Wednesday, December 31, 2014

US National Security Comprehensive Review of Policy Against Russia: "Easy with Lavrov, guys!"

Bloomberg published an article based on interviews with the insiders in the Obama administration concerning Russia. The material is significant because it is also a guarded attempt by the administration to present some of the recent decisions and estimates made when, "this month, Obama's National Security Council finished an extensive and comprehensive review of U.S policy toward Russia that included dozens of meetings and input from the State Department, Defense Department and several other agencies, according to three senior administration officials."

The Bloomberg insider material confirms some of the points and observations I've been laboriously making over the course of the several last months.

One of the more immediate and practical decisions is the White House's sense that the US needs to use more cautiously the channel hooked up to Lavrov, which was in many ways special: "[Kerry's] close relationship with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov represents the last remaining functional diplomatic channel between Washington and Moscow. They meet often, often without any staff members present, and talk on the phone regularly." Washington officials now see (perhaps in the view of some of the questions and concerns) that the Kerry-Lavrov channel might be, if not a liability, then no longer safe or even now "dooming [the] outcome": "Also, some experts feel, placing the diplomacy in the Kerry-Lavrov channel dooms its outcome, because the Russians know that Kerry himself has no power to make major decisions and Lavrov has to be careful not to be seen as cozying up to the U.S. The more Kerry creates a perception he has a special relationship with Lavrov, the more he puts Lavrov in a difficult position with officials in his own capital, starting with Putin,” said Simes."

The article also confirms the hitherto U.S. "negotiating" (or rather ultimatum-based) position, which it dubs as "secret outreach." It was an "offer" or essentially an "offer" of capitulation in Donbass: "[A]n offer to Russia that would pave the way for a partial release of some of the most onerous economic sanctions. Kerry’s conditions included Russia adhering to September's Minsk agreement and ceasing direct military support for the Ukrainian separatists. The issue of Crimea would be set aside for the time being, and some of the initial sanctions that were put in place after Crimea’s annexation would be kept in place. “We are willing to isolate the issues of Donetsk and Luhansk from the issue of Crimea,” another senior administration official told me, naming two regions in Eastern Ukraine under separatist control. “If there was a settlement on Donetsk and Luhansk, there could be a removal of some sanctions while maintaining sanctions with regard to Crimea. That represents a way forward for Putin.”"

The US was thus offering Russia this "deal": surrender Novorossiya/Donbass to Kiev (and its junta) for a partial lifting of sanctions, which can be resumed, reintroduced, or increased at any time with Crimea being "set aside" for more sanctions and ultimatums. And this ultimatum was presented to Russia "as a way forward for Putin." The US would be thus giving nothing in exchange for Russia's real and immediate abandoning of her national security interests and the Russians in Donbass with all the inevitable consequences. Moreover, the offer, which insisted on "adhering to the Minsk Agreements"--by Russia only--also shows and confirms who was the real author and inventor of the Minsk Agreements. It was the US. The claimed credit and partial ownership of what was signed in Minsk by Putin served as one of its selling points and a form of "buying in." Once one can persuade oneself that he or she made it one's own, it is then much easier to persuade oneself of its wisdom and of the need to accept it. What can be wrong with accepting "one's own" idea and proposition?

The article then indicates that this White House's brilliant plan has, however, been lately rejected. This also meant that Kerry's planned trip to Moscow has been cancelled (for now): "This fall, Kerry even proposed going to Moscow and meeting with Putin directly. The negotiations over Kerry’s trip got to the point of scheduling, but ultimately were scuttled because there was little prospect of demonstrable progress."

So what was the basic bottom line, new strategic readjustment of the US Drang nach Osten as a result of the "comprehensive review" of the US strategy towards Russia? The take-home message has been framed as follows: "We might as well test out what the [Russians] are actually willing to [accept and] do,” a senior administration official told me. “Our theory of this all along has been, let's see what’s there. Regardless of the likelihood of success.”

The US is playing a geopolitical chess game. But, faithful to its animus, it is mixing it also with a lethal and dangerous poker played for very high stakes.

PS: Should I wait for the midnight and raise a glass to 2015?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Novorossiya Cossacks: The People of Lugansk Have Had Enough of Corruption and Anti-Novorossiya Appeasement of the Banderites

Igor Plotnisky, the head of the Lugansk Republic, was compelled to state the following to Kiev (as well as Moscow): "We will not place ourselves under the jurisdiction [sovereignty] of Ukraine. This is the decision of our people, and I have not the right to change it."
Original: "Под юрисдикцию Украины мы не пойдем. Это решение народа, и я не имею право его менять", —
According to a fresh leak, the last round of the Minsk talks ended up in a diplomatically atypical way. After hearing the demands of the junta presented by Ukraine's former president and godfather of its oligarchs, Leonid Kuchma, the Lugansk and Donetsk representatives rose up and said, "Leonid Danilovich [Kuchma], go and f**k yourself," and left.

