginning with clear signs of mass ferment and ending with a nationwide crisis that develops into a revolution. The higher the stage of the revolutionary situation, the more important is the maturity of the subjective factor—that is, the capacity and readiness of revolutionary classes to carry out pressing reforms and to overthrow the power of the ruling class—in the further development of the situation. During the period of the nationwide crisis, the role of the subjective factor becomes decisive. Not every revolutionary situation reaches the highest stage and becomes a revolution. Examples include the revolutionary situation of 1859–61 in Russia and the revolutionary situation of 1923 in Germany. If for one reason or another the progressive classes are not prepared for aggressive, organized actions, the revolutionary situation declines, the mass revolutionary excitement dies out, and the ruling class finds means of retaining power.

And this strategy of exploiting pre-existing economic difficulties and created by them "revolutionary situation" for "regime change" proved to be quite efficient due to combining forces of internal domestic opposition with Western political and financial power.

This playbook represents a grave threat for any government in countries with “not enough pro-Western” policy.

While separate elements of this scheme were known long before and have a base on Bolshevik theory of revolutions (or more correctly in its Trotskyite variant of permanent revolution, as it was Trotskyites who turned into neocons brought to western government this set of ideas; see The Transitional Program (Part 1)) the "packaged kit" of the color-coded pseudo-revolutions that swept through the former Soviet bloc (and, later, targeted other states from Lebanon to Venezuela) within the last decade remains essentially the same.

Promoting "democratic revolution" has become the surrogate for direct armed invasion - though, as in Iraq and Libya, both can work well together. The strategies these ersatz movements pursue are no different from Communist Popular Front tactics in the same region after World War Two - in fact, the Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" resembles the Czechoslovak "Communist coup" of 1948. The only difference is that in the latter case a flowering of the democratic spirit was choreographed by the USA and the whole movement has a clear anti-Russian edge with the participation of Nazi "collaborationists" from Western region of Ukraine.

Of course there is real frustration and disappointment with the government in the targeted nations, and the revolutionaries of color can find fertile fields for sowing. But the end result does not serve the people whose anger has been manipulated, but invariably the economic and "security" interests of major Western powers, principally but not exclusively the United States.

While they are neoliberal rehash of the playbook of communist revolutions (“Red revolutions”), they manage to enrich the quote of Thomas Carlyle “All revolutions are conceived by idealists, implemented by fanatics, and its fruits are stolen by scoundrels.” . In this case it became symmetrically Machiavellian as in

“…conceived by one set scoundrels, implemented by the other set of scoundrels, and its fruits are stolen by the third set of scoundrels”

Use of NGO as preudo-Bolshevick party and Trojan horses of color revolution

"…power does its work by stealth, and the powerful
can subsequently deny that their strength was ever used at all."

Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown (2005)

The idea is set of NGO like set of think tanks is very similar to Bolsheviks idea of core of professional revolutionaries in Bolshevik Party. The only difference is that neoliberal NGO and set of think tanks is financed by oligarchy, primary by financial oligarchy and key governments of neoliberal world.

Every government official in third world and "developing" country should read Gene Sharp and couple of other books and understand the mechanics used and NGO involved. The list includes

It not an accident that most of those organization were shown the door in several countries where danger of color revolutions exists. There is a good article on the subject written by Sreeram Chaulia 19 January 2006, which we will reproduce in full (Democratisation, NGOs and colour revolutions):

Samuel Huntington, summarizing the mix of primary causes for the "third wave" of democratization that began in 1974, listed a new but not decisive factor that had been absent in the preceding two waves: "Changes in the policies of external actors…a major shift in US policies toward the promotion of human rights and democracy in other countries…". American international NGOs ("Ingos") were prominent mechanisms through which this causal link between superpower foreign policy interests and regime change worked out in many transitions from authoritarian rule in the twenty-one-year-long "third wave".

This essay attempts to extend the analysis on Ingo instrumentality and democratization to the geopolitical storms popularized as "colour" or "flower" revolutions that have been sweeping the post-communist world since 1999. It sets out to assess the strength of the impact of transnational actors on recent international political events of great consequence, and explore the parasitic relationship between Ingos and a hegemonic state.

The intention is to bring the state back into a field dominated by flawed renderings of transnational activism. The principal argument is that the main and direct causes of the colour revolutions were United States foreign-policy interests (strategic expansion, energy security and the war on terrorism) as they were serviced by Ingos. Without the intervention of these US-sponsored Ingos, the political landscapes in countries like Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan would not have been repainted in new coolers.

These three revolutions – the "rose revolution" in Georgia (November 2003-January 2004), the "orange revolution" in Ukraine (January 2005) and the "tulip revolution" in Kyrgyzstan (April 2005) – each followed a near-identical trajectory; all were spearheaded by the American democratization Ingos working at the behest of the US foreign policy establishment.

It will be argued that the comparable political convulsions of Uzbekistan (May 2005) and Azerbaijan (November 2005) did not experience "colour revolutions" due to a variation in the independent variable, US foreign-policy priorities.

The contexts of democratization

Most studies of democratization recognize the international context in which regime change occurs, but such studies never go to the extent of giving external causes prime place. The consensus is that exogenous factors "are difficult to apply in a sustained manner over the long term." In the case of the former communist bloc, some scholars regard international organizations, western economic aid and the Catholic church as "catalysts of democratization"; others claim that international human-rights norms triggered fundamental political changes leading to the demise of communism.

Transnational actors, comprising Ingos at the hub of advocacy networks, are viewed as capitalizing on opportunity structures offered by "internationalism", acting as "ideational vectors of influence", and maintaining constant criticism of vulnerable "target states" that are repressive in nature. Portrayals of advocacy networks as autonomous entities that skillfully maneuver states and international organizations for achieving their own principled ends suggest that democratization was "both a contributing cause and an effect of the expanding role of transnational civil society."

On the question of how transnational actors "penetrate" target states, which is of seminal interest for our colour-revolutions quest, constructivist theory harps on norm institutionalization in issue-areas like human rights that enable coalitions with powerful state actors who favor such norms. The manner in which American democratization Ingos penetrated Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, however, did not follow this route.

Another pathway for penetration is presented by the "boomerang pattern", wherein international contacts "amplify the demands of domestic groups, pry open space for new issues and then echo back these demands into the domestic arena. " Though campaign strategies and pressurizing tactics of Ingos do approximate to what happened before the colour revolutions in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, the origin of American INGO involvement in these states was not as straightforward as an invitation from local civil society to global civil society.

Former communist countries are characterized by weak local civil societies and embryonic homebred intermediate organizations. Nor were the dynamics of INGO intervention in these states as simple as domestic grievances being resolved by coalitions with principled external networks "motivated by values rather than by material or professional norms. " For the most apposite theoretical framework that fits the story of Ingos and colour revolutions, we must leave constructivism and turn to the revolving applications of realism in world politics.

Ingos as vehicles of strategic penetration

Realism asserts that transnational actors can punch above their weight and have disproportionate impact on world affairs only if they lobby and change the preferences, practices and policies of powerful states. The Helsinki network in Europe followed this game plan to great effect by winning over the US government to its side in the struggle against communism.

Norm-driven theorists fail to concede that superpowers have minds and agency of their own and only give in to transnational "pressures" when the issue area serves larger geo-strategic purposes. Rarely has the US promoted human rights and democracy in a region when they did not suit its grander foreign-policy objectives.

Thomas Carothers, a leading authority on US democracy promotion, has decried the instrumentalisation of democratization by recent American administrations: "The United States has close, even intimate relations with many undemocratic regimes for the sake of American security and economic interests… and struggles very imperfectly to balance its ideals with the realist imperatives it faces."

The flip side of this reality is the fact that when undemocratic regimes prove to be thorns in the flesh, the US sees great merit in their overthrow by a range of diverse methods. In the cold-war era, selectivity in democracy promotion was best reflected by Jeane Kirkpatrick’s distinction between "totalitarian" and "authoritarian" regimes, the latter being states which can be supported in the scheme of bigger US interests.

As we delve into the case studies of colour revolutions, the same "good despot-bad despot" patchiness of superpower attitudes to democratization in the post-communist world will resurface in the new context of the "war on terrorism".

Geoffrey Pridham divides geo-strategic impact over regime changes into the two dimensions of space and time. The Mediterranean had turned into an area of intense superpower rivalry in the mid-1970s due to the enhanced Soviet naval presence and instability in the middle east. Regime transitions in that hotspot, therefore, sharpened US and western interests in the outcomes.

As a corollary, at sensitive world historical moments, American inclinations to intervene in regime politics of countries tend to be greater. Early cold-war economic instability in Italy and Greece in the 1970s was one juncture where the outcome stakes were felt to be so high in Washington that it took an active interventionist role. Thirty years on, the spatial and temporal importance of Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in the geo-strategic sweepstakes was ripe for colour revolutions orchestrated from outside.

Laurence Whitehead has deepened understanding of democratization as a geopolitical strategy that redistributes global power and control with the metaphor of a vaccine, not of a contagion or virus. US military and other modes of destabilizing interventions in Central America were meant to inoculate polities from contamination by Castroism and this treatment was labeled "democracy". "Two-thirds of the democracies existing in 1990 owed their origins to deliberate acts of imposition or intervention from without…It is not contiguity but the policy of a third power that explains the spread of democracy from one country to the next." The colour revolutions under our bioscope were integral to this power-politics tradition motoring dominant states in international relations.

Realist views on transnational actors as instruments of powerful states date back to debates about multinational corporations (MNCs) and their entanglement with American hegemony. Robert Gilpin was the first to explain the rise of MNCs as a function of hegemonic stability, i.e. that the leadership of a powerful political state actor is essential for the creation and maintenance of a liberal world economy in which MNCs thrive.

Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye also warned in the 1970s that "transnational relations may redistribute control from one state to another and benefit those governments at the centre of transnational networks to the disadvantage of those in the periphery." Ingos had not burst onto the global notice board during these early reviews on transnationalism. However, the usage of Ingos as foreign-policy instruments was not unknown right from the start of the cold war.

Humanitarian Ingos like the International Rescue Committee (founded in 1933 to assist anti-Nazi opponents of Hitler) and democratization Ingos like Freedom House (founded in 1941; an important component of the Marshall Plan to prevent communist takeover of western Europe) are two high-profile cases that represented US governmental interests while maintaining INGO legal status.

Inducing defectors and refugees from behind the "iron curtain" to cross over, public diplomacy, propaganda and funding of electoral candidates in foreign countries by charities and Ingos existed long before the voluntary sector attained an overtly pivotal position in the annals of US foreign policy. More recently, humanitarian (not human-rights) Ingos heavily dependent on US finances have been found to be consciously or subconsciously extending US governmental interests. As Julie Mertus writes: "It's not the NGOs driving the government’s agenda; it's the US government driving the NGO agenda."

Doctrinal developments in foreign policy kept pace with the growing potential of Ingos as valuable assets for promoting US national interests. Andrew Scott’s (1965) "informal penetration" theory tied US foreign aid, technical assistance and international organizations together as a toolkit that can be used to increase the porosity and penetrability of rival states.

Permeability of national borders was both a precondition for the emergence of transnational entities like MNCs, Ingos and international organizations, as well as the end result of increasing transnationalism with the US as metropole. Richard Cottam theorised that the Zeitgeist of world politics had changed from the ultimate recourse of "shooting warfare" to political, economic and psychological warfare. The arenas at which critical international battles took place were increasingly the domestic politics of weaker target states that are vulnerable to foreign influence and interference.

Cottam was disappointed with the "ad hoc" nature of US foreign policy and its neglect of a long-term strategic plan based on "tactical interference". The contemporary blueprint for co-opting transnational actors as active wings of foreign policy was laid by Joseph Nye’s liberal "soft power" idea that called for harnessing the US's tremendous reserve of intangible resources such as culture, ideology and institutions for preserving world dominance.

"Soft power" at the end of the cold war would be less costly and more effective to Nye because of its subtlety and seductive quality. The prohibitive costs of direct military action in modern times ensure that "other instruments such as communications, organizational and institutional skills, and manipulation of interdependence have become important instruments of power. " To manage the challenges of "transnational interdependence", Nye urges greater US investment in international institutions and regimes on issue-areas that can perpetuate the American lead in global power.

His emphasis on private actors operating across international borders as a key category that has to be managed by the hegemonic state aims at the heart of our discussion on democratization Ingos as pawns. Among practitioners of US diplomacy too, soft power's utility in furthering strategic ends has been toasted after the end of the cold war. Warren Christopher, President Clinton’s first secretary of state, proposed a strategic approach based on "new realism" to promoting democracy: "By enlisting international and regional institutions in the work, the US can leverage our own limited resources and avoid the appearance of trying to dominate others."

The democratization Gongos

The watershed that brought Ingos to the forefront of global democracy-promotion was the Reagan administration’s decision to create the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1983 to roll back Soviet influence. With a stated raison d'être of "strengthening democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts", NED was conceived as a quasi-governmental foundation that funneled US government funding through Ingos like the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and Freedom House.

These Ingos in turn "targeted" authoritarian states through a plethora of programmatic activities. NED’s first president, Allen Weinstein, admitted openly that "a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA. " The organization was a deus ex machina in the face of scandalous Congressional investigations into the CIA's "soft side" operations to destabilize and topple unfriendly regimes that embarrassed the government in the late 1970s.

As William Blum writes: "An NGO helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. " 97% of NED's funding comes from the US state department (through USAID and before 1999, the Usia), the rest being allocations made by right-wing donors like the Bradley Foundation, the Whitehead Foundation and the Olin Foundation. Since its conception, and despite the bipartisan structure, "neoconservatives have held tight control over NED's agenda and institutional structure."

Senior figures in the George W Bush administration who are signatories to the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which wears aggressive US foreign interventions on its sleeve, have officiated in NED. Notwithstanding its claims to "independence" and "nongovernmental status", the US state department and other executive agencies regularly appoint NED's programme personnel. As one 'Project Democracy' (codename for NED in the Iran-Contra scandal) advocate put it, "These 'private' agencies are really just fronts for the departments they serve; the agency may prepare a report or a research project that it then gives to the private firm to attach its letterhead to, as if it were really a private activity or initiative."

A survey of NED's partner Ingos reveals a similar pattern of public priorities forwarded by private agents. Freedom House, a neocon hub which succoured the colour revolutions, has a history of being headed and staffed by ex-CIA high-level planners and personnel.

NDI is dominated by "liberal hawks" or right-wing Democrats who find their way to prime foreign-policy slots when their party is in power. IRI comprises a herd of far-right Republican politicians and representatives of major financial, oil, and defense corporations. IFES top brass belong to conservative Republican ranks, the CIA or military intelligence. IREX, the training school for colour revolution elite protagonists, is peopled by political warfare, public diplomacy and propaganda specialists from the news media, US foreign service and the US military.

For our purpose, it is interesting to note that compared to humanitarian and development Ingos, which have often promoted US foreign-policy objectives, democratization and human-rights Ingos boast of a far greater preponderance of US government and intelligence operatives. This owes much to the fact that democratization is a sensitive political minefield with direct bearings on international relations. It is too important a foreign policy subject for the US government to hand over reins to the voluntary sector.

Armed with the luxury of a sea of democratization Gongos (governmental NGOs) and quangos (quasi-governmental NGOs), William DeMars: "The US government has a greater capacity than any other single actor in the world to keep track of them, channel them, thwart them, or ride them in a chosen direction."

Usaid's avowal that democracy can be promoted around the world without "being political" is totally fictional, because the onus of NED and its family is on altering the balance of political forces in the target country in the pretext of "civil society assistance."

Criticizing the brazen politicization of democratization Ingos, Elizabeth Cohn recommends: "Close consultation between the U.S. government and nongovernmental groups should stop. NGOs should set their own goals and not be servants of U.S. national interests, as NED is by congressional mandate."

That such relinquishment would appear foolhardy for the realists in US government goes without saying, for it is tantamount to killing the goose that lays golden eggs. To its supporters, the NED family has numerous successes to show off – interventions "to protect the integrity of elections in the Philippines, Pakistan, Taiwan, Chile, Nicaragua, Namibia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere."

Neutral assessments would rate these as electoral manipulations. Left out of the above count are victorious overthrows of democratically-elected governments in Bulgaria (1990), Albania (1992) and Haiti (late 1990s) and destabilization in Panama, Cuba and Venezuela. The next section will demonstrate that the latest feathers in NED's cap are the colour revolutions.

Ukraine’s operation orange

Ukraine epitomizes habitual American "instrumentalisation of value-based policies", thus "wrapping security goals in the language of democracy promotion and then confusing democracy promotion with the search for particular political outcomes that enhance those security goals."

Identified by the Clinton administration as a priority country for democratization and the lynchpin of US post-Soviet foreign policy, Ukraine’s importance for Nato's eastward expansion is second to none. Clinton’s special adviser on the former USSR, Richard Morningstar, confirmed during the 1997 Ukraine-Nato pact that "Ukraine’s security is a key element in the security policy of the United States. " For Zbigniew Brzezinski, the liberal hawk who influences the Democratic party’s foreign policy:

"Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire ... if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources, as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state."

With the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to Nato by 1999, Ukraine remained the last frontier, the single largest buffer on the Russia-Nato "border". The orange revolution has to be viewed in the context of a defensive Russia attempting to hold on to its sphere of influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and an aggressive Euro-Atlantic eastward push by the European Union and Nato.

The line-up of foreign backing for the two presidential candidates on the eve of the revolution unambiguously unravels this background tug of war. Viktor Yanukovich, the candidate of outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, received strong verbal and financial support from the Kremlin before, during and after the disputed 2004 election. In a personal meeting with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, just before the election, Yanukovich promised "that he would end Ukraine's policy of seeking membership in NATO." Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-market challenger who benefited from American diplomatic, intelligence and Ingo assistance for the orange revolution, put his eggs entirely in the EU and Nato basket.

Energy politics also figured in Washington's regime change calculus for Ukraine. In July 2004, much to the consternation of the Bush administration and Brussels, Kuchma's government reversed an earlier decision to extend the Odessa-Brody pipeline to Gdansk in Poland. Had the extension occurred, it would have carried enormous Caspian oil flows to the EU, independent of Russia, and weakened Ukraine's overwhelming dependence on Russia for its energy needs.

Jettisoning a project that would have cemented Kiev's westward trajectory, Kuchma decided to open an unused pipeline that would transport oil from the Russian Urals to Odessa. The fallout on US interests was not negligible, as W Engdahl reports: "Washington policy is aimed at direct control over the oil and gas flows from the Caspian, including Turkmenistan, and to counter Russian regional influence from Georgia to Ukraine to Azerbaijan and Iran. The background issue is Washington's unspoken recognition of the looming exhaustion of the world's major sources of cheap high-quality oil, the problem of global oil depletion."

The US ambassador to Ukraine, Carlos Pascual, repeatedly beseeched Kuchma to give up the reversal, arguing that the Polish plan would be more attractive for investors and more profitable for Ukraine in the long term, particularly by attenuating Russian monopoly control and diversifying Ukraine's energy inventory. It was no coincidence that Yushchenko's government, after the orange revolution, restored status quo ante on Odessa-Brody, announcing "positive talks with Chevron, the former company of US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, for the project."

The install-Yushchenko operation in Ukraine had several components. Important power-brokers like the Ukrainian army, the ministry of internal affairs, the security service and senior intelligence officials (silovki) worked against Kuchma's crackdown orders and passed critical inside information to Yushchenko's camp.

Though these Praetorians claimed to have disobeyed executive commands altruistically, there was a pro-US tilt in many vital state agencies. Their communication channel with Yushchenko's aide, Yevyen Marchuk, a Nato favourite and former defense minister who discussed the upcoming elections with US defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, in August 2004, suggests a well planned coup d'état. Yushchenko's wife, Kateryna Chumachenko, a former Reagan and George H Bush administration official and émigré Ukrainian heavyweight, is alleged to have played a key backdoor part.

None of the above machinations would have mattered without the disputed election result, the amassing of people power on the streets and the engineering of democracy through civil disobedience. It is here that NED and its family of Ingos were most needed.

Having penetrated Ukraine in 1990 at the behest of the George H Bush administration with the assent of the pro-American Leonid Kravchuk, the effective leader of the republic, these Ingos had the power to finance and create the local NGO sector from scratch, controlling its agenda and direction.

The neo-liberal Pora organization, for instance, was an offshoot of the groundwork done by the "Freedom of Choice Coalition" that was put together in 1999 by the US embassy, the World Bank, NED and the Soros Foundation. On the eve of the orange revolution, NED Gongos hired American pollsters and professional consultants to mine psephological data and unite the opposition under Yushchenko's electoral coalition, months before the poll; trained thousands of local and international election monitors partisan to Yushchenko; organised exit polls in collaboration with western embassies that predicted Yushchenko’s victory; and imported "consultants" who had experience in the Serbian overthrow of Milosevic and the Georgian rose revolution.

The mass mobilization in Kiev was handpicked from Yushchenko's western Ukraine bastions and did not reflect nationwide sentiments. "A few tens of thousands in central Kiev were proclaimed to be 'the people', notwithstanding the fact that many demonstrators nursed violent and anti-democratic viewpoints", writes John Laughland. The NGO monitors, teamed up with western media outlets, deliberately exaggerated electoral fraud involving Yanukovych's party, ignoring serious violations by Yushchenko's.

US government expenditure on the orange revolution has been put at $14 million, while the overall civil-society promotion budget set by Washington for Ukraine (2003-2004) was $57.8-$65 million. The Soros Foundation and Freedom House pumped in a steady flow of funds through Ingos and local NGOs for "elections-related projects."

Massing of pro-Yushchenko crowds in Kiev’s Independence Square was a meticulous operation of “careful, secret planning by Yushchenko's inner circle over a period of years” that oversaw distribution of thousands of cameras, backup teams of therapists and psychologists, transportation, heaters, sleeping bags, gas canisters, toilets, soup kitchens, tents, TV and radio coverage, all of which needed "large sums of cash, in this case, much of it American." (Daniel Wolf.)

Local oligarchs and US-based émigré Ukrainian businesspersons also chipped in with sizeable contributions to the neo-liberal Yuschchenko. The shadowy and fungible ties between the US government and democratization Gongos leave little doubt that the latter were purveyors of large amounts of money in Ukraine that will not appear in audits or annual reports. Public acknowledgements of spending are understatements akin to official casualty figures given by governments during counterinsurgencies.

According to Congressman Ron Paul, the US allocated $60 million for financing the orange revolution "through a series of cut-out NGOs – both American and Ukrainian – in support of Yushchenko." The figure happens to be "just the tip of the iceberg". Claims that "Russia gave Yanukovich far more money than the United States (gave to Yushchenko)" rest on the myth that US government financing through the NED family "is publicly accountable and transparent."

The NED family's role in first following the Bush administration’s lead and anointing Yushchenko's outfit as the only valid manifestation of "civil society" (at the expense of non-neoliberal, anti-authoritarian parties) and then consistently bolstering it with funds and regime-toppling expertise completely blurs lines between impartial democracy promotion and meddling in Ukraine’s political process.

It tinkers with Robert Dahl’s basic dimension of democratization – contestation, i.e. the playing-field of political competition and the relative strengths of contenders. Much that was done by the Ingos in the name of democratization in Ukraine was outright biased, including voter education that is supposed to neutrally inform citizens to make free choices rather than to campaign for a particular candidate: "Yushchenko got the western nod, and floods of money poured in to groups which support him, ranging from the youth organization, Pora, to various opposition websites." (Jonathan Steele.)

The sinuous route taken by western money can be illustrated with an example. The Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative (Pauci), a prominent grantee of Usaid and Freedom House, funded NGOs active in the orange revolution like the International Centre for Policy Studies, which had Yushchenko on its supervisory board. In essence, American Ingos constricted the Ukrainian political space by plumping for the interests of the neo-liberal candidate before the 2004 elections, and partook in a multi-pronged regime-change operation orchestrated in Washington.

Kyrgyzstan’s tulip implantation

Central Asia has long been in the crosshairs of great-power competition games. After the fall of communism, the George H Bush and Clinton administrations defined a set of geo-strategic goals for this heavily meddled region: "To secure an alternative source for energy, help Central Asia gain autonomy from Russia’s hegemony, block Iran’s influence, and promote political and economic freedoms."

From 1993, goals of diversifying long-term energy reserves (finding alternatives to Persian Gulf sources) and pressures from the oil and gas private sectors "began to take centre stage" in Washington's policy toward Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The Pentagon pressed for increasing US military presence in the region and succeeded in securing membership for four of the five central Asian states, including Kyrgyzstan, in Nato’s Partnership for Peace in 1994.

Frequent joint military exercises and "interoperability" training in the Clinton years were expected to yield American bases in the region from which to counter Russian and Chinese hegemonic ambitions. With limited oil and natural gas reserves, Kyrgyzstan’s weak economy was heavily dependent on Russia, a vulnerability that the Clinton administration sought to counteract by deepening the US defense interests and nudging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to lend voluminous amounts of development aid to Askar Akayev's relatively democratic government.

IMF technical assistance was critical to Kyrgyzstan becoming the first state in the region to leave the Russian ruble zone. Despite the 1999 extension of the CIS collective security treaty that boosted Russian military leverage in Kyrgyzstan, kidnappings and effortless incursions into Kyrgyz territory by the fundamentalist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) exposed chinks in the security apparatus of Akayev's "Switzerland of central Asia". As Kyrgyzstan got dragged into central Asia's Islamist tangle by geography, the narcotics trade and border conflicts, the subterranean US-Russian race for military bases came into the open, paving the road to the tulip revolution.

After 11 September 2001, the Pentagon ventured on an epic journey: "The greatest shake-up in America's overseas military deployments since the end of the second World War to position U.S. forces along an 'arc of instability' that runs through the Caribbean, Africa, the middle east, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southern Asia."

The cash-strapped Akayev offered the largest American military base in the region at Manas, outside Bishkek, an installation that was not taken lightly in Moscow. China, which shares a border with Kyrgyzstan was equally alarmed and, together with Russia, steered the Shanghai Cooperation Organization toward opposing and ending US military bases in central Asia. The expectation that Manas base would "reduce Kyrgyz dependence on Russia", besides being a logistic hub for the war in Afghanistan, was belied when in 2003 President Putin negotiated with Akayev to open up a Russian airbase at Kant – thirty kilometres from the American "lily pad".

China was also reported to be engaged in secret parleys for its own base in Kyrgyzstan and for border adjustments; these kicked up a political storm against Akayev in March 2002. Russia's ministry of internal affairs, "Akayev’s new friends", helped defuse the demonstrations. Akayev’s moves to align Kyrgyzstan with China through "Silk Road diplomacy" and suppression of the Uighur guerrillas – explained mainly by his desperate need of finances to stem the tail-spinning domestic economy – upset Washington, which saw Beijing as a thorn in its strategic expansion agenda.

The American perspective on this dangerous development went as follows: "Given the 1,100-kilometer border between Kyrgyzstan and China – and Washington's already considerable foothold in nearby Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – the fall of the China-friendly government of disgraced president Askar Akayev would be no small victory for the 'containment policy'."

Prior to the Sino-Russian counteroffensive that found receptive ears in Bishkek, Akayev's progressively autocratic tendencies had not ruffled many feathers in Washington. His rigged presidential election in 2000 went largely unnoticed by the US government, even though NDI observers termed it unfair and laden with illegal subornment of the state machinery. In fact, Eric McGlinchey's study of the reasons for Akayev's slide into anti-democratic politics puts the blame squarely on US-inspired IMF doles that allowed him to "rein in political contestation and rebuild authoritarian rule."

Having cosseted Akayev for more than a decade, the volte-face done by the Bush administration before the tulip revolution was not an overnight realisation of how despotic he had become but a hard-nosed calculation that its vital interests were no longer being served. The visible consequences of Washington’s displeasure with "the news from Kant" (the opening of the Russian base) were recorded thus: "The IMF office in Bishkek has become tougher towards Kyrgyzstan. And the State Department has opened its own independent printing house – which means opposition newspapers will be back in full force." (P Escobar.)

Diplomatic sources are on record that as soon as the Kant deal fructified, Akayev was "on the American watch list" and "the U.S. began supporting all conceivable elements arrayed against him."

Democratisation of Kyrgyzstan, a footnote in American policy, suddenly acquired an aura and urgency. We should add that there was also a generic strategic rationale mooted in the Bush administration for democratization in central Asia after 11 September. Since anti-US popular feelings in the region are not as high as in other Muslim parts of the world, "the risk of democratization in the region is relatively small." Winning the hearts and minds of central Asian Muslims through democratization "will not only facilitate the process of liberalizing the economy, but also, as a by-product, increase support for the United States."

11 September opened a classic realist "window of opportunity through which an 'arc of stability' can be established in the strategically important area between the Caspian Sea and the northwestern border of China." Wildly inconsistent in application, the notion that democracy promotion can soften the Islamist challenge to pax Americana fitted well with rising discontent in Washington with Akayev's usefulness. Kyrgyzstan, with a population of barely 5 million (the fourth smallest in the region) received a sum total of $26.5 million for "democratic reform" from the state department in 2003-04, second only to the much more populous Uzbekistan. As with Ukraine, the official figures shroud a fortune.

From 2003, NED-family Ingos got into the act of securing regime change at the next parliamentary elections, turning against Akayev who had initially allowed them access to the country during the heyday of IMF and Usaid conditional lending. Even more than in Ukraine, American dominance of the local NGO sector is complete in Kyrgyzstan. P Escobar describes the monopolization of local civil society thus: "Practically everything that passes for civil society in Kyrgyzstan is financed by US foundations, or by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). At least 170 non-governmental organizations charged with development or promotion of democracy have been created or sponsored by the Americans."

The absolute control of Kyrgyz civil society by the NED family of Gongos is compounded by the donor-driven nature of "civil-society building" carried out in the region. Fiona Adamson's field research of democratization aid in Kyrgyzstan finds that: "Local NGOs receive almost 100 percent of their funds from international actors and can easily become almost 100 percent donor driven. International donors implicitly or explicitly expect local NGOs to administer programmes that do not necessarily match local needs."

Among the strategies adopted by the Ingos in the name of democratization was winning over local elites to western ideas and models, a time-tested cold-war tactic of psychological warfare. Irex organised conferences, seminars, "technical assistance" and exchange programmes with Kyrgyz elites, believing that domestic political change comes from exposure to western ideas.

That this tactic worked was evident by the trend among the Kyrgyz business and political elites to endorse a closer security and economic relationships with the US. Kurmanbek Bakiyev of the National Movement of Kyrgyzstan, the man who replaced Akayev as prime minister after the tulip revolution, was himself sent to the US on an exchange programme. Felix Kulov, the new head of security, and Omurbek Tekebayev, the new speaker of parliament after the tulip revolution, were also beneficiaries of state-department-sponsored visitors programmes.

Tekebayev disclosed what he learnt on the Washington jaunt candidly: "I found that the Americans know how to choose people, know how to make an accurate evaluation of what is happening and prognosticate the future development and political changes."

Top opposition leaders in the 2005 parliamentary elections like Roza Otunbayeva had reputations as "Washington’s favourite", though not as across-the-board as in Ukraine. They were quick to see potential in the NED's arsenal for regime change and utilised Ingo-funded projects for publishing anti-government newspapers, training youth "infected" with the democracy virus through US-financed trips to Kiev for a glimpse of the orange revolution, and mobilizing fairly large crowds in Bishkek that stormed Akayev's presidential palace and in the southern towns of Osh and Jalalabad.

Usaid "invested at least $2 million prior to the elections" for local activists to monitor government-sponsored malpractices but did not do anything to prohibit these "independent observers" from actually working for opposition candidates. The Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society (CDCS) and Civil Society Against Corruption (CSAC), key local NGO partners of the NED, worked in tandem with the anti-Akayev parties without any pretence of impartiality.

The US embassy in Bishkek, continuing the murky tradition of interventionist behaviour in crises, worked closely with Gongos like Freedom House and the Soros Foundation – supplying generators, printing presses and money to keep the protests boiling until Akayev fled. Information about where protesters should gather and what they should bring spread through state-department-funded radio and TV stations, especially in the southern region of Osh.

CDCS head, Edil Baisolov, admitted that the uprising would have been "absolutely impossible" without this coordinated American effort. On the utility of the NED Gongos to the entire exercise of the tulip revolution, Philip Shishkin noted: "To avoid provoking Russia and violating diplomatic norms, the US can't directly back opposition political parties. But it underwrites a web of influential NGOs."

It is important to note that the clan structure of Kyrgyz society, ethnic tensions with Uzbeks, and incipient Islamism in the Ferghana valley intervened on the ground to alter the revolutionary script charted in Washington. Russia too had learnt its lessons from Ukraine and cultivated some key opposition figures, making it impossible for the US to monopolize the opposition as was the case in the previous two colour revolutions.

The element of surprise, the slick media packaged proclamation of democracy’s relentless march, the legitimization by western capitals in lightning speed – all had become predictable by the time the democratization caravan reached Bishkek. The ambivalent attitude of the new order in Kyrgyzstan – in sharp contrast to the euphoric pro-western policies in Georgia and Ukraine – owes much to this variation between these two case studies.

"Good" vs "bad" authoritarians

Before drawing final lessons from this analysis, it is worth knowing why questionable elections by semi-dictatorial rulers in other post-communist states did not end up in colour revolutions. The main reason why Ilham Aliev, the heir to Heydar Aliev's autocracy in Azerbaijan, could fix the November 2005 parliamentary elections and not have to run the gauntlet from Washington's public-relations machinery and NED Gongos was his regime's loyalty to immense American (and British) energy interests in the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

This was the second time Ilham Aliev grossly manipulated an election and got away without repercussions. His succession façade in the notorious October 2003 presidential election was not only condoned in Washington but met with congratulatory messages from the Pentagon.

Uzbekistan's Stalinist strongman, Islam Karimov, brutally clamped down on a mass demonstration in Andijan against corruption and arbitrary detentions in May 2005, killing 500 and wounding 2,000, but Washington echoed the Uzbek government's claim that it was the handiwork of "Islamic terrorists".

Karimov, at the time of the tulip-revolution-inspired stirrings, had been the US's staunchest ally in the war on terrorism in central Asia, an insurance policy against democratization pressures. His pre-emptive moves before the December 2004 parliamentary elections and after the tulip revolution to expel and constrict the activities of NED-family Ingos did not meet with any criticism from the US government. Comparing Uzbekistan to the other colour revolutions, the perceptive P Escobar wrote: "The former strongmen of colour-coded 'revolutionary' Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan were monsters who had to be removed for 'freedom and democracy' to prevail. So is the dictator of Belarus. Not Karimov. He's ‘our’ dictator."

The necessary causation of regime change

These case studies have upheld the realist paradigm by showing that American-democratization Gongos are necessary, but not sufficient, causes for the colour revolutions. Unless US foreign-policymakers decide to field the full panoply of their intelligence, economic and military resources alongside the Gongos, the spectacle of yet another orchestrated colour revolution is unimaginable. Lacking strong US condemnation and proactive directions, the NED Gongos cannot manage to stage regime changes on their own in conjunction with local activists. It is the push factor from Washington that galvanises the Gongos into a war footing for regime toppling.

The orange and tulip revolutions are cases of "regime change", not "regime-type change", for they did not democratize Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. By their very nature, these episodes were replacements of anti-western elites with pro-western ones, not far-reaching changes that remodeled polities. Even a minimalist definition of democracy – free and fair elections – was not unambiguously achieved in the two cases.

So narrow was the base of these regime changes that it is a travesty to call them "revolutions", a term propagated by the US government and western media. The replacements of Kuchma by Yushchenko and of Akayev by Bakiyev are no more "revolutionary" than the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, which has been christened by the Bush administration as a "purple revolution". The difference in methods – Gongos and backroom intrigue in post-communist states and direct military occupation in Iraq – does not nullify the similarity of the independent variable: US strategic ambitions.

Predictions for future regime changes on the lines of the colour revolutions will need to carefully track how this independent variable evolves vis-à-vis undemocratic states in the post-Soviet space and how it shapes the concatenation of hard and soft power instruments. American strategy would also depend on domestic political peculiarities in individual states, factors that could not be fully covered in this essay due to the methodological problem of degrees of freedom.

American Gongos are highly effective in certain domestic milieus and moments and less so in others. Sabotage can suffice in some countries while full-scale military offensives may be needed in others. As Peter Gourevitch points out, purely international causation for domestic causes is "not totally convincing" except in the case of complete military occupation by a foreign power. A full range of necessary causation for regime change would have to include internal political and socio-economic variables, besides the NED brand of interposing.

Some additional information can be found at

A complex web of phony Ukrainian NGOs

UNITER stands for 'Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms' and is also known as USAID/Ukraine's Strengthening Civil Society in Ukraine (SCSU). It is administered by Pact Inc. Pact Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C. that is directly funded by USAID:

USAID/Ukraine awarded Pact a 5-year cooperative agreement to implement the project, effective October 1, 2008. The agreement was extended in September 2013 for an additional year. Including modifications and the 1-year extension, the total amount awarded comes to $14.3 million. As of September 30, 2013, $13.7 million had been obligated and $12.7 million had been spent.1
UNITER also funds the Center UA, which was set up in 2009 by Pierre Omidyar as "a coalition of more than 50 civil society organizations that mobilizes civic participation in Ukraine and serves as the country's primary forum for government transparency and accountability." Omidyar is a French-born Iranian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, and the founder and chairman of the eBay auction site.

Oleh Rybachuk is named as the founder and chairman of Centre UA. In 2004, Rybachuk headed the staff and political campaign of the US-backed presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko in the 'Orange Revolution'. Speaking at a 2006 NATO forum, he said:

"The task of political forces [in Ukraine] is to compromise on when Ukraine will sign a NATO Membership Plan [...] Ukraine's leaders must now join their efforts to launch an information campaign promoting the country's Euro-Atlantic integration, so that Ukrainians freely and consciously choose their future."
Rybachuk went on to serve under Yushchenko and Tymoshenko as deputy prime minister in charge of integrating Ukraine into NATO and the European Union. With the creation of Centre UA in 2009, Rybachuk transformed himself into a "civil society activist" and began working covertly for the US government to prepare the ground for the overthrow of the established order in Ukraine through "civil unrest", which eventually included the violent overthrow of President Yanukovych.

