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[Dec 17, 2015] US militarism is Alice in Wonderland
anne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM

December 16, 2015

Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up

U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.

ilsm said in reply to anne...

Too much training to send to jail.

While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!

US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!

[Dec 13, 2015] US military spending is currently $738.3 billion

Notable quotes:
"... military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ..."
"... Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015. ..."

Economist's View

anne said...

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.


-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
"...about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military...."

I do not understand this figure since currently defense spending is running at $738.3 billion yearly or which 6% would be $44.3 billion:

anne said in reply to anne...
Correcting Dean Baker:

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 7.4 percent ** of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.



-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
Dean Baker clarifies:

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)


-- Dean Baker

djb said in reply to anne...
100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion
anne said in reply to djb...
$100 billion a year, ........about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military

100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion

[ This is incorrect, military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ]

anne said in reply to djb...

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

(Billions of dollars)

$738.3 / $1,224.4 = 60.3%

Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $3,200.4 = 23.1%

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

djb said in reply to djb...
oh never mind I get it

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent us spends on military

the 40 trillion is the gdp of all the countries

got it

anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent US spends on military."

So .25 percent of United States GDP for climate change assistance to poor countries is 6 percent of the amount the US spends on the military.

.0025 x $18,064.7 billion GDP = $45.16 billion on climate change

$45.16 billion on climate change / $738.3 billion on the military = 0.61 or 6.1 percent of military spending

anne said in reply to anne...
United States climate change assistance to poor countries will be .25 percent of GDP or 6% of US military spending.
anne said in reply to anne...
What the United States commitment to climate change assistance for poor countries means is spending about $45.2 billion yearly or .25 percent of GDP. Whether the President can convince Congress to spend the $45 billion yearly will now have to be answered.
anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the [amount] US spends on military."

[ This is correct. ]

anne said in reply to djb...

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. ** That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)



-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to djb...

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

ilsm said in reply to anne...
UK is the only NATO nation beside the US that spend the suggested 2% of GDP. The rest run about 1.2%.

Small wonder they need US to run their wars of convenience.

More telling US pentagon spending is around 50% of world military spending and has not won anything in 60 years.

[Dec 09, 2015] Narcissistic, mentally-handicapped imbeciIes who just escaped from an asylum after receiving a lobotomy

This was a tread in a pretty reputable blog. Amazing...

In regards to Time Magazine, it's no surprise. Time apparently thinks that most everyone in the world is thoughtful and intelligent–except for Americans–who are mostly at the intellectual level of narcissistic, mentally-handicapped imbeciIes who just escaped from an asylum after receiving a lobotomy. Or at least that's what one would gather after looking at this.

Well, they might not be wrong.

Jim Haygood

"Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders … didn't make it on [Time's] shortlist" for 2015 Person of the Year."

If Time considered Sanders a serious threat, they could dispatch him in a trice by putting his mug on a Person of the Year cover.

The most recent example of the cover story jinx in action came from Mexico. At the start of this year Time profiled president Enrique Pena Nieto as the man 'Saving Mexico', and that was the sentiment at the time. The writer of that story quoted me to the effect that, "In the Wall Street investment community, I'd say that Mexico is by far the favourite nation just now."

Since then it has been all downhill for Pena Nieto and Mexico, with the president embroiled in a series of scandals and economic growth coming in at a disappointing 2.2% this year.

The MSM is never right. And they always lie.

Peter Schitt

I'd say that Time are right in their assessment of Americans. As Morris Berman says, "what else could you expect of 321 million douchebags".

[Dec 06, 2015] The USA is number one small arms manufacturer in the world
Glenn Stehle, 12/05/2015 at 2:54 pm

There was an article in one of the Mexico City dailies today, written in response to the shootings in San Bernardino, that cited some numbers that were news to me:

1) The United States is the #1 small arms manufacturer in the world

2) 83% of small arms manufactured in the world are manufactured in the United States

3) The US's closest competitor is Russia, which manufactures 11% of the world's small arms

4) Small arms are the US's third largest export product, surpassed only by aircraft and agricultural products

5) The US market itself consumes 15 million small arms per year, and there are 300 million small arms currently in the posession of US private citizens

6) Saudi Arabia, however, is by far and away the largest small arms consumer in the world, and purchases 33.1% of all small arms produced in the world

7) Saudi Arabia then re-distributes these small arms to its allies in Syria, Lybia, etc.

8) So far in 2015, there have been 351 "mass shootings" in the United States in which 447 persons have been killed and another 290 wounded

9) The world's leading human rights organizations never speak of the bloodbath ocurring around the world due to the proliferation of small arms, much less the United Nations Security Council.

10) Both the United States and Russia seem quite content to keep any talk of small arms proliferation off the agenda.

[Nov 28, 2015] The Perils of Endless War -

Notable quotes:
"... John Quincy Adams, for his part, loved an America that "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." ..."
November 28, 2015 |
War tends to perpetuate itself. As soon as one brute gets killed, another takes his place; when the new guy falls, another materializes.

Consider Richard Nixon's intensification of the American war on Cambodia. In hopes of maintaining an advantage over the Communists as he withdrew American troops from Southeast Asia, Nixon ravaged Vietnam's western neighbor with approximately 500,000 tons of bombs between 1969 and 1973. But instead of destroying the Communist menace, these attempts to buttress Nguyen Van Thieu's South Vietnamese government and then Lon Nol's Cambodian government only transformed it. The bombings led many of Nixon's early targets to desert the eastern region of the country in favor of Cambodia's interior where they organized with the Khmer Rouge.

As a CIA official noted in 1973, the Khmer Rouge started to "us[e] damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda." By appealing to Cambodians who were affected by the bombing raids, this brutal Communist organization, a peripheral batch of 10,000 fighters in 1969, had expanded by 1973 into a formidable army with 20 times as many members. Two years later, they seized control of Phnom Penh and murdered more than one million of their compatriots in a grisly genocide.

The following decade, when war erupted between the forces of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the United States hedged its bets by providing military assistance to both governments as they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, ousted the emir, and ultimately assassinated about 1,000 Kuwaitis, the United States turned on its former ally with an incursion that directly killed 3,500 innocent Iraqis and suffocated 100,000 others through the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure. The US also maintained an embargo against Iraq throughout the 1990s, a program that contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis and that UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Dennis Halliday deemed "genocidal" when he explained his 1998 resignation.

The newly restored Kuwaiti government, for its part, retaliated against minority groups for their suspected "collaboration" with the Iraqi occupiers. The government threw Palestinians out of schools, fired its Palestinian employees, and threatened thousands with "arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, and murder." Beyond that, Kuwait interdicted the reentry of more than 150,000 Palestinians and tens of thousands of Bedoons who had evacuated Kuwait when the tyrant Saddam took over. Thus, years of American maneuvering to achieve peace and security – by playing Iran and Iraq off of each other, by privileging Kuwaiti authoritarians over Iraqi authoritarians, by killing tens of thousands of innocent people who got in the way – failed.

The chase continues today as the United States targets the savage "Islamic State," another monster that the West inadvertently helped create by assisting foreign militants. History suggests that this war against Islamism, if taken to its logical extreme, will prove to be an endless game of whack-a-mole. Yes, our government can assassinate some terrorists; what it cannot do is stop aggrieved civilian victims of Western bombings from replacing the dead by becoming terrorists themselves. Furthermore, even if ISIS disappeared tomorrow, there would still exist soldiers – in Al-Qaeda, for instance – prepared to fill the void. That will remain true no matter how many bombs the West drops, no matter how many weapons it tenders to foreign militias, no matter how many authoritarian governments it buttresses in pursuit of "national security."

So, what are we to do when foreign antagonists, whatever the source of their discontent, urge people to attack us? We should abandon the Sisyphean task of eradicating anti-American sentiments abroad and invest in security at home. Gathering foreign intelligence is important when it allows us to strengthen our defenses here, but bombing people in Iraq and Syria, enabling the Saudi murder of Yemenis, and deploying troops to Cameroon are futile steps when enemy organizations can constantly replenish their supply of fighters by propagandizing among natives who deplore Western intervention.

This understanding, though underappreciated in contemporary American government, reflects a noble American tradition. John Quincy Adams, for his part, loved an America that "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Decades later, Jeannette Rankin doubted the benefits of American interventionism, contending that "you can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." Martin Luther King Jr. warned that "violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." These leaders adamantly rejected an American politics of unending aggressive war. It is time for us to do the same.

Tommy Raskin is a contributor to the Good Men Project and Foreign Policy in Focus.

[Oct 21, 2015] Andrew Bacevich A Decade of War

May 15, 2012 | YouTube

Qeis Kamran 1 year ago

I just love Prof. Bacevic. Nobody has more credit then him on the subject. Not only for his unmatched scholarship and laser sharp words, but moreover for the unimaginable personal loss. He is my hero!!!!

Boogie Knight 1 year ago

How many sons did the NeoCon-Gang sacrifice in their instigated Wars in foreign lands....? Not one. Bacevich lost his son who was fighting in Iraq in 2007 - for what?!

Yet the NeoCon warcriminals Billy Cristol, Wolfowitz and/or Elliott Abrams are all still highly respected people that the US media/political elite loves to consult - in 2014!

[Oct 21, 2015] The End of American Exceptionalism with Andrew J. Bacevich - November 7, 2013

An excellent explanation of the key postulates of Neoconservatism.
Notable quotes:
"... We need to reexamine what it means to be free. A moral reorientation of the country as Carter suggested in 1979. Bacevich says it isnt ever going to happen. ..."
Nov 7, 2003 | YouTube
Phil Anderson
Excellent as always. Lecture by Bacevich starts around 13:42.
Wendell Fitzgerald
We need to reexamine what it means to be free. A moral reorientation of the country as Carter suggested in 1979. Bacevich says it isn't ever going to happen.

[Sep 29, 2015] Democracy - Obama Vs Putin

Zero Hedge

Latina Lover

Obama teleprompts for a declining bankster led empire while Putin speaks for a world fed up with USSA exceptionalism.


"A republic...if you can keep it!" - Ben Franklin

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide." - John Adams

[Sep 26, 2015] John Boehner left because Republicans true faith is incompatible with governing

Notable quotes:
"... If you genuinely believe the idiotic Reagan slogan that government is the problem, then shutting it down is not a tactic, it is the objective. ..."
"... The Tea Party mysteriously appeared about 10 minutes after Obama's first inauguration. They purported to be a grassroots movement sprung from righteous anger but were in fact a carefully orchestrated anti-liberal, anti-black, anti-Obama initiative funded by Dick Armey's Koch-financed Freedomworks organization. ..."
"... The US paranoia when it comes to government is disturbing. In Europe a government is something they elect to run the country and make sure all the services run smoothly. In the US it seems like it's viewed as a foreign power occupied the country and it has to be fought at all cost. ..."
"... Fronting for a party that's desperately trying to dismantle the government totally to give free reign to robber barons must be frustrating. If they succeed the US will see an inequality that makes the current situation look like Scandinavia. ..."
"... There is no process to call early elections or remove the House. It is a hole in the Constitution. Nobody imagined this one. ..."
"... Wrong! When a woman is forced to carry something inside her body she does wish to, whether by accident, rape, incest, or however, that takes away HER right to pursuit of happiness and more. You damn G.O.PIGS just want a child born but then forget about the nurturing and support it needs after birth. You cut every damn program that exists to help them. No wonder you're an "EX"-chief. ..."
"... Hence, GOP = American Taliban, or worse. And CCarrier is just a blatant demonstration of how single-minded (if minded at all) they have become. ..."
Sep 25, 2015 |

skeptikos, 26 Sep 2015 01:05

If you genuinely believe the idiotic Reagan slogan that government is the problem, then shutting it down is not a tactic, it is the objective.

Zepp -> swanstep 26 Sep 2015 00:46

That's already the case. They lost the popular vote overall for the House last year, 52-47, but maintain a fairly large majority of thirty or so seats. Case in point: Pennsylvania, where they lost the overall vote by eight points and won 13 of the 18 seats.

A large and engaged voter turnout could stop this, but that would be asking Americans to get up off their asses and save themselves, and too many of them are convinced that they don't need saving from this sort of thing, because this is America, and it's exceptional!

BaldwinP -> MarkThomason 26 Sep 2015 00:31

Excellent analysis.

To which I would add the Tea Party believe very firmly in government in one situation - when they want it to enforce their religious beliefs on everyone else by outlawing abortion and homosexuality.

MelFrontier -> USfan 26 Sep 2015 00:23

The Tea Party mysteriously appeared about 10 minutes after Obama's first inauguration. They purported to be a grassroots movement sprung from righteous anger but were in fact a carefully orchestrated anti-liberal, anti-black, anti-Obama initiative funded by Dick Armey's Koch-financed Freedomworks organization.

greven -> hillbillyzombie 25 Sep 2015 22:57

The US paranoia when it comes to government is disturbing. In Europe a government is something they elect to run the country and make sure all the services run smoothly. In the US it seems like it's viewed as a foreign power occupied the country and it has to be fought at all cost.

greven -> dudemanguy 25 Sep 2015 22:53

The Koch brothers started the Tea Party as a means to dismantle the state, black lives matter is more borne from desperation.

greven 25 Sep 2015 22:48

Fronting for a party that's desperately trying to dismantle the government totally to give free reign to robber barons must be frustrating. If they succeed the US will see an inequality that makes the current situation look like Scandinavia. Expect 300 million desperately poor people living from hand to mouth with nothing and the number of billionaires double at least.

MarkThomason 25 Sep 2015 22:34

What are we going to do if we now discover the House of Representatives is truly broken?

We can and have removed a President. We can and have removed judges.

There is no process to call early elections or remove the House. It is a hole in the Constitution. Nobody imagined this one.

They should have. English history had its share of dysfunctional Houses which had to go:

"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately ... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

We have no way to do that.

I do hope the two parties can set aside the Hastert Rule and govern without the extreme. If they won't, we are in trouble.

We don't have any good options except to trust them, and they have already betrayed that trust.

Timothy Everton -> Exchief 25 Sep 2015 22:28

Wrong! When a woman is forced to carry something inside her body she does wish to, whether by accident, rape, incest, or however, that takes away HER right to pursuit of happiness and more. You damn G.O.PIGS just want a child born but then forget about the nurturing and support it needs after birth. You cut every damn program that exists to help them. No wonder you're an "EX"-chief.

Timothy Everton -> PamelaKatz 25 Sep 2015 22:20

Hence, GOP = American Taliban, or worse. And CCarrier is just a blatant demonstration of how single-minded (if minded at all) they have become. Mr. Speaker saw this and knew, in good conscience, that he could not satisfy these hoodlums and govern as was meant to be. Someone quick! Round up the Teabaggers and their ilk and take no prisoners - IF We, The People, want our government to survive.

dudemanguy 25 Sep 2015 22:01

I thought the Bush presidency had finished the GOP off, but they were reborn with a phoney wall street funded grass roots movement, the tea party, and are more dangerous and destructive than ever.

The democrats have their own problems as well. The so called blacklivesmatter movement has breathed new life into the Republican party by managing to drive away both democratic moderates tired of being screamed at, bullied and called a racist, and some African Americans whove have been convinced that the only issue that matters is the media driven notion that there is an epidemic of racist killer cops looking for any excuse to kill black people, and every democratic politician that doesn't bow down to a movement that has been responsible for two years of rioting violence and racial strife, is somehow racist. I'm still not convinced the 1% hasnt been fomenting this movement in order to harm the democrats. Is it a coincidence BLM's biggest target has been Bernie Sanders?

In the end the 1% win and the rest of America loses.

[Sep 26, 2015] Standing Before Congress, Pope Francis Calls Out the Industry of Death

Sep 26, 2015 |
Sep 26, 2015 |

Pope Francis' address to Congress was almost certainly not what John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and other congressional leaders had in mind when they invited the pope to speak.

It probably wasn't what they were all thinking about during the last standing ovations. But here was Pope Francis, revered as the People's Pope, calling out war profiteers and demanding an end to the arms trade. Just as simple and as powerful as that.

... ... ...

"Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world," the pope said. Then he asked the critical question: "Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?"

He answered it himself: "Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

Stop the arms trade. What a simple, clear call.

That means the ending things like the $60 billion arms deal the US made a few years back with Saudi Arabia, where those weapons are, in the pope's words, "inflicting untold suffering on individuals and society," especially in Syria and Yemen. It means ending things like the $45 billion in new military aid – mostly in the form of advanced new weapons – the Israeli government has requested from Washington between now and 2028. It means ending the provision of new arms to scores of unaccountable militias in Syria, where even the White House admits a nonmilitary solution is needed. And it means ending things like the $1.1 billion in arms sales the United States has made to Mexico this year alone.

And, of course, it means no longer diverting at least 54 cents of every discretionary taxpayer dollar in the federal budget to the US military.

Actually, members of Congress – so many of whom rely on huge campaign donations from arms manufacturers, and so many of whom refuse to vote against military procurement because often just a few dozen jobs connected to it might be in their district – really should have expected the pope to say exactly what he did.

It was only last May, after all, that Pope Francis told a group of schoolchildren visiting the Vatican that the arms trade is the "industry of death." When a kid asked why so many powerful people don't want peace, the pope answered simply, "because they live off wars!" Francis explained how people become rich by producing and selling weapons. "And this is why so many people do not want peace. They make more money with the war!"

The pope's speech to Congress was quite extraordinary on a number of fronts.

... ... ...

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of the forthcoming Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Manuel Perez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.

[Aug 10, 2015]Naryshkin: the US wants to grab the natural resources of other countries

For this purpose, according to the speaker, America and leads the sanctions against Russia. The United States plans not only to maintain the dollar as the sole world currency, but I want to get as close to the economic resources of other countries in the world, according to the Chairman of the state Duma Sergey Naryshkin.

"Actually, because of that, the U.S. has now published a new list of Russian organizations and individuals, giving instructions to their banks (and with them European) to work with our structures and look for any and all reasons," he said in his article published in "Rossiyskaya Gazeta".

Naryshkin believes that America "stops to help even the existence of global "printing press". "Do not save and complete control over NATO, wiretapping and blackmail "League" of European Union. The colonizers "model of the XXI century" - all this is not enough. The main goal is to assign to American jurisdiction global monopolies, and to maintain his influence on the financial system of the world, to stay here the only Potentate," said Naryshkin.

[Aug 01, 2015] Ron Paul: All Wars Are Paid For Through Debasing The Currency

Zero Hedge
Submitted by Mac Slavo via,

And at some point, all empires crumble on their own excess, stretched to the breaking point by over-extending a military industrial complex with sophisticated equipment, hundreds of bases in as many countries, and never-ending wars that wrack up mind boggling levels of debt. This cost has been magnified by the relationship it shares with the money system, who have common owners and shareholders behind the scenes.

As the hidden costs of war and the enormity of the black budget swell to record levels, the true total of its price comes in the form of the distortion it has caused in other dimensions of life; the numbers have been so thoroughly fudged for so long now, as Wall Street banks offset laundering activities and indulge in derivatives and quasi-official market rigging, the Federal Reserve policy holds the noble lie together.

Ron Paul told RT

Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.

The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:

Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.

"Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency," he said, adding that this has been going on "for hundreds, if not thousands of years."

"I don't know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war."

As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn't factor into government reports, can't match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.

Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in:

They're going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it's admitted that it doesn't work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable."

Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he's run out over a cliff.

[Jul 20, 2015] The Dangerously Vague Romance of War by Shane Smith

July 20, 2015 |
Which sounds better, to "die for your government", or "give your life for your country"? The first could be interpreted, after a mountain of bodies pile up, as a mistake. As something that would seem to require scrutiny, admissions of having been wrong, of blame to be placed. Dying for a government, or more precisely, dying for a select group of political figures at a certain moment in time for very specific reasons, doesn't hide behind a fluttering flag quite as well as "dying for country". Which is why we never hear it. War, in the mind of the Middle America that still thinks on it, is shrouded in a sepia-toned composite of images and sounds, stories of soldiers, duty to country, service, songs, movies, and myth that give politicians far more leverage than they would otherwise have, when executing another war. No, "service to country" is the emotional and moral narcotic we administer to ourselves, almost automatically, at the inception of a new war. War is all wrapped up in our American Mythos so tight that it seems astonishing that we haven't descended utterly into a pure American-style fascism. Maybe a few more 9/11-style attacks and the transformation would be complete. 9/11 was an unparalleled opportunity for the explosion of government growth, and as much as "war is the health of the State", so are foreign attacks on the home State, attacks that can be perfectly molded so as to stoke the maximum amount of nationalist rage from the citizens. Those attacks were a godsend for a government that had been starved of an actual threat for far too long. And they took full advantage of the opportunity. Fourteen years later, the Warfare State is petering out from the evaporating fumes of 9/11, and their looking for a new fix.

But what of those who lied the country into igniting a regional dumpster fire after 9/11? Once the war hysteria evaporates, where are What would it really take to hold any one politician for a military disaster halfway around the world? It is blindingly obvious that there will never be a reckoning for those who hustled us into the Iraq war. What about Libya? Syria? How bad does it have to get for there to be something resembling accountability? War atrocities seem to have become less of a chance for justice and lessons learned than as a new precedent that the progenitors of the next war can point to when their war goes bad. And creators of war did learn a few things from Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned that flag-draped coffins do focus the attention of the citizenry. And drone strikes don't, really.

That hazy collage of feel-good nationalism is trotted out every election year, and every candidate engages in it to one degree or another. Peace is a hard sell next to the belligerent effusions of a Donald Trump. His crazed rantings against immigrants, his bizarre fantasies as to how he would handle world leaders via telephone call, as well as his boorishness in general, has thousands flocking to hear him speak. But what they're cheering is an avatar of a blood-soaked ideology, one that cloaks itself in the native symbols and culture, breeding hate and intolerance, until the bilious nationalism reaches just the right temperature and then boils over into lawless fascism. As Jeffrey Tucker points out, Trump is nothing new. The graveyard of twentieth century tyrannies is a testament to just how much death and destruction can be induced by a charismatic parasite bellowing the tenets of a flag-wrapped tyranny. Most of what we hear coming from leaders today is fascism to a greater or lesser extent. If what we mean by fascism to be a Religion of the State, a militant nationalism taken to its logical conclusion, then every leader engages in it, because it ignites something primitive and sinister in the minds of voters.

We understand war theoretically, and distantly, but what of those who are forced to carry out the fever dreams of politicians? Blindly thanking veterans for their service, we feel a sense of duty discharged, and never think to look more deeply into their traumas, or the scheme they were tricked into executing. Military recruiters, the unscrupulous peddlers of military slavery, are treated as a benign influence on young people today. Their pushy, overindulgent attitude toward our 18-year olds should piss us off more than it does, since what they are conning the young into is becoming the expendable plaything for the whims of the current Administration.

War is the pith of total government. The source of all its power, war and the threat of war provide the excuse for every injustice, every outrage, every restriction of liberty or further bilking of the citizen-hosts. As the Warfare State trots out the familiar sermons of threats from abroad, potential greatness at home, and wars to be fought, one would do well to reflect that war enriches the State at the expense of the rest of us. It consumes our lives, our liberty, our wallets, and the future of our children and grandchildren. The current crop of candidates who peddle military greatness are the enemy of peace and prosperity, and when they so openly declaim their lust for war, we should frankly believe what they say. And after hearing them, we should recognize the would-be tyrant in our midst, hawking hyper-militarism under the guise of national greatness, and treat them like the vermin they clearly are.

Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.

Read more by Shane Smith

[Jul 05, 2015] Patriotism Begins With Localism

Jul 05, 2015 | The American Conservative

Responses to Patriotism Begins With Localism

Apolitical, July 3, 2015 at 9:50 am

Dulce et decorum est … to stop believing the "old lie" that appears so promiscuously on Union and Confederate war memorials. If men on all sides always die for country, who puts them up to it?

JonF, July 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

Re: But it is also, crucially, a matter of shared bloodlines, language, history, literature, and cuisine, things that originated long before the time of Rousseau and Voltaire.

At yet France is a glued-together-at-the-seams country too. The whole South of France once spoke a different language, in which the troubadours sang, and which still survives in the local dialects of the inhabitants. Burgundy was once a sovereign and very wealthy duchy whose duke controlled almost the entire Rhineland all the way to the Netherlands. Brittany too was its own nation, albeit torn between France and England. And the English ruled Gascony for 300 years, and were preferred as rulers to the Valois kings so that the Gascons promptly revolted when the French took the land back. The Pope ruled (and for a time dwelt) in Avignon. The Provence was a county of the Holy Roman Empire. Louis XIV knit these disparate lands together by corralling their nobility into velvet captivity at Versailles. The Revolutionaries added an ideology and a national anthem (and spilled the blood of the dissenters) and Napoleon gave the mix a mythology of glory. But the seams are still there under the surface. And indeed, you can find similar fissures in many other European countries too.

Connecticut Farmer, July 3, 2015 at 10:47 am

The concept of a country linked together by a common set of laws was never intended by our revered Founders to be anything more or less than an experiment. An experiment that had never been tried before. Arguably the United States Constitution that was drafted during the height of the Enlightenment and, together with the America's so-called "birth certificate", Jefferson's Declaration, may be considered that era's greatest accomplishment…a little Locke here, a dash of Montesquieu there and…Voila! In that respect "United" States are in no way "united", in the strictest sense of the word, except through the Constitution. And I suspect that is about all the Founders could have hoped for. From the beginning America was– and remains– a culturally Balkanized and, now more than ever, polyglot landmass more reminiscent of pre-World War One Austria-Hungary.

The late Speaker of The House, Tip O'Neill-a Boston Irishman I might add–is reputed to have once said "All politics is local." He got it half right. What he should have said is "All LOYALTY is local". I am also reminded of a line in The Godfather when Sonny Cordleone says to his brother Fredo "Your country ain't your blood".

Patriotism indeed begins on the local level, whether geographical, cultural, familial–or some combination thereof. The author is spot-on.

Gregory, July 3, 2015 at 8:28 pm

That line in Wilfred Owen's poem is supposed to be ironic…

TB, July 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm

"Patriotism Begins With Localism"

I think the last refuge of the scoundrel begins with tribalism fear which, is the cultural anthropologist's way of saying "localism".

Fran Macadam, July 3, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Well written, but full of unexamined assumptions that are more comforting myth than truth.

Like the girls who didn't stay thin, exactly.

"I'd wager that all of us on the roof that night were grateful to live in a place where we can vote, start a business, and express ourselves freely, and grateful towards the ungodly number of young men shot and shredded and killed in our name."

Yet voting's never meant less as policies are completely untethered from public opinion, except as it can be manufactured through what crony capitalism calls PR, more honest oligarchies call propaganda. And participation in voting is a minority activity, meaning real democracy's already given the process a vote of no confidence.

We can express ourselves freely, if we're not among those with proscribed views, but those in charge aren't interested in what we have to say. The main corporate media, the gateways through which most people get their filtered news, prints all the news that fits their status quo interests. No genuinely alternative political opinions that challenge the duopoly establishment are able to be considered, though the corporate donorist class has no solutions to the ill which ail us, except for mendacity. Certainly there have been an ungodly number of young men killed in our name, and an even more ungodly number of foreign civilians of all ages and sexes whom they have killed, also in our name. But truth be told, our name being invoked was our only connection to the purpose of the wars, which wasn't for our interests at all; none of the foreign wars of choice have secured our liberties, only debased them – and violated those of others. Far from making us secure, our very democracy has been endangered by their unaccountable and unconstitutional means, perhaps fatally. Perhaps only the young now can be so deceived, without experience, with heavy student debt focusing their thoughts on more immediate personal concerns, with their docile, untenured instructors carrying their own debt loads, unwilling to intellectually challenge the status quo.

What business will you be grateful to start? In the post-industrial economic desert of America that the donorist elites leveled to keep more of business' rewards for themselves, it's unlikely to be able to provide the stable, well-paying work that manufacturing used to.

I suggest getting another advisor and thesis.

Suggested topic:

JEinCA, July 4, 2015 at 3:16 am

I think Pat Buchanan said it best. We're no longer a nation in any traditional sense of the word. We are an economy. The best definition of a nation would be Michael Savage's definition of borders, language and culture but more important than all of this would be religion. Unless a nation has a commonly shared faith it can never truly be one. The Russians know this and that is why the Kremlin has thrown its support behind the Russian Orthodox Church. The West used to know this and that is why Europe was up until this last century identifiably Christian civilization with the biggest differances largely arising from the Catholic-Protestant divide.

For awhile America reflected Christian Europe but now we reflect Babylon and our elites are largely cynical atheists who look down on people of faith. Such a house could have never withstood a Great Depression let alone a Soviet style collapse.

[Jul 04, 2015] Paul Krugman Europe's Many Economic Disasters

Jul 04, 2015 | Economist's View

Was the creation of the euro a mistake? Should it be eliminated?:

Europe's Many Economic Disasters, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times:

Or to put it a bit differently, it's reasonable to fear the consequences of a "no" vote, because nobody knows what would come next. But you should be even more afraid of the consequences of a "yes," because in that case we do know what comes next - more austerity, more disasters and eventually a crisis much worse than anything we've seen so far.

anne said...

July 2, 2015

Behind the Greek Crisis

The usual narrative of the Greek economic tragedy is that the country is paying for its past profligacy, but there is deeper back story of political repression fueled by major powers intervening in Greece and contributing to a dysfunctional political system.
By William R. Polk

Focusing exclusively on the monetary aspects of the Greek crisis the media misses much of what disturbs the Greeks and also what might make a solution possible.

For over half a century, Greeks have lived in perilous times. In the 1930s, they lived under a brutal dictatorship that modeled itself on Nazi Germany, employing Gestapo-like secret police and sending critics off to an island concentration camp. Then a curious thing happened: Benito Mussolini invaded the country.

Challenged to protect their self-respect and their country, Greeks put aside their hatred of the Metaxis dictatorship and rallied to fight the foreign invaders. The Greeks did such a good job of defending their country that Adolf Hitler had to put off his invasion of Russia to rescue the Italians. That move probably saved Josef Stalin since the delay forced the Wehrmacht to fight in Russia's mud, snow and ice for which they had not prepared. But, ironically, it also saved the Metaxis dictatorship and the monarchy. The king and all the senior Greek officials fled to British-occupied Egypt and, as new allies, they were declared part of the "Free World."

Meanwhile, in Greece, the Germans looted much of the industry, shipping and food stuffs. The Greeks began to starve. As Mussolini remarked, "the Germans have taken from the Greeks even their shoelaces…"

Then, the Greeks began to fight back. In October 1942, they set up a resistance movement that within two years became the largest in Europe. When France could claim less than 20,000 partisans, the Greek resistance movement had enrolled about 2 million and was holding down at least two divisions of German soldiers. And they did it without outside help.

As the war's outcome became apparent, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to return Greece to the prewar rule of the monarchy and the old regime. He was motivated by fear of Communist influence within the resistance movement.

Churchill tried to get the Anglo-American army that was getting ready to invade Italy to attack Greece instead. Indeed, he tried so hard to change the war plan that he almost broke up the Allied military alliance; when he failed, he threw all the soldiers he still controlled into Greece and precipitated a civil war that tore the country apart. The Underground leaders were outsmarted and their movement was smashed. The bureaucracy, police and programs of the prewar dictatorship resumed control.

After the war, with Britain out of money and no longer able to sustain its policy, London turned Greece over to the Americans who announced the "Truman Doctrine" and poured in money to prevent a leftist victory. American money temporarily won the day, but the heavy hand of the former regime created a new generation of would-be democrats who challenged the dictatorship.

This is the theme beautifully evoked in Costa Gavras' film "Z," starring Yves Montagne. As the film shows, the liberal movement of the early 1960s was overwhelmed by a new military dictatorship, "the rule of the colonels."

When the military junta was overthrown in 1974, Greece enjoyed a brief period of "normality," but none of the deep fissures in the society had been healed. Regardless of what political party chose the ministers, the self-perpetuating bureaucracy was still in control. Corruption was rife. And, most important of all, Greece had become a political system that Aristotle would have called an oligarchy.

The very rich used their money to create for themselves a virtual state within the state. They extended their power into every niche of the economy and so arranged the banking system that it became essentially extra-territorialized. Piraeus harbor was filled with mega-yachts owned by people who paid no taxes and London was partly owned by people who fattened off the Greek economy. The "smart money" of Greece was stashed abroad.

The Current Crisis

This state of affairs might have lasted many more years, but when Greece joined the European Union in 1981, European (mainly German) bankers saw an opportunity: they flocked into Greece to offer loans. Even those Greeks who had insufficient income to justify loans grabbed them. Then, the lenders began to demand repayment. Shocked, businesses began to cut back. Unemployment increased. Opportunities vanished.

There is really no chance that the loans will be repaid. They should never have been offered and never should have been accepted. To stay afloat, the government has cut back on public services (except for the military) and the people have suffered. In the 2004 elections, the Greeks had not yet suffered enough to vote for the radical coalition led by the "Unity" (SYRIZA) party. Only 3.3 percent of the voters did.

Then, after the 2008 financial crash came years of worsening hardship, disapproval of all politicians and anger. It was popular anger, feeling misled by the bankers and by their own foolishness. There was also hopelessness as Greeks realized that they had no way out and began to turn to SYRIZA. After a series of failed attempts to secure a mandate, SYRIZA won the 2015 election with 36.3 percent of the vote and 249 out of 300 members of Parliament.

Today, the conditions that impelled that vote are even more urgent: the national income of Greece is down about 25 percent and unemployment among younger workers is over 50 percent. So where does that leave the negotiators?

Faced with German and EU demands for more austerity, the Greeks are angry. They have deep memories of hatred against the Germans (this time, not soldiers but bankers). They have been, time after time, traduced by their own politicians. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must know that if he is charged with a "sell-out," his career is finished.

And the bail-out package offered by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank is heavily weighted against Greece. Greeks also see their option of exiting the Euro as similar to stances taken by Britain and Sweden in not joining in the first place – although a painful adjustment for the Greek economy would be expected if Greece undertakes an unprecedented departure from the European currency.

However, unless the IMF and ECB offer a real chance for a better life for Greeks by forgiving most of the debts, I believe that the Greeks might well vote on Sunday to reject the austerity demands and leave the Euro.

William R. Polk is a professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department's Policy Planning Council.

anne said...

July 2, 2015

Congress Weighs in on Holding IMF Accountable for Damage Caused by Failed Policies in Greece
By Mark Weisbrot

The battle over the future of Greece will not end on Sunday, no matter how the vote goes or -- if the Greek people vote "no" -- how the European authorities respond to their choice. This is a fight over the future of Europe, and the people who are currently strangling the Greek economy in a transparent attempt to intimidate the Greek electorate understand this very well. That is why they are being especially aggressive and ruthless at this moment: trying to convince Greeks that a "no" vote means leaving the euro, claiming that such a decision would have calamitous consequences, and giving them a taste of the financial crisis and economic disruption that they will suffer through if they refuse to do as they are told.

Last Sunday, the European Central Bank (ECB) made a deliberate decision to limit Emergency Liquidity Assistance to the Greek banking system. The limit was set low enough to force -- for the first time in the six years of depression that the ECB has deepened and prolonged -- the closure of Greek banks.

It is not surprising that the very idea of a referendum would provoke the ire of the eurozone authorities. Unlike the European Union, which has a different history, the eurozone project has become a fundamentally anti-democratic project. It has to be; the people currently running it want to reverse, as much as possible, decades of social progress on issues that are vital to Europeans. But you don't have to take my word for it: there is a paper trail of thousands of pages that spell out their political agenda. The International Monetary Fund conducts regular consultations with member governments under Article IV of its charter, and these result in papers which contain policy recommendations. There were 67 such consultations for EU countries during the four years of 2008 to 2011, and the pattern was striking: budget tightening was recommended in all 27 countries, with spending cuts generally favored over tax increases. Cutting health care and pension spending, reducing eligibility for disability and unemployment compensation, raising retirement ages and increasing labor supply were also overwhelmingly common recommendations.

The European authorities took advantage of the crisis and post-crisis years to impose parts of this agenda on the weaker eurozone economies: Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and most brutally of all, Greece. More than 20 governments fell as a result, until finally, in Greece on January 25, a government was elected that said no. The goal of the European authorities, therefore, is to topple this government. This has been apparent since the ECB cut off itsmain line of credit to Greece on February 4.

Now comes a group of U.S. members of Congress warning the IMF that it could -- perhaps for the first time in decades -- be held accountable for the economic destruction that it's helping to implement. The letter objects to the IMF "taking a hard line with respect to demands that Greece implement further reforms" and notes:

Greece has already reduced its national public sector work force by 19 percent and carried out many of the reforms demanded by the IMF and its creditors. It has gone through an enormous fiscal adjustment, achieving the largest cyclically adjusted primary budget surplus in the euro area last year; and a very large current account adjustment (with a 36 percent reduction in imports). At the same time, as even the IMF has acknowledged in its own research, the austerity imposed by Greece's creditors over the past five years turned out to be far more devastating to the economy than they had predicted.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who joined House members in signing the letter, issued his own blistering statement yesterday. "At a time of grotesque wealth inequality, the pensions of the people in Greece should not be cut even further to pay back some of the largest banks and wealthiest financiers in the world," said Sanders. Among the House signers were the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representatives Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, and the Dean of the House and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers.

Unlike many letters from Congress that are ignored by the executive branch, this one might be taken more seriously by the IMF and the U.S. Treasury department -- which is the IMF's most powerful overseer. One reason is that the IMF has been trying for five years to enact reforms in its governance structure that are very important to the Fund and Treasury -- reforms that can't be enacted unless they are approved by Congress. These reforms would make some small changes in voting representation. They wouldn't shift the balance of power at the Fund, with the U.S. and its allies still likely to maintain a comfortable majority. But the U.S. government and the Fund have lost a lot of credibility in recent years by unilaterally holding up even these largely symbolic changes. They see this hold-up as encouraging developing countries to opt for creating new institutions such as the BRICS Development Bank and Currency Reserve Arrangement. More recently, the Obama administration suffered an embarrassing setback after the U.K., Germany and France ignored their pleas and became founding members of China's new $100 billion initiative to create an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

From the congressional letter:

"As members of the U.S. Congress, we must also note the unprecedented difficulty that the IMF's proposed quota and governance reform has faced in the U.S. Congress since 2010. As you know, this also has global implications, as some governments in developing countries have begun to lose confidence in this effort to make the IMF's voting structure more representative of its member countries in the twenty-first century and are seeking institutional alternatives. It will be difficult to get a majority of the U.S. Congress on board for these important reforms if the IMF is seen as responsible for further damage to the Greek economy, as well as the currently unforeseeable consequences of any financial collapse."

The IMF will need all the votes it can get for this legislation to pass through Congress. It can choose to ignore this warning at its own institutional risk.

[Jul 03, 2015] Greece Sane Voices Call For A No Vote

"...The Greek comprador class supported the Nazis in the Second World War, fought against the United Front in the civil war, made the neo-fascist 1970s regime, and today they support EU/NATO integration and austerity. They are an integral part of the European ruling class that is holding the working and middle classes of across the whole continent by the balls. The ruling class which has divided Europe, once again as they did in the 1930s, into "Germans" and "Greeks" instead of the reality - of workers and rulers. So, there is not one "more dangerous" than the other. They are the same."
"...Initially, the IMF predicated their support on Ukraine reaching a deal with its private creditors to restructure its debt to reduce its payments by $15 billion over four years. This has not proven easy, however, and the IMF now says it may release funds to Kiev even if it defaults on its private creditors. "
"..."This is a very dark moment for Europe. They have closed our banks for the sole purpose of blackmailing what? Getting a 'Yes' vote on a non-sustainable solution that would be ad for Europe.""
"...I have to say that I totally didn't get that point so far. Of course they're going nuts about a short-noticed referendum, because usually in these cases the public gets brainwashed for months in advance. Can't believe I didn't notice that right away. It's the essence of western democracy: let people vote, but only the things you want them to choose from. Nice move by Syriza btw! Now that I think about it, it's obvious that they planfully came up with the referendum as suprise! Kudos!"
"...After the hell of World War II, the Federal Republic of Germany – commonly known as West Germany – got massive help with its debt from former foes. Among its creditors then? Greece. The 1953 agreement, in which Greece and about 20 other countries effectively wrote off a large chunk of Germany's loans and restructured the rest, is a landmark case that shows how effective debt relief can be. It helped spark what became known as the German economic miracle."
"...We are witnessing a black swan event. The Greek banks have run out of cash. Either the EU seizes Greece or a failed state in Europe has been born with Ukraine soon to follow. All of the Greek debts are void and trillions in derivative payments will be due. This is 2008 all over again with the collapse of the western financial system possible. This is why everyone is so desperate. Yet, for pennies on the total cost of the default, Greece could be saved. Magnanimity may yet win out but it would mean the end of the current rule of extinction capitalism in the West."
Jul 03, 2015 | M of A
guest77 | Jul 2, 2015 6:20:38 PM

The Greeks have to make their decision as to what they are going to do. This is not a vote about staying in the EU. If the Greeks are kicked out, there is no one to blame for that decision except the EU masters. The Greeks are making only one decision - wether or not to agree to the terms of the EU for the repayment of the debt - and thereby wether the debt was incurred legally.

All those who claim that this is a referendum on the EU are liars who are not being honest with the Greek people. Those who are trotting out the endless stream of confusion as to what this referendum is about - like the BBC, the New York Times, and even Greek parties like Potomi, etc - are clearly no friends of the Greek people. Because to be a friend is to speak honestly.

"Your mention of compradors is important because the internal enemies of the Greek people may be more dangerous than the external Troika."
The internal and external enemies of the Greek people are one in the same. The Greeks are paying the Troika who gives the money to prop up Greek banking oligarchs. There is no difference between a banker in Athens, a banker in Frankfurt, or a hedge fund vulture in New York City holding Greek debt. All are ghouls who are profiting from the destruction of Greece.

The Greek comprador class supported the Nazis in the Second World War, fought against the United Front in the civil war, made the neo-fascist 1970s regime, and today they support EU/NATO integration and austerity. They are an integral part of the European ruling class that is holding the working and middle classes of across the whole continent by the balls. The ruling class which has divided Europe, once again as they did in the 1930s, into "Germans" and "Greeks" instead of the reality - of workers and rulers. So, there is not one "more dangerous" than the other. They are the same.

To add to the anti-Syriza noise machine, wether from a reactionary stance or a "ultra-leftist" stance, is to do the people of Europe a disservice. Syriza is the only left-wing, anti-austerity party with power inside the EU. It is unique. It fought the Golden Dawn on the streets of Athens. It engaged the Greek people and asked for their vote, and it is living up to their mandate without - and this is key - claiming more of one than they earned.

The referendum vote will be their true mandate. The Greek people have had a chance to see Syriza in action, the referendum will be the Greek people's chance to show or deny their trust in Syriza before embarking on a long struggle for independence, or maintaining the constant drain of austerity.The stakes are clear: Syriza's success means a stake in the heart of the EU debt vampires who are feeding off of not just Greece, but on all of those nations deemed "the periphery". Success for Syriza is success for the very idea of democracy in the 21st Century. It is that cut-and-dried.

If Syriza fails, then the last good hope for European democracy vanishes until, perhaps, the next escalation of crisis, whenever that might be a year or two years down the road. Or perhaps for the foreseeable future. Because this is the simplest question of the referendum: do a people have the right to say "no" to those whom wish them ill, to say "no" to those who, by whatever "legal" power, are seeking to oppress them? As Martin Luther King, Jr stated: "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." And clearly this debt - and the refusal of those who imposed it to make any compromise, even for the sickest and the poorest - is unjust. So which is worse - to face the morse losses for ones shattered economy, or the loss of ones national will and democracy? Because after Syriza, there is the abyss. There is no one offering to speak for the Greek people if Syriza falls.

If Syriza succeeds, though, then all over Europe, we could see these sham technocratic, ruling class regimes fall. These regimes whose only reason for staying in power is naked fear. This is a good time to recall the words of Franklin Roosevelt, when the US found itself crushed between a failed economy on one side, and a nest of powerful oligarchs on the other who refused to offer any support to the citizens of the country:

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

The Greeks are facing a moment of truth as stark and as clear as any in human history. As stark as any 20th Century war for independence. They can choose to continue down their current path, only to have to face the same choice in a year or two years from now with conditions far, far worse (there is no one arguing that there is any hope for their recovery - no one). So it is either continued depression under the "guiding hand" of those who seek only one thing from Greece: the transfer of its wealth. Or they can say "No" and take their destiny, again, into their own hands. Only once they have made their collective will known will Europe decide what course of action to take: compromise, or split Europe. And if it is a split, then the only party responsible will be the masters of the EU.

Mike Maloney | Jul 2, 2015 6:08:06 PM | 27
You know, the whole name-calling thing, Comrade X, escapes me. Why people feel like it enhances their persona I don't know. To repeat: the troika has already won this contest because Syriza capitulated. You quote me incorrectly.

I think failure for the troika is if they get the Yes vote they want and then refuse to offer concessions, which will push Tsipras and Varoufakis to resign. Without a deal shortly the ECB will have to step in and expand emergency liquidity assistance to make sure all those retirees who don't use debit cards have enough cash to buy food.

As this isn't a vote about EU membership, then the Greek people should have no fear. They should vote as their conscience dictates.

Who knows what form the EU Masters want the Union to take? The Greek people won't have a say in this and they should recognize that. The Greeks should recognize their limits - they do not have the power to vote to stay or leave the EU, they have only the power to vote on to wether or not to pay this odious debt. Europe will do with them, after that, as it will. So they should be clear that they are voting only on the debt, and ignore all those who are trying to cloud the issue.

The real danger, as always, is that we know the USA is busy manipulating every European political system. And we know that US geopolitics will insist on Greece remaining in the EU and in NATO no matter what it means for the Greeks. So the Greek people must be extremely wary of all those going onto the streets, EuroMaidan-style, for "Pro-EU" rallies... they're dishonest at best, and more likely they are pawns of the only power even less interested in the welfare of the Greek people than even the EU - Washington Imperialsim.

ab initio | Jul 2, 2015 6:53:47 PM | 29

A, Yes vote would mean that the Syriza government must resign since the implication is that the Greek people have voted a motion of no confidence.

A, No vote would mean the ball is in the Troika court. They can a) choose not to fund the Greek banks anymore which would imply that the banks would collapse immediately and no more pension payments under the current Euro system; b) Choose to give Greece an ultimatum of accept or reject whatever their offer will be. Non acceptance would mean once again they can cause Greek banks to collapse.

The Greek people are caught between a rock & a hard place. Risk the collapse of their banks and a new unknown future in a non-Euro currency system or accept whatever terms the Troika is willing to provide to keep their banks afloat. There is a decent probability that there is a "civil war" in Greece between those that would prefer to be in the Euro currency bloc under whatever terms the Troika offers and those wanting out of the Euro currency system.

BTW, this is not advocacy, only analysis.

Nana 2007 | Jul 2, 2015 7:04:24 PM | 30

The real danger, as always, is that we know the USA is busy manipulating every European political system. And we know that US geopolitics will insist on Greece remaining in the EU and in NATO no matter what it means for the Greeks. So the Greek people must be extremely wary of all those going onto the streets, EuroMaidan-style, for "Pro-EU" rallies... they're dishonest at best, and more likely they are pawns of the only power even less interested in the welfare of the Greek people than even the EU - Washington Imperialsim.

guest77 | Jul 2, 2015 6:20:38 PM

Well put. Thanks for your posts.

jo6pac | Jul 2, 2015 8:03:53 PM | 36

Very emphatic and stirring, guest77 @26. This is another moment of truth for non-Greek capitalist slaves as well. They are discouraged from seeing the Greek whip as their own.
In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.
Oh. Pray I may ask, President Roosevelt, "Why do we not need a leadership of frankness and vigor in good hour?" Perhaps this is why we don't get one in the dark ones?

"Those who claim that this is a referendum on the EU" are propagandists and sowers of confusion and discord. All vigorous capitalist systems need them, good times and bad.

Compradors are distinguished by their divided loyalties and false allegiances. Oligarchs cannot be mistaken for compradors. Compradors are an integral part of capitalist political economy and their false allegiance is more dangerous because it disarms. We could speak as well of German compradors, those who would vote to continue the immiseration of Greece though the bankers and brokers fraudulently saddled German and European taxpayer with their losses. Compradors don the hypocritical morality their oligarchs so affordably produce. They love playing the fools, because it so well pays.

Do the ultra-leftists who critique Syriza do only disservice? I doubt it. Even if "Syriza is the only left-wing, anti-austerity party with power inside the EU", that is not enough. Even Syriza would confirm that they and their pragmatism is not enough to achieve their ends. I agree that "ultra-left" critics risk being confused with dissemblers, but they should not silence themselves for that reason. KKE asks of Greeks, instead of yah or nay, to demand:


Is it not clear what Syriza should do with these "votes"? I have seen a Syriza supporter dissemble on KKE's position; that's bigotry.

Can Syriza mobilize the electorate against their oppressors? Have they propagandized enough? This referendum is not on whether "people have the right to say "no" to those whom wish them ill", i.e. a vote for their own oppression, but whether they have mobilized the Greeks, beyond Syriza's election, for the coming fracas.

Syriza cannot bring "these sham technocratic, ruling class regimes" to fall. We must fight on, whether they fail or no.

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 3:03:15 AM | 64


Yves Smith et al may not be as loony as you think. Check out this piece by William Engdahl, in which he has identified Varifoukas as a modern version of a Trojan horse, but in this instance, acting in the interest of the Greek oligarchs. It is this particular segment of the Greek population which has in large part been shielded from public view, most because of all the focus on the evil troika. Engdahl quite rightly put much of the blame for the current Greek crisis on a long established practice by the corrupt Greek political class, that has not only plundered and looted the country for the past 70 years (he actually sees that this is a centuries old practice), but has willfully subjected their fellow country folk to never-ending debt enslavement.

An interesting point, and this is on reason that NC could be cut some slack, is that Tsiprias and Varifoukas played nothing other than a game of brinkmanship that was a sure loser. Given that they had no plan-B to fall back on, and that they refused Putin's offer of assistance, it is hard to argue against Engdahls' conclusion that this was a rigged game all the way - one rigged by the Greek oligarchs, with Tsiprias and Varifoukas acting as their proxies.

I was always suspicious of the smile that never ceases to leave Varifoukas' face.

bjmaclac | Jul 3, 2015 2:43:06 AM | 63
IMF and Ukraine agree on terms for release of $1.7 bn in bailout funds

The International Monetary Fund and Kiev's representatives have agreed on a set of measures to be taken by Ukraine in order to receive $1.7 billion in bailout money, according to the IMF press service. The much needed 2nd tranche of a promised $17.5 billion support package will be released when the IMF's Ukrainian mission determines that the requirements of the agreement have been met, though the press release did not specify what those conditions might be. The IMF's management and board will also have to approve the final release of funds.

Initially, the IMF predicated their support on Ukraine reaching a deal with its private creditors to restructure its debt to reduce its payments by $15 billion over four years. This has not proven easy, however, and the IMF now says it may release funds to Kiev even if it defaults on its private creditors.

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 3:12:42 AM | 65

Presuming the referendum occurs, the range of outcomes can be distilled thus:

A> Greece votes "Yes": Tsipras resigns (as Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis has already hinted), EU rejoices but unless a technocratic government can be rustled up in Parliament, the ensuing election campaign will waste valuable weeks and add to uncertainty and instability. Any subsequent negotiations will see Greece economically immolated by its unrepentant lenders.

B> Greece votes No:

Technically referenda are considered consultative and need a 40 percent turnout to be deemed relevant.

With Greece in default on its IMF loans, the concept that a strong 'no' vote strengthens its hand in negotiations is a dubious assertion verging on folly. There is no negotiation, thus no strengthened position. Egos may be soothed but that won't feed Greek pensioners.
Neither vote enables a simple resolution. No delivers a poisoned chalice. A petulant EU, rattled by Greece's refusal to be supplicant to the superpower of delusion, won't receive Alexis Tsipras back into the fold prodigal son-style.

2) Greece maintains the euro: Syriza's apparent (self-defeating) choice. Athens must release the currency pressure valve to rebalance Greece, enabling future export and tourist growth fuelled by a cheaper New Drachma.

(Incidentally, this default is Greece's sixth since 1826).
4) Greece introduces parallel currency to pay bills. Thus a New Drachma will emerge and Greece will de facto exit the eurozone. By this stage the EU will be too preoccupied with its own credibility gap to hold Greece within the eurozone's structures.
6) Third party motivated regime change cannot be discounted: Some angry creditors are likely pushing for Syriza to be ousted. However a No vote gives Syriza a mandate to govern, albeit against a very volatile, probably quite chaotic, background.

8) Greece abandons the euro and adopts bitcoin - a lovely idea which would at least guarantee citizens could no longer be subject to summary devaluation at the knee. Alas only slightly more plausible than lenders accepting a No vote is a basis for debt relief.

And what of the eurozone?

The EU has egg on its face and a sickly currency whose sanctity is being undermined. Economically, Greek GDP is barely 1.8 percent of the 335 million citizen eurozone. However contagion risks will be a huge worry. Europe has delayed vital structural reforms and will pay a greater price than the 'mere' high unemployment relative stagnation of recent years where Asia rose and Europe froze. Investors will be spooked to realize the euro is not merely perishable, it is in mortal danger. Greece is a small but debt-laden Mediterranean nation, behind the narcissistic political hubris, the EU remains an, albeit fading, giant of global influence.

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 3:40:18 AM | 66
okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 3:12:42 AM | 65

Sure, they played this lose lose, that is the part that really worries me. You cannot trust politicians who enter that type of game. And this is all the EU.

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 4:50:22 AM | 67

Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 2:22:41 AM | 62

"smart people now benefit in contraction", sure, as the fire sales concentrate ownership to the very few. This model has been tested and proven politically unsustainable before, it leads to war, where "smart people" are bound to benefit, too.

bjmaclac | Jul 3, 2015 2:43:06 AM | 63

Engdahl certainly is right in that Syriza is made an example of to disencourage (Southern) European national politicians from challenging the system. The result, however, is very much the end of Europe, as there is no way now to sell European initiatives to the - very diverse - national publics. The discussion in Germany has been framed in a way that makes it virtually impossible to transfer any more billions to creditors or agree to a debt cut meaning the billions granted before on saving German and international banks have to be written off.

European politicians got themselves in such a quandary that they depend on the IMF to solve the crisis whilst making the solution more and more expensive themselves. By defaulting on the IMF Greece presumably has taken that option from the table. The BRICS will not pay for the "European problem".

radiator | Jul 3, 2015 5:21:07 AM | 68

The earlier declaration from the Monarchs of the European voting commission was telling. They demanded a two week delay to allow their minions to browbeat and propagandize the poor Greeks before a 'fair', read controlled, referendum could take place. Wayoutwest | Jul 2, 2015 1:51:47 PM | 7

I have to say that I totally didn't get that point so far. Of course they're going nuts about a short-noticed referendum, because usually in these cases the public gets brainwashed for months in advance. Can't believe I didn't notice that right away.

It's the essence of western democracy: let people vote, but only the things you want them to choose from. Nice move by Syriza btw! Now that I think about it, it's obvious that they planfully came up with the referendum as suprise! Kudos!

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 6:00:23 AM | 69
China may help Greece directly through its new financial instruments, director of the Quantitative Finance Department at China's Institute of Quantitative and Technical Economics told Sputnik China.

"The Greek crisis has an undoubtedly seriously influence on China's trade with Greece and investment into the country. But I think that European countries together with China can help Greece overcome the problems that arose," Fan Mingtao said.

"I believe there are two ways to give Greece Chinese aid. First, within the framework of the international aid through EU countries. Second, China could aid Greece directly. Especially considering the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China has this ability," Fan added

Jackrabbit | Jul 3, 2015 8:24:26 AM | 71

okie @65

A 'YES' vote is capitulation. A 'NO' vote means negotiation backed by the possibility of GRexit.