An open appeal to Vladimir Putin and to all Novorossiya supporters by Cossack commander Pavel Dremov and his comrades explains the sudden apparent, but loud breakaway of Igor Plotnisky from the Kremlin's official directive for Lugansk and Donetsk to get back into the fold of "the one, united Ukraine" with its Banderite whip. 

Dremov is addressing here himself directly to Vladimir Putin. He demands that Plotnisky resign. The grievances are substantial. For Dremov and the soldiers, Plotnisky is a "thief," and so is Surkov, the man entrusted with the Donbass portfolio.
Pavel Dremov speaking on behalf not only of his Cossacks, but many others in the Novorosssiya militia, makes it clear that these people had enough the ostrich and make-up policies, which they see as haughty, arrogant, and counter-productive. 
Dremov and his people demand that the Russian government finally recognize and wake up to the fact that Donbass or Novorossiya is defending Russia and fighting for Russia, that the people of Novorossiya are either Russians by birth or by their souls. There is no return to Kiev and no re-subordination to the Bandera-loving oligarchs.
According to Dremov, who expresses the prevailing consensus, the Minsk Agreements were "whorish."
The People of Lugansk Have Had Enough of Corruption and Anti-Novorossiya Appeasement of the Banderites. The people of Lugansk demand that Moscow finally hear, respect and also recognize their just struggle, will, self-determination, and sacrifice. They fight for Russia.

The US War in Afghanistan Has Just Officially Ended by Virtue of New PR Label, but No One Even Tries to Pretend That This Is a Fact

As of yesterday, the war in Afghanistan has officially ended since, like in Iraq, the US devoted to its post-modern constructivism sees reality much in terms of "at the beginning and the end of this world is what it we say it is." So PR labels try to define reality for us, including the end of the wars, which were not even officially declared to be wars to begin with. As far as we got were various operations with various contingent adjectives and if we ran out of these, then just the adjective "contingent" itself was used.

This time, even the corporate media is forced to admit that the PR "ending of the war in Afghanistan" isn't really the end of the war. The US involvement in the war was merely renamed as of December 29. Together with it, the "International Security Assistance Force," the US-led and NATO-based alliance involved there was renamed as well--by tweet:

NOTICE TO OUR FOLLOWERS: Reflecting the launch of @NATO's new mission in #Afghanistan, @ISAFMedia is now officially @ResoluteSupport
— Resolute Support (@ResoluteSupport) December 28, 2014

The force is now thus "Resolute Support." This is almost as creative as "Determined Breathing," which, in fact, seems better for it is not clear what or whom exactly "Resolute Support" is going to support. Furthermore, the addition of the much needed (supposedly) addictive adjective "resolute" all but affirms that this support is going to be anything but "resolute." The lady is protesting ... emphasizing her virtue too much.

From a strictly literary perspective, this PR relabeling is not exactly superb either. For, in terms of obvious and inescapable associations, "Resolute Support" easily evokes and tends to evoke some similar terms ... such as "Life Support"--putting the policy and the country on life support was very likely what the Freudian devil of the suppressed unconscious wanted to say and hear after all.

Monday, December 29, 2014

When it comes to the Empire's and Ukraine's Fascism and FEMEN, Sylvia Plath Is Relevant and Comes Handy Again

The fact that FEMEN, the quite popular form of late feminism, unhesitatingly sides with the Nazi regime in Kiev (even cheering up on the murderous mobs massacring people in Odessa on May 2), reminds me of the curious case the American poetess Sylvia Plath who, both tapping into a new political and cultural (under)current and projecting herself and her personal experience with her abusive father, wrote that "every woman adores a fascist."

The line comes from one of her last poems (before she put her head into an oven only some four months after writing this poem, which mixes hate with adoration), Daddy. Much of the pathology of US political turn as much as the current pathology of Ukrainian politics together with its bizarre and vulgar "feminism" is there; also note the Orwellian allusion "the boot in the face":


Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
There’s a stake in your fat black heart
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
12 October 1962

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The "strategy" almost looks like an obstinate attempt to please and to collect brownie points, which cannot be even cashed in

Mark Sleboda: "Kremlin cedes territory to Kiev Putsch regime: Russian forces withdraw, Ukraine regime forces take full control of Chongar Peninsula, which connects Crimea to mainland Chongar holds vital water, gas, and electricity cutoff points for Crimea as well as highway and railroad transit to mainland which is why Russian and self-defense forces had originally taken it. ... Confirmed. Concession as part of "peace" deal with West and Kiev to show Russia has no further designs on "Ukrainian" territory."