After the election of President Yanukovych in February 2010, UNITER described how Centre UA was used to put pressure on the Yanukovych government:

The New Citizen Platform was a key player in ensuring the success of the legislation. Pact, through the USAID-funded Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms (UNITER) project assists the NGO Center UA [New Citizen] since 2009. It was UNITER's contribution to create the network of prominent local and national level Ukrainian NGOs, to bring together leaders of public opinion and civil society activist.

Henceforth, Pact helped Center UA to emerge as the main convener of the need for access to public information for journalist work. This gave important boost to the success of the New Citizen platform. It included the facilitation and creation in summer 2010 of the Stop Censorship movement that unites media professionals in defending their rights for freedom of speech and access to information. The intensive collaboration New Citizen platform and Stop Censorship movement resulted in the reinforced media attention to the legislative struggle.2

On investigating these 'NGO networks' in Ukraine it quickly becomes clear that when Victoria Nuland said that Washington has spent $5 billion on "democracy promotion" in Ukraine over the past 20 years, she wasn't lying, at least not on the numbers. But that $5billion of US taxpayers' money has not gone towards "democracy promotion" but towards the infiltration and co-opting of Ukraine's political and social life for the purpose of thwarting Russia's natural influence on, and co-operation with, its neighbor. Between 2009 and 2014, through its complex web of fake NGOs, the US government engaged in a concerted effort to radically and definitively change the course of Ukraine's political and social life for the sole purpose of attacking Russia. In hindsight, a violent coup d'etat and the imposition of US-government-selected political leaders was a part of that plan.The farce that was and is USAID funding phony 'NGOs' to work for "access to public information for journalistic work" was fully exposed recently when the Kiev government banned more than 100 Russian media outlets from Ukraine.

Use of false flag operations to wipe up the protests

Here is one interesting take on EuroMaidan "snipergate" ( Euromaidan Anatomy of a Washington-backed coup d'etat)

US Snipers on EuroMaidan?

When he took up the post of US Ambassador to Ukraine on July 30th, 2013, Geoffrey Pyatt inherited this complex and well-established network of US-financed social activists and agitators. One of Pyatt's first tasks was to oversee the funding (about $50,000 in total) of a new television station in Ukraine, Hromadske TV. Unsurprisingly, Hromadske's first broadcast was on Nov. 22nd, 2013, the very first day of the Maidan protests. Indeed, the rallying cry for those protests was given by Mustafa Nayem, a Ukrainian journalist who founded Hromadske TV (with US taxpayers' money). Hromadske provided blanket coverage of the Maidan protest and since then has continued to receive generous funding from the US State Department and EU governments. To get an idea of the editorial line of the US State Dept. Hromadske, last year they hosted a journalist who called for the genocide of 1.5 million residents in the Donbass.

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McCain flanked by neo-nazi Tyahnybok

From the beginning of the protests until Yanukovych was forced to flee the country, the Euromaidan was the place to be if you wanted to press the flesh with US politicians. Pyatt and Nuland regularly handed out cookies and 'attaboys' to the protestors and police alike, while the US government's revolutionary envoy John McCain rallied the protestors in December 2013, telling them that "America stands with you" and "Ukraine will make Europe better". As the protests became increasingly violent through January 2014, the Ukrainian Prime Minister resigned on January 28th in a failed attempt to appease the protestors. By February 18th, President Yanukovych was in negotiations to draft a 'peace deal' with three members of the opposition - Yatzenyuk, the fascist Tyahnybok, and Klitschko, along with French, German and Polish foreign ministers. These were the same three people mentioned by Nuland and Pyatt in their infamous leaked phone call where they discussed the future make-up of the post-Yanukovych government.The agreement called for a drastic reduction in Yanukovych's presidential powers, a return to the 2004 constitution, the release of Tymoshenko from prison, early elections for later in 2014, the appointment of Yatzenyuk as prime minister and Klitschko as deputy prime minister, and the dismissal of the current government.

These measures amounted to a radical change in the power structure in Ukraine and should have meant an end to the protests, since they fulfilled all of the opposition demands. After all, the leaders of the opposition who had signed the agreement were the representatives of the protestors on the streets of Kiev, right? However, as the negotiations were ongoing, someone began a shooting spree in the streets around Kiev square over the three days of February 18th-20th. At least 15 policemen and 80 protestors and civilian bystanders were shot dead by what appears to have been a team of snipers firing from the tops and windows of buildings. The agreement was signed on the 21st, but the large death toll appears to have contributed to the almost immediate scrapping of the agreement, and the announcement by what was left of the Ukrainian parliament that Yanukovych would be impeached.

The image below shows the Maidan square in the top left corner.

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The yellow line shows the extent of the progress of the protestors on February 20th along Institutskaya Street as they tried to reach the central bank and the Ukrainian parliament (in red). All of the buildings surrounding Maidan square (off screen, top left), including the Ukraine hotel (in green), were occupied by protestors. The lobby of the Ukraine hotel had been turned into a makeshift triage center for the injured. The point being, everything behind and to the left and right of the protestors should have been safe territory. Ukrainian officials and protestors to this day claim that the police were responsible for the deaths. Yet the video segment below, taken from this video, shows a protestor (and the tree behind which he is hiding) being struck by a bullet from behind or from the side, most likely from the upper floors of the Ukraine hotel, as pointed out by this German news report (with English subtitles).


Throughout the day, dozens of other protestors were shot from behind, from buildings occupied by protestors, as outlined in this detailed report by Professor Ivan Katchanovski of the University of Ottawa.

The question of who was responsible for the large death toll among both protestors and policemen was brought into sharp focus by an intercepted telephone call, released on March 4th, 2014, between EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister Urmas Paet, who had just returned from Kiev. In the call, Paet tells Ashton:

There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition. [...] all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides ... and it's really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don't want to investigate what exactly happened.
If you're wondering why you haven't heard much, or anything, about this phone call in the Western media, the reason is that it has been ignored. And as Paet says, apparently the new US/EU-installed 'interim' government in Ukraine is not too keen on investigating the allegations.

Along with the video evidence and eyewitness testimony, Paet's statement strongly suggests that within the 'Maidan' protestors, perhaps specifically the US-funded and Chechen Jihadi-linked 'Right Sector', there were individuals who were fighting on both sides of the barricades; their aim being to kill as many police and protestors as possible in an effort to turn the 'people's revolution' into a revolution of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists bent on kick-starting a 'civil war' to cleanse Ukraine of Russian influence. That agenda dovetails nicely with the broad, decades-long goal of the Anglo-American empire to neutralize Russia as a potential global power broker able to stand against US global hegemony through destabilization and proxy wars.

The expansion of NATO up to Russia's borders that was begun by the Clinton administration in 1992 was advised against by many because it would obviously provoke conflict with Russia, yet the plan went ahead anyway. Why? There are two interwoven benefits from the US point of view. The first is that expanding NATO eastwards served to physically and economically expand the US empire. The second is that provoking conflict with Russia was predicted to scare European states, especially the expanded-upon new NATO Baltic states, into believing that Russia was a threat.

NATO was designed to increase security in Europe, but it has achieved precisely the opposite today. What 'increase security in Europe' really means in Washington is 'increase of US control in Europe'. The US government has long-since understood that the best way to increase control is to increase fear, and to increase fear you need an enemy. In the case of Europe, Russia could be provoked into appearing as an enemy to Europe by threatening it through expansion of NATO, which was justified by the need to increase security in Europe. Basically, expansion of NATO to Russia's borders was designed to threaten Russia and, as a result, threaten Europe and push it further into the arms of the Empire.

Ukraine today is not just a 'failed state'. A 'failed state' is usually still in the hands of a national government. Ukraine today is fully in the hands of the US government and the IMF. That might not be such a bad thing (relatively) if it weren't for the fact that the only reason those two institutions have any interest in Ukraine is to use it as leverage in their futile attempt to thwart the inexorable strengthening of the Russian Federation.

Just take Natalie Jaresko as an example. A Chicago-born investment banker who received her Ukrainian citizenship in December 2014, she now controls Ukrainian financial policy. In the late '80s and early '90s, she just so happened to hold several positions at the US State Department before taking the position of Chief of the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Ukraine. She also managed the USAID-financed Western NIS Enterprise Fund, which kindly provided funds for 'pro-democracy' movements in Belarus, Moldova and, predictably, Ukraine.

One year ago today, there was an option to end the Maidan protests peacefully while also meeting the protestors' demands and reforming Ukrainian politics and society in a way that would have benefited the Ukrainian people. Instead, the US empire and their proxy agents chose to unleash bloody mayhem on Ukraine. In the process, Ukraine (and therefore NATO) lost Crimea and is so to lose the rich lands of Donetsk and Lugansk. Does the US government care? Of course not. The real goal of demonizing Russia as a threat to global stability has been achieved.

All other considerations, including the slaughter of tens of thousands of ragged Ukrainian troops and at least 5,000 eastern Ukrainian citizens, are a price the psychopaths in Washington were only too willing to pay.

There is no fortress that can't be captured by a donkey loaded with gold

It is now known that the USA agencies spend around one billion in cash to facilitate the dissolution of the USSR. Here is how Prince Shcherbatov, who was active participant of the events, recollected this CIA operation:

...the Americans, the CIA spent money through its Ambassador in Russia, Robert Strauss, using his connections to bribe military: Taman and Dzershinsk airborne division, which had moved to the side of Yeltsin.

Big sums were received by the son of the Marshal Shaposhnikov, Minister of defense Grachev. Shaposhnikov now have an estate in the South of France, and a house in Switzerland.

I heard from George Bailey, my old friend, who for many years worked for the CIA that cash allocated to the USSR amounted to more than one billion dollars.

Not many people knew that in 1991 special aircraft delivered cash under the disguise of diplomatic mail to the Sheremetyevo airport. Those money were distributed in packages of ten-, twenty- an fifty dollars bills to selected government officials and military leaders.

The first meeting of the representatives of the two countries, held in Jurmala showed Americans that some of "the Soviet people" can easily “agree” to bribes. The second meeting which was attended by both military and intelligence representatives of both countries was a trial balloon for the future events.

Former participants in Chachagua conference were active participants in the coup: General Chervov helped to distribute the money among the military, one of the Directors of "Banks Trust", John Crystal helped to channel CIA money via his bank.

It turned out that if you give Soviet officials a good bribe, it is not that difficult to destroy the Soviet Union.

Everything was calculated correctly. In this case, thanks to the joint conferences, mass media, the efforts of American and Soviet representatives of different levels public opinion was shaped in the necessary direction, psychological "brainwashing" of the Soviet people was quickly accomplished and the ideas about the necessity of the introduction of democracy in the country firmly took root.

Bombing country with dollar proved to be also very efficient during Iraq and Afghanistan campaign. It allowed to buy some key figured in the government, making resistance inefficient. Cash in suitcases was used during the dissolution of the USSR very effectively to buy key "intelligencia" and government officials. The technique was polished to perfection during Serbian color revolution (The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity)

Regime Change Blueprint The NED At Work

Mar 08, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Another resource was the 30,000-40,000 Serbs living in Austria. Serbia had established the military draft, and the CIA had many walk-in Serbs who gave it detailed assessments of troops, list of security and police officials and other valuable information. Other Serb deserters went by ratlines to Germany where they were debriefed at Westport, a former US military base turned intelligence center. Many Serbs returned to Belgrade to continue to report.

Milosevic was constantly passing draconian new laws to root out dissidents and make war on his own students, and the CIA, having learned from the attempts by the Soviets who tried to decapitate Polish union, Solidarity, using mass arrests, the Serbian rebel students, whose outfit was called Otpor, set up a brilliant horizontal structure exactly the opposite of Milosevic’s central structure. Otpor was made up of small cells, and to escape capture, its members constantly shifted to a complicated network of safe houses. Operations were launched from these. A safe house used signals such as a raised blind or a closed window or a raised flag on a mailbox to indicate that all was well.

In addition, the CIA, through NGO’s, supplied the rebel Serbian students with thousands of cell phones, radio transmitters, and fax machines. Calls and e-mails went out through servers outside Serbia to escape Belgrade’s magpie scrutiny. Otpor was also supplied with printing equipment and supplies, and the publications and leaflets began to have an impact.

But the most urgent priority had been to establish a money conduit to fund Otpor and other Serbian defectors in place. Much of the money was cash gathered in Hungary and smuggled in suitcases over the border into Serbia., preferably U.S. dollars or German deutsche marks that were widely used in Serbia and had a higher value than the worthless Serb dinar. To avoid detection, the money trail moved constantly. Very early Otpor received money to a tune of $3 million from NED. The money was transferred to accounts outside of Serbia, mainly in Hungary and Austria. Since Milosevic had nationalized the Serb banks, a lot more money came over the Serb border in suitcases from Hungary. The NED would not know where the money was going, and would receive a receipt signed by a dissident as to how the funds were used. For example, money going to underground publications would be acknowledged by a secret code on one of the pages.

Using its covert monies, the students began to buy t-shirts, stickers, leaflets that bore its emblem of a clenched fist. Soon the clenched fist of Otpor appeared on walls, postal boxes, cars, the sides of trucks and statues. The students painted red footsteps on the ground to symbolize Milosevic’s bloody exit from parliament and passersby found thrust into their hands cardboard telescopes that described a falling star called “Slobotea.” They also used public relations techniques including polling leafleting and paid advertising. As days went on recruitment was expanded and new assets acquired and in cities like Banja Luka in northern Bosnia in Pristina in Kosovo, and in the provincial cities of Serbia, activity was mounting to a climax All the beatings of crowds, the disbanding of political parties, the fixing of the 1997 elections, the dismissal of honest Serb officials, the snubbing, the humiliating defeats, the arrogant indifference of Milosevic had been piling up, generating a pent-up violence that was going to be discharged in one shattering explosion of revolt.

The money trail expanded. Regarding the funding of certain persons or groups, the agency took pains to use false flag recruitments – acting through intermediaries to get new agents while the CIA pretended that its own agents came from other countries. Clinton did not want the opposition derided as U.S. lackeys. A participant: me, "I don’t think a lot of our assets had a sense of working for the U.S. government. It’s a grey area letting them know where their monies are coming from.” In the end, they got over $70 million.

Communications gear came next. The dissidents had to be supplied advanced CIA equipment such as Inmarsat scrambler phones to organize a command, control and intelligence, (C3I) network so they could remain underground and stay a step ahead of capture. Training for specific opposition leaders and key individuals was given U.S. assets within Serbia whose purpose was to serve as the eyes and ears for key dissident as well as to provide funds and security.

By now Otpor had developed a crisis committee to coordinate resistance that enabled networks from different regions to keep in close touch. All branches of U.S. intelligence were going to provide an early warning system for the students. The NSA and the CIA Special Collections Elements in neighboring countries had hacked into Slobodan’s key security bureaucracies and were reading Ministry of Internal Affairs' orders for police raids against the demonstrators. This intelligence was passed to the dissidents who gave advance alerts to Otpor cells which allowed them to disperse and avoid arrest. By now the student group even had a committee to deal with administrative tasks such as lining up new safe houses, cars, fake IDs. As the campaign to dethrone Milosevic went on, the money and activities grew more and more quickly with more than $30 million from the U.S. alone.

There were now seventy thousand Otpor students in 130 groups with twelve regional offices, and the Otpor leaders had been schooled in non-violent techniques designed to undermine dictatorial authority. They were using a handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation,” written by Gene Sharp. Chapters were copied and handed from cell to cell throughout the country. He: an interview that his non-violent method “is not ethical. It is not pacifism. It is based on an analysis of power in dictatorship and how to break it by withdrawing the obedience of its citizens and the key institutions of society.”

The same tactic in less overt form is used during Russian "white revolution" of 2012 and EuroMaidan 2014. Average pay for "protester" in xUSSR space is $30 a day. If we add equipment and food necessary for sustained Maidan style protest it is probably closer to $100 a day. Assuming 3000 paid professional protester (which will attract some volunteers, lumpens and simply spectators probably doubling the total doubling the amount in day hours ) that means that one day of protest costs as little as $300K a day which is nothing in comparison with the cost of direct military intervention. 30 days often is enough to topple the government so for less then 30 million you can achieve a spectacular result and "open the can" for multinationals. Here is some consideration on this account from establishment rag Foreign Policy.

The article Dollars, Not Bombs Can we bribe our way to peace in Syria? (FP, Sept 4, 2013) suggests:

How much is peace worth in Syria? If the United States attacks, cruise missiles worth tens of millions of dollars will wing their way toward the war-torn country, adding to the millions already spent on mobilization. There's no guarantee this costly exercise would quicken the end of the conflict. What's more, there's a potentially cheaper way to promote peace in Syria and anywhere else: Buy it.

The United States already spends money on foreign aid and peacekeeping that are supposed to stem conflict and encourage economic growth around the world. But we tend to avoid sending money to countries bogged down by war, since we're afraid it might be wasted. This is a big gap in our foreign policy, and to fill it, we need be more direct. We need to pay for peace explicitly.

There's a market for peace. The seller's price is how much you have to pay for it, and the buyer's price is how much you should be willing to pay. We need to know both of these numbers and ultimately try to balance them.

Why should Americans be buying? It's pretty simple. Peaceful countries are moneymakers for the United States. Most peaceful countries in the world import American goods and services, helping our economy create jobs and putting tax revenue in Washington's coffers. And the more these countries grow, the more they buy.

... ... ...

Other countries could sweeten the deal. Major economies in Europe would probably benefit from peace in Syria, too. Right now, none of them are among Syria's top trading partners, despite the European Union's policy of economic engagement in the Mediterranean region. If Europe participated, the annual peace bounty could rise to a billion dollars or more. And if the Syrian people knew that so much money awaited a peaceful and legitimate government, all sides might try harder to find a negotiated settlement.

... ... ...

The Syrian people might feel as though they were being robbed again by what has by many accounts been a thoroughly corrupt regime. But negotiating about money is much better than continuing the violence, and surely the Assads would want to haggle for their share. Ending the killing on both sides could be a condition for talks that might be worth tens of millions to them every year.

If peace bounties showed promise, there'd be no need to stop with Syria. From prison states like North Korea to countries hamstrung by civil conflict like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, peace bounties could help to tip the scales away from violence. The best part is that since the bounties would depend partly on population size, bigger bounties would free more people from war and oppression. (To be sure, they would also depend on people's incomes, which is a less attractive attribute.)

One catch here is that the World Trade Organization might see a bounty as an illegal subsidy to a country's imports. To get around the rules, the payments might have to be fixed as lump sums rather than varying annually according to import volumes. Alternatively, if all the WTO's members got together to pay the bounties, there would be no issue. In either case, such technicalities needn't stand in the way of the overall concept.

Back in the 1990s, the peace dividend created by the end of the Cold War brought the United States within a whisker of paying off its entire national debt. Today, thanks to tax cuts and ironically to a couple of new wars, that peace dividend has evaporated. But there's another one ripe for the taking -- as long as we're brave enough to put emotion on hold while we talk about cold, hard cash.

Use in xUSSR space

As the article by Sreeram Chaulia reproduced above had shown this technology proved to be especially effective in xUSSR space as governments in those state still remember communist dictatorship methods and are vary to resort to brutal methods of suppression of protestors common is the USA, GB as other Western countries.

It's pretty funny that Trotsky idea of permanent revolution returns to the xUSSR space in new packaging and will be directed even against neoliberal government which came to power after dissolution of the USSR when they are consider by the West no enough neo-liberal and hesitate to the wholesale the country to western banks. Or worse are resource nationalist as in Russia and Byelorussia. Expansion to this space has distinct neofascist small and essentially reminds and attempt to reestablish the Third Reich in a new neoliberal form with Western European population as a new Arian nation.

Track record of successful color revolutions in xUSSR space includes Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Kyrgyzstan. Non successful was only White revolution in Russia in 2012.

Ukrainian Orange Revolution is a classic color revolution, stages on the accusations of election fraud.

Recent unsuccessful (but pretty destabilizing) attempt to stage a color revolution was "white revolution" in Russia in 2011-2012. It produced many new and useful materials for understanding the mechanics of undermining the state using the Fifth column of Compradors & lumpenelite.

Euro Maidan of 2013 is another interesting and educational example. Here the pretext of staging color revolution of non-signing of the association EU treaty by Yanukovich government, the treaty which in present form serves well EU but does not serve Ukrainian economic interests.

I think it is unwise to underestimate the tremendous power of this new menace to the independent governments even if they are neoliberal government (as governments of Ukraine and Russia were at the time). One step in wrong direction and West might try to depose it with more agreeable sock puppets. With the dominance of neoliberalism the term compradors bourgeoisie has reentered the lexicon to denote new fifth column of globalization, trading groups and social strata in the subordinate but mutually advantageous relationships with metropolitan capital, which are ready to betray national interest for a scraps from the table of multinationals.

So any non-suicidal government should restrict the activity of Western NGO, penetration of western intelligence services into their own security services and dominance of oligarchs or western financial played in mass media (NGO actually spend large amount of money training "independent" journalist who under the disguise of critique of corruption of the current government and "freedom of the press" serve as a important part of fifth column and help to subdue the country to transnational corporations.

Democracy Uber Alles (But Only When It Goes Our Way)

Export of democracy is another stated goal of color revolution. Like other goals it is fake. In reality it is mainly a pretext for converting state into vassal on Washington. In other word this is neocolonial policy. In other words as William Blum noted in his book Americas Deadliest Export Democracy - The Truth about US Foreign Policy and Everything Else we can say that in fact The deadlest export of the USA is export of democracy:

In activist-author-publisher William Blum's new book, America's Deadliest Export: Democracy, he tells the story of how he got his 15 minutes of fame back in 2006. Osama bin Laden had released an audiotape, declaring:

"If you [Americans] are sincere in your desire for peace and security... and if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book Rogue State."

Bin Laden then quoted from the Foreword of Blum's 2000 book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, in which he had mused:

"If I were... president, I could stop terrorist attacks [on us] in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize... to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America's global interventions... have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but... a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. ... That's what I'd do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated."

... fortunately, for those who have read his books or follow his "Anti-Empire Reports" on the Web, he was not assassinated! And now he has collected his reports and essays of the last dozen years or so into a 352-page volume that will not only stand the test of time, but will help to define this disillusioned, morose, violent and unraveling Age.

... ... ...

Reading this scrupulously documented book, I lost count of the times I uttered, "unbelievable!" concerning some nefarious act committed by the US Empire in the name of freedom, democracy and fighting communism or terrorism. Reading Blum's book with an open mind, weighing the evidence, will bleach out any pride in the flag we have planted in so many corpses around the world. The book is a diuretic and emetic!

Blum's style is common sense raised to its highest level. The wonder of America's Deadliest ... is that it covers so much of the sodden, bloody ground of America's march across our post-Second-World-War world, yet tells the story with such deftness and grace-under-fire that the reader is enticed--not moralized, not disquisitionally badgered--, but enticed to consider our globe from a promontory of higher understanding.

Some of the themes Blum covers (and often eviscerates) include:

  1. Why they hate us;
  2. America means well;
  3. We cannot permit a successful alternative to the capitalist model to develop anywhere in the world;
  4. We will use whatever means necessary -- including, lies, deception, sabotage, bribery, torture and war--to achieve the above idea.

...A note "About the Author" tells us that, "He left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer because of his opposition to what the US was doing in Vietnam. He then became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first "alternative" newspaper in the capital."

In his chapter on "Patriotism," Blum relates how, after a talk, he was asked: "Do you love America?" He responded with what we may take for his credo: "I don't love any country. I'm a citizen of the world. I love certain principles, like human rights, civil liberties, meaningful democracy, an economy which puts people before profits."

America's Deadliest... is a book of wisdom and wit that ponders "how this world became so unbearably cruel, corrupt, unjust, and stupid?" In a pointillistic approach, sowing aphoristic seeds for thought, Blum enumerates instances of that cruelty, often with wry, pained commentary. "War can be seen as America's religion," he tells us. Reflecting on Obama's octupling Bush's number of drones used to assassinate, collaterally kill and terrorize, he affirms:

"Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left." And, he avers, "Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good." And then turns around and reminds us--lest we forget--how the mass media have invaded our lives, with memes about patriotism, democracy, God, the "good life": "Can it be imagined that an American president would openly implore America's young people to fight a foreign war to defend `capitalism'?" he wonders.

"The word itself has largely gone out of fashion. The approved references now are to the market economy, free market, free enterprise, or private enterprise."

Cynthia McKinney writes that the book is "corruscating, eye-opening, and essential." Oliver Stone calls it a "fireball of terse information."
Like Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader, Paul Craig Roberts, Cindy Sheehan and Bradley Manning, Blum is committed to setting the historical record straight. His book is dangerous. Steadfast, immutable "truths" one has taken for granted--often since childhood--are exposed as hollow baubles to entertain the un/mis/and dis-informed. One such Blumism recollects Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez's account of a videotape with a very undiplomatic Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and cowboy George Bush: "`We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly,'" Powell said. "`We must have a brute demonstration of power.'

Then Bush spoke: `Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! ... Stay strong! ... Kill them! ... We are going to wipe them out!'"

It is well-known that Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Iraqis, but usually left unmentioned is that those victims were in armed revolt against his regime. What would any U.S. President do if American citizens took up armed revolt against the U.S. Government? We have a clue in what took place in Waco, Texas a few years ago. There was no armed revolt, just some citizens with unregistered firearms. The U.S. government considered those armed citizens to be such a risk that the government sent in tanks and military personnel, ultimately using military personnel to set a conflagration which burned scores of women and children alive. Imagine if those people had actually been involved in revolt against the government!

The U.S. stresses "freedom and democracy" as a goal for a reconstituted Iraq. Of course some of the nations providing military support in the "coalition of the willing" are already democracies, and while their citizenry is voicing 90% disapproval of the preemptive war of aggression and conquest, the democratically-elected leadership of Britain, Australia, and Turkey adopt policies directly contrary to the loudly expressed will of their populations. So much for democracy, but proof the coercion and bribery of leadership for corporate interests is what Western-style "democracy" is usually all about.

The U.S. wants to spread democracy and freedom, but their latest attempt at nation building in Afghanistan has resulted in a puppet president Karzai (a former Chevron official) who is afraid to leave his own offices, while brutal warlords remain in control of the county. No democracy yet, while the U.S. military pussy-foots around the warlords and tries not to get in their way.

So, America bravely presses forward towards "liberating" Iraq. But don't mention it to the Kurds up north, who are dreading the recent arrival of a thousand and a half Turkish troops (with more likely to come) for the purpose of preventing the establishment of a Kurdish independent republic, or to prevent an unacceptable refugee burden. A Kurdish Democratic Republic would be too unsettling to the region for the Bush administration (or any American administration) to ever allow or promote THAT much democracy!

What really counts in Iraq is military firepower and corporate economic power. Dick Cheney, American Vice-President has been more or less totally absent from the American public's view, but only because he has basically reverted to his pre-election corporate role of lining up contracts for his old company and others to come in and mop up Iraq with billions of dollars' worth of reconstruction and infrastructure and oilfield repair contracts.[1] Forget democracy, and bring on the corporate bureaucracy and lets get that Iraqi oil flowing to pay the American debts for liberating her! Maybe American corporations will be democratically elected or appointed to do a little "nation building" which seemed very distasteful to Bush when Clinton was President, but seems like a fine idea now.

Was it all necessary? Or was any of it necessary? Well, the U.N. was making great strides in disarming Iraq and would have done so in reasonable time frames without warfare. But Bush needed war like like a cruise missile needs propellant. His presidency didn't even take off and begin flying until 9/11 pushed his military/industrial complex ambitions onto the front burner. No wonder Bush wouldn't allow the U.S. military to shoot down any of the four hijacked planes on 9/11, even after one World Trade Center tower was struck and even though the Pentagon lies under the most heavily defended airspace in the world. The hits had to occur to get the ball rolling for the Bush agenda, and so the military was stood down that day and thousands of Americans, including Pentagon personnel had to die so the Bush agenda could come to life.

From a Bush perspective, which is limited in scope, narrowly focused and myopic as a house mouse's eyesight, the situation looks very good and very promising. Baghdad is burning. Saddam is squirming. Congressional support is firming.

But the rest of the world, and many, many Americans see the hypocrisy of pseudo-democracy. Some of us see a regime change ahead in Washington at the time of the next election. And we see war crimes trials as Perle and Rumsfeld fail to bring down the U.N. and Rumsfeld and maybe even Bush and Powell get charged with crimes against humanity.

At least, there is room for hope.

Corruption as a battle cry for regime change

Corruption is probably the most common, the most universal and most convenient pretext for color revolutions. It's value is first of all in its universality: there is no neoliberal state, which would not be vulnerable to corruption. For example if somebody wants to organize "regime change" in the USA corruption charge would work perfectly well as there many instances of corruption of various state structures. In a way lobbyism used in the USA is nothing but institutalized corruption. The only thing needed in this case is dominance in MSM so that you can "carpet bomb" the society with those charges and rose indignation of population to the level when people will become ready for the "regime change",

Corruption is a consequence of dominance of neoliberal regime with its cult of greed. It is connected with the the decline of the moral level of population, and fiorst of the the elite to an all-time low. Young rebels in many countries are reacting to a instilled by the USA neoliberal regimes not understanding that as a result they will get the same kleptocratic regime, only more cruel and experience drastic drop of standard of living. The reason of improvising is conversion of many countries into West debt slaves can't be resolved by street protests. The extreme concentration of wealth in a few hands thanks to neoliberal policies of deregulation and union busting is a feature not an exception due to some over-corrupt overload, that should be deposed. It is an immanent feature on neoliberal regimes everywhere. But young people, with gracious financial help from some embassies and NGOs can take over the streets, parks, plazas and squares to protest against the resulting corruption, the way politicians can be bought and sold, and the impunity of the current "bad" regime. Resulting regime change will make many of them more sober, it it will be too late. The train already left the station.

It goes without saying the neoliberalism creates fertile ground for widespread corruption. And when we talk about corruption, we need to understand the cause of it is systemic. It not connected with particular criminals -- replace them and new criminals will take power and continue the same policies. I repeat, it is sharp drop of the moral level of general population and the elite under neoliberalism. And corruption in third world countries and the xUSSR area is supported by the West which serves as receiving party for all the stolen from people money. London is now full of Russian oligarch who escaped from criminal prosecution and who are now protected by GB government out of geopolitical interest of weakening of Russia as well as nice opportunity to get some stolen money in London banks. Of course Russia is in hearlines of neoliberals now, but out of opportunity to get those money is irresistible too. It is one of the way of capital accumulation for GB elite.

In a way corruption as a three-headed dragon, with one head being the USA, the second head EU (especially GB) and the third head -- corruption on other countries. Cur one head and it will re-grow soon as other heads are intact. And this situation continues for many years and serves as a powerful pipe of redistribution of wealth to the top -- the key idea of neoliberalism.

Corruption also helps demobilization of the society which is another goal of neoliberal transformation of society, as power under neoliberalism belongs to tiny "top 0.01%". Corruption and state repression have their roots in the policy regime of "neoliberalisation" and corporate plunder.

yalensis, June 3, 2015 at 2:35 am
CNN has the usual agenda. “Corruption” is one of the key issues in the Gene Sharpe colour-revolution handbook. Of all the possible things that can be wrong with a given society, the Americans decided that “corruption” should be the main issue in all of these revolutions. At their Yale course in revolution, which Navalny studied, they teach how to use corruption as a battle-cry to overthrow the government.

Saakashvili is considered the very model of a pro-American colour revolutionary who comes to power spouting anti-corruption slogans. (Once in power, he did get rid of some rival mob bosses and then concentrated all the corruption in his own greedy hands!)

In conclusion, when pointing out corruption in Russian aerospace industry, CNN is probably trying, not so much to be a helpful friend to Russia (in pointing out some problems), but more likely providing fuel to the colour revolutionaries, who still have not given up hope of overthrowing Putin.

The network of corruption usually includes "the pork barrel" corruption that involves government officials. This is especially typical for xUSSR area and third world countries and is a source of significant discontent which can be played for destabilizing the government. The funny thing that color revolution leads to more corruption, not less, because again corruption (aka redistribution of wealth to the top) is the essence of neoliberalism. For example level of corruption of Yeltsin regime was simply legendary.

In Ukraine Yanukovich regime was notorious for its "pork barrel" corruption. This is exactly how initial stage of EuroMaydan was launched. And the result is more corruption, not less, which naive participants which were used start to realize only now when current dropped 50% and Ukraine was plunged into another Great Depression with tremendous drop of standard of living form 99% of population.

It's almost exhilarating, when Western MSM talk about the "pervasive corruption of the government in Ukraine:" Western versions that are pre-electoral, post-electoral, straightforward theft, and "pork-barrel" politics are just more sophisticated and simultaneously are more widespread.

Neoliberals chanted the mantra that everyone would benefit if the public sector were privatized, businesses deregulated and market mechanisms allowed to distribute wealth. But as economist David Harvey argues, from the beginning it was a doctrine that primarily benefited the wealthy, its adoption allowing the top one per cent in any neoliberal society to capture a disproportionate share of whatever wealth was generated.

Bu the model is pretty much universal (How corruption became a global problem in an age of neoliberalism )

Economist Prabhat Patnaik, speaking recently at York, said neoliberalism (corporate global rights, privatization, deregulation) leads to corruption because governments give away their national wealth "for a song," then impose an informal tax on the giveaways so they can maintain power, which sounds like what happened here: the strangest element of gasplantgate is why they paid out so much for the cancellations. But maybe the flowback would have stopped otherwise. Corruption was part of the tale in India's electoral upheaval as it was in Quebec's surprise Liberal victory. Voters despair. You can't turn them out of office fast enough to avoid returning them almost instantly.

... ... ...

You wouldn't have those CEO pig-outs absent neo-liberalism's moral model: get rich not just quick but hugely. As Kevin O'Leary loves saying, and CBC plasters on its promos: God put us here to get rich. Note it's a public broadcaster where he barks that and no one contests it. (I consider Amanda Lang's ripostes pro forma.)

Since there's no counter model (excluding, maybe, the pope) it becomes almost embarrassing not to grab for all you can get, legality be damned. The mentality seeps into areas like pro sports and the World Cup, with PED corruption, game fixing -- and trickles down to kids. There's also a sort of pre-emptive political corruption, where leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have their eye on the vast returns available after they leave office, through their own foundations, etc., as long as they don't offend the corporate titans who are the donors. But none of it would thrive without the grotesque, tantalizing wealth inequalities that equate with neoliberalism.

Why anyone thought privatizing huge chunks of public wealth and letting the profit motive slither all over them would mean less corruption evades me, along with thinking Ontario's Liberals are the beginning and end of the problem. Corruption may always be with us but it comes in different forms. We're currently driving the globalization-privatization model right off a cliff.

Usage of corruption of current government of a wedge

The government in oligarchic republics like Russia or Ukraine always has a high degree of distrust from people as it is well known that it is corrupted like any government serving oligarchy. So as soon it try to move to "resource nationalism" that threatens multinationals. or try to use "balancing between two camps" path (Ukraine) it became a pretty easy target, as the discontent is present and need only to be enhanced by NGO, bombing country with dollars and other tried and true methods.

That why classic in “color revolutions” moment for challenging “power that be” is when the election results in the election of the incumbent president annoced, especially when the winning margin for the ruling party majority is slim. A very plausible claim that “old guard does not want to turn over the power voluntarily” and resorts to election fraud to maintain status quo is used. Actual fraud in not necessary, just a rumor is sufficient.

While the "revolutionaries" themselves can use any dirty tricks to win. We saw similar tactic by Bush camp in the USA in 2000 when they violate each and every rule of conduct in Florida to get Bush win by 537 votes, and still manage to enforce their illegitimate win. "Election violations" is a favorite tactic developed by Karl Rove is other Mayberry Machiavellians and now reused in color revolutions.

This method of wiping up discontent into active phase in which some square is occupied by protesters (let's call it Maidan phase) proved to be very efficient in xUSSR space.

Allegations of authorities misconduct do not need to be true. They can be completely bogus, but plausible "manufactured news". The idea is that when truth will be discovered it will be too late. They can be false flag operation by moles within the current government (the supposed role of Lyovochkin during EuroMaydan). In other words any dirty trick is permissible, as in "the end justified the means" Jesuit motto.

False flag of manufactured news operation can destabilize situation to the extent that new possibilities are opened for the initiators of this process. Also supporters of the “old regime” among local oligarchy might jump the ship, especially if promised a pack of $100 bills in return for this courtesy (remember that in most cases they are also players in country privatization schemes, owning directly or indirectly assets; and their family accounts and often families are often already living at the West) or at least bet of both horses.

Economic difficulties in addition to elections make a perfect combination.

Even legitimate, legal decisions, played hostile to Washington interests, can be skillfully played that way. In this respect Putin’s decision to be the candidate for the next president of Russia probably did served as a fuel in this particular episode. Because this does smell with the CPSU "permanent First Secretary" staff.

In this respect dual party system is much more advanced and much more suitable for the oligarchic republic (and architects can rely on rich, century old USA experience of fooling the population about the level of their participation in election and decision-making).

All this led to a paradoxical situation: Washington hegemony de legitimized any popular protest in countries where the USA is interested in "regime change". this was probably the case in Hong Cong "Umbrellas" Color Revolution of 2014

In any case using color revolutions for regime change by the USA discredited ingenious protests movements in countries like China and Russia, to the extent that now the first natural reaction is crying "color revolution, watch out the USA machinations!" even at movements that are chiefly based on real grievances.

Any modern "pro-democracy movement" now is embedded in a complex matrix of money, subterfuge, foreign influence, oligarchic clans war, propaganda, and manipulation by foreign actors. It can be easily hijacked and misused by color revolution strategists at NED and similar organizations (who are actually very good at their craft).

Here are a couple of pretty telling comments:

Guest77 | Oct 5, 2014 6:52:31 PM | 84

I don't see what any personal sympathies with the protestors even matters. Sure, we all want people to be able to fight for their rights and have the government they want, but right now there is a larger priority, and that is making sure that the world maintains a multipolar political structure. The importance of a multipolar world outweighs even our desire to see vocal minorities to take to the streets, I think. (And these are vocal minorites, no doubt).

I think, as "westerners" we have to support the group that will insure the independence of the state in question. We cannot support any group that looks to the US as a model or a hope, because we here know better than anyone that this is a sham. And any group that panders to the US and it's citizens via social media has to immediately be suspect.

Sloppy always comes to crow about how much b hates America. I don't think b "hates" the USA, but he is certainly right to make the USAs aggressive moves toward hegemony the key focus of all of his posts, and right to make a stand against this issue over all others because it is truly the gravest threat the world faces today.