GRexit has not been an option so far because Syriza had no democratic authority to contemplate such a move. Allowing for the possibility of GRexit gives the Greek side a much stronger hand.

Both sides are playing games. You can't take what they say at face value. The Greeks are pro-Europe until the are not. Tsipras says that a 'NO' vote is not a vote for GRexit. But a 'NO' allows for GRexit if negotiations fail.

If a GRexit occurs, the Greek side will blame the Troika, pointing to how determined Syriza has been to stay in Europe. This political blame game is meant to raise the stakes.

I think Greece would issue a parallel currency like Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) during a transition period (maybe starting right after a 'NO' vote). If Greece exits, they will likely get support (loans, trade deals) from BRICS. Russia has an incentive to see that Greece does not fail, while the Troika has an incentive to see that Greece does fail.


I think there will be a 'NO' vote and, armed with the recently released IMF report on the sustainability of Greek debt, Greece will get a favorable agreement. The BIG question in my mind is whether the Troika will insist on Greece to agree to support tighter EU integration. That would then also be asked of other PIGS that seek debt relief.

So this Greek crisis could represent the beginning of the end for the EZ or an significant advance for those that want to see a "United States of Europe".

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 9:13:28 AM | 72

Syriza had no democratic authority to contemplate such a move.
It's worse than that, there's no mechanism in Monetary Union itself for anyone in to exit.

ADL Poll: 85% of Greeks Believe the Jews Have Too Much Power Over Global Finance

jfl | Jul 3, 2015 9:17:19 AM | 73
A new poll by the Anti-Defamation League found that the majority of Greeks continue to hold anti-Semitic views about Jewish control over finance and the global economy, despite a recent drop in anti-Jewish attitudes in other parts of Europe.
They are desperate! The Greeks are NAZIs! Wow! It is amusing to see them going insane, breaking down right on stage before the audience ... roaring with laughter? I know I am. If you lose your money, good god don't you lose your mind!

Come on Greeks! You've got 'em on the run! As that great stateswoman Nancy Reagan once said with regard to drug dealers - "Just say NO!"

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 9:24:17 AM | 74

And now it is Jeffrey D. Sachs coming out for a no
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has a clear negotiating strategy, aimed at getting Greece to agree to leave the eurozone. Unfortunately for him, Greece does not want to exit, and it cannot be forced to do so under the treaties governing the European Union. What Greece wants is to remain in the eurozone, with a lower debt burden – a position that is both economically astute and protected by treaty.

... ... ...

There are plenty of precedents for such a course. Sovereign debts have been restructured hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times – including for Germany. In fact, hardline demands by the country's US government creditors after World War I contributed to deep financial instability in Germany and other parts of Europe, and indirectly to the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933. After World War II, however, Germany was the recipient of vastly wiser concessions by the US government, culminating in consensual debt relief in 1953, an action that greatly benefitted Germany and the world. Yet Germany has failed to learn the lessons of its own history.
I propose a four-step path out of the Greek crisis. First, I recommend that the Greek people give a resounding "No" to the creditors in the referendum on their demands this weekend.

Second, Greece should continue to withhold service on its external debts to official creditors in advance of a consensual debt restructuring later this year. Given its great depression, Greece should use its savings to pay pensioners, provide food relief, make crucial infrastructure repairs, and direct liquidity toward the banking system.

Third, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must use his persuasive powers to convince the public, in the style of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself. Specifically, the government should make clear to all Greeks that their euro deposits are safe; that the country will remain within the eurozone (despite the false claims by some members of the Eurogroup that a no vote means a Greek exit); and that its banks will reopen immediately after the referendum.

Finally, Greece and Germany need to come to a rapprochement soon after the referendum and agree to a package of economic reforms and debt relief. No country – including Greece – should expect to be offered debt relief on a silver platter; relief must be earned and justified by real reforms that restore growth, to the benefit of both debtor and creditor. And yet, a corpse cannot carry out reforms. That is why debt relief and reforms must be offered together, not reforms "first" with some vague promises that debt relief will come in some unspecified amount at some unspecified time in the future (as some in Europe have said to Greece).

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 9:26:48 AM | 75

Greece is sliding into a full-blown national crisis as the final cash reserves of the banking system evaporate by the hour and swathes of industry start to shut down, precipitating the near disintegration of the ruling coalition. Business leaders have been locked in talks with the Bank of Greece, pleading for the immediate release of emergency liquidity funds (ELA) to cover food imports and pharmaceutical goods before the tourist sector hits a brick wall. Officials say the central bank will release the funds as soon as Friday, but this is a stop-gap measure at best. "We are on a war footing in this country," said Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister. The daily allowance of cash from many ATM machines has already dropped from €60 to €50, purportedly because €20 notes are running out.

Large numbers are empty. The financial contagion is spreading fast as petrol stations and small businesses stop accepting credit cards. Constantine Michalos, head of the Hellenic Chambers of Commerce, said lenders are simply running out of money. "We are reliably informed that the cash reserves of the banks are down to €500m. Anybody who thinks they are going to open again on Tuesday is day-dreaming. The cash would not last an hour," he said. "We are in an extremely dangerous situation. Greek companies have been excluded from the electronic transfers of Europe's Target2 system. The entire Greek business community is unable to import anything, and without raw materials they can't produce anything," he said.

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 9:48:31 AM | 76
Troika Maneuvering to Rig Greek Referendum (Martin Armstrong)

In a TV interview, Mr. Varoufakis said very clearly,

"This is a very dark moment for Europe. They have closed our banks for the sole purpose of blackmailing what? Getting a 'Yes' vote on a non-sustainable solution that would be bad for Europe."

I must admit, most politicians do not come even close to the truth, but Varoufakis seems to be the ONLY finance minister who understands the demands of the Troika are not plausible for any nation. Merkel has tried to skirt any responsibility by saying this is a Troika decision. One must seriously ask, are those in the Troika just totally brain-dead? Their blackmail and economic war against Greece will be evidence to ensure that Britain leaves the EU. The ONLY thing that saved Britain was Maggie Thatcher's effort to keep Britain out of the euro for she knew far too well where it would lead.

The view in Poland is also now anti-euro. Any Brit who now does not vote to get out of the EU and the grips of the Troika is ignorant of world events and the political power play going on. The EU leaders will not travel to Athens until after the referendum. Suddenly they realize that their powers are so off the wall that they dare not expose their own schemes. Hollande of France wants a resolution for he fears a Frexit is gaining momentum. Obama wants a resolution, fearing Greece will be forced into the arms of Russia, breaking down NATO. Yet through all of this, there is no hope because those in power are clueless. The Troika refuses to solve the euro crisis because they only see their own self-interest and assume they can force their will upon all the people.

The Troika is doing everything in their power to rig the Greek referendum to make it appear that the Greek people want Brussels. The Troika deliberately closed the banks to punish the people of Greece, and to show them what exiting the euro means. This appears to be their only way of diverting the crisis with orchestrating a fake "YES" vote to economic suicide. The Troika will attempt to rig the referendum as they did with the Scottish elections. So expect biased vote counting in favor of a "YES" vote to stay in the euro. As Stalin said, "Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything."

rexl | Jul 3, 2015 9:53:17 AM | 77

So, do you think the large banks in the US have any loans still in their vaults or did they sell them all to the FED when it was buying 85 BILLION per month? I mean, most of the real estate loans are FHA, so never show up anyway. And the banks received dollar for dollar value on the exchange of bad and marginal loans and even, why not, good loans?

okie farmer | Jul 3, 2015 9:57:03 AM | 78

After the hell of World War II, the Federal Republic of Germany – commonly known as West Germany – got massive help with its debt from former foes. Among its creditors then? Greece. The 1953 agreement, in which Greece and about 20 other countries effectively wrote off a large chunk of Germany's loans and restructured the rest, is a landmark case that shows how effective debt relief can be. It helped spark what became known as the German economic miracle.

So it's perhaps ironic that Germany is now among the countries resisting Greece's requests for debt relief. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis claims debt relief is the key issue that held up a deal with creditors last week and says he'd rather cut off his arm than sign a deal that does not tackle the country's borrowings. The IMF backed the call to make Greece's debt manageable with a wide-ranging report on Thursday that also blames the Greek government for being slow with reforms. Despite years of budget cuts, Greece's debt burden is higher than when its bailout began in 2010 – more than €300 billion, or 180% of annual GDP – because the economy has shrunk by a quarter.

ab initio | Jul 3, 2015 10:40:39 AM | 84
okie farmer @75

The social fabric in Greece is likely to unravel completely providing the fascist New Dawn an even larger opening. Those that want to accept whatever terms the EU/IMF offer to insure their banks get the emergency funding to stay open and will vote Yes in the referendum are neck and neck with the No vote group.

Syriza knows that at the end of the day they have a Hobbesian choice. The majority of Greeks want to be in the Euro. If Syriza want their banks open under the Euro system they have to agree to whatever the EU offers, otherwise they'll have to go against the wishes of the majority of Greeks and move to another currency. They have no other choice.

Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 10:50:03 AM | 85

jfl @73, have ADL acknowledged Israel's reassurances from Ukranian NAZI's?

ADL condemns Greeks for thinking Jews exercise inordinate control over finance and the global economy (implying their resistance arises out of antisemitism). Israel supports fascists where they commit to "oppose all [racist] phenomena, especially anti-Semitism, with all legitimate means." If ADL does not request such commitment from Syriza (which is obviously unnecessary), is that because they don't want it? Do they not want it because the Greeks are right?

Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 11:17:38 AM | 86
Re somebody @74: Sachs, ever this schmuck-comprador, concludes "No country – including Greece – should expect to be offered debt relief on a silver platter; relief must be earned and justified by real reforms that restore growth, to the benefit of both debtor and creditor." Why does he neglect the issue of odious debt, you may ask:
[SNOWDEN] do you see 'odious debt' as a workable concept?

[SACHS] That's a tough question. I am sympathetic to the idea but I have taken a
somewhat different view. I of course agree with Michael Kremer that cer-
tain debts need to be forgiven, and his view is that certain debts ought not
to be enforceable at all. There are two aspects that concern me with his
approach. First, even non-odious debt should be forgiven in many circum-
stances. So I don't think that the answer to sub-Saharan Africa's debt prob-
lem depends so much on where the debt came from, as opposed to what
the current implications are of the accumulated debt. Some countries get
themselves into a mess through bad luck or bad governance and in my
view these countries need help.
Societies should not be trapped by debt
when it is a life and death issue. Second, I am not sure that we know, or can
define what 'odious' means in a clear-cut, unambiguous way. Tastes vary a
lot about what is or what is not good governance.
I worry that rich and pow-
erful countries are likely to manipulate decisions on which debts are to be
defined as odious. I would not want to see the Pentagon deciding whose debts
are odious and whose are not. So the applicability of the concept worries
me. However, there is something particularly troubling about a brutal dic-
tatorship that takes on debt by mortgaging national assets and then the cit-
izens of that country, for decades to come, having to pay for that debt. After
all, in most countries private citizens are not responsible for the repayment
of debt incurred in their name by fraudsters. So I sympathise with the
idea, but have a problem seeing how the idea can be put into operation.

Forgive me, I cannot waste any more time deconstructing that obvious bullshit. SACHS is a legendary good cop. The "NO" possibility must be bracketed and so his "approval" is unsurprising.
Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 12:18:10 PM | 90
Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 10:27:05 AM | 83

Very simple, because there is no such thing as rational agents.

Smart is different, if you take the - original - UK meaning.

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 11:24:22 AM | 87

To okie farmer @76; Armstrong is hysterical: e.g. "One must seriously ask, are those in the Troika just totally brain-dead?" and "there is no hope because those in power are clueless." Blimey, 'e sounds like a fooking war correspondent. 'E must like war.

ben | Jul 3, 2015 12:50:19 PM | 91

From TRNN on Greece:

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 12:56:55 PM | 92
Comrade X | Jul 3, 2015 12:18:10 PM | 90

:-)) Chomsky should have known better. The information in the approval is that there is a transatlantic economist establishment party supporting the "no",
apart from Syriza, Beppe Grillo, Podemos - and British media. Looks like the regime change plot is a German one.

Jackrabbit | Jul 3, 2015 2:04:15 PM | 93

Investment Bank RBS has done the math
PM Tsipras said that Euro members will never allow Greece to exit, because it would be too expensive. But what is, really, the cost of Grexit?
We estimate the minimum direct cost of Grexit at around €239bn or 2.4% of Eurozone GDP.

Is Greece too big to fail for the Eurozone, as Tsipras argues? No. Grexit costs are manageable for creditors. Yet, Grexit is twice more expensive than keeping Greece within the Eurozone (even with debt relief). Making Greek debt sustainable again by restructuring it and bringing close to 100% of GDP, would cost roughly half that (€140bn, or 1.4% of Eurozone GDP). The real issue, of course, would be moral hazard for other countries, which may be incentivised to ask for debt relief as well. This issue may be avoided with a conditional form of debt restructuring...

... ... ... According to the RBS analysis, it makes financial sense for the Troika to help Greece instead of risk GRexit. Its only that other countries might seek debt relief that prevents them from doing so (plus their dislike of the Tsipras government).

And, we now know that the IMF agrees: Greek debt should be restructured.

somebody | Jul 3, 2015 2:27:08 PM | 95

There seems to be an EU climbdown
Tusk refused to get drawn out on what this alternative solution might look like. "If you imagine too much, you get self-fulfilling prophesies," he said, adding that it was above all necessary to "avoid this dramatic scenario: the breakup of the eurozone."

He added that the stakes in Greece go well beyond the debt or future of the euro, and are at heart geopolitical: "Greece and the Balkans are the traditional soft underbelly of Europe," and the EU needs to move "very, very cautiously."

... Berlin dreaming - Gremain scenario - in German

Let Greece go bankrupt within the Euro. ECB control capital flows. Foreign banks to take over bankrupt Greek national banks. Personal hardship to be softened by humanitarian EU programme.

james | Jul 3, 2015 3:44:33 PM | 97

official stenographer's viewpoint ...

Mr. Tsipras's unexpected decision to call the referendum was the equivalent of a frustrated chess player trying to break open a match with a daring last-minute move that his opponent considered to be against the rules.

VietnamVet | Jul 3, 2015 4:46:54 PM | 98
We are witnessing a black swan event. The Greek banks have run out of cash. Either the EU seizes Greece or a failed state in Europe has been born with Ukraine soon to follow. All of the Greek debts are void and trillions in derivative payments will be due. This is 2008 all over again with the collapse of the western financial system possible. This is why everyone is so desperate. Yet, for pennies on the total cost of the default, Greece could be saved. Magnanimity may yet win out but it would mean the end of the current rule of extinction capitalism in the West.

[Jul 03, 2015] Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners

"...So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. "
"...Debt and war are constant partners."
"...And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

omewhere in a Greek jail, the former defence minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, watches the financial crisis unfold. I wonder how partly responsible he feels? In 2013, Akis (as he is popularly known) went down for 20 years, finally succumbing to the waves of financial scandal to which his name had long been associated. For alongside the lavish spending, the houses and the dodgy tax returns, there was bribery, and it was the €8m appreciation he received from the German arms dealer, Ferrostaal, for the Greek government's purchase of Type 214 submarines, that sent him to prison.

There is this idea that the Greeks got themselves into this current mess because they paid themselves too much for doing too little. Well, maybe. But it's not the complete picture. For the Greeks also got themselves into debt for the oldest reason in the book – one might even argue, for the very reason that public debt itself was first invented – to raise and support an army. The state's need for quick money to raise an army is how industrial-scale money lending comes into business (in the face of the church's historic opposition to usury). Indeed, in the west, one might even stretch to say that large-scale public debt began as a way to finance military intervention in the Middle East – ie the crusades. And just as rescuing Jerusalem from the Turks was the justification for massive military spending in the middle ages, so the fear of Turkey has been the reason given for recent Greek spending. Along with German subs, the Greeks have bought French frigates, US F16s and German Leopard 2 tanks. In the 1980s, for example, the Greeks spent an average of 6.2% of their GDP on defence compared with a European average of 2.9%. In the years following their EU entry, the Greeks were the world's fourth-highest spenders on conventional weaponry.

So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. Is this an unfair characterisation? A bit. It wasn't just Germany. And there were many other factors at play in the escalation of Greek debt. But the postwar difference between the Germans and the Greeks is not the tired stereotype that the former are hardworking and the latter are lazy, but rather that, among other things, the Germans have, for obvious reasons, been restricted in their military spending. And they have benefited massively from that.

Debt and war are constant partners. "The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war," wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculating the cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, pre-financial crash, to have been $3tn. Indeed, it was only this year, back in March, that the UK taxpayer finally paid off the money we borrowed to fight the first world war. "This is a moment for Britain to be proud of," said George Osborne, as he paid the final instalment of £1.9bn. Really?

The phrase "military-industrial complex" is one of those cliches of 70s leftwing radicalism, but it was Dwight D Eisenhower, a five-star general no less, who warned against its creeping power in his final speech as president. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government … we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." Ike was right.

This week, Church House, C of E HQ, hosted a conference sponsored by the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and MBDA Missile Systems. We preach about turning swords into ploughs yet help normalise an industry that turns them back again. The archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty solid on Wonga and trying to put legal loan sharks out of business. Now the church needs to take this up a level. For the debts that cripple entire countries come mostly from spending on war, not on pensions. And we don't say this nearly enough.

marsCubed, 3 Jul 2015 12:21

Syriza's position has been stated in this Huffington Post article.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Yiannis Bournous, the head of international affairs for Greece's ruling Syriza party, heartily endorsed defense cuts as a way to meet the fiscal targets of Greece's international creditors.

"We already proposed a 200 million euro cut in the defense budget," Bournous said at an event hosted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, referring to cuts in Syriza's most recent proposal to its creditors. "We are willing to make it even bigger -- it is a pleasure for us."

Europe Offered Greece A Deal To Meet Its Obligations By Cutting Military Spending. The IMF Said No Way.

If the report is correct, ideology is playing just as much of a role as arithmetic in preventing a resolution. The IMF's refusal to consider a plan that would lessen pension cuts is consistent with itshistorically neoliberal political philosophy.

Giftedbutlazee 3 Jul 2015 11:52

we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.

Still as relevant now, 54 years after Eisenhower said it.

BritCol 3 Jul 2015 11:39

And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England.

The moral? War makes money for profiteers, and puts those of us not killed or displaced in debt for generations. Yet we morons keep waving flags every time a prime minister wants to send us into another conflict.

barry1947brewster 3 Jul 2015 11:39

28 May 2014 The Royal United Services Institute estimated that since the Berlin Wall fell the UK has spent £35 billion on wars. Now it is suggested that we bomb IS in Syria. Instead of printing "Paid for by the Taxpayer" on medicines provided by the NHS we should have a daily costing of our expenditure on bombs etc used in anger.

real tic 3 Jul 2015 11:23

Finally someone at Graun looks at this obvious contradiction present in the Greek governments opposition to cut in defense spending (when they apparently accept cuts to pensions, healthcare and other social services)! Well done Giles, but what's wrong with your colleagues in CIF, or even in the glass bubbled editorial offices? Why has it taken so long to examine this aspect of Greek debt?

Defense expenditure is also one reason some actors in creditor nations are content to keep Greece in debt, even as far as to see its debts deepen, as long as it keeps on buying. while within Greece, nationalism within the military has long been a way of containing far right tendencies.

It is notable but unsurprising that the current Minister of Defense in Greece is a far right politician, allied to Tsipiras in the Syriza coalition.

Pollik 3 Jul 2015 11:03

"Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners"

...and someone always makes a profit.

[Jul 03, 2015] Europe's leaders must end this reckless standoff with Greece by Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium

"...Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?"
"...When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading. It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought. All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done."
"...You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much. Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity."
"...That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc."
Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

The possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone has never been more likely. We shouldn't be under any illusions – this would be a catastrophe for Greece's eurozone creditors, the Greek state and the European Union.

Like it or not, we are all in this together. If we continue on our current trajectory, everyone stands to lose from what now resembles a reckless, self-destructive standoff. The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again. We must remember that Germany has lent approximately €80bn. This is an astonishing figure, close to a quarter of Greece's budget for 2016. Yet the sad irony is, the longer the current impasse continues, the greater pressure Angela Merkel will face within her own party to reject any solution that is accepted by the Greek government.

But much more is at stake than euros. The world will consider a "Grexit" as a devastating blow for EU monetary cooperation and the European project. A destabilising Grexit will only be welcomed by the likes of China, Russia and those who are most threatened by a strong, united European Union. If Greece is to stay within the eurozone, we need to secure a massive de-escalation of the tensions, rhetoric and threats from both sides – and fast. It is time for Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the political leaders of the eurozone to come to their senses and bring this crisis back from the brink.

Prodisestab -> HolyInsurgent 3 Jul 2015 18:26

Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?

Panagiotis Theodoropoulos Gjenganger 3 Jul 2015 19:20

Agreed to a good extent. However, when the discussions broke off Friday night, the two sides were very close regarding the measures that were needed. I believe that they were off by 60 million euros only. Their differences were mostly about the types of measures to be taken with the Greek government wanting more taxes on businesses and the creditors wanting more to be paid by ordinary people. The problem that I have and that a lot of observers have with that is the fact that the Greek government did compromize quite a lot while the creditors refused to budge from their inflexible position despite the fact that implementation of their policies during the last five years has put the country into a depression. A basic premise of "negotiation" is that both sides make compromises in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. In this case the creditors demonstrated total lack of flexibility, which clearly indicates alterior motives at least on the part of some of the creditors. In Germany they have fed their people with all the hate against "lazy Greeks" etc that clearly shows up in these messages and in that sense they have themselves created a very negative environment. I believe that about 90% or so of all the loans that have been given to Greece went back to the creditors. Greece is not looking for handouts here. This must be understood.

This is a debt crisis that has been mishandled and that has span out of control as a result. Economic terrorism is not justified under any conditions and particularly within the EZ.

LiveitOut 3 Jul 2015 21:45

When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading.

It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought.

All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done.

How odd all this stuff about hardworking families when we are all being screwed to kingdom come by hard whoring banking gangsters who have never done a second of useful work in their effing lives --

Optymystic, 3 Jul 2015 12:55

The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

The debt has been known to be unpayable for a long time. It has nothing to do with current events in Greece. It should have been written off.

No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore, and this is why a yes vote on Sunday is crucial. But it's also clear eurozone leaders have made mistakes with Greece.

But despite their nonsenses the latter group somehow, mysteriously, retain credibility. It was not the antics of Tsiparis that brought about this mess but the behaviour of his 'credible' opponents.

Greece and its creditors agree a three-month window to develop a long-term reform programme combined with an investment package to turn Greece's ailing economy around.

Now you are getting close to the Syriza position.

Let us use this crisis to deliver real, sustainable change by drawing up a settlement in the next three months in which the Greek state, its government and its administration are paying back the debts, instead of forcing hard-working citizens to pay the bill.

Is that before or after the twenty-year moratorium on debt implied by the IMF?

From the burning embers of two world wars, we have created a single market with free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

And the freedom to avoid taxes.

PaleMan -> jonbryce 3 Jul 2015 12:59

You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much.

Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity.

Danny Sheahan 3 Jul 2015 12:59

No one believes the ECB or the EU leadership anymore.

If they were serious about the Euro as a strong functional currency this mess would not be so big.

They would not have had to flush out private German and French bad debt in the 2nd bailout by putting it on the tax payer, or those countries would have had to step in to hep their banks and political careers would have been over.

The ECB has become a political football and it cannot maintain stability in its currency region. It is a failed central bank.

Vilos_Cohaagen 3 Jul 2015 12:58

"The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again."

The problem is that there's no scenario where the creditors do get paid back. So, why (for a start) "lend" them 60 billion more Euros? Wiping the debt completely out just means that the Greeks can start accumulating new "debt" they'll have no intention to re-pay and will be defaulting on a few years down the line.

BusinessWriter 3 Jul 2015 12:52

it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

Crazy - this Guy actually thinks the creditors have any chance of seeing their money again - what planet is he on.
As for his idea that the Greek state (or any state for that matter that doesn't control its own currency) can pay of its debt independent of the taxpaying public - it's deluded nonsense.

Where is the Greek state supposed to get the billions of euro from? The only source of revenue it has is taxes or selling assets that it holds on behalf of the citizens of Greece.

Equally, the idea that the clientelist state is somehow a separate thing to the majority of the Greek people is nonsense. So many of them are either employed by the state or in professions protected from competition by the state or in companies that only serve the state. Identifying anyone who doesn't benefit in some way from the current clientelist state would be like looking for an ATM in Athens with cash in it on Monday morning.

This Guy is just another symptom of the problem - he offers no sustainable solution - and what he does offer is incoherent and too late.

fullgrill -> elliot2511 3 Jul 2015 12:51

That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc.

whichone 3 Jul 2015 12:50

"Syriza's game is up. No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore"

well 1) it looks like 50% of the Greeks believe him

2) The IMF (and Merkel in leaked notes) have acknowledged that the debt is unsustainable even if Greece accept all conditions imposed by the Troika.

Varoufakis has been saying this since the start. So lets no longer pretend that this is all about getting the money back or that Greece wants to avoid its responsibility to its creditors : again will say Varoufakis has said the Greek government does not want to do this. The point is he and many other knowledgeable people (not politicians) know that it can not be paid back , but with the conditions in place to allow the economy to start to grow then Greece has a chance to pay some of it back. This is about bringing a Government to heel. I wish the Guardian , having continually reported on this crisis and knows what has been said allows a contributor to use the paper as propaganda.

And I hope that all those people who purposely said that a 'NO' vote means a no to Greece in the Euro and EU after a 'NO' result and surprise surprise Greece is still in the Euro, get thrown to the Wolves.

The same is goes with the comments about Varoufakis playing Game theory. He denied this basically saying that those who say this obviously don't know the first thing about Game Theory.

badluc TheSighingDutchman 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Genuine question: correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the electorates of Germany, Netherlands, Finland etc been consistently fed by most of their politicians (and newspapers) a completely mistaken "morality tale" about what the root causes of the problems are, blaming inefficient and corrupt governments who borrowed too much, without mentioning either the reckless lenders (mainly German, French, Dutch etc banks), were silent about the shifting of the burden of bad lending from the banks to the EU taxpayers (did they ever acknowledge that clearly?!?), describing the solution as a punitive austerity which would somehow bring moribund economies back from the abyss, etc? Politicians have a duty to be frank and sincere with their electorate, sharing with them all the relevant data they have on a given problem. If they have been feeding them misguided rhetoric, they have only themselves to blame if the chickens now come home to roost. In other words, if the electorate would now revolt against the inevitable, don't the politicians of those countries who have most strongly supported and advocated austerity have only themselves to blame?

SouthSeas 3 Jul 2015 12:48

Germany has lent 80bn to Greece to pay back loans from German banks

RudolphS 3 Jul 2015 12:47

While Verhofstadt calls for a cooling-off period he at the same time claims 'Syriza's game is up' and is urging the Greek people to vote 'yes' next sunday. With the latter he shows his true colours as just another Brussels eurocrat, and is only fuelling debate instead of cooling-off.

Dear Mr. Verhofstadt, why the hell do you think the Greek voted en masse for a party like Syriza? Because they are sick and tired of people like you.

And yes, there much more at stake than a debt. Putin must be watching this whole spectacle with total bewilderment how the EU is crippling itself from the inside.

Rainborough 3 Jul 2015 12:47

Anyone who is in danger of being impressed by conservative politician Guy Verhofstadt's perspective on Greek problems might like to bear in mknd that among his numerous other highly lucrative financial interests is his position on the board of the multi-billion Belgian investment company Sofina, whose interests include a stake in the highly controversial planned privatization of the Thessaloniki water utility.

hatewarmongers OscarD 3 Jul 2015 12:46

The neoliberal elite don't

SHappens 3 Jul 2015 12:17

In a democracy people can chose their fate by voting or through referendum. That's the way it goes but not in Europe where referendum are seen as a danger to the establishment. Tsipras, as soon as he came to power through a democratic vote was seen as a danger. He was ostracized and considered a pariah, Greece became a pariah state and they can as well die from hunger.

The EU, and institutions have behaved like the little bullies they are, just like they did with Switzerland after the vote on immigration, they threat, blackmail everyone who dare think different.

For the sake of democracy, the Greeks have to vote no, there is no other decent alternatives especially after all the bashing and disrespect they have been under. Nobody in EU and US (since they have their say in european affairs) want to see Greece walking away, nor Russia or China for that matter. But Tsipras had the opportunity to see where his real allies stand, and it is not within Europe. He might not forget this in the future.

mfederighi 3 Jul 2015 12:09

You are entirely right in suggesting that the only sustainable solution is a far-reaching reform programme for the Greek state and the reek economy. However, when you say that:

Greece's people must be at the centre of such a settlement. They did not cause this crisis and remain the victims of successive Greek governments, who have protected vested interests and the Greek clientelist system at their expense.

You seem to think that vested interest and the reek clientelist system are distinct from the Greek people. There is, I am afraid, a substantial overlap - that is, quite a few people benefit from clientelism and are part of vested interests. Not recognising this is disingenuous.

After all, corrupt and inefficient governments have been elected again and again - by whom?

jimmywalter 3 Jul 2015 12:06

The Banks solution is no solution - it means poverty and no taxes to pay to repay. The Banks want a Treaty of Versailles. We all know of a certain Austrian that rose up to end the German economic collapse. We all know how that ended. I don't want that again. People revolt over economics. Spain, Italy, and Greece have huge numbers of unemployeed who did nothing to create this crisis. The Banks did. Who should pay? Anyway, leave the Euro, stay in the EU!

[Jul 02, 2015]Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400

"...As U.S.-operated drones rain down Hellfire (missiles) on brown-skinned folks not named Smith, Jones or Thomas, you have to grasp that this too will change. How long can that technology remain under the exclusive control and purview of the US military "intelligence"?! Maybe a decade, at most? Then what shall those military death figures look like?
During the post-Berlin Wall "peace dividend" era, our country has spent infinitely more blood, treasure and prestige on advancing our ability to kill, destroy and incarcerate lives than we have in saving and improving lives. IMHO, it is nearly inevitable that this misspent era will come home to roost in unpredictable ways over the next 20-30 years. We can always pivot and change course, but that may have little or no bearing on what others will do."
June 30, 2015 |

Source: Our World In Data

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

9 Responses to "Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400"

CD4P says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Saw much of the "Apocalypse WWI" show on The American Heroes Channel recently. 10 million soldiers killed, 20 million wounded. And then there was the major flu influenza which killed another 30 million in 1918 around the world.

RiverboatGambler says:

June 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

The most interesting thing here is not that we are on all time lows but rather the length of the current downtrend.

We are now going on 70 years of downtrend post WWII. The next closest looks like about 40 years from 1640 – 1680.

What has fundamentally changed that could make this not be an outlier? Lifespan?

Very interesting in the context of cycle theories like The Fourth Turning.

kaleberg says:

formerlawyer says:

bear_in_mind says:

Lyle says:

June 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Note that the web site that this chart comes from has many other interesting charts Here is a link to the root of the site: It provides the charts bundled into a set of presentations. Including ones looking at longer term issues of violet death rates and the like.

Whammer says:

July 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

Interesting how the civilian death rate has dropped to the point where it is minimal compared to the military death rate.

NoKidding says:

July 1, 2015 at 8:51 am

Nuclear weapons, the easy way to destroy far away enemies, has been avoided because the various costs are so very high.

Large scale conventional bombing suffers from inefficiency and bad optics.

Targeted drone assualts make killing foreigners efficient and inexpensive. For example, one human in the Western world kills one or more specific humans in the not-Western world from across the globe using radio controlled weapons. No radiation, no flattened obstetricians, increasing efficiency, and falling cost of technology.

In combination with recent federalization of decision making power, particularly domestic spying and the non-criminalization of the US government killing its own wayward overseas citizens, I see a wonderous new era on the horizon.

bear_in_mind says:

[Jun 28, 2015] Fuck the US Imperialism -- Top German Politician Blasts Nuland Carter

Jun 28, 2015 | Zero Hedge

With intra-Europe relations hitting a new all-time low; and, having already been busted spying on Merkel, Obama got caught with his hand in Hollande's cookie jar this week, the following exultation from one of Germany's top politicians will hardly help Washington-Brussells relations. As Russia Insider notes, Oskar Lafontaine is a major force in German politics so it caught people's attention when he excoriated Ash Carter and Victoria Nuland on his Facebook page yesterday... "Nuland says 'F*ck the EU'. We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism... F*ck US imperialism!"

Here is the Facebook post (in German):

Lafontaine has been an outsized figure in German politics since the mid-70s. He was chairman of the SPD (one of Germany's two main parties) for four years, the SPD's candidate for chancellor in 1990, minister of finance for two years, and then chairman of the Left party in the 2000s. He is married to Sarah Wagenknecht, political heavyweight, who is currently co-chairman of Left party.

Lafontaine's outburst came a day after his wife, Sarah Wagenknecht, blasted Merkel's Russia policy in an interview on RT.

Here is the full translation of the post:

"The US 'Defense' secretary, i.e., war minister is in Berlin. He called on Europe to counter Russian 'aggression'. But in fact, it is US aggression which Europeans should be opposing.

"The Grandmaster of US diplomacy, George Kennan described the eastward expansion of NATO as the biggest US foreign policy mistake since WW2, because it will lead to a new cold war.

"The US diplomat Victoria Nuland said we have spent $5 billion to destabilize the Ukraine. They stoke the flames ever higher, and Europe pays for it with lower trade and lost jobs.

"Nuland says 'F*ck the EU'. We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism.

"F*ck US imperialism!"

* * *

When he comes out swinging this way, you know something is changing.

* * *

America - making friends and influencing people for 238 years...

remain calm

I see the CIA creating a little muslim terrorism in Europe to teach them the meaning of respect.


"But in fact, it is US aggression which Europeans should be opposing."

So good, it should be required reading . . .

"Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault

The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin"

Latina Lover

To date, the USSA adventurism in the Ukraine has hurt Germany financially and politically, with more losses to follow.

Instead of integrating more closely with Russia, and becoming a key part of the New Silk Road, Germany is blocked by the USSA, against her better interests. The USSA is creating a new berlin style wall of lies and propaganda between Russia and Germany claiming that Russia plans to invade the baltics, poland, moldova, blah, blah, blah.

Fortunately, most Germans are not anti intellectuals, and see through the lies, unlike the average american shlub (30% of whom cannot name the current VP but know all of the names of the Kardashians). Eventually, Merkel will get the boot, and be replaced by a more businesslike leader.

Not Too Important

30% is pretty generous, don't you think? More like 3%.

Even an aborigine in the middle of Africa with a cell phone knows more about the world than 97% of Americans.

Tall Tom

Fuck American Imperialism?

Actually it is GERMAN Imperialism over the nation states of Europe, using the European Union as a subterfuge, is that which needs be quashed.

Fuck GERMAN Imperialism and the European Union as it serves as a tool for the advancement of Germany's Imperialistic ambitions..


Oscar Lafontaine is member of the party "The Left". He used to be member of the "Social Democratic Party of Germany".

Both parties are of rather marginal significance, since Merkel's CDU rules them all. ;-)

Anyway, "the Left" has been opposing US Imperialism ever since, so there is not much new to see here.


that won't help and no more false flags will help either. The latest poll showed that only 19% of Germans would fight Russians in case Russia attacked any NATO country. I repeat: if Russia attacked first. You can wonder, what would be the percentage of them willing to fight Russia just for the sake of Ukraine. Close to zero, I think. The USA overstepped all boundaries, when it began pushing EU countries into a military conflict with Russia. Continental Europeans are not Anglo-Saxons, they think differently. They will bow down to any USA pressure, except for a military conflict with Russia! Thats a big no no. Many of them still remember (especially Germans), what it was like to fight wild-spirited Russians, who never surrender no matter what. These constant talks about "Russian agression" by the USA politicians make Germans feel like a cornered animal with nothing to loose. Such animal cannot be subdued anymore, when your existence and life is so directly threatened, you bite. Or another example: try to force your slave to step on a rattlesnake. He may be forced to do many things, but this time he will turn against you. I already said it before: no war against Russia and Europe is possible, because even if the USA somehow forces us to any such war, huge amounts of people will be so angry that they will flee to the side of Russia. We are already discussing this openly. This is already happening in Ukraine. Already 10 000 Ukranian soldiers defected to the other side (to fight Kiev), plus one Ukrainian general, some members of the Ukranian intelligence service and about one and half million Ukrainians fled to Russia to avoid draft. I saw a video where three entire units of soldiers sent from Kiev to Donetsk (with tanks) changed side, threw out Ukrainian flags and put on Russian flags on their tanks under loud cheers from the brave people of Donbass. There are certain very natural limits to what you can force people to do, which bankers do not seem to understand. Yes, you can send many people to war, but they simply will not fight, unless you give them something to fight for. For example Hitler gave people something to fight for. But all bankers give us is chaos, no strong leader, no ideology strong enough....I think they hoped that Putin would invade Ukraine and that would be the reason for war (they provoked Hitler in a similar way). However, Putin is no Hitler, he is way too intelligent to play these silly games. And it is impossible to repeat exactly what was once so successful, because times change, people are cant win with using old outdated strategies over and over. That is why all empires fall in the end. They get stuck in using the same tricks over and over, until they stop working. Even the old color revolutions are not as efficient now as they were in the past and the same goes for those silly false flags.

cherry picker

He is absolutely correct. US is surrounded by two oceans and the North and South neighbor have no intentions of invading the USA, so can anyone explain this war time nuclear, wmd, too many carriers and so forth military and paranoia.

Can't uncle Sam keep his huge nose out of everyone's business?

Can't America just enjoy what is theirs and leave others alone?

Who needs a CIA except for Nazi types.

Fuck Nuland is a good start.


And the neighbors to the north and south are non-too-pleased with the USA either. We know WTF the USA is doing, although more and more are waking up to the fact that the USA is only being used as the war branch of the banking mafia. Because of this we hold nothing against American people.

In fact, up north we now probably feel more kinship with "the people" of the USA more than ever before. Because we are learning how all this works. It is the global banking monsters and the fascist corporations, the military industrial complex that is in bed with the fucking bankers. It is those assholes who are causing every damned war in the world... not "the USA" as such. Putin is a saint by comparison... not to mention the only sane leader of a superpower left on earth. He is admirable, even from this side of the pond.

Mexicans might present a problem, I don't know. Mexicans never bother Canadians so we just don't seem to have an opinion. Canadians are pretty calm, but fuck when we get mad there can be one hell of a bar fight. I don't know how all this works out but it isn't going in the right direction. I think 98% of Canadians would agree with Mr. Lafontaine. US Imperialism has got to come to an end. Or the world will. And by "US", I mean "banker".


If only our politicians could understand what that man is really saying. It is for our own good.

Dodgy Geezer

We need need an EU foreign policy that stops warmongering US imperialism... F*ck US imperialism!"

You know what the problem is?

It's not particularly the US, though they are the biggest players at the moment. It's the result of the end of the Cold War.

Ever since WW2 the power blocs both had a big military and supporting intelligence service. When the Berlin Wall came down, the Russians collapsed theirs. The West did not. And ever since then it has been looking for a job. That's the reason we have had so much disruption. When your major arm of government is a multi-trillion dollar armed forces, every problem looks like an excuse for a war.

The Delicate Genius

It is not US imperialism

It is the imperialism of the Anglo-Zionist cabal which has hijacked the American treasury and military.

Neocons, Interventionist "realists" and other assorted militarist scum.

Their control of the MSM is sound {they even acquired VICE News as that got too popular, and Orwellized it, beginning with the Zionist sent to fake stories out of Ukraine}...

but not the internet. As younger people grow up, post comments and articles, this cleft between the pre-internet and internet informed grows more and more obvious.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that expects aggressive moves against intent content.

We've seen some attacks on free speech already in the Fast Track bill - but it will take time to really see how bad the TPP itself is in practice.

But it does seem clear that .gov is hoping to make an end run around various Constitutional niceties by "treaty."

and no - treaties do not and can not over-ride the Constitution. Only amendment, not treaty, can change the constitution.


... US imperialism plus US exceptionalism is analogous to this >>>

... and while the US forces the other NATO members to apply more sanctions to Russia, US hypocrisy rears its ugly head by 'allowing' products from sanctioned Russia that would benefit them ... check this out



Gotta love a guy who knows how to define a problem.

Fuck Noodleberg.


As someone who actually lives in Germany i can tell you that Lafontaine is an absolute has-been and he plays no role in German politics, nor has he for years. His influence came to an end when Schroeder kicked him out of his government over 15 years ago. To claim he is a heavyweight is simply dead wrong.

Wagenknecht does play a certain role, but the Left is a pure protest party full of fundamentalist hardline social democrats and former East German communists. The Left has no say on federal government matters such as foreign policy. This post is pure alarmism.

Wild E Coyote

Actually US and Soviet Union both went bankrupt by Cold War.
Soviet Union accepted their fate.
USA still refuse to accept theirs.


Upvoted, but I think technically it was Vietnam that bankrupted the US.

Then again, you could argue that it was the First World War, or the 1929 market crash -- although its bankruptcy wasn't admitted until 1933.

[Jun 22, 2015] Pope Francis says those in weapons industry cant call themselves Christian

"..."It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause."
Jun 22, 2015 |

At rally of young people in Turin, Francis issues his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry, criticizing investors as well as workers

People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

Duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another -- -- Pope Francis

Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin. "If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long commentary about war, trust and politics, after putting aside his prepared address.

"It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."

Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars. He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah", using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

"The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"

Discussing the first world war, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia", but did not use the word "genocide". Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April, calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century", prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

[Jun 17, 2015] The Culture War Returns

The National Interest

In 1968, Richard Nixon tapped into white working-class antipathy toward student and black radicalism to defeat Hubert Humphrey. The Southern Strategy was born. Two years earlier, Ronald Reagan had won election as governor of California by denouncing the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley and promising to "throw the bums off welfare." Reagan would go on to midwife what became a potent alliance between the emerging neoconservative movement and traditional conservatives. The neocons began to share the traditionalists' belief that, as Burke put it, "Men of intemperate mind can never be free. Their passions forge their fetters."

The maiden neocons had themselves emerged from the intensely partisan milieu of the 1930s to become respected public intellectuals. They viewed the scaturient passions of the New Left that had suddenly emerged in the 1960s as a clear and present danger - what the literary critic Lionel Trilling deemed an "adversary culture."

Irving Kristol, Gertrude Himmelfarb and a number of other neoconservatives were deeply influenced by Trilling's criticism of liberalism from inside the movement. They were also influenced - Kristol and Himmelfarb in particular-by the political philosopher Leo Strauss, who had fled Nazi Germany. Strauss believed that the culprit for much of what had gone wrong in Western civilization could be traced back to Machiavelli, who had lowered man's sights away from a transcendent good. The result was the rise of relativism, in which one view of how humans should behave is as good as another. Strauss, by contrast, promulgated a different message, one that resonated with the new generation of conservatives - a return, after centuries of neglect, to classical virtue.

Kristol assailed what he called a "new class" of managers, lawyers, bureaucrats and social workers who promoted new issues such as women's rights, sexual liberation and minority rights. Himmelfarb's numerous books lauded the idea of Victorian virtue, stressed self-help and charity, and argued that the public dole had profoundly corrosive moral effects, foremost among them creating a culture of dependency on government.

Though it has tended to be scanted in recent years, neoconservatives-"Liberals mugged by reality," as Kristol once put it - were initially much less preoccupied with foreign than domestic issues. Domestic policy is where they made their bones. Kristol and Daniel Bell founded the Public Interest in 1965 (though Bell ended up resigning as coeditor in 1973). The National Interest didn't appear until 1985, just as the Cold War was beginning to reach its terminal phase. Political scientist James Q. Wilson, a regular contributor to Commentary and the Public Interest, devised the "broken windows" theory, which holds that stopping petty crimes is a vital step toward preventing major ones from occurring.

RIOTING IN the inner cities in 1968, the disintegration of New York City, the rise of black militants and the introduction of affirmative action hardened neocon attitudes. Nathan Glazer called affirmative action "affirmative discrimination." In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued a report warning about the collapse of the black family. Two years later, he delivered a speech to the Americans for Democratic Action stating that "liberals must somehow overcome the curious condescension that takes the form of defending and explaining away everything, however outrageous, which Negroes, individually or collectively, might do." Other neocons blamed a new antinomianism for America's ills. The emphasis on individual needs and wants-feminism, multiculturalism and the like-meant that the idea of a common civic good was disappearing. In their view, it was being replaced by a society of disgruntled supplicants.

Neocon apprehensions about crime and the sexual revolution were also acutely reflected in literary form. In novels like Mr. Sammler's Planet and The Dean's December, Saul Bellow vividly evoked the racial tensions of the 1970s, prompting charges that he was himself a racist. The Dean's December focuses on the murder of a white graduate student named Rick Lester by a black hoodlum and a female prostitute. The protagonist Alfred Corde, a dean at the University of Chicago, registers his sympathy with the underclass but suggests that the basic problem is insoluble:

We do not know how to approach this population. We haven't even conceived that reaching it may be a problem. So there's nothing but death before it. Maybe we've already made our decision. Those that can be advanced into the middle class, let them be advanced. The rest? Well, we do our best by them. We don't have to do any more. They kill some of us. Mostly they kill themselves.

The next shot in the culture wars came with Allan Bloom's 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind (to which Bellow contributed a foreword). Bloom assailed feminism, black power and affirmative action, among other things, to argue that the 1960s were, more or less, the culprit for everything that had gone wrong at major universities. Now, a provocative new book, The State of the American Mind, edited by Mark Bauerlein and Adam Bellow, offers an updated look at American culture, or what often passes for it. R. R. Reno, the editor of First Things, contends that already in middle school teachers catechize their young charges to be nonjudgmental:

We're now trained to counter the slightest hint of judgment with deflationary gestures: "Speaking as I do from a white, privileged, first-world perspective," and so on. It is forbidden to forbid, and our moral judgments need to be transformed into their true meaning, that is, expressions of class bias, historical circumstances, or (best of all) personal preferences.

Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, examines the transition that he believes has taken place on the left, from the 1960s emphasis on free speech to the conviction that hard-nosed controversy constitutes a threat to the emotional health of students. "We have passed from a campus climate in which being able to handle robust, meaty, and sometimes harsh debate and discussion was regarded as a precondition of genuine learning and maturation," he says, "to one in which it is too often seen as a violation properly suppressed before it even happens."

NEOCONS AND conservatives are now suggesting that a fresh wave of political correctness also characterizes the liberal response to the tumult in Baltimore and Ferguson. Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary, recently wrote, "The idea that calling rioters 'thugs' is evidence of racism shows how far the discussion of race has been debased by a debilitating political correctness."

Other, older neocon themes are also resurfacing. For example, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin declared that New York mayor Bill de Blasio needed to embrace the "broken windows" theory of policing or face a potential civic breakdown: "Baltimore should be his wake-up call. It shows that handcuffing the cops ultimately leads to more violence and crime, not less, and ends up with the National Guard patrolling the streets like a war zone." Above all, conservatives are pointing to the issue of morality to suggest that a broken culture is responsible for the dismal state of cities like Baltimore.

In commenting on such stands, Frank Rich recently observed in New York magazine that the GOP could seek to profit politically from law-and-order issues to "drive a wedge between Hillary Clinton and those white Democratic and independent voters who defected from Obama but who might be inclined to vote for her." When it comes to these issues, however, leading Republican politicians are punting. Speaker of the House John Boehner, for example, is backing more federal grant money for body cameras for police officers and said that if the charges against the six Baltimore police officers in the Freddie Gray case are true, "It's outrageous, and it's unacceptable." It's hard to avoid the impression that Republicans in general often create much ado about nothing, but are afraid to tackle vexing policy issues directly. So far, the GOP has neither shown an appetite for rediscovering Nixon and 1968 nor explained how it could successfully reinvent itself as a new party. A party that does not understand itself is not a party that can make itself understood to the electorate.

[Jun 02, 2015]The Delusional World Of Imperial Washington

Notable quotes:
"... What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of such defiance? This is no small matter. For decades, being a superpower has been the defining characteristic of American identity. The embrace of global supremacy began after World War II when the United States assumed responsibility for resisting Soviet expansionism around the world; it persisted through the Cold War era and only grew after the implosion of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. assumed sole responsibility for combating a whole new array of international threats. As General Colin Powell famously exclaimed in the final days of the Soviet era, "We have to put a shingle outside our door saying, 'Superpower Lives Here,' no matter what the Soviets do, even if they evacuate from Eastern Europe." "
"...The problem, as many mainstream observers now acknowledge, is that such a strategy aimed at perpetuating U.S. global supremacy at all costs was always destined to result in what Yale historian Paul Kennedy, in his classic book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, unforgettably termed "imperial overstretch." As he presciently wrote in that 1987 study, it would arise from a situation in which "the sum total of the United States' global interests and obligations is… far larger than the country's power to defend all of them simultaneously.""
dir="ltr">"...But for any of this to happen, American policymakers would first have to abandon the pretense that the United States remains the sole global superpower -- and that may be too bitter a pill for the present American psyche (and for the political aspirations of certain Republican candidates) to swallow. From such denialism, it's already clear, will only come further ill-conceived military adventures abroad and, sooner or later, under far grimmer circumstances, an American reckoning with reality."
Zero Hedge
Submitted by Michael Klare via,

Think of this as a little imperial folly update -- and here's the backstory.

In the years after invading Iraq and disbanding Saddam Hussein's military, the U.S. sunk about $25 billion into "standing up" a new Iraqi army. By June 2014, however, that army, filled with at least 50,000 "ghost soldiers," was only standing in the imaginations of its generals and perhaps Washington. When relatively small numbers of Islamic State (IS) militants swept into northern Iraq, it collapsed, abandoning four cities -- including Mosul, the country's second largest -- and leaving behind enormous stores of U.S. weaponry, ranging from tanks and Humvees to artillery and rifles. In essence, the U.S. was now standing up its future enemy in a style to which it was unaccustomed and, unlike the imploded Iraqi military, the forces of the Islamic State proved quite capable of using that weaponry without a foreign trainer or adviser in sight.

In response, the Obama administration dispatched thousands of new advisers and trainers and began shipping in piles of new weaponry to re-equip the Iraqi army. It also filled Iraqi skies with U.S. planes armed with their own munitions to destroy, among other things, some of that captured U.S. weaponry. Then it set to work standing up a smaller version of the Iraqi army. Now, skip nearly a year ahead and on a somewhat lesser scale the whole process has just happened again. Less than two weeks ago, Islamic State militants took Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. Iraqi army units, including the elite American-trained Golden Division, broke and fled, leaving behind -- you'll undoubtedly be shocked to hear -- yet another huge cache of weaponry and equipment, including tanks, more than 100 Humvees and other vehicles, artillery, and so on.

The Obama administration reacted in a thoroughly novel way: it immediately began shipping in new stocks of weaponry, starting with 1,000 antitank weapons, so that the reconstituted Iraqi military could take out future "massive suicide vehicle bombs" (some of which, assumedly, will be those captured vehicles from Ramadi). Meanwhile, American planes began roaming the skies over that city, trying to destroy some of the equipment IS militants had captured.

Notice anything repetitive in all this -- other than another a bonanza for U.S. weapons makers? Logically, it would prove less expensive for the Obama administration to simply arm the Islamic State directly before sending in the air strikes. In any case, what a microcosm of U.S. imperial hubris and folly in the twenty-first century all this training and equipping of the Iraqi military has proved to be. Start with the post-invasion decision of the Bush administration to totally disband Saddam's army and instantly eject hundreds of thousands of unemployed Sunni military men and a full officer corps into the chaos of the "new" Iraq and you have an instant formula for creating a Sunni resistance movement. Then, add in a little extra "training" at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military prison in Iraq, for key unemployed officers, and -- Voilà! -- you've helped set up the petri dish in which the leadership of the Islamic State movement will grow. Multiply such stunning tactical finesse many times over globally and, as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare makes clear today, you have what might be called the folly of the "sole superpower" writ large.

Delusionary Thinking in Washington

The Desperate Plight of a Declining Superpower

Take a look around the world and it's hard not to conclude that the United States is a superpower in decline. Whether in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, aspiring powers are flexing their muscles, ignoring Washington's dictates, or actively combating them. Russia refuses to curtail its support for armed separatists in Ukraine; China refuses to abandon its base-building endeavors in the South China Sea; Saudi Arabia refuses to endorse the U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran; the Islamic State movement (ISIS) refuses to capitulate in the face of U.S. airpower. What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of such defiance?

This is no small matter. For decades, being a superpower has been the defining characteristic of American identity. The embrace of global supremacy began after World War II when the United States assumed responsibility for resisting Soviet expansionism around the world; it persisted through the Cold War era and only grew after the implosion of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. assumed sole responsibility for combating a whole new array of international threats. As General Colin Powell famously exclaimed in the final days of the Soviet era, "We have to put a shingle outside our door saying, 'Superpower Lives Here,' no matter what the Soviets do, even if they evacuate from Eastern Europe."

Imperial Overstretch Hits Washington

Strategically, in the Cold War years, Washington's power brokers assumed that there would always be two superpowers perpetually battling for world dominance. In the wake of the utterly unexpected Soviet collapse, American strategists began to envision a world of just one, of a "sole superpower" (aka Rome on the Potomac). In line with this new outlook, the administration of George H.W. Bush soon adopted a long-range plan intended to preserve that status indefinitely. Known as the Defense Planning Guidance for Fiscal Years 1994-99, it declared: "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union."

H.W.'s son, then the governor of Texas, articulated a similar vision of a globally encompassing Pax Americana when campaigning for president in 1999. If elected, he told military cadets at the Citadel in Charleston, his top goal would be "to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity -- given few nations in history -- to extend the current peace into the far realm of the future. A chance to project America's peaceful influence not just across the world, but across the years."

For Bush, of course, "extending the peace" would turn out to mean invading Iraq and igniting a devastating regional conflagration that only continues to grow and spread to this day. Even after it began, he did not doubt -- nor (despite the reputed wisdom offered by hindsight) does he today -- that this was the price that had to be paid for the U.S. to retain its vaunted status as the world's sole superpower.

The problem, as many mainstream observers now acknowledge, is that such a strategy aimed at perpetuating U.S. global supremacy at all costs was always destined to result in what Yale historian Paul Kennedy, in his classic book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, unforgettably termed "imperial overstretch." As he presciently wrote in that 1987 study, it would arise from a situation in which "the sum total of the United States' global interests and obligations is… far larger than the country's power to defend all of them simultaneously."

Indeed, Washington finds itself in exactly that dilemma today. What's curious, however, is just how quickly such overstretch engulfed a country that, barely a decade ago, was being hailed as the planet's first "hyperpower," a status even more exalted than superpower. But that was before George W.'s miscalculation in Iraq and other missteps left the U.S. to face a war-ravaged Middle East with an exhausted military and a depleted treasury. At the same time, major and regional powers like China, India, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been building up their economic and military capabilities and, recognizing the weakness that accompanies imperial overstretch, are beginning to challenge U.S. dominance in many areas of the globe. The Obama administration has been trying, in one fashion or another, to respond in all of those areas -- among them Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the South China Sea -- but without, it turns out, the capacity to prevail in any of them.

Nonetheless, despite a range of setbacks, no one in Washington's power elite -- Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders being the exceptions that prove the rule -- seems to have the slightest urge to abandon the role of sole superpower or even to back off it in any significant way. President Obama, who is clearly all too aware of the country's strategic limitations, has been typical in his unwillingness to retreat from such a supremacist vision. "The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation," he told graduating cadets at West Point in May 2014. "That has been true for the century past and it will be true for the century to come."

How, then, to reconcile the reality of superpower overreach and decline with an unbending commitment to global supremacy?