So what else does the Nazi regime need? Recognition? Done. Legitimization? Done. 
Some compliments (addressed to Poroshenko)? Done. Pretending that Poroshenko is the head of one-man party of "peace" and declaring so ad nauseam? Done.
Gas? Done. Coal? It seems to have been done (first confirmed, the denied ... via an alleged "hacking" story). 
Discounts? Done. Not demanding money (credits) back? Done. 
Acceptance of the "territorial integrity" and unity of Ukraine as the principle that tops all the others? Done. 
Rescinding the "right to protect" Russians and other people of Donbass from war crimes and genocide? Done.
Not holding Poroshenko and the junta responsible and liable for the deaths and destruction in Odessa and in Donbass? Done. 
Not taking Mariupol and ceding a large swath of territory around it? Done. 
Forcing the most popular and capable commander of Novorossiya out of Novorossiya? Done.
Letting the junta resupply and replace its troops at the Donetsk airport? Done. 
Asking the brave people of Donbass to "postpone" their referendum (like forever)? Done.
Not recognizing the referendum in Donetsk and Lugansk? Done. 
Not recognizing the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk? Done. Time? Done.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Partial reflection on some of the lessons from 2014 in Ukraine

The main result of the latest round of Minsk "talks" is resumed fighting. And this also means more tanks moving around. Pictures provided by Graham Phillips:

The "legitimacy" extended by the Kremlin to Poroshenko and his old/new Maidanite government  (paired by the sidestepping of the Donetsk and Lugansk referenda) and the order not to take Mariupol can be ranked among the biggest and most obvious blunders of the year of 2014.

Strategically and politically, the blunting and watering down of the (working) class, anti-oligarchic character of the people's uprising in Donbass by the assumed "conservatism" of Putin and the Russian leadership (hence the incompatibility of the class character and interests of these two sides) has been the greatest impediment and the greatest stumbling block.

The energy and spirit of the completely just and justified class revolt is, however, a key to victory. The other key to victory is also the recognition of the anti-fascist character of the uprising symbolized and embodied in Novorossiya.

On this score too, the Russian leadership tried to dodge as much as possible the necessity of recognizing the Banderite regime in Kiev as Nazi together with the necessity of recognizing the anti-fascist character of Novorossiya and everything else that logically and necessarily follows from it.

On the positive side is the brilliantly conducted operation in Crimea after Ukraine has been lost to the US-orchestrated Maidanite putsch. The momentum created by the sudden counter-move in Crimea was not, however, followed, as a result of which some of its political and psychological gains, when further undeveloped, started to work against the momentum of Novorossiya.

Among other outstanding failures is the quick easing of the pressure on the Kiev junta over the Odessa massacre (asking the junta to investigate itself  fully, voiced occasionally by Lavrov, won't do) and the downing of MH 17.

The best leadership is the one that speaks the truth to the people and that is honest with the people.

The character and fate both of Russia and Novorossiya does appear to depend on the validity and meaning of the slogan, which was raised right from the start: "Russians don't leave their own behind," which might also be rendered as "Russians don't leave their own in misery or danger unassisted and undefended."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Igor Strelkov's Christmas Eve Statement

Igor Strelkov's statement made on the Christmas Eve:
1. As we speak, Ukraine is being armed and trained by the US and its allies.
2. Ukraine is preparing itself for a full scale war with Russia.
3. Moscow so-called negotiators are not telling the truth when they say that Kiev (or Poroshenko) is striving for peace. The opposite is true.
4. The Kiev junta has been welcoming and organizing on its territory Russian Nazis who are training there and forming military units. Their goal is first to assist with reconquest and cleansing of Donbass and then to begin military actions in the Russian Federation.
5. That Novorosssiya ceases to exist is in the interest and pursed as a goal by Russian oligarchy and the higher bureaucracy whose financial (and class) interests and capital are tied with the West and are located in the  West. It is also on them on whom the West relies and whom the West pressures in order to secure capitulation.
6. In Russia, there are, however, still significant patriotic forces who have risen in response to the events in Ukraine.
7. Without the full destruction of the junta and its forces, there can be no solid peace and the crisis cannot be resolved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Superb example of Lavrov's rhetoric