- if the emergence of liberal freedom in every corner of the world means it's sure evaporation from all parts very soon after (which will surely occur if the USA achieves total global domination) we cannot support this. We will only see real opportunities for peace, political expression, and true democracy only after the US is prevented from perverting these good things into instruments of its domination. But until then, the independence of foreign governments is far more important for world peace, stability, and prosperity than the rights of a few minorities to threaten their governments in Russia, China, or Iran.

guest77 | Oct 5, 2014 7:23:42 PM | 86

@84 And of course for inside "the west" the exact opposite holds true. We should support any protests, any movement that attempts to degrade the aggressive capabilities of the US Empire, because this will allow real democracy and prosperity to flourish in more places around the world.

No one can claim that countries like Russia, China, Brazil, India and Iran - where standards of living are rising and the governments have the broad support of the people - are "dictatorships".

Just like no one of any honesty should call the banker dominated oligarchy like the United States, where cash determines every election down to the lowest rungs on the political ladder - a "democracy".

Demian | Oct 6, 2014 3:14:41 AM | 100

@brian #95:

Gee, you seem to follow Project pretty closely. I have no such inclination.

As I said before, all one needs to do is watch the Maidan girl video and then the Occupy central video, both of which you directed us to, to see that what is going on in Hong Kong is just another attempted color revolution.

Another link, obtained from the link guest77 gave at #89:

US State Dept Funding and Occupy Central, the Ties that Bind

This is the most through demonstration of how Occupy Central is just the US State Department being up to its usual tricks that I have seen so far. The post the Saker put up today, in which a Hong Konger explains why he does not support Occupy Central, is also worth reading.

Analogy of Hong cong event with Ukrainian EuroMaidan events run so deep that sometimes it looks like the same blueprint was used in Hong Cong as in Kiev.

Key component of color revolution is a split society and strong presence of comprador elite in the capital

I see the following key ingredients of “color revolutions” in action in Orange, Revolution, Russian White Revolution and Euro Maidan of 2013.

The society should be split with some part of nation, typical comprador olitachs and several other segments of society closely connected to multinationals, already taking anti-government positions

This was and extremely easy part in Ukraine, which along with compradors in Kiev, has Western part of the country with different religion and history, so called Catholic part of the country. This part of the country proved to be a national ally of comprador oligarchy in staging neoliberal revolution, despite the fact that they will suffer from it in equal degree as Eastern, Orthodox part of the country.

Moreover enforcing equality of homosexual marriages with traditional marriages is directly against Catholic doctrine. But gastarbeiters orientation of this region with majority of adult population working in near-by countries (Poland, Russia, Germany) as well as the fact that the region which does not have any significant industrial base helps to raise relatively cheap ($30 a day or less) and reliable "cannon fodder" for the color revolution. People were transported to Kiev by buses paid with cash supplied by oligarchs or "embassy cash". Sift work on Maydan was source of revenue for some villagers in Western Ukraine for more then six months.

Muslim fundamentalists (Muslim brotherhood in Egypt) were successfully used in Arab spring revolutions. As my understanding of those countries is very limited I can't provide any details.

Initial point can be arbitrary but most often is based on accusations of election fraud

The whole process is often staged around election fraud (the best conditions are if two opposing candidate get around 50% of votes, but can be used with different percentages as well). In case of election fraud it works in two main phases:

  1. Attempt of de-legitimating of elections and forcing a new elections that supposal should rectify falsifications of the previous one. Gorbachov’s “two cents” about the necessity of new elections are pretty telling move in this respect if we are talking about Russia. Old fox knows how best to serve his masters.
  2. Parallel de-legitimatization of existing government and its candidates via charge of election fraud and subsequent overthrow of the weakened opponent “by peaceful means” via second round of elections. Here is one Amazon comment from The Time of the Rebels- Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century R…

    I regularly screen Bringing Down a Dictator in my courses at Swarthmore College. This film does an excellent job of introducing students to the fundamentals of nonviolent power. Students come to understand that authoritarian regimes, while formidable, are often more fragile than we imagine. Milosevic’s regime, like others, relied on a mixture of apathy, fear, and cynicism that the students of Otpor fought to dispel through humor, appeals to nationalism, and tireless public outreach. Like any large institution, Milosevic’s regime depended on the loyalty of its functionaries (such as the police) and at least a veneer of public credibility. Otpor students carefully undermined both through its broad grassroots organizing, popular nonviolent resistance, and by awakening a multi-party political opposition.

  3. The starting point is always the immediate and well coordinated campaign in captured mass media and NGOs of forceful denunciation of “mass falsifications” no matter what actually happened at the elections. Statements of influential figures (like Hillary Clinton’s recent statement), etc in support of the claims about mass falsifications. This is followed by creating of “artificial reality” around this claim via well coordinated press campaign with the direct and prominent support of major Western MSM. Direct forgery of video and other documents can be used pretty successfully. Medvedev understands this but the real question is does he has the political will to prosecute perpetrators ? Use of “nonpartisan exit polls” as a pressure cooker for questioning the results. Falsifications and exaggeration of ballot fraud, especially “ballot staffing” via selectively interpreted exit pool data. Here is important to achieve some level of demoralization of authorizes to avoid prosecution of people involved or the whole scheme will fall like a house of cards. The Teflon cover of “fighters for democracy” is used to prevent prosecution. Same trick as with Khodorkovsky.
    See http://lass.calumet.purdue.edu/cca/gmj/sp07/graduate/gmj-sp07-grad-venger.htm

Police brutality incident is needed and can be staged to put petrol into fire

In cases other then election fraud even serve as a starting point of protest active phase requires "police brutality" provocation. For example recent Euro Maidan started as an action against non signing of treaty of association with EU (note no EU membership) without mass support. But it became real protest event when carefully planned police brutality provocation materialized. In this particular case there were fifth column even within the government. So the assumption that the government is monolithic is incorrect. It often contains elements that are ready to betray. Or such elements can be bought.

Attempt to provoke police brutality so that “public demonstrations” help to turn demonstrations no matter how they started into definitely anti-government and anti status quo. The goal is to undermining police loyalty through carefully stage campaign about police brutality. Older methods of “befriending policemen” to neutralize them no longer work. But media campaign against police brutality is very demoralizing and still words very effectively as Euro Maidan 2013 had shown. The goal is to allow “free hands” in undermining the current government. See NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE - Community Labor News

Direct interference in the sovereignty of the state under attack. Cutting the space for maneuvering of existing government by stressing that this not a direct interference into country affairs but just a support of democratic forces

Authoritarian government has much more breezing space of dealing with the situation that democratic government, so the more democratic is the target government is, the easier for a color revolution to institute a "regime change".

As long as democracy is considered to be a “sacred cow” for the government under attack, it is essentially doomed. If Western democracy is the only legitimate form/model to which you need to progress from the current “wild”, unlawful, criminal and authoritarian state of total darkness, the Western powers are by definition the arbiters of this progress. There is no defense from this claim in you have foreign observers on the ground. This way the current government itself betray its own legitimacy by delegating it to foreign powers, who can abuse their role at will for benign or not so benign motives: without leaving hotel, the western elections observers will state about mass violation during elections, playing the role of Trojan horse of the “color revolution”. The government is caught is zugzwang as foreign observers are by definition the arbiters of the legitimacy of elections. Any move makes the situation worse.

Breathtaking hypocrisy and double standards

Former colonial powers such as USA, GB, France, Germany, Holland, and Denmark are master of hypocrisy in the direction to people they want to colonize via neoliberal revolution.

Using NGOs for distribution of cash to protesters and as a headquarters and coordination center of uprising against the government

The organizing force of color revolution are NGOs which are often nothing more that legalized parts of Western intelligence community. That why several countries, such as Russia, Israel, etc limited the activity of foreign NGOs. In country where this was not done, the ruling elite might soon regret this criminal negligence.

They are engaged in systematic, long term attempts to build and maintain student/youth based and heavily financed (60% in case of Ukraine) fifth column of “professional protesters”, the move that actually mirrors Bolshevik’s reliance on “professional revolutionaries”.

Students are the most suitable target as they are more easily brainwashed, are excitable, often dream about emigration to Western countries, always need money. Perfect “canon fodder” of the “color revolutions”. Creation of set of martyrs “for the course”, especially among young journalists who were arrested during protests and, even better, mistreated, is a part of this tactic. As emigration is considered as desirable future by considerable percent of young people, we have a pool from which it is easy to recruit fighters for the “democratic future” of the nation with the hope that after reaching critical mass the process become self-sustainable. And often it is. Also after being arrested and/or expelled from the university those people have nowhere to go but to became “professional color revolutionaries”. Some of then are pretty talented and can do a lot of damage. This was pre-emptive creation of a well-organized “anti-fraud front” tremendously helps to create legitimacy problem for the government as initiative is instantly lost to government opponents. The government is too bureaucratized, unprepared and is taken by surprise the strength of the response. They try to convince that election process was completely legitimate people who does not want to be convinced and just laugh at their efforts. As in any revolution loss of initiative is half of the defeat: the “democratizers” have plan, have hard currency, have hopes about their future in the West and the will to achieve their goals. In Ukraine the “anti-fraud” front has worked under the succinct slogan Pora— “It’s Time”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution#Involvement_of_outside_forces

Activists in each of these movements were funded and trained in tactics of political organization and nonviolent resistance by a coalition of Western pollsters and professional consultants funded by a range of Western government and non-government agencies. According to The Guardian, these include the U.S. State Department and US AID along with the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, NGO Freedom House and billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Institute. The National Endowment for Democracy, a U.S. Government funded foundation, has supported non-governmental democracy-building efforts in Ukraine since 1988. Writings on nonviolent struggle by Gene Sharp formed the strategic basis of the student campaigns.

Capture of mass media space

Creation of "fifth column press" under the protection of "freedom of press" slogan and full scale "take not prisoners" approach to use of press influence as the most vulnerable forth branch of government to undermine the other three. If this part works for color revolution, and press turns against the government, the government is doomed. Under the cover of “freedom of the press” systematic use of all controllable media, Internet, web sites, social media, mobile communications for spreading the “truth” about mass falsifications. As Goebbels used to say

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Substitute “State” for “color revolution”. Press also serves for coordination and maintaining the direction and unity of the movement. Heavy use of well-financed NGO as a brain trust for the movement:

Throughout the demonstrations, Ukraine’s emerging Internet usage (facilitated by news sites which began to disseminate the Kuchma tapes) was an integral part of the orange revolutionary process. It has even been suggested that the Orange Revolution was the first example of an Internet-organized mass protest. [31] Analysts believe that the Internet and mobile phones allowed an alternative media to flourish that was not subject to self-censorship or overt control by President Kuchma and his allies and pro-democracy activists (such as Pora!) were able to use mobile phones and the Internet to coordinate election monitoring and mass protests.[32][33]

The use of “end justifies the means” politic at all stages of color revolution until the victory

Promiscuity in building coalition and seeking allies. Nationalist and gay rights mixture is perfectly OK ;-). Any neofascist party is a best friend of Western democratizers. Muslim fundamentalists are also a valuable ally.

Anybody opposed to “brutal and dishonest current regime” is welcomed to join “anti-fraud front”. No "inconvenient questions" about agenda of particular group and they relationship to the "democracy" smokescreen are asked

Are ultra-nationalists now best friends of democracy? There was never such a good friends. Are communist now best friends of democracy? No question about it.

Coercing "rebel" oligarchs to join fifth column

Oligarchs are important part of fifth column first of all because as any comprador bourgeoisie they are not an independent players. They are pretty much puppets of the West and an important force of staging color revolutions.

Their capitals, often their family and property are in the West. So they are easy target of blackmail, even if color revolution is not in their interests and they can suffer from considerable financial losses as a result (due to destruction of local industries, which is the national effect of neoliberal revolution).

Another important thing about oligarchs is that they control considerable (is some countries like Ukraine dominant) part of media space. This provides easy and bloodless media coup d'état when country MSM go against government and government simply can't make its voice heard. This was the situation during Euro Maidan 2013 in Ukraine. Actually acting Ukrainian Prime Minister directly complained about this situation in December 2013.

Here is an interesting quote from http://los-oxuenos.livejournal.com/636710.html (slightly edited Google translation):

Why Putin tyrannized officials with the necessity to close foreign accounts

Journalist Yuri Butusov on his Facebook page says that Tsenzor.Net source close to diplomatic circles,:tails of the negotiations between Newland and Akhmetov held in Kiev.

Nuland informed that in case of police enforced clearing of EuroMaidan, U.S. and EU leaders agreed on a common position - immediate sanctions against leading politicians and oligarchs close to President Yanukovich. And the list will be continually updated so as to cut off all contacts with the EU and the United States not only for those figures authorities who participated in the police initiated dispersal of protesters, but also for those who did not defend peaceful continuation of protests scenario. This is a very important addition that will not allow anyone to shirk responsibility in the leadership of the Party of Regions and its sponsors.

Akhmetov: the meeting that on Monday he was trying to keep President Yanukovych from using force against EuroMaidan, but Yanukovych refused to accept it. Nuland demanded organize a round table with the opposition and civil society from the leadership of the PR directly - even in defiance of Yanukovych. Forced dispersal of EuroMaidan should out of possible options.

Nuland promised not only sanctions - she also has clarified this threat, presenting the list of people who get together with their families will be target of the sanctions in the first place .

These are:

  1. Rinat Akhmetov .
  2. Vadim Novinsky .
  3. Andrei and Sergei Klyuyev.

Why them? Because Akhmetov controls 55 PR MPs and Klyuyev has a mandate from the "young team" to manage the rest of the faction.

U.S. expects that the Party of Regions faction will support all four of the opposition's demands , after which can be initiated peace talks :

  1. Announcement of early presidential elections.
  2. Early parliamentary elections.
  3. Tymoshenko liberation and complete recovery of her civil rights.
  4. Criminal cases against all members of the MUP and "Berkut" , who took part in the crackdown on "peaceful demonstrations".

Nuland categorically stated that the failure to meet those conditions will put a big question every company's operating performance and DTEK "Metinvest " which Akhmetov owns abroad. Nuland clearly noted : these companies have placed assets in Europe , the U.S. and Europe are for them the major markets, the top brass of those companies have a property abroad and Akhmetov's family are tax residents of the UK. Metinvest and DTEK has major liabilities to international investors in the form of foreign currency bonds .

Thus, not just the first time the U.S. announced an ultimatum oligarchs surrounded by Yanukovych , but this time they are described in detail, in what form and at what level these sanctions will be applied.

Review of Literature

There are several films and books that document this new strategy. Among them I would highlight works by MacKinnon, Sharp and CANSAS ( Serbia's Centre for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies):

America's Coup Machine Destroying Democracy Since 1953 Alternet

The New Cold War Revolutions, Rigged Elections, and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union by Mark A. MacKinnon

Gene Sharp books

Serbian color revolution

Books about Orange revolution in Ukraine

Role of Western bankers in Bolsheviks revolution in Russia

and even religious heritage, and is enduring.


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[Apr 14, 2021] Kharkiv is culturally and economically as much Donbas, for a start. And Odessa is a major center of Russian population, too, even if not part of the Donbas.

Apr 14, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

elephant , Apr 11 2021 11:00 utc | 113

"Why was all of this allowed to happen in the first place?"

The apparent change in stance is unlikely a ruse because a ruse presumes that Russia would take the bait.

The change is unlikely due to a miscalculation on Ukraine's part because Ukraine was well aware of the strength of the juggernaut just to the east before Ukraine sent men and materiel that way.

The change is unlikely due to a miscalculation on Washington's part because a likely drubbing of Ukraine with Washington sitting on the sidelines would result in a loss of prestige vis a vis Russia and China.

I'd suggest the change -- if there really is such a change -- is more likely the result of Germany, and maybe France, exerting simultaneous pressure on Washington and Kiev, coupled with leading sectors of the bureaucracy in both Washington and Kiev agreeing with Merkel (Washington for its own reasons and Kiev because of Washington's instructions) that a war does not advance their interests.

Washington is in a position similar to that of Britain prior to the Suez Crisis: one loss away from losing its preeminence on the world stage. Losing that position over a conflict involving, essentially, a gas pipeline to Germany is not worth the risk.

It's likely that Washington's apparent stance is symptomatic of significant discord between the Neocons and the less belligerent of the foreign policy establishment. It appears that the Neocons may have lost this round. One can expect the schism to continue to play out over the coming years


steven t johnson , Apr 10 2021 19:21 utc | 41

vk@29 writes "[My comment@24] is nonsense: if Ukraine takes back the Donbas basin, it will have full control over Crimea. The option of
'trading' the Donbas for Crimea doesn't exist."

It's hard to know how seriously this is meant. Luhansk and Donetsk are not *the* Donbas. Kharkiv is culturally and economically as much Donbas, for a start. And Odessa is a major center of Russian population, too, even if not part of the Donbas. At any rate, insofar as the "Donbas" is essential to control Crimea, though, it is Kherson and Zaporizhye provinces that control the water supply. And it is Mariupol's port that contests the Sea of Azov. That's the part of Donbas that vk implies to be essential for full control of Crimea. But if Mariupol is essential for full control, then Putin neither has full control now, nor does he want it, because it is apparently Putin who pressured the rebels into leaving Mariupol in Ukrainian hands. By the criteria vk uses here, Putin doesn't have full control of Crimea now. This could be understood to show that in the long run Luhansk/Donetsk are untenable too, trapped in a race to collapse with Kyiv. And it would show too that Putin needs a genuine peace in Crimea, needs to do something, because in the long run, time is not on his/Russia's side. The thing is of course, is that either vk doesn't mean what is actually written, or vk won't draw the conclusions vk's own premises require.

SingingSam , Apr 10 2021 19:46 utc | 43

MarkU @26 got it right. It is a head fake.

Ukraine's leadership doesn't care about their civilians and soldiers. US and NATO leadership care even less for them. In the current context actions speak far louder than words.

Even the dimmest and most senile leaders can figure out some of the following:
• Russia is not bluffing. Bluffing is not their style.
• Neither the US nor NATO will put boots on the ground of Donbass or Crimea.
• Against Russia the US surface ships in the Black Sea are floating targets, as they are anywhere else in the world.
• There won't be a Minsk3 agreement.
• Nord Stream 2 will be completed no matter what. For the respect, Russia doesn't need the revenue so much.

If in fact Ukraine backs down, it will be a Biden continuation of Trump's off-repeated stunt of walking to the edge and then backing off. You can't expect innovation from senile players.

dh , Apr 10 2021 19:51 utc | 44

"why was all of this allowed to happen in the first place?"

A little too much vodka in the Galician contingent would be my guess.

Stonebird , Apr 10 2021 20:31 utc | 48

Water, water, in the air but not a drop to drink.

Crimea needs water badly with summer coming on.
Any Ukrainian or Russian advance cannot happen across bogs and mud. Wait until the rain stops, or sink.

I saw somewhere that Zelensky actually thought of opening the canal sometime ago but was "stopped". It was never made clear WHO ordered him not to, or who ordered him to start an anti-Russian drive, or.....etc.

b's post undelines that the previous lines of cultural/liguistic division have not gone away, and have probably hardened. The Nasty brigade are actually in lands that probably do not appreciate them being there. (ie, the Russian speaking areas under Ukie control are probably not overjoyed to become "permanent collateral damage")

*

Anyone else notice the large movement of Chinese ships in the South China Sea? Doubled trouble for the Empire? They hardly get the time to concentrate on claiming "rights of passage" through Indian territoral waters, or in the Black sea, or in the Artic, without someone stirring the pot. Whatever next?

A diversion or just taking advantage of the limited scope of the attention span of whoever is in command in the US ?

blues , Apr 10 2021 20:37 utc | 49

-// Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. //- -- Henry Kissinger

Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy

Mao Cheng Ji , Apr 10 2021 21:07 utc | 52

@vk "And that's the objective truth: if the Ukraine conquers the DPR and LPR, it will essentially cut off Crimea from Russia."

How so? It doesn't seem to me that a hypothetical merger of DPR, LPR, and Ukraine would have any effect on Crimea.

In fact, if DPR and LPR join according to the Minsk2 conditions, it could help, as they would (theoretically) become a significant political factor on the national level. Which is why Kiev is not interested in a peaceful unification.

And even a military conquest (which is what you're talking about) would create problems for Kiev, as disenfranchising (or expelling) most of the population there might be somewhat problematic.

William R Henry , Apr 10 2021 21:31 utc | 53

"One should therefore consider that the sudden call for a renewed ceasefire might be a ruse." --our host

Precisely. The US prefers to start its conflicts with a sucker punch, but that is only possible if the target is unprepared and looking the other way. Russia only needs to let its guard down and look away for a moment for the empire to take advantage of it. Notice how the ukrops are not moving their attack forces back? They will attack while the US ships are in the Black Sea to monitor the fighting and provide direction.

Donbass does not have strategic depth. The plan is to hit the republics with a suicide bum-rush. America doesn't care how many of the ukrop aggressors are exterminated in the attack so long as some units survive to take up positions in the city centers. The empire's strategists figure that with a sudden enough and massive enough assault, and given at least some element of surprise, this can be accomplished overnight. The ukrop cannon fodder will be given orders to not bother securing any areas they overrun and instead continue to charge forward.

Suicidal? Absolutely, because any Novorossiya troops that are overrun will regroup behind the ukrop aggressors and pull back, cutting off the units that penetrated into the cities. That's when those advance ukrop units will go all "Shock & Awe™" on the urban civilians to draw the Novorossiya units away from their established positions and demoralize them.

So long as the Russians are not caught with their pants down they should be able to easily repel the ukrop assault. If they are thinking this through clearly then the Novorossiya troops, with the Russians at their backs, should push for the Dniper in order to acquire that much needed strategic depth. At the same time the Black Sea should be completely cleared of any hostile vessels, and obviously that means the American ships.

aquadraht , Apr 10 2021 21:44 utc | 55

I disagree about DNR and LNR are of importance for Russia to keep hold on Crimea. Crimea secession was prior to the insurrection in eastern Ukraine, they tried to copy Crimean secession (even held referenda in 2014) To the frustration of DNR/LNR activists as well as many russian nationalists, the russian government has rejected all pleas to incorporate the breakaway regions or Ukraine into Russia. On contrary, it has repeatedly tried to broker a compromise, and the Minsk accords are part of. Putin even ostensibly bound his hands by forcing a Duma decree in 2015, revoking the "Medvedyev doctrine" from 2008 Georgian conflict which authorized use of force when ethnic Russians were threatened, Anyway, the russian government could not abandon the insurgency in Donbas without risking to be toppled by nationalists.

One should keep this in mind: Russia does not want the ethnically russian parts of Ukraine which would comprise of most of it. It was not Russia who escalated the inner ukrainian divide. And militarily, LNR and DNR are in no way helpful for Crimea. Normal relations between the RF and Ukraine would be in Russia's interest, would belp both countries. But that is what the West prevents at any cost, to the last Ukrainian. Only the dumb ukronazis don't realize that.

aquadraht , Apr 10 2021 21:53 utc | 56

@53 vk Ukraine will never get back DNR and LNR by military means, but, if at all, only via a compromise alongside the Minsk accords. And if you speak to realistic Ukrainians (there are not few, even in the nazi infested galicia and volyn), they all realize that Crimea is gone, and that it always only grudgingly agreed to be an autonomous republic inside Ukraine until 2014.

JohninMK , Apr 10 2021 22:43 utc | 59

fx @ 46

Its not just the Fortuna laying pipe now, the Akadamik Cherskiy has been on the job for about 10 day and she can lay pipe faster. According to the plans submitted to the Danes, in whose waters they are laying, Fortuna is expected to finish in May whilst the AC has permission until September but is expected to finish early.


As to the USN ships (Black sea regular USS Ross passed Gib inbound Med today) are not due in until the start of next week and will leave early May. What their role, apart from being a gesture of support for Ukraine, is is not clear. An obvious job of one, if not both, could be to be tied up at a berth in Odessa harbour as a poison pill to try to make sure that Russia does not attack that part of the coast. Were there to be an attack of course.

Seems to be a big mistake by the US to me. I can understand what they are trying to do but, given the option above, if they stay at sea it will be a clear statement that they don't want to get that involved. I'm sure it is not their intention to be so open in showing their true objective.

Another possible reason for a delay until May is that the Orthodox Church celebrates its Eater Sunday on the 2nd May.

William R Henry 52

There is no need to go to the Dneiper to gain sufficient strategic depth, not only would that be a political nightmare but just stopping at the oblast borders should be sufficient. Included in that would be Mariupol, the only Ukrainian port on the Sea of Azov. That would make Donbass economically viable.

No need to clear the Black Sea, Russia totally dominates over, on and under it.

jared , Apr 10 2021 22:52 utc | 61

@ Posted by: bevin | Apr 10 2021 16:25 utc | 13

Wouldnt this be the second time that Zelinski used thread of conflict to help himself in election?

It seems an important point. Why would B over look it, I wonder.

Declaring war and then declaring peace. I guess one cannot chose ones neighbors.

I thought Russia stood to benefit from war. They should keep pressure on Zelinski - training, preparations and support of Donbass. Seems Russia is very measured with assistance.

Bernard F. , Apr 10 2021 22:58 utc | 63

b. :
"It seems that order has come from Washington to stand down - at least for now."


The Postman Always Rings Twice


Bloomberg:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to Brussels next week for more meetings with NATO and European officials, according to people familiar with the matter, as the U.S. grows increasingly concerned about Russian troop movements near Ukraine.

The meetings will take up most of the week,[...]
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be in Brussels at the same time, for a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"Frank muses that just as the postman always rings a second time to make sure people receive their mail, fate has made sure that he and Cora have both finally paid the price for their crime.


"Schöne Wochenende".
Next week will be interesting as last 3 were.

Dr. George W Oprisko , Apr 10 2021 23:19 utc | 65

Maybe I missed it but there were elections in Ukraine last Sunday and
"The new Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the Ukraine, elected on Sunday, will have an overwhelming national mandate to negotiate peace terms to end the five-year civil war.

You misssed it....

Those elections were in 2019....

Zelenski has been compromised since then... most notably via loss of his plutocrat mentor...

The CIA/NSA/RightSector are firmly in charge, because Zelenski did not use his mandate to throttle them.

The best he could have done, was to invite Russia in for the purpose of "stabilizing" ukraine.

That, of course, did not happen.

INDY

Bernard F. , Apr 10 2021 23:48 utc | 70

"Europe" ask Russia to negociate


Western nations chided Russia for failing to turn up at talks in Vienna on Saturday aimed at defusing tension over Ukraine, where a Russian troop buildup close to the border between the two countries has sparked fears of renewed conflict.


Don't you remember?

https://youtu.be/VYM0oL6RPvg

MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference Friday following talks with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

"Therefore, we organize our life coming from the premise that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at this stage,"

"I hope that the strategic review which is coming will finally pay attention to vital interests of the European Union in its closest vicinity " Lavrov stressed.

"I hope that today's talks will help us reach a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for it."

Grieved , Apr 11 2021 0:45 utc | 75

@b - "...why was all of this allowed to happen in the first place?"

J Swift offered a good clue in his comment in the previous thread:

"the Nuland crowd have played right into Russia's hands, because the Ukraine is definitely a place where Russia has escalation dominance. I suspect that when some of those famous military channels began chatting, the Russians were not so friendly, and made it clear that an offensive by the Ukies would not only free Russia's hand toward the Nazis and provide a perfect excuse to rid the East and South of them, but that Russia would be specifically targeting US/NATO "advisers," command centers, resupply aircraft or any aircraft entering Ukrainian airspace, and would be just waiting for any US ship in the Black Sea to do something remotely involving it in the conflict, such that it would be on the bottom in minutes."

We know from Pepe Escobar's latest article , presenting highlights from the recent important interview with Nikolai Patrushev (Secretary of the RF Security Council), that Patrushev, a very dangerous and serious man, enjoys undiminished communications with Washington, including a March phone discussion with Jake Sullivan, White House security advisor. If his interview is anything to go by, his candid discussions with US leadership could have scared them totally awake.

Once again, it could well be that the neocons talked up a blazing firestorm that the generals and security professionals ultimately had to pour water on.

Patrick Armstrong in his latest article gives us ample evidence that Victoria Nuland, back in power and riding high, is also vastly ignorant and imperceptive, incapable of learning or reflection, and mediocre in her intelligence. The neocons, as Armstrong points out, have always failed. And they have led the US down a path of loss.

If in fact this Ukraine adventure is over for the moment (if in fact it ever was real in the first place), then it bears total resemblance to every other neocon stupid idea, that goes as far down the path to ruin as it can, sometimes being stopped by wiser heads, sometimes simply charging over the edge, into the abyss.

If Russia gets to choose, one assumes Russia would prefer no military activity in Ukraine. And if Russia is forced into military action, one also assumes as best guess that Russia will reshape the map to a better end for all. It could just be that Russia managed to communicate this to the US, and that the US managed to hear.

dh , Apr 11 2021 1:14 utc | 77

@74 Yes but that doesn't really address b's question. Why was this allowed to happen in the first place? We know all about Nuland and her cookies and encouragement from Washington. But why was the Minsk agreement broken? Why do the Ukies keep lobbing shells into Donbass?

Those troops are bored. I'm sticking with my vodka theory.

vk , Apr 11 2021 1:20 utc | 78

@ Posted by: aquadraht | Apr 10 2021 21:53 utc | 55

Just to clarify: Russia has already officially stated (many years ago) that it doesn't want any other piece of the Ukraine (i.e. any other piece beyond Crimea). It wants the Ukraine to survive in the form of a federalized State with the DPR and LPR enjoying high levels of autonomy (a la Spain).

Ukraine is not profitable to Russia. It would drain its coffers were it to have to conquer and absorb it entirely.

Time is in Russia's favor: let the Ukraine continue to serve as a financial black hole to the IMF. Let the Western Ukrainians continue to emigrate en masse to Poland and then to the rest of the EU and the UK. Russia has already received some 1 million Eastern Ukrainian; those are probably the more well-educated, more productive Ukrainians, and they gave it some relief from its chronic negative population problem - all of that without having to advance one inch over continental Ukraine.

michaelj72 , Apr 11 2021 1:39 utc | 79

Germany vetoed any more provocations by the US or nato against the Donbass/Crimea that would clearly call in massive Russian support. Crimea is now part of the Russian Federation; an end of that part of the story - and there are several hundred thousand people in the Donbass that now have Russian passports. Russia won't stand for any of it. No matter how much the dumb Ukrainians or the lackey Poles or their US/nato masters huff and puff and bellow.....

it is also not in the slightest German interests for a war to break out right in the middle of Europe that might escalate into a nuclear confrontation, nor is it in their national interest to lose the Nord Stream 2 project... at all.

I don't know about France's position in all this but either France or Germany could/would exercise veto over any nato troops/intervention in the Ukraine.

time to return to the Minsk agreements. in spite of the incredible stupidity of the US foreign policy Establishment and those jackass war-mongers Blinken, Nuland and Austin et. al.

Biswapriya Purkayast , Apr 11 2021 2:17 utc | 81

Do you really expect the Amerikastani Empire's puppet Ukranazi coup regime to say "we will attack"? Instead it will attack and then claim Russia attacked it. Just like Hitler's Gleiwitz radio station false flag attack that started WWII.

Lozion , Apr 11 2021 2:18 utc | 82

Zelensky in Istanbul. Erdogan to refuse to recognize Crimea as Russian territory..
Saw a tweet today saying something along the lines of Russia preventing flights to Turkey this summer for "Covid" reasons, read between the lines..

https://sputniknews.com/world/202104101082593169-erdogan-zelensky-confirm-strategic-partnership-between-turkey-and-ukraine-after-istanbul-meeting/

Piotr Berman , Apr 11 2021 2:23 utc | 83

Time is in Russia's favor: let the Ukraine continue to serve as a financial black hole to the IMF. Let the Western Ukrainians continue to emigrate en masse to Poland and then to the rest of the EU and the UK. Russia has already received some 1 million Eastern Ukrainian; those are probably the more well-educated, more productive Ukrainians, ...

Posted by: vk | Apr 11 2021 1:20 utc | 77

This is rather sketchily related to reality.

1. Ukraine is not a "black hole for the IMF". They got a smallish credit, and now they are being denied extensions on rather preposterous grounds, and Ukraine is charged for the unused credit line. Contrary to Nulands boasting, the West keeps Ukraine on a leash with a rather skimpy budget.

2. There is no clear distinction between migration patterns. The one time I was in Russia, the tourist guide on a one-day bus trip was from Rivne -- in Poland in years 1918-39. And as Polish medical workers go to Spain etc., Ukrainian once fill the vacant positions, and they may come from any place. Ditto with the "quality of workers". Poland has more of seasonal jobs in picking crops (while Poles do it further West) than Russia, Russia perennially seeks workers ready to accept extra pay in less than benign climes. The closest to truth is scooping engineers and highly qualified workers from factories that before worked for Russian market, including military, replaced with Russian factories and, when needed, Ukrainian know-how. That is pretty much accomplished -- predominantly from the Eastern Ukraine. As a result, the remaining workforce is so-so from east to west.

Cesare , Apr 11 2021 2:29 utc | 84

It's been made clear that a Ukrainian attack on the D & L republics would be met with a direct Russian intervention into the conflict and likely would result in the loss of the whole of the disputed oblasts to the separatist republics. Russia has no intention of eliminating Ukraine or occupying Kyiv, but that kind of defeat in the east would spell the end of what political stability remains in Ukraine and likely lead to a new Maidan against Zelensky and possibly further secessions. That's the real downside of this for Russia. Ukraine is threatening to immolate itself as a form of brinksmanship.

Failing that death wish, only if Moscow somehow agrees to stay out of the war does this have the remotest possibility of achieving what the Kyiv government needs. Otherwise it will not attack.

psychohistorian , Apr 11 2021 2:31 utc | 85
@ Lozion | Apr 11 2021 2:18 utc | 81 with the link about the Ukraine/Turkey meeting today..thanks

Interesting position by Erdogan and I would think it would effect Turkey's purchase of Russian defense equipment but who knows where the complexity balance resides in the ME.

Lots of tinder just waiting for a spark to point the blame at for world conflagration. I will believe this situation is cooling when I read about the US ships turning around and not going into the Black Sea.

Virgile , Apr 11 2021 2:56 utc | 86
Erdoğan has several goals in Ukraine. Show Russia that he is strong and important for Russia as he has influence on Ukraine. Show the USA that he is an active participant of NATo. Sell his military drones to whoever wants them as well as other turkish products.
He appears as a king maker and gets business and approval from russia,the EU and the Usa to avoid a war. A very successful move needed to rehabilitate Erdoğan seriously in trouble with both the usa and the EU...
jayc , Apr 11 2021 3:18 utc | 87

The western press is portraying the events of the past few weeks as representing an unmotivated unilateral Russian troop buildup.

Canada's Globe and Mail yet again deliberately deceives its readers with omission-plagued reporting which the author must know is wrong. This includes describing the Minsk agreements as "the Kremlin's version of how to make peace" which are being utilized in an "enforcement operation" featuring a "coercive use of force" meant to "induce Kyiv, Berlin and Paris" to accept "Moscow's terms." Awful reporting by any objective measure.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-ukrainian-commander-sees-parallels-with-2014-as-russian-military-build/

Meanwhile, a Heritage Foundation flunky describes "spontaneous" Russian deployments designed to "keep Ukraine out of organizations such as the EU or NATO".

Russia should be opposed because: "Modern Ukraine represents the idea in Europe that each country has the sovereign ability to determine its own path, to decide with whom it has relations, and how and by whom it is governed."
https://www.arabnews.com/node/1840341

Both reporters make the same observation in opening paragraphs, supporting the notion that these pieces are derived from a distributed script or collection of talking points:

1) "For weeks, Russian social media accounts have been flooded with videos showing long convoys of tanks, troop trucks and artillery pieces "

2) "Dozens of videos in social media posts show hundreds of Russian tanks and armored vehicles pouring into the region."

Biswapriya Purkayast , Apr 11 2021 12:10 utc | 119

I have a feeling, it's only a feeling right now, that the looted black hole that's Ukranazistan after 7 years of "freedom " is such a drain that the EUNATO gangsters behind the Maidan would love to palm the ruins off to Russia. "Here, you broke it, you own it."

Lozion , Apr 12 2021 1:30 utc | 140

Saker's latest from Martyanov is a must-read. One can imagine Milley's reaction to Gerasimov's little reminder of what awaits any invading force..

psychohistorian , Apr 12 2021 4:49 utc | 143

Below is the latest I have read about Ukraine

"
MOSCOW, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Russia does not seek a war with Ukraine but is concerned for the Russian-speaking population in the country's eastern Donbass region, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday.

"No one is going to move towards a war, and no one at all accepts any possibility of such a war," Peskov told a Russian TV program.

"Russia has never been a party to this conflict (between Kiev and insurgents in Donbass). But Russia has always said that it will not remain indifferent to the fate of Russian speakers who live in the southeast of Ukraine," he added.

According to the spokesman, Kiev refuses to fulfill its responsibilities under the Minsk agreements on a Donbass settlement, with government forces intensifying "provocative actions" in the region.

Russia, Germany and France are "bewildered" by Kiev's recent claims that the Minsk agreements are useless, Peskov said, adding that there are no alternatives to the pacts for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

Political advisers of the Russian, German, French and Ukrainian leaders are working towards holding a summit on eastern Ukraine, he said.
"

uncle tungsten , Apr 12 2021 8:14 utc | 144

Skiffer #122

but I do see this situation more as having put the Maidan-coalition on the back-foot and having to disentangle themselves, rather than a carefully pre-planned and coordinated operation.

Thank you and I humourously appreciated your allusions to the asylum that has captured Ukraine. The Maidan Murder Coalition has discovered its karma that was always lying in wait. These villainous rsoles will seriously collapse under the weight of it all, particularly the sniper trick shooters on the Maidan crowds.

uncle tungsten , Apr 12 2021 8:44 utc | 145

Lozion #140

Thank you. Martyanov is direct and unambiguous in the main. I take it that this was the item at the Vineyard of the Saker you cited?

I loved this line: "Everyone can recall a wide-spread (spread most likely by some overly zealous, but not very literate, Russian "patriots") rumor about DDG-75 USS Donald Cook having her electronics "burned" by a couple of intrepid Russian Su-24s in April of 2014, who allegedly forced this American ship to fast return to Constanta, where, allegedly some of her crew expressed a desire to abandon the ship. NYT and other US media, not without justification, called those rumors to be Russian "propaganda". They have a point."