The first of two approaches to this conundrum in Washington might be thought of as a high-wire circus act. It involves the constant juggling of America's capabilities and commitments, with its limited resources (largely of a military nature) being rushed relatively fruitlessly from one place to another in response to unfolding crises, even as attempts are made to avoid yet more and deeper entanglements. This, in practice, has been the strategy pursued by the current administration. Call it the Obama Doctrine.

After concluding, for instance, that China had taken advantage of U.S. entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan to advance its own strategic interests in Southeast Asia, Obama and his top advisers decided to downgrade the U.S. presence in the Middle East and free up resources for a more robust one in the western Pacific. Announcing this shift in 2011 -- it would first be called a "pivot to Asia" and then a "rebalancing" there -- the president made no secret of the juggling act involved.

"After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region," he told members of the Australian Parliament that November. "As we end today's wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority. As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not -- I repeat, will not -- come at the expense of the Asia Pacific."

Then, of course, the new Islamic State launched its offensive in Iraq in June 2014 and the American-trained army there collapsed with the loss of four northern cities. Videoed beheadings of American hostages followed, along with a looming threat to the U.S.-backed regime in Baghdad. Once again, President Obama found himself pivoting -- this time sending thousands of U.S. military advisers back to that country, putting American air power into its skies, and laying the groundwork for another major conflict there.

Meanwhile, Republican critics of the president, who claim he's doing too little in a losing effort in Iraq (and Syria), have also taken him to task for not doing enough to implement the pivot to Asia. In reality, as his juggling act that satisfies no one continues in Iraq and the Pacific, he's had a hard time finding the wherewithal to effectively confront Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the various militias fighting for power in fragmenting Libya, and so on.

The Party of Utter Denialism

Clearly, in the face of multiplying threats, juggling has not proven to be a viable strategy. Sooner or later, the "balls" will simply go flying and the whole system will threaten to fall apart. But however risky juggling may prove, it is not nearly as dangerous as the other strategic response to superpower decline in Washington: utter denial.

For those who adhere to this outlook, it's not America's global stature that's eroding, but its will -- that is, its willingness to talk and act tough. If Washington were simply to speak more loudly, so this argument goes, and brandish bigger sticks, all these challenges would simply melt away. Of course, such an approach can only work if you're prepared to back up your threats with actual force, or "hard power," as some like to call it.

Among the most vocal of those touting this line is Senator John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a persistent critic of President Obama. "For five years, Americans have been told that 'the tide of war is receding,' that we can pull back from the world at little cost to our interests and values," he typically wrote in March 2014 in a New York Times op-ed. "This has fed a perception that the United States is weak, and to people like Mr. Putin, weakness is provocative." The only way to prevent aggressive behavior by Russia and other adversaries, he stated, is "to restore the credibility of the United States as a world leader." This means, among other things, arming the Ukrainians and anti-Assad Syrians, bolstering the NATO presence in Eastern Europe, combating "the larger strategic challenge that Iran poses," and playing a "more robust" role (think: more "boots" on more ground) in the war against ISIS.

Above all, of course, it means a willingness to employ military force. "When aggressive rulers or violent fanatics threaten our ideals, our interests, our allies, and us," he declared last November, "what ultimately makes the difference… is the capability, credibility, and global reach of American hard power."

A similar approach -- in some cases even more bellicose -- is being articulated by the bevy of Republican candidates now in the race for president, Rand Paul again excepted. At a recent "Freedom Summit" in the early primary state of South Carolina, the various contenders sought to out-hard-power each other. Florida Senator Marco Rubio was loudly cheered for promising to make the U.S. "the strongest military power in the world." Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received a standing ovation for pledging to further escalate the war on international terrorists: "I want a leader who is willing to take the fight to them before they take the fight to us."

In this overheated environment, the 2016 presidential campaign is certain to be dominated by calls for increased military spending, a tougher stance toward Moscow and Beijing, and an expanded military presence in the Middle East. Whatever her personal views, Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic candidate, will be forced to demonstrate her backbone by embracing similar positions. In other words, whoever enters the Oval Office in January 2017 will be expected to wield a far bigger stick on a significantly less stable planet. As a result, despite the last decade and a half of interventionary disasters, we're likely to see an even more interventionist foreign policy with an even greater impulse to use military force.

However initially gratifying such a stance is likely to prove for John McCain and the growing body of war hawks in Congress, it will undoubtedly prove disastrous in practice. Anyone who believes that the clock can now be turned back to 2002, when U.S. strength was at its zenith and the Iraq invasion had not yet depleted American wealth and vigor, is undoubtedly suffering from delusional thinking. China is far more powerful than it was 13 years ago, Russia has largely recovered from its post-Cold War slump, Iran has replaced the U.S. as the dominant foreign actor in Iraq, and other powers have acquired significantly greater freedom of action in an unsettled world. Under these circumstances, aggressive muscle-flexing in Washington is likely to result only in calamity or humiliation.

Time to Stop Pretending

Back, then, to our original question: What is a declining superpower supposed to do in the face of this predicament?

Anywhere but in Washington, the obvious answer would for it to stop pretending to be what it's not. The first step in any 12-step imperial-overstretch recovery program would involve accepting the fact that American power is limited and global rule an impossible fantasy. Accepted as well would have to be this obvious reality: like it or not, the U.S. shares the planet with a coterie of other major powers -- none as strong as we are, but none so weak as to be intimidated by the threat of U.S. military intervention. Having absorbed a more realistic assessment of American power, Washington would then have to focus on how exactly to cohabit with such powers -- Russia, China, and Iran among them -- and manage its differences with them without igniting yet more disastrous regional firestorms.

If strategic juggling and massive denial were not so embedded in the political life of this country's "war capital," this would not be an impossibly difficult strategy to pursue, as others have suggested. In 2010, for example, Christopher Layne of the George H.W. Bush School at Texas A&M argued in the American Conservative that the U.S. could no longer sustain its global superpower status and, "rather than having this adjustment forced upon it suddenly by a major crisis… should get ahead of the curve by shifting its position in a gradual, orderly fashion." Layne and others have spelled out what this might entail: fewer military entanglements abroad, a diminishing urge to garrison the planet, reduced military spending, greater reliance on allies, more funds to use at home in rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure of a divided society, and a diminished military footprint in the Middle East.

But for any of this to happen, American policymakers would first have to abandon the pretense that the United States remains the sole global superpower -- and that may be too bitter a pill for the present American psyche (and for the political aspirations of certain Republican candidates) to swallow. From such denialism, it's already clear, will only come further ill-conceived military adventures abroad and, sooner or later, under far grimmer circumstances, an American reckoning with reality.

[May 30, 2015]Why is Obama Goading China

The point is, Washington doesn't give a hoot about the Spratly Islands; it's just a pretext to slap China around and show them who's running the show in their own backyard. Carter even admits as much in his statement above when he says that the US plans to be "the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come." China knows what that means. It means "This is our planet, so you'd better shape up or you're going to find yourself in a world of hurt." That's exactly what it means.
May 30, 2015 |

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is willing to risk a war with China in order to defend "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea. Speaking in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, Carter issued his "most forceful" warning yet, demanding "an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation" by China in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Carter said:

"There should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world." He also added that the United States intended to remain "the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come."

In order to show Chinese leaders "who's the boss", Carter has threatened to deploy US warships and surveillance aircraft to within twelve miles of the islands that China claims are within their territorial waters. Not surprisingly, the US is challenging China under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a document the US has stubbornly refused to ratify. But that's neither here nor there for the bellicose Carter whose insatiable appetite for confrontation makes him the most reckless Sec-Def since Donald Rumsfeld.

So what's this really all about? Why does Washington care so much about a couple hundred yards of sand piled up on reefs reefs in the South China Sea? What danger does that pose to US national security? And, haven't Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines all engaged in similar "land reclamation" activities without raising hackles in DC?

Of course, they have. The whole thing is a joke. Just like Carter's claim that he's defending the lofty principal of "freedom of navigation" is a joke. China has never blocked shipping lanes or seized boats sailing in international waters. Never. The same cannot be said of the United States that just recently blocked an Iranian ship loaded with humanitarian relief–food, water and critical medical supplies–headed to starving refugees in Yemen. Of course, when the US does it, it's okay.

The point is, Washington doesn't give a hoot about the Spratly Islands; it's just a pretext to slap China around and show them who's running the show in their own backyard. Carter even admits as much in his statement above when he says that the US plans to be "the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come." China knows what that means. It means "This is our planet, so you'd better shape up or you're going to find yourself in a world of hurt." That's exactly what it means.

So let's cut to the chase and try to explain what's really going on, because pretty soon no one is going to be talking about Ukraine, Syria or Yemen because all eyes are going to be focused on...

[May 26, 2015] America on Memorial Day Heavily armed, dangerous, unstable
Think about these things. We Americans were to be assured, above all, that 1) we still have no respect for anyone else's sovereignty and 2) we still act as unilaterally as the cop in a Clint Eastwood film. Is there any other way to interpret the White House's post-Hersh preoccupations?

Now the Sochi encounter.

On the Black Sea's shores Kerry spent a long day with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and President Putin. A long day with a long list, one point binding all its items: We were going to take care of Syria alone, deep-sixing Assad as we have so many others, but find we cannot; we were going to corner the Iranians and force an iniquitous nuclear deal upon them but find we cannot; we were going to neoliberalize Ukraine and deposit NATO like a milk bottle on your back steps, but the game theorists got it wrong: You were supposed to sit still in a great-power variant of shock and awe but did not.

I used the term "schizophrenic" just now. It is not too strong as a description of the American consciousness in the year 2015.

We have, between these two events, two versions of who we are. Related to this, we have two ideas of the place military superiority takes in the 21st century. I will get to the latter thought further on.

Cast in its largest terms, terms explored in the book noted at the end of these columns, we Americans are suspended awkwardly between myth and history. A mythical idea of America contends with an historical idea. This contention is very old, woven through the American story. Overestimating one's moment is always a danger, but in my read the battle between these two parts of the American consciousness is somewhere near its denouement.

The White House narrative and counter-narrative of bin Laden's murder are rooted in the mythical America that extends back to Winthrop's City on a Hill bit in 1630. We are the world's exception. Whatever we do is providentially right and by definition not subject to lowly human law. This is why the White House found it important to dwell upon the illegal aspect of the bin Laden operation once Hersh published his revelations: Somewhere above, it was righteous.

Look at it this way. The SEALs as deployed in Abbotabad take a minor place in the mythical American story alongside Daniel Boone, T.R. at San Juan Hill, Tom Dooley and countless others. The varied realties or unrealities are as nothing next to their shared status as inviolate bearers forward of the myth. Sy Hersh's sin, simply but adequately put, was to insist on an historical version of events.

To Sochi once again.

To stay briefly with the terms just explained, Kerry visit with the Russians, and all we know of what was said, occurred in historical time, as against sacred time, mythical time. Human agency in every question raised did not matter most of all: It is all that mattered. "Let's deal" is not a phrase with many echoes in the American past. In whatever words, Kerry used it.

Events are determined among us, here on earth: This was one of the great European discoveries of the 19th century. To draw swiftly to a conclusion, this is what made Sochi important in a purely American context. The 21st century is forcing Americans to act in history, not outside it, along with everyone else. This is a messy, painful, altogether good thing.

There is another set of terms worth considering this Memorial Day, and I have favored them ever since learning them from Herbert Croly, the noted social critic of the Progressive era. No coincidence that Croly published "The Promise of American Life" in 1909, just when Washington was settling into a century of adventures abroad and when inequality at home was roughly as we have it now.

Croly distinguished between destiny and purpose. Destiny lands nations in semi-scared missions, slightly mystical such that no one can ever quite explain them. There is nothing new to do and no new thoughts to think. It is always simply more of the same, for the course is set, destiny being as it is. If you detect a little Calvinist predetermination in this, you are on the right track.

A nation with purpose, on the other hand, is one with things to do. It "thinks with history," to borrow the phrase of Carl Schorske, the emeritus historian at Princeton. It understands the defining importance of causality. It can say, Here is the problem, here is how it got this way, let us do what needs doing to address it.

This is our task as simply put as possible, it seems to me. To transform ourselves from a nation with a destiny to a nation with a purpose, from a mythical accounting of ourselves to an accounting grounded in history that holds us responsible for our fate: The world shouts at us to get this done. The only question is whether we will get it done or it will get done to us, for the 21st century does not hold out any other alternative.

Maybe it is now clear: I do not see that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is all that bad. It is an advance on psychosis, a complete loss of touch with reality, which was the Bush administration's more or less acknowledged malady: Recall Karl Rove's mot, "Reality is for other people; we create ours."

This column has been consistently critical of the Obama administration's conduct abroad, and I have no regret to express. But I think the president and Secretary Kerry-I leave Hillary Clinton out of this, as I do not think it applies-have at least glimpsed the 21st century's minimal requirements roughly as I have outlined them. They remain exceptionalists but evince an encouraging anxiety that the end of the game is near. Encouraging because it is so, one way or another.

One way: We cannot say Kerry in Sochi embraced a future different from the past, but at least he sat at the table with multipolarity, with people who insist on inhabiting a world that recognizes the principle of equality among nations. Maybe he did the math and it dawned on him: If we isolate the Russians, and the Chinese, and the Iranians, and the Venezuelans and whomever else we do not alike, pretty soon we are going to be… isolated. Into the middle distance, we will have the British Conservative Party to mix the drinks, and that is about it.

Or another: I speak only for myself, but I was astonished to read last week-in the Guardian, a non-American paper-that a fulsome crowd of European heavy-hitters sent Federica Mogherini, the E.U.'s foreign minister-equivalent, a letter urging Europe to push the Americans aside on the Israel-Palestine question and act independently against the Israeli occupation.

The Eminent Persons Group includes three former prime ministers, two former foreign ministers and a former secretary-general at NATO. They were prompted by Prime Minister Netanyahu's reelection in March and a formal report to Mogherini last month, in which 16 on-duty foreign ministers called for the E.U. to mark out products made by Israeli companies on the West Bank.

"We are convinced in our own minds that he has little intention of negotiating seriously for a two-state solution within the term of this incoming Israeli government," the group wrote of Netanyahu. "We also have low confidence that the U.S. government will be in a position to take a lead on fresh negotiations with the vigor and the impartiality that a two-state outcome demands."

Wow, in my nuanced view.

"Hiding behind American leadership on the politics of the dispute is unedifying and unproductive," the group added.

Wow again.

Two things to note when putting these cases side by side.

One, in Sochi we saw an inchoate acknowledgement that American conduct abroad will have to change-actively change-if anything is to be achieved, while in the second we find passivity, complacency, paralysis. It is weird enough that American media see no story in Europe's ever more pronounced drift toward a rigorous stance on the Mideast based on a strict interpretation of law. It is weird and not weird all at once that Washington has found nothing to remark upon in these developments.

Two, in both cases we witness the slipping away of the traditional advantage accruing to military power alone. If you have not yet identified this as an essential feature of the new century, well, look more closely, do more reading and stop listening to Republicans on Capitol Hill would be my advice. They are the voices of yesterday shouting the last of the past forward.

Let us not overstate the case. We all know the statistics delineating America's overwhelming military power. And we can count the consequences in casualties any day we like. But at the risk of repetition, it is time to distinguish between strong nations and the merely powerful. America falls into the latter category, and it is going to prove not the better one.

If America were strong as well as powerful, to put the point another way, there would be many fewer casualties and the power would eventually prove secondary.

What would a strong nation be? A short answer to a large question will do, as it suggests the larger thought.

Some weeks ago in this space I outlined Germany's plan to renovate its foreign policy as well as the processes by which it is developed and then implemented. This is the vision of Hans-Walter Steinmeier, the Social-Democratic foreign minister in Chancellor Merkel's strange, across-the-aisle coalition. If Steinmeier makes the vision flesh-and who can say?-this could be a 21st century gem.

Think about these things for their implications. German policy is to rest on international law more or less as it is, no need to add much other than a stricter insistence on observance. It is to derive from a holistic community of thinkers: political experts, economists, urban planners, sociologists, historians, educators, aid people, policy people, military people, foreign advisers and so on will all gather to shape the strategy. Military force is to be re-rated a last resort.

Most interesting to me are Steinmeier's provisions for public participation in policy planning such that it reflects the nation's aspirations when implemented. This is a very new idea and a very good one.

"Foreign policy is about more than just two extremes: either just talking or shooting, either futile diplomacy or Bundeswehr deployments abroad," Steinmeier said when he introduced the new thinking in the Bundestag last March. "The world has changed, and the Federal Foreign Office must change with it."


That is a little of what strong nations sound like. And I will leave it there.

* * *

It is two years ago this Memorial Day that Salon picked up a slice of a book I had just published, "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." Salon and I agreed shortly thereafter to launch this column.

Anniversaries of this kind are of little interest to readers, naturally. But there are a few things to say on this occasion that have nothing to do with small vanities.

This column began with a specific purpose. I had seen and heard in a hundred ways over some years that Americans were eager-eager on the way to desperate-for a new story, for a narrative that told them about the world as it was out their windows and beyond their shores. This was the genesis. Neither I nor my editor invented the column. The time we live in did that work. Readers invented it, I would even say.

Something new would be required. The typically tired leavings of the typically tired pundit would not do. "Most newspapers," the late, great Robert Stone wrote in "Prime Green," his memoir of the 1960s, "are into telling readers what they are used to hearing and think they already know." This is precisely the problem. It contributes to the ignorance any column worth writing would have to counter.

I have told friends the following and see no reason not to share it here. Since form and content are never truly separate, the project was to stretch the genre, to remake it. The argument in every column Salon has published is that we Americans must think things we have not thought before. This means putting ideas not customarily the stuff of columns before readers. It means that difficult reading is sometimes necessary. Parenthetically, I am absolutely opposed to those who write down to readers. It is another part of the problem and, follow out the logic, a sign of disrespect.)

A couple of weeks ago the Wilson Center in Washington held a forum at which several questions were asked. Joseph Nye, the policy analyst who survived the Defense Department and the National Intelligence Council and now professes at Harvard, asked, "Is 'the American Century' over?"

That is not an interesting question. The era so named by some is plainly and thank goodness behind us by more than a decade.

Another question was, "Is America 'the indispensable nation?'" Not at all interesting.

What is America's contribution now other than weaponry and political subterfuge? Name it, please, and iWhatevers do not count. New thinking? Imaginative, disinterested solutions to humanity's intractable problems? A guiding desire to draw the community of nations together while respecting different histories, cultures, traditions, beliefs, systems? No, no and no.

A third question, the centerpiece of the gathering, was, "Is America in Decline?" It is more interesting than the others but still not very.

Look around. The democratic process is now officially collapsed, according to the Federal Election Commission, whose chairwoman advised the other week-were you as astonished as I?-that it has lost all ability to enforce the laws governing illegal money in politics. Like some perverse objective co-relative, the infrastructure is collapsed such that we cannot keep trains on tracks. There is misery everywhere one looks, even if most of us refuse to.

Abroad, we are so indispensable that some large if unmeasured proportion of humanity would love to dispense with us. "The necessary evil" is the better phrase.

This is decline, too obvious to debate. Here is the interesting part of the question: Do we have to be in decline? This is worth a book. (I know. I wrote one.)

My answer, straight off the top, no nuance, is no. Decline is a choice. And if our choice is not to recognize this choice-as we seem to prefer-we have chosen decline whether or not we think we have. Ignorance is not bliss this time.

Failure to recognize this choice is a symptom of exceptionalism's tragic tenacity-tragic because it is running us into the ground and sending Americans and many more others pointlessly to graves. It is a question of consciousness. Among us, an old one and a new one are at war, this war one absolutely necessary to fight.

Here is the thing. The first to call themselves Americans did something truly exceptional. Their documents remain the greatest gift this nation has ever given humanity. Ho, most famously but one among others, wrote a lot of the Declaration of Independence into the Vietnamese constitution. But the 1770s and 1780s were an exceptional time rich with exceptional people. All that got done was humanly made and occurred in history. There was nothing providentially ordained about it and nothing-look around again-destined to remain eternally ours.

An exceptional history, yes. It is mostly a blessing but somewhat a burden. Exceptionalism as another "ism," a belief system full of idolatry, ideology and myth? If we do not overcome this it will overcome us.

This is my argument for the urgency of new thinking. It is why this column is the way it is. It is why-interesting sidelight-a recent survey of five Western nations found that 60 percent of those polled want more news from alternative media because they no longer rely on traditional sources to describe the world as it is. (The proportion of Americans: 57 percent. Think about this.)

As with our media, we get little to no imagination or awareness from our leadership. The 2016 election, with the exception of Bernie Sanders' recent entry, consists of "the sweet talk of hypocrites," to take Bob Marley's handy phrase. I hear little more. The column you read is a modest contribution to the task before all of us: to think anew and think for ourselves.

Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.

[May 23, 2015] Ukraines Bloody Civil War No End in Sight

Notable quotes:
"... is a civil war between two groups with diametrically opposed visions for the future of their country. It is a civil war that also-given that each side has enormously powerful supporters-poses a genuinely grave risk to global security. ..."
Mar 31, 2015 | The National Interest

The OSCE reported that the main railway station in the city was shelled on March 25, and a visit to it the day after showed that to be so. Rebel tanks could be seen participating in exercises on the rural outskirts of Donetsk on the 26th. The sound of sporadic artillery fire could be heard in the city's centrally located Leninsky District well into the early hours of the 27th.

The mood among many in Donetsk-noncombatants as well as rebel fighters who comprise what is known as the Army of Novorossiya-indicates little interest in a rapprochement with Kiev. This is, given the conditions of the city after nearly a full year of war, rather understandable. Many bitterly complain of Kiev's chosen moniker for the military campaign it is waging against the separatist fighters, the "Anti-Terrorist Operation." Ordinary citizens and combatants alike view it as an attempt to dehumanize them as a whole by grouping the entire population of the region in with likes of ISIS.

Interactions with several rebel rank-and-files and a briefing from two rebel officers reveal even less of an appetite for a way back into the Ukrainian fold. As one senior officer put it: "Ukraine is dead. It was killed on May 2 in Odessa." Questions regarding Russian involvement were met with scoffs-though one did admit that "[their] Russian brothers" did provide food supplies to the area.

... ... ...

Interestingly, the rebels seem to have a similar mindset to those U.S. Congressmen who overwhelmingly voted to supply Kiev with lethal military aid last week: that the remilitarization of the conflict is simply inevitable. One rebel commander said that he expects Kiev to launch a new major offensive "within a week" and added, matter-of-factly: "We are ready." And ready, he claims, for the long haul.

... ... ...

Yet it seems that the Washington establishment's (though, interestingly, it seems not the president's) preferred policy choice is to send lethal aid to Kiev because it is believed, no doubt sincerely, that a supply of javelin anti-tank missiles will somehow increase the number of Russian fatalities to such an extent that public opinion would turn against Putin-thereby forcing him to back down.

This is nothing more than a fantasy dressed up as a strategy because it attributes little to no agency on the part of the rebel fighters or, for that matter, the area's noncombatants. The simple, undeniable fact is that even if Russia was to be persuaded-via sanctions or via a significant uptick in military casualties - to wash its hands of the region, there is almost no chance that the indigenous military forces in the region would simply melt away. What is continuing to unfold in the Donbass - despite repeated protestations from Kiev's representatives in Washington - is a civil war between two groups with diametrically opposed visions for the future of their country. It is a civil war that also-given that each side has enormously powerful supporters-poses a genuinely grave risk to global security.

James Carden is a contributing editor for The National Interest.


Wow! Who is allowed to publish this article in the Western free press? Who allowed the journalist of National Interest go to Moscow and to Donetsk!? And what about the story about invisible Russian army? :-))) James Carden is real hero! :-))) Western press need 1 year for understanding of simple things...

Imba > Igor

Psst, don't scare them with your sarcasm. I'm sure author feels like a pioneer on Wild West, while writing such articles. You can scare him away and we will have to read again dull and boring articles about invasions, annexation, tattered economy, moscovites eating hedgehogs and so on.
Please respect him ;)

Dima Lauri > Imba

I am sure authors who does not accept the version of Washington will be soon labeled by "Putin troll", "Payed KGB agent", "Drunk/Stupid" or whatever verbal distortion.


a good article for a change. the Ukraine coup engineered by Washington was the worst event of Obama's administration, and may perhaps turn out to be worse that Bush jr's invasion of Iraq. Washington simply wants a war, cold or hot, to disconnect Europe from Russia. hopefully Europe, especially Germany and france, will rebel against Washington policy like they did the Chinese bank, averting a war among nuclear powers. but the issue is currently in doubt.

[May 19, 2015]Military Bureaucracy

October 26, 2009 |

Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star, a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject.

NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ):

"The Fourth Star" paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at its heart it's a story about bureaucracy. As an institution, the United States Army has much more in common with, say, a giant corporation like General Motors than with a professional sports team like the New York Giants. You can't cut players who don't perform, and it's hard to fire your head coach. Like General Motors, the Army changes very slowly, and once it does, it's hard to turn it around again.

Actually, it's arguably easier to "cut" bad soldiers than bad football players nowadays, since the latter often have huge signing bonuses and hold teams hostage in a salary cap era. But, otherwise, Filkins is right. While the military is relatively efficient, it's not only a bureaucracy but the very thing bureaucracy was modeled after. Which makes it amusing when conservatives simultaneously rant about the inefficiency of bureaucracy while extolling the virtues of military efficiency. (The military, along with their brethren in the intelligence community and foreign service, does tend to be more motivated and obedient to orders from above than your average bureaucracy.)

New Kings of War blogger "Captain Hyphen."

One of the most trenchant discussions of these wrong "lessons learned" post-Vietnam is General David Petraeus' PhD dissertation, which the review of The Fourth Star mentions tangentially. While Petraeus might have "irritated many of his fellow officers on his way up," he also identified an important bureaucratic reality, noting it in his dissertation: any serving officer who writes a PhD dissertation critical of the US Army as an institution and publishes it as a book will not rise to the ranks of the general officer corps. Petraeus, of course, heeded his own advice, as his dissertation remained safely tucked away in the Princeton library (until the age of scanning and posting to the Internet; h/t to Paula Broadwell for sharing the link). He was able to continue his upward trajectory, unlike such recent soldier-scholars as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) John Nagl, whose Oxford DPhil became Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, arguably a self-inflicted career wound as an Army officer because of its coherent, incisive critique of the Army's failures as a learning organization.

Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, however, is the exception that proves the rule, because it was only the patronage of General Petraeus that made him a general officer after twice being passed over for promotion from colonel to brigadier general. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty was the oft-cited, seldom-read mantra of senior officers in the last decade and appeared to be part of the hold-up for his advancement. Further compounding the delay, his successful counterinsurgency campaign as the commander of an armored cavalry regiment in Tall Afar made his conventionally-minded brigade commander peers look bad (or at least that's one interpretation of how it was viewed within the Army).

How a bureaucracy without lateral entry promotes and selects its leaders is a vital issue with implications measured in decades, dollars, and lives. I look forward to reading how Cloud and Jaffe capture this dynamic in the US Army today.

One could argue McMaster exemplifies, rather than serving as an exception, to the rule. Generally, being passed over - let alone twice - for promotion pretty much indicates that you're done.

Certainly as a prospective general officer. Conversely - and I don't claim to have any inside scoop here - Nagl certainly seemed to be an officer on a fast track who left the Army voluntarily to 1) so his family could settle down and 2) to take advantage of a flood of opportunities to apply his expertise in the think tank arena. It seemingly proved a wise choice, as he soon wound up as president of CNAS.

[May 19, 2015] Americas Warfare State Revolution

Apr 05, 2015 | Zero Hedge
Submitted by Jacob Hornberger via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

It is impossible to overstate the magnitude of the warfare-state revolution that transformed the federal government and American society after World War II. The roots of America's foreign-policy crises today, along with the massive infringements on civil liberties and privacy and the federal government's program of secret indefinite incarceration, torture, assassination, and extra-judicial executions can all be traced to the grafting of a national-security apparatus onto America's federal governmental system in the 1940s.

Certainly, the seeds for what happened in the post-WWII era were sown prior to that time, specifically in the move toward empire, which, interestingly enough, occurred during the same period of time that Progressives were inducing Americans to abandon their system of economic liberty and free markets in favor of socialism and interventionism in the form of a welfare state and regulated economy.

I'm referring to the year 1898, when the U.S. government intervened in the Spanish American War, with the ostensible aim of helping the Cuban and Filipino people win their independence. It was a false and fraudulent intervention, one that was actually designed to place Cuba and the Philippines under the control of the U.S. government. The result was a brutal war in the Philippines between U.S. forces and the Filipino people, along with a never-ending obsession to control Cuba, one that would ending up becoming a central focus of the national-security state.

A national-security state and an empire certainly weren't among the founding principles of the United States. In fact, the revolution in 1776 was against an empire that the British colonists in America no longer wanted to be part of. They were sick and tired of the endless wars and ever-increasing taxes, regulations, and oppression that come with empire and overgrown military establishments.

In fact, there was a deep antipathy toward standing armies among the Founding Fathers. The words of James Madison, the father of the Constitution, reflect the mindset of our American ancestors:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

What about foreign interventionism? The speech that John Quincy Adams delivered to Congress on the 4th of July, 1821, entitled "In Search of Monsters to Destroy," expressed the sentiments of our predecessors. Adams pointed out that there were lots of bad things in the world, things like tyranny, oppression, famines, and the like. He said though that America would not send troops to slay these monsters. Instead, America would build a model society of freedom right here at home for the people of the world. In fact, if America ever became a military empire that would engage in foreign interventionism, Adams predicted, it would fundamentally change the character of American society, one that would look more like a society under dictatorial rule.

That's not to say that 19th-century America was a libertarian paradise with respect to warfare, any more than it was a libertarian paradise in general, as I pointed out in my article "America's Welfare-State Revolution." But the fact is that there was no overgrown military establishment, no CIA, no NSA, no conscription, no foreign interventionism, and no foreign aid (and no income tax, IRS, Federal Reserve, and fiat money to fund such things).

There was a basic military force but in relative terms it wasn't very large. There were also wars, such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Mexican War, and many military skirmishes, but with the exception of the Civil War, the casualties were relatively low, especially compared with such foreign wars as World War I and World War II.

Moreover, it was an established practice to demobilize after each war. That is, a permanent war machine and perpetual war were not built into the system. War and military interventionism were the exception, not the rule.

That all changed with the embrace of a national-security establishment after World War II. In his Farewell Address in 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the national-security state - or what he called the military-industrial complex - constituted an entirely new way of life for the American people, one that entailed what amounted to a new, permanent warfare-state branch of the federal government, consisting of an overgrown military establishment, a CIA, and an NSA, along with an army of private-sector contractors and subcontractors who were feeding at the public trough on a permanent basis.

Most significantly, Ike pointed out that this national-security apparatus constituted a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people.

This revolutionary transformation was justified in the name of "national security," which have become the two most important words in the American lexicon, notwithstanding the fact that no one has ever been able to define the term. The warfare-state revolution would be characterized by an endless array of threats to national security, beginning with communism and communists, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, and others, and later morphing into Saddam Hussein, terrorism, terrorists, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISIS, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and even the Muslims.

In the process, Adams proved right. By grafting a totalitarian-like structure onto America's federal governmental system, the United States began displaying the characteristics of a dictatorial society.

Assassination, torture, rendition, secret prisons, medical experiments on unsuspecting Americans, the hiring of Nazis, indefinite detention, partnerships with criminal organizations and foreign dictators, coups, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, undeclared wars, wars of aggression, and extra-judicial executions. When any of those types of things occurred in the 19th century, they were considered exceptions to the system. Now they have become permanent parts of the system.

And look at the results of this gigantic warfare-state transformation: ever-increasing infringements on liberty and privacy, ever-increasing spending, debt, and taxes, and ever-increasing anger and hatred toward our country. Yes, all the things that characterized the British Empire that British colonists revolted against in 1776. How's that for irony?

Meanwhile, like the welfare state, modern-day Americans continue to remain convinced that their system of government has never changed in a fundamental way. They continue to play like their governmental system is founded on the same constitutional principles as when the country was founded. It is a supreme act of self-deception.

The truth is that America has now had two different governmental systems: One without a national-security apparatus and one with it. It seems to me that it's a no-brainer as to who was right and which system was better in terms of freedom, privacy, peace, prosperity, and harmony.


This! You should see the faces on people when I try to explain to them that we're not supposed to have an ever present military. They call me unpatriotic and a hater of our verterans. WTF?!?! I try explaining to them we shouldn't have "veterans", that many of the conflicts they were part of should never have happened. Still, I'm the bad guy despite the fact that the country's ideals have drifted so far off course. I'm reluctantly getting more and more used to the deer in the headlights response from people, which is sad.

El Vaquero

Calm down, don't get angry, and use the Socratic method with them. The cognitive dissonance will still fight back, but ask them about why we were in Vietnam and Iraq. Lead them to the conclusion that those wars never should have been fought. Unplugging from the matrix is very, very difficult and very, very uncomfortable. You want them to understand your point of view so that it is much harder for them to condemn you for it. You are dealing with deeply ingrained cultural values that they have never questioned.

And be nice to the troops. Most of them were duped into believing that they were doing good. You want them to turn on their masters if their masters turn on us.


There is no America. There's parts of the globe that are labeled United States but the Banks and Corporations have more money and power than nations. They control the land mass that people refer to as America. They control the military that wears American uniforms and they control the nuclear weapons that used to be American weapons. That is why nuclear weapons can be removed from the US without prosecution or military intervention. Deal with it bitchez.


The biggest dilemma facing today's younger Generation is the lack of a point of reference. 911 & other False Flag / PsyOp's have diluted their minds full of lies & deception.

A former KGB Agent interviewed by G. Edward Griffen explained that for a propaganda campaign to be truly effective it has to cross over generations or be "Generational."

We"re well into the second decade of the biggest PsyOp ever conducted over the masses on a Global Scale, 911. The Social Engineers / Revisionists have been very busy rewriting history.

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the future controls the past."
-George Orwell.

Fun Facts

The mightiest nation on earth is run exclusively for the benefit of the mightiest banks on earth.

Too big to fail, too big to bail, too big to jail.

The politico are the puppet class.

The people [at the very bottom of the pyramid] are the serf class with no money, no voice, no power.

All as intended. Follow the money. Read the protocols for more detail.


If it were so easy. Unfortunately there are people who want control, for who knows what reason. I always wondered myself why anyone would want more than they need but I have never been able to come up with a clear answer that makes any logical sense. I can give a prime example: I had a friend in college who was very wealthy and frugal, so frugal they went to a community college with me. He was always telling me he needed more money (he already had an eight figure stash) and one day I asked him why he needed more. The only response he could come up with was: Becuase I want it. Again, I asked what for and he couldn't ever come up with a reasonable explanation other than he wanted it. I don't know about anyone else here but I can say for sure that if I was able to scrounge seven figures in my savings, I would be done saving with no need for any more. But I'm a simple, realistic person and I would expect that my children (not that I will ever have any) pave their own road like I did and I would leave nothing for them or anyone else and expect them to do the same. My money will all be spent and recycled back into the economy when I'm gone. There is no use for it after death. I'm a firm believer that if you can't survive on your own, you don't deserve to survive at all. The animals have already figured this out and humans knew it at one point to. Leave the weak to die or be dragged down with them.

If I ever had the opportunity to ask one of the banksters who has some "end-game" plan for power and control over others I would only have one question: How is that going to improve your life and why would you do that anyway? You already have everything you could possibly need for the next 100 generations of your family. What is the fucking point?


We are Rome and will follow their pattern of decline, although vastly accelerated given our modern communications and banking.


Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Treasury Official in Ronald Reagan's Administration puts it pretty bluntly in what he's telling Americans.Americans reading this need to wake up to what a right wing neo-fascist government is doing to their society.

All religious Americans especially need to pay heed to his insights.It's no joke,it's what's happening right now.Can evil be defeated?The founding fathers warned you about it.

Amish Hacker

The MIC will always need a credible boogeyman to justify its existence. For years this role was played by the Soviet Union. We were told to be afraid of commies in Moscow, in the State Department, in Hollywood, and under every bed. Then, suddenly, came the end of Ivan, and the MIC was threatened with irrelevance, even dissolution. We the People were beginning to wonder aloud about a "peace dividend." Obviously, this could not be allowed.

The MIC solution was to replace the Soviet menace with the terrorist menace. Really, you have to admire the psychopathic brilliance of this move, since terrorism is a conceptual boogeyman that will never expire or be deposed. Multiple, ongoing wars are now our new normal, and saddest of all, we seem to be getting used to it.

Jack Burton

This post somehow brings to mind a High School Class Reunion I attented 5 years ago. We are all old enough now to have been set in our careers for 30 years. So when you talk to people you can get a good insight into how they all made their livings after High School. My town School was small, my class was 145 students.

What amazed me was what we all ended up talking about. It was the Military. Because as Americans THIS was the common bond we men share. Over half of the men there were veterans, me included, but even more than that, there was our lives after military service, and those who went direct to college. The college kids grew up and from those I talked to, there we many who work for the big defense industries in the Minneapolis Metro Area. Plus we had students who went west and worked for giant defense industries out there. Our conversations revolved around missiles, torpedoes, radars, air craft and high explosives. I met a class mate who designed the explosives for Bunker Busters and other High Energy weapons. One class mate helped build the guidance for the type of torpedoes my ship used. One class mate knew the type of detection gear I operated in the Navy, as his father designed much of it. On and On it went.

By the end of the night, it seems half of our class was employed in military design and construction, the other half of average guys were all vets. Yes, Middle America, out where I live, is a totally militarized entity. It really hit home when you talk to a group you have known all your life.


If we ever had an Empire .... it was a Moral Empire .... and it needs to be regained, improved and expanded .... it's called American Exceptionalism .... and I'm not impressed with the pretenders to our throne .... nor their bootlicking lackeys .... a bunch of chickens .... cackling in the Barnyard of Life !

[May 19, 2015] Paul Krugman Errors and Lies

May 18, 2015 | Economist's View

Paul Krugman: Errors and Lies "The Iraq war wasn't an innocent mistake":

Errors and Lies, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Surprise! It turns out that there's something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago

The Iraq war wasn't an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, "were made" by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire.

Now, you can understand why many political and media figures would prefer not to talk about any of this. Some of them may have fallen for the obvious lies, which doesn't say much about their judgment. More, I suspect, were complicit: they realized that the official case for war was a pretext, but had their own reasons for wanting a war, or, alternatively, allowed themselves to be intimidated into going along.

On top of these personal motives, our news media in general have a hard time coping with policy dishonesty. Reporters are reluctant to call politicians on their lies, even when these involve mundane issues like budget numbers, for fear of seeming partisan. In fact, the bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud, the more hesitant the reporting. And it doesn't get much bigger - indeed, more or less criminal - than lying America into war.

But truth matters, and not just because those who refuse to learn from history are doomed in some general sense to repeat it. The campaign of lies that took us into Iraq was recent enough that it's still important to hold the guilty individuals accountable. Never mind Jeb Bush's verbal stumbles. Think, instead, about his foreign-policy team, led by people who were directly involved in concocting a false case for war.

So let's get the Iraq story right. Yes, from a national point of view the invasion was a mistake. But (with apologies to Talleyrand) it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime.

pgl said

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney knew all along what the real deal in Iraq was when they went in. General Zinni knew too and he said this would be a disaster. Bush pretends he listened to his generals. Really> Zinni warned us not to go in back in 2002. So yea - Jeb and his advisers would have invaded knowing what we know today as they knew all of this back then. But hey - it worked to get Bush-Cheney reelected in 2004!

ilsm said in reply to pgl

Most of the generals (I was in the business of buying) saw Iraq as business development, a fine little war to get the budgets up.

It has been fine at getting the budgets up.

The GOP move to raise the pentagon limits over the sequestration depends on more crazed activity in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. While rattling the saber at Russia over the CIA's mistake in Kiev. Since 2003 I tried to (really retire, I was double dipping) retire twice both times my phone rings with more "work" at great compensation.

mulp said in reply to pgl

We the People who vote in all elections voted to invade Iraq in 2002.

The declaration of war if Bush wants it was voted on before the 2002 november election. Almost five hundred members of Congress were subject to being popular referendum on that vote and on their votes for job killing tax cuts.

Republicans won on the basis of their wars and job killing tax cuts, and Democrats lost 2 Senate seats and 8 House seats.

We the People who vote in all elections love the free lunch economics and politics of the neoconservative Republican party.

It is neoconservative because conservatives decided to merge the hatred of taxes with the "spend" of liberal "tax and spend". Redefine American Exceptionalism and now you have free lunch tax cuts that pay for more spending on entitlements and wars that generate a profit.

We the People who vote in all elections seem to be in the "you can fool some of the people all the time" They are the free lunch economic conservatives who believe that sacrifice is what happens to other people. If they suffer, its the fault of liberals. But they know that they can gain disproportionate power by being We the People who vote in every election.

Opponents are those who vote only for dictator every 4 years, without realizing that neoconservatives call the president dictator to rally their faithful to vote in every damn election.

The verdict on the Iraq mistake was rendered November 2002, not in 2004, and the verdict was We the People who care about the US voted to support the stupid Iraq war. Those who opposed the war did not give a damn and did not vote in 2002, believing the power is in the dictator.

DrDick said in reply to mulp
What do you mean, "we", Kimosabe? I have never voted for a Republican and have opposed ever war or military intervention war since Vietnam. A large number of people did so, but those who did not and vocally opposed it share none of the blame.

cawley said in reply to DrDick


Plus many of the people who did vote, did so on the basis of lies.

PK is absolutely correct that shrub, et al, knew that it was a lie. Even though many of us that followed the AUMF and stove piping closely knew that a lot of it was fabricated, for John Q Public depending on network news it was all "he said, she said", suitcase dirty bombs and crop dusters spreading anthrax.

When the electorate is being intentionally mislead by the Administration - from the President, down - and the news media, it's a little disingenuous to drop all the blame on the voters.

Julio said in reply to DrDick

Not the blame, perhaps, but some of the responsibility.
We live in a representative republic. These things are done in our collective name.
pgl said in reply to mulp
Yea - did we vote to train wreck Social Security in 2004? Don't think so. BTW - I did vote in 2002 for people who were opposed to the war.
ilsm said
Jeb was caught speaking in the open things he was supposed to say only in closed sessions with war profiteer PAC's and other exploiters of the 90%.aff. He's already made a Mitten gaff.

PNAC is alive and well, undercover in the GOP.

They want to keep Iraq whole, but the Saudi royals do not want Iraq run by Shiites who are 67% of the population. hey need to resurrect Saddam!T

ISIS goes nowhere without Sunni support, Ramadi falling is example.

W and PNAC were invading Iraq for the money, oil was the least corrupt motive, the most corrupt is the trillions squandered since 2003. Trillions that were taken away from US productivity and kill social security.

The matter of US casualties is another grave sin .

mulp said in reply to ilsm
We the People who vote in all elections have the power, not PNAC.
ilsm said in reply to mulp
"We the MISLEAD People who vote,"

Faux News, we the mislead, aggravated to hate those people and misbelieve war mongering experts.

JohnH said
Twenty-twenty hindsight is often pretty good. But it's hard to understand what prompted Krugman to write this piece now. Maybe he's trying the "get" Jeb (a positive.) Or maybe he's trying to help clear a space for Hillary to "get it," a decade too late, and offer her excuses and mea culpas. In any case, the last thing we need is another President with such poor judgement.

What's particularly disturbing about the Iraq experience is that almost no lessons have been learned, other than perhaps it's better to use drones instead of boots on the ground for fighting pointless and futile foreign wars. Pelosi won a mandate in 2006 to end the war but never challenged Bush on it. Harry Reid even held "surge" hearings on 9-11-2007, the best day possible to garner support for yet more war.

What kept USA from attacking Iran was not Democrats in Congress or public opposition. Rather, it was a report issued by US intelligence services, a consensus opinion that Iran had no nuclear program. They had learned lessons from being manipulated on Iraq intelligence and wanted restore their credibility.

Moreover, the Iraq experience in no way prevented Obama from pursuing the destruction and resulting chaos in Afghanistan or Libya, or from thwarting self-determination with coups in Haiti, Honduras, and Paraguay.

What Krugman is missing here is the urgent need for opinion leaders to exercise critical thinking and judgement before these tragedies occur. By 2007, Bush was known to be a notorious liar. Nonetheless, few questioned his intention to attack Iran, even with the consensus report of the intelligence services that destroyed the pretexts for it.

By January, 2003 I had compiled enough evidence of Bush's phony intelligence to come out publicly against the war, much to the dismay and horror of most people, including my bosses. All it took was looking for the right information and connecting the dots. My point here is not to be self congratulatory, but to show that it can be done.

What really needs discussion now is how to get American people to see through the stream of BS emanating from Washington and their megaphones in the news media and to use their powers of critical thinking and judgement and to preserve their personal integrity by acting to stop stupid wars and promote the common good. That could start at Ivy League schools like the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where Krugman teaches.

pgl said in reply to JohnH
I guess you are the most ignorant person ever. Krugman was against this stupid war in 2002. And cover for Hillary who voted to support Bush for whatever reasoning she now gives.

Krugman is not leading Hillary campaign. But you still have a perfect record - for getting everything wrong.

pgl said in reply to JohnH
I guess the Google Master classes taught for Chicken Hawks like you are designed to filter out anything that does not support the Chicken Hawk agenda. Krugman was called the Shrill One back in 2002 for his tirades against Bush Cheney. But maybe you don't know this as you are: (1) stupid; and (2) trained by the Bush-Cheney Chicken Hawk school of neo-McCarthyism.

Say hello to Scooter Libby for us!

JohnH said in reply to pgl
You insist on my misinterpreting my point: more important than debating Iraq is to make sure that we don't allow ourselves to be misled again. Pulling out the long knives on Iraq means nothing if no lessons are learned about the folly of most wars. And so far none have been learned, at least in the Obama administration. One of the most important places for this to happen is at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, which would be more aptly named the Wilson School for Warmongers.

pgl said in reply to JohnH
"By January, 2003 I had compiled enough evidence of Bush's phony intelligence to come out publicly against the war, much to the dismay and horror of most people, including my bosses. All it took was looking for the right information and connecting the dots. My point here is not to be self congratulatory, but to show that it can be done."

Your bosses? Who gave you a job? A lot of people had tons of evidence to come out against the war by then. One was General Anthony Zinni whose opposition to the planned invasion was made loud and clear.

Why don't you share with us a link to the evidence you made public? That's right - I'm calling you on this as you have lied so many times before. But please prove me wrong on this one.

JohnH said in reply to pgl
One piece that confirmed my thinking was a Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) Memorandum. It was published on Common Dreams. The link is no longer available but its message is summarized but not quoted verbatim at many other sources.

Second Piece: "In October 1998, just before Saddam kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq [actually, they were withdrawn], the IAEA laid out a case opposite of Mr. Bush's Sept. 7 [2002] declaration: "There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance," IAEA Director-General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in a report to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. (.

pgl said in reply to JohnH
There was tons of the counter information. A lot of it was put up by people like Paul Krugman. No one paying attention in early 2003 believed a word from Bush or Cheney.
don said
My own take - an important cause of the war was the fact that one of Saddam's minions tried to kill W's father after he had left office. It was pretty obvious to me that the war was brought on by pretexts, and especially that any ties to 9-11 were spurious. (I recall especially a snippet from a broadcast by a British news agency, which I overheard as I was walking around the ellipse across from the White House. The announcer was saying "

and our polls indicate that the strategy appears to be working 80% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the events of 9/11 ") Colin Powell, to his credit, was such a poor liar that it was blatantly obvious. From accounts I read of Saddam's behavior as the invasion became imminent, I am reminded of a scene in Robocop, where Saddam would be in the position of the hapless employee who is asked to pick up a gun and threaten a prototype robot cop, which then malfunctions (not that Saddam has any pity coming). Yet Hillary voted for the war.

The disconnect between truth and news seems to have grown during and since W's time, or perhaps it is just things I noticed. Bush shirks Vietnam, yet the issue goes against veteran Kerry (who is attacked by the 'swift boats' propaganda). Repeal of the 'death tax' gets popular support. Despite almost $4 trillion in official reserves, China is not, and has never been a currency manipulator

JohnH said in reply to don
Kerry left everything he learned in Vietnam on the altar of political opportunism. Now he's just another member of the committee of warmongers running foreign policy
pgl said in reply to JohnH
You could not carry Kerry's shoes when he in the navy. You can't carry them now. Stick to what you know - shilling for right wing liars like Cameron.
Robert Hill said
I wonder what the USA and UK arms industry would do if world peace were suddenly to break out.

[May 19, 2015] The Military-Industrial Complex in the United States Evolution and Expansion from World War II to the War on Terror

Sept 1, 2013 |

After World War II, the United States military gradually came into a position of overwhelming dominance in the world. Military spending in the United States far outpaces that of other countries, with their world share of military expenditures at 41% in 2011, followed by Russia and China with only eight and four percent respectively (SIPRI 2012). This has been the case since the Second World War and has been justified in different ways over time. The arguments for continued military dominance have ranged from "long-term economic gains" at the start of the war (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45) to Soviet containment during the Cold War, "a broader responsibility of global militarism" since the 1980s (Ryan 1991, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 73), and most recently the need to protect citizens against Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, there has been consistent concern that powerful groups in military, political, and corporate positions, profiteering from conflict and sharing interests in intensifying defense expenditure, have become the primary actors for making and administering U.S. foreign policy. Today the scope of the defense industry is now much bigger than legitimate security needs justify (see, for example, Moskos 1974, Mintz 1985, Waddell 2001 and Hossein-zadeh 2006).

This analysis argues that expansion of the U.S. military establishment from the 1940s onward was initially a means to an end in the process of stabilizing the world economy and serving national security interests, but -- over time -- became an end in itself, serving the interests of an elite group that uses the projection of power as a way to justify the continued expansion of military spending. This essay is divided into two sections: the first focuses on the origins of America's military-industrial complex, beginning with a definition of the elite group that the complex comprises. Next, by focusing on the period in which the foundation for the complex was laid – the Second World War – it is argued that the complex arose unintentionally in some ways, although important characteristics of it were visible from the start. Third, military Keynesianism, often used to defend high military budgets once the complex was in place, will be discussed and refuted. The second section focuses on the most important argument in favor of high military budgets today: the need to protect American citizens from the global threat of terrorism. It is argued that public perceptions of the causes of terrorism are incorrect, yet have been gladly utilized and fostered by the American military-industrial complex to justify an ineffective global war.

The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States

What distinguishes the "power elite" that constitutes the military-industrial complex from other powerful groups in American society who also seek advancement of their own interests, is that this is not a ruling class based solely on the ownership of property (Mills 1956, cited in Moskos 1974: 499-500). Rather, it is a coalition of civilian agencies that formally shape military policy (such as the Senate and the CIA), military institutions, private firms, research institutions and think tanks – all centered on and linked to the Pentagon (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 13). As a result of power arising from the occupancy in top bureaucratic positions as well as from capital ownership, the interests of the ruling elite go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth and include desires to maintain themselves in power and to press for specific forms of public policy. Their most important common interest is intensifying defense expenditure. War profiteering in itself is not new – wars have always been fought at least in part for economic gains. Today's military-industrial complex is different in that it treats war as a business: the ruling elite's goal of having a large military establishment is not to expand the nation's wealth, but "to appropriate the lion's share of existing wealth for the military establishment" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 90). As a consequence, decisions on defense allocation, arms production and military operations are motivated by desires for profit and personal power, not necessarily by security requirements.

This is not to say that expansion of the military budget has always been an 'end' for a powerful group of elites, but in fact was initially a means to serve other ends. The first big expansion of the military establishment took place in the early years of the Second World War, when the U.S. had legitimate concerns for its own national security due to such events as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and feared the war would negatively impact foreign trade. Military expansion is a logical result of the former concern, as it is a means to preserve physical security. However, it is closely linked to the latter concern, too. The Council on Foreign Relations, one of the nation's most influential think foreign policy think-tanks, advised the U.S. government that it needed free access to markets and raw materials in all regions outside of continental Europe for economic self-sufficiency. To this end, the U.S. advocated globalization and open economic cooperation through multilateralism. At the time, the crisis of the '30s and the war had made the concept of the free market highly unpopular. This made "military supremacy for the U.S. within the non-German world" a complementary requirement to ensure all countries within the "U.S.-led, non-German Grand Area," including Japan, would accept American conditions (Shoup and Murray 1977, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 45). In short, military spending was not yet an end in itself, it was the combined result of needing to increase power in the face of security challenges and wanting to restore trust in and stabilize the global capitalist system.

Key characteristics of the current military-industrial complex, however, were already present when the objectives of U.S. foreign policy during World War II were drafted. As Hossein-zadeh points out, a brief look at the social status and class composition of the Council on Foreign Relations, which consisted of wealthy, influential people with ties to major industrial corporations and politicians, shows that a ruling class shaped major government policies "operating through the institutional umbrella of the Council, and providing intellectual justification for major foreign policy overhauls" (2006: 41). The military-industrial complex in its present form might not have been in place then or have been created intentionally, but clearly there already was a power elite based on more than capital ownership, and strong ties between the military, political, and corporate spheres.

After World War II, the Cold War stabilized U.S. foreign policy for over forty years1. With its demise, a "vacuum in the organizing principles of national government" had emerged (Waddell 2001: 133). Even if unintended, the military-industrial complex was well in place by now, and suggestions to curtail the military budget were met with fierce opposition. However, cutting back on non-military public expenditures while an expensive military establishment is preserved proved harder to justify with the loss of the perceived Soviet threat. An argument in favor of military spending that has been used consistently is that it boosts economic growth (Dreze 2000: 180). Mintz, for instance, notes that the military-industrial complex is seen by many to have "considerable influence on levels of employment, … the profitability of arms manufacture and the scope of exports" (1983: 124).

The view that large military spending is an effective means of demand stimulation and job creation, and hence of economic growth, is called military Keynesianism. Keynes' (non-military) theory holds that in times of inadequate purchasing power, the (non-military) private sector becomes wary of expansion, and so the government should spend money in order to boost the stagnant economy by stimulating demand. Since expansion of the military industry is a government investment, it could have the desired economic effects in times of recession. However, it is important to keep in mind that Keynes argues for little government spending in times of high employment and sufficient demand. Military Keynesianists seem to ignore this fact completely and have argued for high government expenditures even during the Golden Age after World War II – and in no other sector than the military-industrial one. This can only be explained by the fact that it is a constantly shrinking number of people experiencing the economic benefits of high military spending (Waddell 2001: 135). The same people tend to switch positions between the Pentagon, its prime contractors and lobbying think tanks supporting those contractors, meaning that military spending is no longer an economic stimulus for the entire nation. Instead, it has become a redistributive mechanism of national resources in favor of the wealthy (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 226).

Cashing In on the War on Terror

What gets lots in the debate over the economic consequences of military spending is the effect it has on international stability. An old principle asserts that military threats are essential in preventing wars from occurring (Dreze 2000: 1178), but an overly extended military establishment means actual military operations are necessary from time to time to 'prove' the necessity of the army. And indeed, militarists have found that the most effective manner of convincing the American public of the need of a large military establishment is the constant 'discovery' of external threats. The threat currently most emphasized by the U.S. is global terrorism. We argue that while some fears of Islamic fundamentalism are justified, most are not; and that the threat of terrorism is not logically followed by higher military investment.