Indirectly, Lavrov tried today to explain his "Poroshenko-best-chance-for-Ukraine" statement. Here is the result: "It is possible to judge who wants what in today's Ukrainian leadership by their declarations. Although they are making very often similar statements ... For example, concerning NATO, they are explaining that it is the society that is willing so and that it is necessary to respond to these expectations. But these expectations are created in the main by the Ukrainian leadership, which, starting from the government takeover and through the following events, has escalated Russophobic sentiments, in fact, has declared war against everything Russian--culture, language, traditions, history, including Russian history on the territory of Ukraine, the history of the Second World War ... There are, however, things, which we are separating from rhetoric. The main thing for us is the deeds, not the words. And with respect to the deeds, we feel Ukrainian President Poroshenko's commitment to the Minsk Agreements ...

In essence, Lavrov said: "It is possible to judge who wants what in today's Ukrainian leadership by their declarations. ... The main thing for us is [however] the deeds, not the words. And with respect to the deeds, we feel Ukrainian President Poroshenko's commitment to the Minsk Agreements ..." Thus Lavrov appears to be asking his followers not to judge Poroshenko by what he says (and what he says is very "similar" to what everyone else is saying in the junta leadership), but by his "deeds." And the "deed" is Poroshenko's supposed commitment to the Minsk Deal or perhaps "peace," as "felt" by Lavrov. This is what one gets if one connects the beginning and the end of Lavrov's words together, while applying to Lavrov's words what he is asking us not to do: to go by the deeds and not by the words. Even though he admits that it is "possible to judge" what leaders want through what they say.

However, if one looks more carefully in the main middle part of Lavrov's rhetoric or statement, then what one sees is Lavrov's acknowledgement of the power of the Ukrainian leadership's rhetoric and words to be turned into deeds and to guide, direct and produce deeds, and the deeds, listed by Lavrov himself, refute all the supposed "feeling" of Poroshenko's commitment to reaching an agreement and peace. Lavrov actually confirms that the statements (rhetoric) of the Ukrainian leadership, which also includes Poroshenko's, are not only separable from the deeds, but they are also creating these deeds. Moreover, the deeds are as follows: "... expectations are created in the main by the Ukrainian leadership, which, starting from the government takeover and through the following events, has escalated Russophobic sentiments, in fact, has declared war against everything Russian--culture, language, traditions, history, including Russian history on the territory of Ukraine, the history of the Second World War ..."

Thus, Lavrov starts with a premise (importance of judging leaders and their intentions [also] by what they say), which he then rejects: "the main thing is the deeds, not the words," and the deeds, the "main thing," need to be "separated from rhetoric"--the words. This allows him to claim that he does "feel" that Poroshenko is committed to peace, after he just actually confirmed and established the opposite: the Ukrainian leadership ... "has escalated Russophobic sentiments, in fact, has declared war to everything Russian ..." In other words, the "rhetoric" of the Ukrainian leadership, including Poroshenko, is, in fact, a "declaration of war against everything Russian," and this has also changed and produced corresponding attitudes in society, which are no longer just words (hostile words), but also very, very hostile deeds.

This allows for at least three possible inferences:
1. Lavrov's rhetoric is self-refuting in a sense of affirming what is simultaneously negates, thus leaving the reader with a certain freedom to decide which part is false or which part is to be believed.
2. Lavrov's main point was to stress Poroshenko's [and Lavrov's] commitment to the Minsk Agreement regardless of the many clear words and the deeds of Poroshenko himself to the contrary; in the end, all what matters is Lavrov's "feeling" and his last word after confusing the listener so well that he or she no longer follows or is patient enough to think.
3. Or Lavrov tried to say that the Ukrainian leadership, including Poroshenko, is, indeed, waging war against "everything Russian" and that his concluding claim about Poroshenko's supposed commitment to talks and peace is false and should not be taken seriously. But, for some political and diplomatic reasons, Lavrov needed to hide the truth in the middle--for the benefit of a select audience with reading and analytic skills at the level of solid liberal arts graduate programs.