Tuyzentfloot , Apr 12 2021 9:20 utc | 147

Which seems as good a moment as any to plug my new product (!!). Since that picture of Col. Brittany visiting Donbass in uniform of 72th mechanized division with a prominent skull badge reminded me so of the sketch 'Are we the Baddies' it is time to market my new velcro badges with rainbows and BLM logos. Stick them anywhere to show you're part of the right camp! If you shoulder badges may offend leftist softies, just stick these badges on top of them for the perfect photo op! HTS already ordered a large batch. Now 20% off and buy two get one free!

Tuyzentfloot , Apr 12 2021 9:41 utc | 148

Turkey wants to build on its successes in Nagorno Karabach to sell its weapon systems to Ukraine. Whether they also explicitly wish the conflict to explode is less clear.

uncle tungsten , Apr 12 2021 10:11 utc | 149

Tuyzentfloot #148

Turkey was not alone in Azerbaijan. Its mate Israel was supplying toys and tricks as well as I recall.

Bemildred , Apr 12 2021 11:26 utc | 150

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Apr 12 2021 9:41 utc | 148

Erdogan needs money, cash. The same seems to be true of most if not all Western politicians. But some, like Erdogan and Bibi, need lots of money.

Putin on the other hand, does not need cash. He has a healthy fiat currency at his disposal and sells a lot of food, oil, lumber, weapons etc. internationally.

I don't think Ukraine is going to be a good source of cash for Erdogan, or Bibi. They need a lot of cash too.

Stonebird , Apr 12 2021 12:47 utc | 151

So there is a massive build-up on both sides in Ukraine? ( The following comment was provoked by info from a tweet that the Ukrainians have "found" a secret plan by the Kremlin for a union with Donbas .. unconfirmed )

What if......?
... The Russians and the Dondbas/Luhansk actually DO declare a union with Russia? There is no "need" for the Russians to physically "invade" the area. They can just sit there and wait for the Ukrainians to do something. Then IF Zelensky decides, it is he who has to "start" the conflict. As a plan it is the perfect reversal of the usual Russian "aggression".

Zelensky's bluff called?

A "union" is just another way of saying "it is ours EVEN IF the title is nominally someone elses, stuff you".

The massive forces on the "frontlines" are there to remind the Ukes and their backers what "might" happen, IF they "invade" Donbas/Luhansk. What can they do about it? Make rude noises in the background?

The US, Israel and Turkey are all examples of one country simply "taking over" parts of another country - without any legality whatsoever. US in NE Syria, Turkey with it's advance of 32km all along a new frontline, with a wall between itself and Syria. Israel with the Golan. None of them have the slightest legal reason to be there. (Chinese claim the Spratleys, which is a legal fig-leaf).

Lateral thinking by Putin? Would he even need a legal fig-leaf?

Bemildred , Apr 12 2021 14:26 utc | 152

What if......?
... The Russians and the Dondbas/Luhansk actually DO declare a union with Russia?

Posted by: Stonebird | Apr 12 2021 12:47 utc | 151

It is an interesting idea, and I would not want to say it will not happen, but it seems un-Putin-like to me based on past performance. He's been very comfortable with frozen conflicts in the past. And I think he probably still wants Ukraine as a buffer, friendly but not Russia, and to keep it whole minus Crimea.

Stonebird , Apr 12 2021 16:45 utc | 155

Bemildred | Apr 12 2021 14:26 utc | 152

This way he would still "keep" Ukraine on a tether, and avoid being accused of aggression.

OK, it may go that way but the silence (from Putin) and the refusal of the Russians to give more than vague reasons for their actions, does mean that the west's MSM have nothing to froth at the mouth about- Let Zelensky stew in his own juice.

As well as the regular Army and volunteers, He is going to end up with seven thousand ex-jihadists employees, multiple "mercenaries" from the US and the other parts of the world, orders for Drones, arms etc. BUT he is losing $3 billion revenue from gas (the transit of which has been "slowing down") since the 1st April. I don't know what he has contracted to supply to those futher along the pipeline. Plus the debts to the WB and IMF.

So how long can he keep up the expense of having a standing army of 105'000 or more at the ready?

The Russians can wait them out. If they just don't "talk" or give any PR leeway to the west, then with the attention span of the goldfish in the EU and US citizens, it will drop once again from view. (20 seconds for a goldfish otherwise they would get bored going round and round in a bowl ?)

karlof1 , Apr 12 2021 18:07 utc | 156

Diesen in his book, Russia's Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia , provides the rationale for the Outlaw US Empire's actions in Ukraine, that are actually aimed at NATO members, which it fears will be enticed by Russia and fracture the alliance:

"This susceptibility to outside sabotage of regional unity [NATO] can be mitigated by centralizing power by, for example, instigating more overt military tensions to strengthen alliance unity." [Pg. 22]

This also serves to provide additional energy to the Russophobic Narrative and the unfounded rationale for anti-Russian sanctions. The Empire must at all costs continue NATO's viability for that ensures the Empire's geoeconomic and geopolitical control of the EU. The same is true in East Asia where the anti-China narrative must be continued to keep Japan and South Korea under the Empire's thumb, although South Korea is slowly slipping away.

[Apr 14, 2021] Contrary to Nulands boasting, the West keeps Ukraine on a leash with a rather skimpy budget

Apr 14, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , Apr 11 2021 2:23 utc | 83

Time is in Russia's favor: let the Ukraine continue to serve as a financial black hole to the IMF. Let the Western Ukrainians continue to emigrate en masse to Poland and then to the rest of the EU and the UK. Russia has already received some 1 million Eastern Ukrainian; those are probably the more well-educated, more productive Ukrainians, ...

Posted by: vk | Apr 11 2021 1:20 utc | 77

This is rather sketchily related to reality.

1. Ukraine is not a "black hole for the IMF". They got a smallish credit, and now they are being denied extensions on rather preposterous grounds, and Ukraine is charged for the unused credit line. Contrary to Nulands boasting, the West keeps Ukraine on a leash with a rather skimpy budget.

2. There is no clear distinction between migration patterns. The one time I was in Russia, the tourist guide on a one-day bus trip was from Rivne -- in Poland in years 1918-39. And as Polish medical workers go to Spain etc., Ukrainian once fill the vacant positions, and they may come from any place. Ditto with the "quality of workers". Poland has more of seasonal jobs in picking crops (while Poles do it further West) than Russia, Russia perennially seeks workers ready to accept extra pay in less than benign climes. The closest to truth is scooping engineers and highly qualified workers from factories that before worked for Russian market, including military, replaced with Russian factories and, when needed, Ukrainian know-how. That is pretty much accomplished -- predominantly from the Eastern Ukraine. As a result, the remaining workforce is so-so from east to west.

[Apr 09, 2021] Can Ukrainian forces capture Donbass without heavy losses?

Apr 09, 2021 | www.unz.com

Aaron Hilel , says: April 8, 2021 at 4:58 pm GMT • 1.2 days ago

@AH14 t turns tail (as usual).

NATO commissars chase Ukrainian conscripts into RU artillery and machinegun fire until they lose control over their units, which immediately flee the battlefield (as usual).
If V.V. Putin feels merciful, there's no Buratino rocket barrages on troop concentration points, as happened during Ilovaisk debacle.

Now, hopefully NATO will puff up and use their vaunted Israeli drones during the attack, so RU can study the remains.
You never, ever attack entrenched, prepared and boresighted Russians in tank country, without air superiority, because if you do you get Kursk.
In the best case.

In worst, and most probable case, NATO will get another Saur Mogila disaster.

Schuetze , says: April 8, 2021 at 6:16 pm GMT • 1.2 days ago
@Rurik

Yes, Russia could have some aces hidden up their sleeve. So could the US. So could Nato. So could even Ukraine...

Alfred , says: April 8, 2021 at 6:39 pm GMT • 1.2 days ago
@Zarathustra urriculum. The Russians must stop protecting the Jews who control the narrative everywhere. Jews must no longer control more than 10% of the media. They are only 1-2% of the population.

Like the Jews, Galician Ukrainians are always victims. What they did to the Poles during the German occupation is forgotten.

Ukrainians deported from Poland in 1944 recall mass killings, explain paths to historical reconciliation

Desert Fox , says: April 8, 2021 at 6:45 pm GMT • 1.2 days ago

The zionists are in control in the Ukraine and if they start a war with Russia the Ukraine is going to be destroyed, Russia has warned Ukraine over and over but being the typical zionists that they are, they will accept nothing but destruction and bloodshed as long as it is someone elses blood and destruction.

The zionists have destroyed Iraq and Syria and Libya and Yemen and America.

Avery , says: April 8, 2021 at 8:31 pm GMT • 1.1 days ago
@alwayswrite ous Regions/Republics had the legal right to secede from the given SSR they were attached to. Furthermore, once USSR dissolved, any legal basis for a given (former) SSR to have sway on the given Autonomous Soviet Republic ended.

In fact most of original Ukraine was artificially "fattened up" by various Russian and Soviet leaders.
[Territories Annexed to Ukraine]
https://external-preview.redd.it/Ac69B2pvCGyFG9VcPAlyC-7dqI5V3h33vqf2URyOvGo.jpg?width=927&height=485.340314136&auto=webp&s=063b7385b544833a187844f9e198422

Herald , says: April 8, 2021 at 8:34 pm GMT • 1.1 days ago
@Miro23 Germans are surely going to become tired of all this CIA/Neo-con BS.

Merkel and Macron know just what the US is playing at. If the Ukraine does get the deserved thrashing, that it is literally begging for, then of course there will be German and French knee jerk condemnations along with the ritual imposition of token sanctions. However this dangerous episode, will likely harden the resolve of both countries to escape the grip of the flailing hegemon, which is now in its death throes. So perhaps in the slightly longer term, the whole episode will backfire on the US and big time at that.

Russia might feel that war in Ukraine is inevitable and perhaps it would be better now, rather than later.

Majority of One , says: April 8, 2021 at 8:51 pm GMT • 1.1 days ago
@Levtraro ganovich, henchman to Stalin, but with an agenda of his own, had his troops and secret-police agents seize essentially ALL the food stocks from perhaps 2 million peasant families, resulting in death by starvation for multi-millions.

Thirdly, the heaviest battles in the Second World War were mostly fought in Ukraine. Again, the death totals of the civilian population were huge. The land was ravaged. Essentially the entire population were deeply traumatized.

Consequently one should not wonder that to the average Russian Ukrainians appear to be dazed and dumbed-down. So next time you see your Russian friends, kindly remind them that their brethren to the south and west should be regarded and treated with considerable compassion.

Ukraine Tiger , says: April 8, 2021 at 4:14 pm GMT • 1.3 days ago
@Majority of One

Good comment. Basically what I have been saying since Maidan. I understand why it has not happened but the time has definitely come. I think the demarcation would be Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaev and then north along the Dnipro including Khortiskia and up to East Sumy. I know it sounds warmongerish but I hope this happens. Get this shit over with. There is so much happening in this country that discriminates against ethnic Russians more each day.

EugeneGur , says: April 8, 2021 at 4:15 pm GMT • 1.3 days ago
@Quartermaster s military is nothing like they were in '14.

No, it isn't; it's worse. The Ukrainian army suffers huge non-combat losses every day: accidents from drinking or narcotics, desertion, suicides. Their commanders are incompetent and super-dumb as well as first-rate scumbags.

They well remember the Russian reconquest after the revolution and Holodomor.

That they do not remember, for that never happened, at least, not as described. What they do remember, however, are the caldrons in 2014-2015 and their horrendous losses.

Ukraine will not be easily swallowed again.

If anyone cared to swallow it, it would be. Alfred Muscaria , says: April 8, 2021 at 4:17 pm GMT • 1.3 days ago

@Quartermaster

"They well remember the Russian reconquest after the revolution and Holodomor. Ukraine will not be easily swallowed again."

Ummmmm . it would appear that the grandchildren of the architects of the Holodomor are the ones currently in power in Ukraine. Pretty amazing level of cucking and submission if you ask me.

canspeccy , says: Website April 8, 2021 at 4:18 pm GMT • 1.3 days ago

Did no one think of letting the people of each Ukrainian oblast decide for themselves to which country they wished to belong?

Oh, but wait a minute, that's what those Russian bastards did in Crimea.

So sure, WWIII, bring it on, if that's what it takes to restore Crimea to the rule of the legitimate kleptocrats in Kiev.

Majority of One , says: April 8, 2021 at 5:46 pm GMT • 1.2 days ago
@Levtraro vernment of Ukraine and that the current regime is nothing more than a puppet state which does NOT represent the best interests of the Ukrainian people and particularly of those particularly Russian speaking folks in Crimea and the Donbass region.

The illegitimate regime in Kiev is almost entirely Khazarian Talmudist dominated and in cahoots with the fascistic Uniates in Galicia. That group should be entirely divorced from any future Ukrainian state as their history has a long involvement with Western Roman Catholic cultures and consequently is an alien entity within the body politick of Ukraine, Belarus or Russia. Let them go their own way and not infect their neighbors to the south and east with their culturally indigestible attitudes.

[Apr 09, 2021] Turkey Confirms 2 US Warships To Enter Black Sea As Ukraine Posturing Grows - ZeroHedge

Apr 09, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Turkey Confirms 2 US Warships To Enter Black Sea As Ukraine Posturing Grows BY TYLER DURDEN FRIDAY, APR 09, 2021 - 10:29 AM

Turkey's foreign ministry on Friday confirmed that it's granted permission for US warships to use the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to enter the Black Sea at a moment tensions with Russia over Ukraine are spiraling higher with tit-for-tat threats. Given it revealed the initial notification was two weeks ago, a pair of American warships are expected imminently to enter the Black Sea .

The foreign ministry said in a statement while referencing the treaty that regulates passage through the straits: "A notice was sent to us 15 days ago via diplomatic channels that two U.S. warships would pass to the Black Sea in line with the Montreux Convention. The ships will remain in the Black Sea until May 4. "

Typically the US gives 14-days notice prior to sending warships into the Black Sea, according to the long established treaty with Turkey regarding use of the Bosporus to enter the waters.

And Reuters notes the significance of the timing as follows : "The United States has informed Turkey that two of its warships will pass through Turkish straits to be deployed in the Black Sea until May 4, Ankara said on Friday, as Russia has bulked up its military forces on Ukraine's eastern border."

Late Thursday an unnamed US defense official had told CNN the warships would be deployed "in the next few weeks in a show of support for Ukraine ," and further the deployment would "send a specific message to Moscow that the US is closely watching," according to the report .

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1380513089393680386&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fturkey-confirms-2-us-warships-enter-black-sea-ukraine-russia-posturing-grows&sessionId=c8517f7904d99c6821557864c562f8ab372026a0&siteScreenName=zerohedge&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1ead0c7%3A1617660954974&width=550px

Importantly, all of this comes just days after Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky personally urged NATO to immediately expand its Black Sea presence. He had said in a phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, "Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia , which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping," the president's press service indicated in a readout.

Zelensky had also traveled to the site of frontline renewed fighting in the Donbas region on Thursday in a show of support to Ukrainian national forces who are clashing with Russia-backed separatists.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfX0%3D&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1380409336212680705&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fturkey-confirms-2-us-warships-enter-black-sea-ukraine-russia-posturing-grows&sessionId=c8517f7904d99c6821557864c562f8ab372026a0&siteScreenName=zerohedge&theme=light&widgetsVersion=1ead0c7%3A1617660954974&width=550px

While American vessels have long operated in the Black Sea, even semi-regularly conducting drills there, this time the US ships are being sent there specifically as a "warning" to Moscow .

But Russia's Defense Ministry on Thursday announced naval maneuvers of its own, confirming that it's moving more than 10 navy vessels from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea in order to conduct naval exercises.

With the rival naval build-up on the Kremlin and Ukraine's doorstep, and with the mutual amassing of troops on either side of the border... what could go wrong?


Bdubs 49 minutes ago

And Trump was the bloodthirsty war monger?

Is there ANYTHING the left disparages the right for that is not a psychological projection?

These f-ers need therapy.

Misesmissesme 1 hour ago (Edited)

Man, we're doing everything we can to turn Ukraine into Poland circa 1939.

Maybe we can find an Archduke to assassinate so we can turn the clock all the way back to 1914.

USAllDay 1 hour ago remove link

Joe sent his kid to Ukraine to blow lines. He'll send yours to blow up.

GreatCaesar'sGhost 1 hour ago

No nato troops will ever set foot in Ukraine. They're trying to pressure Russia into doing something so they can force the Germans to stop nordstream. The Ukrainians can't win here and they're being used. Not good.

BeePee 1 hour ago

There were NATO advisors in Ukraine. Even that should be stopped.

Selling arms to Ukraine, most likely will continue. That's what companies do.

GreatCaesar'sGhost 58 minutes ago

The Ukrainians are being pushed to make a move against Donbass and even Crimea. It is a poor country buying expensive weapons, doesn't end well.

[Apr 07, 2021] Escalation in Donbass might well be about blocking North Stream 2

Highly recommended!
Apr 07, 2021 | peakoilbarrel.com

LIKBEZ 04/03/2021 at 3:04 pm

> Russia isn't going to invade Ukraine, much as their leaders and press seem to lose sleep endlessly over it.

This is about blocking North Stream 2. Ukrainian government is a puppet in a bigger geopolitical game and will do what they are told to do.

If they were ordered to invade Donbass Russia might intervene. I think Russia movement of troupes was a pre-preemptive move to block a joint plan of the USA and some Eastern(Poland) and Western European states to create a crisis and bury North Stream 2 by the attempt to retake the territory by force (Georgian scenario).

While writing resolutions in which they essentially declare war on Russia (retaking Crimea by force as a new Ukrainian government policy) Ukrainian government clearly understands that any significant military move in Donbass might be the end of Ukraine as we know it. So they are afraid to do anything without strong Western support, including military. That's why Biden administration made a statement about the support of Ukrainian sovereignty and, at the same time, probably pushing Ukrainians to make a move in Donbass.

There are two parts of Ukraine with different history and affiliations: Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine.

The regime in Kiev represents Western Ukrainian nationalism and it is/was to a certain degree resented in Eastern Ukraine (where manufacturing is concentrated) as provincial, incompetent and corrupt. It is controlled by a handful of oligarchs -- a classic neoliberal oligarchic republic so to speak.

That does not mean that Eastern Ukraine would welcome Russians now (after seven years of anti-Russian propaganda by the government), but please do not write about things you have no clue: in 2014 the situation was different with several uprisings against Provisional government in Eastern Ukraine.

IMHO it was Putin's decision to limit Russia role that led to the current situation. As far as I know the only large city which supported Provisional government in the East in 2014 was Dnepropetrovsk ( the home town of oligarch Kolomoyskyi, and nationalistic politicians Kuchma and Tymoshenko.)

IMHO Putin has the ability to occupy all Eastern Ukraine without a single shot and establish separate "Eastern Ukrainian republic" government. But he decided not to do as the it would result in crushing Western sanctions (which was Washington's policy from the very beginning (google Nulangate); and that's why 2014 EuroMaidan putsch was organized and financed by the USA with Poland, Germany and Sweden in supporting roles).

Add to this the necessary to feed pensioners (mentioned above) and the amount of money necessary to resurrect the manufacturing which would compete with Russian's own. Which Russia probably could not afford at the time. REPLY HOLE IN HEAD IGNORED 04/04/2021 at 4:44 am

Putin just went shit scared into his basement with a bottle of vodka on seeing this photo of defense ministers of some NATO members . 🙂
https://media.gab.com/system/media_attachments/files/070/421/209/original/be1c4bc547657d60.jpeg REPLY LIKBEZ IGNORED LIKBEZ IGNORED 04/03/2021 at 3:04 pm

> Russia isn't going to invade Ukraine, much as their leaders and press seem to lose sleep endlessly over it.

This is about blocking North Stream 2. Ukrainian government is a puppet in a bigger geopolitical game and will do what they are told to do.

If they were ordered to invade Donbass Russia might intervene. I think Russia movement of troupes was a pre-preemptive move to block a joint plan of the USA and some Eastern(Poland) and Western European states to create a crisis and bury North Stream 2 by the attempt to retake the territory by force (Georgian scenario).

While writing resolutions in which they essentially declare war on Russia (retaking Crimea by force as a new Ukrainian government policy) Ukrainian government clearly understands that any significant military move in Donbass might be the end of Ukraine as we know it. So they are afraid to do anything without strong Western support, including military. That's why Biden administration made a statement about the support of Ukrainian sovereignty and, at the same time, probably pushing Ukrainians to make a move in Donbass.

There are two parts of Ukraine with different history and affiliations: Eastern Ukraine and Western Ukraine.

The regime in Kiev represents Western Ukrainian nationalism and it is/was to a certain degree resented in Eastern Ukraine (where manufacturing is concentrated) as provincial, incompetent and corrupt. It is controlled by a handful of oligarchs -- a classic neoliberal oligarchic republic so to speak.

That does not mean that Eastern Ukraine would welcome Russians now (after seven years of anti-Russian propaganda by the government), but please do not write about things you have no clue: in 2014 the situation was different with several uprisings against Provisional government in Eastern Ukraine.

IMHO it was Putin's decision to limit Russia role that led to the current situation. As far as I know the only large city which supported Provisional government in the East in 2014 was Dnepropetrovsk ( the home town of oligarch Kolomoyskyi, and nationalistic politicians Kuchma and Tymoshenko.)

IMHO Putin has the ability to occupy all Eastern Ukraine without a single shot and establish separate "Eastern Ukrainian republic" government. But he decided not to do as the it would result in crushing Western sanctions (which was Washington's policy from the very beginning (google Nulangate); and that's why 2014 EuroMaidan putsch was organized and financed by the USA with Poland, Germany and Sweden in supporting roles).

Add to this the necessary to feed pensioners (mentioned above) and the amount of money necessary to resurrect the manufacturing which would compete with Russian's own. Which Russia probably could not afford at the time. REPLY HOLE IN HEAD IGNORED 04/04/2021 at 4:44 am

Putin just went shit scared into his basement with a bottle of vodka on seeing this photo of defense ministers of some NATO members . 🙂
https://media.gab.com/system/media_attachments/files/070/421/209/original/be1c4bc547657d60.jpeg REPLY LIKBEZ IGNORED 04/04/2021 at 2:15 pm

I would run scared too ;-). They probably have a deep sense of inferiority and as such are extremely dangerous.

04/04/2021 at 2:15 pm

I would run scared too ;-). They probably have a deep sense of inferiority and as such are extremely dangerous.

[Apr 07, 2021] Paris-Berlin Oppose Ukrainian Offensive, Call on Kiev to De-Escalate

Apr 07, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Apr 5 2021 17:12 utc | 30

Alexander Mercouris
Paris-Berlin Oppose Ukrainian Offensive, Call on Kiev to De-Escalate

[Apr 07, 2021] This use of "crony this" and "crony that" needs to stop. It is fascism. Not communism, not socialism...

Apr 07, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Foe Jaws 8 hours ago

The globalists are behaving just like the Bolsheviks of old. It is down right scary to see this happen in America. We lost the major cities 40 or 50 years ago and now the entire country (except that 1 percent stealing all the money) is on the verge of going 3rd world banana republic.

drjd 6 hours ago

If this was truly "communism", would 1% be stealing all the money? Why don't we just call it what it really is: "globalist crony capitalism."

YuriTheClown 2 hours ago

The internationalists are behaving just like the Bolsheviks of old.

You must not know your history. High powered US bankers prop up the big Bolshevik names in New York until it was time to loose them on Russia. Then they financed the whole operation.

And who is financing the Bolsheviks in the USA now???

artless 1 hour ago remove link

The word you are looking for is fascism. This use of "crony this" and "crony that" along with ANY use of the word capitalism-because their is nothing capitalist about any of this- needs to stop. It is fascism. Not communism, not socialism...

words matter.

[Apr 02, 2021] To be fair, the neocon's feel that way about everyone - they embrace the role of paranoid imperialist because that's a relatively accessible way to get funded in the DC policy world

Apr 02, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

ptb , Apr 2 2021 17:35 utc | 63

@59 etc

To be fair, the neocon's feel that way about everyone - they embrace the role of paranoid imperialist because that's a relatively accessible way to get funded in the DC policy world. The striking thing is the hubris - they're just going to fight everyone all at the same time and it will somehow be okay in the end, no cost to them.


librul , Apr 2 2021 17:44 utc | 65

@Posted by: ptb | Apr 2 2021 17:35 utc | 63

"To be fair, the neocon's feel that way about everyone"

Did you consider the article linked to @59?

Michael Hudson quote from the article, for your consideration.
(take it or leave it)


The Americans want war. The people that Biden has appointed have an emotional hatred of Russia. I've spoken to government people who are close to the Democratic Party, and they've told me that there's a pathological emotional desire for war with Russia, largely stemming from the fact that the Tzars were anti-Semitic and there's still the hatred about their ancestors: "Look what they did to my great-grandfather." And so they're willing to back the Nazis, back the anti-Semites in Ukraine. They're willing to back today's anti-Semites all over the world as long as they're getting back at this emotional focus on a kind of post 19th-century economy.
chu teh , Apr 2 2021 18:09 utc | 68

oldhippie | Apr 2 2021 13:40 utc | 20

"...And this is because Zbig [Brezinski] is a Polish aristocrat with lost family estate on outskirts of Lvov. Any fool knows emigre info is useless and emigre aristocrat most useless of all."

Brezinski's keyboard was hacked before age 3; its output foreordained by unknown sources he mis-owned as "self". A well-oiled robot producing brilliant compositions of high-quality, effective communication promoting madness and contagious ruin of non-aristos.

AriusArmenian , Apr 2 2021 18:16 utc | 71

Ghost Ship: That same Nazi scum that the OSS/CIA brought into the US after WW2 was also involved in the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, and probably Malcolm X.

In the last several years the CIA and other intel agencies have cemented their control of the US that is now a fascist rogue state that is marching the American people into a war with peer powers. As usual the American people will believe US elites telling them the war is started by a foreign power. Americans around me are blind as bats. And they think I'm dumb for not taking experimental mRNA vaccines.

Rob , Apr 2 2021 18:17 utc | 72

@ptb (63) "...they're just going to fight everyone all at the same time and it will somehow be okay in the end, no cost to them."

Correct, there will be no personal physical cost to them, as in getting maimed or killed in a war. But on the other side of the ledger, the profits that flow to the MIC are massive, and many, if not most of the neocons are in some way connected to it, either by consultancy, think-tank positions, corporate board positions, TV sinecures, etc. In other words, they are cashing in big-time on their political views and policy recommendations.

[Apr 02, 2021] The profits that flow to the MIC are massive, and many, if not most of the neocons are in some way connected to it, either by consultancy, think-tank positions, corporate board positions, TV sinecures, etc.

Apr 02, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Rob , Apr 2 2021 18:17 utc | 72

@ptb (63) "...they're just going to fight everyone all at the same time and it will somehow be okay in the end, no cost to them."

Correct, there will be no personal physical cost to them, as in getting maimed or killed in a war. But on the other side of the ledger, the profits that flow to the MIC are massive, and many, if not most of the neocons are in some way connected to it, either by consultancy, think-tank positions, corporate board positions, TV sinecures, etc. In other words, they are cashing in big-time on their political views and policy recommendations.

[Apr 02, 2021] The US wants to stop Nordstream 2 and roping NATO into a war situation with NATO would make it almost impossible to continue

Military actions might be suicidal for Ukraine. But this exactly what the USA wants in order to achieve its geopolitical objectives.
The danger for Ukraine in Georgia war scenario.
Notable quotes:
"... Yesterday (Ist April) the Russians stopped sending Gas via Ukraine. ..."
"... A hot war in eastern Ukraine/Crimea appears unlikely. Ukraine no doubt perceives that such a conflict means almost certain defeat. Military defeat would likely raise existential issues for Ukraine and its leadership, given the present adverse economic conditions. The Ukrainian leadership has very little to gain by waging a war and has much to lose. ..."
"... Assuming the truth of reports of a Russian military buildup along its relevant borders, such a buildup appears to be more of a warning to Kiev - and to the U.S. - not to make any rash moves. ..."
Apr 02, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org
Skuppers , Apr 2 2021 7:44 utc | 1

Cute /funny, but for me this points to the script that the "west" has laid out before hand: Washington has dialed up an attack by Ukraine, has been concentrating ukrop forces along the line of contact, and has kept its media muzzled, total media blackout, until the Russians respond. Then let loose with the media to make it appear that the Russians are threatening Ukraine. And per the 08/08/08 Georgia attack, if they push the button and attack donbass, and the Russians respond, blame it on Russian aggression. Russia attacks!! Russian aggression!! Who's to know it isn't so? They'll all be singing from the same hymn sheet. Not like in '08 when the EU was still semi autonomous. If Washington doesn't order an attack, then they can still point to Russia massing troops and score a propaganda victory as Russia is intimidating poor Ukraine. Russian aggression!! And "sell" more weapons to Ukraine and move more "advisors" in. The cost? Who cares? They'll just keep the printing press rolling.


powerandpeople , Apr 2 2021 7:58 utc | 2

April 1, 2021

"Vyacheslav Nikonov: ...How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war? Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky's domestic problem of declining ratings?

I'm not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans.

According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. ...

Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine. "

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

Not much more to be said.

Stonebird , Apr 2 2021 8:19 utc | 3

Yesterday (Ist April) the Russians stopped sending Gas via Ukraine.

The day before Zelensky "invited" NATO into Ukraine for military exercises.
In the face of the amassing of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders, setting up joint exercises involving Ukraine Army and Allied forces, including joint air patrols with NATO aviation in Ukraine's airspace, will help stabilize the security situation in the region, Mashovets has told his counterpart.
UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/donbas-kyiv-invites-nato-to-hold-joint-military-drills-11374195.html
(Disclaimer; I don't know much about this site)

(The day before that there was a top level meeting of NATO "to discuss the situation in Ukraine, which might have provoked/told Zelnsky to do the former).

Talking of provocation; here is a "twit" showing a Polish, it looks like fishing vessel, ramming a supply ship to NordStream II pipe layers. Gangster warfare?
https://twitter.com/I30mki/status/1377821400325480451

Although b says that the "Russian threat" is overdone, this buildup is certainly part of the problem as the US wants NATO in Ukraine. Therefore the more the threat is hyped the more they can use it to "justify" changing the facts on the ground.

One side observation is that Biden is totally absent. This situation is being run by the US High Command (Milley et al) and others who always want moar war for the cash it brings in.
The US Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Chairman of the JCS, and National Security Advisor have all had phone calls with their Ukrainian counterparts over the past three days, and General Milley spoke with General Gerasimov.

powerandpeople , Apr 2 2021 8:30 utc | 4

Ukraine - and the West's - main problem with Russia over the Donbass is that Russia is NOT a party to the Minsk agreement. With both France and Germany, it is a guarantor.

The signatures on the Minsk document are that of Ukraine and the so-called republics.

Ukraine can create as many laws stating it is in an 'International armed conflict' with Russia as it likes, it does not alter the fact that no such conflict exists, nor has it been brought to the Security Council.

But the Minsk accord HAS been approved by the Security Council.

"On March 29, the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) adopted a draft of so-called resolution on the situation in Donbass. It seems that there is noting new in such a document, however, it puts at stake Kiev's obligation on implementation of the Minsk Agreement...

Such a document is not the first to be adopted in Ukraine in the last years. However, this draft has a specific feature. It is for the first time that Ukrainian Rada adopted the draft statement, which says that the war in Eastern Ukraine is a Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.

Previously, the phrase "aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine" was used in Kiev's official documents. Today, the war in Donbass was designated as an international armed conflict, that is, war.

Such a definition has significant juridical impact. This statement completely blocks Kiev's implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Paragraph 2 of the Package of Measures clearly defines that the parties to the conflict are Kiev on the one hand, Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic (LDPR) on the other.

Today the Ukrainian Parliament officially declared, at the highest level, that the parties to the conflict are Ukraine and Russia.

The resolution ensures the immediate forwarding of the text of this statement to the national governments and parliaments of foreign states, international organizations and their parliamentary assemblies."

https://southfront.org/kiev-builds-up-legal-conditions-to-justify-its-upcoming-aggression-in-donbass/

Dogon Priest , Apr 2 2021 9:39 utc | 5
A few more...
US general calls Ukrainian, Russian counterparts over reported Russian troop movements
https://americanmilitarynews.com/2021/03/us-general-calls-ukrainian-russian-counterparts-over-reported-russian-troop-movements/

Russian Armor Floods Toward Border With Ukraine Amid Fears Of An "Imminent Crisis"
https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/40016/russian-armor-floods-toward-border-with-ukraine-amid-fears-of-an-imminent-crisis

PJB , Apr 2 2021 9:41 utc | 6
The propaganda may never change but that doesn't mean the events can't be different this time. There's video of large amounts of heavy weapons heading to the border.

A few weeks ago the US sent 350 tonnes of armoured humvees etc to Odessa. Then On 23rd March video shows Ukraine sending trainloads of tanks etc. On 24th March Kiev passed a decree claiming a right to retake Crimea. It's always said so but this seemed to really ratchet up the rhetoric as it virtually commits the government to trying to retake Crimea by force.

Several videos from 29th March show different Russian trains with scores of tanks etc heading across the Kerch bridge to Crimea, and to the Donbas border. Plus other videos of numerous helicopters & endlessly long lines of tanks & armoured vehicles on roads as well.

This is a buildup not seen since the hit war days of 2014.

Meanwhile a NATO Fleet enters the Black Sea for exercises with Ukraine.

elephant , Apr 2 2021 9:44 utc | 7

A hot war in eastern Ukraine/Crimea appears unlikely. Ukraine no doubt perceives that such a conflict means almost certain defeat. Military defeat would likely raise existential issues for Ukraine and its leadership, given the present adverse economic conditions. The Ukrainian leadership has very little to gain by waging a war and has much to lose.

Assuming the truth of reports of a Russian military buildup along its relevant borders, such a buildup appears to be more of a warning to Kiev - and to the U.S. - not to make any rash moves.

True, there is a possibility of war. Hot heads in Kiev and Washington appear always to want war. But insofar as Washington is concerned, its domestic agenda presently appears to hold far greater sway than does a failing outpost on the periphery of Washington's influence.

At this juncture, then, the possibility of a significant conflict seems low by comparison.

MarkU , Apr 2 2021 10:14 utc | 9

@ elephant (7)

You are completely ignoring the overall picture. The US wants to stop Nordstream 2 and roping NATO into a war situation with NATO would make it almost impossible to continue. Already physical provocation is being used against the pipe-laying ships (see Stonebird's post (2))

Ghost Ship , Apr 2 2021 10:27 utc | 10
Personally I blame all this shit on the Nazi scum moved to the United States by Washington after World War 2 and "weaponised". Desperate to destroy Russia and no doubt keen to acquire Lebensraum, these Hitler fanboys and their handlers in Washington are doing everything they can to apply Hitler's racial beliefs to Russia and make them seem like others when Russians are as European as Hungarians, the British and the Irish and certainly more European than Americans, Canadians and Australians. This is to make war with Russia more acceptable among Europeans. Perhaps the Hitler fanboys in Washington need to work to improve their understand of the Napoleonic Wars and World War 2 .
As Field Marshall Montgomery (a decent but fallible and somewhat egotistical British general) said in 1959:
Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: "Do not march on Moscow". Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule. I do not know whether your Lordships will know Rule 2 of war. It is: "Do not go fighting with your land armies in China". It is a vast country, with no clearly defined objectives.

A few years later he repeated his Rules of War and even claimed ownership for himself:
The United States has broken the second rule of war. That is: don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland in Asia. Rule One is, don't march on Moscow. I developed those two rules myself.

They are rules that the Hitler Fanboys and "Lost China" morons in Washington should have tattooed on their foreheads along with a free prefrontal lobotomy.
BTW, who are the more civilised:
The use of the procedure increased dramatically from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States and proportionally more in the United Kingdom. The majority of lobotomies were performed on women; a 1951 study of American hospitals found nearly 60% of lobotomy patients were women; limited data shows 74% of lobotomies in Ontario from 1948–1952 were performed on women. From the 1950s onward, lobotomy began to be abandoned, first in the Soviet Union and Europe.
.
The idea of "weaponized immigration" in the sense of bringing in immigrant hostile to their source state and using them to overthrow their source state was applied by Washington and largely publicized by Yasha Levine.
johnf , Apr 2 2021 10:56 utc | 11
Ghostship

I always thought the 3rd rule of war was not to invade Afghanistan.

Piotr Berman , Apr 2 2021 11:12 utc | 12
As some of us are superannuated, it is good to know the views of younger generation . Top general of Ukraine addressed the deputies of Verkhovna Rada (parliament), declared readiness of Ukrainian army to attack with the aim of "re-integrating the temporarily not-under-control territories", but then he somberly added the perspective of huge civilian casualties, and then started to described Russian forces currently to the north, east and the south of Ukraine. That was taking some time, so Anna Kolesnik, at 26 one of the youngest deputies of the ruling party, texted "We are listening to Khomchak. We need to get out from this country."
Fran , Apr 2 2021 11:41 utc | 13

Looks like Zelensky signed a document or Decree No. 117/2021 the other day, to recapture the Donbas and Crimea which could also be seen as a declaration of war towards Russia, more in the link below:

As Russian Tanks Move Toward Ukraine, The Globe Braces For World War 3

I expected for something to happen in the Ukraine once Biden become President, but I am surprised by the speed.

PJB , Apr 2 2021 11:43 utc | 14

Look at the videos of massive troop build ups. Also the conscription in both the Donbas republics & Ukraine Donetsk & Lugansk militia veterans of 2014/15 returning from Russia to region.

To say nothing is going to happen this time seems wishful thinking.

https://mobile.twitter.com/colonelhomsi

https://mobile.twitter.com/ASBMilitary

Jen , Apr 2 2021 12:25 utc | 15

Of course US and European concern about Russian military build-up along Russia's borders with European nations serves a purpose: justifying even more NATO military build-up along the other side of the Russian border which in turn generates profit for US, British and EU arms corporations and their shareholders in the banking and finance industries (and politics as well), and helps NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg to think he is important.

Several nations that have borders with Russia probably need the money that NATO soldiers might spend (mostly on entertainment like watching pole-dancing performers) while stationed on their territories. Latvia and Lithuania among others haven't done too well since joining the EU with something like 18 - 20% of their people living in poverty and many families dependent on remittances sent by their relatives working overseas. Instead of their resident Russian-speaking population being a bridge between their economies and the Russian economy, these countries prefer to deny their Russian-speaking minorities social welfare benefits and the right to vote, unless they can speak and read their host nations' languages at postgraduate level, and to harass them in various petty ways.