The U.S. is not being fair in its assessment of the Arab threat. Public discourse today implies that Islam is inherently more rigid and anti-modern than other religions. Huntington famously predicted that most major conflicts would be between Muslims and non-Muslims, as "Islam has bloody borders" (1993: 12). In 1990, historian Bernard Lewis described a "surge of hatred" rising from the Islamic world that "becomes a rejection of Western civilisation as such" (cited in Coll 2012). Richard Perle, American neoconservative militarist and advisor to Israel's Likud Party, proposes a strategy of "de-contextualization" to explain acts of terrorism and violent resistance to occupation, arguing that we must stop trying to understand the territorial, geopolitical and historical reasons that some groups turn to fundamentalism; instead, reasons for the violence of such groups must be sought in the Islamic way of thinking (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101).

Religious fundamentalism, however, is universal: it arises in response to modernity and secularism, both of which tend to weaken or threaten religious traditions. John Voll points out that by the early 1990s, "violent militancy was clearly manifest among Hindu fundamentalists, Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and others elsewhere" (1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 110-11). As one scholar points out, if the Bosnians, the Palestinians and the Kashmiris are asked about their borders they would say that, respectively, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are the ones that have bloody borders (Ahmed 2002: 29). Yet statements like the ones by Huntington, Lewis and Perle cited above single out Islam as the most dangerous potential enemy of the West. They all interpret the militancy of Islamic fundamentalism as being somehow directly caused by distinctive Islamic doctrines and traditions (Voll 1994, cited in Hossein-zadeh 2006: 111) and attribute terrorist attacks to "pathological problems of the Muslim mind" (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 101). In doing so, they posit a characteristic supposedly shared by Muslims from Indonesia through Iran to Senegal, that makes conflict with the West inevitable.

An incorrect assessment of the roots of terrorism does not justify the extent to which the U.S. expanded its military activity after 2001; nor does it explain why it continues to fight an ineffective war. As Peña points out, a larger military would not have prevented the tragedy of 9/11, and it will not prevent future terrorist actions (2001, cited in Snider 2004). Terrorism, much like the war that is fought against it, is a means of pursuing objectives, not an actor. It cannot be stopped by military action as fighting does nothing to address the issues that terrorists feel can only be resolved violently; if anything, this is more likely to lead to a vicious cycle of constantly growing military budgets and an ever higher number of terrorist attacks. As one author put it: "the moral crusade to end terrorism can only begin with a realistic assessment of its cause" (Snider 2004). So far, the global war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism.

On the contrary, it seems the threat of an attack is now bigger: the number of terrorist attacks worldwide has increased from just over 1800 in 2001, to a staggering five-thousand ten years later (START 2012). The question that arises, then, is why successive U.S. administrations have found it so difficult to accept that perhaps their assessment of the causes of terrorism is incorrect; that perhaps, the policies built on their premises are not effective, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to a vicious cycle of constantly expanding military activities and an increasing number of individuals who believe their grievances cannot be settled non-violently. This has everything to do with the never-ending need for militarism: 9/11 was approached by the U.S. as an opportunity for aggression. The attacks, however heinous, were approached by the government not as crimes (which would require criminal prosecution and law enforcement), but as a personal attack against Americans (Hossein-zadeh 2006: 91). With the views expressed by Huntington, Lewis and Perle widespread among the American public already, pre-emptive war and military expansion was easily justifiable to Americans. After all, how would dialogue help if the Muslim mind is pathologically troubled? An American citizen might cringe at the idea, but it is true: the 9/11 tragedy "came from heaven to an administration determined to ramp up military budgets" (Johnson 2004: 64).


This essay has sought to argue that the U.S. military-industrial complex was the unintentional result of both a desire to stabilize the global capitalist system and to protect national security interests, but that military spending is now closely linked to the personal interests of a small, influential group of elites. In the first section, it was illustrated that the context of the Second World War made increased military expenditures a necessary means to other ends, although the power elite that would eventually come to benefit from these expenditures was already in place. Once in place, this power elite has constantly needed to justify the disproportionate allocation of national resources to the military establishment. Emphasizing the economic benefits of military investment by drawing on Keynesian theory is a way of doing so, but military Keynesianists seem to give a one-sided account of the theory, one that suits their interests.

The second section focused on the global war on terror, arguing that the U.S. is capitalizing on public fears which are based on an incorrect assessment of the causes of terrorism. The war on terror has done little to eradicate terrorism, but as long as the public continues believing it is a necessary war, the U.S. military-industrial complex will continue using it as an opportunity to keep military budgets high.


1.) The U.S. did have to rethink the expenses of their policies during the crisis of the '70s, when expanding on both warfare and welfare became too expensive. Allocating taxpayers' money to the military had become harder to justify for several reasons; by this time, however, the military-industrial complex was well in place. Beneficiaries of militarism succeeded in maintaining high military budgets, mainly by exaggerating the 'Soviet threat' (such as in the now-discredited Team B report by the Committee on the Present Danger). This was clearly a way of defining the elite group's interests in terms of national interests and is relevant to the topic, but it is not within the scope of the essay to discuss this in detail.

[May 17, 2015] Ukraine Recession Deepens as GDP Falls 17.6%

Poor Ukrainian citizens got back to 90th instead of EU...
Notable quotes:
"... and it is a bit too much like the assumptions made by American and EU policy makers who originally thought that sanctions would get the Russian people to blame Putin. ..."
May 15, 2015 |

The contraction in Ukraine's economy accelerated to 17.6% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, the State Statistics Service said Friday, hammered by a conflict with Russia-backed separatists in its eastern industrial heartland that has slashed industrial output.

Gross domestic product for the period slid 6.5% from the final quarter of 2014, the agency said. Ukraine reached a cease-fire deal with the separatists in February that has reduced--but not ended--fighting. Talks over a longer-term political resolution to the conflict have stalled with each side blaming the other.

The contraction was "a little bit worse than we estimated," according to Olena Bilan, chief economist at Dragon Capital brokerage. She said the economy had also been damaged by shrinking domestic consumption after the country's currency collapsed and inflation shot up. Retail spending was down 31% in March compared with the same month last year, according to Dragon Capital.

Still, analysts said the contraction in the last quarter is likely to be the worst for the year, as the economy's plunge began last summer as fighting picked up. Ukraine's government has forecast a 5.5% contraction this year, but the World Bank said last month that Ukraine's economy would shrink by 7.5%.

"In certain sectors are showing that the economy is testing the bottom," said Alexander Valchyshen, head of research at ICU investment firm, citing transportation and agriculture as examples of industries experiencing a turnaround. " Going forward I think the stronger decline we are having in the first quarter, the stronger rebound in the second half of the year, because last year it was the second half of the year when we started registering the collapse."

See also

kirill, May 16, 2015 at 6:45 am

So Ukraine's GDP drop in 2015 is likely going to be over 20%. I recall Moody's, etc forecasting a GDP drop of 2% for Ukraine and 6% for Russia. The 2% figure actually is looking more realistic for Russia this year and is total BS if applied to Ukraine.

PaulR, May 16, 2015 at 9:49 am
That's quite a fall. Inflation is now almost 61%.
kirill, May 16, 2015 at 11:54 am
These numbers are full on depression ones. The USA's GDP went down 25% during the Great Depression. I see Ukraine going down 30% and Ukraine was not doing so well before this disaster started.
Hunter, May 16, 2015 at 7:14 am
Hey all, very interesting discussions.

Nice article Mark.

I have an observation though and a question:

First the observation – you suggest that the EU will come to blame America for the soured relationship with Russia.

I think that's a little bit too simplified to properly describe what might occur in Europe (I would imagine that only SOME EU members' populations will come to blame America, others will blame Russia for the EU's soured relationship with Russia) and it is a bit too much like the assumptions made by American and EU policy makers who originally thought that sanctions would get the Russian people to blame Putin. Just as how that assumption was faulty, the assumption that the EU will come to blame America could also probably be faulty and likely is given the deepset Russophobia in many parts of Europe.

... ... ...

[May 17, 2015]US Empire: American Exceptionalism Is No Shining City On a Hill

May 15, 2015 |

The concept of American exceptionalism is as old as the United States, and it implies that the country has a qualitative difference from other nations. This notion of being special gives Americans the sense that playing a lead role in world affair is part of their natural historic calling. However there is nothing historically exceptional about this: the Roman empire also viewed itself as a system superior to other nations and, more recently, so did the British and the French empires.

On the topic of American exceptionalism, which he often called "Americanism", Seymour Martin Lipset noted that "America's ideology can be described in five words: liberty, egalitarism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. The revolutionary ideology, which became American creed, is liberalism in its eighteenth and nineteenth-century meaning. It departed from conservatism Toryism, statist communitarianism, mercantilism and noblesse-oblige dominant in monarchical state-church formed cultures." Naturally identifying America's system as a unique ideology, just like calling its successful colonial war against Britain a revolution, is a fallacy. For one, America was never based on social equality, as rigid class distinctions always remained through US history.

In reality, the US has never broken from European social models. American exceptionalism implies a sense of superiority, just like in the case of the British empire, the French empire and the Roman empire. In such imperialist systems, class inequality was never challenged and, as matter of fact, served as cornerstone of the imperial structure. In American history, the only exception to this system based on social inequality was during the post World War II era of the economic "miracle". The period from 1945 to the mid 1970s was characterized by major economic growth, an absence of big economic downturns, and a much higher level of social mobility on a massive scale. This time frame saw a tremendous expansion of higher education: from 2.5 million people to 12 million going to colleges and universities, and this education explosion, naturally, fostered this upward mobility where the American dream became possible for the middle class.

Regardless of real domestic social progress made in the United States after the birth of the empire in 1945, for the proponents of American exceptionalism - this includes the entire political class - the myth of the US being defined as a "shining city on a hill" has always been a rationale to justify the pursuit of imperialism. For example, when President Barack Obama addressed the nation to justify the US military intervention in Libya, he said that "America is different", as if the US has a special role in history as a force for good. In a speech on US foreign policy, at West Point on May 28, 2014, Obama bluntly stated:

"In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise - who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away are misreading history. Our military has no peer…. I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being."

In his book, Democracy In America, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was lyrical in his propaganda-like adulation of American exceptionalism, defining it almost as divine providence.

"When the earth was given to men by the Creator, the earth was inexhaustible. But men were weak and ignorant, and when they had learned to take advantage of the treasures which it contained, they already covered its surface and were soon obliged to earn by the sword an asylum for repose and freedom. Just then North America was discovered, as if it had been kept in reserve by the Deity and had risen from beneath the waters of the deluge", wrote de Tocqueville.

This notion, originated by the French author, and amplified ever since, which defined the US as the "divine gift" of a moral and virtuous land, is a cruel fairy tale. It is mainly convenient to ease up America's profound guilt. After all, the brutal birth of this nation took place under the curse of two cardinal sins: the theft of Native American lands after committing a genocide of their population; and the hideous crime of slavery, with slaves building an immense wealth for the few, in a new feudal system, with their sweat, tears and blood.

[May 15, 2015] The west talks about a new cold war. For Russians it has already started

This article is definitely a deviation from the regular NN/TGA crap Guardian runs. While this Guardian pressitute tried to pretend that she is not a regular neocon hawk, the standard "MI5" working set of lies is used. Quote: Look at the people (think tanks) around Masha Gessen en Dawisha. The figure of $70-200 billion also comes from them. " The author failed to stay away from the silly and sometimes cold war era rhetoric. "Empire", "insecurity", "damaged ego," "feeling excluded." That's a stupid thing to say about the nation.
May 14, 2015 | The Guardian

The west talks about a new cold war. For Russians it has already started. By continually freezing out the Kremlin, the west is refuelling old resentments ...

I've been travelling in the heartlands of Russia for 30 years, witnessing everything from the euphoric wishfulness at the fall of communism to prosperity and, more recently, political despair. Yet going there for the first time since the annexation of Crimea, I was still shocked by what I saw.

I encountered a country braced not for some frozen conflict, nor for proxy war, but for the real thing: all-out war against the west. Never have my friends been more loving – but this time it was the concern of people who were unsure when and how we would meet again.

It is true that this state of mind has been brought about by the Kremlin's unremitting media campaign of the past year. But I quickly came to understand that most of them share their government's dim view of the west, with its "hollow concepts" of democracy and freedom.

Since the regime is fixated on the idea of getting its empire back, a major conflict really does seem possible. Russian aircraft and submarines are playing war games around the coasts of Europe. But a plane crossing into Baltic air space could trigger Nato retaliation with conventional arms, which could in turn could spark a pre-emptive nuclear strike by Russia – a strategic response born of a fear of weakness in the face of superior American military power.

... ... ...

How have we drifted into this absurd and dangerous situation? At the end of the cold war the Russians imagined that they would be becoming part of an expanded Europe. Instead, through a combination of triumphalism and ignorance we have played to Russia's ancient fears of exclusion and victimhood.

The conventional view in the west is that the blame lies with Putin and his kleptocratic regime. According to this narrative, the regime went into attack mode after the oil price collapsed. It distracted attention from its own failure to diversify the economy by lashing out against an external enemy, and launching a brilliant propaganda campaign.

This version of events, while not untrue, lets the west off the hook far too easily. When the Soviet regime ended, free-market thinking was in the ascendancy in the west. People in positions of authority really did swallow the idea that we were living through "the end of history": that in a unipolar world foreign policy was going to be exclusively about a battle for markets.

In America and Britain, government support for research on old Soviet bloc countries was slashed. The State Department and Foreign Office disbanded research units that kept politicians informed. Embassies focused on opening up commercial opportunities. Meanwhile, the press, facing its own economic crisis, also cut back on foreign correspondents. The west simply stopped thinking seriously, and in depth, about Russia and its neighbours.

And yet when it came to defence we did not behave as though we were facing the end of history. Rather than disbanding our cold war defence arrangement, Nato, we reinvented it as an alliance that could be construed only as being arrayed against Russia. We kept expanding it ever eastward, closer to Russia's borders. In response, Russia turned aggressive – first in Georgia, then in Crimea and Ukraine – at this intrusion into its sphere of influence.

The west dismissed this, saying the concept of spheres of influence belonged to a bygone age. But geography is unchanging, as are the sensibilities created by it. US policy on Cuba in the post-Soviet era has, until now, been founded on precisely this principle. Cuba had long-since ceased to pose a military threat to the US. But it was deemed outrageous that any nation so close to US borders should cleave to a "hostile" ideological allegiance.

The end of the cold war has not changed history either. History continues to inform identity, as it always has. Take Ukraine: Kiev really is the birthplace of the Russian nation. This matters, just as it still matters that America's founding fathers came from Britain.

Russia's sense of its identity, poised on the edge of Europe in a borderless landmass, has always been pathologically insecure. Identities are tangled, allegiances split. Take Donbas, for example, at the heart of the conflict area. This is the homeland of the Don Cossacks, whose cavalry regiments famously served Russia's tsars for generations. During the Soviet period, the Cossacks were greatly persecuted for their Tsarist allegiances. But the region was also the birthplace of that icon of Soviet labour, Alexei Stakhanov, who mined 227 tonnes of coal in a single shift. Stakhanov was the poster boy for a heroic generation of Soviet labour, all based in Donbas. In this region of conflicted allegiances, it is hardly surprising that the Kremlin has been fighting its propaganda war with particular intensity here.

The decision by western leaders to boycott Russia's 70th anniversary victory parade on Saturday might have seemed like common sense in the light of events on Ukraine's border. But it failed to recognize how emotive a concept fascism still is for Russians. Westerners have for years been giggling at 'Allo 'Allo and John Cleese's goosestep, but fascism is no laughing matter in this country. Russians ask me how in Lithuania marches can be permitted that honour Nazi collaborators who murdered 200,000 Jews. How, they ask, can the west welcome into the EU and Nato "ethnocracies" such as Estonia and Latvia that radically discriminate against their Russian subjects.

The 62% popular support which Vladimir Putin enjoys according to the Levada Centre reflects not only that ancient geographical sense of insecurity Russians feel; not just the unshakeable love Russians feel for their country. It represents wounded pride at the west's apparent determination to treat Russia as the enemy. Continued western sanctions will only fuel his popularity. Because Putin is a merely a symptom of the present crisis. There is more to Russia than Putin, a great deal more.

... ... ...

stonedage 15 May 2015 12:54

Putin announced that he would take a salary cut of 10% this year; but since estimates of his true, shadowy wealth range between $70bn and $200bn, it is unlikely he'll feel the pinch

The western press keeps repeating this line with absolutely no proof. If Putin is this rich, why isn't he spending the money? Why isn't his children? It's illogical for someone to hoard this amount of wealth without spending lavishly. Is he trying to pass the money down to his family? The lying western press wants us to believe something so preposterous without offering a single proof, yet they don't write about the corrupt leaders like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair....who are gladly hoarding blood money and pimping it out on young women. Please tell me how the Clinton's went from being a broke ex president to amassing over 200 million within a decade.....Mr. Blair has done the same and I know Obama can't wait to cash in.

Me109BfG6 15 May 2015 11:35

"...It is true that this state of m i n d has been brought about by the Kremlin's unremitting media campaign of the past year. But I quickly came to understand that most of them share their government's dim view of the west, with its "hollow concepts" of democracy and freedom..."

I can see a throng of Russian visitors invading these pages permanently. However, I can't see any reason to do so. The Russians do have a great science that launched the first ever satellite in 1957, the true, real European science that is never reachable to the Anglo-Saxons with their exclusive empiricism as the only principle of science. The Russians are great in culture generally. Schopenhauer suggested once to prove the greatness of a nation by comparing their composers, as their most abstract job is of the greatest value compared. Well, here after finding the names of a certain Mr Purcell along with Mr Britten we would have to make a stop rather than to mention the Beatles who brought up 20 billions of pounds to the British crown.

Not that in Russia, with a multitude of composers ranging from Scriabin, Prokofiev, and Rakhmaninov up to Shostakovitch and Schnittke in the 20th century only. Now, concluding, just think that a Brit applying his / her 'mind' is not aware of the true sense of this word, which has ever been given by Kant in his "Verstand"= рассудок und "Vernunft"= разум, while an ordinary Russian is also aware of a mere ум. How can such a British "mind" be criticizing, say, the Dialectical Materialism?! - Nothing to mention of the Russian ballet school, also not reachable.

So, the Russians are great and not reachable, as seen from the outside, alas.

Dannycraig007 15 May 2015 10:56

This Reuters article I have linked here shows the US is possibly throwing their Ukrainian Nazis under the bus.

This is major.

  1. It's Reuters which is the US lead news organization.
  2. It's Josh Cohen who gets major coverage in the US, he's also one of the main USAID reps.
  3. It clearly points out Putin was right and vindicates him.
  4. It clearly points out the WW2 Ukrainian Insurgent army killed 80,000 Poles.
  5. It talks about the current law to make the Nazi supporters honored.
  6. It points out the Right Sector led Maidan.
  7. It mentions the Ministerial positions of the fascists.
  8. It mentions 'Cyberspace" which mean we are winning this information war.
  9. It points out that the Nazis have been given free reign to commit atrocities.

All these things have been covered up in the US media until now. This article most likely means that after the meeting in Sochi with Kerry and Lavrov that the US has decided to throw their Nazis under the bus as it is too difficult to hide them any longer and they are proving to be a liability at this point.

Юля Пашковская -> MentalToo 15 May 2015 10:53

Sorry. Whose interests are protecting Britain in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Alexander Ilichev -> MentalToo 15 May 2015 10:49

Basically this double standards problem and hypocrisy goes a long way before global politics. All countries and men proclaiming their will for good always and really believe this, but when it comes to their needs they will fight for it with low morality and fake moral reasons. Question who of them is self deluded still. If someone from US, UK or Russia believes only in good part of himself he is part of this problem.

Though comparing Russia and NATO actions from the point of morality for past decades it seems most obviously who is the real aggressor here.

Alexander Ilichev -> jezzam 15 May 2015 10:35

And it's not equally illegal. Even not close to that. There are millions of Russian people living in Ukraine and Kiev just started bombing them after they rioted as well as Maidan protest made that 4 months before. Is it ok for you too?

BTW, if Iraq is considered illegal was your country reprimanded for it like you reprimanding Russia now? Can you sanction yourself maybe?

Alexander Ilichev -> jezzam 15 May 2015 10:32

Iraq? How about Serbia, Syria, Lebanon? Is it ok for you? There are hundreds of thousands of dead civilians caused by your government.

ANd it's not the matter how disastrous was it for Russia, what is matter how is it for local people of Ukraine, Iraq or any other country.

During Ukraine conflict only 3-5 thousands civilians died and degree of RUssian government involvement in it is still under question as well as it's legitimacy due to there were russian people there dying from Kiev army.

And USA and UK destroyed whole countries killing more million people with no problems at all. Go to them and tell how they should behave first.

Jeff1000 -> jezzam 15 May 2015 09:41

The main ain of the West is to get the basic institutions of democracy installed in all countries; Fair elections, rule of law, independent judiciary, free press.

You don't honestly believe that, do you?

Volkovolk -> jezzam 15 May 2015 09:37

You are either really naive or really ignorant. Or both.

The main goal of the West is to preserve it's dominance that it get after Gorbachev trew all interests and chivements of USSR in wondow. Economical, politicall. Means to reach this goal are rally simple - to install their system, their values and their ideas as the major ones in the world. To create a system that that it's creator (US) can easily manipulate. For example to use this free press and bla-bla-bla-bla to overtrow governments where and when they feel the need to do so, like it was done on maidan and during so calles Arabian Spring.

The evidience are overwhelming? Tell that to Greec. The economy of US and Europe os working on basis of expansion, of assimilation of lesser economies. And this is another reason of this cover war of US for spheres of influence.

No ideas, no idealogy, just pragmatism and need to get benefit for US.

Alexandra_Aleshina 15 May 2015 09:33

"all-out war against the west"

It is absolute baloney! There is no aggression against west in Russia! Yes, Russia is ready for war, but for protection only. Russia does not want it. So please stop to portray Russia as a world aggressor, because it is not so!

jezzam -> Volkovolk 15 May 2015 09:29

You say the West's actions are "A cover for secret carving of world in one big sphere of influence. Western and basically US influence."

The main ain of the West is to get the basic institutions of democracy installed in all countries; Fair elections, rule of law, independent judiciary, free press. True it is in the West's interests to do this, but it is also in the interest of the populations of every country. The evidence is overwhelming that countries with these institutions have populations that are happier, richer and healthier than those without them. The only European country that does not have them now is Russia.

Volkovolk -> MentalToo 15 May 2015 09:20

Because NATO near borders of Russia is both danger to russian safety and kinda indulgence for antirussian policy of Lithuania. NATO is offensive war alliance that was created to fight against Soviet Union that was led, basically, by Russia. So NATO is antiRussian alliance from the beginning.

jezzam -> Alexander Ilichev 15 May 2015 09:18

Misdeeds by the West do not justify misdeeds by Russia. I assume you are referring to Iraq - generally accepted as illegal and disastrous for the West. Putin's Ukraine invasion was equally illegal and even more disastrous for Russia.

Volkovolk -> MentalToo 15 May 2015 09:16

Igor Girkin can mumble all he want because he is not a politician or any influential figure. And why he fortified Slavyansk? Perhaps because of neonazi rampage?

Putin... send... Girkin? Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!! Oh, you are funny. Girkin came himself because he is kinda glory hound. According to facts.

Nice and simple would be smashing of ukrainian neo-nazism and no anti-russian propaganda that foolish ukrainian elite decided to use to validate independence of Ukraine. But as we both know it is not nice and not simple, yeah, Bizarro?

MentalToo -> Volkovolk 15 May 2015 09:15

They are free to do what is not harming interests of others, more influential and powerful states and of other nations on their territory.
So because Russia is more powerful than Lithuania, Lithuania was not allowed to join Nato?

Z'ing Sui -> alpamysh 15 May 2015 07:30

So you're saying India has more industrial know-how and has a better education level overall that Russia? Again, are you being serious? That Russia doesn't have, say, cheap sneakers and t-shirt industry doesn't mean much in my book, especially when the factories, patents and know-how are more likely to belong to transnational corporations anyway.

I already said, that I find these commonplace economy arguments (size, diversification) weak. USSR lacked or was hopelessly behind in economy by these metrics, yet it was a superpower that sometimes almost rivaled the US and Europe combined. Russia is no Soviet Union, yet the goal is not to dominate half the world, but simply to be one of about 6 or 8 global powers acting independently in its own region of the world. Seems entirely manageable for Russia.

John Smith -> Malcolm Ronald Davis 15 May 2015 06:54

That would not have happened had not Slobodan Milosevic been undertaking a brutal ethnic war against the Kosovars, having already contributed to an equally brutal war against the Bosnian Muslims. I think the 1999 Kosovo conflict is an excellent example of 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P).

And how things are there in Langley?

KLA was on the US list of terrorist organisations 1998. They were killing police, army, postmen and even Albanians with less extremist views from Rugova's party which in any way didn't collaborate with Miloshevich ( they were boycotting the elections). Albanians had education, universities, TV and press in their own language. Miloshevich became famous for his words at Kosovo: "No one can beat you!", replying to Serbs complaining of harassment by Albanian policemans whom were dominant in numbers.

They have chosen terrorism, like 2001 and again today in Macedonia to make the Great Albania. Are they suppressed in Macedonia today? They are in the government, they had two defence ministers in a former governments, what is wrong now?

KLA is the US lapdog, they trained them and armed them and what recent events show didn't disarmed them at all after 1999. They had even pretty exotic AMAC 1500 in their possession. And the US will use them anytime when they want to destabilize the region.

Z'ing Sui -> alpamysh 15 May 2015 06:33

These speeches about Russia being a third-world hellhole some people on the Internet just love, they're crazy, and they're as easy as a google search or a wikipedia to disprove. I mean you're saying that like in Russia sucks compared to India. Are you actually, really, being serious?

And when it comes to Russia not having a great chance to be a power in the future because of low population, it's a good argument, a little better than the economic one, but still not decisive. To me it seems obvious that Russia has enough technological, military and political edge to stay a world power for a long while yet.

oleteo -> Sceptical Walker 15 May 2015 06:18

Red Army was able to turn the tide as you formulated not after the regrouping further but because they were ready to die for their soil and relatives while a peaceful life continued in European countries.

This invader came or the other one, some nuisance at last for the most part of Europeans.

Or can you allege the majority of them didn't live their lives and took the ams in the hands?

Russians has to be slaves or exterminated and they had no habit to surrender. There is no equality between communism and fascism as no equality between murderer and victim

Jeff1000 -> alpamysh 15 May 2015 06:10

You are a racist lunatic, with a strange agenda.

17 posts on this topic in 90 minutes. That's once every 5.3 minutes. Slower than your usual rate, but hey, it's Friday.

ijustwant2say -> kraljevic 15 May 2015 04:48

"That power was Russia."

Actually, let's be honest, Russia's sacrifice, large though it was, had little to do with freeing Europe. It had everything to do with fighting for Russia's very existence after Hitker reneged on his pact with Stalin and attacked Russia.

The actual power that had no reason to enter the fray but did - and unlike Russia took no territory afterwards - was the U.S. Russia, and to a lesser extent Britain had no choice but get involved, America CHOSE to put its blood and treasure on the line, And then they left.

That must be worth something, surely, especially considering how Russia occupied all the territories that became the USSR, substituting one extremist regime Fascism with another Communism.

And don't forget that without US and UK aid and supplies Russia would not have held Stalingrad.

As the great man said: those who don't learn from history are likely to repeat it.

Z'ing Sui -> AnhTay 15 May 2015 03:11

Come on, world is clearly not multipolar, not yet. But if it ever become one, Russia would be a center of power, if a much smaller one than the US, EU or China. Militarily and politically, there's really no sign that Russia is going away. People saying "~but Russia's economy is so small" should be pointed at the idea of this article I very much agree with. That idea is that economy is not everything.

Russia could easily be a power on par with India in this new world, and it would almost certainly be much more influential in global affairs than South Korea, which has little chance of ever becoming its own center of power because of closeness to China.

Kata L -> EmperorWearsNoCloths 15 May 2015 00:26

that's why you trolls can earn your bag of rubleys

if you have nothing to say

The time has come for the United States to formulate and prosecute an integrated, comprehensive, and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia. This need arises out of the interaction between two fundamental realities:

- America is now the only global superpower

- Eurasia is the globe's central arena.

Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and to America's historical legacy.

by Zbigniew Brzezinski
Harvard International Review
Winter 1997/1998

But, on 31 December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the Constitution of Russia, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation.

Bob Schmitz -> TecchnoExpertThanx 15 May 2015 00:16

Look at the people (think tanks) around Masha Gessen en Dawisha. The figure of 70- 200 billion also comes from them.

Indeed strange that a rather balanced article leans heavily on this incredibly biased source, which obtains half of its info through mindreading of Putins´ head.

Gessen is probably a must-read for journalists.

Subhasis Sengupta -> Subhasis Sengupta 14 May 2015 23:43

the best part is Russia invaded guatemala, changed regime in iraq, libya, vietnam, panama, mexico, syria and US just did afghanistan... when these reporters write, all i can think of is laugh and tell these reporters and the oped writers, do u have a backbone, r u independent thinking, or get well soon buddy.

Subhasis Sengupta -> Subhasis Sengupta 14 May 2015 23:40

the US and EU apart from germany and france and austria and 50% of netherlands, finland, needs a war, why the very fast decline of the US economic system coming to an end... war is money, inventory buildup will be sold, new orders will be sold, new gas field will be in private control in ukraine and arctic... and bingo... consumer sentiment will rise so will be the rise of manufacturing... so the US economy grows.... we definitely need a war... and some fools still support that idea...

Subhasis Sengupta 14 May 2015 23:38

good to see american british propaganda running at full pace.... oops sorry american british piece of editorial are news... others are propaganda... news for peace and prosperity... peace when u have 350 military bases all over the world surrounding russia and china... prosperity when the 1% owns everything and a divided society is created... freedom of press when only what i say is correct, and even if i dont say the truth and say wrong things what i say is correct... oops i am a russian troll...

HollyOldDog -> Botswana61 14 May 2015 23:36

Chechnya was an internal problem. Georgia invaded South Ossetia while it was protected by an UN mandate and killed UN Peacekeepers. As the west dithered Russia drove the Georgians back to their own country. Russia has not invaded Ukraine though there is a Civil War occurring in Ukraine where West Ukraine has repeatedly violated the Minsk2 agreement. The Crimean citizens, after repeated attempts to become independent of Ukraine has voted to rejoin Russia ( Crimea rejoices each day that they are now with Russia - no military attacks from West Ukraine).

The West Ukrainian government is now so vile that they now punish any descent from their own citizens, with imprisonment or death. Western Powers have now become truly despicable.

HollyOldDog -> PacificPlasticPatch 14 May 2015 23:11

Does any Russian trust the actions of Western Powers when they have repeatedly sought to asset strip friends (Ukraine fracking) and foe alike? In Iraq the museums containing the rare antiquities from that country were allowed to be looted while the Oil Ministry building was heavily guarded.

Why was Iraq invaded since any supposed WMD's were destroyed years previously ( and documented). Best guess is that Iraq stopped having wars with Iran.

Natalia N -> UncleSam404 14 May 2015 22:19

Ukraine wanted to become Europe.
Ukraine has become even poorer.
People from Ukraine massively move to Russia.

TecchnoExpertThanx 14 May 2015 21:45

Alluding to the Donbass region, the author concludes that...

it is hardly surprising that the Kremlin has been fighting its propaganda war with particular intensity here.

The moment Poroshenko labelled the entire region terrorists and the military campaign an ATO, cutting of pensions and services right at the start of the campaign and then not to mention both targeted and indiscriminate shelling of civilians.... ANY Kremlin propaganda would just be a waste of money.

greatwhitehunter -> Botswana61 14 May 2015 21:24

On the contrary only 20% of the USA,s export earnings are made from physical exports the rest is basically made from clipping the ticket or stealing if you like.

take Boeing and military out of this and what do you have left.

As an example the ukraine crisis came about not for the reasons that we read about in the media but because russia china india were in the process of replacing the $ as the worlds trading currency.

The economy of my country is quite small but we saved billions of dollars every year by making our currency trade-able with the yuan. The continuation of the cold war in effect maintains the USA,s ability to tax the world .

John Smith -> oresme 14 May 2015 20:04

Kiev was a Khazar city. It was not founded by Normans, And the Normans is a maybe wrong term, Vikings or Varyags as Russians called them would be more appropriate.
Russians went there with a Viking leadership and trick them and took the city.
Recently one historical document was found in Cairo from a late 800's I think, where it was written that the government of Kieb, Khazars called it that way, tried to arrange some ransom money for one of the citizens that was captured.

All of the names ( local government) were Khazar/Jewish, no Slavic or 'Nordsman'
names there.

But Nevertheless, you're correct and there was an astonishing influence of Vikings/Norseman to our civilisation not only in exploring, but also they invented/ reinvented accounting that haven't changed much till or times thousand years after (that was in Sicily).

John Smith Malcolm -> Ronald Davis 14 May 2015 19:29

And you're completely lost with that wall of text.

Russia hasn't invaded anything, they had more than 16.000 soldiers there.
The parliament of Crimea voted for a referendum and people of Crimea voted to rejoin Russia. The vast majority of Ukrainian soldiers joined the Russian army.

Is NATO a defensive alliance ? What was NATO defending in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Libya, Afghanistan ?

Nemtsov had zero influence in Russia like the most of the 'liberal' ( read payed from the west) opposition. Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky, those are opposition leaders that people vote for. You wouldn't like to see them in power for sure.

You can forget about 'Maidan' in Moscow, those few thousands can run around and shout what they like ( I saw Ukrainians last year shouting very offensive words about Putin and nothing happened), that's just a clown parade.

What aggression in Georgia and Estonia?

Georgians attacked the peacekeepers, check what OSCE said about that.
Not to mention who armed and trained Georgians. NATO training is a pure BS. Georgians, Iraqis, Afghani... what they learned from those trainings? Nothing
Whom was NATO fighting with to have a combat experience to train someone ?
Iraqi Army in the collapse at the level of the 70s and ill-equipped insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Iraq they burned them with phosphorus and in Afghan have not achieved anything, last week some westerners were captured in a hotel in Kabul. What would that look like if Russians sold them some Strela's to fight against the aviation support ? They would be massacred.

The best advice would be keep your nose out those places, your governments just brought a destruction, failure and misery wherever they sticked them.

Bouduain bloomday 14 May 2015 18:56

Kremlin's constant harping on about Ukranian fascism

You harp on about "harping on." I suspect it is not the unyielding denial you were seeking from this article. And of course Russia has its fascists. Little nazi's are a world wide plague. In America, they're called patriots; and their political wing is the Tea-baggers.

A heady mix of ultra conservative Ultras (yobs heavy on idiocy), and fully declared proto-fascists, largely from a relatively small range in western Ukraine, took over neo-liberal origins of the protest and ran Yanukovic out of office. EuroMaiden was not fascist inspired, or organized, but hard core nationalists, fascists, protofascists, ... however you wish to slot the idiots ... took it over, and ended it with bricks, fire, and a good deal of pointed guns.

Ultra right wing, self-identified fascists - ultimately concentrated in deep west where all the few seats virtually reach back to, - with ties to former brutal "glories" of nasty elements allied not just with Hitler Germany, but Mein Kempf ideology - only took, something, like 7% of the vote during the Poroshenko election. Oddly, they were awarded the most dangerous ministry; internal security.

Beyond control of security (state police, central intelligence, etc) that tiny representation of fascist Ukraine also has its own politically allied military units - graciously serving under Kiev's command. (Sarcasted emphasis mine). They have two full battalions in the Ukrainian national army, if you can call whatever that is, a national military. Hell, there is an oligarch with his mercenary army badgering Dombass. There is no single Ukrainian military command.

Ukraine is not a fascist state. It is virtually a failed state; but its large numbers hardly voted fascist. The majority of what's left of Ukraine hardly shares the fascist inspirations of the controlling minority in Rada. My faith, and heart, went out to rational Ukrainians when vast numbers of certain conscripts split the country or simply holed-up with neibours where they couldn't be found; when western Ukrainian mothers burned call-up notices on the road while cameras rolled; or the shear volume of "switched one corrupt oligarch for another" type decent from original neoliberal-liberal EuroMaidan protestors that is suppressed today.

Poroshenko is no fascist, at least not over the wee share of the Ukraine he splits with Yatsenuk. At worst I peg him a neocon, a dodgy oligarch who is hardly in full control of anything - least not the military. I'd probably place Yats in the fascists' camp, but he's dodged that official declaration so far. Not so with the over-compensated, outright Bandera worshipers who made it into the Rada. They openly promote it.

The fascist element in this mess is a problem. By no popular authority should they have been given armed wings of the government. They should have been relegated to positions that fit 7% popularity - back behind the friggin back benches!

The article was measured - almost journalism. A decent read from the regular NN/TGA crap Guardian runs. I did find it bit of a illogical walk about; and certainly par for Guardian editorial positions: a decent whitewash of the whole fascist taint in Kiev. She hardly talked about it ... except it is somehow connected to the prerequisite charge of "propaganda"; and that Russians fear it more then me, and many others like me out here in the west who take it very seriously. Denial seems to be your domain.

Ukraine needs to shed the stink of fascists and start acting like a responsible state ... a state that will never force Crimea or Dombass back into the fold. Hell ... give Lviv its independence too, and send the viscous fools home. Definitely relegate them to the political hinterlands where they belong. Maybe Ukraine will have a nation they can govern.

(W)ith no dissenting view allowed in the Russian media to counter, …

I'm far more concerned with the one line we are getting fed west of Winchester. McCain, Harper, Abbott, Cameron WEST. (Pick one or insert yours into the western MSM mix if they fit).

vr13vr 14 May 2015 17:58

It wouldn't be a reasonable article if the author stayed away from the silly and sometimes cold war era rhetoric. "Empire", "insecurity", "damaged ego," "feeling excluded." That's a stupid thing to say about the nation. How about a more straight talk - we don't threaten them and don't try to hurt them and they will not threaten us?

nnedjo 14 May 2015 17:19

Since the regime is fixated on the idea of getting its empire back, a major conflict really does seem possible. Russian aircraft and submarines are playing war games around the coasts of Europe. But a plane crossing into Baltic air space could trigger Nato retaliation with conventional arms, which could in turn could spark a pre-emptive nuclear strike by Russia – a strategic response born of a fear of weakness in the face of superior American military power.

I've read so far all kinds of accusations against Russia, but I have to admit that such outrageous accusation I have not read so far. Thus, the author of this article directly accuses Russia of a possible nuclear war, which practically means the end of civilization, at least as we have known so far.

However, at the same time it shows how accusations of any kind when it comes to Russia, are completely meaningless.

So if one day really came to nuclear war, and if humanity ceases to exist, whether it will be important at all who is to blame? Or better said, the big question is whether it will be left at least one man who could blame anyone for that.

Therefore, if we will not be able to blame Russia after that, then let's to blame in advance. And in that blame should not have a limit, it should go beyond every limits. Even behind a nuclear war, and the end of human history.

John Smith -> VladPutil 14 May 2015 17:02

No -the first action was armed Russian special forces "disguised" as little green men took over government building in East Ukraine

You forgot taking over government buildings in Kiev and earlier in the West Ukraine in January where they took some 1500 AK's ?
Very selective memory from your side.

Ruslan Zigangirov -> Sceptical Walker 14 May 2015 16:46

I hope that does not happen. I hope that Poland will be enough reason not to deploy a missile defense system, which represents a mortal danger to Russia on its territory. The US missile defense system is designed so that the system can manage only the Americans. In fact, Poland will be holding a gun with a remote control aimed at Russia.

If the Poles are stupid and do it, then the elements of the missile defense system will be destroyed blow tactical missiles or using special forces operations. It will be a lot of screaming and sanctions, but if you think that the US president or the president of France ad war on Russia risking a nuclear attack on its capital for Poland, you are naive.

Ruslan Zigangirov -> VladPutil 14 May 2015 16:22

You absolutely do not understand what happened in South Ossetia and Moldova (no Romania). The conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia began in 1918, but since the entry of these territories into the Soviet Union, this conflict has been frozen. When the Soviet Union broke up, Georgia by military force tried to take control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the war began. Russia intervened and stopped the war, the conflict has been frozen. Compliance agreements provide Russian peacekeepers on the border between Georgia and South Ossetia. When Saakashvilli became president of Georgia, he began to seek NATO membership for Georgia. The Americans helped him, they are fully equipped and trained the Georgian army, but there was one problem. For domestic reasons Saakashvilli could not refuse to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia considers the territory of his own. Georgia's accession to NATO with unresolved territorial disputes was impossible.

In 2008 Saakashvilii launched a military operation to seize South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian peacekeepers have not missed his army on the border and what he did? He killed them. I do not know what he relied, perhaps he thought that Russia will quietly watch as Saakashvilli killing Russian peacekeepers. Further everyone knows. Russia has destroyed the Georgian army and restore the status quo, Georgia has not been had occupied.

nnedjo 14 May 2015 15:51

The conventional view in the west is that the blame lies with Putin and his kleptocratic regime. According to this narrative, the regime went into attack mode after the oil price collapsed. It distracted attention from its own failure to diversify the economy by lashing out against an external enemy, and launching a brilliant propaganda campaign.

This version of events, while not untrue, lets the west off the hook far too easily.

This is an obvious nonsense. Joining of Crimea to Russia, as well as demonstrations in the southeast of Ukraine took place in March last year, to immediately afterwards broke out armed conflict. On the other hand, the fall in the price of oil began in June 2014. So how is it possible to claim that what happened earlier was the result of what happened later?

nnedjo -> Terry Ross 14 May 2015 15:20

At the time of the Soviet Union, there was the Eastern bloc countries, or the Warsaw Pact. However, all these countries have had strong borders that could not be crossed without a passport, and, at least officially, there are not numerous commissioners, among whom also Enlargement Commissioner. Also, It could not happen that some supranational commission ban any of those countries to establish economic cooperation with third countries or, for example, to ban the already signed agreements on gas pipeline construction.

And all of this you have now in the European Union.

Imagine for example, that during the Cold War, Stalin, Khrushchev or Brezhnev, are sending their "Enlargement Commissioner" in one of the Western European countries to check the progress of work on the harmonization of legislation of these countries with the legislation of the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

So, this is perhaps one drastic comparison, but it helps to get a picture of what is happening in recent years. Some in the West may have recognized that enlargement of the EU is also kind of expansionism, but a kind of "peaceful" and "voluntary" expansionism. However, what kind of "peaceful expansionism" is that, if it is accompanied also by occasional revolutions and even wars.

Terry Ross 14 May 2015 14:38

I cannot believe that someone has spent 30 years travelling to Russia and knows so little about its geopolitics. The author makes a point about about Russian expansionism, thus: 'Since the regime is fixated on the idea of getting its empire back' The comment although widely held in the West, has little evidence to support it.

The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 and Putin came to power in 2000. During that time, 14 years snce Putin first becoming president and 23 years since the end of the Soviet Union, there has not been a single case of ANY Russian expansionism prior to Crimea last year. The whole argument hinges on Crimea and its referendum.

Several Western polling companies have tried to demonstrate that the results of that referendum were were not representative of Crimean wishes, but they all failed: Gallup, Pew Research and GfK all reported confirmation of the referendum result with figures ranging from 83% to 93% approval.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and sought reunification with Russia. Whatevere the arguments of 'little green men' facilitating such a process, the facts are clear. This was a Crimean choice.

So that means that there has not been a single case of Russian expansionism after 1991.
One mast ask then, what is the justification for making a comment such as, ''Since the regime is fixated on the idea of getting its empire back''?

Autoclave 14 May 2015 14:37

Who stands to gain by escalating tensions towards WW3? Only 2 years ago, remember the news stories about NATO's very existence being questioned. Then conveniently we see a Western backed overthrow of Kiev by an unelected fascist neo-nazi government. Would this have happened if Ukraine wasn't on the doorstep of Russia, or they weren't the main channel of Russian natural gas into Europe? No. There's big money to be made by expanding NATO and allowing Western companies to get a foothold in the country and control its resources reminiscent of the Halliburton expansion after the Iraq invasion of 2003. Forget the Cold War rhetoric. Follow the money.

kraljevic -> ijustwant2say 14 May 2015 14:28

I don't minimize the critical importance of the battle of Britain and the bravery of those who fought in it. It bought much needed breathing space and hope to millions who were becoming resigned to Nazi dominance.Nobody is suggesting otherwise but even Churchill knew it was a holding action that could only be of real benefit to Britain if another major power entered the war.That power was Russia and if the battle of Britain was a down payment towards final victory the balance of the account was paid for almost entirely by Russian blood and sacrifice!

nnedjo -> EnviroCapitalist 14 May 2015 14:18

Actually the $5 billion was over 2 decades. The biggest single item is remedial works at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.

Two decades, of course, and the "Orange Revolution" took place a decade ago. So after another decade, another 'Maidan revolution. "Besides that, Victoria Nuland did not include Chernobyl at all in those $5 billion. She said that these $5 billion has been invested to "support democracy" in Ukraine.

John Smith -> alpamysh 14 May 2015 14:15

Ukropithecus nazi at his best. That is their way, bombing schools, hospitals, they don't know how to fight, that would need some brains.

Kieran Woods -> bovinescatology 14 May 2015 14:14

Well said Agnes,

The US / NATO onward march of sanctions, military intervention, coups, support of evil regimes and general creation of misery continues.
Too bad that Putin, with practically no military bases outside his own soil, unlike the Washington war monger's hundreds, has proved to be a formidable opponent who will never be a push over or puppet.

JoeCorr -> PacificPlasticPatch 14 May 2015 14:00

Ukraine is a sovereign nation deciding its own course,

Nope. The CIA and Victoria Nuland are deciding Ukraine's course. Another example of America blundering around outside its own borers up to it ass in a culture it doesn't understand.

The EU have the wealth and political talent to put an end to American interference in European affairs. I wish to fuck they'd start to undo Americas mistakes before it's too late.

elias_ -> geedeesee 14 May 2015 13:55

Yes. Now 14 months on where are we? EU confirms no more EU expansion for 10 years. With no prospect of EU membership what was the Maidan really for? Ukraine seems to be screwed now. Their economy is toast, massive inflation, civil war, gas transit fees stopping in a few years, Crimea lost, antagonism with their biggest trading partner, Oligarchs still in charge and still stealing....

Q: Do you think the Ukrainian people are happy with their new leadership? Do you think they are grateful for all the Nuland cookies?

kraljevic -> alpamysh 14 May 2015 13:48

The history books say otherwise. The course of the war was decided in the east and Britain and France were reduced to being largely spectators as their fate was being determined along with everybody else by the tenacity and bravery of the Russian Muzhik bringing the Germans to their knees.

That's not a very palatable outcome for two powers used to being the cornerstone of the European order and it is natural that they both try to bring down the new/old upstart down a peg or two.

But still their efforts cannot compare with that of Soviet Russia as the German casualty lists testify! As for the climate the Germans were already suffering setbacks and defeats in 1941(as at Yelnya) on a much greater scale than in the west even before the winter set in!

nnedjo -> PacificPlasticPatch 14 May 2015 13:44

Interesting your assumption that any embrace between Ukraine and the West is "illegal".

It is not "any embrace." When someone invests billions of dollars in "training opposition" of a sovereign nation, then for months supports violent demonstrations against the sovereign president of a sovereign nation, and strictly prohibit the sovereign president to disperse the demonstrators who burn tires and erected tents on the square in the capital, and at the end recognize a government that is not recognized by most of the sovereign nation, then I do not see what's legal in all this.
Imagine that Russia acted in the same way in relation to Ukraine, or, for example, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, ..., and so on to Hungary, Poland or former Czechoslovakia. Would west just watched it idly, and thought that it was all legal?

nnedjo 14 May 2015 13:19

Westerners have for years been giggling at 'Allo 'Allo and John Cleese's goosestep, but fascism is no laughing matter in this country.

In fact, this whole article reminds me of one of the usual scenes from the series "Alo, Alo":

Every time Mrs. Edith finds her husband Rene embraced by some of the lovely waitress, he said to her something like: "You stupid woman, don't you see I'm helping Michelle to pull out the speck that fell in her eye!"

So Western narrative when it comes to Russia, mainly reminiscent of the tactics of the culprit caught in the act, that Rene is abundantly practiced in the series "Alo, Alo".

Illegal embrace between the West and Ukraine, in the West are generally interpreted as a harmless attempt to "remove the speck from eye", while Russia is behaving like a "too jealous wife" who sees everything as bad intentions.

Beckow -> Corsair1972 14 May 2015 13:05

"Putin has shadowy wealth of $70bn and $200bn"

And you know who else does? Hitler.

RRRRiiight, I stopped reading at that point. If this is an "understanding" article, we are really done here.

Beckow -> Slo27 14 May 2015 13:02

"Supporting protesters and occupying a country whose territorial integrity you are formally guaranteeing just cannot be compared"

How about "helping to overthrow an elected government in Kiev and allowing for self-determination of a majority in Crimea just cannot be compared".

See, how flexible words can be?

But I sense that we are done here, words have been misused so much, that there is no point in all this talk. And I do think that Western media has had a major part in this.

Dimmus -> alpamysh 14 May 2015 12:47

"Putin STARTED a war in Ukraine--when every responsible leader in Ukraine was trying to resolve things peacefully..."

1) The war started when anti-Russian actions started and the first move was made not by Russia;

2) "when every responsible leader in Ukraine" - about which leaders and about which Ukraine do you speak? About those who started to rule without impeachment of the president and supported killing of pro-federalization people?

Agnes Maria 14 May 2015 12:40

The Russian regime is not 'fixated on getting its empire back'. It is focused on developing and sustaining a now rapidly progressing system that has been mercilessly interrupted by the EU and US, in what can only be called an affront against civilised society itself and not some kind of containment strategy against Russia. Russia is not going to capitulate, bend over backwards, surrender or otherwise dishonour itself with begging for leniency. The only major regimes hell-bent on expansionism are those of the USA, EU and NATO, and they do this by any means necessary, as evidenced by their calloused ability to function as the enemies of humanity by infiltrating popular movements worldwide with extremist sentiments of every kind, from Islamic to Christian to White Supremacist to outright neo-Nazi. And they do this not for democracy, but for profit and for kicks, like a spoiled child who just figured out that they can manipulate their environment but does not yet have the capacity to consider or care about the consequences of their actions. Leaving ruin in their wake, the West leaves those with eyes to see and ears to hear no choice but to meet them with distrust. Naturally we will prepare for war, hopefully it will not come to war. Those who do not want to submit to the West and its hysterical propaganda-fuelled, veiled expansionist will not hold out hope for logic and reason to prevail and lead to a sensible solution. Nations being most used as weapons against Russia are most heavily infiltrated with this propaganda, which preys and plays on their unresolved historical pain that has not been met with straight, simple compassion from any side. These nations people, for the most part, know only self-victimisation due to this propaganda and so they are dangerous. However, they are virtual slaves, mental and emotional slaves, and that means they need to be freed from this misconstrued thinking. They cannot get over their pain and move on as long as Russia does not care about them, straight from the heart, and it really is that simple. They also cannot stop fearing Russia and giving NATO an excuse to encroach closer on Russia's borders unless Russia actively creates a new bond with them. There is no other way, and it will not go away if ignored. Those nations will not go their own way after being cut loose, like young people going to start their own lives after leaving home. Action to do something about this needs to be taken now, and not put on the back burner or not taken seriously enough. The future is up to Russia, not the mad West that does not even have a clue who and what they are engaging. They do not understand the spirit of Russians any more than they understand their way of thinking and feeling, and yet they purport to deal with them according to what is allegedly appropriate. It is not appropriate to sanction a well developed society full of modern people who are not about to do your bidding. Everyone has work cut out for them in this case, but only those who are friends of humanity, of all nations, actually care to do it right. And even they have procrastinated too long and can afford to lose no more time.

[May 11, 2015] Why Ukraine Still Cant Break Ties With Russian Aggressor State by Simon Shuster

Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.
Notable quotes:
"... "Personally, I do not consider Russia to be an aggressor," he said, looking down at his lap. ..."
"... Its economy cannot survive, he says, unless trade and cooperation with the "aggressor state" continue, regardless how much Russia has done in the past year to sow conflict in Ukraine. ..."
"... Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits. ..."
"... About 40% of its orders normally come from Russia, which relies on Turboatom for most of the turbines that run its nuclear power stations. ..."
"... So for all the aid coming from the state-backed institutions in the U.S. and Europe, Cherkassky says, "those markets haven't exactly met us with open arms." ..."
Apr 13, 2015 | TIME

Having survived an assassin's bullet, a revolution and a war, Gennady Kernes now faces a fight over Ukraine's constitution

One afternoon in late February, Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkov, Ukraine's second largest city, pushed his wheelchair away from the podium at city hall and, with a wince of discomfort, allowed his bodyguards to help him off the stage. The day's session of the city council had lasted several hours, and the mayor's pain medication had begun to wear off. It was clear from the grimace on his face how much he still hurt from the sniper's bullet that nearly killed him last spring. But he collected himself, adjusted his tie and rolled down the aisle to the back of the hall, where the press was waiting to grill him.

"Gennady Adolfovich," one of the local journalists began, politely addressing the mayor by his name and patronymic. "Do you consider Russia to be an aggressor?" He had seen this loaded question coming. The previous month, Ukraine's parliament had unanimously voted to declare Russia an "aggressor state," moving the two nations closer to a formal state of war after nearly a year of armed conflict. Kernes, long known as a shrewd political survivor, was among the only prominent officials in Ukraine to oppose this decision, even though he knew he could be branded a traitor for it. "Personally, I do not consider Russia to be an aggressor," he said, looking down at his lap.

It was a sign of his allegiance in the new phase of Ukraine's war. Since February, when a fragile ceasefire began to take hold, the question of the country's survival has turned to a debate over its reconstitution. Under the conditions of the truce, Russia has demanded that Ukraine embrace "federalization," a sweeping set of constitutional reforms that would take power away from the capital and redistribute it to the regions. Ukraine now has to decide how to meet this demand without letting its eastern provinces fall deeper into Russia's grasp.

The state council charged with making this decision convened for the first time on April 6, and President Petro Poroshenko gave it strict instructions. Some autonomy would have to be granted to the regions, he said, but Russia's idea of federalization was a red line he wouldn't cross. "It is like an infection, a biological weapon, which is being imposed on Ukraine from abroad," the President said. "Its bacteria are trying to infect Ukraine and destroy our unity."

Kernes sees it differently. His city of 1.4 million people is a sprawling industrial powerhouse, a traditional center of trade and culture whose suburbs touch the Russian border. Its economy cannot survive, he says, unless trade and cooperation with the "aggressor state" continue, regardless how much Russia has done in the past year to sow conflict in Ukraine.

"That's how the Soviet Union built things," Kernes explains in his office at the mayoralty, which is decorated with an odd collection of gifts and trinkets, such as a stuffed lion, a robotic-looking sculpture of a scorpion, and a statuette of Kernes in the guise of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. "That's how our factories were set up back in the day," he continues. "It's a fact of life. And what will we do if Russia, our main customer, stops buying?" To answer his own question, he uses an old provincialism: "It'll be cat soup for all of us then," he said.

Already Ukraine is approaching that point. With most of its scarce resources focused on fighting Russia's proxies in the east, Ukraine's leaders have watched their economy fall off a cliff, surviving only by the grace of massive loans from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund, which approved another $17.5 billion last month to be disbursed over the next four years. But that assistance has not stopped the national currency of Ukraine from losing two-thirds of its value since last winter. In the last three months of 2014, the size of the economy contracted almost 15%, inflation shot up to 40%, and unemployment approached double digits.

But that pain will be just the beginning, says Kernes, unless Ukraine allows its eastern regions to develop economic ties with Russia. As proof he points to the fate of Turboatom, his city's biggest factory, which produces turbines for both Russian and Ukrainian power stations. Its campus takes up more than five square kilometers near the center of Kharkov, like a city within a city, complete with dormitories and bathhouses for its 6,000 employees. On a recent evening, its deputy director, Alexei Cherkassky, was looking over the factory's sales list as though it were a dire medical prognosis. About 40% of its orders normally come from Russia, which relies on Turboatom for most of the turbines that run its nuclear power stations.