 «О том, кто чего хочет в рядах нынешнего украинского руководства, можно судить по их заявлениям. Хотя очень часто они делают похожие заявления … Например, по НАТО, объясняя это тем, что общество «заведено» и необходимо отвечать его ожиданиям. Но эти ожидания создаются во многом украинским руководством, которое, начиная с государственного переворота и продолжая последующими событиями, нагнетало русофобские настроения, по сути, объявило войну всему русскому — культуре, языку, традициям, истории, в том числе русской истории на территории Украины, истории Второй мировой войны», - указал Лавров в интервью газете «Коммерсантъ».
«Но есть, конечно, вещи, которые мы отделяем от риторики. Для нас главное — не слова, а дела. Что касается дел — мы чувствуем приверженность президента Украины Петра Порошенко минским договоренностям...."

If the reader is either confused or sticking to his or her preconceived ideas of what any statement should mean regardless of what it actually says, then Sergey Lavrov's additional statement also from today may (not) help. Among other things, Lavrov also stated as reported by RT: 

"It is not about who wins the war ... [everyone in Ukraine and Donbass] need[s] to agree on one constitution that would allow all to live under one government ..." According to Lavrov, another thing that needs to be considered and agreed upon is how to distribute tax revenue. ... Lavrov also said that sanctions against Russia came as a reaction to Moscow’s efforts in securing the Minsk peace agreements. ... “The September wave of sanctions was introduced as a ‘reward’ for Russia’s role in the Minsk agreements and more generally for its part around organizing the meeting [in Minsk], which in large part happened because of the role played by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said.
So what one learns about the war from Lavrov? That the war is not about winning. But it is about "allowing all to live under one government," and one of the key questions to settle is how to distribute tax revenues with the Banderite junta and the ruling Ukrainian oligarchs.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Derivatives on earth: The world's (sef)destruction button, nuclear option, and the greatest bubble the Empire has ever created

First I wanted to highlight Venezuela's vulnerability in the current round for global supremacy played out in the risky attempt at rebooting the Empire, as shown by Federico Pier in his article on the ruble, oil, derivatives, and the US hegemony.

If this monopoly game is a bit like chess, it is played at several chess boards at the same time (with new moves just made at the game involving Cuba).

But then I decided to go for the real elephant or perhaps Mega Bot in the room--the derivatives. In terms of their size, there is nothing like it on earth (a phrase that used to define Leviathan). They dwarf not only actual assets of the largest banks on earth, but also the GDP of the world or any country many times over.

In the end what is backing up these derivatives is not simply nothing, but the military might of the US, NATO, their allies, and the control over the elites, money, the economy, institutions, and the minds. But, in everyday practice, all the gigantic size and "wealth" represented by the derivatives is a mental construct that depends on agreements and suspension of reality.

Thus the problem is both simple and gigantic: the Empire overextend itself by hugely overextending the derivatives by means the fictional and nominal needs to be converted into the real. In this, the derivatives not only created unprecedented (apparent) power and wealth, but also an obvious built-in destruction/self-destruction button. Whoever figures out how to expose and checkmate the insolvent scheme of the derivatives or, conversely, how to convert all these absurdly inflated property claims into seemingly valid rights on earth and mankind (thus buying much of it as one's property), would not only deserve a Noble Prize (whether for economics, war or peace), but would also likely rule the world ... with a high risk of a crisis and destruction the like of which we have never seen before.

The derivatives are property claims on everything which the world produced many times surpassing anything which mankind has ever produced. Destroying or unleashing this potential power of the derivatives is a new kind of nuclear option for this world. That's also why the New World Order demands "globalization"--making any sovereignty, that is, any self-defensive measures, impossible.

From the position of this late capitalist system, the idea ("final solution") and the possible goal would be to convert the nominal value of the derivatives into thousand-year long public debt as well as equally long private, personal debt of everyone (except the elite) on the planet. The financial elite made up these values, they also like to see that it is also more or less what we all should owe to them. Under this gradually unfolding scheme (for it is already unfolding), salaries and wages as we used to know them would no longer exist. We would work only to pay a portion of the interest on the eternal debts which the derivatives or the global elite hiding behind the derives have made for us and for many generations to come.

Pier wrote:

"Let’s give some the numbers to these words and see how many of these crazy financial instruments, the US banks have:

JPMorgan Chase
Total Assets: $ 2,520,336,000,000 (about 2.5 trillion dollars)
The total exposure to derivatives: $ 68,326,075,000,000 (more than 68 trillion dollars)
Total Assets: $ 1,909,715,000,000 (just over 1.9 trillion dollars)
The total exposure to derivatives: $ 61,753,462,000,000 (more than 61 trillion dollars)
Goldman Sachs
Total Assets: $ 860,008,000 (less than a trillion dollars)
The total exposure to derivatives: $ 57,695,156,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)
Bank Of America
Total Assets: $ 2,172,001,000,000 (a little 'more than 2.1 trillion dollars)
The total exposure to derivatives: $ 55,472,434,000,000 (more than 55 trillion dollars)
Morgan Stanley
Total Assets: $ 826.568 billion (less than a trillion dollars)
The total exposure to derivatives: $ 44,134,518,000,000 (more than 44 trillion dollars)
A useful comparison to fully realize what numbers we're talking about: the US public debt amounts to 18 trillion dollars. The derivatives markets, only of the six largest banks in America, amounts to almost 16 times the US debt!"