As for Ukraine, the Zelensky govt has its work cut out trying to get Crimea back so the US military can take over the base at Sevastopol and turn the Black Sea into a US lake, and to clear out the Donbass region of those pesky Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and make it secure for oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation. The Bidens depend on Zelensky to get those oil and natural gas resources so they can get their cut.

oldhippie , Apr 2 2021 12:29 utc | 16

Anna Kolesnik, cited by Piotr Berman @ 12 has it exactly. The emigres are already arriving. Ukraine is and has been entirely a failed state. The Uke army is a joke. So they have a new boatload of Humvees. Probably already sold. Humvees were going to stop T72 and up. Right. High probability Ukraine simply vanishes, local residents invite stability and the Russian army.

The normalcy bias expressed by host and commenters is extreme. Start believing in defeat. Defeat is going to change your outlook.

imo , Apr 2 2021 12:40 utc | 17

Decree No. 117/2021


Translation etc here as-russian-tanks-move-toward-ukraine --

Also on ZH


"So what made the Russians suddenly move a massive invasion force toward Ukraine?
Well, it turns out that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky essentially signed a declaration of war against Russia on March 24th. The document that he signed is known as Decree No. 117/2021, and you won't read anything about it in the corporate media.

I really had to dig to find Decree No. 117/2021, but eventually I found it. I took several of the paragraphs at the beginning of the document and I ran them through Google translate

In accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution of Ukraine, I decree:
1. To put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine of March 11, 2021 "On the Strategy of deoccupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol" (attached).

2. To approve the Strategy of deoccupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (attached).

3. Control over the implementation of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, enacted by this Decree, shall be vested in the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

4. This Decree shall enter into force on the day of its publication
.
President of Ukraine V.ZELENSKY
March 24, 2021


Basically, this decree makes it the official policy of the government of Ukraine to retake Crimea from Russia. Of course the Russians will never hand over Crimea willingly because they consider it to be Russian territory, and so Ukraine would have to take it by force."
abee , Apr 2 2021 13:29 utc | 19

Russia, France & Germany had a call on Tuesday 3/30 & they asked Putin to address the situation in Ukraine - Russia is doing them a favor....

"Russia to act resolutely to secure a cease-fire in the east that has been routinely violated."

https://apnews.com/article/europe-ukraine-angela-merkel-moscow-coronavirus-pandemic-665012871c56b339ebc262d1140c9d57

oldhippie , Apr 2 2021 13:40 utc | 20

Librul @ 18

That was more than a week ago. See how much Ukraine has done about it so far? That is as much as they are able to do. Also quoted in #17 by imo, Mike Whitney/ZH "I really had to dig to find Decree 117"... That would be because you have been trained to look away. That decree was well reported, just not in the house organs of the idiots.

Martyanov has a new post up. Worth reading. He cites Michael Hudson on the overwhelming influence Russian Jews have had on US policy. I would add Polish Jews. Zbig Brezinski gets mentioned. Ever taken a look at his pamphlet, The Grand Chessboard? It has been required reading for all students at Thomas Pickering School (State Department) for a generation. Theme is Ukraine is center of universe. And this is because Zbig is a Polish aristocrat with lost family estate on outskirts of Lvov. Any fool knows emigre info is useless and emigre aristocrat most useless of all. Any in US policy establishment who should have known better were blinded by Russophobia. (Just a note, spellcheck on this box changed my spelling to 'Lviv' multiple times before allowing old spelling. The thought control is total.)

The deployed Russian forces are not about overwhelming the Uke army. It is an occupation force. They will be taking territory.

Don Harder , Apr 2 2021 13:46 utc | 21
I don't see mention of Ukrainian build up and increased aggression on the border of Donbass. That's why Russian troops are building up. They are posturing defensively. It's US-backed Zelensky that is taking the aggressive position here.
librul , Apr 2 2021 13:51 utc | 22
@Posted by: oldhippie | Apr 2 2021 13:40 utc | 20

Are you one of the fucks that voted for Biden?

And what does your last sentence mean? "They will be taking territory."

Piotr Berman , Apr 2 2021 14:13 utc | 23

Posted by: librul | Apr 2 2021 13:51 utc | 22

77 millions that voted for Biden are not all "f....s". Everyone has some priorities, imperfect choices etc.

That of course applies to countries, something that "responsible media" never considers, but this is not a good role model for us.

Russia has to rely on her resources, so defending them from military and/or financial takeover or even nuclear blackmail is a vital interest. While there are no perfect choices, they try to choose the better ones. And not leaving people who speak Russian to repressions and even massacres is another vital interest.

In the current situation, Russia clearly needs a deterrence for any possible blitzkrieg type of plan by Ukraine. But pre-emption would not be the best choice.

In turn, Ukrainian government/elite has to bet on a patron and at least make some appearance of diligently following what the patron wants. And for that, they need to raise/maintain tensions with Russia (and China? hard is our fate now that we are underlings).

J Swift , Apr 2 2021 15:03 utc | 27

I'm sure oldhippie means that if the Ukies are subservient enough to the US to actually attack, this will almost certainly be reminiscent of Georgia (rather than just some cruise missile strikes, as some had speculated). The buildup means Russia is prepared to sweep into the Ukraine, and probably make a special point of killing as many Nazi battalions as possible, along with any Ukie troops who don't surrender quickly enough. I don't see them entering Kiev, just like they didn't try to take Tblisi, but I imagine they will try to take most of the pro-Russian territory in the East and possibly even South, until Kiev begs for a cease-fire (just like last time), but this time the conditions of cease fire will likely be much more strongly enforced, and then I would imagine Russia will try to establish some assemblage of peace-keeping troops from countries they can trust (maybe Shanghi Coalition?) so that they can withdraw their troops as soon as possible, for political reasons. Not that it will help, but then again, I think Russia sees they'll be damned if they do, damned if they don't, so they might as well do it. But they damn sure don't want to take ownership of the Ukraine, just like they didn't want to own Georgia.

Roger , Apr 2 2021 15:07 utc | 28

@22

The Dems and Republicans are two heads of the same hydra, voting for one or the other is a charade played on the American people and is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. The US is a state run for the benefit of the economic elite that owns the media and from which the political elite is chosen/sponsored and which is aligned with the military elite. Presidents will come and go, policy pretty much stays the same, its the same as CEOs of corporations - if they don't follow profit maximization they will be booted out.

The US elites all went to the same schools (or military academy) where they were inculcated with "American Exceptionalism" and the need for "America to be the Global Policeman", ending up with mediocrities such as Blinken and Pompeo that thrash around as the world moves to multipolarity and the US becomes just another important nation. It will take at least decades for the US elite to get their heads around this, the British still haven't as seen by their wasting of resources on showy projects such as the two useless aircraft carriers (know as "targets" by submariners and missile batteries) to assuage its "size" envy.

Chevrus , Apr 2 2021 15:13 utc | 29
Granted I am just an armchair observer but I have been watching since before the Maidan coup. Something feels different this time, as if the positions of the players involved have changed somehow. I realize that the multipolar world has been incubating for some time now and that Russia, China et.al. have been waiting patiently for USA to collapse from exhaustion, but I rather doubt that it will do so with a wimper. There may come a time when the RF armed forces may opt to use a quick bone crushing response to say 'enough'. While this is never an great option to have to take due to potential reprecussions, it can sometimes be better than being slowly swallowed by the serpeant of Mission Creep.....
vk , Apr 2 2021 15:19 utc | 30
Russia's official position, as of today morning:

Kremlin says situation along engagement line in Donbass frightening

"Our rhetoric [over Donbass] is absolutely constructive," Peskov said in reply to a question. "We do not indulge in wishful thinking. Regrettably, the realities along the engagement line are rather frightening. Provocations by the Ukrainian armed forces do take place. They are not casual. There have been many of them."

Ukraine's economy is collapsing. Even the IMF (USA) is getting tired of giving it free money:

The IMF is in a panic: Ukraine has been doing without its money for ten months

Prospects for Ukraine this year to receive even the second tranche of the IMF under the $ 5 billion credit line, which Kiev agreed with the Fund last June, remain vague. Although according to the schedule, Ukraine should have already mastered the second and third tranches for a total of $ 1.35 billion and is about to receive the fourth tranche in the amount of $ 0.55 billion, in fact, the first June tranche of 2.1 billion is still the only one.

Commenting on this situation on television, Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergei Marchenko said this week: "The IMF does not give money, because, unfortunately, as a country, we have crumpled up some obligations and must renew them."

[...]

So far, budget holes have been bridged by historically record borrowings in December last year (over $ 6 billion) and an increase in interest rates on domestic borrowings this year. But last year's reserves and domestic borrowing are insufficient either to cover the $ 9 billion budget deficit or to service the external public debt, which will cost at least $ 8.1 billion this year (excluding the cost of securing new loans).

The IMF, by the way, is not interested in getting its money back - they already knew the black hole they were entering into when the coup happened in 2014 - but in social engineering: the American Empire wants a brand new province:

According to the aforementioned Sergei Marchenko, the IMF puts forward five main conditions for returning to consideration of the issue of allocating the second tranche of the loan.

First , the Fund requires the restoration of liability, including criminal liability, for the declaration of false information by officials and other persons for whom such is provided in the framework of anti-corruption procedures. This type of responsibility was actually abolished by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) in October last year as part of the recognition of a number of provisions of the anti-corruption law as unconstitutional. Although almost the entire so-called anti-corruption infrastructure in a format imposed by the West contradicts the Constitution, the judges are concerned about this problem mainly because of the infringement of their rights. Since then, Zelenskiy has effectively blocked the work of the KSU, making a number of decisions that clearly go beyond his constitutional powers. And last December, the Verkhovna Radaeven restored responsibility for declaring inaccurate data. But within the framework of the struggle for control over the anti-corruption infrastructure, the "seven-embassy" (the ambassadors of the G7 countries) did not even think that responsibility had been restored.

Secondly , we are talking about the restoration of the so-called independence of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), that is, the accountability of the body to Western curators, their actual appointment and accountability of the head of NABU, etc. and imply the legal consolidation of the full control of the West over the entire anti-corruption infrastructure, which in its essence is a parallel structure of government in the state. After amending the law on NABU and recognizing as unconstitutional the appointment of Artem Sytnik, a protege of the West, by the head of NABU Zelenskiy never dared to fire him. But even such a manifestation of loyalty to the "seven-embassy" seemed not enough.

Thirdly , the Fund demands urgently to "reform" the High Council of Justice, that is, to transfer the judicial branch of power under the control of the West - by analogy with anti-corruption bodies. In this issue, Ukraine is showing the greatest resistance so far. Moreover, it comes both from the judges themselves and from representatives of other branches of government. For obvious reasons: the surrender of the judicial system will destroy even the miserable remnants of sovereignty, and most importantly, it will carry serious risks both for judges and for various top-level officials.

Fourth and fifth - issues of the gas market and the electricity market. In the context of these markets, the Fund is interested in the abolition of tariffs [n.t. - probably it means here "subsidies"] for the population with a corresponding increase in prices. The Ukrainian, let's say, elites just do not care about the problems of the population - that is why the refusal to regulate gas prices for the population last year became one of the first fulfilled requirements of the IMF. However, when winter came, gas prices skyrocketed and social protests broke out across the country , and gas price regulation had to be urgently returned. Of course, only for a while - first until April, now until May. But the Fund did not like this either: just the other day, the head of the IMF office in Ukraine, Jost Lyngman, called a return to gas price control in an ineffective way of subsidizing households. Exactly the same applies to electricity prices - the tariff for the population was raised in winter, but the Fund wants the regulated tariff to disappear altogether. The Ukrainian authorities are, of course, ready to meet the IMF halfway on these issues. But so that social protests do not completely reset her ratings.

The article also mentions that Ukraine effectively cannot borrow elsewhere in the "free market" because its bonds are rated "junk" (this we already knew, since it's been so for some years now) and that its "borrowing rates" (interest rates) are at 12% (bonds) and 6.5% (central bank's). In other words, Ukraine will disappear as a sovereign country, one way (outright loss of the Eastern regions, reduction to a impoverished para-Polish rump state) or the other (become a proto-colony of the USA a la Puerto Rico). My guess is Zelensky is calculating an all-out war to reconquer the richer eastern regions, followed by a triumphal accession to NATO, to be the only way out for Ukraine as a nation-state.

Prof , Apr 2 2021 15:27 utc | 31
If Ukraine attacks the eastern provinces, there will be a repeat of Georgia 2008. The Russian counter will be ferocious.

But Ukraine is just a puppet for America, which will use, abuse and even lose Ukraine for *other purposes*.

Those other purposes are fortifying European subordination to NATO, cancelling Nord Stream 2 and breaking any German and French rapprochement with Moscow. US hegemony is in fact conditional on a climate of hostility between Europe and Russia in general, and between Germany and Moscow in particular. Hence the need to provoke Germany to cancel NS2. The Navalny operation didn't work, and the sanctions didn't work either. So it's on to Plan C, which might sacrifice Ukraine for the greater project of US empire.

In the bigger picture, the strategy is to globalize NATO against China. This is the Biden regime's specific strategy of provoking minor conflicts to fortify alliances and bloc politics for taking on China and Russia. Ukraine is just disposable trash in this game.

elephant , Apr 2 2021 15:28 utc | 32

That Merkel and Macron just met with Putin is further evidence of the unlikeliness of war. Frau Merkel in particular has an interest in preventing a war because it is Germany who needs the Nordstream pipeline (to Washington's displeasure); the Russians can just as easily sell their natural gas to China if Nordstream falters. Thus the Germans are more likely to exert pressure on Ukraine to forebear than they are to let Ukraine loose the dogs of war.

juliania , Apr 2 2021 15:34 utc | 35

I agree with you, oldhippie @ 20. And thanks to b and other posters here who have kept us well apprised of the events in Ukraine as the buildup commenced on the Ukrainian side, supported by US munitions.

Actually, as far as I can understand it, if the Russians do enter Ukraine it will be at the behest of the Ukrainians themselves, just as it was in Crimea. They will be as supportive as possible of the Donbass, which is already back in the Russian Federation in every way except the formal declaration.

But Russia wants the country of Ukraine to remain whole. That's a big ask, but it surely must include all areas like Odessa in order to be viable as a member of the Federation. I don't know if that is possible yet, but rule by force has existed for so long under such duress there, that I do believe the entire civilian population would be happy to have this happen. And in will come the Russian aid, pouring in on tanks if need be, to a population weary of hardship.

Russia certainly doesn't want to be on a war footing with Ukraine, since it considers the citizenry to be its own people historically speaking, as Putin has said many times. It will not force the issue; it can be patient. But if its troops do enter, they will only do so if they are welcome; and I think that welcome mat is fast being woven, as fast as Penelopes in the Donbass can weave it. And as for the rest of Ukraine, plenty of Penelopes there as well.

It may not be Ukraine will enter the Federation immediately - there will have to be talks and so much restructuring politically speaking before that can happen. But if the hand of Russia is still extended in friendship to places like the US, it most certainly would be to a sane and peaceful Ukrainian government.

Let it be!

Petri Krohn , Apr 2 2021 15:35 utc | 36

This time the buildup is very real. But NATO has no reason to be "concerned", as it is they who have the initiative. Russia will only move in response to a Ukrainian attack on Donbass. Ukraine will only attack after it gets approval or direct orders from Washington.

Work on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is progressing fast. I estimate that pipelaying may be finished by the end of May. To prevent it from happening, Ukraine has to attack in April. Rumors claim that the planned date of the attack is April 15, 2021. The problem on the Ukrainian side is that there is no sensible war plan, apart from attacking Donbass and then immediately withdrawing to defensive position on the western shore of the Dnieper River.

Christelle Néant from Donetsk published this on March 16th, citing Ukrainian sources.

IF RUSSIA INTERVENES, THE UKRAINIAN ARMY WILL HAVE TO ABANDON ITS OFFENSIVE IN THE DONBASS

In an enlightening article, the Ukrainian media outlet Strana revealed that not only is the Ukrainian army preparing for an offensive in the Donbass, but that there is an emergency plan to stop the attack if Russia were to send its own army in. This information is nothing less than a debunking of seven years of Ukrainian propaganda, which claims that Ukraine is fighting Russia in the Donbass.

The article is based on sources in the Ukrainian army and the Defence Ministry, and begins by questioning the reality of Kiev's preparation for an offensive against the Donbass.

Strana's sources on the front line confirm that there is no longer a ceasefire, nor a withdrawal of troops and equipment. The source even makes it clear that it was Ukraine that first violated this provision of the Minsk package of measures, and that the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics) did so only afterwards, in response to the violation by the Ukrainian army.

...

BUT, because there is a but in this kind of rather too pretty plan, if Russia sends its army to intervene then the Ukrainian army will have to give up its offensive against the Donbass and withdraw.

"In this case, the AFU offensive will be stopped. With a high degree of probability, the troops will then have to withdraw, so as not to fall again into cauldrons," says the Strana source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry.

In other words, for the Ukrainian army's offensive in the Donbass to work, Russia must not intervene. The problem for Kiev is that Russia has no intention of letting several hundred thousand of its citizens die on its border without reacting. A problem that Strana's source is well aware of.

Duncan Idaho , Apr 2 2021 15:56 utc | 41

I always thought the 3rd rule of war was not to invade Afghanistan.

If it isn't, it should be.

Chevrus , Apr 2 2021 16:18 utc | 45

J.Swift#38
Nice riff on 'How to Win Friends and Influence People'!
Excellent take on the situation as it has unfolded. I agree with your observations re: a change in tone coming Russia and China in regard to their criticizms of the USA. It's likely that they have indeed run the numbers on both how much damage they can absorb and what their counter move would be as compare to the long drawn out decline that seems to be atking forever.

The line (or really one of the several) is when the USA get more directly involved and sustains losses at the hands of Russian forces. Nobody really wants to find out what happens when the The Darkness behind the might of the Pentagram has a hissy fit. The yapping dog might just beable to run the numbers itself and see the outcome as being very disadventageous to itself and it's minions. Who am I kidding, the USA doesn't care a whit about it's minions....

Norwegian , Apr 2 2021 17:08 utc | 55

@elephant | Apr 2 2021 15:28 utc | 32

I believe you are right. A war is unlikely, but with madmen in Washington you never know. Some of them would like to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian.

ADKC , Apr 2 2021 17:08 utc | 57

But, Russia is moving substantial troops and equipment to the Ukrainian border to deter the Kiev authorities from invading the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) - so this is real not a made-up story (it is not what 'normal' troop movements as the b's article implies). Russia is drawing a red line and it should be seen as such!

Russia's actions will probably be enough to dissuade Kiev but what have they got to lose? The Kiev regime is failing, its economy is in freefall, disaster beckons - a glorious military defeat might be considered preferable to inevitable social and economic collapse.

Kiev may also have well-founded belief that the US/West will be forced to support them militarily to keep the secrets of western involvement in the downng of MH17 out of Russian hands.

oldhippie , Apr 2 2021 17:15 utc | 58

Thank you for all the compliments. I am not and will not be angry with librul for more than one moment, in the past. Same Biden/Trump barbs are tossed daily on a face to face basis. It has become how Americans are.

Ghostship does make some good points. Not theoretical to me. Here in Chicago FuhrerTag is still celebrated at many bars. Large group sings of Horst Wessex song occur for a variety of occasions. When at University of Illinois (70s) there was a sizable contingent of OUN children in the History Department. They freely Indulged in Sieg Heil and Slava Ukraina to greet each other publicly. There was also an Ustache contingent who did return to Croatia, not to fight but to govern. Shall we say that these groups were insane. Some did go to military careers.Some did go to State Department. Some did go to think tanks. If the subject is Russia clinical insanity is not a career impediment in America.

For two days I owned the Rainbow, Bugsy Siegel's old joint 1900 N. Damen. . That was Ukrainian Village. My money was refunded. The alternative was death. Yes, they put guns in my face. Yes, they could do that. No, I do not like these people.

None of us predicts future with any accuracy. Will keep pointing out that downsides for Russia will vanish with victory. They have a lot of choices in how they could construct that victory. Every choice US/NATO has available is nothing but a defeat.

Thomas Minnehan , Apr 2 2021 17:17 utc | 59

Oldhippie@20:

Thanks for that note.

It is a very important reminder as to how insane and mindless the neo con hatred is of Russia and Putin. It is indeed alarming that this rabid hatred controls the neo cons and what passes for us foreign policy. How can on expect rational policy when the people in charge are completely irrational.

Link to the article:
http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2021/04/they-neocons-may-have-anger-issues.html#disqus_thread

If nothing else, just note the quote in the article from Hudson-it is beyond alarming as to the description by hudson of the mindless and controlling irrationality of the neo cons in the dimo biden admin!

Copeland , Apr 2 2021 17:25 utc | 62

I watched a video by Alexander Mercouris China Warns Ukraine on Crimea Ties which shows how coordinated this present crisis may be, as Washington may be maneuvering its Ukrainian proxy into nationalizing a corporation there that manufactures a variety of turbine engines, built to power both warships and aircraft. Zelensky is applying pressure on both China and Russia at once. The Russians have overcome some manufacturing problems and have had to build up their own stocks of turbines for military use. Responding to Zelensky's seizure of their assets and investments in Ukraine, the Chinese have sent an economic mission that involves serious investments in Crimea .

A coordinated threat to the culturally Russian Donbas and Lugansk region and the nationalizing of Chinese assets will place China and Russia again on the same path in their diplomatic response. It would not be a surprise if China officially recognizes Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.

ptb , Apr 2 2021 17:35 utc | 63

@59 etc

To be fair, the neocon's feel that way about everyone - they embrace the role of paranoid imperialist because that's a relatively accessible way to get funded in the DC policy world. The striking thing is the hubris - they're just going to fight everyone all at the same time and it will somehow be okay in the end, no cost to them.

ADKC , Apr 2 2021 17:51 utc | 66

Just to add to my post @57.

Russia doesn't need "troops" to defend Donetz and Luhansk; Russian can destroy Ukrainian forces using stand-off weapons and then DNR and LNR forces can easily cope with what remains. Russian doesn't need forces to "occupy" Donetz and Luhansk because these areas will remain under the control of the republics. What Russia needs "troops" for is to advance and capture Kiev and this is what Russia's troop deployments threaten. If the conflict starts in Ukraine then Russia will demonstrate its ability to do whatever it wants in all areas of Ukraine; then Russia will withdraw and leave what is left for the West/EU and US to deal with.

Rationally, nothing will happen because Kiev will be deterred. But, many elements in the Kiev regime may desire war because they believe the West will (because they "have to") support them (or, as I already said, glorious defeat may seem preferable to the slow-burn collapse of their regime). The US/West may encourage Kiev because they are posturing for war and the plandemic is envisaged as the best time for such an event (I feel the likelihood of this is underestimated), or compelling a demonstration of Russian "aggression" may have overriding propaganda value (regardless of the outcome for the Kiev regime) for their own populations (everyone can really hate on Russia for the next 10 years - hate is a great unifier).

Kapusta , Apr 2 2021 18:38 utc | 74

All of this is to be expected after weeks and weeks of UAF buildup along the Donbass border. In fact, they've been shelling villages in the Donbass for some time now since they re-instigated aggression in February. Even today they were shelling the infamous Donetsk airport. On top of that you've got US aerial vehicles flying around the Black Sea right underneath Crimea and next to Krasnodar. Kiev's posturing has signaled their supposed willingness to attack the Donbass and attempt to retake Crimea, so Russia's reaction to protect Russian citizens would be entirely reasonable.

The defense ministers of Ukraine and the United States held their second conversation in a month and a half on the situation in Donbass. According to Andriy Taran, the Americans promised Kiev "support measures" in the event of a direct military conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

The US will not come to the aid of Ukraine. That is a pipe dream, pun intended.

Chevrus , Apr 2 2021 18:38 utc | 75

@JohninMK et al:
On the surface this seems to be a continuation of the provocation game, which has been the tactic since the beginning. The Ukies are definitely upping the ante by threatening Crimea. I can only assume that they are deep into thinking wishfully that the USA will "come to rescue" when they poke the bear. But in both their cases I have to wonder: with WHAT? The Ukies dont have an effective army as demonstrated by mass defection and surrender last bout. Other than "punishment battallions" there do not seem to be many troops willing to fight. As for the USA, they are not shock troops, they are an occupation force. So then is it to be some sort aerial ballet of stand-off weapons over the skies of the Donbass??

As stated above, the Western MSM is going to shriek like flock of terrified Karens no matter what Russia does so they may as well earn it. My mind wanders over the demonstration of the Iskander in Syria most recently. Ten or so of those simultaneously in the right places would bring a Ukrops offensive to sudden halt if there were the will to do so.....

Per/Norway , Apr 2 2021 19:24 utc | 80

"Zelensky recent declaration of intent to interdict in Crimea"


doc

oldhippie , Apr 2 2021 20:08 utc | 89

Zelensky is making de-escalation noises. Bit late for that. Should this all ratchet down it will be the end of Zelensky. Bear in mind he is there only because there is no one else. As an actor and a comedian he has been impersonating a President. He did that for the sitcom cameras and then he did it in real life.

It will also be the last time Ukraine ever pretends to field an army. Conscripts will make their way home somehow, they won't be played again. Heavy equipment and ammo will be auctioned off cheap to any who can arrange transport. Transport will be questionable, arms will be sold very cheap.

Ukraine army is heavily larded with mercs and Wahabi jihadis from all over the planet. Idiots could still start something big even if the "leadership" calls it off. Shelling has been happening all day up and down the line. Artillery is mostly mercs. Russia is holding fire so far, one shell chances to fall on a concentration of Russian troops and it is on.

Poles and other idiots could also blow this up. Way too many moving pieces and no one in charge, either in Kiev or Washington.

If this excitement just ends Ukraine will go from a comic opera government to no government at all. Russia will move in for humanitarian reasons. Western Ukraine will die or flood to Europe.

Stonebird , Apr 2 2021 20:16 utc | 90

I see we are back to the "fog of war".
There has been artillery/mortar fire around Horlivka and elsewhere. (50 shells) These mortar attacks were conducted by the 58th motorised rifle brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the areas of Avdeevka and Pervomaisky.
A Global Hawk is presumed to have flown over both Donetsk and Luhansk - various altitudes to test the Russian radars. This is the same type that was shot down by Iran. Maybe the US wants to order a few more replacements?
One vid that is supposed to show a train full of Tor systems of the 56 airborne has already been debunked as filmed a long way away on the other side of Russia, (The 56th do not have Tors)

It is clear that there is a definite push to provoke a Russian reaction. The threats about Crimea mean that any movement in that area will be taken seriously, as "several" high ranking Russian Generals have arrived there. Russian Generals lead from the front, not the back as do the UK or US versions. (see Syria)

It is the details that are showing that this will escalate (Burning houses and villages) and civilians in bunkers. I was going to show you the picture of an old man still in the firing area, because he has nowhere else to go . Someday the human cost must be counted.

***

Interesting tie ups with the BRI and Afghanistan from Karlof1's post @70. One mention of a canal between the Sea of Azof and the Caspian, via Russsia. The "anything but Suez" canal?

More than that, I realised that the Saudi Arabian NOEM (Straight Line road) across the Gulf of Aqaba to Sharm el-Sheik, will eventually give it access to the Med via Egypt and Africa, without going through Israel. (Or Lebanon, Syria or Turkey)

Syria is in a mess because of lack of fuel. Their stolen fuel is/was bought by Israel cheaply. Are you sure that the EverGiven WAS an accident?

*****

Biden has Zelenskys back - if he is thinking of his back pocket there is nothing left in it.

Dr. George W Oprisko , Apr 2 2021 20:26 utc | 94

I'm sure oldhippie means that if the Ukies are subservient enough to the US to actually attack, this will almost certainly be reminiscent of Georgia (rather than just some cruise missile strikes, as some had speculated). The buildup means Russia is prepared to sweep into the Ukraine, and probably make a special point of killing as many Nazi battalions as possible, along with any Ukie troops who don't surrender quickly enough. I don't see them entering Kiev, just like they didn't try to take Tblisi, but I imagine they will try to take most of the pro-Russian territory in the East and possibly even South, until Kiev begs for a cease-fire (just like last time), but this time the conditions of cease fire will likely be much more strongly enforced, and then I would imagine Russia will try to establish some assemblage of peace-keeping troops from countries they can trust (maybe Shanghi Coalition?) so that they can withdraw their troops as soon as possible, for political reasons. Not that it will help, but then again, I think Russia sees they'll be damned if they do, damned if they don't, so they might as well do it. But they damn sure don't want to take ownership of the Ukraine, just like they didn't want to own Georgia.

A fair and balanced analysis, as far as it goes.

We must remember the Stavka is in charge....

What makes the most sense to them??? Where should the cease fire line be??? The best place to put it is the midline of the Denieper River. It is a natural boundary. It is wide enough so anything less than 155 mm artillery can't reach across. It resolves permanently water supply to Crimea.

NATO will use this action to censure, villify, and sanction Russia. She might as well get something for that.

Will this happen?? Last year, I'd say no.... but now.... anything goes...

INDY

Erelis , Apr 2 2021 21:07 utc | 97
I thought Biden would not start a war until next year to save the 2022 mid-term elections. My speculation is that Merkel is standing firm on Nord Stream 2 so the Biden administration is going to use the Ukrainians to start up a war against Russia to physically shut down the construction of the pipeline and introduce sanctions like against SWIFT, Aeroflot, etc.
Lozion , Apr 2 2021 21:20 utc | 98
Reports of use of Bayraktars TB2 in Donbass:

https://twitter.com/theragex/status/1378091551671398406?s=21

Jo , Apr 2 2021 22:07 utc | 111

Today


During a meeting with Defense Minister of Ukraine Andriy Taran and the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the defense attaches of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom assured Ukraine of the support in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "US, Canada's, and UK Defense Attaches met with Minister of Defense [of Ukraine] Taran, Deputy Minister Petrenko, Deputy Minister Polishchuk, Joint Forces Commander Lieutenant General Naiev, and Colonel Budanov," the U.S. Embassy posted on Twitter. The Embassy assured Ukraine of support in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity: "We stand with Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity and are watching the situation in Ukraine closely."

librul , Apr 2 2021 22:08 utc | 112

@Posted by: Norwegian | Apr 2 2021 21:49 utc | 106

Could be.

The story is number one or two all over the place (The Hill, Politico, Reuters, The Washington Times,...).

No mention of Ukraine except perhaps in minor side stories.

"Biden holds first call with Ukrainian president amid Russian buildup"

By NATASHA BERTRAND and LARA SELIGMAN

04/02/2021 09:39 AM EDT

Updated: 04/02/2021 11:24 AM EDT

President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on Friday morning for the first time since Biden took office, amid reports of a Russian military buildup in eastern Ukraine that has alarmed U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

The leaders spoke for 30 to 40 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of the call. A White House readout of the conversation said Biden "reaffirmed the United States' unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression in the Donbas and Crimea."


[Mar 31, 2021] Neocons and doublethink

Mar 31, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Norwegian , Mar 31 2021 22:08 utc | 30

@Michael Weddington | Mar 31 2021 21:40 utc | 28

They are true believers. Almost everyone in the US is.

I find this hard to believe. They believe they are exceptional and at the same time denounce "white supremacy"? That is some serious doublethink.

[Mar 30, 2021] Even before the targets in Yemen had been "legally" designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization Obama used cluster bombs to shred dozens of women and children in a failed attempt to hit members of "al Qaida in Yemen (AQY)".

Mar 30, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

librul , Mar 30 2021 13:04 utc | 1

Even before the targets in Yemen had been "legally" designated as
a Foreign Terrorist Organization Obama used cluster bombs to shred
dozens of women and children in a failed attempt to hit members of
"al Qaida in Yemen (AQY)".
.
The war crime immediately became a dirty Obama secret, covered up
with the help of the MSM, in particular ABC.
.
An enthusiastic White House had leaked to their contacts at ABC that
Obama had escalated the War on Terror, taking it to another country,
Yemen. This was December 17, 2009 only days after Obama had returned
from his ceremony in Oslo where he proudly accepted the Nobel Peace
Prize.
.
ABC was thrilled with their scoop and in manly voices announced
the escalation in the War on Terror.
.
The very next day ABC went silent forever about it, joining the cover up
of a war crime.
.
Hillary Clinton, by the way, committed her own act of cover up.
Covering her butt by backdating a memo.
.
The designation of a organization as a FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization)
is not official nor legal until it is published in the Federal Register.
An oversight? Obama attacked Yemen before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
had done the paperwork to make the killing legal?
.
The designation was not published until a month later, January 19, 2010.
Hillary Clinton back dated the memo she published in the Register with the date of
December 14, 2009, to somewhat cover her butt.
.
Obama's acceptance speech in Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize was December 10th.
.
Yemen leaders agreed to participate in Obama's coverup saying it was their
own Yemen forces that had accidentally shredded dozens of women and children.
.
Obama was grateful to the Yemen leaders. The Yemen leaders were not
honored in Oslo. But, ironically, Obama ended his speech honoring women
and children, days before he ordered their slaughter.
.
Obama in Oslo, December 10, 2009:
.
"Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty
still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what
few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she
believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's
dreams.
.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will
always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the
intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. Clear-eyed,
we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.
We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the
.
hope
.
of all the world; and at this moment of challenge,
that must be our work here on Earth.
.
Thank you very much.
(Applause.)
.
One week later Obama shredded dozens of women and children in Yemen
and covered it up.
.
Here is ABC's Brian Ross using his most masculine voice to boast about Obama's attack:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHcg3TNSRPs
.
Wikileaks cable corroborates evidence of US airstrikes in Yemen (Amnesty Intl)
https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2010/12/wikileaks-cable-corroborates-evidence-us-airstrikes-yemen/
.
Actual cable at Wikileaks:
https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10SANAA4_a.html
.
More at ABC [12/18/2009]:
https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cruise-missiles-strike-yemen/story?id=9375236
https://web.archive.org/web/20190624203826/https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cruise-missiles-strike-yemen/story?id=9375236 ">https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cruise-missiles-strike-yemen/story?id=9375236">https://web.archive.org/web/20190624203826/https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cruise-missiles-strike-yemen/story?id=9375236
https://web.archive.org/web/20190725171012/https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cr ">https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cr">https://web.archive.org/web/20190725171012/https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/cr

Norwegian , Mar 30 2021 15:09 utc | 10

@librul | Mar 30 2021 13:04 utc | 1

You can thank Thorbjørn Jagland for the Obama Nobel Price. He and Stoltenberg were buddies in the same party.

[Mar 28, 2021] The Brewing Conflict In Ukraine - ZeroHedge

Mar 28, 2021 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

Enter The Putinator

When Biden called Russian President a soulless "killer" on ABC News, Putin responded with the most deft bit of diplomacy I've seen in quite a while, openly challenging Fungal Joe to a publicly broadcast debate of substantive issues, which Biden, of course, declined.

For those that don't remember the context, here's the article from Zerohedge on the subject .

There can be no question now that all the disparate interests within The Davos Crowd are aligned at this point (see this month's Newsletter for more discussion on this). All guns point at Russia.

Putin tried to defuse the situation with an offer that was at once an epic troll of Biden, who is clearly no match for his Russian counterpart cognitively, and a warning to Americans that this situation has gotten far more dangerous than they are being told.

And sometimes you win simply by taking the high road. Make no mistake the fact that Putin went here this early in Biden's presidency is a bad sign. It tells us things are horrific between the world's most prominent nuclear powers and that there's been zero diplomatic effort put forth by the Biden administration since the election.

The problem is rapidly becoming that indiscriminate use of all weapons all the time -- diplomatic, economic, military, propaganda -- creates a kind of dopamine addiction. In order to keep the public interest in the threat they have to keep raising the stakes and the rhetoric to eventually absurd levels.

As I like to say all the time, it's the first rule of screenwriting : Be forever raising the stakes lest the audience gets bored.

But there comes a point where people begin to realize that they are being asked to back a war where the existential threat to the elite's power is transferred onto them. Remember folks, government's fight and spend billions propagandizing you into believing their wars are for your own good.

It's rarely the case, if ever. More often than not the war being ginned up in the media and by government officials is one that either feathers their own nest directly, supports the goals of other powerful folks indirectly, or covers up past corruption.

The brewing conflict in Ukraine is all of these and more. The project to add Ukraine to NATO and the EU is a long-held dream of neocons like Victoria Nuland and neoliberals like Biden. It's an important cog in the World Economic Forum's desire to expand the EU to both encircle Russia thereby disrupting any dreams of Eurasian integration which could form a bulwark against their brave new world.

What's got Biden's Depends in a bunch is that he's neck-deep in the corruption in Ukraine. In Obama's own words, Ukraine is Joe's project. And Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is not fully subsumed into the morass of Biden's (and the rest of the usual suspects') problems.

Putin's deft and cordial handling of Biden's indiscriminate use of language was masterful here. Biden's initial remarks are, at best, him trying to hold onto the Amy Poehler demographic (see reruns of Parks and Recreation for her slavish obsession with him as Vice-President) as a vibrant, macho man, while he implements every bad idea that that same demographic rejected from all the other Democrats during primary season.

But we can all see he's nothing of the sort. He's a barely coherent, rapidly fading bully with no discernible achievements in life other than being available to be a placeholder for someone else's plans.

So, it was never a question as to whether Biden would ever talk to Putin under those conditions. They can't even get him to talk with reporters for real, having to green screen him into backgrounds to make it look like he's out in the world, doing stuff.

And don't get me started on that embarrassment of a press conference held the other day. Running for re-election in 2024? This guy's not going to be alive in 2024. Then again, since he didn't run in 2020, what does it actually matter?

Elections are just Hollywood productions anymore anyway.

Biden's counter is to now invite Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping the big Climate Summit in late April where the WEF controls the agenda and Biden's anti-diplomatic corps led by the completely over-matched Secretary of State Antony Blinken can further embarrass the U.S. on the world stage.

Since both Putin and Xi told the WEF to go scratch on both Climate Change, Agenda 2030 and, most notably from Putin, the Fourth Industrial Revolution , I don't see how this summit ends any better than virtual Davos did earlier this year.

In fact, with Biden's approach to both China and Russia so far, this summit is shaping up to be a colossal waste of time while also threatening everyone the world over with what they can expect policy-wise from the West until someone finally puts these insane people out of our misery.