"Unfortunately, all of our major industries are intertwined with Russia in this way," Cherkassky says. "So we shouldn't fool ourselves in thinking we can be independent from Russia. We are totally interdependent." Over the past year, Russia has started cutting back on orders from Turboatom as part of its broader effort to starve Ukraine's economy, and the factory has been forced as a result to cut shifts, scrap overtime and push hundreds of workers into retirement.

At least in the foreseeable future, it does not have the option of shifting sales to Europe. "Turbines aren't iPhones," says Cherkassky. "You don't switch them out every few months." And the ones produced at Turboatom, like nearly all of Ukraine's heavy industry, still use Soviet means of production that don't meet the needs of most Western countries. So for all the aid coming from the state-backed institutions in the U.S. and Europe, Cherkassky says, "those markets haven't exactly met us with open arms."

Russia knows this. For decades it has used the Soviet legacy of interdependence as leverage in eastern Ukraine. The idea of its "federalization" derives in part from this reality. For two decades, one of the leading proponents of this vision has been the Russian politician Konstantin Zatulin, who heads the Kremlin-connected institute in charge of integrating the former Soviet space. Since at least 2004, he has been trying to turn southeastern Ukraine into a zone of Russian influence – an effort that got him banned from entering the country between 2006 and 2010.

His political plan for controlling Ukraine was put on hold last year, as Russia began using military means to achieve the same ends. But the current ceasefire has brought his vision back to the fore. "If Ukraine accepts federalization, we would have no need to tear Ukraine apart," Zatulin says in his office in Moscow, which is cluttered with antique weapons and other military bric-a-brac. Russia could simply build ties with the regions of eastern Ukraine that "share the Russian point of view on all the big issues," he says. "Russia would have its own soloists in the great Ukrainian choir, and they would sing for us. This would be our compromise."

It is a compromise that Kernes seems prepared to accept, despite everything he has suffered in the past year of political turmoil. Early on in the conflict with Russia, he admits that he flirted with ideas of separatism himself, and he fiercely resisted the revolution that brought Poroshenko's government to power last winter. In one of its first decisions, that government even brought charges against Kernes for allegedly abducting, threatening and torturing supporters of the revolution in Kharkov. After that, recalls Zatulin, the mayor "simply chickened out." Facing a long term in prison, Kernes accepted Ukraine's new leaders and turned his back on the separatist cause, refusing to allow his city to hold a referendum on secession from Ukraine.

"And you know what I got for that," Kernes says. "I got a bullet." On April 28, while he was exercising near a city park, an unidentified sniper shot Kernes in the back with a high-caliber rifle. The bullet pierced his lung and shredded part of his liver, but it also seemed to shore up his bona fides as a supporter of Ukrainian unity. The state dropped its charges against him soon after, and he was able to return to his post.

It wasn't the first time he made such an incredible comeback. In 2007, while he was serving as adviser to his friend and predecessor, Mikhail Dobkin, a video of them trying to film a campaign ad was leaked to the press. It contained such a hilarious mix of bumbling incompetence and backalley obscenity that both of their careers seemed sure to be over. Kernes not only survived that scandal but was elected mayor a few years later.

Now the fight over Ukraine's federalization is shaping up to be his last. In late March, as he continued demanding more autonomy for Ukraine's eastern regions, the state re-opened its case against him for alleged kidnapping and torture, which he has always denied. The charges, he says, are part of a campaign against all politicians in Ukraine who support the restoration of civil ties with Russia. "They don't want to listen to reason," he says.

But one way or another, the country will still have to let its eastern regions to do business with the enemy next door, "because that's where the money is," Kernes says. No matter how much aid Ukraine gets from the IMF and other Western backers, it will not be enough to keep the factories of Kharkov alive. "They'll just be left to rot without our steady clients in Russia." Never mind that those clients may have other plans for Ukraine in mind.

[May 10, 2015] The New York Times does its government s bidding Here s what you re not being told about US troops in Ukraine

Notable quotes:
"... American soldiers in Ukraine, American media not saying much about it. Two facts. ..."
"... Americans are being led blindfolded very near the brink of war with Russia. ..."
"... Don't need a war to get what done, Mr. President? This is our question. Then this one: Washington is going to stop at exactly what as it manipulates its latest set of puppets in disadvantaged countries, this time pretending there is absolutely nothing thoughtless or miscalculated about doing so on Russia's historically sensitive western border? ..."
"... And our policy cliques are willing to go all the way to war for this? As of mid-April, when the 173rd Airborne Brigade started arriving in Ukraine, it looks as if we are on notice in this respect. ..."
"... Take a deep breath and consider that 1,000 American folks, as Obama will surely get around to calling them, are conducting military drills with troops drawn partly from Nazi and crypto-Nazi paramilitary groups . Sorry, I cannot add anything more to this paragraph. Speechless. ..."
"... Part of me still thinks war with Russia seems a far-fetched proposition. But here's the thing: It is even more far-fetched to deny the gravity of this moment for all its horrific, playing-with-fire potential. ..."
"... Last December, John Pilger, the noted Australian journalist now in London, said in a speech that the Ukraine crisis had become the most extreme news blackout he had seen his entire career. I agree and now need no more proof as to whether it is a matter of intent or ineptitude. (Now that I think of it, it is both in many cases.) ..."
"... In the sixth paragraph we get this: "Last week, Russia charged that a modest program to train Ukraine's national guard that 300 American troops are carrying out in western Ukraine could 'destabilize the situation.'" Apoplectically speaking: Goddamn it, there is nothing modest about U.S. troops operating on Ukrainian soil, and it is self-evidently destabilizing. It is an obvious provocation, a point the policy cliques in Washington cannot have missed. ..."
"... The Poroshenko government contrives to assign Russia the blame, but one can safely ignore this. Extreme right members of parliament have been more to the point. After a prominent editor named Oles Buzyna was fatally shot outside his home several weeks ago, a lawmaker named Boris Filatov told colleagues, "One more piece of shit has been eliminated." From another named Irina Farion, this: Death will neutralize the dirt this shit has spilled. Such people go to history's sewers." ..."
"... He was a vigorous opponent of American adventurism abroad, consistent and reasoned even as resistance to both grew in his later years. By the time he was finished he was published and read far more outside America than in it. ..."
May 09, 2015 |

Reprinted from May 07, 2015 article at

As of mid-April, when a Pentagon flack announced it in Kiev, and as barely reported in American media, U.S. troops are now operating openly in Ukraine.

Now there is a lead I have long dreaded writing but suspected from the first that one day I would. Do not take a moment to think about this. Take many moments. We all need to. We find ourselves in grave circumstances this spring.

At first I thought I had written what newspaper people call a double-barreled lead: American soldiers in Ukraine, American media not saying much about it. Two facts.

Wrong. There is one fact now, and it is this: Americans are being led blindfolded very near the brink of war with Russia.

One cannot predict there will be one. And, of course, right-thinking people hope things will never come to one. In March, President Obama dismissed any such idea as if to suggest it was silly. "They're not interested in a military confrontation with us," Obama said of the Russians-wisely. Then he added, unwisely: "We don't need a war."

Don't need a war to get what done, Mr. President? This is our question. Then this one: Washington is going to stop at exactly what as it manipulates its latest set of puppets in disadvantaged countries, this time pretending there is absolutely nothing thoughtless or miscalculated about doing so on Russia's historically sensitive western border?

The pose of American innocence, tatty and tiresome in the best of times, is getting dangerous once again.

The source of worry now is that we do not have an answer to the second question. The project is plain: Advance NATO the rest of the way through Eastern Europe, probably with the intent of eventually destabilizing Moscow. The stooges now installed in Kiev are getting everything ready for the corporations eager to exploit Ukrainian resources and labor.

And our policy cliques are willing to go all the way to war for this? As of mid-April, when the 173rd Airborne Brigade started arriving in Ukraine, it looks as if we are on notice in this respect.

In the past there were a few vague mentions of an American military presence in Ukraine that was to be in place by this spring, if I recall correctly. These would have been last autumn. By then, there were also reports, unconfirmed, that some troops and a lot of spooks were already there as advisers but not acknowledged.

Then in mid-March President Poroshenko introduced a bill authorizing-as required by law-foreign troops to operate on Ukrainian soil. There was revealing detail, according to Russia Insider, a free-standing website in Moscow founded and run by Charles Bausman, an American with an uncanny ability to gather and publish pertinent information.

"According to the draft law, Ukraine plans three Ukrainian-American command post exercises, Fearless Guardian 2015, Sea Breeze 2015 and Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015," the publication reported, "and two Ukrainian-Polish exercises, Secure Skies 2015, and Law and Order 2015, for this year."

This is a lot of dry-run maneuvering, if you ask me. Poroshenko's law allows for up to 1,000 American troops to participate in each of these exercises, alongside an equal number of Ukrainian "National Guardsmen," and we will insist on the quotation marks when referring to this gruesome lot, about whom more in a minute.

Take a deep breath and consider that 1,000 American folks, as Obama will surely get around to calling them, are conducting military drills with troops drawn partly from Nazi and crypto-Nazi paramilitary groups . Sorry, I cannot add anything more to this paragraph. Speechless.

It was a month to the day after Poroshenko's bill went to parliament that the Pentagon spokesman in Kiev announced-to a room empty of American correspondents, we are to assume-that troops from the 173rd Airborne were just then arriving to train none other than "National Guardsmen." This training includes "classes in war-fighting functions," as the operations officer, Maj. Jose Mendez, blandly put it at the time.

The spokesman's number was "about 300," and I never like "about" when these people are describing deployments. This is how it always begins, we will all recall. The American presence in Vietnam began with a handful of advisers who arrived in September 1950. (Remember MAAG, the Military Assistance Advisory Group?)

Part of me still thinks war with Russia seems a far-fetched proposition. But here's the thing: It is even more far-fetched to deny the gravity of this moment for all its horrific, playing-with-fire potential.

I am getting on to apoplectic as to the American media's abject irresponsibility in not covering this stuff adequately. To leave these events unreported is outright lying by omission. Nobody's news judgment can be so bad as to argue this is not a story.

Last December, John Pilger, the noted Australian journalist now in London, said in a speech that the Ukraine crisis had become the most extreme news blackout he had seen his entire career. I agree and now need no more proof as to whether it is a matter of intent or ineptitude. (Now that I think of it, it is both in many cases.)

To cross the "i"s and dot the "t"s, as I prefer to do, the Times did make two mentions of the American troops. One was the day of the announcement, a brief piece on an inside page, datelined Washington. Here we get our code word for this caper: It will be "modest" in every mention.

The second was in an April 23 story by Michael Gordon, the State Department correspondent. The head was, "Putin Bolsters His Forces Near Ukraine, U.S. Says." Read the thing here.

The story line is a doozy: Putin-not "the Russians" or "Moscow," of course-is again behaving aggressively by amassing troops-how many, exactly where and how we know is never explained-along his border with Ukraine. Inside his border, that is. This is the story. This is what we mean by aggression these days.

In the sixth paragraph we get this: "Last week, Russia charged that a modest program to train Ukraine's national guard that 300 American troops are carrying out in western Ukraine could 'destabilize the situation.'" Apoplectically speaking: Goddamn it, there is nothing modest about U.S. troops operating on Ukrainian soil, and it is self-evidently destabilizing. It is an obvious provocation, a point the policy cliques in Washington cannot have missed.

At this point, I do not see how anyone can stand against the argument-mine for some time-that Putin has shown exemplary restraint in this crisis. In a reversal of roles and hemispheres, Washington would have a lot more than air defense systems and troops of whatever number on the border in question.

The Times coverage of Ukraine, to continue briefly in this line, starts to remind me of something I.F. Stone once said about the Washington Post: The fun of reading it, the honored man observed, is that you never know where you'll find a page one story.

In the Times' case, you never know if you will find it at all.

Have you read much about the wave of political assassinations that erupted in Kiev in mid-April? Worry not. No one else has either-not in American media. Not a word in the Times.

The number my sources give me, and I cannot confirm it, is a dozen so far-12 to 13 to be precise. On the record, we have 10 who can be named and identified as political allies of Viktor Yanukovych, the president ousted last year, opponents of a drastic rupture in Ukraine's historic relations to Russia, people who favored marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of the Nazis-death-deserving idea, this-and critics of the new regime's corruptions and dependence on violent far-right extremists.

These were all highly visible politicians, parliamentarians and journalists. They have been murdered by small groups of these extremists, according to reports readily available in non-American media. In my read, the killers may have the same semi-official ties to government that the paramilitary death squads in 1970s Argentina-famously recognizable in their Ford Falcons-had with Videla and the colonels.

The Poroshenko government contrives to assign Russia the blame, but one can safely ignore this. Extreme right members of parliament have been more to the point. After a prominent editor named Oles Buzyna was fatally shot outside his home several weeks ago, a lawmaker named Boris Filatov told colleagues, "One more piece of shit has been eliminated." From another named Irina Farion, this: Death will neutralize the dirt this shit has spilled. Such people go to history's sewers."

Kindly place, Kiev's parliament under this new crowd. Washington must be proud, having backed yet another right-wing, anti-democratic, rights-trampling regime that does what it says.

And our media must be silent, of course. It can be no other way. Gutless hacks: You bet I am angry.

* * *

I end this week's column with a tribute.

A moment of observance, any kind, for William Pfaff, who died at 86 in Paris late last week. The appreciative obituary by the Times' Marlise Simons is here.

Pfaff was the most sophisticated foreign affairs commentator of the 20th century's second half and the first 15 years of this one. He was a great influence among colleagues (myself included) and put countless readers in a lot of places in the picture over many decades. He was a vigorous opponent of American adventurism abroad, consistent and reasoned even as resistance to both grew in his later years. By the time he was finished he was published and read far more outside America than in it.

Pfaff was a conservative man in some respects, which is not uncommon among America's American critics. In this I put him in the file with Henry Steele Commager, C. Vann Woodward, William Appleman Williams, and among those writing now, Andrew Bacevich. He was not a scholar, as these writers were or are, supporting a point I have long made: Not all intellectuals are scholars, and not all scholars are intellectuals.

Pfaff's books will live on and I commend them: "Barbarian Sentiments," "The Wrath of Nations," "The Bullet's Song," and his last, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny," are the ones on my shelf.

Farewell from a friend, Bill.

Patrick Smith is the author of "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century." He was the International Herald Tribune's bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote "Letter from Tokyo" for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist. More Patrick L. Smith.

[May 10, 2015] Battle Tested, Ukraine Troops Now Get U.S. Basic Training

May 09, 2015 |

YAVORIV, Ukraine - The exercise, one of the most fundamental in the military handbook, came off without a hitch. A soldier carrying a length of rope and a grappling hook ran to within 20 feet or so of a coil of concertina wire and stopped.

For a moment, he twirled the rope in his hands like a lasso, then threw the hook over the wire, and tugged hard, testing for explosives.

When nothing happened he signaled two comrades, who ran up and started snipping the wire with cutters.

Although this was a typical training exercise for raw recruits in an elemental soldierly skill, there was nothing typical about the scene. Far from enlistees, these soldiers were regulars in the Ukrainian National Guard, presumably battle-hardened after months on the front lines in eastern Ukraine. And the trainer was an American military instructor, drilling troops for battle with the United States' former Cold War foe, Russia, and Russian-backed separatists.

... ... ...

The training included simulations of a suspect's detention. Credit Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

The course on cutting wire is one of 63 classes of remedial military instruction being provided by 300 United States Army trainers in three consecutive two-month courses.

Here in western Ukraine, they are far from the fighting, and their job is to instill some basic military know-how in Ukrainian soldiers, who the trainers have discovered are woefully unprepared. The largely unschooled troops are learning such basic skills as how to use an encrypted walkie-talkie; how to break open a door with a sledgehammer and a crowbar; and how to drag a wounded colleague across a field while holding a rifle at the ready.

... ... ...

The United States is also providing advanced courses for military professionals known as forward observers - the ones who call in targets - to improve the accuracy of artillery fire, making it more lethal for the enemy and less so for civilians.


The training also included simulations of a home raid. Credit Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Oleksandr I. Leshchenko, the deputy director for training in the National Guard, was somewhat skeptical about the value of the training, saying that "99 percent" of the men in the course had already been in combat.

... ... ...

American officers described the course work as equivalent to the latter months of basic training in the United States. The courses will train 705 Ukrainian soldiers at a cost of $19 million over six months. The Ukrainian National Guard is rotating from the front what units it can spare for the training. American instructors intend to recommend top performers to serve as trainers within other Ukrainian units, and in this way spread the instruction more broadly.

... ... ...

[May 10, 2015] After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians

More correctly Clinton administration vigorously tried to help Russia to became a vassal state...
April 15, 2015 |
May 07, 2015 | The Washington Post

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin recently was interviewed for a fawning Russian television documentary on his decade and a half in power. Putin expressed the view that the West would like Russia to be down at the heels. He said, "I sometimes I get the impression that they love us when they need to send us humanitarian aid. . . . [T]he so-called ruling circles, elites - political and economic - of those countries, they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand. As soon as we start declaring some interests of our own, they feel that there is some element of geopolitical rivalry."

Earlier, in March, speaking to leaders of the Federal Security Service, which he once led, Mr. Putin warned that "Western special services continue their attempts at using public, nongovernmental and politicized organizations to pursue their own objectives, primarily to discredit the authorities and destabilize the internal situation in Russia."

Mr. Putin's remarks reflect a deep-seated paranoia. It would be easy to dismiss this kind of rhetoric as intended for domestic consumption, an attempt to whip up support for his war adventure in Ukraine. In part, it is that. But Mr. Putin's assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia's power and influence is a willful untruth.

The fact is that thousands of Americans went to Russia hoping to help its people attain a better life. The American and Western effort over the last 25 years - to which the United States and Europe devoted billions of dollars - was aimed at helping Russia overcome the horrid legacy of Soviet communism, which left the country on its knees in 1991. It was not about conquering Russia but rather about saving it, offering the proven tools of market capitalism and democracy, which were not imposed but welcomed. The United States also spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make Russia safer from loose nukes and joined a fruitful collaboration in outer space. Avid volunteers came to Russia and donated endless hours to imparting the lessons of how to hold jury trials, build a free press, design equity markets, carry out political campaigning and a host of other components of an open, prosperous society. The Americans came for the best of reasons.

Certainly, the Western effort was flawed. Markets were distorted by crony and oligarchic capitalism; democratic practice often faltered; many Russians genuinely felt a sense of defeat, humiliation and exhaustion. There's much to regret but not the central fact that a generous hand was extended to post-Soviet Russia, offering the best of Western values and know-how. The Russian people benefit from this benevolence even now, and, above Mr. Putin's self-serving hysterics, they ought to hear the truth: The United States did not come to bury you.

Vatnik, 5/7/2015 2:33 PM EDT [Edited]

I think, that everyoune in US must to know. As i wrote below

"we think that Navalny & Co paid by the west. they ususally call themselves "opposiotion", and one of them (Nemtsov) was frieinds with McCain (as i realized after reading McCain twitter, after Nemtsov was killed)."

"we think that our real opposition are these political parties: CPRF, LDPR. We believe them."

i write it, because i think, that when we talk that our(russian) opposition is bad and paid from the west, you think that we talk about our politic parties. but it is wrong, we talk about Navalny & Co.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 3:08 PM EDT [Edited]

Thanks. That is a useful clarification. But I still find it odd that you would consider a member of your nation's opposition a traitor or "tool" simply because they have friends in the West.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt. Whereas individuals and political parties currently benefiting from the current system think it's fine.

Those are not the thoughts of a traitor. To get to that conclusion you would need to define the current system and those who currently benefit as being "Russia." Oppose them and you oppose the Motherland.

But Putin and his new-generation oligarchs and his deputies at the Kremlin are not Russia. They are a bunch of guys who currently run things there.

Vatnik, 5/7/2015 3:47 PM EDT [Edited]

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but the main difference between people like Navalny versus the CPRF/LDPR is that Navalny thinks the current system is corrupt."

CPRF and LPDR know about corruption, and even they think that our non-systemic opposition (Navlny & Co) are traitors. And they (CPRF , LDPR) talk about corruption and another bad things of our gov even in Duma. for example, this is what said the leader of LDPR on one tv show

"коррупцию создала советская власть, кпсс, единая россия плавно подобрала у нее все инструменты коррупции и сегодня эта страстная болезнь поразила все органы и всю структуру"
google translated it:
"Corruption established Soviet power, the Communist Party, United Russia gently picked her all the tools of corruption and now this passionate disease struck all the organs and the whole structure"
"у вас фракция половина бизнесмены, воры, жулики, грабители, вся остальная половина агенты спецслужб"
google translated:
"you have a fraction of a half businessmen, thieves, swindlers, robbers, the rest of the half secret service agents"
he adressed it to our main politic party in Duma, "United Russia"

I can find more than one video where he talk about falsifications of elections, right in Duma.

but these are just examples.

P.S. oh, and here i found video, specially for you(americans) where our non-systemic opposition visited US Embassy in Moscow in July 4th.

Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 12:11 PM EDT [Edited]

BTW, this is not true that "Americans were not in charge". I red memoirs of Eltsyn's ministers (Korzhakov, Burbulis, you can read memoirs of deputy secretary of state of that time Strobe Talbott in English, the same is there), and it's clear that in 90s Russia de facto was American colony.

For example, ministers in Russian government could not be assigned without US State Department approval. Even Russian TV anchors were instructed by US representatives.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:05 PM EDT

6:42 PM GMT+0300 [Edited]
Putin has convinced you...

USA had popularity in Russia in 1990 more than Putin now, but to 1999 when Putin became prime-minister USA had less than 20% approve. It was not Putin who destroyed USA's popularity, reverse your policy created Putin.

You very often replay this your phrase, but it is lie. Did Putin created NATO, did Putin used Russia's weakness and increased NATO, did Putin bomb Kosovo, did Putin violated agreements that was done after WWII and separated Kosovo from Serbia, did Putin destroyed Russia's democracy in 1996 and in 1993, did Putin paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians, did Putin pressure Chechens create Islamic State (prototype of ISIL) in Chechnya, did Putin in any article said that it will be great if terrorists will created their own state (and after that will be do permanent wars against Russia)? NO, you did it before there appeared Putin.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:14 PM EDT

5:48 PM GMT+0300
Much of the aid they are referring to was not lending but grants to help build civil society -- independent media, health organizations and the like. No strings attached.

You did not created Russia's civil society, you destroyed it when you created did all what was possible to lure high educated Russians in West countries. You falsified Russia's election in 1996 (and all international observers under pressure of USA supported it). You in 1993 supported Yeltsin's military operation in Moscow. You paid Chechnya terrorists to kill Russians and destabilize Russia's society. Is it civil society???

"independent media"??? Not, they was created by our oligarchs, not by you, and you payed only for those media who represented USA's point of view as your propaganda did in time Cold War. It was the continuing Cold War, not help.

" health organizations" ??????????????

USSR's health organizations was significantly better than USA, and infinity better than current Russia's organizations.

There was not "and like" we ceased Cold War, we by free will dismantled all "USSR's Empire", we by free will destroyed ideology, we ceased war, but you continued it, you continued the war all last 25 years, and NATO is the best example of it.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

We lured well-educated Russians to the West? Seriously?

This is the nature of free markets and open borders. Your response should be to compete to lure them back. Give them something to come home for. Most people long to go home.

Instead you talk about anyone who doesn't hate the West as if they were traitors. Why would any well-educated Russian ex-pat want to come home now?

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:48 PM EDT

Seriously. Your government created very comfortable ways for engineers (and for some another categories of USSR's people), to take them on West. You are economist, so I suppose you know the reception: lure good manager from another company, it will increase your power, and it decrease power of your competitor.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:51 PM EDT [Edited]

By "seriously?" I didn't mean I disagreed with your facts. I disagree that this was surprising or hostile. That is the nature of open markets -- if you see excellence, you try to recruit it.

There are only two responses I know of: Close your borders and your markets; or compete more effectively.

MeriJ, 5/7/2015 12:20 PM EDT

You are truly incorrect, my friend, and it saddens me that you see it this way.

The antagonistic relationship you describe is more true at the moment, due to the events of the last year, but not true back in the decades before that. During the Cold War, we were indeed enemies, so such motivations then were a given.

Skeviz, 5/7/2015 12:24 PM EDT

Ok, then try to explain, why USA had more 80% [popularity in polls] in Russia in 1990 and less than 20% in 1999. There was not Putin, how can you explain it?

Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 12:27 PM EDT [Edited]

He is correct. One can say that Cold War never ended - it just took place for some decades on our land in form of guerilla war. After Gorbachev and Yeltsin abandoned all interests of USSR and Russia you decided to press the advantage and to take Russia of the board [permanently]. Is it so big surprise that we are angry about it?

Joseph Volgin, 5/7/2015 11:01 AM EDT

Alert! Attention, danger! Putin trolls get into American journalism:

"...Or, as a Fred Hiatt of the 1870s might have commented about Native Americans who resisted the well-intentioned Bureau of Indian Affairs and didn't appreciate the gentleness of the U.S. Army or the benevolence of life on the reservations: "Above Sitting Bull's self-serving hysterics, Indians ought to hear the truth: The white man did not come to exterminate you."

Baranovsly71, 5/7/2015 8:22 AM EDT

Thank you, but I lived in Russia in 90s and remember very well Americans who started to come at that time - arrogant money-grabbers the only thing they were interested in is how to make money - on everything, from oil to export of Russian children to US. They stole billions from Russians and continue to do so.

Please, Americans, don't help us - go away and take your democracy with you.

Bob Bobo, 5/7/2015 7:51 AM EDT

Russia help? Yes like that Khodorkovsky Yukos submitted on a silver platter Rothschild. It would Americans like it if they can plunder the Russian mineral resources. But when Putin to allow such a persona non grata.

Larysa Mahal, 5/7/2015 6:30 AM EDT

The best article for those who do not know history and events in Russia. I think a lot of people feel a tears of emotion when they read this article. Bravo!

When author quotes Putin's speech "they love us when we are impoverished, poor and when we come hat in hand." he has forgotten to say that after these words Putin thanked all those who helped to Russia in its difficult time. Author has forgotten to give example about free help "devoted billions of dollars". Nothing was free and Russia had to pay if not money then the disadvantages agreements or concessions. But oh well it. Talk about a paranoia. Author calls the leader of the biggest country "paranoid". But this man has stood up Russia from knees during 15 years only. Think about it 15 years only! Author calls "paranoid" the man who are supported by 75 % population in Russia. The man who was addressed Crimea, insisting on joining with Russia. Are all of these people paranoid like Putin?

Then you can say about President of Poland who sad that the Victory Parade in Moscow is a threaten to all Europe. What is it, paranoia in a cube? But author does not see that because for him to write articles is a work but to know truth is for domestic use only.

I want to ask everybody to see around and say how many prosperous, beautiful countries in Europe face before a threaten to be section, detached some parts like UK, Italy. But to Russia with her "paranoid" leader want and join huge territories with huge amount of people. Think about it. In last year one man standing in a long queue on the sea crossing from Crimea to Russia sad that they are willing to endure all the inconveniences because the main thing is they are with Russia. Think about it.

Lucky_Barker, 5/7/2015 5:45 AM EDT [Edited]

The United States supported the destruction and burning of the parliament in Moscow, the murder of civilians in 1993, the bombing of Grozny in 1994-1995-m, and the killing of civilians in Chechnya. All crimes Yeltsin was American influence and American advices.

It's very like the oficial America. Manu people call "Yeltsin era" as "Time of Americans" or "Time of Prostitutes".

Restoration of parliamentary democracy, Mr. Putin did not like top US.
Putin's war in Chechnya without massive bombing did not like owners of US newspapers and US parties.

The Chechens believe that the Americans supported Yeltsin genocide Chechen civilians in 1nd Chechen war and strongly resent and hate peace in Chechnya after the 2nd Chechen war.

Tsarnaev was prepared in US as a terrorist for Syria or Chechnya - but was shot too early.

We must always remember that Al Qaeda and الدّولة الإسلاميّة at an early stage was the US-Saudi projects.

Volkovolk, 5/7/2015 5:24 AM EDT [

What a hipocrisity.
Your "volunters" with their "proven tools" provoked desolation of russian economy and defolt. The results of their actions were nothing short of economical genocide. The so-called free press you build are just a puppets of yours, instruments of your influence and of your lies. Your advises in building of democracy led to anarchy and to the brink of collapse of Russia. Yes, you tried to bury us. Guess what? You failed. And we will never forgive you.

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 5:19 AM EDT

But past wrongs do not matter... now Russia and the USA on the brink of war... the war is already at a distance of 600 kilometers from Moscow, the American puppets killed thousands of ethnic Russians.

Russia is a nuclear power, such action is suicide. We all have to prevent needless and stupid war... I ask you to help.

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:56 AM EDT

4) Let the author will call the name of at least one program, which spent a billion dollars... which would have improved the lives of ordinary Russians. At least one program (I don't know, although he lived in Russia at that time). All American billion were used to purchase depreciating assets industry of the USSR ("privatization"), actually looting people.

5) "Thousands of activists and volunteers" were actually thousands of Yeltsin's advisers... it was on the advice of these advisers was launched economic programme "shock therapy" (economic Holocaust). When Federal employees and the military is not specifically paid a salary (although the money was) ... a few years (to reduce the money supply), the economy was dead, just do not have the money, the base rate of the Central Bank was 2000% (I'm not kidding)... people were hungry... you know what hunger is? I know... The country was falling apart, if not for Putin.
6) Free press this is the press... which is verbatim from CNN, BBC, Foxnews? What is its "freedom" of this media?

7) the Oligarchs, corrupt officials... and who brought them to power, who collaborated with them, who gave them money to purchase assets? American corporations...

P. S. I don't know why the author is lying, but I would never wish the Americans in the US... to experience the poverty and hopelessness... you have experienced the Russians in the 90-ies in Russia, when the US "gave us a hand"...

Danila Ivanov, 5/7/2015 4:26 AM EDT

I accuse the author of lying... and paid propaganda.
1) Russia is satisfied with the U.S. government only when it is weak. In 1993 Boris Yeltsin ordered to shoot from tanks to the Parliament (similar to the U.S. Congress) killed many people-elected deputies, and unarmed people in the square who came to support the deputies, they were killed at close range with machine guns. Hundreds of corpses.... NO ONE representative of the United States, has condemned the event. Nobody. Everything is fine, democracy!!!
The author of the article is lying. Putin is telling the truth.
2) Almost all non-governmental organizations of Russia officially get the money of US taxpayers. Their leaders defiantly go to the American Embassy. (in other 196 embassies of the countries of the world don't go)... and declare that their goal is "revolution and overthrow the President." Opposition leaders Russia (Navalny, Nemtsov, Kasparov, Chirikov, Ponomarev) was trained in the U.S. and regularly travel to the USA... (for example ... Imagine the leaders of "Occupy Wall Street" would have officially get money from the Russians, and walked to the Russian Embassy. Presented? ) The author is lying, Putin is not lying.
3) There is No "military adventure in Ukraine." Lies about "Russian aggression" hides that Ukraine is a civil war and the destruction and arrests of thousands of unarmed ethnic Russians (they inhabit the East of Ukraine)... who disagree with an armed overthrow of the President. Near the border of Russia (31 km) is a major Ukrainian city Kharkiv... it unguarded, why in Kharkov there are no "hordes of Russian troops or the rebels?... If Putin attacked the Ukraine and began a military adventure"?
The author lied again.

Owan Skirlan, 5/7/2015 3:20 AM EDT

Okay, dear Americans, thanks for fish and sort of that, but, really - Make Your Own Buisness! Somethere between US borders, not out

Brekotin, 5/7/2015 1:07 AM EDT

Very funny article. Washington PRAVDA!
to author: please check the graph of GDP in Russia and the United States 1985-2015.
Clearly shows how redistribute wealth of the USSR was reditributed.

P.S.: teach macroeconomics and history.

Andrey Belov, 5/7/2015 12:39 AM EDT

I by the way I wonder what is so wrong left Russia communism? Developed industry and agriculture, United state, connected in the common economic space, a powerful culture and the arts, advanced science, the successful solution of social problems. And against that you have spent billions to destroy all? Lord you Americans really believe that we should be grateful for assistance in the destruction of our country?

Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:48 PM EDT

"After the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. tried to help Russians"
- USA in 1990 had popularity 80%, but to 1999 (before Putin) USA had popularity 20% in Russia, is it because USA had tried help Russia? (De facto USA did all what was possible to create politician like Putin).
- USSR had dismissed Warsaw pact by free will (and USSR dismissed USSR by free will), USSR destroyed all what was linked to Cold War, did USA the same? Did USA dismissed NATO?
- USA used Russia's weakness and increased NATO (now hypocrite Americans say that it was done by will of those countries, interesting enough do they really believe in the BS? USSR could also said that E. Europe's countries became ally of USSR because they was afraid Germany).
- USA used Russia's weakness and attacked Serbia the Russia's ally (hypocrite Americans said that there was ethnic cleansing, BUT USA killed more men there than Milosevic did, moreover after war created by USA there was new ethnic cleansing and Albanians killed Serbians, why hypocrite Americans closed eyes about it?). In day when USA began war against Kosovo they loss all support that had between youth.
- USA payed Chechnya terrorists and USA do great media support to Chechnya terrorists (after 11 September 2001 it was ceased but to the time was killed many Russia's humans including children, now hypocrite Americans prefer do not remember which media support they did for creation Islamic State on Russia's south border, it was prototype of ISIL).
- USA used Russia's weakness and dismissed all agreements that interfere create anti-missile system.
- USA destroyed Russia's democracy when supported falsification of election 1996 in Russia, because USA was afraid communists in Russia, and preferred support Yeltsin. USA violated election and supported Yeltsin, who had destroying Russia.
- USA paid for many color revolutions on Russia's borders.

Skeviz, 5/6/2015 11:59 PM EDT

I could continue the list very long, but I have not time now.
So all USA's sayings about "trying to help Russia" is hypocrite lie from alpha to omega. All what wanted USA destroy country that they had afraid half century. USA didn't use Russians free will and trying end Cold War, USA continued it and I can suppose it will be great problem for USA in future. Certainly Russia is weak country now, but Russia can give very significant help to China, especially in military question (if China will be need use power, but do not show that they use power).

Irene Guy, 5/6/2015 9:34 PM EDT

"For fifty years, our policy was to fence in the Soviet Union while its own internal contradictions undermined it. For thirty years, our policy has been to draw out the People's Republic of China. As a result, the China of today is simply not the Soviet Union of the late 1940s"
Robert B. Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of State
Remarks to National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
New York City
September 21, 2005"
Enough said...

[May 10, 2015] Putin voices grievances as huge parade marks 70th anniversary of victory

Now we have new forces that push the world to the war much like in 30th of XX century. One of the key problem of modern world is the USA elite attempt to maintain world hegemony. The post WWII security architecture was dismantled by the USA and its allies and after the collapse of the USSR. Instead the regime of unconditional domination of the USA was put in place by Clinton's government. This switch was signified by the attack on Serbia and treatment of Russia (as well as other xUSSR countries) after the dissolution of the USSR. Russia as all other xUSSR countries were mercilessly economically raped, which provided to the USA (and EU) another 10 years of economic expansion and only in 2001 crisis hit again. And it never ended with the second wave of the same crisis coming in 2008 and the third wave being in the wings right now (whether it'll materialize in 2016 or 20120 is an open question). With the current level of world debt and, especially, the USA debt the situation changed, Also the USA economy is smaller in comparison with other world economies then ever before (Germany and Japan economies fully recovered from WWII, and China became a new world economic power). This create a drive against the US hegemony and "dollar regime" (with EU and euro as one such development). Recent US adventures in Iraq, Libya and Syria were met with understandable resistance which due to decline of the US manufacturing base threatens the current US domination in world affairs. Only in Ukraine they managed to secure a victory by using nationalists as a Trojan horse for establishing full hegemony over the country (but at the expense of partitioning the country). Due to those threats and instability of world financial system "audacious oligarchy" that rules the USA is becoming more and more reckless. Neocons continue dominate the State Department and we have a chance of neocon becoming the next US president (not the Clinton., Bush II or Obama were substantially different in this respect). Which provoked rearmament of Russia and armament of China making the world again more dangerous. Putin took a "independence" stand (may be prematurely, failing to wait for the time when Russia would be ready, forced by the events in Ukraine) which now greatly complicates US geopolitical position and expantion of its neoliberal empire (which come to the screeching end in any case because the Earth is a finite size) . Troubles with cheap oil availability ("plato oil" or "end of cheap oil") were just the straw that broke the camel back. And without continues expansion of markets neoliberalism enters deep crisis. Understandably no love left between the US elite and Russia and Ukraine was only a pretext to put Russia "in place". The USA and EU desperately need to acquire the control over Russian energy sector, but with Putin in power this is not possible.
All is fine in Guardian Russian-Ukrainian forums. Alpamysh, GreatMountainEagle, jezzam, Botswana61, Metronome151 and company perform their usual roles. We have some newcomers such as some1here
May 10, 2015 | The Guardian

freedomcry -> some1here 10 May 2015 10:36

An apologist is not necessarily a supporter. The bottom line is, you're repeating the exact things Hitler's propaganda used to justify the invasion of the USSR which were contradicted both later, in the way the Nazis behaved on occupied territories, and earlier in Mein Kampf where Hitler had laid out quite bluntly the Lebensraum argument for colonising Russia and Ukraine.

Aneesia 10 May 2015 10:36

The behavior of the West was childish in this matter. They are looking for a fight to keep their economies growing...and will do all they can to provoke the spoiled brat in a sandbox. Russia was by far the most mature.

Abiesalba -> Carly435 10 May 2015 10:33

And what percentage of Western Europeans are neo-fascists, in your opinion?

If you define Nazi-fascist ideology for what it really is, namely 'us against them' and 'superior' vs 'inferior' nations, then I think at least 10% of the population, if not more.

It is now acceptable for parties with such ideologies to even run in elections, e.g. Wilders, Le Pen, Farage etc., and they get rather high support.

This dangerous 'us and them' ideology has different forms and undertones with respect to the local context. For example, here is Slovenia I would count among such divisive and potentially very dangerous parties the party which won 20% in our 2014 elections (their main target for discrimination are the 'Southerners' = immigrants from other Yugoslav nations).

I think it is very dangerous that Europe is largely turning a blind eye. They also did not confront neither Hitler, nor Mussolini, and more recently nor Milošević until it was too late.

Freedom of speech is not unlimited; it is limited by the rights of others. The right of individuals and groups to human dignity and to not be discriminated against on any grounds has a priority over the right to freedom of expression. In other words, hate speech should be unacceptable, yet parties with hate ideologies are making it to European national parliaments and to the EU parliament. Very worrying.

I suppose that Slovenes are very sensitive to such developments. We have been oppressed by the Austrians/Germans for more than a thousand years. After WWI, Slovenes in Italy were the first nation in Europe to experience the Nazi-fascist terror, so Slovene writers and poets had very early premonitions of a new, even more sinister war coming (which indeed happened - WWII). See for example Srečko Kosovel's poem Ecstasy of Death about the death of western Europe in a sea of scorching blood. Kosovel published this poem in 1925, when he was 21 (and this was 15 years before WWII, and before Hitler rose to power).

Kosovel died at the age of 21, but he was a true European visionary. He stood for Europe of peace and brotherhood of nations. I suspect he would be horrified by the recent developments in Europe if he were alive today. Maybe he would write the Ecstasy of Death all over again.

Vladimir Makarenko -> alpamysh 10 May 2015 10:28

this is what is called "black agitprop" or in a lay man talk - lies.

Vladimir Makarenko -> Metronome151 10 May 2015 10:27

Since when you started to be heartbroken about Russian interests?

CoastalBrake1 -> Abiesalba 10 May 2015 10:24

"With all due respect to the US, the US role is not even remotely comparable to the sacrifice in the Soviet Union. The Red Army was by far the decisive power in defeating Nazi Germany" No shlt, because the Red Army had no other choice under the thumb of one of the most vicious and ignorant military leaders in history.

Yes, Russia clearly paid the biggest price for victory, but many of The Red Army casualties were simply a result of their own military strategies and the fact they had way more troops in the first place compared to other allied powers.

freedomcry -> Carly435 10 May 2015 10:23

Russians are loath to reflect too deeply on the meanings of that war.

That is one big filthy lie. I can see how a certain amount of intelligence went into its making: the fact that the Russian predicament during the war was more about survival than almost anyone else's, creates the possibility that the war impressed itself as something that's more about defeating the invader than understanding what had made them into what they were. And once you have that possibility, you go ahead and just blurt out the claim - it being the nature of ubiquitous Russophobia that any judgement of the Russians automatically rings true.

But seriously, it's so completely false, so diametrically the opposite of how we actually see the war that I'm reeling a little. And I thought I'd heard every insult of Russians out there, from the crudest to the most intricate.

Vladimir Makarenko -> GreatMountainEagle 10 May 2015 10:22

Hm all complaints please to greedy sharks which draw the Versaille treaty. As those with brains can see the WWII started the moment it was signed.

Metronome151 -> Popeyes 10 May 2015 10:22

Indeed it is a win win situation for China at Russia's expense.

Botswana61 -> BeatonTheDonis 10 May 2015 10:21

[stalin]"took the Soviet Union from a devastated agrarian economy to an industrial power that defeated Nazi Germany and was able to compete with the USA and Western Europe."

Soviet Union has never been able to compete economically, industrially with the Western Europe, let alone the U$A.

It collapsed not only because it had an insane political system, but also because it had a lunatic economic system which could not produce any quality products (especially consumer goods) for its populace.

Btw. Putinesque Russia still cannot.

[have you seen any Russian 4G cell phones, laptops, tablets, supercomputers, video cameras, HDTV large screens, modern-wide-body passenger planes or even attractive passenger cars sold anywhere in the world?]

alpamysh -> FraidyMan 10 May 2015 10:18

I think that Merkel's actions, as usual, have been the best.

Boycotting the military parade sends a clear message.

And a German chancellor honouring fallen Russians the next day sends one just as powerful...

Popeyes 10 May 2015 10:17

I hope the Russia/China agreements and the pacts they have made between themselves work out and just maybe the U.S. will climb back into its box. The alliance between Russia/China is Washington's worst nightmare. Russia with the world's largest land mass, richest natural resources and it would seem the most advanced technology together with China who has the world's largest population, and the largest producer and exporter of manufactured goods.

bailliegillies ID5868758 10 May 2015 10:15

We haven't and are fully aware of its consequences. Chamberlain's problem was that Britain was not yet ready to face the might of an emerging Germany. Home Chain was nowhere near ready, nor was Fighter Command, it had plenty of Hurricanes but the Spitfire squadrons were still being formed as was the integrated defence system that the RAF relied on in 1940. Chamberlain and others in government knew that when the war came the main threat that Britain was going to face was from the air. Chamberlain bought the country the time needed to prepare. All the same Munich is not something the country is proud off.

MyFriendWillPay -> sztubacki 10 May 2015 10:14

Murdering their own people when they should be killing other people?

Here is a more human ideal, currently practiced by "you know who"!

* Get agents provocateur to let off a few bombs to create civilian casualties.

* Pin the blame on people you want to get rid of.

* Apply to UN for no-fly zone to protect the civilians.

* Bomb the shit out of anything that moves anywhere in the country.

* Fly in local exiles from US with geologists and lawyers to secure mineral rights

* Conclude regime change

* Escape ensuing chaos to plan next regime change.

* Have your President nominated for Nobel Peace Prize!

Botswana61 -> ijustwant2say 10 May 2015 10:14

One huge difference between UK and RF.

UK has reconciled itself to the loss of the (huge) British Empire after WWII;
never looked back, but moved forward, today being more successul economically than many other EU member states.

[Modern Turkey has also reconciled itself to the loss of its huge Ottoman Empire]

But Russia has not. It still dwells in the past, relieves its past 'glories' and yearns for return of times when everybody feared it.

While still unable to transform itself into a modern, democratic, prosperous country which could have a meaningful, successful future.

Vladimir Makarenko -> dyst1111 10 May 2015 10:12

Hm, what is then the point of NATO expansion in the time when Russia was making drastic reduction in its weapons and army size?

Ukraine coup d'etat? Or should it be called what it is - a highway robbery of Russia's most important trade market?

Well, Russians successfully made it a EU disaster.

As to new generations of weapons - Russians do feel better, they know that for sure Western Europe or whoever will not repeat the 1941 mistake.

kraljevic -> MiltonWiltmellow 10 May 2015 10:10

The Russian power elites are no more pernicious than the American ones. The supposed anti-red, anti-commie Republicans are now the most vocal defenders of Big Commie himself Lenin's perverse internal borders. Lenin arrived at those borders not through democratic legitimacy but through the "blood" of millions of Russian patriots who wanted to preserve the unity of their nation and fought against his monstrous tyranny.

Although supposedly ideological enemies the likes of Breedlove and McCain on one side and Lenin and Trotsky on the other are in perfect harmony when it comes to rigging borders so that the Russian people come away with as little as possible and become the big losers!

The sudden devotion of the American right wing establishment to Lenin's "unitary" Ukraine is motivated purely by the anti-Russian nature of the new Government in Kiev and the damage and shelling and killing it can inflict on the pro-Russian population in the east!

MyFriendWillPay -> MahsaKaerra 10 May 2015 10:07

"A series of UN mandates that Russia deemed so threatening that they either voted in favor of the military interventions or didn't bother to express an opinion one way or the other. For all the US's military actions there have been zero Russian vetoes."

That's because the Yanks are so disingenuous;

* Get agents provocateur to let off a few bombs to create civilian casualties.
* Pin the blame on people you want to get rid of.
* Apply to UN for no-fly zone to protect the civilians.
* Bomb the shit out of anything that moves anywhere in the country.
* Fly in local exiles from US with geologists and lawyers to secure mineral rights
* Conclude regime change
* Escape ensuing chaos to plan next regime change.
* Have your President nominated for Nobel Peace Prize!

Abiesalba -> sztubacki 10 May 2015 10:04

It was estimated about half a million of American soldiers casualties to conquer Japan.

The Soviet Union lost about 10 million soldiers and 15 million civilians.

About 1.6 million German soldiers were killed in WWII, of which 1.1 million in the Eastern (Soviet) front. So out of 10 dead German soldiers, 7 died fighting the Red Army.

In Europe, 9 in 10 Jews were killed.

In Poland, 1 in 5 people were killed, many civilians.

In my country Slovenia, 1 in 10 were killed, many civilians. And about 10% is among the highest national death rates in WWII.

With all due respect to the US, the US role is not even remotely comparable to the sacrifice in the Soviet Union. The Red Army was by far the decisive power in defeating Nazi Germany.

And it is highly hypocritical and disrespectful that the 'west' ignored the celebration of the end of WWII in Europe in Moscow.

Was perhaps the role of the US and the UK in WWII ignored by everybody due to the recent illegal and catastrophic US/UK Iraq invasion? I thought not. There were also no sanctions etc.

Carly435 -> Nat1978 10 May 2015 10:03

Though I'm not a fan of what-aboutism, the horrific scale of German war crimes against Russian POWs has never gained the attention it deserves in the West.

BeatonTheDonis -> alpamysh 10 May 2015 10:00

Luckily for them he is back "on brand" with his latest book, about two-thirds of which is devoted to the Eastern Front, which Beevor believes redresses the balance of previous histories of the Second World War. "Ninety per cent of all Wehrmacht losses were on the Eastern Front. As far as the Germans were concerned, we were a sideshow. But each country sees the war from its own perspective and memories."

WayneB1 10 May 2015 09:53

Unfortunately the West (i.e., the America and its key European allies) refuse to recognise the realities as far as the Russians are concerned. it was understood - blatantly - that Russia did not want countries on its doorstep, including Ukraine, made members of NATO. Yet the West and Ukraine itself persist.

As for WWII. It is callous for the everyman Russian to hear that the country's then leaders - by initially siding with the Nazis and also annihilating their own people - were accountable for so many of the losses they suffered. But regardless of any and all of this, the West should have attended this commemoration in full force. Sanctions, snubbings and petty political manoeuvring is not the way to move forward. The West screwed up royally with Ukraine (and Crimea) and should accept and amend the fact that it is an insensitive behemoth guilty of the utmost arrogance and pushing for the 'unipolar world' suggested by Mr. Putin.

The only thing that will change this is Russia (and other nations) pushing back. Indeed, with the likes of Russia and China establishing relations with South America, it will only be a matter of time that America might find itself the the 'enemy' at its doorsteps.

sodtheproles -> Vijay Raghavan 10 May 2015 09:47

How dare you!? How dare you dishonour and disfigure the memory of British and American exploitation of colonised peoples, and, above all, on a day like this!? Don't you realise how lucky they were to be given the chance of dying for democracy, a chance which was simply not open to them in their home countries!? How the very dare you, Mr Raghavan!?

Eugene Weixel -> Roguing 10 May 2015 09:51

Had Neville Chamberlain and company not given Czechoslovakia to Hitler and nudged him eastward there would have been no pact between the USSR and Hitler. This pact was a response to the Dr facto Hitler Chamberlain accord.

kraljevic -> dyst1111 10 May 2015 09:50

Since the majority of the Balkan peoples are eagerly allowing their territories to be used as forward bases for NATO and American attempts to contain and encircle Russia I wouldn't have wasted a single Russian bullet freeing them from Nazi rule! Many of them schemed with Hitler and took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union with great enthusiasm!They are definitely no angels and since most of them were hostile to the Russian presence and the Americans wouldn't have been in any great hurry to free them if it meant costing them lives there was little reason for the Russians to come to their rescue!

MyFriendWillPay -> Rudeboy1 10 May 2015 09:43

If you unscrambled your comment, it would be more readable but just as wrong.

When the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union (SU) on 22 June 1941, three million German soldiers and almost 700,000 allies of Nazi Germany crossed the border, and their equipment consisted of 600,000 motor vehicles, 3,648 tanks, more than 2.700 planes, and just over 7,000 pieces of artillery.[

The Nazis expected their blitzkrieg to bring total collapse of the SU within two months, and British Intelligence assessed the timescale as 8 - 10 weeks.

However, events unfoulded rather differently as, within the first 3 4 weeks of the campaign, Admiral Canaris, head of German Military Intelligence, confided to a German general on the easter front, that everything about the campaign now looked "black". Even Goebells at that time wrote entries in his diary about how bad German progress was in the first month.

By mid October 1941 - six weeks after the scheduled Nazi victory over the SU - various agencies, from the Swiss Secret Service to the Vatican, predicted that the Nazis would lose the war.

By the start of December 1941, when the Germans ground to a halt just 20 miles from the Kremlin - exhausted, frozen and with over-extended supply lines - the Soviets prepared to strike. Their offensive began on 5 December and it pushed the Nazis back 60 - 170 miles, whereupon Hitler postponed the assault on Moscow until Spring 1942. Significantly, the success of this Soviet offensive prompted the German Armaments Minister to suggest to Hitler that a negotiated peace might be sought. Hitler was not prepared to negotiate, although his inner circle and Hitler himself, evidently realized that the war was lost.

The Nazis fought on, hoping to seize the oilfields in the southeast, but this dream ended with the surrender of their army at Stalingrad in early 1942 and the long retreat to Berlin. During the retreat, a new dream emerged as the Nazis hoped to make peace with the western allies, and then turn their combined forceas against the Soviets. However, that was not to be, and the war ended in berlin on 9 May 1945.

In summary, the Soviets were always going to win this war after Operation Barbarossa failed to crush them during the Summer of 1941. The Nazis had failed to seize Soviet materiel - from food to oil - and, unlike the Soviets, they were not able to go on replacing casualties with high quality manpower. Also, importantly, the Soviets were not merely fighting for freedom as their western allies were doing, they were fighting for their very survival as a people, hence their monumental sacrifices.

The die for the outcome of this war was cast before the first shipments of material support to the Soviets, welcome as they were, and almost three years before the Normandy landings. But the cost to the SU was enormous: vast destruction of infrastructure, and the loss of fighters and civilians killed at 30 times higher than the combined losses of the British Empire and the United States!

That is why the western WW2 allies' boycott of the Memorial Parade was churlish.

Eugene Weixel -> Abiesalba 10 May 2015 09:43

UZ troops had their way with destitute women in Germany and Italy the price of a candy bar for years.

Abiesalba -> Carly435 10 May 2015 09:40

Russians and Russian history textbooks gloss over what was at stake in WWII. For them, it's all about defeating an enemy

Americans and Britons completely fail to understand the difference between having the territory of your own nation occupied and sending soldiers and/or planes to fight in another country.

Having the enemy on your doorstep in terrible. And having Nazi-fascists on your doorstep was much worse in Slavic countries than in the occupied western European nations, becuase Hitler, Mussolini and allies waged ethnic cleansing of 'inferior' Slavs. On the other hand, the Aryan people of the occupied western Europe were spared this horror.

I am from Slovenia, which was brutally occupied in WWII by Germany, Italy and Hungary. For two decades before WWII, Italian fascists pursued ethnic cleansing in western Slovene territory. This ethnic cleansing only intensified in WWII.

For Slovenes, WWII meant having to choose between fear and courage every day.

We had a very strong resistance movement, including the guarilla partisan fighters.

But members of the resistance knew how brutal the revenge of the occupiers against their families and Slovenes can be. When the father joined the partisans, the mother and the children had to go underground. The occupiers frequently shout 10 civilian hostages for every of their soldiers killed by the resistance. They burnt down whole villages on suspicion that they support the partisans. Oh, and the use of the Slovene language was prohibited. And Slovenes were tortured, sent to concentration camps etc.

In fact, our strong resistance drove the occupiers crazy. Italians encircled the capital of Slovenia, Ljublana, with 35 km of barbed wire and bunkers, hoping that they will defeat the resistance. In essence, they converted Ljubljana to the largest concentration camp in Europe. But people still strongly fought back, including the increasingly strong partisan units.

The people of the Soviet Union faced a similar dilemma. They fought incredibly heroically for every inch of their homeland. In fact, they largely defeated Nazi Germany themselves. The Eastern Front was the largest military combat in history.

And while the people of the Soviet Union, Slovenia and other occupied nations fought for their very existence, it seems to me, with all due respect, that the resistance in the occupied western countries was very weak, and often their regimes in effect sided with Germany.

Now, what would you do if you had the enemy on your doorstep? Would you chose fear or courage?

It is a tough personal choice and a tough decision for a nation. But under such circumstances, the true spirit of the nation shines through.

freedomcry -> lizgiag 10 May 2015 09:39

The anti-Russian feelings you encounter are really the product of decades of anti-Soviet propaganda.

It's much older than that, I'm afraid. Anti-Soviet propaganda was a continuation of an already well-established prejudice against Russians. And the sad thing is, notwithstanding the West's present obsession with fighting stereotypes and hate speech, many a Westerner nowadays would read Rudyard Kipling's ridiculous The Man Who Was and find it entirely convincing because those are the exact same cardboard Russians with horns and tails that their media and Hollywood keep showing them.

Laudig 10 May 2015 09:38

Compare the situation in the Crimea and the situation in Hawaii. The vote was held promptly in Crimea. 3 or 4 generations later in Hawaii. The USG has no moral standing to complain. It is an empire that needs to collapse so the country can exist.

Vijay Raghavan 10 May 2015 09:38

I think the President of Russia & President of China being very powerful should ask the exceptional president of America to pay pension dues for war veterans of second world war.They should take this matter up in security council & discuss this promptly.If the British & Americans claim that their values are exceptional then how come they have not paid the pensions for millions of war veterans for 70 years.

I think the exceptional president should ask his federal printing press to print a little more dollars & send it to all countries who have been paying pensions on their behalf.