Ukraine's rejection of bloc neutrality is now official: Ukrainian Parliament Adopted Poroshenko's pro-NATO bill

BREAKING: The Ukrainian Parliament cancelled Ukraine's official neutrality, the prohibition to enter a military alliance.

The bill was introduced by Poroshenko himself, Lavrov's "best chance for Ukraine" and "the man of peace" dubbed so by some circles in Moscow.

If Moscow started using the notion of "the common political space" as a politically seemingly less explicit term for "one and united Ukraine" as the key principle for the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and the fate of Novorossiya, the text of Poroshenko's bill identifies the purpose of the cancellation of Ukraine's military, political and strategic neutrality with "integration into Euro-Atlantic space," which is, of course, a legible cipher for NATO.

Three out of the four bills, which were to follow Ukraine's rejection of military neutrality and the affirmation of its willingness to subordinate itself to NATO and its plans, are to fix the "strategic membership in NATO."

Poroshenko, the "best partner" of the Kremlin in Kiev and his Maidan buddies thus hurried to get this watershed legislation just in time so that it can be offered as a Christmas present both to Moscow and Washington, even though with a very different effect. And also just in time of the new coming round of the Minsk "talks" to which, as usual, the representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics are invited mainly to be only handed decisions and documents, which had already been composed and agreed upon elsewhere.

The official rejection of Ukraine's neutrality, even without an official membership in NATO or its full completion, which might be formally still remote, does affirm that Ukraine under the Banderite regime is a NATO loyal and devoted proxy for which either independence or sovereignty is neither its choice nor its reality. This also affirms that the people of Ukraine are no longer merely hostage and property for their thieving oligarchs, but that their main utility is now defined as that of cannon balls and cannon fodder for a war with Russia.

So is Poroshenko the "best chance for Ukraine"? No, he was, is and remains Ukraine's best chance for war and self-destruction--at least because he as Ukraine's President is leading the ongoing Nazification and Banderization of the state and society, which never meant and was never supposed to produce peace. Not peace, but war.

Anyone who thought that Nazification can lead to peace was either politically incompetent or was lying.

On Khodorkovsky and His Opening of Open Russian Maidan Online: Russian Maidan Is the Script and Movie Which No One Is Hacking

Forget Sony's Interview. This is the real thing. Probably also composed by RAND.

Khodorkovsky and the West (the US) is following a tight script, which, for most part, has already been written. And, yes, it does feel like a movie and also like a deja vue, for some of its parts do look much like pieces taken out and adapted from the Maidan script for Ukraine ("pro-European choice," etc.).

The Guardian (a good place for helping out a fake imperial revolution) writes:

"The former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky ... says he would be ready to lead Russia ...  Khodorkovsky’s statement [came] at the launch of an online movement called Open Russia [did anyone say Soros?] ... “I would not be interested in the idea of becoming president of Russia at a time when the country would be developing normally,” he was quoted as saying  [of course, not, and these are not normal times for sure] ... “But if it appeared necessary to overcome the crisis and to carry out constitutional reform, the essence of which would be to redistribute presidential powers in favour of the judiciary, parliament and civil society, then I would be ready to take on this part of the task.” [Khodorkovsky does know how to use irony--Lavrov has been vocal in calling for some unspecified 'constitutional reform" for Ukraine with the junta in charge; Khodorkovsky is taking the meme from Lavrov and says that it is Russia that needs to do that ... for the sake a regime change and its own Maidan]
Open Russia is intended to unite pro-European Russians in a bid to challenge Putin’s grip on power. “A minority will be influential if it is organised,” Khodorkovsky said during a ceremony broadcast online from Paris. Khodorkovsky and his allies said political change could come quickly and insisted the time had come to think of Russia’s future after Putin. ... his project [is] named after his charity that was shut down after his imprisonment [see it is all just a charity work] ...  Russian activists and prominent emigres including Paris-based economist Sergei Guriyev and London-based businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin – both of whom fled the country under pressure from security services – joined the online ceremony. ... The former head of the defunct Yukos oil firm sakd all those supporting a pro-European course for Russia should before parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016. [most likely, they will strike sooner] “We support what they call the European choice or a state governed by the rule of law,” he said. “We believe that the statement ‘Russia is not Europe’ is a lie that is being imposed on society on purpose. [recycling slogans from the Ukrainian Maidan] ... “We are Europe, both in terms of geography and culture."
... “It is time to open our mouths,” Chichvarkin said. [the phase of direct mobilization for the Russian Maidan started] “We are ahead of a long, hard and dangerous path,” the former deputy finance minister [in Medvedev's government?] and economist Sergei Aleksashenko said. Russian state media appeared to enforce a blackout on news coverage of Khodorkovky’s project."