With each day that passes the U.K., for example, under tyrant Boris Johnson sinks further into a complete totalitarian nightmare (see here , here , here , and here from the last 24 hours) thanks to COVID-19, while ramping up the anti-Russian rhetoric to eleven.

But, back to Ukraine, because it's tied directly to all this climate change nonsense. Putin understands as well that Biden will allow every escalation in Ukraine because he's shackled by it and they need to complete the job started with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.

That means we'll see something far worse than Victoria Nuland's latest Cookie Campaign for freedom. We're going to see a war for the Donbass soon, likely right after Orthodox Easter and the end of the snow melt.

Putin tried to go directly to the people to end this destructive spiral to the bottom, because he knows where this ends.

It will be a confrontation that one side will have to commit to completely or allow it's bluff to be called. The game Biden's handlers have played to this point has been a massive escalation of rhetoric while continually moving real pieces into position for a real conflict. I just don't see cooler heads prevailing here because there is no upside for the U.S., the EU and the WEF if China and Russia stand their ground and Biden et.al. back down.

Russia has to be destroyed or subjugated if the Great Reset is to happen and Europe is to remain a relevant global player. That means control of the Black Sea, which means taking back Crimea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently reiterated publicly that Russia has had zero diplomatic contact with the European Union since the 2014 vote by Crimea to rejoin Russia.

Diplomacy is nearly over between the major powers. Biden's simple refusal to talk to Putin publicly is a major event.

In the end everything we've lived through since COVID-19 began boils down to the need to destroy the global economy built on oil and coal, otherwise all major energy production stays under Eurasian control as it strengthens not Atlanticist as it peaks in global power and their grand dreams wither.

Time is getting short for this to happen. Public opposition to this program is rising. It happens now or not at all.

If there is a war in the Donbass this spring it won't be a happy ending which extends U.S. primacy into the future but the moment when we realized its acceleration into irrelevancy.

* * *

Join my Patreon to access the notebook.


Alice-the-dog 3 hours ago

In both the current major conflicts between Russia and the US Psychopaths In Charge, Russia holds the moral high ground. In Ukraine the US promoted, financed, helped organize, and encouraged the overthrow of a democratically elected government. When the citizens of Crimea exercised their natural right of self determination and voted to return to being a part of Russia, the US called it a coup. In Syria, the US has illegally invaded a sovereign nation without that nation's sovereign government's permission or request. Russia got both. Not only does Russia hold the moral high ground, but the legal high ground as well.

vic and blood PREMIUM 3 hours ago

Well stated.

The role reversal is complete. We are now the Evil Empire.

gmrpeabody 1 hour ago

" . In Ukraine the US promoted, financed, helped organize, and encouraged the overthrow of a democratically elected government. "

They did the very same thing here...

Clint Liquor 1 hour ago

Putin understands the Hegemon's Achilles Heel.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-china-usa-idUSKBN2BE0XH

muldoon55 2 hours ago

Have been for quite some time.

Marine General Smedley Butler knew his forces were being used back in the thirties to enforce American bankster interests in central and South America.

eyewillcomply 1 hour ago (Edited)

"We are now the Evil Empire."

As soon as we allowed the cousins of the same Bolsheviks who made Russia into a communist basket case to control our currency and thus, government, we became an "Evil Empire". It has been a slow process and hard to recognize early on. The founding principles of the United States are moral and admirable. What we have morphed into at the behest of this satanic cabal is the exact opposite of that ethos.

chunga 3 hours ago

Many people hate the US and have many very valid reasons to fight and kill all of us.

BlindMonkey 2 hours ago (Edited)

A large swath of Americans just want to live life as a people. They harbor no ill will to other people's, we just want our space in the world respected. Of these, they also have a beef with the insane people that have got us to this point.

jeff montanye 2 hours ago

the u.s. government has not been mine since vietnam.

dead hobo 1 hour ago (Edited)

Funny, but look at the big picture. How could all these foreign horrors be contemplated if only a few people voted for Biden? Agree the election was stolen, but it still took a massive number of Libtards and Woketards to provide enough actual votes to make the fake votes count.

We are seeing what happens when a massive amount of Accumulated Stupid runs daily life in the US. No amount of talk will make a difference and most people don't read. Combined, this makes them impervious to common sense. Things will get worse, then much worse, before they get better. This is a big deal. Democrats are going all in at 110% effort because they know they will fail and and never get another chance if they don't take over now. Expect outrageous takeovers followed by more outrageous takeovers. We haven't seen anything yet. Expect to be Amazed.

chunga 2 hours ago

I'm afraid those people will not be exempt from the harmful, malicious actions of the US govt and do not deserve to be. I put myself in this category.

Sandmann 23 minutes ago

Most Americans are great and generous people but so were most people in the Soviet Union

Lordflin 2 hours ago

You don't seriously believe we would sit on the sidelines of such a conflict...

When was the last time that happened...?

Deep State wants war... and they are now firmly in charge in a capital protected by armed troops and razor wire...

JPHR 3 hours ago (Edited) remove link

This article seems mistaken in treating Biden as somehow being in charge nor is this Harris.

The most concerning aspect of this fake presidency is that non-elected and not accountable people behind the scenes are running this farce.

The US always selects weak corrupt leaders as front men for their color revolutions abroad and it should not be a surprise that the color revolution at home now follows exactly that very same pattern.

Carlin was RIGHT 2 hours ago (Edited)

It is not just the author of this article that is mistaken, it is also 95% of the murican public. What you see on your tee veee and read in media is 100% pure theatre - all agenda driven, of course.

Dumfknation will begrudgingly go along with ANYTHING tptb dictates - that has been proven beyond any doubt over the last year. So expect nothing but misery and quite possibly death for the foreseeable future, because (((they))) most certainly have NO CONCERN WHATSOEVER for you happiness and prosperity, and only seek to make the world a better place for (((them))).

Sandmann 4 hours ago

Much of the Hitler-Stalin War was fought in Ukraine. Ukraine was always the centre for Soviet weapons production to ensure The West stayed away.

Brzezinski set up a cat's paw which he hoped would ensnare Russia but it will destroy USA. The West kept Bandera groups funded and armed in Ukraine into 1950s. Poland wants to seize Gailicia. The simple fact is Ukrainians are emigrating for work to Poland and Turkey and Western Europe if they can get forged papers. Ukraine is dead - US wants to force West Europeans to pay transport levies to Ukraine for Russian gas instead of North Stream so Europeans fund Ukraine corruption and backfunding to US Democrats.

Russia will fight when it is ready as will China. Seems stupid to risk Atlanta or Dallas or LA or Chicago for Kiev

Craven Moorehead 3 hours ago

The Soviet Union economically collapsed trying to match NATO military strength, too much of their resources and productivity were directed to military, the West effectively outspent them.

Now the tables have turned, The US may be on the road to the same fate, and the current government of morons may just bring it about

BlindMonkey 2 hours ago remove link

The Ukraine war might be kept under wraps solely because Russia has clearly signaled they will enter it. An attack is a suicide play for Ukraine. I don't expect this to stop the warhawks from trying but Zelensky must know this is a death trap for him. If this kicks off, expect Poland to be sacrificed to try to take Kaliningrad in retribution.

SwmngwShrks 1 hour ago remove link

I remember being in school in 2014, in a UN class specifically, learning about how the US backed coup in the Ukraine led to them wanting to join the EU. However, as part of the treaty during the dissolution of the USSR, if any of the barrier states went to join the EU, Russia would annex Crimea, as its only warm-water port.

This is what happened, and what was executed, however it was propagandized here in the US that Russia had "invaded" Crimea. It explains why reporters on scene found the locals welcoming the Russians.

The thing is, I remember so explicitly finding this on the web, because I was surprised it was true. I read the actual treaty, and can no longer find it online, anywhere. Sigh, down the memory hole, thanks Brave New World.

Savvy 24 minutes ago

It's hard to believe the Americans could be so short sighted, but Ukraine was 'liberated' to control Russia's access to the EU market. Pretty stupid if so because that's when construction on NS2 began and Ukraine is a US quagmire now. Another shining example of US intervenyionism.

SoDamnMad 2 hours ago remove link

Search for the "March of the Immortal Regiment" on Youtube and understand that if you attack either the Crimea or the Donbass you will fight seasoned soldiers as well as civilians ready to smash your face in with a shovel. Unlike the US woke crowd those that chose Russia are not willing to lay down for the corrupt private Nazi militias of Ukraine. The shipment of up-armored humvess are worthless in this fight. Half the stuff will be stolen and wind up on the black market. No more mister nice guy. "Remember, you asked for it."

deep-state-retired 3 hours ago remove link

With the successful Biden Coup and full media / tech blackout of election fraud the Globalists are ready to take on one of the last few nation states. They think like Napoleon and Hitler just kick in the door and the house will collapse. We will see.

de tocqueville's ghost 1 hour ago (Edited)

the industrialized military complex and deep state stole our vote and election...they need war to survive. Biden was always their "boy"...he voted yay for every war in the last 42 years. They had to get rid of Trump...he wasn't starting any wars.
We knew Biden would start beating the war drums soon after being in the WH, and he is.

JackOliver5 3 hours ago (Edited)

Luongo is not too sharp - THIS is about the energy future - NATURAL GAS !

So was the deal between Iran and China today !

Russia already has over over 1000 CNG service stations - Iran will provide CNG pipelines to China - the Rothschilds will have NO place in this NEW world !

THAT is why we are seeing what we are seeing NOW !

Time will prove that I am right !

Five_Black_Eyes_Intel_Agency 4 hours ago (Edited)

The psychopathic cabal loves creating frozen conflicts that they can "switch on" - such as the one in Ukraine. The only problem is that they always keep choosing losers as their friends.

The CIA and MI6 are working hard on "switching on" the Ukraine conflict, because peddling conflict is all they know. Russia will wipe the floor with them.

The world is waking up fast to the US-UK-israeli racket of depravity. The world except those pitiful vassals still stuck in the honeymoon phase with their oppressors like the EU.

Propaganda Ripper 2 hours ago (Edited)

At this point, if you are politically correct, you cheer for World War 3. What could be more normal in a world gone mad ?

US Banana Republic 2 hours ago (Edited) remove link

Russia AND China need to make sure the US has skin in this game.

When I was IN Ukraine recently for three months a friend asked when the continental US was last involved in a real war. It was, of course, the US Civil War and that ended in 1865. The US is far removed from the people it disturbs and massacres. We have no problem singing how proud we are to be Americans because we are situated in a place that we can do anything to anybody and they can't touch us. That needs to end.

I don't know exactly how but Russia and China need to make the US pay some consequences for this ******** aggression.

Oldwood 2 hours ago

When you say "US", exactly WHO are you referring?

When you say "Chinese" who are you referring.

Most people of this planet are dominated by their leadership.

otschelnik 3 hours ago (Edited) remove link

Donbass is another example of a successful 'frozen conflict' tactic which the Russians use in ethnicly charged border conflicts or strategically important territories. North Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdnestr are some of the other ones. There's one big chanage in that now a lot of the residents of the Donbass region have obtained Russian passports under an expedited system, about 400,000 reportedly by the beginning of the year. Unlike US politicians Putin is not limited by time. This can go on for decades.

Russia is keeping their options open, and they're willing to withdrawl from Donbass if the region is given autonomy in Ukraine if they can keep Crimea. This is their favorite option but that's not acceptable for the Ukraine government. If that doesn't work they can go all the way and annex Donbass too and have the forces to go all the way to the Dnepr river. Ukraine can't do anything, they're too weak.

The neocon's running the Biden administration would definitely like to push Ukraine into a hot war with Russia but our NATO allies are not going to support it.

vasilievich 2 hours ago

If I may ask, how do you know what Russia is willing to do?

otschelnik 22 minutes ago

Listen to Lavrov and read between the lines.

SoDamnMad 2 hours ago

"if they can keep Crimea". I stopped reading after that. The road and railway links over the Kerch Strait told me they were there for good.

BinAnunnaki 1 hour ago remove link

Can Putin annex Donestsk and not expect full western sanctions, esp. on energy or is that a bluff?

Will Merkel let her people freeze for Eastern Ukraine?

indus creed 30 minutes ago (Edited)

At the minimum Russia will take the eastern portion and the entire southern region, thus cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea.

El_Puerco 1 hour ago

https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/28march2021_Eastern_Uk_Ukraine_War_Map-1363x1536.jpg

MILITARY SITUATION IN EASTERN UKRAINE ON MARCH 28, 2021 (MAP UPDATE)

European Monarchist 1 hour ago (Edited) remove link

Biden is just like Obama, an unsophisticated and blundering WARMONGER.

El_Puerco 1 hour ago

Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Biden's War?

European Monarchist 59 minutes ago (Edited)

Who knows, but here is my list of likely suspects: the military industrial complex, the CIA, the deep state, Mossad, hubris, dementia, and demons.

The Vel 1 hour ago

I like this article. Some wonderful quotes:

' They can't even get him to talk with reporters for real, having to green screen him into backgrounds to make it look like he's out in the world, doing stuff.' - Check

In the end everything we've lived through since COVID-19 began boils down to the need to destroy the global economy built on oil and coal, otherwise all major energy production - Check

If there is a war in the Donbass this spring it won't be a happy ending which extends U.S. primacy into the future but the moment when we realized its acceleration into irrelevancy. - Check Mate

That's the key point of covid - it will take the US Federal Government into irrelevancy along with Dementia Joe. And all you good folks and me will get to witness this transition to irrelevance (if you don't die off from the vaxx sooner).

BubbaBanjo 1 hour ago remove link

Ukraine would be very wise to find a diplomatic way to be a neutral nation and not be a pawn. Russia will take the pawn if it is played. Nothing will stop that. A pawn needs to know its role in the game.

Aquamaster 10 minutes ago

Always remember, Biden did not put anyone into his administration based on qualifications. Most were picked for either their racial, sexual, or LBGTQ... bonafides. The rest were picked as paybacks for financial, and media/tech support during the campaign. Also, many are Obama retreads, and we know how poorly they performed in those eight years of the Obama reign of error.

This is going to be a horrible four years and I have no doubt that OBidens ideologues will blunder us into at least one war. Hopefully it won't be WW3.

flyonmywall 23 minutes ago

The idiot-in-chief is being told by his handlers that they can win this without American boots on the ground, with cannon fodder provided by conscript Ukrainians.

When the Russians finally unleash their armor divisions, they will cut through their opposition like a hot knife through butter, while being covered by the Russian aerospace forces.

If these idiots unleash long range misiles, World War 3 will be just around the corner.

Aquamaster 7 minutes ago

Indeed. We saw this exact thing happen in the ill fated Georgia conflict during the Bush presidency.

QABubba 2 hours ago remove link

Putin is, and has been, playing a waiting game. With each year that passes the West gets weaker and Eurasia gets stronger. The goal is with deft diplomacy to stretch this period out long enough for the balance of power to become obvious.

Again, whoever thought that Russia would pay billions in transit fees to Poland and Ukraine for them to turn around and spend with Lockheed, Ratheon. etc., to buy weapons to point at Russia was an idiot. A first class idiot. The kind of idiot that will be the death of us.

Tom Green Swedish 2 hours ago

WIth each year Putin becomes older and weaker. He will age out, and they will fall. I don't like Russia. Who would?

Victor999 1 hour ago

Lots of people like Russia - all over the world. And lots of people absolutely hate America - all over the world. How do you explain that? And if you knew anything about Russia, you would understand why you should fear the day that Putin finally steps down.

blumenthal 2 hours ago (Edited)

In contrast to the attempted coup in Turkey, in which Erdogan acted decisively, it was a serious mistake on Yanukovich's part not to deploy the military in Ukraine. The Russians made a subsequent mistake by not marching straight into the capital Kiew. Now it will be much more difficult to control the situation in Ukraine. A further conflict will escalate very quickly, because the Russians have a lot at stake and China will not hesitate for long.......

Propaganda Ripper 2 hours ago (Edited)

Yanukovich did not deploy the military in Ukraine because he was threatened with sanctions... The result is that he almost got himself (and his family) killed. It was a very narrow escape from Kyiv.

BinAnunnaki 2 hours ago remove link

Remember this all happened while Putin was concluding a successful Olympics

morefunthanrum 2 minutes ago

Zerohedge and the Republicans are awful sympathetic to trumps buddy putin....why is that?

TRUMP WON 2 minutes ago

Putin loves his country...

Biden does not.

Only a few years difference in their ages... Jesus, what a contrast.

One, sharp as a tack... the other, a urine-soaked imbecilic pedo clown

rtb61 1 hour ago

The Ukraine no longer seems willing to self destruct being part of Europe a lie, they should never have shot down the passenger jet, they will never be forgiven for that.

Right now the worst thing the USA could do to Russia, dump the Ukraine back on them and force Russia to pay to fix and and create chaos with regard to the Crimea.

The Ukraine is a mess and getting worse, it is a booby prize for whom ever gets stuck with it. The Ukraine even managed to say the stupidest thing they could, when they said the Crimea returned to Russia, really stuck their foot in there. Should never have said that because yes, it was stolen by a Ukrainian leader of the Soviet Union and logically at the end of the Soviet Union should have demanded it's return to Russia because soviet union evil.

The Ukraine government should have never said, the Crimea returned to Russia because they immediately lost their case in doing so.

Global Hunter 1 hour ago remove link

The pro-Soros, pro NATO Ukrainians (baby Russians) who are rebelling against their Russian brethren shot the plane down ya stooge.

fosfor 37 2 hours ago (Edited) remove link

Many thanks to Biden and Nuland for the Russian Crimea!

Vladymyr Zhirinovsky - The division of Ukraine will take place in the near future

The flight of Viktor Yanukovych from Kiev turned out to be the most profitable option for Russia. Otherwise, one would have to spend a lot of money and be left without Crimea.

"Why didn't Yanukovych stay in Kiev? How would we take Crimea if Yanukovych stayed in Kiev? We would have thrown an army into Kiev, we would have given a lot of money, Yanukovych would have sat there and continued to rule Ukraine, and Crimea would have remained Ukrainian and died. Yanukovych played along with us. Now Biden is playing along with us. Let him continue to help the allegedly Ukrainian army. "

Zhirinovsky presented the ongoing actions as a multi-step combination for the creation of Novorossiya.

"It is beneficial for us that Biden gave the command through his Ukrainian accomplices to launch an attack on Donbass. Yes, we will crush this entire army completely, and a movement will begin towards the creation of Novorossia, the entire South-East of Ukraine, and the North - we will see. Maybe we'll come to an agreement with the Germans and the Poles, maybe we'll do a little differently there. "

Let it Go 3 hours ago remove link

Biden putting more weapons into the hands of those unmotivated to fight for their corrupt state is merely adding fuel to this fire and doing more harm than good. Remember Ukraine is a financially failed state and while we can point to its potential, its massive oil and gas reserves by all rights should belong to the Ukrainian people. These reserves do not belong to people like Joe and hunter Biden. More on this subject in the article below.

https://Ukraine War Is About Money Energy And Power.html

J J Pettigrew 3 hours ago remove link

Recall all the "concern" that Trump might be blackmailed by those who had dirt on him...(Russia)

never happened

So what of Biden and Burisma, Ukraine, Hunter, China deals, money wired, ...??

Any stories that might be told, or withheld, on the Bidens?

Southern_Boy 21 minutes ago

I believe living anywhere near the DC Swamp will become rather dangerous (it's probably dangerous now because of BLM/Antifa and the "woke" mobs) once the nuclear ballistic missile exchange starts. Even the big blue cities and state capitals are probably going to be targets.

The globalist elites of the Medical-Military Industrial Complex really believe the homeland is invulnerable to and will never be subjected to a real damaging attack.

Don't forget the historical wild card is Pakistan, India and Iran with nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction.

gzorp 24 minutes ago (Edited)

After the nazis bounced Kennedy's brains (and your democracy) off the trunk of his limo on 11/22/63, the Right of Return side as opposed to Containment side won the argument. There would be no cooperation with the Soviet Union... Nixon (Dulles/nazi protege) used the ukrainian (Bandera faction) Romainian Iron Guard, Croation Ustashi etc . to get the ethnic vote for the Republipigs promosing right of return to their countries for the nazi collaborators given refuge here in the US. Brought into the Republipig party as an official wing of the party by HW Bush when he was chairman of the Republipig party as the "Ethnic Outreach" wing of the party. Seen the USSA returning any former nazis to Croatia or Ukraine?...

Kat Daddy 49 minutes ago (Edited)

If a plebiscite is called in the Donbass, the people will vote to join the Russian Federation. Any actions taken by NATO and the Atlanticist interests will appear illegal under international law. So much for promoting democracy and humanitarian interests. There need not be a war, but I know you're secretly hoping for one.

[Mar 26, 2021] Stavridis "oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria."

Mar 26, 2021 | www.unz.com

annamaria , says: March 24, 2021 at 8:07 pm GMT • 2.0 days ago

@Anonymous that a strong American military and national security posture is the best guarantor of peace and the survival of our values and civilization.

Stavridis has been at the forefront of the mass slaughter known as the implementation of the Oded Yinon Plan for Eretz Israel:

From 2002 to 2004, Stavridis commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Persian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Stavridis "oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria." In short, this prominent racketeer is dripping with the blood of hundreds of thousands of the victims.

[Mar 21, 2021] Kagan's vision ans a typical neocon blideness

Mar 21, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 20 2021 0:11 utc | 68

emersonreturn @64--

I'm in the middle of Armstrong's essay and am at the first reference to Kagan's vision:

"What should that role be? Benevolent global hegemony. Having defeated the 'evil empire,' the United States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening America's security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and standing up for its principles around the world .'

It's absolutely clear that Kagan has no clue as to the reality of what is actually the objective of the Neoliberal Parasites running the Outlaw US Empire; for aside from "advancing its interests," the Parasites have zero motivation to do any of that as their sole ambition/goal is to vacuum up all the wealth they can and leave a shell just as they planned and failed with Russia, but have succeeded elsewhere. And as for principles, the reality is it has none, nor does it have any friends, just vassals and victims. This analogy by Armstrong's excellent:

"The U.S. is sitting on a dragon and it daren't get off or the dragon will kill it. But because it can't kill the dragon, it must sit on it forever: no escape. And dragon's eggs are hatching out all around: think how much bigger the Russian, Chinese and Iranian dragons are today than they were a quarter-century ago when Kagan & Co so confidently started PNAC; think how bigger they'll be in another....

"But the more sanctions, the stronger Russia gets: as an analogy, think of sanctions on Russia as similar to the over-use of antibiotics – Russia is becoming immune."

And tying it all up is this excellent summation:

"Has there ever been a subject on which people have been so wrong for so long as Russia? How many times have they said Putin's finished? Remember when cheese was going to bring him down? Always a terminal economic crisis. A year ago they were sure COVID would do it. A U.S. general is in Ukraine and Kiev's heavy weapons are moving east but, no, it's Putin who, for ego reasons – and his "failing" economy – wants the war. Why do they keep doing it? Well, it's easy money – Putin (did we tell you he was in the KGB?) wants to expand Russia and rule forever; therefore, he's about to invade somebody. He doesn't, no problem, our timely warning scared him off; we'll change the date and regurgitate it next year. In the meantime his despotic rule trembles because of some-triviality-of-the-moment. These pieces write themselves: the anti-Russia business is the easiest scam ever. And there's the difficulty of admitting you're wrong: how can somebody like Kagan, such a triumphantasiser back then, admit that it's all turned to dust and worse, turned to dust because they took his advice? Much better to press on – it's not as if anybody in the lügenpresse will call him out or deny him space. Finally, these people are locked in psychological projection: because they can only envisage military expansion, they assume the other guy is equally obsessed and so they must expand to counter his expansion. They suspect everybody of suspecting them. Their hostility sees hostility everywhere. Their belligerence finds belligerence. The hyperpower is forever compelled to respond to lesser powers. They look outside, see themselves and fear; in their mental universe the USA is arrogantly strong and fearfully weak at the same time."

The Walking Dead is finally becoming a metaphor for the Outlaw US Empire, its policies, and what it terms values--which aren't values but vices. But TWD was fiction and was thus capable of reforming itself. The Empire's goals and polices are essentially the same as in 1940 and even further back to 1913, and haven't changed very much, being just as illegal and immoral then as now. What's different are the "Dragons" which didn't exist in 1918 or 1944, and the Parasites have almost total control that's finally seeing domestic pushback.

Jackrabbit , Mar 20 2021 2:17 utc | 87

karlof1 @Mar20 0:11 #67

It's absolutely clear that Kagan has no clue as to the reality of what is actually the objective of the Neoliberal Parasites running the Outlaw US Empire.

Why do you give him the benefit of the doubt?

Are we really to believe that Kagan, and others like him, talk of these things for DECADES and yet aren't aware of the ramifications?

IMO it is absolutely clear that he knows the neoliberal reality as well as the neocon and neocolonial realities.

But we are supposed to avoid cynicism and be polite so as to not be thought a malcontent?

=

@karlof1 The need for more cynicism is a theme of mine (which I've written about at moa many times) so please don't respond in a knee-jerk way.

!!

[Mar 21, 2021] The big question: Will the US try to play tcechnological dominance card against China?

Mar 21, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Mar 20 2021 0:44 utc | 77

The Alaska talks have ended and the Global Times Editor writes :

"China and the US are two major world powers. No matter how many disputes they have, the two countries should not impulsively break their relations. Coexistence and cooperation are the only options for China and the US. Whether we like it or not, the two countries should learn to patiently explore mutual compromises and pursue strategic win-win cooperation ." [My Emphasis]

The big question: Does the Outlaw US Empire possess enough wisdom to act in that manner.

[Mar 14, 2021] Why The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume

Mar 14, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Why The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume

Several Russia watchers - Patrick Armstrong , Andrei Martyanov and Andrei Raevsky - are musing about a renewed attack by the government of Ukraine on its eastern Donbass region. The Donbass separated in 2014 after the U.S. driven coup in Kiev installed an anti-Russian government which then waged a war on its ethnic Russian east.

There have been a number of reports about heavy Ukrainian equipment moving east and other hints of military preparations . Russia has seen enough such signs to issue a strong warning :

"I would like to warn the Kiev regime and the hotheads that are serving it or manipulating it against further de-escalation and attempts to implement a forceful scenario in Donbass," [Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova] said, commenting on the statement of head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Contact Group for settlement in Donbass Leonid Kravchuk on some "radical steps" of Kiev if Russia refuses to recognize itself as a conflict side in eastern Ukraine.
...
Zakharova recalled that the Minsk Agreements clearly outline the conflict sides in Donbass as Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. "The unwillingness of Ukrainian negotiators to recognize this fact and their refusal to find agreements with Donbass is the reason that hinders the establishment of long-lasting peace in the region," the diplomat noted.

The main catalyst for such a war is the sorry state of the government in Kiev. The country is in in the midst of a constitutional crisis :

[T]he Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) recently plunged the country into one of its deepest crises in its 30-year history. Specifically, on October 27, 2020, the Court declared that the main elements of Ukraine's anti-corruption legislation, adopted between 2014 and 2020, were unconstitutional. In response, President Zelensky introduced legislation calling for the early termination of all Constitutional Court judges. Later, in December, he suspended the chairman of the Court for two months.

The result was widespread chaos in Ukraine's political system. Zelensky's actions were of questionable legality and provoked harsh criticism from all political sides. The ramifications of the Court's decision include the cancellation of over 100 pending corruption investigations, a development that potentially could endanger future EU-Ukraine trade and economic cooperation Ukraine under the 2014 Association Agreement.

After the 2014 Euromaidan coup an 'independent' National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) was created to oversee the investigation and prosecution of corrupt state officials. The NABU has since been used by the U.S. embassy to bring criminal cases against those oligarchs it dislikes and to cover for those it likes. The constitutional court found that NABU is a criminal investigation agency outside the control of the executive branch which is a contradiction to the Ukrainian constitution.

The crisis has since escalated:

President Zelensky has now taken several provocative steps, including proposing legislation that voids the Constitutional Court's anti-corruption rulings and begins the process of dismissing and replacing those justices who supported that decision. None of these actions are supported under present-day Ukrainian law. The rhetoric between the president and the Constitutional Court is also escalating, with Constitutional Court Chairman Tupitskyi warning that the president's actions threaten the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Calls for impeachment proceedings are being raised in the Rada, and Zelensky yet again escalated the crisis on February 3, 2021 by blocking pro-Russian TV channels controlled by Victor Medvedchuk. The legality of the latter action was even questioned by the EU, who told Zelensky that while Ukraine possessed the right to protect itself from disinformation, it still had to comply with international standards and "fundamental rights and freedoms."

The pressure on Zelensky is growing as he tries to navigate the fine line of obeying the law as written while simultaneously claiming that the very integrity of the country is at stake. And Zelensky's problems are only mounting, with the Cabinet of Ministers recently calling for the dismissal of the head of NABU and the IMF delaying the next tranche of financial support, in part because of Ukraine's failure to implement a comprehensive anti-corruption program.

Polling numbers for Zelensky have sharply declined . Right wing city councils call on Zelensky to outlaw the largest opposition party . Meanwhile the pandemic puts a record number of people into hospitals while a meager vaccination campaign is failing .

A war against the eastern separatist could be a Hail Mary attempt by Zelensky to regain some national and international support.

But nothing will happen on the frontline without the consent or even encouragement from Washington DC. The Biden administration is filled with the same delusional people who managed the 2014 coup in Kiev. They may believe that the NATO training the Ukrainian army received and the weapons the U.S. delivered are sufficient to defeat the separatist. But the state of the Ukrainian military is worse than one might think and the separatist will have Russia's full backing. There is no question who would win in such a fight.

As a commentator at Turcopolier remarked :

If the US is not careful it is going to give the Russians another opportunity to show to the World their military prowess, the flexibility of their Military District system allowing multi front operation and their unfailing support for an ally. As well as potentially letting the Russians show to Europe that they have nothing to fear, if they stop at 30 miles or so and basically go back home. All whilst the US demonstrates the opposite, but then reinforcing DC may trump the World.

Posted by b on March 13, 2021 at 17:30 UTC | Permalink


Mar man , Mar 13 2021 17:49 utc | 1

If Ukraine is not careful, they could easily lose all their territory up to the Dnieper River. With Russian support the separatists could launch offensives and gain massive territory west. If pro-Russian separatists managed to capture that much territory, that would solve alot of problems for Russia.

1. A land bridge to Crimea.
2. No more water/power distribution problems to Crimea.
3. Less chances for the ongoing sabotage efforts against Crimea from the northern border.
4. Permanent exclusion of Ukraine from NATO unless Ukraine simply gives up and recognizes all the lost as sovereign independent republics. A win/win for Russia.

Mao Cheng Ji , Mar 13 2021 17:57 utc | 2
"A war against the eastern separatist could be a Hail Mary attempt by Zelensky to regain some national and international support." It would be an odd way to 'regain national support', as he was elected on precisely the opposite platform, the peace platform.

Meh. Whatever the calculations - to suppress pro-peace opponents and compete against the pro-war parties for their electorate? - it seems unlikely to succeed. A case of totally fucked up attempt at populism, methinks.

Bluedotterel , Mar 13 2021 18:07 utc | 3
The Saker also has an interesting article on this: https://thesaker.is/is-the-ukraine-on-the-brink-of-war-again/

"Just a few weeks ago I wrote a column entitled "The Ukraine's Many Ticking Time Bombs" in which I listed a number of developments presenting a major threat to the Ukraine and, in fact, to all the countries of the region. In this short time the situation has deteriorated rather dramatically. I will therefore begin with a short recap of what is happening.

First, the Ukrainian government and parliament have, for all practical purposes, declared the Minsk Agreements as dead. Truth be told, these agreements were stillborn, but as long as everybody pretended that there was still a chance for some kind of negotiated solution, they served as a "war retardant". Now that this retardant has been removed, the situation becomes far more explosive than before.

Second, it is pretty obvious that the "Biden" administration is a who's who of all the worst russophobes of the Obama era: Nuland, Psaki, and the rest of them are openly saying that they want to increase the confrontation with Russia. Even the newcomers, say like Ned Price, are clearly rabid russophobes. The folks in Kiev immediately understood that their bad old masters were back in the White House and they are now also adapting their language to this new (well, not really) reality.

Finally, and most ominously, there are clear signs that the Ukrainian military is moving heavy forces towards the line of contact. Here is an example of a video taken in the city of Mariupol:

Besides tanks, there are many reports of other heavy military equipment, including MLRS and tactical ballistic missiles, being moved east towards the line of contact. Needless to say, the Russian General Staff is tracking all these movements very carefully, as are the intelligence services of the LDNR."

William Gruff , Mar 13 2021 18:12 utc | 6
"Why The War In Ukraine May Soon Resume" ?

Because the establishment was successful at installing one of their own into the White House. In fact, the empire's need to secure total victory in Ukraine was part and parcel of why Biden had to "win" regardless of how blatant the scamming of the election ended up being.

Not only will the wars in Ukraine and Syria heat up to a boil again, but we will begin to see terrorist attacks in western China start up once more after several year hiatus. We all knew that this is what would come of a Biden win.

Mao Cheng Ji , Mar 13 2021 18:16 utc | 7
"Otherwise, good article on the dangerous build up that is motivated in the US."

Incidentally, I hear that Ukrainian officials are getting their orders from the UK embassy these days; the US has distanced itself.

Whether this is happening because it's still the transitional period, or this is a deliberate new M.O., god only knows.

oldhippie , Mar 13 2021 18:31 utc | 11
Ukraine still has a flotilla of functioning nuclear power plants. The Zaporozhye complex is the largest in Europe by far. Anything goes wrong and Chernobyl comes back, in spades. So what if we have a little war and Russia stops at Donbass, the rump of Ukraine is in chaos?

An atomic bomb requires 3 kilos of fissile material. A reactor will have tons. Hundreds of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel. There is a lot to be said for stability. Lots of trouble with high stakes poker.

John Gilberts , Mar 13 2021 18:31 utc | 12

Canada's Banderite lobby prepares... https://twitter.com/HMcPhersonMP/status/1370417322687565826
Oldhippie , Mar 13 2021 18:51 utc | 15
#14
Right. What could possibly go wrong?

When history repeats itself there are never any annoying transcription errors.

ptb , Mar 13 2021 19:03 utc | 16
Ukraine's relations with China might be about to deteriorate as well... Ukraine Plans To Nationalize Jet Engine Producer Motor Sich From Chinese Investors
Fyi , Mar 13 2021 19:21 utc | 17
Mr. Mar man

I agree, and further to your points, I suspect Russians are engaged in a long term project of re-absorbing Ukraine minus the Catholic oblasts. The tactic is intermittent episodes of limited war, in response to a Ukrainian provocation, real or manufactured, or imagined - followed by the loss of more territory by Ukraine.

Hoarsewhisperer , Mar 13 2021 19:30 utc | 18
The most interesting thing about this story is ... Myanmar.

Since the coup in that country began the Fake News (most MSM news) has given Myanmar saturation coverage. EVERY "news" broadcast in Oz AND the so-called International News has led with some tosh about Myanmar. It's an effing rowdy riot for Christ's sake. Guess how surprised I wouldn't be to hear that MI6 & CIA are behind Myanmar? It's a Boring, same every day, story and it's going nowhere.

Imo, Myanmar was always cover for prep for something more nefarious elsewhere. And anything with shooting involved would be MORE nefarious than Myanmar. Now the real stories are seeping out.
I hope they start with Ukraine. Putin is an asshole. But he's my kind of asshole and certain people, who don't listen, are going to wish they hadn't been born. And when VVP has finished with Ukraine, some of them may as well not have been born.

James2 , Mar 13 2021 19:43 utc | 19
What ever I read I never hear the views of the people of Ukraine - the country is at risk of being broken up by the actions of all governments since independence. I bet the Hungarians and Poland are watching closely as they also have interests in Ukraine.
steven t johnson , Mar 13 2021 19:59 utc | 20
You people need to get your stories straight. If Biden is so senile, then manipulating him slows down the full-court press and makes all policies erratic, the product of the last person to whisper in the ear. (Which is why Dr. Jill would be Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan.) Plus, saving the zombie corps are higher on his agenda. Most of all of course, the theory that Biden has already ordered the MSM to bury the bodies in Ukraine means he has zero need to do favors for anyone there. (There is zero evidence Hunter was selling real favors, instead of scamming crooked Ukrainians who thought they could buy influence. But it is an article of faith, a tenet of Trumpian theology, that Ukraine was something, something, something and therefore Biden is a traitor.)

It is in fact the transitional period that is apt to allow all unresolved disasters to boil over while no one (not literally) is watching. Only a fool ever thought Ukraine and Syria could continue indefinitely. (Putin may be that big of a fool, if he ever had an endgame he's never showed any sign of it.) The economic crisis and the epidemic and the US elections I think have tended to put people into a holding pattern to see how things develop. But now, the epidemic is starting to shake out---the end of the beginning is in sight!---and the world depression is entering a new phase with threatened mass bankruptcies and now is the time to present the new US administration with a fait accompli.

In Syria, Trump had four years to end things but deliberately committed to stealing the oil. Putin never had a plan I think to lever out the US and Turkey or even the Kurds, so he never had a hope of ending the war in Syria. It can't go on forever.

Kharkov province came within a hair of joining Lugansk and Donetsk in rebelling. But it is the only contiguous territory that can plausibly be joined. Odessa is majority Russian but it is isolated. Artificially dividing the westernmost provinces from the rest of Ukraine will not resolve the problem, not even if they were sacrificed to Poland. Poland's appetites include western Belarus and Kaliningrad and probably parts of Lithuania too. One problem with re-drawing borders in Europe is German revanchism for Silesia and Prussia. It may not be loud now, but it's astonishing how fast these ideas come back.

Stonebird , Mar 13 2021 20:09 utc | 22
Some updates.
There is a battle in the area of #​​Donetsk airport. The #Ukrainian Armed Forces
are shelling DPR positions with heavy weapons.
Around 19.30 local time, a series of kicks took place in the direction of the DAP.

I would expect a False Flag to start thing off. (The shelling has been going on for months, but seems to be more serious this time round.)

The Russians are ready. 6 Divisions said to be on high alert. Structural subdivisions of electronic warfare (EW) of special forces of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have been redeployed to the territory of the #DPR & #LPR

Electronic suppression & electronic protection goes to all points of contact with #Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Ukranians started flying Bayraktar TB2 drones (As used against Armenia) (Two drones "Rece" downed (?unconfirmed) and a US drone seen in the vicinity.)