BBC can do like this instead of wasting their time on silly documentaries they should produce documentaries on their war veterans & ask the moral question are they responsible for paying war veterans pensions or not.

lizgiag -> MiltonWiltmellow 10 May 2015 09:37

Great rant! But if you take a look at any country's history you will find the same - Britain, Spain, France, Germany - bloody wars instigated everywhere all for the glory of empire & resources.

Now its the turn of the EU & USA - these empires are re-branded, they no longer call themselves empires, but the outcome is the same - a geo-political land & resource grab!

Be in NO DOUBT the populace comes way down on the list of concerns - look at what is happening the world over, the middle east is in a mess because of the involvement of the West recently but also for decades past.

Do not be fooled, the New American Century is upon it!

freedomcry -> Botswana61 10 May 2015 09:25

And it probably originates with Nazi propaganda about the advancing barbarous subhuman Russian hordes.

This is not to be taken as a denial that the Red Army committed any rapes at all. Rather, I'm pointing to the fact that mass rapes are just the sort of thing that specifically Russian soldiers were likely to be accused of, whether they did it or not. And the core of that prejudice still survives more or less intact.

Vijay Raghavan -> GreatMountainEagle 10 May 2015 09:16

Those who fought for the British only got a middle finger.BBC has been so callous it does not even put in a word to British government to reimburse pension for those who fought for them.....that has been their attitude.

The total number of people for whom the British government has not paid pension is 1.5MM people for their 2nd world war.Indian governemnt had to pay their pensions & they have been paying with all courts saying it is India's responsibility.The cost per year would be 1.Billion for 60 years we had paid 60Billion dollars that is just your world war 2....add another 30 Billion for your world war 1.I think the Guardian and BBC should write a article about that and ensure British Government promptly repays back 100Billion dollars to India.If we add up Nepal that will also be huge claim on British government.

We can do a deal like this you can pay 50% for our schools & another 50% for the roads & hospitals.or May be you can give a interest free loan to Nepal for 100 billion against pension amount payable to India as they need that money badly for fixing their country after earth quake.

Standupwoman -> MentalToo 10 May 2015 09:15

'Rapes committed by western allies ground troops against German civilians are not, for the very good reason nothing like that happened.'

That is not true. There is considerable evidence to suggest the majority of rapes were committed by the Red Army (whose own civilian population had suffered in a way ours never had) but the other Allies were guilty of a lot of it too - one estimate quoting a figure of 11,040 for the Americans alone. Don't forget the Australian journalist who accompanied the American army and claimed:

I know for a fact that many women were raped by white Americans. No action was taken against the culprits. In one sector a report went round that a certain very distinguished army commander made the wisecrack, 'Copulation without conversation does not constitute fraternisation'.

Rape is always wrong, and even if the Red Army had considerably more provocation than we did, that still doesn't excuse them. But neither does it give us the right to lie about them, or about our own share in the atrocities. Can't we at least show some integrity about that?

BeatonTheDonis -> ijustwant2say 10 May 2015 09:14

The history on Churchill's role in the Bengal Famine and Allied torture and murder of German and Japanese POWs is quite recent, so you must be pretty young if you covered it at school.

You haven't provided any evidence for Putin's revisionism affecting Russian schools. From what Putin has said, it seems he acknowledges Stalin's crimes but places them in the context of the challenges Stalin faced and he compares Stalin to other historical figures whose crimes against humanity haven't seen them completely written off as monsters - Oliver Cromwell, for example.

Stalin was a murderer who terrified his populace into submission. But he was also in power for 30 years and took the Soviet Union from a devastated agrarian economy to an industrial power that defeated Nazi Germany and was able to compete with the USA and Western Europe. Life expectancy in the USSR when he died had increased to 63 for men and 69 for women.

After the fall of the USSR, life expectancy for men fell to under 60 - that is the context which sees Putin lauded by many Russians.

Tattyana -> Carly435 10 May 2015 09:13

It is easy. We can not find any single point your ideology is ever better.

You insist our media keep to lie? You think so because YOUR media told you so? I can read both - yours and ours. I can read Ukrainian as well. And I can compare. Can you?

I can continue, but unlike you I do aware, there are some bad pages in history of every country or people. And I never start to talk with any of Germany people from the point "Do you remember that Hitler killed millions of Russians?"

Though here is much more truth than in your points which should blow hatred to Russians.

Abiesalba -> Barkywoof 10 May 2015 09:10

Was nothing learned from that awful war ?

Unfortunatelly, not much. Except that it is now not politically correct in western Europe to specifically target the Jews.

However, it is very popular to specifically target the horrible 'Eastern and Central European' immigrants. The term 'Eastern and Central European' immigrants predominantly means the Slavs.

According to the Nazi ideology, Slavs were at the very bottom of the race hierarchy, below the Jews. And oppression of 'inferior' Slavs by the 'Aryan' race has more than a thousand years of history. Hitler planned a genocide of Slaves, and the Nazis killed many millions of Slavs due to their 'inferior' ethnicity.

I find it very disturbing that in the 21st century in nations which Hilter declared to be the Aryan superior race, targeting the Slavs is acceptable. Take Wilders in the Netherlands or Farage in the UK, or neo-Nazis in Austria and neo-fascists in Italy, etc.

moongibbon Carly435 10 May 2015 09:09

This is the spectacle presented in the Western media and it's not representative of Russians at all, for whom today is about remembering those who died in WWII to save their country from destruction.

Lafcadio1944 10 May 2015 09:08

The Guardian's "coverage" of Russia is pathetic. Anyone could have written this article far from Moscow by just watching TV. It is really disgraceful propagandist "reporting" just throw up some insult and scary warning about evil Putin/Russia and go home - well done.

There are huge - some even positive - things going on in Russia, China and India which count for a huge % of the global population and China is the 2nd largest economy and has launched one of the biggest global trade initiatives of modern times yet not a word about it.

The Guardian just regurgitates propaganda about these nations written by the CIA or US State Department it has no reporters in these places and just ignores any positive developments. Thu leaving its readers fearful of the "mysterious" East - purposely.

Dimmus -> Isanybodyouthere 10 May 2015 09:06

"like claims to Russian speaking populations being endangered " - everything depends on the point of view of course. Even when pro-Russian people in Ukraine were burned alive they were not endangered from the point of view of anti-Russian nationalists.

When many russian journalists were killed in Ukraine - it is not much mentioned, it is not interesting.

When one US journalist killed somewhere - country is bombed and all the media for long time are full of discussions and moaning.

When pro-Russian people (Ossetians) in Georgia were bombed by heavy artillery by order of Georgian president it was not endangering of those people because the president was a US-friendly president.

And there are many more examples of western nationalizm. Just believe, that there are many people around the world who are really feel endangered by nationalists, including western nationalism.

Eugene Weixel -> raffine 10 May 2015 09:06

Had the West not awarded Czechoslovakia to Hitler and nudged him eastward three never would have been that pact, and many fewer on all sides would have suffered and died.

teurin_hgada -> GreatMountainEagle 10 May 2015 09:05

Rotenberg is jew. TimchenKO is ukrainian. Those evil nazi russians!!

teurin_hgada -> Metronome151 10 May 2015 09:03

Poland invaded Russia somedays before that. That was revenge. 'Who will come with us with a sword will dye from a sword' very old russian proverb. Chingiskhan, Napoleon, and Hitler knew that. Obobo still dont know

kraljevic -> sztubacki 10 May 2015 09:02

Facts speak for themselves Russia emerged the victor in WW2 but its an irony that if anyone sticks up for the Russians they are accused of being a fascist!Many eastern European nations especially western leaning ones look down on Russians as oriental savages and there's no doubt many of them hated their Russian liberators more than they did the Germans even though the latter treated them like scum! That's why the Russians should have stopped when they liberated their own territories and let the Eastern Europeans stew in their in their own juices and liberate themselves.Why should a Russian mother lose her precious son to free a Pole or Czech or Hungarian who hates him with a passion and would stab him in the back first chance he got!

freedomcry nobblehobble 10 May 2015 08:58

Like I said: Russian neo-Nazis exist. Your links tell a lot about the level of attention they get from Western media (who happily follow the old trope of "take an issue that's hot in the West and make it look like it's much worse in Russia" - never fails to sell well) than about the actual scale of the problem. Did you even know Tesak is in jail now? Or that Belov (if you even know who that is) is under house arrest?

Do you know what phrase famously, and ridiculously, landed Konstantin Krylov a conviction for hate speech in 2013? Did you know last year's Russian March was pro-Ukrainian? No? Then leave me alone.

No; apologise for the paid troll libel, then leave me alone.

Eugene Weixel -> bumcyk 10 May 2015 08:51

Russia is being demonized and confronted by the West as though it was the USSR. It is in Russia and some former Soviet republics that the victory over Nazism is unambiguously seen as something positive.

Barkywoof 10 May 2015 08:58

There are a bunch of psychos always at the ready on all sides if allowed to take the reins. The Russians did terrible things. The Nazis did terrible things. Then the USA killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese women and children with a new and horrifying weapon.

I don't think it's a case of 'We Are Good... They are Bad.'
Was nothing learned from that awful war ?

teurin_hgada -> Roguing 10 May 2015 08:58

Half of Europr and Japan were Hitler allies. Ask them. And USSR just signed pact of no attack with Hitler. It is not the same that to be allies

sodtheproles -> Isanybodyouthere 10 May 2015 08:57

So what should be done when Russian speaking populations who see themselves as Russian are 'endangered', and that's 'endangered' in the sense of raped, bludgeoned, shot, beaten and burnt to death 'endangered'

Eugene Weixel -> nonanon1 10 May 2015 08:56

Good enough reason as Putin underlines the fact that his name is not Manuel Noriega.

sodtheproles -> ID5868758 10 May 2015 08:53

It's Shaun of all credibility journalism

Eugene Weixel -> Koppen616 10 May 2015 08:53

A necessary show of force, determination and support by the world's largest nation's, and many others as well.

Vladimir Makarenko -> ChristineH 10 May 2015 08:51

Hm, "dinosaur era" is marked by destroying countries by choice and then walking away cursing "f*ck, it is again didn't work..."

Military parade commemorating staggering sacrifice is internal matter of Russia and for Russia, outsiders are welcome to watch and think twice.

oAEONo -> Nolens 10 May 2015 08:50

What "well documented fact" are you talking about, can you please give me a link?

Books by Noam Chomsky would provide you with a huge amount of carefully documented facts. Some are even mentioned on this thread alone. That you missed them up until now simply beggars belief. Makes me wonder if you are interested in facts at all.

SHappens 10 May 2015 08:50

"We have seen attempts to create a unipolar world, and we see how forced bloc thinking is becoming more common."

Because of the attitude of the United States, but also because of the cowardice of European leaders, this May 9, 2015 has confirmed the division of the world in two. It symbolizes the opposition of an "old world", the Atlantic Basin and this new world emerging around Asia, which constantly attracts to itself new countries.

During his speech in Munich in 2007, Putin talked about a multipolar world. Because even the most powerful and richest country cannot alone ensure the stability of the world. The US project exceeds the US forces. But instead of listening, since this speech there was an acceleration of the US demonization of Putin.

It is important to break this dynamic of the political blocs to return towards a dynamic of a multipolar world. Beyond the shame and anger we feel for the attitude of the western leaders, beyond the disgust we feel for the insult not only to the Russian people but also to Chinese and Indian people, as well as to all others who came to Moscow on 9 May, we must realize that by calculation or cowardice, Western leaders, by abdicating their natural role, are helping to plunge the world towards a future of wars and conflicts.

It is a mistake- as we know from Talleyrand - the policy mistakes are worse than crimes.

Standupwoman , 10 May 2015 08:47
Are YOU remembering the massacre of Poles at Volhynia and Eastern Galicia by Ukraine's own newly celebrated UPA? Where estimates of the dead vary between 60,000 and 100,000?

Russia has at least admitted Soviet responsibility for the Katyn massacre - and officially condemned Stalin for it. Ukraine, on the other hand, has just declared Roman Shukhevych a Hero, and prohibited 'disrespect' for the UPA.

No country should be denied honour for genuinely heroic deeds, no matter what else it's done. As long as that country also admits and is sorry for its crimes, then it is also worthy our respect. Unlike Ukraine under its current regime, Russia merits

Michael A -> sztubacki 10 May 2015 08:46

Thank you for sharing MIKHAIL SHISHKIN's honest, candid and insightful words. I share his morality. He is correct in his assumptions and conclusions and he mirrors my felling about the hypocrisy that has shaped too much of my American lifetime.

The shame of the disintegration of relations between our two spheres is not the goals sought but the myopic way both sides have gone about achieving them.

Unfortunately the old American saw that our children grow up with, "it matters not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game", is almost inevitably and totally reversed in adulthood to, "it matters whether you win or lose, not how you played the game". The idealism and honesty of youth is replaced with greed and shortsightedness as age creeps in.

I thank the Russian people for the horrible sacrifices they made on behalf of victory over fascism. I also thank my American, British, French, etc, etc brothers and sisters for the their sacrifice. Sacrifice is to be commended not by degree but by intent. Thank you all.

Goodthanx -> Metronome151 10 May 2015 08:42

The number of Poles who died due to Soviet repressions in the period 1939-1941 is estimated as at least 150,000

Ukrainian nationalists[edit]
Main article: Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia
Ukrainian nationalists organized massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia during which (according to Grzegorz Motyka) approximately 80,000-100,000 Poles were killed.[5]

An OUN order from early 1944 stated: "Liquidate all Polish traces. Destroy all walls in the Catholic Church and other Polish prayer houses. Destroy orchards and trees in the courtyards so that there will be no trace that someone lived there... Pay attention to the fact that when something remains that is Polish, then the Poles will have pretensions to our land"

And these are now your friends???
says a lot.

MiltonWiltmellow kraljevic 10 May 2015 08:41

Its a sad reflection of today's selfish blinkered and short sighted world that the usual Russophobes and closet Nazis are given so much space and airtime to spread their pernicious ideology which consists of almost exclusively denigrating everything Russian.

Where are the thundering armies of the Tsar trampling the upstart Napoleon at Borodino?

Where are the Tsar's great Cossacks rousting quiet villages to pay the Tsar's new taxes during the Balybostock Pogram (1906) while terrified Russians fled into the night, onto the steppes, into the ocean...

And, as I'm a bit of an ettymologitst, where did the term "pogram" actually originate.

Where are the murderers of the Tsar's family whose blood spattered the cellar of a small estate? Who was Pavel Medevedev?

There's one Russian truth. Not this glorious past upon which Putin attempts to rebuild a lost and imperious empire, but a series of killings in the night of the Russian people by those waving saber and lance against defenseless people.

Exhortations like this this belong in the history books of Germany, Imperial Russia, and many of the religiously motivated wars that has turned Europe's soil a deep, rich crimson from which has arisen -- like a virginal saint roused from slumber-- as kingmakers and various petty tyrants lick their bloody wolf lips.

Nobility in war is about as common women and children left unmoslested by maurading troops.

Go badk to your Tolstoy ... or is it your pastiche writer Sholokov? ... to find your vanished glory, because there's little glory in Russian History. It's mostly a history of endurance and suffering.

Says Kasparov:

Arguably the world's best chess player ever, Garry Kasparov is on a new mission. He hopes to convince the world that the biggest threat to global unrest is not the Islamic State, al-Qaida or North Korea. Instead it is Vladimir Putin, Russia's president from 2000 to 2008 and then again from 2012 to today. []

mrkhawaja1944 -> Roguing 10 May 2015 08:41

Ask the Russians they will give you better answer but I am not talking about invaders Russians or no Russians but do you know any country invaded America I know of one and they are very good friends now but give you list of countries invaded and occupied by America and Europe I do not think you can name any country in present days world not invaded by so called western powers.

But I was taking about Russian who died in millions defending the country not invading other countries.

Vladimir Makarenko -> Debreceni 10 May 2015 08:36

Let's make some sorting of apples from oranges: not "Ukrainians" but Western Ukrainians or how they called themselves "Galicians". Galicia never was a part of Russia but divided between Hungary and Poland. Its pro independence movement made alliance with German Nazis in the beginning of 30-ties.

When Nazis made a call for SS division "Galicia" more than 100,000 volunteered, 27,000 were admitted. Their training was in first turn anti guerilla actions. Their fate was sealed during three days battle of Brody with regular experienced Soviet troops which without particular difficulty eliminated this bunch wannabe warriors. The remnants (about 7,000) escaped and ended up in Italy and after war across the pond, mostly to Canada. (Hence Canada attitude to Russia today).

This explains why there will be no peace between Donbass and Eastern Ukraine (which was a center of resistance then as it is today) and pro Galician (today) Kiev.

itsanevolvething 10 May 2015 08:36

A serious lack of respect and error of judgment by scameron and other western nations to not recognise the sacrifice of the Red Army in WW2 and send representation to this event. There is zero wisdom out there right now..just battle lines being drawn up.

nnedjo -> Omniscience 10 May 2015 08:33

Not sure, hope that wouldn't clash with the Victory over Czechoslovakia celebrations.

Czech President Milos Zeman met with Putin yesterday and, among other things, said the following:
President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman (in Russian):

Thank you, Mr President.

You know, politics are like the weather: it cools off and then it gets warmer. A person is happy when it warms up after a cool-down. This is one thing.

The other is that I have stated several times in public that I am here primarily to pay tribute not only to those soldiers who died on the territory of the Czech Republic, but to all the 20, or some say 27 million Soviet citizens, both soldiers and civilians, who died during the Great Patriotic War. This was the first purpose of my visit.

Abiesalba -> J00l3z 10 May 2015 08:32

He would do as well to remember that Stalin consigned a great number of the returning servicemen who had seen the west to death in Gulags. And that Russia exterminated more of her own people than Hitler did in concentration camps. Shmoozing despots says a lot about the nasty party !

The UK and all other imperial powers would do well to remember how many countries they forcefully occupied and then ruthlessly exploited their hunam and natural resources for centuries, including slavery. The UK and others had colonies well after WWII.

How many dead people from the activities of these most glorious empires based on Nazi-like ideologies of the 'superior' nation vs the 'inferior' nation?

And did these most democratic western powers ever pay reparations to their former colonies for the huge damage they have caused?

johhnybgood 10 May 2015 08:29

In the US the population knows nothing about the Russian involvement in the war.

Even in Europe only 13% of the population know the real story. This of course is because the history has been rewritten. If you watched the ceremony in Moscow, you realised just how deep feelings still run throughout the whole population. Few families escaped without loss.

This is why the West is playing with fire through its NATO encroachment provocation. The West's foreign policy regarding Russia is totally self defeating. Only the politicians are responsible -- the general populations have no desire for war with Russia - quite the reverse, Russia and China represent the future of global trade.

mrkhawaja1944 10 May 2015 08:18

Shameful act of revenge by western leaders not people by not attending ceremony in Russia as if their dead were better then Russians who lost millions.

They did not attend just because they do not like one man happened to be president making excuse of Ukrainian problem but who started it paid demonstrators by CIA known fact like the Arab spring where no flowers bur rubbles pile up in middle east spread to Europe thanks to American freedom loving policies.

Russians who died in millions deserver to be remembered with respect like the one in western countries who's leaders absence is disgraceful act.

Abiesalba -> HHeLiBe 10 May 2015 08:12

Sad that the hallmarks of expansionism and extreme nationalism are now most evident in Russia.

How about the illegal US/UK Iraq invasion?

How about the US relationships with its neighbours? A Berlin Wall along its border with Mexico. Decades of embarge against their neighbour Cuba. Cuba is, however, good enough for the US to have its Guantanamo concentration camp there. Oh, and how about racism in the US, and the status of the native Indians.

The UK financially supported the rise to power of Mussolini and his fascists in Italy who pursued brutal policies of ethnic cleansing of 'inferior' races long before Hitler rose to power in Germany. After WWII, the UK prevented extradition of 1,200 Italian fascists accused of war crimes to Yugoslavia, Greece and Ethiopia. These war criminals were never put to trial, and the UK kept supporting Italian pro-fascist politicians after WWII. The general acceptance of Italian fascism in the UK was also reflected in the English football team Sunderland appointing the Italian extreme Mussolini fan and self-declared fascist Paolo Di Canio as the manager in 2013.

Meanwhile, Italy keeps denying its WWII atrocities and neo-fascism is very alive. Every year, in Italy people march to celebrate the anniversary of Mussolini's march on Rome, which led to Mussolini's fascist regime taking the power in Italy (video of the march in 2014 here.) The most democratic 'western' states do not protest about it and the western media just avoid this scandal.

And there is much more. For example, in February 2015 (three months ago), the Italian GOVERNMENT (!) gave medals of honour to 300 Mussolini's fascists, including 6 accused of war crimes.

And neo-Nazism is alive and well also in Austria. Surely the EU members demanded in 2002 that neo-Nazi Jörg Haider is expelled from the Austrian government. But after that happened, nobody cared about the fact that Haider went on to be the elected (!) governor of the Carinthia region of Austria until 2008 (he was not voted out; he died in a reckless car crash) where he pursued apartheid-like policies against the Slovene minority in Carinthia. Slovenes are Slavs, and according to Nazi and fascist ideology they are an 'inferior' race and should be eradicated. The Slovene minorities in Austria and Italy keep being oppressed and attacked by neo-fascists and neo-Nazis, often also via the attitudes of the Italian and the Austrian governments.

Germany is the only Nazi-fascist country which fully admitted its war atrocities and apologized for them. Germany is now at least very watchful about neo-Nazis, and is trying to crack down on groups with neo-Nazi and similar ideologies. Even so, neo-Nazism is rising its ugly head also in Germany.

Many other European states keep denying their involvement in Nazism and fascism. In these states (e.g. Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, the Netherlands etc. etc.), the state of denial enables Nazi and fascist ideologies to thrive. In Hungary, the neo-fascist Jobbik party won 17% of the votes in the 2010 elections and 20% in 2014. In Slovakia, a neo-Nazi won regional elections in 2013. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' party is the third largest in the parliament. In the UK, UKIP just got 13% of the votes and is the third largest party by the number of votes.

Besides, all western European states (including the UK) are collectively in denial about their centuries-long support of Nazi-like ideologies. The imperialistic Nazi-like ideology of 'superior' vs 'inferior' nations/races fuelled centuries of forceful occupation, oppression and exploitation of human and natural resources (including slavery) of many 'inferior' nations around the world.

Across western Europe, there is rising discrimination against 'Eastern and Central European' immigrants. These unwanted immigrants are largely Slavs. The specific targeting of 'inferior' Slavs has a long history in Europe (over a thousand years) and was also reflected in Hitler's hierarchy of races, where the Slavs were at the very bottom of under-humans (below the Jews). Hitler had plans for extensive genocide of Slavs, and Nazis killed many millions of them (e.g. Poles, Ukarinians).

In this historical context, I find the specific targeting of 'inferior' Slavs by various xenophobic groups in western Europe rather disturbing. This is nothing but re-painted Nazi-fascist ideology. Notably, such ideology thrives in particular in nations which Hitler declared to be the superior race = Herrenvolk = Aryan race: Germans, British, Irish, Dutch, Northern French, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes etc.

It seems to me that it would not be acceptable in modern Europe to specifically target the Jews. On the other hand, it is very acceptable to specifically target the Slavs.

Rudeboy1 -> Batleymuslim 10 May 2015 08:11

The first rule of war is logistics, logistics , that order.

I don't underestmate the Russians, far from it. It's a realistic view on their real capabilities and re-equipment in recent years. They're running to stay still at present. They have block obsolescence on the horizon for most of their kit and can't afford to replace it at the required levels. The Russian Navy is a case in point, their latest SSN was actually laid down 15 years ago and has yet to enter service. For surface ships they're done for as they either don't have the skills or they no longer have powerplants for them (their marine GT's were all built in the Ukraine).

The recent excitement over their new armour was a tad over the top. Have a look at them. The Kurganets? Is it as good as a German Puma? Bumerang? Is it really as good as a German Boxer? The Armata is an attempt to try and close the gap to western designs, but it's 25+ years too late. They'll never manage to build 2000 of them, they don't have the funds or the production capabilities.

The point about the F22 and F35 is still valid. I'm not counting the F35's as they're yet to hit IOC. The West has done all this in an era of declining military spending, with next to no effort.

In contract the Russians are spending increasing proportions on defence although they have announced some cuts recently). The Russian's simply aren't a military threat, and they know it. The last thing we need is an over-reaction. If the Armata is anything like previous Russian tanks once we get our hands on one we'll find that it was never all that anyway, still it keeps defence spending a little higher I suppose...

nnedjo -> Bradtweeters 10 May 2015 08:05

This is not a commemoration of the war dead. The commemoration of the war dead are being made at monuments to war victims. So, this is a celebration of the victory over fascism, and not any commemoration.

But, anyway, Putin is not a priest, he is a politician, and from politicians are expected on such occasions to give a political message too. Especially, if he complains that there is not enough cooperation in the world. It should be the political agenda of all politicians in the world, and not only of Putin.

lizgiag -> Natalia Volkova 10 May 2015 08:01

Privet Natalia! The anti-Russian feelings you encounter are really the product of decades of anti-Soviet propaganda. For decades there was really nothing positive said about the Soviet Union, years and years of negativity (not just about the system but also the people) meant that it is a deeply rooted feeling which was very easy to resurrect in the past few years.

Whilst this is not new, the more sinister side of this is the re-writing of history, so that the events of World War 2 are re-interpreted to the extent that the Soviet Union is now slowly being seen as the aggressor to fit in with the current narrative for the West's geo-political strategy.

Frustrating as this is, it makes it even more important that Russia's point of view is put forward even if it seems futile.

kraljevic 10 May 2015 07:59

Its a sad reflection of today's selfish blinkered and short sighted world that the usual Russophobes and closet Nazis are given so much space and airtime to spread their pernicious ideology which consists of almost exclusively denigrating everything Russian.

You could almost see some of them them practicing their Heil Hitler salutes in front of the mirror!

But however many of them delude themselves into believing that victory was snatched from their grasp by a set of unlucky circumstances rather than relentless Russian resistance then they will continue to try to kid the world that Russia's victory was a fluke!

The next step is to revive the myth that the SS and their allies stood for humane values and the defence of freedom and European civilization! But none of this relentless drivel will affect the attitude of the majority of people who continue to be inspired by the incredible, unimaginable and superhuman bravery and defiance of the Russian people in a life and death struggle unmatched in the annals of history!

geedeesee -> airman23 10 May 2015 07:46

"Crimea belongs to Ukraine"

Things change, nothing is fixed forever. Scotland may leave the UK. The Declaration of Independence by the Republic of Crimea was in accord with the provisions in the UN Charter.

Standupwoman -> sztubacki 10 May 2015 07:46

I don't actually disagree with you about the leadership. Stalin (a Georgian, as you know) was a murderous tyrant in his own right, and the Russian people suffered as much as any other Soviet country under his rule.

But Victory Day isn't about Stalin, except as a figurehead. It's about the ordinary men and women who fought and died and achieved the most incredible victory the world has ever seen. How could anyone want to take away from that?

dyst1111 -> Manolo Torres 10 May 2015 07:42

"Then we have the Royals that attended Nazi parties and married Nazis and even conspired against Britain with the Nazis."

And what of this? Nothing. They had no power.

Halifax was sidelined because of his attitude and Churchill made PM.

Soviet Union worked with the Nazis AFTER the war had broken out. Worked closely on many levels.

And there is one more aspect - what Britain and France did is regarded today with disdain as cowardly acts. What USSR did is desperately being whitewashed by Russia. So even if they acted more less the same, only Russia thinks it was OK.

John Smith -> Omniscience 10 May 2015 07:33

The US companies had some 500 mln$ investments in German war industries.

Standard Oil, General Motors, General Electric, ITT, Ford...
IG Farben ( Standard Oil) financed Hitler's rise to power.

CaptTroyTempest -> Kaikoura 10 May 2015 07:31

According to Wikileaks, Petro Walzmann (aka Poroschenko) has been in the pockets Washington's pocket since 2006. Probably just a coincidence.

juster 10 May 2015 07:25

Soviets may have won the war but they got pasted in the subsequent PR department.

I've seen interesting public opinion polls in France that immediately after the war showed 80+% people said mostly SU won the war and 60 year on 80+% people said the US played that role.

Because SU was branded the empire of evil and the US the force of good and people bought it ignoring the fact there is precious little difference. And still to this day Obama speaks of say the Vietnam war with praising the american troops for their righteous and good fight for freedom in the jungles. Clearly, he's never seen the Winter Soldier. The one from 1972 with testimonies of veterans that was and is de facto censored in the US for 40 years now, not the Cpt. America one.

Manolo Torres -> Botswana61 10 May 2015 07:24

Are you joking?!

In a new international ranking, the United Kingdom ranks first, while the U.S. performs poorly across almost all health metrics.

According to the world health organization you are second to 36 countries in 2000. Morocco, Singapore and Costa Rica have better healthsystem than you.

teurin_hgada -> AlfredHerring 10 May 2015 07:21

Your democrazy is nukong civilians in Japan after theirs capitulation. To kill Vietnam with WMD. Serbia, Syria, Lybia, Iraq.

Do you know that democracy eas invited in Greece and means slavery. There are citizens in democracy, and there are slaves, which brings prosperity to citizens. We dont want to be slaves of successors of criminals from whole word which made genocide to indeans civilization 300 years ago

Kaiama 10 May 2015 07:21

Read and Enjoy (2/2)

Dear friends,
We welcome today all our foreign guests while expressing a particular gratitude to the representatives of the countries that fought against Nazism and Japanese militarism.
Besides the Russian servicemen, parade units of ten other states will march through the Red Square as well. These include soldiers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Their forefathers fought shoulder to shoulder both at the front and in the rear.
These also include servicemen from China, which, just like the Soviet Union, lost many millions of people in this war. China was also the main front in the fight against militarism in Asia.
Indian soldiers fought courageously against the Nazis as well.
Serbian troops also offered strong and relentless resistance to the fascists.
Throughout the war our country received strong support from Mongolia.
These parade ranks include grandsons and great-grandsons of the war generation. The Victory Day is our common holiday. The Great Patriotic War was in fact the battle for the future of the entire humanity.
Our fathers and grandfathers lived through unbearable sufferings, hardships and losses. They worked till exhaustion, at the limit of human capacity. They fought even unto death. They proved the example of honour and true patriotism.
We pay tribute to all those who fought to the bitter for every street, every house and every frontier of our Motherland. We bow to those who perished in severe battles near Moscow and Stalingrad, at the Kursk Bulge and on the Dnieper.
We bow to those who died from famine and cold in the unconquered Leningrad, to those who were tortured to death in concentration camps, in captivity and under occupation.
We bow in loving memory of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, comrades-in-arms, relatives and friends – all those who never came back from war, all those who are no longer with us.
A minute of silence is announced.

Minute of silence.

Dear veterans,
You are the main heroes of the Great Victory Day. Your feat predestined peace and decent life for many generations. It made it possible for them to create and move forward fearlessly.
And today your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live up to the highest standards that you set. They work for the sake of their country's present and future. They serve their Fatherland with devotion. They respond to complex challenges of the time with honour. They guarantee the successful development, might and prosperity of our Motherland, our Russia!
Long live the victorious people!
Happy holiday!
Congratulations on the Victory Day!

Kaiama 10 May 2015 07:20

Read and Enjoy... (1/2)

Fellow citizens of Russia,
Dear veterans,
Distinguished guests,
Comrade soldiers and seamen, sergeants and sergeant majors, midshipmen and warrant officers, Comrade officers, generals and admirals,
I congratulate you all on the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War!
Today, when we mark this sacred anniversary, we once again appreciate the enormous scale of Victory over Nazism. We are proud that it was our fathers and grandfathers who succeeded in prevailing over, smashing and destroying that dark force.
Hitler's reckless adventure became a tough lesson for the entire world community. At that time, in the 1930s, the enlightened Europe failed to see the deadly threat in the Nazi ideology.
Today, seventy years later, the history calls again to our wisdom and vigilance. We must not forget that the ideas of racial supremacy and exclusiveness had provoked the bloodiest war ever. The war affected almost 80 percent of the world population. Many European nations were enslaved and occupied.
The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the enemy's attacks. The elite Nazi forces were brought to bear on it. All their military power was concentrated against it. And all major decisive battles of World War II, in terms of military power and equipment involved, had been waged there.
And it is no surprise that it was the Red Army that, by taking Berlin in a crushing attack, hit the final blow to Hitler's Germany finishing the war.
Our entire multi-ethnic nation rose to fight for our Motherland's freedom. Everyone bore the severe burden of the war. Together, our people made an immortal exploit to save the country. They predetermined the outcome of World War II. They liberated European nations from the Nazis.
Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, wherever they live today, should know that here, in Russia, we highly value their fortitude, courage and dedication to frontline brotherhood.
Dear friends,
The Great Victory will always remain a heroic pinnacle in the history of our country. But we also pay tribute to our allies in the anti-Hitler coalition.
We are grateful to the peoples of Great Britain, France and the United States of America for their contribution to the Victory. We are thankful to the anti-fascists of various countries who selflessly fought the enemy as guerrillas and members of the underground resistance, including in Germany itself.
We remember the historical meeting on the Elbe, and the trust and unity that became our common legacy and an example of unification of peoples – for the sake of peace and stability.
It is precisely these values that became the foundation of the post-war world order. The United Nations came into existence. And the system of the modern international law has emerged.
These institutions have proved in practice their effectiveness in resolving disputes and conflicts.
However, in the last decades, the basic principles of international cooperation have come to be increasingly ignored. These are the principles that have been hard won by mankind as a result of the ordeal of the war.
We saw attempts to establish a unipolar world. We see the strong-arm block thinking gaining momentum. All that undermines sustainable global development.
The creation of a system of equal security for all states should become our common task. Such system should be an adequate match to modern threats, and it should rest on a regional and global non-block basis. Only then will we be able to ensure peace and tranquility on the planet.

Manolo Torres -> dyst1111 10 May 2015 07:19

Lets see the other side as well then:

Huge trade, far bigger, just the investment of GM in Nazi Germany was 25% of the total amount their trade with the Soviet Union, if we add Standard Oil and Ford it will probably be already much more, and we are not throwing in the bankers that are the ones that made the most profit.

Then we have the Royals that attended Nazi parties and married Nazis and even conspired against Britain with the Nazis.

Then we have France and Britain giving Hitler (and the Polish) parts of Czechoslovakia. Talking about congratulatory letters we know about one from British deputy prime minister:

"Herr Chancellor, on behalf of the British Government I congratulate you on crushing communism in Germany and standing as a bulwark against Russia" (1a)

- Lord Halifax then British Deputy Prime Minister (later Foreign Secretary) addressing Adolf Hitler, November 1937.

Standupwoman 10 May 2015 07:17

I'm having a hard time believing both the tone of this article and the venom in some of the comments. On Russia's own Victory Day? Really? Are we sunk as low as that?

The only excuse I can find is that maybe some people simply don't know what this day really represents. This piece in The Hill, for example, actually states:

The Soviet victory in World War II - also known as the "Great Patriotic War" in Russia - can in terms of mythological importance be compared to D-Day for Americans

OK, this might be an unusually crass and insensitive writer, but could anybody with even a smattering of education make such a comparison? How could the events of one day in which 2,500 Americans died conceivably equate to the events of four years in which 27 million Soviet citizens were killed - nearly 14 million of them Russian? We know how Americans feel about 9/11, but even if they'd suffered a new 9/11 every day for four years, it would still be less than half what was done to Russia.

Even the British struggle to comprehend that degree of loss. We too suffered from Nazi attack, we too saw women and children killed in their own homes, we too saw our great cities pulverized and our history smashed - like Coventry Cathedral, for a start. But the German army never set foot here, because we were saved by the English Channel, the best airforce in the world - and the fact that the Russians held out long enough to turn the tide.

No-one in the West can really imagine what Russia went through, and there isn't space to say it here. Do some reading - or better still, watch the BBC's 'The World at War' and 'Nazis: A Warning from History'. The latter programme even interviews a former German soldier who describes how they treated the 'sub-human Slavs' of their occupied territories - 'We'd kill the children first in front of their mothers, and then the mothers.' Imagine it. Try. Imagine the desperate courage of that defence, at Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad. Look again at the Victory Day footage, and note how young some of the veterans are - because even children took part in the sieges of their homes. At Sevastopol in 2011 I met one woman who'd been throwing Molotov cocktails against German tanks when she was seven years old.

And they won. The tide was turned before the Americans even joined, and the momentous Battle of Kursk for the first time put the Germans on the run. Yes, we retook France and Italy, but it was the Red Army who drove the Germans back from the East all the way to Berlin. Britain has many victories of which she can be rightfully proud, but none on the scale of that one. No-one has.

Of course they celebrate it - and so should we. Politics should never be allowed to rewrite history, and I'm utterly ashamed that my country chose this day to insult 27 million dead. God bless Russia, and I hope and pray they can forgive us some day. I'm not sure I ever can.

Debreceni -> jezzam 10 May 2015 07:11

What is the connection? There was apartheid in the American South in the 1930s and 1940s. Sill, you do not question or try to trivialize American contribution to the victory over Japan or Nazi Germany.

The debate about dictatorhip, politial oppresion belong to a different page. You do not go to a funeral to bring up the widow's past.

AlfredHerring veloboldie 10 May 2015 07:11

If only Truman listened to Patton,

Yep, we could have liberated Moscow within 6 months. Easy, just cut off all the lend lease crap and drop the big one on Moscow during that stupid parade of German prisoners that Stalin was watching and the whole thing would have been ripe for free elections. Thanks to the war a 'well regulated militia' was already in place, just would have had to hunt down those NKVD motherfuckers.

Hants13 sztubacki 10 May 2015 07:10

How many dictators do you know that are happily united in many multi-polar relationships with like minded nations?

Over 85% of the people of Russia support their leader and Government and these are a few reasons why:

Russia was bankrupt in 2000, when Putin first came to power. Since then:

He sorted out the oligarchs.
The average Russian lives an additional ten years since 2000.
There is a rise in the middle class sector.
Russia is now a creditor nation.
Christian Orthodox Russia paid off the $45 billion debt of the Communist Soviet Union (including when the Bolsheviks and Lenin overthrew the Russian Empire).
Russia paid off the $16.5 billion RF debt.
Russia has the 12th largest currency reserves (around $420,000,000,000)
Russia has the 5th largest gold reserves and can almost back the ruble with gold, rather than printers and paper.
Russia has minimal debt (11% GDP Debt)
Russia has control of her vast wealth of natural resources.

How is the West, up until 2019 going to pay for Russian gas? Rubles or gold. After that, there are no contract with EU countries and much of the Russian gas will be going to China and no doubt India.

No wonder Russia loves their President and his cabinet. Can any other Western Nation and the USA say the same?

Mungobel samanthajsutton 10 May 2015 07:01

I fully agree that the UK's failure to join in honouring the memory of the millions of Russians and other Soviet citizens who lost their lives in the struggle to resist the Nazi onslaught in WWII was a shaming thing. Worse still, while the Russians and others were preparing to celebrate the hard won end to that war, the UK joined with it's NATO friends in playing US-led war games on Russia's doorstep - as if intent on provoking yet another blood-letting across the globe.

Reco1234 Hants13 10 May 2015 07:00

The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and its culture. As a foundation of the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest of all recognizable organisms, the result of an application of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be destruction for the inhabitants of this planet.

-Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf

Hmmm, Hitler was a fan of the ideology of Karl Marx........nice one, moron.

Hants13 MentalToo 10 May 2015 07:00

You are aware that the Ukrainian Krushchev took Crimea from Russia in 1954?

Using international law and self determination, the people of Crimea voted to return home to Russia in 2014. Aided by the words of the Ukrainian Presidential Candidates and what they wished to do to the 8,000,000 Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine did the same, but not to be ruled by Ukraine.

The argument is explained in the 1970 United Nations Report, Self Determination and Territorial Integrity. In fact NATO used the same argument in their final report, Kosovo in an International Perspective: Self Determination, Territorial Integrity and the NATO Interpretation. Then if you study the foundations of the United Nations Charter, it was based around self determination.

By the way, Russia leased Sevestopol (which NATO wanted) at a substantial cost and owing to the agreement, they were allowed 25,000 serving members of the military (no specifics on ranks, grades or trades). At the time that the people of Crimea voted to return home to Russia, there were only 20,000 out of the 25,000 little green men in Crimea.

plumrose799999 10 May 2015 06:59

The Observer(one of limited vision) is so obsessed with its Putin prodding that it fails to acknowledge Russia's part in winning the war which might not have been won by our side had it not been for the Russian people.

I don't know whether Putin is as bad as the western media make out but thankfully their is one leader left in the world who is still capable of standing up to the USA and dictorial colonist aspirations.

Liberator37 10 May 2015 06:57

Without for a moment endorsing its bloodthirsty liquidation of more helpless civilians than Hitler killed, Eric Margolis has a crackerjack and fact-filled article out today in praise of the Soviet contribution to the WW-II victory. The Western boycott of Putin's celebrations is downright churlish.

BunglyPete 10 May 2015 06:50

Lets go back 31 years to 1984.

RFE/RL was broadcasting into the USSR, what one of the most anti Russian US officials in history, Richard Pipes, called "blatant anti semitic propaganda".

His concerns, which were echoed by other US officials, were based upon an RFE/RL report that painted the Ukrainian nationalists that fought alongside Hitler in a good light.

Fast forward to 1984, sorry I mean 2015, and those messages are now reproduced in the Guardian and are enshrined in Ukrainian law and celebrations.

If Richard Pipes thought it was an issue, can't you see Russia's concern when it leads to the downfall of Ukraine?

MyFriendWillPay -> Amanda Katie Bromley 10 May 2015 06:48

It's clear that those who have criticised your comment have done so from a position of ignorance.

Operation Barbarossa, the German-led Blitzkrieg of 4 million men against the Soviet Union (SU), on 22 June 1941, was expected to bring SU defeat within weeks, which is why the Germans only stockpiled 2 months of supplies for the campaign, and even British Intelligence expected the SU to collapse within 8 - 10 weeks. However, within less than a month, the head of German Military Intelligence, Admiral Canaris, confided to a general on the eastern front that he could only see a "black outlook" for the war in the east. Even Goebells himself noted in diary entries in July 1941 of the allarming lack of progress towards victory.

By mid October 1941, the previously euphoric Vatican had decided that Germany would lose the war in the east, as had the Swiss Secret Service and other neutral intelligence agencies.

By the start of December 1941, with German forces less than 20 miles from the Kremlin, their campaign had ground to a halt due to troop exhaustion, the Russian winter and over-extended supply lines. Then, on 5 December 1941, the Soviets launched a massive attack that drove the Germans back 60 - 170 miles. Hitler then ordered the campaign to take Moscow delayed until the following Spring, although he then realised, apparently, that he would lose the war, and that was more than a year before the iconic Soviet victory at Stalingrad.

Two imprtant points can be drawn from the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa. Firstly, the US material support in war was going to the German side until it became apparent that they would not win. Most supplies of vital material, such as oil and rubber, came from the US via Spain and Vichy France. For example, 44% of Germany's vital engine oil came from the US in July 1941, and this rose to 94% in September 1941. This means that, important as subsequent western supplies were to the SU's war effort, they started arriving after it was recognised that the SU would defeat Germany and her allies. It was a fundamental issue of resources - manpower as well as materiel - that the SU had, and Germany didn't.

Secondly, even accepting the destruction of Germany's heavy water facility, if Operation Barbarossa had succeded, Germany would have had four whole years to catch-up the US's possession of a few low-yield atomic bombs in August 1945. Taking Germany's rapid programme for the V1 & V2 rockets in the last months of the war as an example of her capability for technological development, few could seriously doubt her potential to produce the atomic bomb.

As someone who lost a father in the west and a grandfather in the east - both during WW2 - I try to view history objectively. And, in this case, I regard the boycot by western wartime allies of Russia's celebration of WW2 victory over fascism as very disappointing indeed.

[May 04, 2015] Food and Fuel Excess The Dark Side of America's Exceptionalism By Robert Paarlberg

March 26, 2015 | The World Financial Review

By a wide margin, the United States leads the rich countries of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) both in obesity and in per capita CO2 emissions. The reasons have been America's distinct natural resource endowment, its singular political institutions, and also its unique political culture. Below, Robert Paarlberg demonstrates how America, unable to discipline its consumption of food and fuel through public policy, is now pivoting toward a posture of adaptation, trying to work around the health complications brought on by obesity, and to self-protect against more extreme weather events. This shift is important because it will worsen inequalities both within and beyond America's shores.

When Europeans visit the United States, the first thing they notice is the larger size of both the people and the automobiles . The obesity rate in America is twice the European average and per capita CO2 emissions are also twice Europe's level. Americans brag about their exceptionalism, but this is nothing to be proud of .

Worse, America's dominant response to excess food and fuel consumption has become adaptation, not mitigation . America has so far failed to impose the strong policy measures needed to reduce fossil fuel consumption and is attempting instead to protect itself from weather extremes through costly infrastructure upgrades . In response to the damaging health consequences of obesity, America similarly fails to induce improved diet and exercise habits, relying instead on greater medical assistance and physical accommodation to those who become obese .

Such adaptation efforts will fall short, partly on equity grounds . A self-protective response to more extreme weather will be affordable in the short run for the United States, but atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will increase at a more rapid pace if America pivots from mitigation to adaptation . This means disruptive climate change will come sooner and hit harder, imposing the steepest costs on poor tropical countries unable to self-protect . Responding to obesity with medical treatments will also fail on equity grounds, since the groups in America most prone to obesity – racial minorities and the poor – have never enjoyed adequate access to quality health care .

The Deep Foundations of Over-Consumption in America

Americans have more income than Europeans, but that is not why they consume so much more food and fuel . Per capita consumption of both food calories and fossil fuel actually tends to decline once income has passed a certain level . CO2 emissions decline on a per capita basis in the richest countries due to an increased outsourcing of industrial production to countries like China, plus an affordability of modern energy-saving heating and transport systems . Regarding obesity, excess calorie consumption becomes an affordable option for nearly all citizens in today's wealthy societies and it grows most rapidly among the poor, not the well to do .

Responding to obesity with medical treatments will also fail on equity grounds, since the groups in America most prone to obesity – racial minorities and the poor – have never enjoyed adequate access to quality health care.

The fuel consumption gap between Europe and America is driven more by tax differences than by income differences . According to the OECD, combined federal and state tax rates on petroleum consumption in the United States, in 2012, were only one quarter the level in Poland, one sixth the level in France, and one seventh the level in Italy, Norway and the Netherlands . The resulting lower cost of energy in America has for many decades encouraged the growth of residential and transport systems that require more fuel . Per capita household energy consumption in the United States is approximately 50% higher than in Europe overall, in part because of much larger homes, and annual miles of vehicle travel in America are 35% higher than in France and 44% higher than in Germany or the UK .

Material Endowments, Institutions, and Culture

America has much lower energy taxes than Europe in part because of its much larger resource endowment of fossil fuels, resulting in much larger domestic oil, gas, and coal industries that have both the means and the motive to lobby for low taxes . Proven oil and gas reserves in the United States are more than twice as great as in all of the EU countries combined and proven reserves of coal are more than three times as great . In addition, America's distinct political institutions provide more veto points to the private fuel lobbyists who are seeking to avoid taxation . In 1993, the House of Representatives passed President Bill Clinton's BTU tax, and in 2009 the House likewise passed a cap-and-trade act, but on each occasion opponents were able to prevent the Senate from even taking a vote, so both measures failed .

In 2014, President Obama went for an audacious new approach, claiming that the Clean Air Act already gave his Environmental Protection Agency the authority to propose new rules limiting "carbon pollution" from power plants . Under America's decentralised federal system, however, Obama will now have to count on state-level cooperation to get the final rules written, and coal states ( some of which are already suing the EPA ) will be certain to stall, hoping that the initiative will be weakened or undone by Obama's successor, or even struck down in the courts .

A distinct political culture in America also leads to low energy prices and excessive fossil fuel consumption . In November 2011, a Pew Global Attitudes survey asked Americans and Europeans which was more important : "freedom to pursue life's goals without state interference, " or "state guarantees that nobody is in need . " In America, 58% opted for freedom, and only 35% opted for state guarantees . In Britain, the preference was almost exactly reversed, with only 38% opting for freedom and 55% preferring state guarantees . In Germany, France and Spain 62% picked state guarantees over freedom .

Cheap Food

When it comes to food, Americans consume more than Europeans not because their income is higher but once again because the cost is so much lower. According to the OECD, retail food prices are 30% higher in the EU overall than in America. The reasons include higher farm commodity costs due to import restraints under the EU Common Agricultural Policy, plus higher energy costs, higher labour costs and, once again, higher taxes. In Europe, most countries apply a value added tax ( VAT ) to food, while retail food sales in America remain largely untaxed . Even foods of identical quality are significantly more expensive in Europe. McDonald's Big Mac hamburgers cost 16% more in the UK compared to the United States, 18% more in Germany and Italy, 36% more in France, 42% more in Sweden and 61% more in Denmark .

America's unique political and legal institutions also help block the policy actions that might discourage excess food consumption. Many wealthy countries restrict advertisements of soda or junk food to young children, but in the United States these ads are classified as "commercial speech", so they are protected under the 1st Amendment. The Obama Administration attempted in 2011 to promulgate "voluntary" food ad guidelines, but this was blocked when both the House and Senate insisted first on a review of the food-industry or marketing-related jobs that might be lost.

Other countries that have become worried about obesity, such as Mexico, are now moving toward steep taxes on caloric soda and junk food to reduce consumption, but not the United States. In 2009, the idea of using a soda tax to help fund Obamacare was promoted by health advocates, but it was never endorsed by the President and strongly opposed by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress .

After First Lady Michelle Obama made childhood obesity her signature issue, Congress passed a 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, obliging school food-service operators, beginning in 2012, to serve meals that conformed to a stronger set of nutrition parameters. Yet this law was immediately weakened to satisfy frozen pizza makers and potato farmers. Then in 2014, Congress held up a spending bill to reduce the requirements for whole grains and to postpone the rules to make school meals less salty. Meanwhile, America's $80 billion food stamp ( SNAP ) entitlement for the poor continues to fund purchases of soda and candy.

America's high prevalence of obesity, compared to that of Europe, also reflects the nation's distinctly multi-racial demographic mix . In both Europe and America, non-White individuals can experience a strong race prejudice that keeps many trapped in low-income, poorly educated communities. The impact is greater in America, but only because there is a dramatically larger non-White population. America's 2010 census revealed that individuals not classified as White had increased to constitute 36.6% of the total population; in Europe, the non-White population is still below 10% .

In America's much larger minority communities, health outcomes have always been unsatisfactory across the board and today's higher obesity rate among these Americans is just one part of that larger pattern. For White Americans over the age of 18, the obesity rate is currently 26.2%, but for Hispanic/Latinos it is 31.8% and for African Americans it is 39.1% . If America's non-White populations were excluded from the calculation, the national rate of obesity would fall to roughly the same level seen in Great Britain, New Zealand, or Australia.

A Pivot Toward Adaptation

America's fundamental problems with excess food and fuel consumption are for the above reasons unlikely to be corrected. In a tacit acceptance of this reality, the nation has already begun to supplement its faltering efforts at mitigation with stronger moves toward adaptation.

In the area of climate change, adaptation options are distinctly more attractive for the United States than for most other countries . North America has only half as many exposed individuals in low-elevation coastal zones ( LECZ ) as Europe, and Europe in turn has only one tenth as many as in Asia. Yale economist William Nordhaus has calculated that if global warming continues with a temperature increase of 2.5 º C by 2070, roughly 90%of the American economy will remain only "lightly or negligibly impacted . " The most heavily impacted sectors - farming, forestry and fishing - make up just 1.2% of the American economy .

Self-protection for America is likely to resemble what we saw after super-storm Sandy in 2012, when Congress promptly appropriated $50 billion in supplemental funding to rebuild the Jersey Shore, with upgrades for increased climate resilience. Members of Congress have long survived in office by bringing federal money (called "pork" ) back to the district through defense contracts, bridge and highway projects, VA hospitals, farm subsidies, sewage treatment plants, Small Business Administration loans, or FEMA outlays. Climate resilience outlays can help keep the pork barrel full .

But if the United States, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter after China, fails to deliver on mitigation and pivots toward adaptation, the inclination of other countries to make a mitigation sacrifice will understandably decline . Atmospheric CO2 concentrations will then increase more rapidly, hastening the day when even the United States will not be able to self-protect, for example in the event of ice sheet loss and a major sea level rise .

In the case of obesity as well, America is likely to pivot toward adaptation options, such as medical treatments or physical accommodations . Relying on treatment rather than prevention is, after all, the distinctly American approach to providing healthcare ( and one reason per capita healthcare costs are two and a half times more than the OECD average ). By some calculations, 70% of the illnesses currently being treated in the United States could have been prevented . Under-investing in prevention also leaves America with inferior health outcomes . Out of 17 wealthy countries, the United States ranks last for life expectancy at birth for men and next to last for women .

The adaptation response for obesity will also fail a domestic equity test . The groups in America most likely to become obese - racial minorities, single-parent households and those with only a high-school education or less - are also those with the least access to quality medical care, and therefore least able to adapt to the condition . Obesity in America is twice as high among children whose parents lack a high-school degree . Adaptation and treatment options may work well enough for upper-income and college-educated Americans, who have ready access to medical services and more often get the social reinforcement needed to avoid becoming obese in the first place . For Americans with less education and fewer resources, personal responsibility without stronger public policy action will remain inadequate .

When it comes to food and fuel excess, then, American exceptionalism has a dark side . The nation's over-consumption comes from America's distinct geology, demography, institutions, and culture . The leopard's spots will be hard to change . It is a discouraging story, but reformers calling for change need to know what they are up against .

About the Author

Robert Paarlberg is the B . F . Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School . He has been a consultant to the International Food Policy Research Institute, USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation . A more complete treatment of America's food and fuel excess can be found in his new book from Oxford University Press, The United States of Excess: Gluttony and the Dark Side of American Exceptionalism.

[May 02, 2015] radio C-SPAN

Mar 10, 2015 | annbeaker
Listened on the way to work the record of the meeting of the Senate Committee on Ukraine and anti-Russia. First, the names of speakers and respondents. Kornblum, Kantor, Nudelman and joined them boy Bobby Corker and others have wives from Ukraine, they said. Second, Putin is such a chronic incarnation of Satan that he looks larger them even the whole country. Now there are even concepts in his name, for example - "Putin's economy", what a beast it is unclear, but in the minds of American senators it's definitely evil. And just a bad person who alone lives in seven rooms and actively that fact that the members of the Congress did not like one bit and expressed strong desire to move him to something with less rooms. the third is that those gentlemen with the German-Yiddish surnames discussed the entire countries and territories as if they were just deserts, forests and steppes. As if there no population on this territories, who may have their own views on the subject, distinct from opinion by Committee members. Fourth, in some moments of the meeting, reminded the congregation in the local synagogue, and sometimes the PTA meeting which analyzed the behavior of poor students.

Main memes and beliefs expressed at the meeting:

  1. Russia backward and unable to progress and development of the country.
  2. In Russia there is no infrastructure.
  3. Russia lives from the sale of oil and only.
  4. Russia is financing all and with all the oil revenue.
  5. Russia is very aggressive.
  6. She attacked Ukraine. The existence of civil war not only not denied, this concept is just not even considered by Committee members. That completely changes everything, not war within one nation, when brother rose up against brother, and external invasion of a neighbor!
  7. Russia is aggressive towards the Baltic States and the Baltic States should be armed.
  8. Tomorrow Russia will attack Estonia.
  9. America has vital interests in Ukraine.
  10. To return the Crimea to Ukraine is America's vital interests.
  11. Putin is enemy No. 1.