When statements like this appear, the automatic reaction of many is to say something along the lines WTF and dismiss it. However, one needs to consider that, in history and even in recent history (starting at least from 1989), unlikely, marginal and even incredible figures and events came to change the assumed givens. For that to happen, other things (other chess moves) would, however, need to happen in conjunction. The West has already invested quite a bit in Khodorkovsky, and, however odious he is, the fact is that he is intelligent and connected. His declarations should, therefore, be read as partial chess moves and signs. But one needs to know how to read the sign first before just dismissing it. In other words, Khodorkovsky by himself and his declarations only don't mean much. However, they are a sign of an unfolding program the other elements of which are certainly coming and coming to emerge. I would say that Khodorkovsky's best bet is making an appeal to a portion of the current Russian political, economic, and cultural elite and the oligarchs in order to split the establishment. In Ukraine (and also in Eastern Europe in 1989) that's what happened. Moreover, both in Ukraine during the Maidan and in Eastern Europe back in 1989, it was not just a mere division and fragmentation of the elite that produced the change. In Kiev, Yanukovich became isolated, betrayed, and surrendered by most of the elite and the oligarchs, including his own administration, the government, and the party, which, however, still I don't think can happen in Russia to that extent. In 1989, most of the elites with only few weak and irrelevant exceptions went over from being pro-Russian communists or "communists" to being pro-US and pro-NATO capitalists and oligarchs.

When it comes to Russia, there are certainly some patriotic oligarchs, but it does sound almost like an oxymoron. Many of them are certainly "Westernized," cosmopolitan, and feel themselves to be part of the new global elite, which does not care much about the people or the country. Like Marx's proletarians, they have no country of their own. But they have been busy buying off properties and palaces not only in Miami, but also in London, in order to buy like the new bourgeoisie recognition and titles, seating tickets at the tables of the global elite.

Khodorkovsky clearly tries to make his pitch chiefly to them--to the oligarchs ... together with the Westernized, liberal middle class. I would then say that both Khodorkovsky and the West are hoping for some palace coup from above with the parts of the pro-Western middle class playing the role of the "people" in order to make it look like a democratic revolution. But as things stand, this would most likely mean a civil war too.

In all this, the critical factor is the security forces. The Maidan would not have been possible without some significant usurpation of these forces and their switch to the other side. The same was required in 1989.

If someone asked to take a guess where the core of the possible oligarchic conspiracy is, I would produce the list of the people who made up the World Economic Forum contact/oligarchic group for Ukraine. It is very likely that the "peace plan" for Ukraine also included and extended to "the peace plan" for Russia as well. For surrendering Novorossiya follows the same logic and the same master plan for surrendering Russia itself.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Did SONY hackers stopped us from starting to "really think," as RAND wanted us to?

One of the politically most salient points of the hacking of SONY got almost lost in the heap: according to RAND (DoD) consultants for the movie, one of the key objectives through the movie was to promote the idea of an assassination of the head of North Korea as the "most likely" form of regime change that would lead to a new government in the hands "at least [of] the elites." And by vividly suggesting this idea to the minds of the many, RAND was hoping together with the State Department that the Hollywood movie would thus "start START SOME REAL THINKING." See, Hollywood really wants us to start some "real thinking" at last. And "someone very senior in State agreed."
From a thorough and very detailed article by Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire:
"The Interview has the dirty paw prints of the US defense establishment all over it ... Award-winning writer Ann Hornaday from Washington Post confirmed as much today (via the Daily Beast), with this exchange between DoD contractors and Sony’s Michael Lynton:
'In a June e-mail, Rand defense analyst Bruce Bennett wrote to Lynton [head of Sony Pictures]: “I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will).' Lynton subsequently wrote back: “Bruce — Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.'"
Lesson? If you want to change the world, make a Hollywood movie about it first. Even if it were to be a comedy. And have RAND corporation write or at least edit the script.