An Inhabitant of Donbas thinks that this time the Ukrainians will go for city centers. (Thinking about the mess they made by going through the rural areas and finishing in "cauldrons")
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iixZn9r8z8
(26 minutes)

Turkey's deputy foreign minister [annexation of Crimea]: "The situation in Crimea continues to threaten regional security." "We adopt a clear, coherent policy. We strongly support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We don't recognize illegal annexation."

The Ukes have slightly more then 100'000 men and the Donbas has about 30'000.

There are three (?) Nato force ships in Odessa. (Minesweepers, if my memory is correct - older report) The US destroyers have left. But. The US has a carrier in the Med, and the Charles de Gaulle (carrier) is also around.

Jen , Mar 13 2021 20:22 utc | 23
I wonder who is pulling Ukrainian President Zelensky's strings as his actions as described by B in his post don't match what the fellow has been doing (basically faffing about and trying to please everybody since he was elected in 2019) up to now. There must be several puppetmasters pulling him this way and that: the CIA and SBU certainly, the US State Dept certainly, and Zelensky must also be feeling some heat now Uncle Creepy Joe and son Hunter over Hunters past involvement with Burisma Holdings.
NemesisCalling , Mar 13 2021 20:40 utc | 24
Re: Biden's "policies"

Biden does not have any policies. At this point, it should be clear that the term "Biden" be used to designate the consortium of neocon and neoliberal technocrats, both veterans from the Obama-admin and neophytes who are operating in place of a failing POTUS.

Biden is a whimpering, pathetic character who should be left alone to handle his fleeting mind in dignity. But we all know this is not what he truly deserves.

They would not allow him to do this, however, and he was instrumental in being the most milktoast and boilerplate candidate where only pure hatred of the other (deplorables) would suffice to win 2020.

Biden was essential to win. Now he is the equivalent of a 6' ft+ doorstop or paperweight.

james , Mar 13 2021 20:45 utc | 25
thanks b... and many good insights from the posters starting @ 1 and moving down, excepting little stevies comment on putin.. can't have everything...

@ Gerhard | Mar 13 2021 18:22 utc | 9.. uranus is on an 84 year cycle... thanks for the data..

@ 23 jen... i was wondering about that myself... who is pulling zelenskys strings?? if biden can get rid of the chief prosecutor as vp to help his son out, i suspect he can do a wee bit more now as president... i don't think he is that bright though, and others behind the scene are pulling the strings here...

Jackrabbit , Mar 13 2021 20:58 utc | 26
24 comments and no mention of Nord Stream II

Isn't that the likely target of any Russian-Ukraine conflict? The U.S. Is Close to Killing Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline But it's a race between slow construction and slower sanctions.

!!

Jackrabbit , Mar 13 2021 20:58 utc | 27
24 comments and no mention of Nord Stream II

Isn't that the likely target of any Russian-Ukraine conflict?

The U.S. Is Close to Killing Russia's Nord Stream 2 Pipeline
But it's a race between slow construction and slower sanctions.

!!

passerby , Mar 13 2021 21:14 utc | 29
Gerhardt @9:
"The Ukraine 2021 is the same as Poland 1938."
You're going to invade Czechia?
lex talionis , Mar 13 2021 21:22 utc | 30
@22 stonebird - I watched the linked video. The Texan said that the Ukrainians bought winter fuel from Belarus. Is Lukashenko still playing both sides? How sad. I wouldn't want to be on a commercial jet flying over Ukrainian territory right now. Especially one manufactured by Boeing.
Boeing...Boeing...gone.
God help the fine people of the DNR LNR.

RIP Givi, Motorola, Zharakansheko and all the patriots.

Piotr Berman , Mar 13 2021 21:27 utc | 31
I am not sure if "the state of Ukrainian army" is properly illustrated by the link. The military is almost 300,000 strong and 60,000 is deployed on the Donbass frontline. They suffer quite a bit of losses, almost all "non-combat". For example, food poisoning, stepping or driving over mines laid by their colleagues, poisoning with improperly made samogon (moonshine), few killed when a samogon still exploded (strong alcohol has to be separated from propane flames, or it explodes, "still" as a noun is a device to distill alcohol), one soldier was so stoned that walked over the other side -- somehow not stepping on the mines, other stoned soldiers fight with each other etc. etc.

Somehow this war machine survives on 500 million dollars per month (a half what Polish military consumes).

karlof1 , Mar 13 2021 21:30 utc | 33
I see no reference to this yet, "'How Dare They!' How 'Pro-Russia' Report Shattered Pillars of US Old Atlanticist Think Tank'" :

"The row was triggered by a 5 March report written by the think tank's two senior members, Dr. Mathew Burrows and Dr. Emma Ashford, urging the Biden administration to 'avoid a human-rights-first approach' towards Moscow and warning that new anti-Russia sanctions would only 'further damage productive relations for the sake of an effort that is unlikely to succeed.'

"On 9 March, 22 think tank's staffers and fellows issued a tough statement distancing themselves from Burrows and Ashford and arguing that the report in question "misses the mark." The statement was signed by individuals known for their longstanding criticism against Moscow, including Swedish economist Anders Aslund and former US ambassadors John E. Herbst, Alexander Vershbow, and Daniel Fried."

Each paper is linked at the original. There's much to chew on as the Pragmatists/Realists make their move. I'll be back later to stick my oar in, although it ought to be clear who're the sane and insane.

Mao Cheng Ji , Mar 13 2021 21:38 utc | 34
@Jen: "and Zelensky must also be feeling some heat now Uncle Creepy Joe and son Hunter over Hunters past involvement with Burisma Holdings."

About a year ago (February 6, 2020) the investigating judge of the Pecherskyi district court of Kyiv city I.V. Lytvynova ordered to open a criminal investigation of "the big guy" Joe. Case number 62020000000000236.

The authorities tried to stall it for a while (see here: https://justthenews.com/sites/default/files/2020-05/UkraineCourtRulingEngTranslation4-21-20ShokinCase.pdf ), and when they figured out which way the wind blows, they came to their senses and closed the case.

But as far as I know, Mr Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general removed by "the big guy" Joe (Burisma's krysha ), is still there, hasn't had a car accident or anything like that. So, for "the big guy" Joe (and The Family) Ukraine is still somewhat dangerous. To be handled with care.

vetinLA , Mar 13 2021 21:43 utc | 35
I suspect Zelensky is owned and directed by the same forces and people that own and directed DJT, Clinton, Obama, and now Biden.

What happens next, will be up to them. Probably something, anything, that will keep the $ flow directed to the "right" class of people.

Pass the popcorn...

Passer by , Mar 13 2021 22:02 utc | 36
There will be no war between Ukraine and Russia. Russia is playing for time, knowing that the West is getting weaker and will be in worse position later. NS 2 is also not yet completed. Why would one want to start a war now if they will be in better position later?

What may happen though, in the case of provocation, is that the rebels may get newer, fancy weapons, inflicting heavy casualties on the Ukrainian Army.

Same with Taiwan. No one is going to attack it right now. It could still happen, but around 2050, when China is at peak power, and not today.

MarkU , Mar 13 2021 22:13 utc | 37
@ Jackrabbit (26) Re: Nordstream 2

I agree but I also believe its going to be bigger than that.

@ Nemesis (24) & William Gruff (28)

Both right.

@ Stonebird (22)

The information is much appreciated.

Mao Cheng Ji , Mar 13 2021 22:19 utc | 38
@Passer by,
that NS2 is not operational only means that Europe can't afford a long, serious crisis there.

Russia still could: being able to pump gas to Europe non-stop is hardly a critical factor. But of course the Putin administration repeated many times that it will not fight Ukraine. So, yes, it's unlikely.

The approach there appears to be 'wait and see'. "If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by."

[Mar 14, 2021] Beware congresscritters married to investment bankers and private equity sharks

Mar 14, 2021 | www.barrons.com

Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, bought more than $1 million of shares of investment firm AllianceBernstein in February.

Paul Pelosi bought 15,000 AllianceBernstein (ticker: AB) shares on Feb. 18, and then purchased 25,000 more shares on Feb. 23, according to a form Speaker Pelosi filed on March 9 . Each transaction was valued at between $500,000 and $1 million. Specific figures aren't required for disclosure, only ranges.

Paul Pelosi and Speaker Pelosi's office didn't respond to requests for comment on the stock purchases.
Ron Afar 9 hours ago Wonder if he or others own Workhorse who lost the Postal Service contract to Oshkosh, and now a Senator is demanding looking at the bidding.

[Mar 07, 2021] SEC Issues Devastating Risk Alert on Private Equity Abuses; Effectively Admits Failure of Last 5+ Years of Enforcement by Yves Smith

Notable quotes:
"... In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses. ..."
"... Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority the SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds. ..."
"... The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it: It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on." ..."
"... Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses ..."
"... Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. ..."
"... On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted. ..."
"... Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes. AKA, Kleptocracy. ..."
"... You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration. ..."
"... Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan. ..."
"... More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told? ..."
"... Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"? I suggest "billionaire looters". ..."
"... Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner. ..."
"... Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs. The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us. ..."
Jun 26, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

We've embedded an SEC Risk Alert on private equity abuses at the end of this post. 1 What is remarkable about this document is that it contains a far longer and more detailed list of private abuses than the SEC flagged in its initial round of examinations of private equity firms in 2014 and 2015. Those examinations occurred in parallel with groundbreaking exposes by Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times and Mark Maremont in the Wall Street Journal.

At least some of the SEC enforcement actions in that era look to have been triggered by the press effectively getting ahead of the SEC. And the SEC even admitted the misconduct was more common at the most prominent firms.

Yet despite front-page articles on private equity abuses, the SEC engaged in wet noodle lashings. Its pattern was to file only one major enforcement action over a particular abuse. Even then, the SEC went to some lengths to spread the filings out among the biggest firms. That meant it was pointedly engaging in selective enforcement, punishing only "poster child" examples and letting other firms who'd engaged in precisely the same abuses get off scot free.

The very fact of this Risk Alert is an admission of failure by the SEC. It indicates that the misconduct it highlighted five years ago continues and if anything is even more pervasive than in the 2014-2015 era. It also confirms that its oft-stated premise then, that the abuses it found then had somehow been made by firms with integrity that would of course clean up their acts, and that now-better-informed investors would also be more vigilant and would crack down on misconduct, was laughably false.

In particular, the second section of the Risk Alert, on Fees and Expenses (starting on page 4) describes how fund managers are charging inflated or unwarranted fees and expenses. In any other line of work, this would be called theft. Yet all the SEC is willing to do is publish a Risk Alert, rather than impose fines as well as require disgorgements?

The SEC's Abject Failure

In the Risk Alert below, the itemization of various forms of abuses, such as the many ways private equity firms parcel out interests in the businesses they buy among various funds and insiders to their, as opposed to investors' benefit, alone should give pause. And the lengthy discussion of these conflicts does suggest the SEC has learned something over the years. Experts who dealt with the agency in its early years of examining private equity firms found the examiners allergic to considering, much the less pursuing, complex abuses.

Undermining legislative intent of new supervisory authority the SEC never embraced its new responsibilities to ride herd on private equity and hedge funds.

The SEC has long maintained a division between the retail investors and so-called "accredited investors" who by virtue of having higher net worths and investment portfolios, are treated by the agency as able to afford to lose more money. The justification is that richer means more sophisticated. But as anyone who is a manager for a top sports professional or entertainer, that is often not the case. And as we've seen, that goes double for public pension funds.

Starting with the era of Clinton appointee Arthur Levitt, the agency has taken the view that it is in the business of defending presumed-to-be-hapless retail investors and has left "accredited investor" and most of all, institutional investors, on their own. This was a policy decision by the agency when deregulation was venerated; there was no statutory basis for this change in priorities.

Congress tasked the SEC with supervising the fund management activities of private equity funds with over $150 million in assets under management. All of their investors are accredited investors. In other words, Congress mandated the SEC to make sure these firms complied with relevant laws as well as making adequate disclosures of what they were going to do with the money entrusted to them. Saying one thing in the investor contracts and doing another is a vastly worse breach than misrepresentations in marketing materials, yet the SEC acted as if slap-on-the-wrist-level enforcement was adequate.

We made fun when thirteen prominent public pension fund trustees wrote the SEC asking for them to force greater transparency of private equity fees and costs. The agency's position effectively was "You are grownups. No one is holding a gun to your head to make these investments. If you don't like the terms, walk away." They might have done better if they could have positioned their demand as consistent with the new Dodd Frank oversight requirements.

Actively covering up for bad conduct . In 2014, the SEC started working at giving malfeasance a free pass. Specifically, the SEC told private equity firms that they could continue their abuses if they 'fessed up in their annual disclosure filings, the so-called Form ADV. The term of art is "enhanced disclosure". Since when are contracts like confession, that if you admit to a breach, all is forgiven? Only in the topsy-turvy world of SEC enforcement.

And the coddling of crookedness continued. From a January post :

The agency is operating in such a cozy manner with private equity firms that as one investor described it: It's like FBI sitting down with the Mafia to tell them each year, "Don't cross these lines because that's what we are focusing on."

Specifically, as we indicated, the SEC was giving advanced warning of the issues it would focus on in its upcoming exams, in order to give investment managers the time to get their stories together and purge files. And rather than view its periodic exams as being designed to make sure private equity firms comply with the law and their representations, the agency views them as "cooperative" exercises! Misconduct is assumed to be the result of misunderstanding and error, and not design.

It's pretty hard to see conduct like this, from the SEC's Risk Alert, as being an accident:

Advisers charged private fund clients for expenses that were not permitted by the relevant fund operating agreements, such as adviser-related expenses like salaries of adviser personnel, compliance, regulatory filings, and office expenses, thereby causing investors to overpay expenses

The staff observed private fund advisers that did not value client assets in accordance with their valuation processes or in accordance with disclosures to clients (such as that the assets would be valued in accordance with GAAP). In some cases, the staff observed that this failure to value a private fund's holdings in accordance with the disclosed valuation process led to overcharging management fees and carried interest because such fees were based on inappropriately overvalued holdings .

Advisers failed to apply or calculate management fee offsets in accordance with disclosures and therefore caused investors to overpay management fees.

We're highlighting this skimming simply because it is easier for laypeople to understand than some of the other types of cheating the SEC described. Even so, industry insiders and investors complained that the description of the misconduct in this Risk Alert was too general to give them enough of a roadmap to look for it at particular funds.

Ignoring how investors continue to be fleeced . The SEC's list includes every abuse it sanctioned or mentioned in the 2014 to 2015 period, including undisclosed termination of monitoring fees, failure to disclose that investors were paying for "senior advisers/operating partners," fraudulent charges, overcharging for services provided by affiliated companies, plus lots of types of bad-faith conduct on fund restructurings and allocations of fees and expenses on transactions allocated across funds.

The SEC assumed institutional investors would insist on better conduct once they were informed that they'd been had. In reality, not only did private equity investors fail to demand better, they accepted new fund agreements that described the sort of objectionable behavior they'd been engaging in. Remember, the big requirement in SEC land is disclosure. So if a fund manager says he might do Bad Things and then proceeds accordingly, the investor can't complain about not having been warned.

Moreover, the SEC's very long list of bad acts says the industry is continuing to misbehave even after it has defined deviancy down via more permissive limited partnership agreements!

Why This Risk Alert Now?

Keep in mind what a Risk Alert is and isn't. The best way to conceptualize it is as a press release from the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. It does not have any legal or regulatory force. Risk Alerts are not even considered to be SEC official views. They are strictly the product of OCIE staff.

On the first page of this Risk Alert, the OCIE blandly states that:

This Risk Alert is intended to assist private fund advisers in reviewing and enhancing their compliance programs, and also to provide investors with information concerning private fund adviser deficiencies.

Cutely, footnotes point out that not everyone examined got a deficiency letter (!!!), that the SEC has taken enforcement actions on "many" of the abuses described in the Risk Alert, yet "OCIE continues to observe some of these practices during examinations."

Several of our contacts who met in person with the SEC to discuss private equity grifting back in 2014-2015 pressed the agency to issue a Risk Alert as a way of underscoring the seriousness of the issues it was unearthing. The staffers demurred then.

In fairness, the SEC may have regarded a Risk Alert as having the potential to undermine its not-completed enforcement actions. But why not publish one afterwards, particularly since the intent then had clearly been to single out prominent examples of particular types of misconduct, rather than tackle it systematically? 2

So why is the OCIE stepping out a bit now? The most likely reason is as an effort to compensate for the lack of enforcement actions. Recall that all the OCIE can do is refer a case to the Enforcement Division; it's their call as to whether or not to take it up.

The SEC looks to have institutionalized the practice of borrowing lawyers from prominent firms. Mary Jo White of Debevoise brought Andrew Ceresney with her from Debeviose to be her head of enforcement. Both returned to Debevoise.

Current SEC chairman Jay Clayton came from Sullivan & Cromwell, bringing with him Steven Peikin as co-head of enforcement. And the Clayton SEC looks to have accomplished the impressive task of being even weaker on enforcement than Mary Jo White. Clayton made clear his focus was on "mom and pop" investors, meaning he chose to overlook much more consequential abuses by private equity firms and hedgies. The New York Times determined that the average amount of SEC fines against corporate perps fell markedly in 2018 compared to the final 20 months of the Obama Administration. The SEC since then levied $1 billion fine against the Woodbridge Group of Companies and its one-time owner for running a Ponzi scheme that fleeced over 8,400, so that would bring the average penalty up a bit. But it still confirms that Clayton is concerned about small fry, and not deeper but just as pickable pockets.

David Sirota argues that the OCIE was out to embarrass Clayton and sabotage what Sirota depicted as an SEC initiative to let retail investors invest in private equity. Sirota appears to have missed that that horse has left the barn and is in the next county, and the SEC had squat to do with it.

The overwhelming majority of retail funds is not in discretionary accounts but in retirement accounts, overwhelmingly 401(k)s. And it is the Department of Labor, which regulates ERISA plans, and not the SEC, that decides what those go and no go zones are. The DoL has already green-lighted allowing large swathes of 401(k) funds to include private equity holdings. From a post earlier this month :

Until now, regulations have kept private equity out of the retail market by prohibiting managers from accepting capital from individuals who lack significant net worth.

Private equity firms have succeeded in storming that barricade. The Department of Labor published a June 3 information letter that allows private equity funds, or more accurately funds of funds, to be included in certain 401(k) plan offerings, namely, target date funds and balanced funds. This is significant because despite the SEC regularly calling out bad practices with target date funds, they are the strategy used to manage the majority of 401(k) assets .

Moreover, even though Sirota pointed out that Clayton had spoken out in favor of allowing retail investors more access to private equity investments, the proposed regulation on the definition of accredited investors in fact not only does not lower income or net worth requirements (save for allowing spouses to combine their holdings) it in fact solicited comments on the idea of raising the limits. From a K&L Gates write up :

Previously, the Concept Release requested comment on whether the SEC should revise the current individual income ($200,000) and net worth ($1,000,000) thresholds. In the Proposing Release, the SEC further considered these thresholds, noting that the figures have not been adjusted since 1982. The SEC concluded that it does not believe modifications to the thresholds are necessary at this time, but it has requested comments on whether the final should instead make a one-time increase to the thresholds in the account for inflation, or whether the final rule should reflect a figure that is indexed to inflation on a going-forward basis.

It is not clear how many people would be picked up by the proposed change, which was being fleshed out, that of letting some presumed sophisticated but not rich individuals, like junior hedge fund professionals and holders of securities licenses, be treated as accredited investors. In other words, despite Clayton's talk about wanting ordinary investors to have more access to private equity funds, the agency's proposed rule change falls short of that.

Moreover, if the OCIE staff had wanted to undermine even the limited liberalization of the definition of accredited investor so as to stymie more private equity investment, the time to do so would have been immediately before or while the comments period was open. It ended March 16 .

The New York Times reported that Senate Republicans deemed Clayton's odds of confirmation as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York as remote even before the Trump fired Geoffrey Berman to clear a path for Clayton. So the idea that a technical release by the OCIE would derail Clayton's confirmation is a stretch.

So again, why now? One possibility is that the timing is purely a coincidence. For instance, the SEC staffers might have been waiting until Covid-19 news overload died down a bit so their work might get a hearing (and Covid-19 remote work complications may also have delayed its release).

The second possibility is that OCIE is indeed very frustrated with the enforcement chief Peikin's inaction on private equity. The fact that Peikin's boss and protector Clayton has made himself a lame duck meant a salvo against Peikin was now a much lower risk. If any readers have better insight into the internal workings of the SEC these days, please pipe up.

______

1 Formally, as you can see, this Risk Alert addresses both private equity and hedge fund misconduct, but on reading the details, the citing of both types of funds reflects the degree to which hedge funds have been engaging in the buying and selling of stakes in private companies. For instance, Chatham Asset Management, which has become notorious through its ownership of American Media, which in turn owns the National Enquirer, calls itself a hedge fund. Moreover, when the SEC started examining both private equity and hedge funds under new authority granted by Dodd Frank, it described the sort of misconduct described in this Risk Alert as coming out of exams of private equity firms, and its limited round of enforcement actions then were against brand name private equity firms like KKR, Blackstone, Apollo, and TPG. Thus for convenience as well as historical reasons, we refer only to private equity firms as perps.

2 Media stories at the time, including some of our posts, provided substantial evidence that particular abuses, such as undisclosed termination of monitoring fees and failure to disclose that "senior advisers" presented as general partner "team members" were in fact consultants being separately billed to fund investments, were common practices. Yet the SEC chose to lodge only marquee enforcement actions against one prominent firm for each abuse, as if token enforcement would serve as an adequate deterrent. The message was the reverse, that the overwhelming majority of the abuses were able to keep their ill-gotten gains and not even face public embarrassment.


skippy , June 26, 2020 at 4:27 am

Peter Sellers I'll say now – ????

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TtZgs8k8dU

vlade , June 26, 2020 at 4:35 am

TBH, in the view of Calpers ignoring its advisors, I do have a little understanding of the SEC's point "you're grown ups" (the worse problem is that the advisors who leach themselves to the various accredited investors are often not worth the money.

On the same side though, fraud is a criminal offence, and it's SEC's duty to prosecute. And I believe that a lot of what PE engage in would happily fall under fraud, if SEC really wanted.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:43 am

Yes, the SEC conveniently claims a conflicted authority – 1. to regulate compliance but without an "enforcement authority", and 2. report egregious behavior to their "enforcement authority". So the SEC is less than a permissive nanny. Sort of like "access" to enforcement authority. Sounds like health care to me.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:06 pm

No, this is false. The SEC has an examination division and an enforcement division. The SEC can and does take enforcement actions that result in fines and disgorgements, see the $1 billion fine mentioned in the post. So the exam division can recommend enforcement to the enforcement division. That does not mean it will get done. Some enforcement actions originate from within the enforcement division, like insider trading cases, and the SEC long has had a tendency to prioritize insider trading cases.

The SEC cannot prosecute. It has to refer cases that it thinks are criminal to the DoJ and try to get them to saddle up.

Maritimer , June 26, 2020 at 5:04 am

Crimogenic: Producing or tending to produce crime or criminality. An additional factor is that, in the main, the criminals do not take their money and leave the gaming tables but pour it back in and the crime metastasizes. AKA, Kleptocracy.

Thus in 2008 and thereafter the criminal damage required 2-3 trillion, now 7-10 trillion.

Any economic expert who does not recognize crime as the number one problem in the criminogenic US economy I disregard. Why read all that analysis when, at the end of the run, it all just boils down to bailing out the criminals and trying to reset the criminogenic system?

(Can I get my economics degree now?)

Adam Eran , June 26, 2020 at 1:33 pm

You might add that the threat of consequences for these crimes makes the criminals extremely motivated to elect officials who will not prosecute them (e.g. Obama). They're not running for office, they're avoiding incarceration.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:17 am

The SEC has been captured for years now. It was not that long ago that SEC Examination chief Andrew Bowden made a grovelling speech to these players and even asked them to give his son a job which was so wrong-

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/regulatory-capture-captured-on-video-190033/

But there is no point in reforming the SEC as it was the politicians, at the beck and call of these players, that de-fanged the SEC – and it was a bipartisan effort! So it becomes a chicken-or-the-egg problem in the matter of reform. Who do you reform first?

Can't leave this comment without mentioning something about a private equity company. One of the two major internal airlines in Oz went broke due to the virus and a private equity buyer has been found to buy it. A union rep said that they will be good for jobs and that they are a good company. Their name? Bain Capital!

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 5:44 am

We broke the story about Andrew Bowden! Give credit where credit is due!!!! Even though Taibbi points to us in his first line, linking to Rolling Stone says to those who don't bother clicking through that it was their story.

Plus we transcribed his fawning remarks.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/secs-andrew-bowden-regulator-sale.html

And he resigned three weeks later.

The Rev Kev , June 26, 2020 at 5:56 am

Of course I remember that story. I was going to mention it but thought to let people see it in virtually the opening line of that story where he gives you credit. More of a jolt of recognition seeing it rather than being told about it first.

Jesper , June 26, 2020 at 6:36 am

Of the three branches of government which ones are not captured by big business? If two out of three were to captured then does it matter what the third does?

In my opinion too much power has been centralised, too much of the productivity gains of the past 40 years have been monetised and therefore made possible to hoard and centralise. SEC should (in my opinion) try to enforce more but without more support then I do not believe (it is my opinion, nothing more and nothing less) that they can accomplish much.

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 11:57 am

The SEC is a mysterious agency which (?) must fall under the jurisdiction of the Treasury because it is a monetary regulatory agency in the business of regulating securities and exchanges. But it has no authority to do much of anything. The Treasury itself falls under the executive administration but as we have recently seen, Mnuchin himself managed to get a nice skim for his banking pals from the money Congress legislated.

That's because Congress doesn't know how to effectuate a damn thing – they legislate stuff that morphs before our very eyes and goes to the grifters without a hitch. So why don't we demand that consumer protection be made into hard law with no wiggle room; that since investing is complex in this world of embedded funds and glossy prospectuses, we the consumer should not have to wade through all the nonsense to make decisions – that everything be on the table. And if PE can't manage to do that and still steal its billions then PE should be declared to be flat-out illegal.

Yves Smith Post author , June 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

Please stop spreading disinformation. This is the second time on this post. The SEC has nada to do with the Treasury. It is an independent regulatory agency. It however is the only financial regulator that does not keep what it kills (its own fees and fines) but is instead subject to Congressional appropriations.

Andrew Levitt, for instance, complained bitterly that Joe Lieberman would regularly threaten to cut the SEC's budget for allegedly being too aggressive about enforcement. Lieberman was the Senator from Hedgistan.

Edward , June 26, 2020 at 7:16 am

More banana republic level grift. What happens when investors figure out they can't believe anything they are told?

RJMc, MD , June 26, 2020 at 8:43 am

It should be noted that out here in the countryside of northern Michigan that embezzlement (a winter sport here while the men are out ice fishing), theft and fraud are still considered punishable felonies. Perhaps that is simply a quaint holdover from a bygone time. Dudley set the tone for the C of C with his Green Book on bank deregulation. One of the subsequent heads of C of C was reported as seeing his position as "being the spiritual resource for banks". If bank regulation is treated in a farcical fashion why should be the SEC be any different?

Susan the other , June 26, 2020 at 12:08 pm

I was shocked to just now learn that ERISA/the Dept of Labor is in regulatory control of allowing pension funds to buy PE fund of funds and "balanced PE funds". What VERBIAGE. Are "PE Fund of Balanced Funds" an actual category? And what distinguishes them from good old straightforward Index Funds? And also too – what is happening before our very glazed-over eyes is that PE is high grading not just the stock market but the US Treasury itself. Ordinary investors should be buying US Treasuries directly and retirement funds should too. It will be a big bite but if it knocks PE out of business it would be worth it. PE is in the business of cooking its books, ravaging struggling corporations, and boldly privatizing the goddamned Treasury. WTF?

Kouros , June 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

I want to bring this to Yves' attention: the recent SCOTUS decision on Thole v. U.S. Bank that opens the doors wide for corporate America to steal with impunity from the pension plans: https://www.unz.com/estriker/corrupt-supreme-court-gives-green-light-to-corporations-to-steal-from-pensioners/

Glen , June 26, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Can we come up with a better descriptor for "private equity"? I suggest "billionaire looters".

Olivier , June 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

What about the wanton destruction of the purchased companies? If this solely about the harm done to the poor investors? If so, that is seriously wrong.

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:27 pm

If, you know, the neoliberal "because markets" is the ruling paradigm then of course there is no harm done. The questions then become: is "because markets" a sensible paradigm? What is it a sensible paradigm of? Is "because markets" even sensible for the long term?

flora , June 26, 2020 at 3:19 pm

an aside: farewell, Olympus camera. A sad day. Farewell, OM-1 and OM-2. Film photography is really not replicated by digital photography but the larger market has gone to digital. Speed and cost vs quality. Because markets. Now the vulture swoop.

Stan Sexton , June 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Where is the SEC when Bain Capital (Romney) wipes out Toys-R-Us and Dianne Feinstein's husband Richard Blum wipes out Payless Shoes. They gain control of the companies, pile on massive debt and take the proceeds of the loan, and they know the company cannot service the loan and a BK is around the corner.

Thousands lose their jobs. And this is legal? And we also lost Glass-Steagal and legalized stock buy-backs. The Elite are screwing the people. It's Socialism for the Rich, the Politicians and Govt Employees and Feudalism for the rest of us.

[Mar 07, 2021] Bank Regulation Can not Be Heads Banks Win, Tails Taxpayers Lose

Notable quotes:
"... Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them. ..."
"... We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system. ..."
"... In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions? ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
... ... ...

Running in the background, though, was a new, darker theme: That the post-2008 reforms had gone too far in restricting policymakers' discretion in crises. The trio most responsible for making the post-Lehman bailout revolution -- Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and Henry Paulson -- expressed their misgivings in a joint op-ed :

But in its post-crisis reforms, Congress also took away some of the most powerful tools used by the FDIC, the Fed and the Treasury the FDIC can no longer issue blanket guarantees of bank debt as it did in the crisis, the Fed's emergency lending powers have been constrained, and the Treasury would not be able to repeat its guarantee of the money market funds.

These powers were critical in stopping the 2008 panic The paradox of any financial crisis is that the policies necessary to stop it are always politically unpopular. But if that unpopularity delays or prevents a strong response, the costs to the economy become greater.

We need to make sure that future generations of financial firefighters have the emergency powers they need to prevent the next fire from becoming a conflagration.

Sotto voce fears of this sort go back to the earliest reform discussions. But the question surfaced dramatically in Timothy Geithner's 2016 Per Jacobsson Lecture, " Are We Safer? The Case for Strengthening the Bagehot Arsenal ." More recently, the Group of Thirty has advanced similar suggestions -- not too surprisingly, since Geithner was co-project manager of the report, along with Guillermo Ortiz, the former Governor of the Mexican Central Bank, who introduced the former Treasury Secretary at the Per Jacobson lecture.

Aside from the financial collapse itself, probably nothing has so shaken public confidence in democratic institutions as the wave of bailouts in the aftermath of the collapse. The redistribution of wealth and opportunity that the bailouts wrought surely helped fuel the populist surges that have swept over Europe and the United States in the last decade. The spectacle of policymakers rubber stamping literally unlimited sums for financial institutions while preaching the importance of austerity for everyone else has been unbearable to millions of people.

Especially in money-driven political systems, affording policymakers unlimited discretion also plainly courts serious risks. Put simply, too big to fail banks enjoy a uniquely splendid situation of "heads I win, tails you lose" when they take risks. Scholars whose research INET has supported, notably Edward Kane , have shown how the certainty of government bailouts advantages large financial institutions, directly affecting prices of their bonds and stocks.

For these reasons INET convened a panel at a G20 preparatory meeting in Berlin on " Moral Hazard Issues in Extended Financial Safety Nets ." The Power Point presentations of the three panelists are presented in the order in which they gave them, since the latter ones sometimes comment on Edward Kane 's analysis of the European banks. Kane, who coined the term "zombie bank" and who famously raised early alarms about American savings and loans, analyzed European banks and how regulators, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, backstop them.

Peter Bofinger , Professor of International and Monetary Economics at the University of Würzburg and an outgoing member of the German Economic Council, followed with a discussion of how the system has changed since 2008. Helene Schuberth , Head of the Foreign Research Division of the Austrian National Bank, analyzed changes in the global financial governance system since the collapse.

The panel took place as public discussion of a proposed merger between two giant German banks, the Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, reached fever pitch. The panelists explored issues directly relevant to such fusions, without necessarily agreeing among themselves or with anyone at INET.

But the point Robert Johnson, INET's President, and I made some years back , amid an earlier wave of talk about using public money to bail out European banks, remains on target:

We are only interested observers of the arm wrestling between the various EU countries over the costs of bank rescues, state expenditures, and such. But we do think there is a clear lesson from the long history of how governments have dealt with bank failures . [If] the European Union needs to step in to save banks, there is no reason why they have to do it for free best practice in banking rescues is to save banks, but not bankers. That is, prevent the system from melting down with all the many years of broad economic losses that would bring, but force out those responsible and make sure the public gets paid back for rescuing the financial system.

The simplest way to do that is to have the state take equity in the banks it rescues and write down the equity of bank shareholders in proportion. This can be done in several ways -- direct equity as a condition for bailout, requiring warrants that can be exercised later, etc. The key points are for the state to take over the banks, get the bad loans rapidly out of those and into a "bad bank," and hold the junk for a decent interval so the rest of the market does not crater. When the banks come back to profitability, you can cash in the warrants and sell the stock if you don't like state ownership. That way the public gets its money back .at times states have even made a profit.

In 2019, another question, alas, is also piercing. In country after country, Social Democratic center-left parties have shrunk, in many instances almost to nothingness. In Germany the SPD gives every sign of following the French Socialist Party into oblivion. Would a government coalition in which the SPD holds the Finance Ministry even consider anything but guaranteeing the public a huge piece of any upside if they rescue two failing institutions?

The full article of Edward Kane

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WheresOurTeddy , March 29, 2019 at 11:49 am

Enforcement of financial laws is not our thing. Just ask Chuck Schumer of the #Non-Resistance:

https://theintercept.com/2019/03/28/sec-democratic-commissioner-chuck-schumer/

Louis Fyne , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

There needs to be an asset tax on/break up of the megas. End the hyper-agglomeration of deposits at the tail end. Not holding my breath though. (see NY state congressional delegation)

To be generous, tax starts at $300 billion. Even then it affects only a dozen or so US banks. But would be enough to clamp down on the hyper-scale of the largest US/world banks. The world would be better off with lot more mid-sized regional players.

thesaucymugwump , March 29, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Anyone who mentions Timmy Geithner without spitting did not pay attention during the Obama reign of terror. He and Obama crowed about the Making Home Affordable Act, implying that it would save all homeowners in mortgage trouble, but conveniently neglected to mention that less than 100 banks had signed up. The thousands of non-signatories simply continued to foreclose.

Not to mention Eric Holder's intentional non-prosecution of banksters. For these and many other reasons, especially his "Islamic State is only the JV team" crack, Obama was one of our worst presidents.

chuck roast , March 29, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Thank you Yves and Tom Ferguson.

Fergusons graph on DBK's default probabilities coincides with the ECB's ending its asset purchase programme and entering the "reinvestment phase of the asset purchase programme".
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/mopo/implement/omt/html/index.en.html
The worst of the euro zombie banks appear to be getting tense and nervous.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKpzCCuHDVY
Maybe that is why Jerome Powell did his volte-face last month on gradually raising interest rates. Note that the Fed also reduced its automatic asset roll-off. I'm curious if the other euro-zombies in the "peers" return on equity chart are are experiencing volatility also.

Craig H. , March 29, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Apparently the worst fate you can suffer as long as you don't go Madoff is Fuld. According to Wikipedia his company manages a hundred million which must be humiliating. It's not as humiliating as locking the guy up in prison would be by a very long stretch.

Greenspan famously lamented that there isn't anything the regulators can really do except make empty threats. This is dishonest. The regulations are not carved in stone like the ten commandments. In China they execute incorrigible financiers all the time.

John Wright , March 30, 2019 at 10:31 am

Greenspan was never willing to counter any problem that might irritate powerful financial constituencies. For example, during the internet stock bubble of the late 1990's, Greenspan decried the "irrational exuberance" of the stock market. The Greenspan Fed could have raised the margin requirement for stocks to buttress this view, but did not. As I remembered reading, Greenspan was in poor financial shape when he got his Fed job.

His subsequent performance at the Fed apparently left him a wealthy man. Real regulation by Greenspan may have adversely affected his wealth. It may explain why Alan Greenspan would much rather let a financial bubble grow until it pops and then "fix it".

Procopius , March 31, 2019 at 12:30 am

Everybody forgets (or at least does not mention) that Greenspan was a member of the Class of '43, the (mostly Canadian) earliest members of the Objectivist Cult with guru Ayn Rand. Expecting him to act rationally is foolish. It may happen accidentally (we do not know why he chose to let the economy expand unhindered in 1999), but you cannot count on it. In a world with information asymmetry expecting markets to be concerned about reputation is ridiculous. To expect them to police themselves for long term benefit is even more ridiculous.

rd , March 29, 2019 at 3:06 pm

I think Finance is currently about 13% of the S&P 500, down from the peak of about 18% or so in 2007. I think we will have a healthy economy and improved political climate when Finance is about 8-10% of the S&P 500 which is about where I think finance plays a healthy, but not overwhelming rentier role in the economy.

Inode_buddha , March 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

I think things will be much better when finance is about ~3% of the S&P 500, but no more than that.

[Mar 07, 2021] Regulatory Capture: The Banks and the System That They Have Corrupted

Notable quotes:
"... She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there... ..."
"... In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player . ..."
Mar 14, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"But the impotence one feels today -- an impotence we should never consider permanent -- does not excuse one from remaining true to oneself, nor does it excuse capitulation to the enemy, what ever mask he may wear. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. The worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."

Simone Weil

"And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they're not. And what you're going to see and what we are seeing is it'll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you'll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of -- and I don't want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent -- to the detriment of everyone else...

If TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car... I think it's inevitable. I mean, I don't think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they've only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion."

Neil Barofsky

"Written by Carmen Segarra, the petite lawyer turned bank examiner turned whistleblower turned one-woman swat team, the 340-page tome takes the reader along on her gut-wrenching workdays for an entire seven months inside one of the most powerful and corrupted watchdogs of the powerful and corrupted players on Wall Street – the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The days were literally gut-wrenching. Segarra reports that after months of being alternately gas-lighted and bullied at the New York Fed to whip her into the ranks of the corrupted, she had to go to a gastroenterologist and learned her stomach lining was gone.