There were suggestions from the field. For example, start to give Ukraine the money for one billion dollars a year for three consecutive years. This money, Ukraine will buy weapons from the USA and defend against Putin. We must begin to arm Estonia and to send battalions because there is a lot of Russians and Putin's aggression will be the first thing sent to Estonia. This was repeated several times and in different ways. I.e. looks like you have already decided to arrange provocations in Estonia. As this is done, he starts revealing to cut Russian compactly living in Narva or Estonia will satisfy the invasion by type Saakashvilis, only where? In Narva? He then tried to attack South Ossetia which was legally in Georgia, but not inhabited by the same nationality as the rest of the country and there was revolt. In Estonia like no no revolt. But it is clear that the next for some expensive and stupid military supplies is Estonia. Funny, Yes?

[May 01, 2015] Anatol Lieven reviews 'The New American Militarism' by Andrew Bacevich · LRB 20 October 2005

Amazingly insightful review !!!
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew Bacevich
Oxford, 270 pp, £16.99, August 2005, ISBN 0 19 517338 4

A key justification of the Bush administration's purported strategy of 'democratising' the Middle East is the argument that democracies are pacific, and that Muslim democracies will therefore eventually settle down peacefully under the benign hegemony of the US. Yet, as Andrew Bacevich points out in one of the most acute analyses of America to have appeared in recent years, the United States itself is in many ways a militaristic country, and becoming more so:

at the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The scepticism about arms and armies that informed the original Wilsonian vision, indeed, that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamoured with military might.

The ensuing affair had, and continues to have, a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue.

The president's title of 'commander-in-chief' is used by administration propagandists to suggest, in a way reminiscent of German militarists before 1914 attempting to defend their half-witted kaiser, that any criticism of his record in external affairs comes close to a betrayal of the military and the country. Compared to German and other past militarisms, however, the contemporary American variant is extremely complex, and the forces that have generated it have very diverse origins and widely differing motives:

The new American militarism is the handiwork of several disparate groups that shared little in common apart from being intent on undoing the purportedly nefarious effects of the 1960s. Military officers intent on rehabilitating their profession; intellectuals fearing that the loss of confidence at home was paving the way for the triumph of totalitarianism abroad; religious leaders dismayed by the collapse of traditional moral standards; strategists wrestling with the implications of a humiliating defeat that had undermined their credibility; politicians on the make; purveyors of pop culture looking to make a buck: as early as 1980, each saw military power as the apparent answer to any number of problems.

Two other factors have also been critical: the dependence on imported oil is seen as requiring American hegemony over the Middle East; and the Israel lobby has worked assiduously and with extraordinary success to make sure that Israel's enemies are seen by Americans as also being those of the US. And let's not forget the role played by the entrenched interests of the military itself and what Dwight Eisenhower once denounced as the 'military-industrial-academic complex'.

The security elites are obviously interested in the maintenance and expansion of US global military power, if only because their own jobs and profits depend on it. Jobs and patronage also ensure the support of much of the Congress, which often authorises defence spending on weapons systems the Pentagon doesn't want and hasn't asked for, in order to help some group of senators and congressmen in whose home states these systems are manufactured. To achieve wider support in the media and among the public, it is also necessary to keep up the illusion that certain foreign nations constitute a threat to the US, and to maintain a permanent level of international tension.

That's not the same, however, as having an actual desire for war, least of all for a major conflict which might ruin the international economy. US ground forces have bitter memories of Vietnam, and no wish to wage an aggressive war: Rumsfeld and his political appointees had to override the objections of the senior generals, in particular those of the army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, before the attack on Iraq. The navy and air force do not have to fight insurgents in hell-holes like Fallujah, and so naturally have a more relaxed attitude.

To understand how the Bush administration was able to manipulate the public into supporting the Iraq war one has to look for deeper explanations. They would include the element of messianism embodied in American civic nationalism, with its quasi-religious belief in the universal and timeless validity of its own democratic system, and in its right and duty to spread that system to the rest of the world. This leads to a genuine belief that American soldiers can do no real wrong because they are spreading 'freedom'. Also of great importance – at least until the Iraqi insurgency rubbed American noses in the horrors of war – has been the development of an aesthetic that sees war as waged by the US as technological, clean and antiseptic; and thanks to its supremacy in weaponry, painlessly victorious. Victory over the Iraqi army in 2003 led to a new flowering of megalomania in militarist quarters. The amazing Max Boot of the Wall Street Journal – an armchair commentator, not a frontline journalist – declared that the US victory had made 'fabled generals such as Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian seem positively incompetent by comparison'. Nor was this kind of talk restricted to Republicans. More than two years into the Iraq quagmire, strategic thinkers from the Democratic establishment were still declaring that 'American military power in today's world is practically unlimited.'

Important sections of contemporary US popular culture are suffused with the language of militarism. Take Bacevich on the popular novelist Tom Clancy:

In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America's uniformed military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honour, extraordinary technological aptitude and sheer decency of the nation's defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of 'virtuous men and perfect weapons', as one reviewer noted. 'All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.' Indeed, in the contract that he signed for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad light.

Such attitudes go beyond simply glorying in violence, military might and technological prowess. They reflect a belief – genuine or assumed – in what the Germans used to call Soldatentum: the pre-eminent value of the military virtues of courage, discipline and sacrifice, and explicitly or implicitly the superiority of these virtues to those of a hedonistic, contemptible and untrustworthy civilian society and political class. In the words of Thomas Friedman, the ostensibly liberal foreign affairs commentator of the ostensibly liberal New York Times, 'we do not deserve these people. They are so much better than the country … they are fighting for.' Such sentiments have a sinister pedigree in modern history.

In the run-up to the last election, even a general as undistinguished as Wesley Clark could see his past generalship alone as qualifying him for the presidency – and gain the support of leading liberal intellectuals. Not that this was new: the first president was a general and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries both generals and more junior officers ran for the presidency on the strength of their military records. And yet, as Bacevich points out, this does not mean that the uniformed military have real power over policy-making, even in matters of war. General Tommy Franks may have regarded Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, as 'the stupidest fucking guy on the planet', but he took Feith's orders, and those of the civilians standing behind him: Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the president himself. Their combination of militarism and contempt for military advice recalls Clemenceau and Churchill – or Hitler and Stalin.

Indeed, a portrait of US militarism today could be built around a set of such apparently glaring contradictions: the contradiction, for example, between the military coercion of other nations and the belief in the spreading of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. Among most non-Americans, and among many American realists and progressives, the collocation seems inherently ludicrous. But, as Bacevich brings out, it has deep roots in American history. Indeed, the combination is historically coterminous with Western imperialism. Historians of the future will perhaps see preaching 'freedom' at the point of an American rifle as no less morally and intellectually absurd than 'voluntary' conversion to Christianity at the point of a Spanish arquebus.

Its symbols may be often childish and its methods brutish, but American belief in 'freedom' is a real and living force. This cuts two ways. On the one hand, the adherence of many leading intellectuals in the Democratic Party to a belief in muscular democratisation has had a disastrous effect on the party's ability to put up a strong resistance to the policies of the administration. Bush's messianic language of 'freedom' – supported by the specifically Israeli agenda of Natan Sharansky and his allies in the US – has been all too successful in winning over much of the opposition. On the other hand, the fact that a belief in freedom and democracy lies at the heart of civic nationalism places certain limits on American imperialism – weak no doubt, but nonetheless real. It is not possible for the US, unlike previous empires, to pursue a strategy of absolutely unconstrained Machtpolitik. This has been demonstrated recently in the breach between the Bush administration and the Karimov tyranny in Uzbekistan.

The most important contradiction, however, is between the near worship of the military in much of American culture and the equally widespread unwillingness of most Americans – elites and masses alike – to serve in the armed forces. If people like Friedman accompanied their stated admiration for the military with a real desire to abandon their contemptible civilian lives and join the armed services, then American power in the world really might be practically unlimited. But as Bacevich notes,

having thus made plain his personal disdain for crass vulgarity and support for moral rectitude, Friedman in the course of a single paragraph drops the military and moves on to other pursuits. His many readers, meanwhile, having availed themselves of the opportunity to indulge, ever so briefly, in self-loathing, put down their newspapers and themselves move on to other things. Nothing has changed, but columnist and readers alike feel better for the cathartic effect of this oblique, reassuring encounter with an alien world.

Today, having dissolved any connection between claims to citizenship and obligation to serve, Americans entrust their security to a class of military professionals who see themselves in many respects as culturally and politically set apart from the rest of society.

This combination of a theoretical adulation with a profound desire not to serve is not of course new. It characterised most of British society in the 19th century, when, just as with the US today, the overwhelming rejection of conscription – until 1916 – meant that, appearances to the contrary, British power was far from unlimited. The British Empire could use its technological superiority, small numbers of professional troops and local auxiliaries to conquer backward and impoverished countries in Asia and Africa, but it would not have dreamed of intervening unilaterally in Europe or North America.

Despite spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined, and despite enjoying overwhelming technological superiority, American military power is actually quite limited. As Iraq – and to a lesser extent Afghanistan – has demonstrated, the US can knock over states, but it cannot suppress the resulting insurgencies, even one based in such a comparatively small population as the Sunni Arabs of Iraq. As for invading and occupying a country the size of Iran, this is coming to seem as unlikely as an invasion of mainland China.

In other words, when it comes to actually applying military power the US is pretty much where it has been for several decades. Another war of occupation like Iraq would necessitate the restoration of conscription: an idea which, with Vietnam in mind, the military detests, and which politicians are well aware would probably make them unelectable. It is just possible that another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 might lead to a new draft, but that would bring the end of the US military empire several steps closer. Recognising this, the army is beginning to imitate ancient Rome in offering citizenship to foreign mercenaries in return for military service – something that the amazing Boot approves, on the grounds that while it helped destroy the Roman Empire, it took four hundred years to do so.

Facing these dangers squarely, Bacevich proposes refocusing American strategy away from empire and towards genuine national security. It is a measure of the degree to which imperial thinking now dominates US politics that these moderate and commonsensical proposals would seem nothing short of revolutionary to the average member of the Washington establishment.

They include a renunciation of messianic dreams of improving the world through military force, except where a solid international consensus exists in support of US action; a recovery by Congress of its power over peace and war, as laid down in the constitution but shamefully surrendered in recent years; the adoption of a strategic doctrine explicitly making war a matter of last resort; and a decision that the military should focus on the defence of the nation, not the projection of US power. As a means of keeping military expenditure in some relationship to actual needs, Bacevich suggests pegging it to the combined annual expenditure of the next ten countries, just as in the 19th century the size of the British navy was pegged to that of the next two largest fleets – it is an index of the budgetary elephantiasis of recent years that this would lead to very considerable spending reductions.

This book is important not only for the acuteness of its perceptions, but also for the identity of its author. Colonel Bacevich's views on the military, on US strategy and on world affairs were profoundly shaped by his service in Vietnam. His year there 'fell in the conflict's bleak latter stages … long after an odour of failure had begun to envelop the entire enterprise'. The book is dedicated to his brother-in-law, 'a casualty of a misbegotten war'.

Just as Vietnam shaped his view of how the US and the US military should not intervene in the outside world, so the Cold War in Europe helped define his beliefs about the proper role of the military. For Bacevich and his fellow officers in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, defending the West from possible Soviet aggression, 'not conquest, regime change, preventive war or imperial policing', was 'the American soldier's true and honourable calling'.

In terms of cultural and political background, this former soldier remains a self-described Catholic conservative, and intensely patriotic. During the 1990s Bacevich wrote for right-wing journals, and still situates himself culturally on the right:

As long as we shared in the common cause of denouncing the foolishness and hypocrisies of the Clinton years, my relationship with modern American conservatism remained a mutually agreeable one … But my disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values.

On this score my views have come to coincide with the critique long offered by the radical left: it is the mainstream itself, the professional liberals as well as the professional conservatives, who define the problem … The Republican and Democratic Parties may not be identical, but they produce nearly identical results.

Bacevich, in other words, is sceptical of the naive belief that replacing the present administration with a Democrat one would lead to serious changes in the US approach to the world. Formal party allegiances are becoming increasingly irrelevant as far as thinking about foreign and security policy is concerned.

Bacevich also makes plain the private anger of much of the US uniformed military at the way in which it has been sacrificed, and its institutions damaged, by chickenhawk civilian chauvinists who have taken good care never to see action themselves; and the deep private concern of senior officers that they might be ordered into further wars that would wreck the army altogether. Now, as never before, American progressives have the chance to overcome the knee-jerk hostility to the uniformed military that has characterised the left since Vietnam, and to reach out not only to the soldiers in uniform but also to the social, cultural and regional worlds from which they are drawn. For if the American left is once again to become an effective political force, it must return to some of its own military traditions, founded on the distinguished service of men like George McGovern, on the old idea of the citizen soldier, and on a real identification with that soldier's interests and values. With this in mind, Bacevich calls for moves to bind the military more closely into American society, including compulsory education for all officers at a civilian university, not only at the start of their careers but at intervals throughout them.

Or to put it another way, the left must fight imperialism in the name of patriotism. Barring a revolutionary and highly unlikely transformation of American mass culture, any political party that wishes to win majority support will have to demonstrate its commitment to the defence of the country. The Bush administration has used the accusation of weakness in security policy to undermine its opponents, and then used this advantage to pursue reckless strategies that have themselves drastically weakened the US. The left needs to heed Bacevich and draw up a tough, realistic and convincing alternative. It will also have to demonstrate its identification with the respectable aspects of military culture. The Bush administration and the US establishment in general may have grossly mismanaged the threats facing us, but the threats are real, and some at least may well need at some stage to be addressed by military force. And any effective military force also requires the backing of a distinctive military ethic embracing loyalty, discipline and a capacity for both sacrifice and ruthlessness.

In the terrible story of the Bush administration and the Iraq war, one of the most morally disgusting moments took place at a Senate Committee hearing on 29 April 2004, when Paul Wolfowitz – another warmonger who has never served himself – mistook, by a margin of hundreds, how many US soldiers had died in a war for which he was largely responsible. If an official in a Democratic administration had made a public mistake like that, the Republican opposition would have exploited it ruthlessly, unceasingly, to win the next election. The fact that the Democrats completely failed to do this says a great deal about their lack of political will, leadership and capacity to employ a focused strategy.

Because they are the ones who pay the price for reckless warmongering and geopolitical megalomania, soldiers and veterans of the army and marine corps could become valuable allies in the struggle to curb American imperialism, and return America's relationship with its military to the old limited, rational form. For this to happen, however, the soldiers have to believe that campaigns against the Iraq war, and against current US strategy, are anti-militarist, but not anti-military. We have needed the military desperately on occasions in the past; we will definitely need them again.

Vol. 27 No. 20 · 20 October 2005 " Anatol Lieven " We do not deserve these people
pages 11-12 | 3337 words

The prosperity America has experienced is what sets the country's personal sense of "exceptionalism" apart from any other nation's common feeling of pride and nationalism. Not only does this condition summon a sense of superiority, but it "is based upon a number of core realities including American military primacy, economic dynamism and political diversity." 5 However, the impression of exaggerated eminence borders on being ethnocentric; in turn this authorizes noncompliant behaviors masked as altruism, such as: preemptive war to protect the country; flagrant indifference to established regulations; and the reinterpretation of international treaties. As if to illustrate, in July 2006, a World Public Opinion poll found that 76% of people agreed that the U.S. is playing the role of world policeman more than it should be.6 Although this conduct has gone unchecked, it has been under scrupulous examination by both the international community and domestic foreign policy experts. Indeed, according to David Forsythe, "U.S. unilateral disregard for many international principles, laws, standards and views was so notable that a conservative author and former official of the Reagan Administration saw the United a 'rogue nation.'" 7

The United States' ostensible power is not called into question because of the very adverse reactions associated with that power, especially militarily. Although Americans have a sense of patriotism, as do many other nations, these citizens are either oblivious or uncritical of the government's translation of power into foreign policy. An exceptional-exemptional duality has consequently become present within the United States:
Americans were always a contradictory people: godly and dangerous, peaceful and warlike, deeply convinced that their republican constitution, dedicated to the sovereignty of the people and the rule of law,
was the 'last best hope of earth,' and yet contemptuous of foreigners and quick to seize whatever they wanted.8

The conventional wisdom is misleading primarily because it fails to expand upon the negative aspects of this American hubris and the potential consequences it faces in the future. The international community can appreciate national pride, but the chauvinistic propensities in foreign policy demonstrated by the United States are ephemeral and will be called into question.

... ... ...

Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign, several candidates bolster the idea of this great responsibility bestowed upon the United States by focusing on "the idea that the United States is inherently superior to the world's other nations [and] has become the battle cry from a new front in the ongoing culture wars." 10 This emphasis on superiority attests to the United States' idiosyncrasies found within foreign policy which "presume that America's values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United Sates is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage." 11 Prevalent attributes to this unilateral rule include imposing ideologies on to other states, intervening when deemed necessary and to be exempt from certain laws and sanctions which govern the international world. There seems to be a fine line, then, between American exceptionalism and America as a State that then becomes exempt from playing by the rules.

... ... ...

To be sure, the United States has a track record of disregarding policies that it has helped to establish. Questionable actions are justified by doing what is in the best interest of other nations, but simultaneously contributes to its sustained opulence. Previous, and often unchecked success of this superpower becomes the authorization of continued disregard for international policies. Daniel Deudney and Jeffrey Meiser suggest,

"For some Americans, particularly neoconservatives, intoxicated with power and righteousness, American exceptionalism is a green light, a legitimizing rationale and an all-purpose excuse for ignoring international law and world public opinion..."

This "democratic imperialism" aligns with John Ruggie's notion of American "exemptionalism," in which the United States advocates a double standard (specifically within ratifying international treaties), with the expectation set for other states to abide by global policy prescriptions that does not necessarily apply to the stars and stripes itself. The United States, because of its un-relinquished power, has thus been able to play by its own rules and disregard those of the international community.

But the unipolar balance of power propagated by the United States has not always been the case. Andrew Bacevich reveled in the durability of the Western alliance from the 1940s through the 1980s: "When dealing with its partners, Washington did not simply instruct. It negotiated. In short, the United States was able to lead the West because it refrained from abusing the privileges of leadership." 14 This idea of cooperation and compliance was abandoned and instead the nation moved toward, "exemptions and special status that America claims for return for this American-provided 'public good,' the rest of the word will need to tolerate American departures from adherence to universal rule-based order." 15 The superpower has recognized its capability to shape international politics and therefore overlooks the opinions of alliances.

American Exceptionalism Jeffrey Meiser

[Apr 25, 2015] Gamble on the "Vanity of American Exceptionalism" By Daniel Larison

September 20, 2013 | The American Conservative
Richard Gamble discusses the "vanity of American exceptionalism" in his review of a short book by Charles Murray:

On a return visit, Tocqueville would find 21st century Americans still seeking flattery from others and flattering themselves. This appetite for praise was not a credit to the American character in the 1830s. Nor is it now. Our preoccupation with being exceptional, with figuring out just how exceptional we are, and then constantly reminding ourselves and insisting to the world on the indubitable truth of that exceptionalism is not attractive. Like all vanity, it impedes self-knowledge. And it forgets its indebtedness to the past.

It is one thing to acknowledge and value America's constitutional system and political principles, and something else entirely to treat these things as a cause for endless self-congratulation and justification for whatever it is that the U.S. happens to be doing around the world. As Gamble notes, this has a corrupting effect at home and is obnoxious to everyone else. Unfortunately, when people refer to "American exceptionalism" now, it is often done to praise ourselves and then to dictate to other nations on the grounds that we are uniquely suited to do so.

This is familiar territory for Prof. Gamble. He wrote a TAC article on the same subject last year, and wrote In Search of the City on a Hill: the Making and Unmaking of an American Myth to investigate the origins and uses of the "city on a hill" rhetoric that now regularly crops up in appeals to American exceptionalism. As he wrote in his article last year, there are two competing traditions of American exceptionalism:

The old exceptionalism was consistent with the ethos of American constitutional democracy; the new is not. The old was an expression of and a means to sustain the habits of a self-governing people; the new is an expression of and a means to sustain a nationalist and imperialist people. The old exceptionalism suited a limited foreign policy; the new suits a messianic adventurism out to remake the world.

As we have seen once again in the last few weeks, Americans have no appetite for such adventurism. That doesn't mean that they reject all forms of American exceptionalism, but rather that they have started rejecting the warped version of the concept that exploits Americans' admiration for our country's good qualities into a mission to meddle in the affairs of other nations all over the world. If the new exceptionalism is one that vainly seeks praise and power, the old one prizes modesty and humility in our conduct in the world.

[Apr 25, 2015] International relations expert to lecture on the end of American exceptionalism

For Andrew Bacevich views on the subject see Andrew Bacevich on the New American Militarism
October 03, 2014 | ASU News

... ... ...

Bacevich sees the political, military and economic issues that face America as deeply interconnected. He suggests we can address these issues by respecting power and its limits, suppressing claims of American exceptionalism and by being skeptical of easy solutions, especially those involving force.

In this lecture, Bacevich will discuss how various presidential administrations have led America on an increasingly unsustainable path, as well as the long term effects of the United States involvement in recent conflicts around the globe.

"The Iraq War didn't end when the last U.S. troops departed in 2011. It just continued without American participation." Says Bacevich. "Now, the U.S. has resumed its role in this ongoing struggle. The question is why we have learned so little from our experience thus far."

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Bacevich received his doctorate in American diplomatic history from Princeton University. With the U.S. Army, he served during the Vietnam War, held posts in Germany and the Persian Gulf, and retired with the rank of Colonel. Since retiring, Bacevich has taught at both West Point and Johns Hopkins, and he was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He has also held fellowships at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

His books include "Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" and "The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism." He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, among many other news outlets. His latest book, "Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country," is a critique of the gulf between America's soldiers and the society that sends them off to war.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs.

The lecture is part of the center's "Alternative Visions" lecture series. The series brings nationally and internationally recognized experts such as Peter Bergen, Elaine Pagels and Reza Aslan to campus to address the sources of conflict and strategies for resolution.

The series is supported by a grant from philanthropist John Whiteman. For more information or to register for the lecture, see the event page.

Matt Correa, [email protected] Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

[Apr 25, 2015] American Exceptionalism Progressive Humanism by Carl Coon

November 30, 2010 |
Ever since the birth of the Republic, Americans have taken comfort in the notion that ours is a country that is truly exceptional, outstanding in virtue and qualified to serve as a shining example to other, less fortunate nations. I believe there was some justification for this self-pride when our young republic was established, and many other countries shared our view that America was special. Gradually, however, we lost sight of the essence of what made us so exceptional, and developed the bad habit of confusing power with merit. From being seen by others as the city on the hill, shining exemplar for the rest of humanity, we have become another brawling neighbor, more likely to irritate than inspire.

Part of our loss of luster is natural enough. When our nation was young and most of the rest of the world was still struggling to get rid of its obsolete monarchies, the idea of a system based not on inherited status but on individual freedom and merit was genuinely revolutionary. Now, many modern states are democracies and some of their governments are more efficient, and better and delivering goods and services to their people, than is ours.

But a major part of our loss has been through our own agency. We started with an inspired Constitution which coped with the eternal problem of human fallibility through an ingenious system of checks and balances. A major purpose was to prevent the consolidation of power in too narrow a segment of the population, and for a while it worked fairly well. In the last several decades, however, there has been a drift toward concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few, a concentration of power in the hands of the military industrial complex, and an imperial attitude toward the rest of the world that inspires fear not respect.

Nevertheless, many of our political leaders still trumpet our exceptionalism to the four winds. This serves two purposes: it gratifies the American public, and its transparent hypocrisy irritates foreigners. The advantage of the first is obvious; the merit in the second is that keeping foreigners irritated means we are more likely to be embroiled in disputes in some part of the world at any one point in time, and it is a truism that the public is more likely to support its leaders whan there are external threats. Thus exceptionalism becomes wedded to patriotism as the refuge of scoundrels seeking to becloud their purposes in a fog of chauvinist frenzy.

Don't get me wrong: I truly believe ours is an exceptional country, though I also believe we've become spoiled by our success and value America mostly for the wrong reasons. I also believe, on the basis of extended service abroad, that almost every well established nation believes that it too is a society that is outstanding and exceptional by virtue of its history and values. Any reasonably responsible diplomat smooths his path by playing to these sentiments and flattering them. This is, after all a harmless enough conceit as long as it is kept in bounds. The trouble starts when this sense of exceptionalism gets so exaggerated that it justifies preaching to other countries and insisting that they somehow make themselves over in the preacher's image.

In Nazi Germany's case a sense of German exceptionalism metastasized into a rationale for world domination. We have not gotten that far, but we are getting dangerously close. Why are we not content just to stand back and tell the rest of the world look, here we are, we've accomplished a lot, and if you want to come study us, and find elements in what we are doing that you would like to copy, fine, but it is basically up to you.

A humbler America would be an easier partner for the rest of the world community of nations to live with.

[Apr 08, 2015] The only thing exceptional about the West is their exceptional self-delusion about their own goodness and secure position on the moral high ground of history

Apr 07, 2015 |

"The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology."

Michael Parenti

... ... ...

The economic establishment and their Federal Reserve are failing, and badly. They are frightened, but do not know what to do, and so they keep doing the same things, over and over.

Their failures are the direct result of intellectual dishonest and systematic injustice. The credibility trap has them bound to policy failures that somewhat ironically will bring them down.

They have lied so often that one wonders if they can even understand the truth. They certainly put enough pressure on keeping anyone of note from dissenting against their madness and their lies.

The only thing exceptional about the West is their exceptional self-delusion about their own goodness and secure position on the moral high ground of history.

[Mar 16, 2015] A Green Light for the American Empire by Ron Paul

March 14, 2015 |

The American Empire has been long in the making. A green light was given in 1990 to finalize that goal. Dramatic events occurred that year that allowed the promoters of the American Empire to cheer. It also ushered in the current 25-year war to solidify the power necessary to manage a world empire. Most people in the world now recognize this fact and assume that the empire is here to stay for a long time. That remains to be seen.

Empires come and go. Some pop up quickly and disappear in the same manner. Others take many years to develop and sometimes many years to totally disintegrate. The old empires, like the Greek, Roman, Spanish and many others took many years to build and many years to disappear. The Soviet Empire was one that came rather quickly and dissipated swiftly after a relatively short period of time. The communist ideology took many decades to foment the agitation necessary for the people to tolerate that system.

Since 1990 the United States has had to fight many battles to convince the world that it was the only military and economic force to contend with. Most people are now convinced and are easily intimidated by our domination worldwide with the use of military force and economic sanctions on which we generously rely. Though on the short term this seems to many, and especially for the neoconservatives, that our power cannot be challenged. What is so often forgotten is that while most countries will yield to our threats and intimidation, along the way many enemies were created.

The seeds of the American Empire were sown early in our history. Natural resources, river transportation, and geographic location all lent itself to the development of an empire. An attitude of "Manifest Destiny" was something most Americans had no trouble accepting. Although in our early history there were those who believed in a powerful central government, with central banking and foreign intervention, these views were nothing like they are today as a consequence of many years of formalizing the power and determination necessary for us to be the policeman of the world and justify violence as a means for spreading a particular message. Many now endorse the idea that using force to spread American exceptionalism is moral and a force for good. Unfortunately history has shown that even using humanitarian rhetoric as a justification for telling others what to do has never worked.

Our move toward empire steadily accelerated throughout the 20th century. World War I and World War II were deadly for millions of people in many countries, but in comparison the United States was essentially unscathed. Our economic power and military superiority steadily grew. Coming out of World War II we were able to dictate the terms of the new monetary system at Bretton Woods as well as the makeup of all the international organizations like NATO, the United Nations, and many others. The only thing that stood in America's way between 1945 and 1990 was the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Significant events of 1990 sealed the fate of the Soviet Empire, with United States enjoying a green light that would usher in unchallenged American superiority throughout the world.

Various names have been given to this war in which we find ourselves and is which considered necessary to maintain the empire. Professor Michael Rozeff calls it the "Great War II" implying that the Great War I began in 1914 and ended in 1990. Others have referred to this ongoing war as "The Long War." I hope that someday we can refer to this war as the "The Last War" in that by the time this war ends the American Empire will end as well. Then the greatness of the experiment in individual liberty in our early history can be resumed and the force of arms can be replaced by persuasion and setting an example of how a free society should operate.

There are several reasons why 1990 is a significant year in the transition of modern day empires. It was a year that signaled the end of the USSR Empire and the same year the American Empire builders felt vindicated in their efforts to assume the role of the world's sole superpower.

On February 7, 1990 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union met and ceded its monopoly political power over its empire. This was followed in a short period of time with the breakup of the Soviet system with 15 of the 17 republics declaring their independence from Moscow. This was not a total surprise considering the fact that the Soviets, in defeat, were forced to leave Afghanistan in February 1989. Also later that year, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. Obviously the handwriting was on the wall for the total disintegration of the Soviet system. The fact that the Communist Party's leaders had to concede that they no longer could wield the ominous power that the Communist Party exerted for 73 years was a seminal event. None of this could have been possible without significant policy changes instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev after his assuming power as president in 1985, which included Glasnost and Perestroika-policies that permitted more political openness as well as significant economic reforms. These significant events led up to the Soviet collapse much more so than the conventional argument that it was due to Ronald Reagan's military buildup that forced the Soviets into a de facto "surrender" to the West.

The other significant event of 1990, and not just a coincidence, was the "green light" message exchanged between April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990. Though the details of this encounter have been debated, there is no doubt that the conclusion of it was that Saddam Hussein was convinced that the United States would not object to him using force to deal with a dispute Iraq had with Kuwait. After all, the US had just spent eight years aligning itself with him in his invasion and war with the Iranians. It seemed to him quite logical. What he didn't realize was the significance of the changes in the world powers that were ongoing at that particular time. The Soviets were on their way out and the American Empire was soon to assert its role as the lone super power. The US was anxious to demonstrate its new role.

When one reads the communications between Washington and Iraq, it was not difficult to believe that a green light had been given to Saddam Hussein to march into Kuwait without US interference. Without this invasion, getting the American people to support a war with Iraq would have been very difficult. Before the war propaganda by the US government and the American media began, few Americans supported President Bush's plans to go to war against an ally that we assisted in its eight-year war against Iran. After several months of propaganda, attitudes changed and President Bush was able to get support from the US Congress, although he argued that that was unnecessary since he had obtained a UN resolution granting him the authority to use his military force to confront Saddam Hussein. The need for Constitutional authority was not discussed.

US ambassador April Glaspie was rather explicit in her comments to Saddam Hussein: "we have no opinion on Arab – Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." The US State Department had already told Saddam Hussein that Washington had "no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait." It's not difficult interpreting conversations like this as being a green light for the invasion that Hussein was considering. Hussein had a list of grievances regarding the United States, but Glaspie never threatened or hinted about how Washington would react if Hussein took Kuwait. Regardless, whether it was reckless or poor diplomacy, the war commenced. Some have argued that it was deliberate in order to justify the beginning of the United States efforts in rebuilding the Middle East – a high priority for the neoconservatives. Actually whether the invasion by Saddam Hussein into Kuwait was encouraged or permitted by deliberate intentions or by miscalculations, the outcome and the subsequent disaster in Iraq for the next 25 years was a result of continued bad judgment in our dealing with Iraq. That required enforcing our goals with military intervention. The obvious failure of this policy requires no debate.

On August 1, 1990, one week after this exchange between ambassador Glaspie and Saddam Hussein, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq occurred. Immediately following this attack our State Department made it clear that this invasion would not stand and President Bush would lead a coalition in removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait. On January 17, 1991, that military operation began. The forced evacuation of Iraqi troops from Kuwait was swift and violent, but the war for Iraq had just begun and continues to this day. It also ushered in the climactic struggle for America's efforts to become the official and unchallenged policeman of the world and to secure the American Empire.

President Bush was not bashful in setting the stage for this clearly defined responsibility to assume this role since the Soviet Empire was on the wane. A very significant foreign policy speech by Bush came on September 11, 1990 entitled, "Toward a New World Order." This was a clear definition of internationalism with United States in charge in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D Roosevelt. In this speech there was a pretense that there would be Russian and United States cooperation in making the world safe for democracy-something that our government now seems totally uninterested in. Following the speech, the New York Times reported that the American left was concerned about this new world order as being nothing more than rationalization for imperial ambitions in the middle 1980s. Obviously the geopolitics of the world had dramatically changed. The green light was given for the American hegemony.

This arrogant assumption of power to run the world militarily and to punish or reward various countries economically would continue and accelerate, further complicating the financial condition of the United States government. Though it was easy for the United States to push Hussein back into Iraq, subsequent policy was destined to create havoc that has continued up to the present day. The sanctions and the continuous bombing of Iraq were devastating to the infrastructure of that country. As a consequence it's been estimated that over 500,000 Iraqis died in the next decade, many of them being children. Yet there are still many Americans who continue to be mystified as to why "they – Arabs and Muslims – hate us." By the end of 1991, on Christmas Day, the final blow to the Soviet system occurred. On that date Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time, thus officially ending the Soviet Empire. Many had hoped that there would be "a peace dividend" for us since the Cold War was officially ended. There's no reason that could not have occurred but it would have required us to reject the notion that it was our moral obligation and legal responsibility to deal with every crisis throughout the world. Nevertheless we embarked on that mission and though it continues, it is destined to end badly for our country. The ending of the Soviet Empire was a miraculous event with not one shot being fired. It was a failed system based on a deeply flawed idea and it was destined to fail. Once again this makes the point that the use of military force to mold the world is a deeply flawed policy. We must remember that ideas cannot be stopped by armies and recognize that good ideas must replace bad ones rather than resorting to constant wars.

It should surprise no one that a policy endorsing the use of force to tell others how to live will only lead to more killing and greater economic suffering for those who engage in this effort, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Twenty five years have passed since this green light was given for the current war and there's no sign that it will soon end. So far it has only emboldened American political leaders to robustly pursue foreign interventionism with little thought to the tremendous price that is continuously paid.

During the 1990s there was no precise war recognized. However our military presence around the world especially in the Middle East and to some degree in Africa was quite evident. Even though President George HW Bush did not march into Baghdad, war against the Iraqi people continued. In an effort to try to get the people to rebel against Saddam Hussein, overwhelming sanctions and continuous bombing were designed to get the Iraqi people to rebel and depose Hussein. That did not work. Instead it worked to continue to build hatred toward America for our involvement in the entire region.

Our secretive influence in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation had its unintended consequences. One was that we were fighting on the side of bin Laden and we all know how that turned out. Also, in an effort to defeat communism, the CIA helped to promote radical Islam in Saudi Arabia. Some argue that this was helpful in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan. This most likely is not true since communism was doomed to fail anyway, and the cost to us by encouraging radical Islam has come back to haunt us.

It has been estimated that our policies directed at Iraq during the 1990s caused the death of thousands of Iraqis, many of these coming from the destruction of their infrastructure and creating a public health nightmare. When Madeleine Albright was asked about this on national TV she did not deny it and said that that was a price that had to be paid. And then they wonder why there is so much resentment coming from these countries directed toward United States. Then George Bush Junior invaded Iraq, his justification all based on lies, and another 500,000 Iraqis died. The total deaths have been estimated to represent four percent of the Iraqi population. The green light that was turned on for the Persian Gulf War in 1990 stayed lit and even today the proponents of these totally failed wars claim that the only problem is we didn't send enough troops and we didn't stay long enough. And now it's argued that it's time to send ground troops back in. This is the message that we get from the neoconservatives determined that only armed might can bring peace to the world and that the cost to us financially is not a problem. The proponents never seem to be concerned about the loss of civil liberties, which has continued ever since the declaration of the Global War on Terrorism. And a good case can be made that our national security not only has not been helped, but has been diminished with these years of folly.

And the true believers in empire never pause. After all the chaos that the US government precipitated in Iraq, conditions continue to deteriorate and now there is strong talk about putting troops on the ground once again. More than 10,000 troops still remain in Afghanistan and conditions there are precarious. Yemen is a mess as is also Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Ukraine - all countries in which we have illegally and irresponsibly engaged ourselves.

Today the debate in Congress is whether or not to give the President additional authority to use military force. He asked to be able to use military force anyplace anytime around the world without further congressional approval. This is hardly what the Founders intended for how we dealt with going to war with other nations. Some have argued, for Constitutional reasons, that we should declare war against ISIS. That will prove to be difficult since exactly who they are and where they are located and how many there are is unknown. We do know it is estimated that there are around 30,000 members. And yet in the surrounding countries, where the fighting is going on and we are directly involved, millions of Muslims have chosen not to stand up to the ruthless behavior of the ISIS members.

Since declaring war against ISIS makes no more sense than declaring war against "terrorism," which is a tactic, it won't work. Even at the height of the Cold War, in a time of great danger to the entire world, nobody suggested we declare war against "communism." Islamist extremism is based on strong beliefs, and as evil as these beliefs may be, they must be understood, confronted, and replaced with ideas that all civilized people in the world endorse. But what we must do immediately is to stop providing the incentive for the radicals to recruit new members and prevent American weapons from ending up in the hands of the enemy as a consequence of our failed policies. The incentives of the military-industrial complex along with the philosophy of neoconservatism that pushes us to be in more than 150 countries, must be exposed and refuted. Occupation by a foreign country precipitates hatred and can never be made acceptable by flowery words about their need for American-style "democracy." People who are occupied are always aware of the selfish motivation of the occupiers.

The announcement by President George HW Bush on September 11, 1990 about the new world order was well received. Prior to that time it was only the "conspiracy theorists" who constantly talked about and speculated about the New World Order. Neoconservative ideas had been around for a long time. They were endorsed by many presidents and in particular Woodrow Wilson with his goal of spreading American goodness and making the "world safe for democracy" – none of which can be achieved by promoting war. In the 1990s the modern day neoconservatives, led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, enjoyed their growing influence on America's foreign policy. Specifically, in 1997 they established the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) for the specific purpose of promoting an aggressive foreign policy of interventionism designed to promote the American Empire. This policy of intervention was to be presented with "moral clarity." "Clarity" it was, but "moral" is another question. Their goal was to provide a vision and resolve, "to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interest."

It was not a surprise that admittedly the number one goal for the New World order was to significantly increase military spending and to be prepared to challenge any regime hostile to America's interests. They argued that America had to accept its unique role as the sole superpower for extending international order as long as it served America's interests. Although neoconservatives are thought to have greater influence within the Republican Party, their views have been implemented by the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats. First on PNAC's agenda was to continue the policy designed to undermine Saddam Hussein with the goal of eventually invading Iraq – once they had an event that would galvanize public support for it. Many individuals signed letters as well as the statement of principles and most were identified as Republicans. Interestingly enough, the fourth person on the list of signatories for the statement of principles was Jeb Bush, just as he was planning his first run for governor of Florida. The neoconservatives have been firmly placed in a position of influence in directing America's foreign policy. Though we hear some debate between the two political parties over when and whom to strike, our position of world policeman is accepted by both. Though the rhetoric is different between the two parties, power always remains in the hands of those who believe in promoting the empire.

The American Empire has arrived, but there's no indication that smooth sailing is ahead. Many questions remain. Will the American people continue to support it? Will the American taxpayer be able to afford it? Will those on the receiving end of our authority tolerate it? All empires eventually end. It's only a matter of time. Since all empires exist at the expense of personal liberty the sooner the American Empire ends the better it will be for those who still strive to keep America a bastion for personal liberty. That is possible, but it won't be achieved gracefully.

Though the people have a say in the matter, they have to contend with the political and financial power that controls the government and media propaganda. The powerful special interests, who depend on privileges that come from the government, will do whatever is necessary to intimidate the people into believing that it's in their best interest to prop up a system that rewards the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. The nature of fiat money and the privileges provided to the special interests by the Federal Reserve makes it a difficult struggle, but it's something that can be won. Unfortunately there will be economic chaos, more attacks on our civil liberties, and many unfortunate consequences coming from our unwise and dangerous foreign policy of interventionism.

Since all empires serve the interests of a privileged class, the people who suffer will constantly challenge their existence. The more powerful the empire, the greater is the need for the government to hold it together by propaganda and lies. Truth is the greatest enemy of an abusive empire. Since those in charge are determined to maintain their power, truth is seen as being treasonous. Whistleblowers and truth tellers are seen as unpatriotic and disloyal. This is why as our empire has grown there have been more attacks on those who challenge the conventional wisdom of the propagandists. We have seen it with the current administration in that the president has used the Espionage Act to curtail freedom of the press more than any other recent president. Fortunately we live in an age where information is much more available than when it was controlled by a combination of our government and the three major networks. Nevertheless it's an uphill struggle to convince the people that it is in their best interests to give up on the concept of empire, foreign interventionism, allowing the special interests to dictate foreign policy, and paying the bills with the inflation of the money supply provided by the Federal Reserve. The laws of economics, in time, will bring such a system to an end but it would be nice if it would be ended sooner through logic and persuasion.

If it's conceded that there was a dramatic change with the green light given by April Glaspie and President Bush in 1990, along with the collapse, almost simultaneously, of the Soviet system, the only question remains is when and who will turn on the red light to end this 25 year war. Sometime it's easier to establish an empire than it is to maintain and pay for it. That is what our current political leaders are in the business of currently doing and it's not going well. It appears that a comparatively small but ruthless non-government entity, ISIS, is playing havoc with our political leaders as well as nearly all the countries in the Middle East. Because there is no clear understanding of what radical Islam is all about -since it is not much about Islam itself - our policies in the Middle East and elsewhere will continue to drain our resources and incite millions more to join those who are resisting our occupations and sanctions. The day will come when we will be forced to give up our role as world policeman and resort to using a little common sense and come home.

This will only occur when the American people realize that our presence around the world and the maintenance of our empire has nothing to do with defending our Constitution, preserving our liberties, or fulfilling some imaginary obligation on our part to use force to spread American exceptionalism. A thorough look at our economic conditions, our pending bankruptcy, our veterans hospitals, and how we're viewed in the world by most other nations, will compel Americans to see things differently and insist that we bring our troops home – the sooner the better.

Vocal proponents of the American Empire talk about a moral imperative that requires us to sacrifice ourselves as we try to solve the problems of the world. If there was even a hint this effort was accomplishing something beneficial, it might be more difficult to argue against. But the evidence is crystal-clear that all our efforts only make things worse, both for those we go to teach about democracy and liberty and for the well-being of all Americans who are obligated to pay for this misplaced humanitarian experiment. We must admit that this 25-year war has failed. Nevertheless it's difficult to argue against it when it requires that that we not endorse expanding our military operations to confront the ISIS killers. Arguments against pursuing a war to stop the violence, however, should appeal to common sense. Recognizing that our policies in the Middle East have significantly contributed to the popular support for radical Islam is crucial to dealing with ISIS. More sacrifices by the American people in this effort won't work and should be avoided. If one understands what motivates radical Islam to strike out as it does, the solution would become more evident. Voluntary efforts by individuals to participate in the struggle should not be prohibited. If the solution is not more violence on our part, a consideration must be given to looking at the merits of a noninterventionist foreign policy which does not resort to the killing of hundreds of thousands of individuals who never participated in any aggression against United States - as our policies have done since the green light for empire was given.

How is this likely to end? The empire will not be ended legislatively or by the sudden embrace of common sense in directing our foreign policy. The course of interventionism overseas and assuming the role of world policeman will remain for the foreseeable future. Still the question remains, how long will that be since we can be certain that the end of the empire will come. Our military might and economic strength is now totally dependent on the confidence that the worldwide financial markets give to the value of the US dollar. In spite of all the reasons that the dollar will eventually be challenged as the world reserve currency, the competition, at present, by other currencies to replace it, is nil. Confidence can be related to objective facts such as how a country runs its fiscal affairs and monetary policy. Economic wealth and military strength also contribute artificial confidence to a currency. Perceptions and subjective reasons are much more difficult to define and anticipate. The day will come when the confidence in the dollar will be greatly diminished worldwide. Under those conditions the tremendous benefits that we in the United States have enjoyed as the issuer of the reserve currency will be reversed. It will become difficult if not impossible for us to afford huge budget deficits as well as very large current account deficits. National debt and foreign debt will serve as a limitation on how long the empire can last. Loss of confidence can come suddenly and overwhelmingly. Under those conditions we will no longer be able to afford our presence overseas nor will we be able to continue to export our inflation and debt to other nations. Then it will require that we pay for our extravagance, and market forces will require that we rein in our support for foreign, corporate, and domestic welfare spending. Hopefully this will not come for a long time, giving us a chance to educate more people as to its serious nature and give them insight into its precise cause. Nevertheless we live in a period of time when we should all consider exactly what is the best road to take to protect ourselves, not only our personal wealth but also to prepare to implement a system based on sound money, limited government, and personal liberty. This is a goal we can achieve. And when we do, America will enjoy greater freedom, more prosperity and a better chance for peace.

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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[Mar 14, 2015] Russia warns US against supplying 'lethal defensive aid' to Ukraine

Mar 14, 2015 | RT News

Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift from supplying Kiev with "non-lethal aid" to "defensive lethal weapons", mulled as US Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international agreements.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of American "defensive weapons" to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a "very serious signal."

"We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned.

His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday's statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he said that Biden may offer the provision of "lethal defensive weapons" as he visits Ukraine. Lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at," Blinken said.

"We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster support of the US administration," Lukashevich said.

The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of agreements.

"This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April," said the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to Washington in September.

READ MORE: Obama declines to give Ukraine 'lethal aid' despite Poroshenko's plea

The American Vice President who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet made any official announcement, but Reuters' sources point to the possibility that US might increase a "non-lethal" aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.

Under the non-lethal aid package, the US could deliver to Ukraine first Humvee vehicles and radars but as officials pointed out such deliveries would unlikely alter the conflict. Previous non-lethal aid to Ukraine announced in September included military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars and other gear worth $53 million.

At the same time the US diplomatic branch announced that it will continue to send advisers to Kiev and has allocated funds to Ukraine to battle what both the US and Ukraine see as a threat from Russia.

SOIC 2 hours ago
This Slavic, territorial 'domestic' conflict must be approached with extreme prudence.

The US interests (real or manifested) do not justify inciting unrestrained escalation of force in proxy.

Despite what social antagonisms are perpetrated and the 'trajectory' of global sentiment, the Russian Federation will stand united and abreast, not in opposition to Ukraine but to the United States.

War has an intoxicating effect on nonobjective and narrowly fixated policy makers in industrial military nation states!

Robin Bolt 5 hours ago

P.S. Mustafa Masi Nayyem is still breathing because??? I have no respect for men anywhere when people like this can cause thousands to die on both sides, and then he is given a high profile job in the new Ukrainian government, and continues to work the media? He should be charged with inciting a war, not given a free pass & citizenship, what is wrong with people????

Robin Bolt 5 hours ago

Manuel Garcia

God have mercy...The worst is yet to come. Prepare for the worst on both sides.

I think we are worrying for nothing.... the people of Russia & the USA are far greater than these foreign invaders who are inciting wars everywhere...

If people would set their "religions of peace" aside for a minute & stop feeding the animals, they'd see some of the main issues... Mustafa Masi Nayyem for instance.... How is this not a topic of interest????

Robin Bolt 5 hours ago

Unreal.... Complete ignorance. EU, UN & NATO should step-off, same with the US. It amazes me how so many ignore the plain truth. The people in change of Ukraine now, are no better than our own typical American street gangs & deserve 0 support, they caused 1000s of people on both sides of this issue to suffer a great deal, all so they could illegally take office & not have to pay what was owed to Russia. I am grateful for whoever got rid of Nemtsov, it kept them from trying to create the same ordeal they did in Ukraine, in Moscow.... 1 vs. 100s of 1000s, I'm all for it. I don't agree with certain things about Russia, but what happened in Ukraine is completely insane... I hold the EU, UN & Nato responsible for what happened, and the rest of the world is just as bad for staying silent or neutral. Ignorance isn't always bliss... As much as I don't like our current US President, I would never agree to illegal activity that overthrew the Government and replaced the Obama Administration with people who respect laws even less.... why then are people ignoring that this happened to the Pro-Russian leaders who were in office, and that crooks are running Ukraine now & would rather create more strife than pay their bills & act like men?

[Mar 14, 2015] A Review of 'Frontline Ukraine' by Richard Sakwa

Mar 05, 2015 |

You might have thought that a serious book on the Ukraine crisis, written by a distinguished academic in good clear English, and published by a reputable house, might have gained quite a bit of attention at a time when that country is at the centre of many people's concerns.

But some readers here now understand that publishing, and especially the reviewing of books, are not the simple marketplaces of ideas which we would all wish them to be.

And so, as far as I can discover, this book :

'Frontline Ukraine : Crisis in the Borderlands , by Richard Sakwa. Published by I.B.Tauris

…though it came out some months ago, has only been reviewed in one place in Britain, the Guardian newspaper, by Jonathan Steele, the first-rate foreign correspondent whose rigour and enterprise (when we were both stationed in Moscow) quite persuaded me to overlook his former sympathy for the left-wing cause (most notably expressed in a 1977 book 'Socialism with a German Face' about the old East Germany, which seemed to me at the time to be ah, excessively kind).

Mr Steele's review can be read here

I have said elsewhere that I would myself be happier if the book were more hostile to my position on this conflict. Sometimes I feel that it is almost too good to be true, to have my own conclusions confirmed so powerfully, and I would certainly like to see the book reviewed by a knowledgeable proponent of the NATO neo-conservative position. Why hasn't it been?

But even so I recommend it to any reader of mine who is remotely interested in disentangling the reality from the knotted nets of propaganda in which it is currently shrouded.

Like George Friedman's interesting interview in the Moscow newspaper 'Kommersant' ( you can read it here ) , the book has shifted my own view.

I have tended to see the *basic* dispute in Ukraine as being yet another outbreak of the old German push into the east, carried out under the new, nice flag of the EU, a liberal, federative empire in which the vassal states are tactfully allowed limited sovereignty as long as they don't challenge the fundamental politico-economic dominance of Germany. I still think this is a strong element in the EU's thrust in this direction.

But I have tended to neglect another feature of the new Europe, also set out in Adam Tooze's brilliant 'The Deluge' – the firm determination of the USA to mould Europe in its own image (a determination these days expressed mainly through the EU and NATO).

I should have paid more attention to the famous words 'F*** the EU!' spoken by the USA's Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, in a phone call publicised to the world by (presumably) Russian intelligence. The EU isn't half as enthusiastic about following the old eastern road as is the USA. Indeed, it's a bit of a foot-dragger.

The driving force in this crisis is the USA, with the EU being reluctantly tugged along behind. And if Mr Friedman is right (and I think he is), the roots of it lie in Russia's decision to obstruct the West's intervention in Syria.

Perhaps the key to the whole thing (rather dispiriting in that it shows the USA really hasn't learned anything important from the Iraq debacle) is the so-called 'Wolfowitz Doctrine' of 1992, named after the neo-con's neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz, and summed up by Professor Sakwa (p.211) thus: 'The doctrine asserted that the US should prevent "any country from dominating any region of the world that might be a springboard to threaten unipolar and exclusive US dominance"'.

Note how neatly this meshes with what George Friedman says in his interview.

Now, there are dozens of fascinating things in Professor Sakwa's book, and my copy is scored with annotations and references. I could spend a week summarising it for you. (By the way, the Professor himself is very familiar with this complex region, and might be expected, thanks to his Polish ancestry, to take a different line. His father was in the Polish Army in 1939, escaped to Hungary in the chaos of defeat, and ended up serving in Anders's Second Corps, fighting with the British Army at El Alamein, Benghazi, Tobruk and then through Italy via Monte Cassino. Then he was in exile during the years of Polish Communism. Like Vaclav Klaus, another critic of current western policy, Professor Sakwa can hardly be dismissed as a naif who doesn't understand about Russia, or accused of being a 'fellow-traveler' or 'useful idiot'.

He is now concerned at 'how we created yet another crisis' (p xiii) .

But I would much prefer that you read it for yourself, and so will have to limit my references quite sternly.

There are good explanations of the undoubted anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies of some strands in Ukrainian politics. Similar nastiness, by the way, is to be found loose in some of the Baltic States. I mention this n because it justified classifying the whole movement as 'Neo-Nazi', which is obviously false, but because it tells us something very interesting about the nature of nationalism and Russophobia in this part of the world. No serious or fair description of the crisis can ignore it. Yet, in the portrayal of Russia as Mordor, and the Ukraine as Utopia, western media simply leave out almost everything about Ukraine that doesn't appeal to their audiences, the economic near collapse, the Judophobia and Russophobia (the derogatory word 'Moskal', for instance, in common use), the worship of the dubious (this word is very generous, I think) Stepan Bandera by many of the Western ultra-nationalists, the violence against dissenters from the Maidan view ( see The survival and continued power of Ukraine's oligarchs after a revolution supposedly aimed at cleaning up the country is also never mentioned. We all know about Viktor Yanukovych;s tasteless mansion, but the book provides some interesting details on President Poroshenko's residence (it looks rather like the White House) , which I have not seen elsewhere.

The detailed description of how and why the Association Agreement led to such trouble is excellent. I had not realised that, since the Lisbon Treaty, alignment with NATO is an essential part of EU membership (and association) – hence the unavoidable political and military clauses in the agreement.

So is the filleting of the excuse-making and apologetics of those who still pretend that Yanukovych was lawfully removed from office: the explicit threat of violence from the Maidan, the failure to muster the requisite vote, the presence of armed men during the vote, the failure to follow the constitutional rules (set beside the available lawful deal, overridden by the Maidan, under which Yanukovych would have faced early elections and been forced to make constitutional changes) .

Then here we have Ms Nuland again, boasting of the $5 billion (eat your heart out, the EU, with your paltry £300 million) which the USA has 'invested in Ukraine. 'Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We've invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.

It's worth noting that in this speech, in December 2013, she still envisages the supposedly intolerable Yanukovych as a possible partner.

Other points well made are the strange effect of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, which has created the very tension against which it now seeks to reassure border nations, by encouraging them, too, to join, the non-binding nature of the much-trumpeted Budapest memorandum, the lack of coverage of the ghastly events in Odessa, the continuing lack of a proper independent investigation into the Kiev mass shootings in February 2014 .

Also examined is the Russian fear of losing Sevastopol, an entirely justified fear given that President Yushchenko had chosen to say in Georgia, during the war of August 2008, that Russia's basing rights in the city would end in 2017. The 'disappearance; of the 'Right Sector' and 'Svoboda' vote in recent elections is explained by their transfer to the radical Party led by Oleh Lyashko.

Professor Sakwa also explores Russia's behaviour in other border disputes , with Norway and China, in which it has been far from aggressive. And he points out that Ukraine's nationalists have made their country's life far more difficult by their rigid nationalist approach to the many citizens of that country who, while viewing themselves as Ukrainian, do not share the history or passions of the ultra-nationalists in the West.

Likewise he warns simple-minded analysts that the conflict in the East of Ukraine is not desired by Russia's elite, which does not wish to be drawn into another foreign entanglement (all Russian strategists recall the disastrous result of the Afghan intervention). But it may be desired by Russian ultra-nationalists, not necessarily controllable.

He points out that Russia has not, as it did in Crimea, intervened decisively in Eastern Ukraine to ensure secession. And he suggests that those Russian nationalists are acting in many cases independently of Moscow in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas. Putin seeks to control them and limit them, but fears them as well.

In general, the book is an intelligent, well-researched and thoughtful attempt to explain the major crisis of our time. Anybody, whatever he or she might think of the issue, would benefit from reading it. It is shocking that it is not better known, and I can only assume that its obscurity, so far is caused by the fact that it does not fit the crude propaganda narrative of the 'Putin is Hitler' viewpoint.

How odd that we should all have learned so little from the Iraq debacle. This time the 'WMD' are non-existent Russian plans to expand and/or attack the Baltic states. And of course the misrepresentation of both sides in the Ukrainian controversy is necessary for the portrayal of Putin as Hitler and his supporters as Nazis, and opponents of belligerence as Nazi fellow-travellers. The inconvenient fact , that if there are Nazis in this story , they tend to be on the 'good' side must be ignored. Let us hope the hysteria subsides before it carries us into another stupid war.

March 5, 2015 Comments (54) Categories: Cold War , History , New Cold War , Russia , Ukraine | Permalink


LornaJean | 10 March 2015 at 09:00 AM

There should be a proper inquiry into who really started this conflict I recall watching on TV as the boxer who was leading the Kiev mob came out of lengthy negotiations with the 3 EU ministers and the crowds booing and erupting The infamous Julia also appeared on the scene. this was of course after only a few hours previously that Obama announced that he had agreement with Putin to have a peaceful resolution and elections in 3 months.

As I watched the eruption of the mob I Thought this will end badly and at that point the EU should have withdrawn. However the subsequent violence and the removal of the elected leader followed. All interviews with the people in the East and Crimea showed their distrust of the Kiev crowd and it was clear that the oligarchs on the East who had many workers and controlled the manufacturing would not support the East. Putin is a nasty man but to suggest that he deliberately caused this situation is a travesty.Russia with refugees pouring over the border reacted to the situation and who can blame them.? Now a less belligerent and frankly dishonest approach needs to be taken by the EU I can not see that the Kiev regime can ever win the loyalty of the East after this bitter war.the only solution is some sort of autonomous regios that allows the Esst of Ukraine to rule themselves.

Bill Jones | 10 March 2015 at 01:28 AM

This made me smile:

" I would certainly like to see the book reviewed by a knowledgeable proponent of the NATO neo-conservative position. Why hasn't it been? "

Because to be knowledgeable is not to be a Neo-conservative.

Mr Rob | 09 March 2015 at 02:45 PM

@Mike B

"I haven't responded to your comments on McCain and Nuland because I thought that I had made it clear that I thought external interference from any quarter was undesirable and I accept that there has been such interference from both sides."

Oh really? You do not remember writing this then?

"It was Ukrainians, not the EU, who ousted Yanukovych. They should be allowed to deal with their internal disputes and decide their future alliances and associations."

or this?

"However, the EU, whatever its faults (and, believe me, it is not my "beloved" EU) did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter and, whatever the faults on either side, should have been left at that."

And on this thread you had not even mentioned the USA involvement. You have been consistently dishonest by omission. Well, at least you're consistent.

And now you manage the immortal words

"I do maintain, though, that the interference of the EU and USA" [well done for mentioning them at last],"which cannot be denied" [but can, it seems, be ignored...] "and which was reflected in Russia's own behaviour cannot be compared with Russia's subsequent blatant military involvement in a sovereign country's internal conflict."

So on the one hand the EU and the USA have interfered, but on the other it is an "internal conflict".


Roy Robinson | 08 March 2015 at 05:48 PM

@Alan Thomas By my reading of certain facts I deduce there is a de facto alliance between Russia and China. These facts being that Russia trades arms to China but the USA will not trade arms to either. On May 8th Xi Jingping will attend the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow accompanied by his junk yard dog Kim Jong Un of North Korea. No Western leaders as far as I know will be in attendance. De facto alliances such as the one Britain had with France in 1914 are always hard to call because unlike formal ones such as Nato there is nothing in writing. I also suspect that one reason China has not tried to match America in nuclear weapons so far is because Russia already does so. North Korea is also very useful in that it can be used to threaten Japan without China appearing to be the aggressor.

Mr Rob | 08 March 2015 at 11:16 AM

@ Mike B

I see you have ignored my request to answer the questions I posed to Hector (who has also yet to respond) about the US presence at the Maidan. Perhaps you needed to ignore my request in order to write this drivel with a straight face:

Re Yanukovych: "However, the EU, whatever its faults (and, believe me, it is not my "beloved" EU) did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter and, whatever the faults on either side, should have been left at that."

Some Ukrainians carried out the WW2 massacre at Khatyn (not Katyn) - does that mean that all Ukrainians are responsible for it, approved of it, or that it was carried out on behalf of Ukrainians? Of course not.

You have also studiously avoided mention of the presence at the Maidan of US Senator McCain and US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, and the latter's meetings with the Maidan leaders, co-ordinated with US Ambassador Pyatt.

You have also somehow omitted to mention Yatseniuk's ("Yats") lightning visit to Washington days after the overthrow of Yanukovych, or the visit of CIA Director Brennan to Kiev.

And just for the record, I have first-hand oral evidence of people in Minsk, Belarus, being offered money to go to the Maidan - so even that the Maidan crowd was completely Ukrainian is probably untrue.

You accuse Mr Klimenko of bias, and yet you yourself give and repeat a dishonest account of what is known to have happened at the Maidan.

Such behaviour has no place in proper debate.

Ian | 08 March 2015 at 11:04 AM

To Mike B and others...

It's all very well to agonize about what Ukrainians may or may not want. We could all weep huge quantities of crocodile tears over Ukraine's thwarted "self determination", but the essential fact is that Ukrainians are not agreed about what they want. Some appear to want closer ties with the EU, some appear to want to maintain the status quo and some appear to want closer ties with the Russian Federation.

All of which is "interesting" until different factions within Ukraine start calling on their preferred partners to back them up. It seems to me that the US and the EU have contributed more than one would reasonably expect to the discord in Ukraine and silly expectations in a great many Ukrainians. To describe this as "irresponsible" is something of an understatement.

We are now in a situation where the "preferred partners" might come to blows over the confused and discordant expectations of Ukraine. In such a situation. it would be hard for me to care less about what Ukrainians want especially when some of Ukraine's politicians sound as though they would happily see the world burn if only it ensures "territorial Integrity" for Ukraine.

It's a very old trick for which "socialists" should be famous. Describe a group as deserving, noble and disadvantaged... and use this supposed circumstance to justify the most ridiculous, regressive and destructive policy the human mind can invent. Of course, with our own "socialists", the all important thing is that they are not only well rewarded with a reputation for being "caring sharing human beings"... but also very well paid for the disasters they inflict on us.

Edward Klimenko | 08 March 2015 at 10:50 AM


'did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter'

What the EU did was the equivalent of persuading one party in a Mexican stand-off to lower his weapon so that the other can shoot him safely. Yes, the EU most certainly organized Yanukovich's removal - the EU normally takes a dim view of governments established by putsch, but recognized this particular band of putschists almost immediately.

And why was it not an internal matter when Ukrainian police were attempting to clear Maidan of the lawless occupying mob, but instead a human rights crisis demanding sanctions against everyone from the Prosecutor-General to Yanukovich's barber?

'You should note, however, that he fled his country on the same day that he announced an agreement with his opponents.'

You are mistaken, he did not flee the country the day the agreement was made. He left the city of Kiev for Kharkov, his motorcade coming under fire as he did so. As the putsch developed, he called a conference in Kharkov of regional governors still loyal to the rightful president, the participants agreeing to administer their own regions until lawful authority could be reestablished in the rest of the country.

Two factors brought about the failure of this effort: the first was the success of Valentin Nalivaichenko's takeover of the SBU, and the second was the cowardly betrayal by Kharkov regional governor Mikhail Dobkin and Kharkov city mayor Gennady Kernes, who panicked and fled when they heard that the SBU was after them (both would later cut deals with the Maidan regime for their own survival). Fearing capture by the SBU and feeling unable to trust anybody, Yanukovich then departed for the Crimea.

You might think this would be safe place for him to make his stand. You would be wrong - the mood in Crimea at the time was one of utter disgust for Yanukovich and the Regions Party on account of their utter failure to defend the state and the people, which only grew after it came to light that the scum Yanukovich had appointed as mayor of Sevastopol had been conspiring to surrender the city to the Right Sector. Crimea wanted out of the Ukraine, and had no interest in helping Yanukovich get his seat back. Out of options, he finally fled to the Russian mainland on or about February 26.

As for the rest, I'll say it again: the 'Holodomor' is a fiction, an attempt to portray a famine that affected a vast swathe of the USSR as campaign against Ukrainians specifically, when in truth it most heavily affected the non-Ukrainian Donbass region. It is invoked by western Ukrainians whose ancestors did not experience it to justify their racial hatred for eastern Ukrainians whose ancestors did. You ought to be ashamed of spreading such rot, and you should stop trying to frame your own biases as 'objectivity'.

Grant | 07 March 2015 at 08:32 PM

I listened to that.

Everything Peter said was spot on. That other bloke who was challenging you is a dangerous idiot. You pointed out to him that we do not call Chinese regime tyrants, or the Saudis, yet he immediately replies calling Putin a vile tyrant. Totally obvious to what you just told him like he is a brainwashed stuck record.

NATO is now the armed wing of EU expansion. They intentionally sent Russia that message during the Kosovo war by including the Luftwaffe bombing in previous Russia spheres of influence.

mikebarnes | 07 March 2015 at 07:13 PM

@ Edward Klimenko

If nothing else I like your style . Many contributors here think they know. And a few think you know more than them. I think on this subject you certainly know more than I . Whether your correct is unknown at least by me . But.

Oh that our snot brained, could have need for the dentistry they so deserve.

No matter whose in the right here , and I suspect neither are. Its their business and that of the federation they once belonged . Just as northern Island was our business . But Clinton poked his snout in .

The compromise, killers and bombers running the country might well be repeated with a split country just like the many created since the chaos following WWII.

Roy Robinson | 07 March 2015 at 05:42 PM

@Alan Thomas The Eurasian hard men such as Putin, Erdogan , Modi and XI Jinping all seem to understand one another and are doing business together.

They all lead countries which have been on the receiving of Western aggression over the last few centuries Modern Westerners with their naive PC outlook like to overlook this but the people in those countries have not forgotten from which direction the threat to them has usually come from and the past losses and humiliations which resulted.

When someone sees themselves as a benefactor to mankind but others see as a thief with a violent history there is always going to be room for a big understanding.

Alan Thomas | 07 March 2015 at 03:44 PM

Roy Robinson

Perhaps, when it comes to China, the 'west' cannot see a solution, in which case hurling - or even simply registering - criticism might be seen as a waste of time and effort. In any case, since when did it make sense to ignore lesser villains simply because one can't take on the bigger ones?

Steve Jones | 07 March 2015 at 03:11 PM

I suspect the neocons are now looking at the General Patton play of outsourcing a war against Russia to Germany.

Germany should leave the EU together with France and the PIGS using the euro as an excuse. Their departure might shake out a few others like Croatia, Hungary and Austria plus a few more. Let the banks fail then go in with Russia and the other BRICS.

Edward Klimenko | 07 March 2015 at 02:04 PM


' Are you so sure that Ukrainians wanted their now ex-president?'

Almost twelve and a half million Ukrainians voted for him in 2010, and that is a far better indicator of what Ukrainians wanted than the actions of around ten thousand Nazi terrorists in February 2014.

' It was Ukrainians, not the EU, who ousted Yanukovych'

What a nonsensical and disingenuous remark. Yanukovich was the democratically -elected president(most likely the last that the Ukraine will ever have). EuroMaidan was an assembly of Nazi terrorists and their apologists. Europe used threats and blackmail to prevent Yanukovich from doing his duty and protecting the country from this violent mob. Europe then tricked him into signing a 'peace agreement' and pulling back the police from their positions, allowing the terrorist mob and its sponsors to rampage freely through Kiev and seize the institutions of the state.

You will probably cite the lack of an immediate militant response to the putsch as proof that Ukrainians wanted this abomination of a government. Well, there we have democracy according to Mike! No need for elections, might makes right and proves the existence of an underlying consensus! Brilliant.

Let's take your logic a bit further. The rebellion now rules in Donbass, and no armed movement has arisen there to demand the return of the region to Ukrainian rule. Do you accept this as evidence of the people's wish not to be ruled by the Maidan regime? If the rebels break the Ukrainian lines, and take control of the rest of the country, will you shrug and conclude that Ukrainians wanted to be with Russia after all?

' , I would prefer people to be aggressive with me by throwing money in my direction, rather than launching rockets,

Throwing money at the Ukraine enables the Maidan regime to throw rockets at Ukrainian citizens. Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk have no legal authority to rule over anybody, yet your beloved EU insists that these putsch-installed thugs are the government of the Ukraine, and that all Ukrainians must obey them or die.

' Nothing the EU has done, though, justifies Russian military intervention in Ukraine'

Everything the EU has done justifies everything Russia has done, and would justify a good deal more. The European officials who formulated European policy toward the Ukraine in the past year are responsible for the war and for all the crimes of the Maidan regime, and they should all face the death penalty - starting with Ashton.

Think on this: if not for the Crimea operation, all the depravity that the Ukraine has heaped upon Donetsk would have been visited upon Crimea. You think that Crimeans would have been better off being shelled, shot, raped and tortured by the Ukrainian military? Go and tell them so!

Just make sure that your health insurance covers reconstructive dentistry first.

Paul Taylor | 07 March 2015 at 12:00 PM

Hector. You clearly have no idea about Hitler and Germany in the late 1930s.Germany was just taking back land that was stolen in June 1919. Hitler had mass support from the Germanic people in those parts and in some areas such as parts of Austria he was even more popular than he was in Germany itself.

It was madness that we went to war against Germany,we should have remained neutral like Spain or Switzerland and let Hitler defeat Stalin on his own.

Paulus M | 07 March 2015 at 10:46 AM

@ kevin 1

"Personally, I have difficulty with this quote because I don't think facts do change, that's why they are called facts. New information may come to light but the facts though temporarily hidden from view remain constant. But that's just my opinion."

It all depends on whether the facts/evidence supports the hypothesis. If they don't then no matter how erudite it appears - it's wrong. What our media don't want you to question or look at is who started this conflict. From day one, I've never been in doubt that Washington is the main driver and the EU the junior partner. The Nato alliance acts as a bind and a figleaf. Time and again the facts sindicates that the "west" is an aggressor bloc which tramples over sovereignty and makes a mockery of supposed international law.

Mr Rob | 07 March 2015 at 10:08 AM

Are you claiming that prior to the "removal" of Yanukovych

US Senator McCain did not appear at the Maidan,

and that US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland did not appear at the Maidan,

and that she did not hold a series of meetings with its leaders,

and that she and US Ambassador Pyatt did not co-ordinate these efforts with a clear aim as to who they wanted to see in power (our man "Yats"),

and that only days after Yanukovych fled,

Yatseniuk was not shaking hands with US President Obama at the White House

and that US Director of the CIA Brennan was not in Kiev?

Do you claim that the US was leaving Ukraine to "sort out it's [sic] own issues"?

Please do respond rather than lapse into silence, I'd be fascinated to see how you have reached your conclusions in the face of the known facts.

Kevin 1 | 07 March 2015 at 09:27 AM

@ Ronnie

I think you'll find that, in circumstances such as those you describe, PH tends to quote the famous retort attributed to Keynes, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" I'm just surprised that he hasn't done so (yet) in this instance.

Personally, I have difficulty with this quote because I don't think facts do change, that's why they are called facts. New information may come to light but the facts though temporarily hidden from view remain constant. But that's just my opinion.

N.Belcher | 07 March 2015 at 01:28 AM

Dear Mr Hitchens

In December 2011 The U.S Federal Reserve bailed out European banks to the
tune of Billions of Dollars.
It is reported that they tried to keep this bailout a secret at the time.

Do you think that this , and the latest E.U initiative to have The Ukraine
are linked ? i.e that it was a condition of the U.S bailout or expected of The
E.U that they continue to expand into The Ukraine in return for these U.S Dollars?
Yours N.Belcher.

Roy Robinson | 07 March 2015 at 01:04 AM

While the West obsesses about the supposed threat from Putin it seems totally oblivious to the rise of Xi Jinping a Chinese leader who looks like being of the magnitude of Mao.

He has described himself as the leader of a party wedded to the ideology of Lenin, Stalin and Mao and is concentrating all the power in his own hands.

There is no Western propaganda campaign against him yet although think about it, ten years ago there wasn't one against Putin.

Xi has stated that he gets on well with Putin as they have similar personalities.

Edward Klimenko | 06 March 2015 at 08:44 PM

'Might there be the slightest chance of Ukrainians' wishes being given some consideration?'

Capital idea. But you know what the Ukrainians wanted? They wanted Viktor Yanukovich as President and they wanted the Parliament they elected in 2012. What scant regard America and Europe gave their wishes!

Bob | 06 March 2015 at 06:42 PM

Ronnie that purported paper was presented in early Feb 2014 well after Maidan was underway, not exactly planned from day one. It was also Kiev at the behest of the US who started the ATO, resorting to violence away from the Franco-German and Russian negotiations.
I might add the anti Russian propaganda in the media had started well before Sochi started. This was all planned a while back and not by Russia.

Ian | 06 March 2015 at 03:49 PM

It does not seem to me there is a "change of mind" or any inconsistency implied in Mr Hitchens's recommendation of Richard Sakwa's book. There may be a slight change of emphasis but it was always understood and mentioned that the US of A was an additional driving force to events in eastern Europe. It does not alter the validity of the view that the EU is "Germany by other means" and that the EU/Germany covets "lebensraum" in the east. So far as I can see, it can only be of academic interest whether the developing crisis is primarily EU or US led.

Nor has Mr Hitchens ever attempted to exonerate President Putin or Russia, giving more than sufficient emphasis to "Russian interests" and "Russia's perceived sphere of influence" ... to crudely paraphrase. It does not matter if Russia is or is not entitled to these perceptions. That the perceptions exist should be a major consideration in the policy of any other "player" who would prefer a continued, peaceful existence.

What is important is whether either side can afford to "back down" and which side is "most guilty" with regards creating this crisis. It seems fairly obvious that it is the US and the EU who can best afford to "back off"... and it is the US and the EU whose posturing and behavior have contributed most to the current situation.

For those who adhere to the "bad Putin"/"Naughty Russia" model, rest assured that the US and the EU are unlikely to give up on this one. They are determined to give the big bad bear a spanking.

I fear that they have got it badly wrong, seriously misjudged Russia's president and relied to heavily on dated intelligence about Russian capabilities.

Posted by: Incognito | 06 March 2015 at 12:41 PM


I think it's an oversight on PH's part (we're all human, right?) to have placed so much emphasis on Germany in his analysis of the the crisis, and, in so doing to have tacitly downplayed the role of the US. Plainly put Germany-although it is the de facto seat of power in the EU- doesn't have the brass to so flagrantly antagonise Russia without back-up.

Moreover, if anyone doesn't think the EU is 'briefed' on foreign policy by the US state department, they are living in an alternate reality. America is a continuation of the British Empire by other means.

Grant | 06 March 2015 at 12:23 PM

Pat Davers "Indeed, I think that European leaders acted naively in aligning with the US, and were genuinely dismayed at the outcome of their tacit support for the coup in Ukraine"

I do wish people would study the comments made by the EU leaders when initial proposals for third way consultations with the Russians was proposed, they said things like "the last people we would speak to over this would be the Russians".

The EU leaders detest everything Russia stands for, as they are enlightened supra nationalists. It was precisely their arrogant and dismissive attitude that led to armed conflict and only after thousands had died did they come to meet Putin in Russia to seek a peace.

Pat Davers | 06 March 2015 at 11:46 AM

"Are we witnessing a Hitchens change of mind?"

I think we are seeing a shift of opinion as to who has the been the main driver behind the Ukraine conflict; it was not so much EU (ie German-led) expansionism as NATO (ie US-led) imperialism that brought us where we are now, as of course many people have been saying all along.

Indeed, I think that European leaders acted naively in aligning with the US, and were genuinely dismayed at the outcome of their tacit support for the coup in Ukraine, and are probably now regretting their actions. The fact that is was Merkel and Hollande who brokered the Minsk agreement without US involvement would seem to support this.

Bob | 06 March 2015 at 10:51 AM

Ronnie you have clearly have never done any scenario planning or read position papers, obviously the Kremlin would have several plans of action for the breakdown of the Ukraine. Regardless of the document's validity, the title is invalid. "Direct interstate relations" cannot exist between Moscow and regions annexed to Russia, the plan is obviously talking about a political breakup of Ukraine, not annexation. Even then though, i dont entirely believe it.

If Russia's plan was to break up Ukraine into statelets, I see no reason why it still hasn't recognized the independence of LPR and DPR and instead continues to treat them, in both language and action, as regions of Ukraine seeking federalization. A federal and perhaps confederate Ukraine would obviously be to Russia's interest. Complete breakup of Ukraine -maybe but it's difficult to see how.


Daniel | 06 March 2015 at 07:25 AM

Dear Peter,

Thank you for another thought-provoking article. It's nice to have some measured thinking amongst the media-mob's clamour.

A little off the current topic but I was expecting to see a comment on the recent ACMD report in which the scientist's covering letter states: 'international evidence suggests many popular types of prevention activity are ineffective at changing behaviour, and a small number may even increase the risks for drug use' . Paradoxically, thought not unexpectedly, the report ends up stating the that the solution is more drugs education in schools.. Just thought it may be worth flagging as it reminded me of your previous posts regarding sex education and its supposed 'benefits'.

S. Coleman | 05 March 2015 at 09:36 PM

I would not be alone here in welcoming PH's recognition of the importance of the role of the US. I think Brian Meredith also expressed this view.

Michael Hudson (the American economist) expresses it up pithily: the US is saying to Europe, 'Let's you and Russia fight' and Europe in going along with this invitation is damaging her own vital interests.

Edward Klimenko | 05 March 2015 at 08:31 PM

The Ukrainian Parliament has already moved 'Defender of the Fatherland Day' to October 14th - the official founding date of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. If anybody thinks that this is a coincidence, they haven't been paying attention.

This very Thursday the Parliament of Ukraine reached a milestone - honoring with a minute's silence the memory of UPA genocidaire Roman Shukhevich. I won't bother listing in detail the depravities that Shukhevich organised in his capacity as a UPA commander - suffice it to say that women and children were favourite targets, and blades were generally preferred to bullets - but those not familiar with the subject are encouraged to look it up. In particular, search the name 'Zygmunt Rumel' to find out what comes of trying to negotiate with Ukrainian nationalists.

The only consolation is that the Maidan project is less a political movement than organised mental illness, and that failure is written in its DNA.

[Mar 14, 2015] The Damage to U.S. Interests Abroad of Domestic Political Intemperance

A nation does not represent itself as a viable interlocutor, whose execution of policy can be trusted by other nations, if passionate internal divisions supersede sober pursuit of the nation's interests. ...A pattern that is similar in some respects has, tragically, come to prevail in the United States.
Notable quotes:
"... A nation does not represent itself as a viable interlocutor, whose execution of policy can be trusted by other nations, if passionate internal divisions supersede sober pursuit of the nations interests. ..."
"... A pattern that is similar in some respects has, tragically, come to prevail in the United States. ..."
"... instead the prevention of a second term for the incumbent U.S. president. ..."
Mar 11, 2015 | The National Interest Blog

The connection between the sort of behavior we are talking about and the standing of the United States overseas, however, is even broader than that and extends to the handling of domestic policy. Foreigners and foreign governments observe how the United States, the superpower with the world's largest economy, handles its own affairs, and they draw conclusions about how viable and reliable an interlocutor the United States would be on international matters. The foreigners are looking to see whether there is consistency and rationality in how the U.S. political system pursues U.S. national interests. If they do see those things, then the United States is someone they can do business with, whether as a rival or as an ally, even if U.S. interests differ from their own. If they do not see those things, then opportunities are lost for doing business that would benefit both the United States and the foreign state.

A nation does not represent itself as a viable interlocutor, whose execution of policy can be trusted by other nations, if passionate internal divisions supersede sober pursuit of the nation's interests. As an outsider we encounter such situations in, say, Iraq, where sectarian loyalties and hatreds make it impossible to rely on a government in Baghdad consistently pursuing an Iraqi national interest. We also see it in Bangladesh, where the personal animosity between the "two begums" who head each of the major political parties there have made Bangladeshi politics so dysfunctional that in the recent past the military has had to step in.

A pattern that is similar in some respects has, tragically, come to prevail in the United States. Foreigners could hear the then minority (now majority) leader of the United States Senate state a few years ago that his number one priority was not any particular U.S. national interest in either domestic or foreign affairs but instead the prevention of a second term for the incumbent U.S. president.

Foreigners then were able to see the senator's party act along the same lines, using extortionate legislative methods to push a partisan agenda even at the expense of damaging the country's credit rating and causing disruptive interruptions to government operations. Once the same party achieved a majority in both houses of Congress there was much talk about how this would lead to newly responsible behavior, but the opening gavel of the new Congress had hardly fallen when once again there was the tactic of holding the operations of a government department hostage to press a specific partisan demand (this time on immigration) in opposition to the president's policies.

[Feb 24, 2015] American exceptionalism isn't our national religion. Criticism of the US isn't a sin

It says something about the Republican movement today that the only currently recognized patriotism is the uncritical kind.

Slapping on a flag pin and declaring the US as the best country in the world – solely to garner the applause of true believers – doesn't qualify one to lead it. At least, it doesn't make one qualified for the presidency any more than postulating that the one true flaw in US foreign policy is the president's supposed unwillingness to condemn the religious beliefs of a huge proportion of the world (because of the actions of a few political extremists) qualifies one to be secretary of state.

There is perhaps no one better positioned to recognize the flaws in the theory of American exceptionalism than the president of the United States: he – and it's always been a he, another flaw – sits atop the apparatus of the system of government fundamental to the thesis. One might hope it impossible for a man to have the power to end the lives of thousands (or millions) of people in the world with a couple of phone calls to not then consider, humbly, whether we deserve that power, or whether he deserves to embody it – let alone use it.

Feb 24, 2015 |

There is danger in buying your own hype, of listening exclusively to the people who think you can do no wrong because you're you: your right-ness becomes tautological, based on the sole fact of your existence.

The theory of American exceptionalism is no different: it posits that America is exceptional – in the most positive sense – because it is unique in the world, and that its uniqueness derives from its exceptional-ness. We're awesome because no one else is like us, and no one else is like us because we're awesome.

To then disagree with our existential superiority by suggesting that some of our acknowledged problems – ongoing racial disparities, for instance, or increasing income inequality, our propensity to torture those we imprison both here and abroad, or our love of bombing the shit out of other countries to affect political change – might make us somewhat less than super-wonderful as a nation-state is to commit a cardinal sin against the one true religion of America and risk excommunication from our political class.

It certainly says something about former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's understanding of love that he – after one annulment and a post-affair divorce – believes the purest expression of love is one that doesn't recognize the flaws in its object. Last week, he said of the president: "He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up, and I was brought up, through love of this country." Though he initially refused to retract his statements, he wrote in a weekend op-ed that he was really talking about "the effect [Obama's] words and his actions have on the morale of the country".

It says something about the Republican movement today that the only currently recognized patriotism is the uncritical kind.

Slapping on a flag pin and declaring the US as the best country in the world – solely to garner the applause of true believers – doesn't qualify one to lead it. At least, it doesn't make one qualified for the presidency any more than postulating that the one true flaw in US foreign policy is the president's supposed unwillingness to condemn the religious beliefs of a huge proportion of the world (because of the actions of a few political extremists) qualifies one to be secretary of state.

There is perhaps no one better positioned to recognize the flaws in the theory of American exceptionalism than the president of the United States: he – and it's always been a he, another flaw – sits atop the apparatus of the system of government fundamental to the thesis. One might hope it impossible for a man to have the power to end the lives of thousands (or millions) of people in the world with a couple of phone calls to not then consider, humbly, whether we deserve that power, or whether he deserves to embody it – let alone use it.

One might hope that the president would, after spending at least a little time in the most rarified company in the world, come to understand both that many countries see themselves as exceptional, and that being unique doesn't automatically lead to being right. One might hope that there would be no clearer vision of both America's flaws and its potential for greatness than that of the man elected to rectify the former and lead us to the latter, no matter how ineffectively he does either.

But, it seems, if you are a conservative politician in America today, you might instead hope that the man elected to lead us all be more a cheerleader for America, flaws be damned, than its quarterback.

Six years into the Obama presidency, eight after he began in earnest his run for the office and more than 13 years after 9/11, the criticism that Obama loves America and Americans less than other politicians feels more than a little shopworn; coming from someone like Rudy Giuliani, who most certainly holds something less than pure love in his heart for his fellow Americans who are of a different race, it sounds downright laughable. Love that cannot withstand criticism is hardly the truest kind; love that requires constant, public affirmation eventually rings more false than true to those who hear it.

African Americans (and, to some degree, all people of color in America) have more than a few reasons to love America with somewhat less fervor than white Americans. From being declared only three-fifths of the value of a white person in its constitution to slavery to Jim Crow to ongoing institutionalized discrimination and personalized racism, the flaws in the systems and people that comprise and constrain American life are a lived, not theoretical, experience to many African Americans and other people of color.

By proclaiming that only uncritical love of country qualifies one for the highest office, by asserting that the only true patriotism is one that does not recognize America's flaws, Republicans like Giuliani are effectively declaring that enormous groups of Americans are insufficiently American – positing that some Americans are better than others.

The idea that Obama's open recognition of America's flaws makes him insufficiently patriotic assuages the insecurity of conservative listeners – who doesn't like to be told that they are better than someone else? But it also reassures those same listeners of their own superiority to the president: they, of course, are positioned as the truer patriots, the more country-loving Americans, the ones who recognize the awesomeness of the country that's unique in its awesomeness. They're encouraged to believe only the best about themselves and their country, and discard as un-American any evidence that might counter their position that America is (and Americans are) the best.


There is something I have yet to figure out: this concept of "American exceptionalism" derives from what, exactly? Surely, not from the country itself since this is simply an abstract concept. It would then have to be from its people, but does it include everyone who is American? Are you "exceptional" from the moment you are born, as long as it is inside the American borders? What about immigrants ? Do they also become "exceptional" from the moment they acquire American citizenship? The United States is a great country, with much to be admired. But to jump from there into deciding that the US is different, or better, than the rest of the world, that's simply arrogance.

ImaHack -> djulai

"Although the concept of American exceptionalism dates to the 1830s the term was first used in the 1920s. The phrase "American exceptionalism" originates from the American Communist Party. The term comes from an English translation of a condemnation made in 1929 by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin criticizing Communist supporters of Jay Lovestone for the heretical belief that America was independent of the Marxist laws of history "thanks to its natural resources, industrial capacity, and absence of rigid class distinctions". Early examples of the term's usage include a declaration made at the 1930 American Communist convention proclaiming that

"the storm of the economic crisis in the United States blew down the house of cards of American exceptionalism".

"The phrase fell into obscurity for half a century, until it was popularized by American newspapers in the 1980s to describe America's cultural and political uniqueness. The phrase became an issue of contention between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign, with Republicans attacking Obama for allegedly not believing in it.

History of the concept

The first reference to the concept, and possibly its origin, was by French writer Alexis de Tocqueville in his 1835/1840 work, Democracy in America:

"The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people."

American exceptionalism was tied to the idea of Manifest Destiny, a term used by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1840s to promote the acquisition of much of what is now the Western United States (the Oregon Territory, the Texas Annexation, and the Mexican Cession of California and New Mexico and adjacent areas).

After de Tocqueville's usage the theme became common, especially in textbooks. From the 1840s to the late 19th century, the McGuffey Readers sold 120 million copies and were studied by most American students. Skrabec (2009) argues that the Readers "hailed American exceptionalism, manifest destiny, and America as God's country... Furthermore, McGuffey saw America as having a future mission to bring liberty and democracy to the world."

Read more at:

Apparently the policies of the USA can never be wrong

Warren says:

February 25, 2015 at 12:38 pm

kirill says:

February 25, 2015 at 1:25 pm

What a bunch of schizos. Apparently the policies of the USA can never be wrong. It's God's appointed minder nation of the Earth. It's always "them" that can't act right or are aggressors.

[Jan 29, 2015] Why Mourn King Abdullah By James Carden

Jan 27, 2015 | The American Conservative

If the outpouring of condolences emanating from the upper echelons of the U.S. government over the death of King Abdullah last week are anything to go by, one could easily be led to believe that the world lost a truly humane, wise, perhaps even visionary leader. In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted as much, calling Abdullah a "man of wisdom and vision." President Obama issued a statement calling the deceased despot "a force for stability and security in the Middle East" while the UK's David Cameron-in addition to ordering flags to fly at half-mast-praised Abdullah's role in "strengthening understanding between faiths." The IMF's Christine Lagarde even went so far as to claim Abdullah was "strong advocate of women." Gloria Steinem, call your office!

But this really is all a bit de trop.

Making matters worse is the fact that President Obama is rushing off to Riyadh to pay his respects in person. This is all the more egregious since the administration sent no senior officials to the Je Suis Charlie solidarity march in Paris earlier this month, which the ever tin-eared presidential confidante Valerie Jarrett dismissed as a mere "parade." Further, Mr. Obama, as the New York Times pointed out on Sunday, rarely travels abroad solely to pay his respects to departed foreign leaders, one notable exception being his decision to travel to South Africa on the occasion of Nelson Mandela's passing. This, it hardly needs pointing out, is not that.

... ... ...

According to Human Rights Watch, the Abdullah regime beheaded 19 people over the course of 16 days last August; one of the executed was, according to a report issued by Amnesty International, mentally ill, while another was beheaded for the crime of "black magic sorcery." Meanwhile, a blogger by the name of Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, while only recently a video emerged of a Saudi policeman beheading a Burmese woman in the middle of a street in Mecca as she screamed for her life. She is one of 10 people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.

Then of course there is Saudi Arabia's role in providing material support for the 9/11 atrocity that took the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans. Obama continues to protect the Saudis by refusing to release the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report having to do with Saudi Arabia's funding of and complicity in the attacks. This despite his own promises to the 9/11 families that he would do so. Efforts by U.S. Congressmen Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) to force the administration to release the redacted pages are ongoing. In addition, former senator and Intelligence Committee chairman Bob Graham (D-Fla.) has also called on the administration to release the 28 redacted pages, whose content he says, "points a finger in the direction of Saudi Arabia."

... ... ...

Meanwhile, the Saudis continue to fund - to the tune of billions of dollars a year - the propagation of the most sinister and violent branch of Islam throughout the world, leading to, among other things, the ritual slaughter of a staff of cartoonists in the very heart of Europe, hostage taking in Sydney, and murderous rampages in Ottawa and Brussels, to say nothing of a series of subway bombings in Madrid, London, and Moscow.

It is by now bindingly clear that the regime in Riyadh will resort to the most medieval of measures towards anyone-within or without its borders-who is not in thrall to the violent tenets of Wahhabi Islam. So the question remains: why does our own government pretend that this is not so?

Meanwhile, we are treated to the spectacle of certain of our own Middle East experts worrying that the Obama administration-because it supposedly has paid insufficient attention to the wishes of the Saudi tyranny-faces "an uphill struggle to regain the full trust of the royal family." Pardon me, to regain their trust?

James W. Carden served as an advisor to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at the State Department from 2011-2012.

[Jan 22, 2015] SOTU An Annual Monarchist Ritual To Acclaim U.S. Hypocrisy

Jan 21, 2015 |

From Obama's State of the Union remarks (via Micah Zenko):

... we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we have done relentlessly since I took office ... while making sure that other nations play by the rules ...

The above fragments were both followed by applause.



How foreigners perceive such nutty speech:

Russia's foreign minister says the United States wants to dominate global affairs and expects all others to bow to its supremacy.

He is right. See above.

Speaking at Wednesday's news conference, Sergey Lavrov said that President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech reflected the U.S. aspirations to remain "the No. 1" power. He added that the United States will come to realize that such approach is unsustainable.

The reality that an uncooperative and unilateral U.S. can not achieve the aims it wants is slowly, slowly setting in. Currently Obama's foreign policy is blamed for the various U.S. foreign policy disasters (Yemen anyone? Ukraine?). But Obama's foreign policy is not really different from the one Bush and Carter followed and the next president will likely try the same foolish hypocritical paths.

The self-delusion of U.S. allmightiness has deep roots and it will take some near catastrophic events to rip it apart.

Posted by b on January 21, 2015 at 09:11 AM | Permalink

Noirette | Jan 21, 2015 10:40:38 AM 10

another snippet: At this moment -- with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, booming energy production -- we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth.


This speech is for internal consumption only, that is its function. It's appeal, on the face of it, is 'to the (whole) Nation.'

Therefore the cutesy-folksy and (statistically) false:

Rebekah took out student loans and enrolled in community college, and retrained for a new career. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. They bought their first home. They had a second son, Henry. Rebekah got a better job and then a raise. Ben is back in construction -- and home for dinner every night.

presented as an emblem of the history of the USA!

In fact, the message is sorta-coded, it presents the talking points the 20% (the 1% are a distraction, what counts is the 20% who are the well-off supporters of the regime, tied to it and dependent) need to hammer endlessly. Key phrase:

Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work as long as politics don't get in the way.

What is middle-class economics, no such thing exists? Top 20% interests do. Presidential Policies will work if politicans don't intefere? Muddled and hypocritical doesn't get better. Message: our domination will resist partisan quarrels in favor of certain sectors. Some cartels and scammers can dutifully expect more largesse, here education and health, with Wall Street put on very minor notice (wink wink, act not too blatant if you please.)

I only skimmed the rest, but overall the message was extremely weak, tepid, an eternal bootstrapping to rise from the ashes, adverity and renewal, blah blah.

Khalid Shah | Jan 21, 2015 4:09:43 PM | 25

Good catch on the hypocrisy. You are right the two statements taken together are indeed hypocritical. But such hypocrisy is present in actions of almost all powerful nations currently; if we care to look for it.

For a very long time the rule in international politics has been 'He who has the gun makes the rules'. It is delusional to think that China or Russia or anyone else would not act exactly the same way as USA is if they had a similar military advantage. USA continues to spend more on military than the next five nations COMBINED. As long as this remains true, and there isn't much sign of this changing, USA will continue to throw its weight around. It is quite understandable that other nations may resent when USA throws its weight around. But lets not confuse that resentment with any desire by any nation for there to be equality and fairness in International relations. Almost all nations are playing dirty games internationally.

I do not agree with the US policies that led to adventures in Libya, Syria, Ukraine. Nor the policies that led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. All of these have been unsuccessful for the stated goals. But perhaps the real goals are not widely known. A while ago, one commentator on this site, pointed out about the destruction of Syria during the current struggles, that perhaps the destruction was not a unfortunate side effect but also part of the plan. I think there may be a lot of truth in that observation and if one follows its logic then perhaps those pushing these policies (commonly called Neocons) are quite happy with the results of all these wars and adventures. We may agree that these policies are very immoral, which they undoubtedly are, but that does not mean they are going to end any time soon. And if future events cause USA to become less powerful, we can be assured that some other nation would quickly step into the gap and carry out equally awful policies.

Posted by: bridger | Jan 21, 2015 6:26:32 PM | 27

Why do so many posters on this site continue to reference KAbuki theatre as some kind of touchstone for a false show?

This peculiarly american use is tied up with its genesis as part of a ww2 psyop to indoctrinate the troops with the worthlessness of the enemy.

Grow up- and think ofyour own way of expressing what you mean. I'm not above an enjoyable visit to the pantomime - 'he's behind you...'

[Jan 22, 2015] US unilateral actions to protect its interests let other govts use same excuse

RT Op-Edge

US should hold itself to a higher standard and stop acting unilaterally and violating international rules whenever it feels its interests jeopardized, said Nick Sarwark of the Libertarian National Committee on President Obama's State of the Union speech.

READ MORE: Obama faces GOP Congress with plans for middle class, cybersecurity, Gitmo

RT: President Obama appealed for bi-partisan support during the address. Has he got it from smaller parties like yours?

Nick Sarwark: I think that the President is going to face a tough road in the Congress that is primarily run by the Republicans now. The Libertarian Party agrees with him on a few points. We agree with him that we have to show more leadership by finishing the job of closing Guantanamo, we agree with the opening of relations with Cuba.

Chris Bambery, political analyst on Obama State of the Union Speech: "In terms of foreign policy, there is not much [Obama] can point to in terms of success in his speech. You know he said he was going to close Guantanamo, but he said that when he was first elected two terms ago. If he does eventually close Guantanamo before leaving office people might ask why it is taking so long."

Where we disagree is this idea that we can again try and project military force around the world and do that in a way that doesn't involve any American boots on the ground. We've seen that strategy before and every time that it is sold to the American people as, "We'll support a moderate group in this or other country," it always ends up with those guns being turned back against our soldiers. That is a point where we differ.

The President has also a number of proposals that expand the use of government, that expand the spending of tax dollars, that create subsidies and we fundamentally disagree with that. We believe that the way that you make education more affordable is you let the free market work. You don't subsidize it like he wants to do it with community college.

Brian Becker, director of Answer coalition: "The US has allowed itself the right for an open-ended bombing campaign in both Iraq and Syria not just for months or years but perhaps for decades… [Obama] has acted without any authorization and the Congress has not demanded to be party to the whole process even though the US Constitution states clearly that only Congress can declare war and this is clearly a war."

That the way you show leadership around the world is with trade and free relations between peoples without engaging in military actions or sanctions, that being a good trading partner and having people talk to each other and individuals is the way that you create change around the world and show that example.

RT: The President also said America and its allies could take unilateral action to tackle terrorist groups. What message does this send about America's attitude to international law?

NS: It's the same message that we've sent for decades under Obama and Bush. The American government has been willing to strike with drones, or with Special Forces, or soldiers all around the world wherever our government feels that our interests are jeopardized. The problem with violating international norms in that way is that then opens it up for other governments to make the same excuses and say: "Well, Americans did it, so you can do it too!"

Chris Bambery, political analyst on Obama State of the Union Speech: "Idea that the Americans have driven back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is always laughable. There have been some slight reverses for Islamic State. But they continue to hold the land as large as it was before the Americans began the intervention and there is no sign that it'll be driven out of there anytime soon."

I believe that America should hold itself to a higher standard. There is a difference between being able to go act unilaterally, and it is being a good idea, good for America long-term. When we act unilaterally we get ourselves involved in conflicts that we end up having to finish. It's easy to bomb Iraq, but then 11 years on you are still in Iraq trying to clean up the mess from that unilateral bombing. So just because we have the power to act unilaterally around the world doesn't mean we should necessarily use it.

Brian Becker, director of Answer coalition: "There is no international law that's considered to be criteria for US actions. The UN is quite clear that neither the United States nor any other country has the right to attack another entity except in the instance of imminent self-defense and yet the Obama administration has carried out a policy of endless drone strikes … As we can see in Iraq and Syria, they can declare who the enemy is."

RT: Obama spoke out against sanctions on Cuba and Iran, but praised similar measures against Russia. Why is there such discrepancy?

NS: Maybe it hasn't been 40 years of sanctions not working against Russia yet. The discrepancy always looks like a good idea at the time. It is the quick and easy thing to do and the work and actual diplomacy and hashing out these issues and persuading people is hard. Sanctions are easy and it's easy for congressmen go back to their constituency and say: "Look, I did something." But that doesn't address the underlying issues in the way that diplomacy does. We can impose more sanctions on Russia, but long-term that doesn't address the underlying problems.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

[Jan 21, 2015] Listening to Lavrov and remembering the Crusaders

Jan 21, 2015 |

I was just listening to Lavrov's reaction to the latest grandstanding nonsense spewed yesterday by Obama. Lavrov mentioned that it is rather clear that the USA refuse to be even the "first amongst equals". I had to smile.

Lavrov was referring to the notion of primus inter pares which means just that, "first amongst equals", and which was the primacy of honor the entire Christian world was willing to grant Patriarch of Rome because, at the time, Rome was the capital of the Empire. But then, just as now, being just the "first amongst equals" was not good enough for the leader of the West which already wanted to subjugate all the other Patriarchates (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople), soon thereafter, the entire planet (spiritually via the Dictatus papae and secularly via the Treaty of Tordesillas).

Apparently nothing has changed in over 1000 years. The leader of the "Western World" still wants to be the Pontifex Maximus of the entire planet and the leaders of the East as still resisting him.

The Saker

PS: I forgot to add: and the Latins still want us, people from the East, to shut up, stop reminding them of their historical record - now they want to pretend like we are brothers. Yeah, brothers like Cain and Abel I suppose - Russia today sure "feels the love", no doubt here. You are only kidding yourselves...

[Jan 21, 2015] Russia condemns US for wanting to 'dominate the world' after State of the Union

"Yesterday's speech by President Obama shows that at the centre of the [US's] philosophy is only one thing: 'We are number one and everyone else has to recognise that' … It shows that the United States wants all the same to dominate the world and not merely be first among equals."
January 21, 2015 |

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov accuses Obama of taking 'course of confrontation' over remarks in speech aimed at Russia

Russia has hit back at Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, saying that it showed the US believes it is "number one" and seeks world domination.

The US president said his country was upholding "the principle that bigger nations can't bully the small" by opposing what he called Russian aggression and supporting democracy in Ukraine.

"The Americans have taken the course of confrontation and do not assess their own steps critically at all," the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Yesterday's speech by President Obama shows that at the centre of the [US's] philosophy is only one thing: 'We are number one and everyone else has to recognise that' … It shows that the United States wants all the same to dominate the world and not merely be first among equals."

This phase would pass, Lavrov said, but added that it would take time for US thinking on foreign policy to become less aggressive. "I would prefer all countries to adopt the philosophy of cooperation, not diktat," he said.

Relations between Russia and the US have sunk to their lowest level since the end of the cold war, mainly because of Moscow's confrontation with the west over the crisis in Ukraine, during which western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia.

Lavrov said ties between Moscow and Washington had deteriorated in 2014 and called for cooperation, including on Iran and Syria.

Washington and the west believe Moscow is the driving force behind a rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine and provides them with arms and troops. Russia denies this.

Lavrov drew a parallel between the Maidan protests in Kiev that culminated in the overthrow last year of Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukoych as president and the violence in the US town of Ferguson over a court decision that fuelled racial tensions.

He quoted Obama as saying that destroying property while rioting was criminal and should be prosecuted. "No one in the west said anything similar about what was happening on the Maidan. No one. And buildings and people were set ablaze," he said, accusing the west of reverting to double standards.

[Jan 21, 2015] Lavrov on Obama speech Efforts to isolate Russia will fail

RT News
Attempts at isolating Russia will not work, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on the outcome of 2014.

"We hear from our Western partners that Russia has to be isolated," Lavrov said. "Specifically, Barack Obama has just repeated that. These attempts won't be effective. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will never resort to self-isolation."

The minister said Moscow is calling on Washington to resume cooperation that was thwarted last year. "Relations between Moscow and Washington significantly deteriorated in 2014. We call for resuming effective cooperation at a bilateral and international level. But dialogue is only possible if based on equality and respect for each other's interests," he said.

Cutting ties with NATO was not Russia's choice, according to Lavrov.

"NATO followed the US in its drive for confrontation. NATO made an absolutely politicized decision to halt civil and military cooperation. Almost all projects have been frozen," Lavrov said. Moscow "will not allow a new Cold War," he added.

Commenting on US President Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech, Lavrov said it showed Washington wanted to dominate the world and required all the rest to acknowledge their superiority.

"Americans are absolutely non-critical in assessing their own steps, and yesterday's speech by Obama shows that the core of their philosophy is: 'we are number one'. And all the rest should accept that."

Lavrov described US "aggressive" foreign policy as "outdated."

No proof of Russian military in southeastern Ukraine

Lavrov has denied allegations of a Russian military presence in southeastern Ukraine, calling on those who believe the opposite to prove their point. "I say it every time: if you are so sure in stating that, confirm it with facts. But no one can or wants to provide them," he said.

Lavrov said he would try to negotiate an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine at talks in Berlin due to take place later in the day. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Germany and France are expected to be present.

He said it was now vital to withdraw heavy artillery from the line separating militia-held territories from those under Kiev's control. The move would prevent civilian casualties. "Russia has already persuaded the self-defense fighters to withdraw heavy artillery," he said. "Now the Ukrainian authorities should do their bit."

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is, according to Lavrov, ready to discuss the peace plan offered by President Putin on January 15, despite earlier reports of its rejection.

READ MORE: Poroshenko rejected Putin's artillery withdrawal plan, began assault – Kremlin

"Judging by the reaction of President Poroshenko, we feel he's ready to discuss it, but raises certain questions, some of those quite technical. They can all be agreed upon equitably."

In response, Poroshenko says that Kiev is committed to adhering to the Minsk agreement. The Ukrainian president also says that his country wants to see an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine by "removing heavy artillery" and "starting a political process."

"We will do everything possible to turn the situation around to follow the Minsk agreement. This is very simple. The Minsk agreement is a peaceful option," the Ukrainian president said, as reported by RIA Novosti.

Recent days have seen an escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. Government troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas, in accordance with a presidential order.

Residential areas have come under fire with reports of several civilian casualties.

A hospital in Donetsk was severely damaged on Monday, when at least two shells struck it.

Human rights groups have called on both sides to protect civilians in conflict zones.

Amnesty International called on militias not launch operations from populated areas, and demanded that Kiev stops its indiscriminate shelling of residential blocks.

[Jan 18, 2015] The US mind is diseased with the syndrome known as "Manifest Destiny"

Jan 18, 2015 |
kirill, January 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm
The US mind is diseased with the syndrome known as "Manifest Destiny". A type of rabid exceptionalism and nationalist chauvinist ideology.

My theory is that the US always saw Russia as having the potential to be greater than itself (given its vast land mass and capable people) and hence an enemy to be destroyed. The USA actively financed and promoted forces to depose the Czar. They succeeded in 1917 with the assistance of the UK and Germany. The tens of millions of Russian victims that followed are due to US machinations. Now the the USA is trying to isolate Russia and turn it into some sort of tribal reservation.

I say it is high time to subvert the USA. It needs to be sunk both literally and figuratively. It deserves punishment and badly.

james@wpc, January 18, 2015 at 3:18 pm
I agree. Russia has always been a threat to the economies that are run by the banking thieves because their economies are hobbled by their thieving. To remain on top, the bankers have to cripple competitors through war and revolutions and they have done an exceedingly good job of it over the last centuries.

But who is 'the USA'? The enemy has always and only ever been the psychopaths in charge if this and other countries. Let's target the psychopaths and not make more enemies out of the many dupes, patsies and the ignorant. The psychopaths' chief weapon is deceit about who and what they are. Expose them and their nature to defeat them

[Jan 10, 2015] If Credibility Is Fragile, Then Commitments Should Be Rare By Noah Millman

January 7, 2015 | The American Conservative
Daniel Larison on how hawks use credibility as a bludgeon:

The "credibility" argument is almost exclusively used by foreign policy hawks, and they pay no attention to negative international reactions to U.S. behavior that contradict their assumptions about "credibility." If other states react to provocative and confrontational policies by becoming more assertive in their respective regions, hawks interpret that as proof of the other states' inherent aggressiveness and "expansionist" tendencies.

Hawks usually don't accept that adverse responses that directly follow U.S. actions have any connection to U.S. policies, but any development that happens to take place after the U.S. "fails" to "act" somewhere is preposterously traced back to the moment of "inaction." Thus the U.S. is blamed for somehow "causing" unrelated events in one part of the world by choosing not to do something in an entirely different part, but it is excused from responsibility for the direct negative consequences of whatever it has actually done.

That's because the only thing that jeopardizes "credibility" in their eyes is "inaction" (i.e., not attacking or threatening to attack someone), and adverse consequences of "action" (e.g., expanding alliances, invading/bombing/occupying other countries) are ignored or spun as the result of later "weakness."

This is all correct, but the funny thing to me is that credibility arguments should be the almost exclusive preserve of advocates of restraint. Why? Because if credibility is an important asset that allows America to achieve some objectives without deploying resources (by simply making a commitment to respond if some other actor takes some other action), then we shouldn't squander that asset by making commitments we don't intend – or cannot – make good on.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's gives a new meaning to the term "shock and awe."

December 11, 2014 | Salon,

Here's what it's come down to in America. The newly released Executive Summary of Senate Intelligence Committee's Torture Report lays bare that the CIA makes propaganda its business, and the propagandists and perpetrators of torture are enjoying their freedom. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has made truth-telling a crime, and truth-tellers are in jail.

The Executive Summary of Senate Intelligence Committee's Torture Report brings to light gruesome and shameful details about the U.S. torture program. It describes horrific acts of human degradation (such as "rectal rehydration" when not medically necessary) and the chilling implementation of policies that specifically authorized the abuse far worse than we ever imagined or were ever told.

The report's Executive Summary includes a deception section, describing in detail how the CIA systematically leaked classified information about the torture program to journalists who published the agency's version of events, including "inaccurate claims about the effectiveness of CIA interrogations, much of it consistent with the inaccurate information being provided by the CIA to policymakers at the time." CIA refused to file crimes reports about these "unauthorized disclosures," which makes sense since the CIA Office of Public Affairs (OPA) masterminded them.

It doesn't square, however, with the Obama administration's unprecedented use of the Espionage Act against more people for alleged mishandling of classified information than all previous presidential administrations combined. One of the people Obama prosecuted is whistle-blower and Government Accountability Project client, former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Kiriakou publicly revealed in 2007 that torture was an official program of the U.S. government, not some rogue pastime of a few sadistic agents. In an attempt to silence Kiriakou, who continued to speak publicly and wrote a book highly critical of torture, the CIA filed six crimes reports against him for alleged "unauthorized disclosures" of information.

The Torture Report Executive Summary brings this hypocritical double standard into sharp focus, describing how when congressional overseers asked CIA why a crimes report was not filed for a story in the New York Times, CIA's legal office responded that "'part of this article was based on 'background' provided by [Office of Public Affairs]. That, essentially, negates any use in making an unauthorized disclosure [report]." In other words, the CIA's public advocacy for torture campaign came above concerns about disclosure of classified information.

It's even more unseemly that the CIA began to realize all this leaking completely contradicted its so-called Glomar position in FOIA cases that CIA could neither confirm nor deny the torture program's existence. When the CIA prepared a media campaign glorifying the program, one CIA attorney warned that "our Glomar figleaf is getting pretty thin," and another noted that the agency's proposed media campaign "makes the [legal] declaration I just wrote about the secrecy of the interrogation program a work of fiction …" Disturbingly, the CIA attorneys did not advise correcting FOIA court filings. Instead, the lawyers recommended that the disclosures should not be attributable to CIA.

Before the Torture Report Executive Summary's release, the CIA's most famous and offensive leak came from former CIA director Leon Panetta, when he revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit and ground commander who carried out the Osama bin Laden raid and discussed classified information in a 2011 ceremony attended by "Zero Dark Thirty" filmmaker Mark Boal.

The Torture Report Executive Summary reveals that CIA leaks weren't just glorifying torture to make a Hollywood movie, they were systematically remaking the "Rendition and Interrogation Program" to deceive Congress, the "free" press and the American public into thinking torture was something mild, rare and effective. The entire program was one giant propagandist leak.

This information, four years in the making and two years in the withholding, would have been nice for Mr. Kiriakou and the other Espionage Act defendants to use to defend themselves on the basis of selective and vindictive prosecution. Unfortunately, forced with facing decades away from his family and young children, Mr. Kiriakou agreed to a plea bargain and is still in prison serving a 30-month sentence for confirming the identity of a torturer working in the euphemistic "Rendition and Interrogation Program." All the Espionage Act charges against him were dropped, but not before the CIA got its pound of flesh.

The Executive Summary is a welcome glimmer of transparency, but until we have accountability for torture, we will always be in danger of history repeating itself.

Jesselyn Radack is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower organization.

The Real Story of How America Became an Economic Superpower

The Atlantic

"Britain has the earth, and Germany wants it." Such was Woodrow Wilson's analysis of the First World War in the summer of 1916, as recorded by one of his advisors. And what about the United States? Before the 1914 war, the great economic potential of the U.S. was suppressed by its ineffective political system, dysfunctional financial system, and uniquely violent racial and labor conflicts. "America was a byword for urban graft, mismanagement and greed-fuelled politics, as much as for growth, production, and profit," Tooze writes.

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Last modified: March, 12, 2020