She soldiered through her painful stomach ailments and secretly tape-recorded 46 hours of conversations between New York Fed officials and Goldman Sachs. After being fired for refusing to soften her examination opinion on Goldman Sachs, Segarra released the tapes to ProPublica and the radio program This American Life and the story went viral from there...

In a nutshell, the whoring works like this. There are huge financial incentives to go along, get along, and keep your mouth shut about fraud. The financial incentives encompass both the salary, pension and benefits at the New York Fed as well as the high-paying job waiting for you at a Wall Street bank or Wall Street law firm if you show you are a team player .

If the Democratic leadership of the House Financial Services Committee is smart, it will reopen the Senate's aborted inquiry into the New York Fed's labyrinthine conflicts of interest in supervising Wall Street and make removing that supervisory role a core component of the Democrat's 2020 platform. Senator Bernie Sanders' platform can certainly be expected to continue the accurate battle cry that 'the business model of Wall Street is fraud.'"

Pam Martens, Wall Street on Parade

[Mar 06, 2021] This proposition requires the occupied bartering away their land and amending their borders, always for the benefit of the illegal occupier. These 'negotiations' are expressly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. Every functioning government in the world knows this.

Mar 06, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

Paul , Mar 4 2021 21:57 utc | 37

Thanks b for the research and journalism.

One of the favourite tropes of the transparent cabal who have seized power in the US and other captive nations is that the solution to the Palestine/Israel problem is "the path to peace is through direct negotiations.'

This proposition requires the occupied bartering away their land and amending their borders, always for the benefit of the illegal occupier. These 'negotiations' are expressly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. Every functioning government in the world knows this.

The alien invaders are under an obligation to simply get out. Every 'agreement' is null and void.

The New Zealand government and the NZ superannuation fund has recently decided to divest their investments in Israeli banks citing international law, the Geneva Conventions and reputation damage as key factors.

Read the decision making document here:

https://www.nzsuperfund.nz/assets/documents/responsible-investment/R-GNZS-IC-Paper-Exclusion-of-Israeli-Banks-January-2021.pdf

Expect a MSM wall of silence on this one.

It is sheer hypocrisy for the usual suspects to talk about human rights, rules based international law, democracy and our values, while advocating the opposite policies in the middle east.

Is it possible they actually believe their own propaganda and their own lies through Bernays like repartition?

[Mar 06, 2021] pfizer not the USA, wants military bases

Mar 06, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Mar 4 2021 21:42 utc | 32

pfizer not the USA, wants military bases
very interesting.. extension of the office of the president to a private corporation

This does not comport with Article II(Section 2) of the USA constitution.. which says
"The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the usa, and of the Militia of the serveral states, when into the actual service of the USA,

but no where do I find a private corporation may exercise the power of the Office of the President ...? What did I mis?

[Mar 06, 2021] Andy Ngo's UNMASKED- Antifa -- Not -Anarcho-Communism-, But Anarcho-Tyranny by James Kirkpatrick

The important fact that emerges is that Antifa is state sponsored group (or at least some government agencies sponsored group) not unlike NSDAP was in Germany.
Feb 27, 2021 | www.unz.com

Andy Ngo's new book Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy is as important to understanding where we are today as Ann Coulter's Adios America! was before Donald Trump election. Ngo shows that far from being just an "idea," as President Joe Biden would have us believe , Antifa comprises highly organized groups of dedicated activists with an extreme political agenda and a commitment to violence. But Ngo also shows, perhaps less consciously, that Antifa operates with de-facto backing from the Ruling Class, including Main Stream Media journalists, the principal enforcers of the current order. Ngo suggests Antifa are a revolutionary threat to the power structure and could overthrow it. But the truth is much worse -- Antifa are simply the System's militant wing.

What makes Unmasked so remarkable is that Ngo doesn't limit himself to anecdotal reporting, nor does he retreat to abstract theorizing. Instead, like a great historian, he seamlessly integrates his experiences and other primary sources with political theory. He shows, often literally with chapter and verse, what motivates Antifa, how they are organized, how they are trained, and how this is turned into concrete action:

Where there is no single capital A 'Antifa' organization with one leader, there are indeed localized cells and groups with formalized structures and memberships. Though officially leaderless, these are organizations by every definition.

The [ Rose City Antifa ] curriculum is modeled on a university course. Yet it includes training on how to use guns and do reconnaissance against enemies.

Ngo also helpfully reports on the history the Antifa brand, especially its origins in the Red Front Fighters' League of the pre-Hitler German Communist Party. He's especially astute to note that "the German Communist Party [KPD] and its various offshoots viewed social democrats and liberals as 'social fascists' no different from Nazis." Needless to say, KPD leader Ernst Thälman 's strategy of fighting the more moderate Social Democrats ahead of the Nazis was glossed over by Communist propaganda after World War II. East German hagiographies of Thälman, like Sohn Seiner Klasse and Führer Sonne Klasse ("Son of His Class," "Leader of His Class") portray him as fighting the Nazis above all else.

Ngo also describes "anti-fascism's" parallels with the East German regime. After all, the Berlin Wall was formally called the "Anti Fascist Protection Rampart." The East German secret police, the so-called Stasi, resemble nothing so much as today's journalists (and FBI) complaining that they can't tattle on people listening to Clubhouse [ From Clubhouse to Twitter Spaces, social media grapples with live audio moderation , by Elizabeth Culliford, Reuters, February 25, 2021].

When Ngo describes the Communist takeovers of East Germany and Vietnam, the latter of which his family fled, he's warning Americans that we face a Communist coup . Historically, "anti-fascism" was created by, and has always been a front for, Communist or Communist-adjacent groups.

(I don't dispute Ngo's characterization of the movement as "anarchist-communist." It sounds clumsy, but anarcho-communism is a venerable Leftist tradition that goes back to Marx's great rival Mikhail Bakunin. I was surprised, though, that Ngo didn't mention that the three-arrow "Iron Front" symbol widely used by Antifa today actually came from the German Social Democratic Party (SPD.) The SPD opposed the Communists just as much as they did monarchists and the National Socialists.

Ngo has been physically attacked by Antifa -- causing him a brain injury -- and says the conservative meme that Antifa are all physically weak isn't true: they are violent and dangerous .

He's right, but when looking at what Antifa prioritize today, it does seem preoccupied with boutique progressive causes like transgenderism and policing speech. While physical attacks are common, doxing and complaining to capitalist employers are what Antifa do best of all.

Indeed, it's hard to imagine East Germany or the USSR tolerating the cultural degeneracy championed by today's Antifa. The Soviet Bloc was positively social-conservative compared to 2021 post-America.

Ngo's reporting on the specific individuals, curriculum, tactics, and operational plans of Antifa are a testament to his skill as a researcher (not mention his guts.) However, one thing jumps out of the book repeatedly. Despite all their emphasis on "OpSec" and paranoia about law enforcement, Antifa aren't actually especially secret. Like illegal aliens who lecture us on television about their lives " in the shadows ," it's not a huge mystery who is in Antifa. We know what groups exist, where they operate and what they are doing. They openly operate on Twitter, Facebook etc.

In contrast to the Proud Boys or bewildered Boomers who wandered into the Capitol last month, Antifa can operate openly because it has the tacit approval of law enforcement and Main Stream Media outlets . Thus Ngo describes in shocking detail Antifa groups' training workshops, including combat training. Right-wing activity even at this level would be shut down by the government instantly.

It's an obvious point but bears repeating -- how radical are your opinions when you have police, the military, corporate America, and the media all supporting you? Antifa violence exists because it is permitted, arguably encouraged, to exist. Despite President Trump's blustering promises, these Antifa groups were never labeled "terrorists" nor, inexplicably, was systematic federal law enforcement action ever taken against them.

During the CHAZ insurrection , Antifa was allowed to more or less claim sovereignty in a major American city for a period of weeks. If nationalists had tried that, it would have ended in drone strikes. The glee with which progressives hailed the execution of Ashli Barrett tells us what they're willing to do. The "Capitol Insurrection" would have been heralded as another Bastille Day had it come from the other side .

Antifa is faux rebellion. None of these people have ever faced real opposition in their lives. And when groups like the Proud Boys did emerge to challenge them -- and actually started winning, for example at the Battle of Berkeley -- the state intervened to save Antifa. See FBI Arrests White "Serial Rioters" -- And Ignores Antifa , Proud Boys Persecution: Four Years For Fighting Back , and Ann Coulter On Jake Gardner: Innocent Until Proven Trump Supporter .

Ngo points out repeatedly that Antifa conduct themselves to present a certain media image. Yet this is a two-way relationship. While Antifa are eager to make sure only their narrative gets out, Regime journalists willingly collaborate. It's a mistake to even speak of journalists or Antifa as being separate categories of people.

After all, we know that journalists change their coverage to help Antifa present their narrative. Consider New York Times hackette Taylor Lorenz, who recently started an online controversy by accusing someone of using a slur on the Clubhouse application [ New York Times' Taylor Lorenz blasted for false claim tech entrepreneur used 'r-slur' on social media app , by Joseph Wulfsohn, Foxnews, February 8, 2021].

But back in 2017, Lorenz reported from Charlottesville Unite The Right rally that she had been punched by Antifa and also that police at the time thought James Fields was simply "scared. "

Perhaps she was told such tweets would be career-ending or maybe she figured that out on her own. She deleted them and joined the winning team.

The rest is history. Lorenz has made a career doxing random people, notably Pamela Geller's daughters.

This also explains why Regime "journalists" -- make that Journofa -- seem to hate Ngo so much. Ngo provides many examples of independent journalists like himself recording and livestreaming footage that provide "the up-close, raw, and uncensored look into Antifa's extremism." Such raw footage strips Regime Media reporters of the ability to craft the Narrative.

Ngo writes that Antifa "have made it a priority to keep out journalists like myself, even releasing manuals on how to obstruct to the work of unapproved press." However, the critical point is what he says next:

"[T]hey've [Antifa] made key allies in the media to counter negative coverage, amplify their propaganda messaging, and discredit their shared opponents. The American public has been inundated with n onstop propaganda that obfuscates and lies about Antifa , simultaneously presenting them as anti-fascists righting racism, and a figment of the right's imagination ." [Emphases added]

Thus Ngo accuses corporate journalists, quite rightly, of knowingly spreading propaganda or being "actually members of the militant Antifa movement."

Ngo's guide on how to "identify Antifa press" is important. If you see a reporter freely videoing protests without being attacked, "that is a good sign the journalist produces Antifa-approved content."

But I must take issue with Ngo's conclusion that the "movement is made of organized networks of anarchist-communists who have the goal, training, and determination to overthrow the US government." Is that what Antifa actually fights for in the real world?

For example, CHAZ didn't end with a heroic last stand. It ended after bored city workers scattered some riffraff without much effort. It existed as long as Left-wing city politicians defended it against then-President Donald Trump. It vanished the moment that city authorities decided to regain control.

Insofar as Antifa have a real impact, it's not in organizing rent strikes or fighting banks. Instead, they are most effective when calling up oligarchs to get working-class people fired. Is such a group really a threat to the US government or something of a partner?

Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on domestic terrorism. Andy Ngo was one of the witnesses [ Republican witness hits media coverage of Antifa and far-left violence at domestic terrorism hearing , by Zachary Halachak, Washington Examiner, February 24, 2021]. However, the main focus of the hearing was "white supremacy and right-wing extremism," at least according to Rep. Val Demings [ Domestic Terror Still Thorny Issue for Lawmakers After Capitol Attack , by Brandi Buchman, Courthouse News Service, February 24, 2021]. The World Socialist Web Site sneered that Ngo "served as a sounding board for all the lies and libels against hundreds of thousands of youth and workers of all races and ethnicities who marched peacefully in response to last May's police murder of George Floyd" [ Republicans use hearing on domestic terrorism to defend Trump and promote far-right forces , by Jacob Crosse, WSWS, February 24, 2021].

Ngo himself tweeted that Democrats "rebuffed" him.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1364808781327122433&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.unz.com%2Farticle%2Fandy-ngos-unmasked-antifa-not-anarcho-communism-but-anarcho-tyranny%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=500px

The Democrats showed no interest in his testimony seriously nor did the Main Stream Media. It simply vanished into the ether of non-news like the massive increase in homicides around the country. [ WATCH: Andy Ngo testifies to Congress on the rise of domestic terrorism in America , The Post Millennial, February 24, 2021]

As Ngo himself points out early in his book, the United States government is tremendously powerful. Anarcho-communists hardly seem a credible threat to its legitimacy. Rather than wanting to crush them, at least some Democrats favor what Antifa are doing -- and certainly want to downplay it.

Thus the presumptive next Attorney General, Merrick Garland, blithely dismissed an attack on a federal courthouse because it happened at night. If anything, the new administration seems determined to put the power of the state behind these "anarcho-communists."

And rather than trying to create a Workers' Paradise, what Antifa actually do is make the world safe for Woke Capital .

While Antifa violence is real, the danger to ordinary people is not so much that some rampaging mob will come into their house at four in the morning. The danger is that Antifa will see a Politically Incorrect tweet and render a person unemployable, with an assist from "journalist" allies.

Ngo's book is essential reading. However, he may not fully understand the threat. The problem isn't that Antifa is trying to overthrow the state. The problem is that the state and Antifa are working together against ordinary Americans.

What we're living under is something far worse than Antifa's imagined " anarcho-communism ." It's what the late Sam Francis presciently called anarcho-tyranny , with the worst features of lawlessness and autocracy combined.

This is why our situation is not as bad as Ngo suggests. It's far, far worse.

James Kirkpatrick [ Email him |Tweet him @VDAREJamesK ] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right . Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow 's Preface here .

[Mar 03, 2021] The Tycoon Plot by Israel Shamir

Mar 03, 2021 | www.unz.com

A classic villain of 1970s and 80s was the evil tycoon. James Bond took on some of them. Meet Hugo Drax of the Moonraker , or Karl Stromberg of The Spy Who Loved Me ; these guys were willing to destroy mankind to replace it with a better version. Stromberg planned to trigger a global nuclear war and survive it underwater. Drax intended to poison mankind with his deadly gas and repopulate the world with his new chosen ones. Another one was de Wynter, the super-villain of The Avengers, played by Sean Connery. He controlled the world weather, and could kill us all off by hurricanes and tsunamis.

Before the tycoons, when the Cold war raged, a villain was a KGB agent or a Chinese operative. As détente calmed relations between the blocks, the agents went out of fashion; later, the fantastic villains of Marvel came into a vogue. The evil tycoons were uncomfortably close to the real thing; and they moved from the cinematic world into our reality.

The world we live in is the world formed by evil tycoons. They are the modern Demiurges, the evil creators of the Gnostics, an early sect that confronted the Church. Like the Demiurges, they are practically omnipotent; stronger than the State. The government needs lot of permissions and authorisations to spend a penny. If a penny had been misspent, the dark word 'corruption' will sound. 'Corruption' is a silly concept; by applying it, the oligarchs eliminated state competition, for they can pay whatever they want to whomever they wish. The State must observe intricate arcane rules, while the tycoons have no such limits. As a result, they shape our minds and lives, making the State a poor legitimate king among powerful and wealthy barons.

The Corona crisis is a result of their activity. Now, a group of WHO scientists completed its four weeks inspection tour of Wuhan trying to find out how the virus found its way to humans; some of them think (as President Trump did) the virus escaped the Wuhan Lab. Matt Ridley of The Daily Telegraph concluded his piece analysing their findings: "A growing number of top experts [he provides the list] say that a lab leak remains a plausible scientific hypothesis to be investigated". It is rather unlikely, said the WHO , but other explanations (pangolins etc) also border on the improbable . The Chinese are understandably upset. Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs ministry (the Chinese counterpart for the State Department's Ned Price) rejected the idea saying, "The United States should open the biological lab at Fort Detrick, and invite WHO experts to conduct origin-tracing in the United States". The Guardian report said she promoted "a conspiracy theory that it came from a US army lab"; while Ms Hua accused the US of spreading "conspiracy theories and lies" tracing the source to Wuhan. Whatever we say is a fact-based result of diligent research; whatever you say is a conspiracy theory – both the US and China representatives subscribe to this mantra.

Our own Ron Unz made an excellent analysis of these accusations and counter-accusations in his April 2020 piece . He noted that the virus attack in Wuhan took place at the worst possible time and place for the Chinese; therefore, an incidental release (or intentional release by the Chinese) is extremely unlikely. Ron Unz suggested that it was an American biowarfare attack upon China. Didn't American people suffer from the disease? Yes, the US government is "grotesquely and manifestly incompetent " and they were likely to expect "a massive coronavirus outbreak in China would never spread back to America".

Perhaps, but a better explanation is that some evil tycoon(s) played the part of Karl Stromberg who intended to nuke both Moscow and New York causing war and world-wide devastation, as in the James Bond movie. It could be somebody like Bill Gates, who is a major investor in Wuhan Lab. A fact-checking site with its weasel language admitted that the Lab "has received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but Bill Gates can hardly be called a "partner" in the laboratory." Sure, not a partner. Just an investor, and that is more important than a partner. And he is not the only one; other multi-billionaires also are involved in bioresearch, in vaccine manufacturing, in Big Pharma. "Glaxo, BlackRock, and Bill Gates are all partners, but not owners of Pfizer", says another fact-checker . "In 2015, Anthony Fauci did issue a USD 3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but not to "create the coronavirus" – the fact-checking site adds. Well, you could not possibly expect Fauci to word the grant in such a straightforward way, could you?

Perhaps it is too formidable a job even for an evil tycoon like Gates. A plot of several evil tycoons is more likely. Together, they could try to change the world and mankind to suit them.

The evil tycoons could poison China on their New Year holiday and take this uppity state down a ring or two. They could import the virus into the US to undermine and remove Trump whom they hated. (He was certain to win the elections but for Corona.) They could poison Europe to weaken it and make it more docile and obedient to their demands – and to buy their assets on the cheap. Corona and lockdown did not harm them for they are normally withdrawn from the bustle of the common man's life.

The billionaires control the media; that much we know, and the part media has played in the Corona crisis was enormous. The media coverage of the crisis has a huge hidden cost. Try to publish information you consider important on the front page of a newspaper. It will cost you a lot. Still, all newspapers belonging to the Billionaires' Media block beginning with the New York Times and ending with Haaretz gave at least a third of its front page to Corona news each day. The sheer cost of this advertising runs into billions. Will we ever know who paid for it?

Steven Soderbergh's (2011) film Contagion predicted many features of the Covid-19, notably the origin of the virus. In the film, the disease originates from bats in China and is spread through markets where contaminated pork meat is sold. How could Soderbergh (or his script writer Scott Z. Burns) possibly know eight years before the event that the contagion should originate in the Chinese bats? Who told him? Wouldn't you expect he knew something? Burns was instructed by WHO experts, the CNN site explains. Isn't it interesting that the same Bill Gates is a major donor of WHO? Is it entirely impossible that already in 2011 Gates' people began to leak some details of the future virus through their own WHO to Hollywood?

The tycoons could force a weak state to follow their instructions. Scientists do obey orders: otherwise, no grants, no positions. In April 2020, the German scientists were ordered , "to instill the fear of Corona". And they did it, as we learned this week, producing numbers of dead on demand.

It seems that tycoons gained most from the Corona Crisis. Their assets grew by trillions, while the assets of the middle classes decreased by the same amount. More importantly, all states suffered from the crisis; they took loans and credit, they were responsible for their citizens' health, while billionaires just had fun and enjoyed it. For this reason, I tend to dismiss the case against states, be it the US or China, while (some) billionaires appear the only possible villains.

These billionaires are able to influence people much better that the state. Consider Pierre Omidyar. Besides being the owner of eBay, he is the force behind hundreds of NGOs. His organisations form the 'progressive' agenda and train the foot soldiers of the Green Deal. Roslyn Fuller of Spiked-online checked the plethora of NGOs he employs.

She says his NGOs and charities are "engaged in 'social engineering' – that is, using their resources to artificially change the structure of society to how they think it should be. If successful this would amount to an extreme circumvention of democracy, utilising money not just to win elections, but to substitute paid or subsidised content for actual support, and thereby flip an entire political culture on to a different track by amplifying some voices and drowning out others."

He is just one of the Masters of Discourse, next to the infamous George Soros. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon are even more powerful. The billionaires have immense clout and they decide what we can and can't say and write. Just last week Amazon banned my Cabbala of Power , a book that was sold by them for some ten years. The estimable The Unz Review is banned on Facebook and shadow-banned on Google. Twitter switched-off President Trump, showing who is the real boss of the United States. Probably almost all movements described as 'leftists' nowadays are engineered by the tycoons like Omidyar or Soros. True left had been left for dead on the battlefield of ideas.

The tycoons are directly involved in the Corona Crisis, because its results are good for them. And it means they have us where they want to have us, and they won't let us out. We are cancelled until we regain the government and cancel them.

SAGE, as British Corona management team rather presumptuously named itself (it included the ridiculous figure of Neil Ferguson, he of the millions of predicted deaths), already declared that lockdowns will be a part of British life for years to come, vaccine or no vaccine. The Guardian , the Voice of the Oligarchs, gently pooh-poohed them, for it is not good to declare what must happen right away. Let people have some hope, so they run to vaccinate themselves, and then only afterwards can we reveal that, sorry, it does not help, you still have to don a mask and observe social distance and, yes, suffer lockdowns. "It's much easier to follow the rules if we think of them as temporary."

The plotters' plans aren't secret; they were described by Klaus Schwab in his book The Great Reset . Schwab is not a great thinker, being merely a weak scientist with just a few publications, and not a good or even decent writer. He had to collaborate with a journalist Thierry Malleret to produce the book. He is just a voice for the tycoons. But the question is, will he/they get what they want?

[Mar 01, 2021] Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan may not be what Talibal wants

Nov 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
jinn , Nov 12 2020 23:34 utc | 81

The Afghans (including the Taliban) do not want the US to leave their country. The flow of US$ into the country (including the flow of heroin$) is what the Afghans have lived on for many decades. Its not like the Afghans don't have control of their own country. They have complete control of all the parts of the country that they want to control. They are perfectly happy to allow Americans to control small parts of the country as long as the $$$ keep flowing into the whole country.

The US power elite may have figured out that just like every other power that has ever tried to occupy Afghanistan that it is a black hole that sucks the life out of the power trying to conq


Haassaan , Nov 13 2020 0:16 utc | 86

@76 Tom
Interesting! Been too busy for reviewing the new military appointees until I read your post. It looks like this is a last ditch attempt by Trump to get troops out of Afghanistan and Syria...

Tom , Nov 13 2020 0:20 utc | 87

"withdrawing troops from Afghanistan may well be exactly what TPTB want."

Posted by: jinn | Nov 12 2020 23:34 utc | 81

Well, they have had, what 19 years years to do that and now that President Trump makes another push for it, all hell breaks loose from the forever war team, you know that team of Democrats and RINO's who are now vying for a spot on Biden's team of psychopaths for war. The we came, we saw and aren't leaving team.

Haassaan , Nov 13 2020 0:32 utc | 89

@81 Jinn

"withdrawing troops from Afghanistan may well be exactly what TPTB want."

Anything is possible, but given the pushback that is taking place (quietly of course, lest the masses get awoken) that is seriously doubtful.

Afghanistan can be likened to one of the central squares on a chessboard...control of central squares is vital as it reduces the mobility of your opponent and lays ground for offensive action.

China has a border with Afghanistan, as does Iran...were Afghanistan to free itself from USA occupation, it would make a great conduit for the BRI.

That is without getting into Afghanistan's role in opium trade and the related black budget, nor its wealth in rare minerals. One might say for the Hegemon to remain the Hegemon it needs to control Afghanistan.

The problem for the hegemon is Afghanistan is expensive to hold on to...and this is without Russia, Iran or China putting any effort in to chase US troops out via arming and training proxies...that could be done quickly, and I am guessing the groundwork is already in place.

jinn , Nov 13 2020 0:46 utc | 91

Well, they have had, what 19 years years to do that
_________________________________________

Well sure but you need to remember the story of why we were there in the first place.
They can't just dump all the BS that they have been feeding us for nineteen years and say "never mind" like Roseanne Roseannadanna.

As for the warmongers who support attacking Libya, Iraq, Syria, etc that was done to send a message to any country that does not want to knuckle under to the $$$ hegemony and thinks about trying to escape it.
That messaging does not apply to the Afghan war. That war sends the exact opposite message.

[Feb 25, 2021] The question of terminology

Feb 25, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

steven t johnson , Feb 24 2021 18:11 utc | 16

There is no such thing as "liberal-fascist." "Liberal" has never meant any sort of quasi-anarchist commitment to untrammeled individual rights. It has always meant the freedom of the press. The thing is, the real meaning of freedom of the press for the liberal is the freedom of the owners of the press to do what they want. The fact that customarily a free-for-the-owners'-press happen to produce the right kind of news suitable for owners and the advertisers is seen as the benefit of a free press. As for "fascist," no concept of fascism that doesn't include legal and illegal restrictions on freedom and government propaganda mobilizing the citizens to sacrifice for recovery from defeat/further conquest is not a serious concept of fascism at all. Both liberalism and fascism revere property but will compromise for necessity, liberalism for a certain degree of class peace, fascism for war, but if anybody is determined to indoctrinate the masses it is fascism. The implicit notion here that people daring to think or worse, live, differently than tradition may inspire rage in mad dog reactionaries. But this is at bottom the same rage that led Catholics and Protestants to murder each other or for witches to be killed by the thousands (yes, they were,) or for monarchists to kill republicans or for one ethnic/religious/national group to murder another. Modern society is not a genuine offense, no matter how bigoted you are. The keyboard has a hyphen but hitting it between "liberal" and "fascist" is just more crypto-fascist BS. It doesn't matter how many times you type it, it's not a thing.

Mao Cheng Ji , Feb 24 2021 18:14 utc | 17

@Saraj 9, "Very difficult, see https..."

It seems to me, they make it sound more difficult than it really is.

Think of thepiratebay. It gets banned, blocked, raided, sued - from 2006 at least - and yet it lives. It changes from .org to .whatever, it finds registrars and infrastructure somehow.

And you don't really need google/apple store all that much: a browser will suffice.

And search? paypal, bank - what is this all about? I'm sure thepiratebay works with advertisers somehow (definitely with VPN companies), and somehow it gets paid. And that's all there is to it. Imo.

Mao Cheng Ji , Feb 24 2021 18:23 utc | 18
Dear steven, when fascists call themselves 'liberal', it makes sense (to me) to identify them as 'liberal-fascist'.

And that's all there is to it.

You are free to classify and identify them any way you like. May I suggest, as an alternative, 'woke-fascist'?

S , Feb 25 2021 1:39 utc | 58

The term liberal-fascist refers to people who consider themselves liberals, but in reality are not; in fact, these people resemble fascists more and more with each passing day. A more precise term would be "liberal"-fascist (with the quotes). It's not so much about SJW witchhunts as about absolute faith in everything the state says and hysterical demands to censor any dissenting opinion.

S , Feb 25 2021 2:13 utc | 62

I guess, one can use fake liberal proto-fascist to avoid the wrath of nitpickers.

Piotr Berman , Feb 25 2021 3:14 utc | 64

...In short, anywhere it deems convenient, liberals support fascists, cannibals and other charming characters. As it goes for a while, liberals acquire fascistic values and try them in their home countries. Show trials and corporate censorship for now.

ak74 , Feb 25 2021 4:32 utc | 65

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Do not amplify narratives that are aligned with the Russian government.

Do not undermine faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.

Everyone got that now?

Alan MacLeod actually tweeted about this:

"This is not a joke. Twitter has deleted dozens of account for the crime of 'undermining faith in the NATO alliance.'"

https://twitter.com/AlanRMacLeod/status/1364548110521876480

Undermining faith in the North American Terrorist Organization (NATO) is a Thought Crime of the highest order!

The punishment for this crime is being forced to watch a conga line of Anglo-American media mouthpieces blather about whatever is their Moral Outrage of the Month--Clockwork Orange style.

Welcome to the United States of Oceania.

MFB , Feb 25 2021 7:26 utc | 74

..I suspect that the term "liberal-fascist" derives partly from the term Islamofascist, meaning a Muslim who does not bow to Washington six times a day, and partly from the term "social-fascist", a Stalinist term for a socialist who did not bow to Moscow six times a day.

MFB , Feb 25 2021 7:26 utc | 74

Apropos neoliberalism.

The liberalism which is referred to here is the economic liberalism which was adopted in the United Kingdom in the 1840s after the "reform" of the Corn Laws, which permitted free trade in grain and therefore brought down both the price of wheat and the small farming community in the UK, as it was intended to do. Later these liberal policies (largely modelled on the "comparative advantage" economic theory, which had already been refuted by the time it was developed by David Ricardo) were used to justify the Irish genocide of 1847-9.

This policy was eventually abandoned later in the nineteenth century, except for places like India, of course. It was restored in the West in the 1970s, under the name of "free trade", and therefore is called neoliberalism, or new liberalism in the economic sense.

The term is not a compliment.

I suspect that the term "liberal-fascist" derives partly from the term Islamofascist, meaning a Muslim who does not bow to Washington six times a day, and partly from the term "social-fascist", a Stalinist term for a socialist who did not bow to Moscow six times a day.

Dogon Priest , Feb 25 2021 13:15 utc | 91

Some animals are more equal than others

[Feb 25, 2021] Most Americans consider Kissinger a war criminal too, and informed Americans know that Zbignue Brzenski has lost all credibility. He was a cold war era Anti-Russian. He has said little if anything relevant since the collapse of the USSR.

Feb 25, 2021 | www.unz.com

No Friend Of The Devil , says: February 23, 2021 at 3:45 am GMT • 2.8 days ago

Most Americans consider Kissinger a war criminal too, and informed Americans know that Zbignue Brzenski has lost all credibility. He was a cold war era Anti-Russian. He has said little if anything relevant since the collapse of the USSR.

Informed Americans would prefer a doplomatic relationship with their neighbors south of the border. It would be much more economically and environmentally sustainable to have a cooperative agreement with Venezuela, rather than the KXL advocates north of the border, that Biden thankfully banned. It may be the only thing tbat he ends up doing correctly. I hope not. I did not vote for him, Trump, or anyone else. Biden, Blinken, and Austin speak about wanting to go back to the JCPOA and START, but whether they are willing to give up their policy errors of force through sanctions, and falsely blaming Iran for the attack on the Irbil Iraq airport will probably determine whether they can do this successfully or not. Everyone is sick of the bullshit from the American government, including American citizens! The government does what they Globzi investors demand from them. They really do not give a damn about anyone else. Everyone is just a means to an end to them, and unkess someone is exceptionally wealthy, they are an irrelevant pain in the ass to the government, unless they are willing to sell out their own interest in order to elevate the corrupt government.

Andrea Iravani

Sirius , says: February 23, 2021 at 9:25 am GMT • 2.5 days ago
@Spanky

That's true. As a barometer of establishment thinking, Foreign Affairs is indeed useful. I would just make a distinction of using it to understand establishment thinking versus using it as a source for good policy, which is evidently questionable if its editors still think Robert Kagan has anything useful to propose.

[Feb 25, 2021] As the unofficial voice of U.S. foreign policy, Foreign Affairs turns up in some interesting places. And, after maintaining a subscription for many years, I would argue that it provides a fairly reliable chart of where the U.S. elite plan to steer the American ship of state.

Feb 25, 2021 | www.unz.com

Spanky , says: February 22, 2021 at 10:49 pm GMT • 3.0 days ago

@Sirius e Council on Foreign Relations quest for a New World Order through global cooperation, ending borders of trade and immigration, and continuing America's military role: ready to intervene anywhere in the world if necessary.

https://freddonaldson.com/2020/12/08/biden-picks-kissingers-policy-stalwarts-to-direct-u-s-foreign-policy-another-vietnam/

Everyone keeps talking about the elites who rule over us -- do you want to know who they are?

[Feb 24, 2021] The Art Of Being A Spectacularly Misguided Oracle

Feb 24, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

librul , Feb 23 2021 13:37 utc | 208

Hey, Hey, Hey!

It appears that Pepe Escobar reads the comments at MoA
and may even appreciate drinking games.

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/02/open-thread-2021-014.html?cid=6a00d8341c640e53ef026bdebe2482200c#comment-6a00d8341c640e53ef026bdebe2482200c


Neocons never collide with reality
they just rewrite around it.

Have I got a drinking game for you !

The Neocon Reality Check Game

Zoom connect to a party of friends
and simultaneously read through the
linked Neocon article together.

A Superpower, Like It or Not
Why Americans Must Accept Their Global Role
By Robert Kagan
March/April 2021

Pepe read the article, I can't speak to how many times he played the game.

https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/escobar-art-being-spectacularly-misguided-oracle

Escobar: The Art Of Being A Spectacularly Misguided Oracle


Peace is Forever War

Now let's move to another oracle, a self-described expert of what in the Beltway is known as the "Greater Middle East": Robert Kagan, co-founder of PNAC, certified warmongering neo-con, and one-half of the famous Kaganate of Nulands – as the joke went across Eurasia – side by side with his wife, notorious Maidan cookie distributor Victoria "F**k the EU" Nuland, who's about to re-enter government as part of the Biden-Harris administration.

Kagan is back pontificating in – where else – Foreign Affairs, which published his latest superpower manifesto. That's where we find this absolute pearl:


That Americans refer to the relatively low-cost military involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq as "forever wars" is just the latest example of their intolerance for the messy and unending business of preserving a general peace and acting to forestall threats. In both cases, Americans had one foot out the door the moment they entered, which hampered their ability to gain control of difficult situations.

So let's get this straight. The multi-trillion dollar Forever Wars are "relatively low-cost"; tell that to the multitudes suffering the Via Crucis of US crumbling infrastructure and appalling standards in health and education. If you don't support the Forever Wars – absolutely necessary to preserve the "liberal world order" – you are "intolerant".

"Preserving a general peace" does not even qualify as a joke, coming from someone absolutely clueless about realities on the ground. As for what the Beltway defines as "vibrant civil society" in Afghanistan, that in reality revolves around millennia-old tribal custom codes: it has nothing to do with some neocon/woke crossover. Moreover, Afghanistan's GDP – after so much American "help" – remains even lower than Saudi-bombed Yemen's.

[Feb 21, 2021] Inclusive means, don't let usurers like the IMF get you on the debt hook and immiserize your people. Sustainable means no pillage of national wealth or resources and no imposition of externalities (like Chevron did to Ecuador, for instance.)

Feb 21, 2021 | www.unz.com

anon [384] Disclaimer , says: February 11, 2021 at 5:42 pm GMT • 9.3 days ago

Don't be spooked by those words. Do you know where the words sustainable and inclusive come from? Tycoons didn't think them up. They're just parroting them to try and twist their meaning. Those words are from the Addis Ababa consensus. Tycoons give lip service to those words because if they don't, no one will give them the time of day.

https://www.un.org/esa/ffd/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/AAAA_Outcome.pdf

AA is the consensus of the ECOSOC bloc, treaty parties of the ICESCR, 171 of them, the overwhelming majority of the world. ECOSOC reports to the UNGA, the most participative and least controllable UN organ. US UN delegates don't even dare mention the AA outcome – they fixate on the Monterrey Consensus, two documents ago.

Inclusive means, don't let usurers like the IMF get you on the debt hook and immiserize your people. Sustainable means no pillage of national wealth or resources and no imposition of externalities (like Chevron did to Ecuador, for instance.) You will see that the outcome document subordinates everthing the tycoons or the US want to human rights and rule of law. Economic rights too. The outcome curbs US "Western" corporatist development by pulling WTO and IMF under the authority of G-192 organizations like UNCTAD and ILO.

It's hard for people in US satellites to interpret this stuff because the underlying intitiatives of the G-192 (that is, the world) are hidden from you and buried in US propaganda. Xi is quoting his Five Principles, four of which are straight out of the UN Charter. China has ratified the ICESCR. So China is not communist. China is not capitalist. China is a member of the ECOSOC bloc. People in the US or its satellites have no idea what that is, but it's vastly bigger than the Third International was. It's development based on human rights. Tycoons and the US hate that shit but they can't stop it.

Realist , says: February 12, 2021 at 2:36 pm GMT • 8.4 days ago

A couple of things that would go a long way to correct the goddamn stupidity running rampant in this country are.

Correcting the following horrendous actions: The SCOTUS has passed down egregious decisions that abridge the First Amendment and show contempt for the concept of representative democracy. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1976 and exacerbated by continuing stupid SCOTUS decisions First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.
These decisions have codified that money is free speech thereby giving entities of wealth and power total influence in elections.

And-

Making it absolutely impossible for anyone to amass more than 100 million dollars extreme wealth concentrates too much power.

[Feb 17, 2021] The EU should not be confused with Europe. We are not leaving Europe, we have many friends and like-minded people in Europe, and we will continue to expand mutually beneficial relations with them

Feb 17, 2021 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Feb 16 2021 19:24 utc | 92

Yesterday's Lavrov presser has finally had the Q&A section added to it and its a doosey! Lavrov's sounds incendiary in print! "Question: Your recent interview generated a lot of controversy. You implied that Russia admits the possibility of breaking off with the EU. How do you see this break and what conditions would have to happen for it to occur, that is, where does Moscow draw the red line?"

Lavrov: "This interview took place on February 12, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell was here on February 5. Upon his return, he made a number of statements to the effect that Russia had failed to live up to expectations and to become a modern democracy and is rapidly moving away from Europe. That is, it sounded as if Russia was a hopeless case. This happened several days before the interview. Hence, the question as to whether we were ready to break off with the EU during the interview with Vladimir Solovyov based on those remarks about Russia. As a matter of fact, anyone who is even slightly interested in the situation in Europe has long known that a break-off has been underway for many years now. The EU has been consistently tearing down our relations.

"2014 was a turning point. A coup took place in Ukraine, and the EU showed it was helpless and unable to comply with the agreement that was reached between the government and the opposition right before the coup. Importantly, Germany, France and Poland put their signatures under it. The opposition spat on these signatures and on the EU, which thought it was important to comply with this agreement. It was then that the EU was really humiliated. Everyone knows what happened next. By and large, the EU turned a blind eye to the attacks against the residents of Crimea and eastern Ukraine on the part of the ultras and neo-Nazis who came to power, and decided to put all the blame on the Russian Federati