Did George W. Bush kill the BoBos? Did Obama save them from extinction?

The last and almost forgotten moments from the time when hypocrisy and snobbery felt innocent and almost godly at the end of all ideological wars for the sake of the elites for which comfort became conscience and conscience was comfort (provided one was rich enough to afford it), when the first presidency of George W. Bush was still very young together with its virginal innocence (if there was ever such a thing):

"They are 'bourgeois bohemians' - or 'Bobos' - and they're the new 'enlightened élite' of the information age, their lucratively busy lives a seeming synthesis of comfort and conscience ... It is a reverse Midas touch: everything a Bobo touches turns to spirituality, everything has to be about enlightenment. Even their jobs are a mission to improve the world ... I've been thinking about Bobos for months; they are all around me, and they've been a long time coming, in a sense, a no-brainer, an inevitable "end of history" phenomenon, with all ideological wars ended, religious schisms over.' ... and the BBC, the BBC is a red-hot centre of Boboism ... but [they] are relatively unmoved by lies or transgressions that don't seem to do anyone any obvious harm.' ... We have reached the point, says Brooks, where 'the hedonism of Woodstock mythology has been domesticated and now serves as a management tool for the Fortune 500. ... Gone are the Sixties-era things ... like free love, and retained are all the things that might be of interest to middle-aged hypochondriacs ..."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Revolution versus Real Politik of Big Powers: Moscow feels betrayed by Raul

Andrew Korybko's two articles on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba in Sputnik and Global Research appear to channel some serious concerns or rather outright sharp displeasure and sense of betrayal felt in Moscow over this US-Cuban agreement. The title of the Global Research article make it clear from the start: "Did Raul Castro Just Reverse The Entire Cuban Revolution?" Korybko then goes to paint Raul Castro as a Cuban Yanukovich, but one with a possible Qaddafi-esque ending: "If this was the case, the Raul’s fate will be as good as Gaddafi’s. But what is certain in this situation is that Raul is following in Yanukovich’s footsteps by trying to save his own skin through convoluted Machiavellian games. ... But just like Yanukovich committed a flagrant folly through his ‘reach out’ attempts to the ‘opposition’, so too is Raul doing the exact same thing by working with the US. The difference is, Yanukovich dealt with the proxies, but Raul is politicking with the puppet masters themselves ..."

So it appears that Korybko thinks that what is endangered first and foremost is socialism and revolution in Cuba. This would rather ironic for it was Russia or the Russian leadership that, from the late 1980s, "reversed the entire [Soviet] revolution" (to use Korybko's expression) and, with it, sold or rather gave away most of its allies in exchange of a license to capitalism and a promise to be counted as a "partner" in the exclusive, special club of the West (G-7 becoming G-8 for a while) and its institutions. Cuba was left hanging there on her own for most of the post-Cold War period.

Yet, under deeper scrutiny, the main reason for charging Raul Castro with betraying revolution and socialism is rather not merely a sense of a deja vue on the part of another, but a notion evidently keenly feared in Moscow that Cuba has thus somehow betrayed first and foremost Russia. As Korybko says, "[Raul] is also betraying his multipolar Russian ally at the same time." Why?

First of all, Cuba was negotiating this deal for some 18 months and apparently so well and so secretly that Moscow was kept in the dark about it: "Havana and Washington entered into a surprise deal ... Nobody was expecting such a major development to occur ..." What Moscow expected and wanted Cuba to do, if such a negotiation was to be had, was something similar to the WMD deal, which Russia and the US made last year for Syria on Syria's behalf: "Before diving in to the nitty-gritty of Raul’s decision, it is necessary to quickly take an overview of two monumental lessons of the past few years that should not have been lost on any global leader: The Libyan leader thought that he could safeguard his state by getting rid of his weapons of mass destruction without a Great Power negotiating on his side (as Russia did for Syria), but in reality, he unwittingly sold his country out." Korybko thus clearly argues that what Cuba should have done was what Syria did--had a Great Power, that is, Russia, negotiate the deal with the US on her behalf. If you don't have Russia do for it, then you are selling yourself out or at least charged with such a crime.

For Korbyko, it is thus not really or mainly about socialism or revolution of which today's Russia and the Russian government cannot be in any way accused. And it is even about Cuba mainly. The main standard by which Cuba's move is to be judged is in relation to Russia; that's decisive: "The US likely sweetened the deal with some behind-the-scenes economic incentives in order to facilitate its conclusion as soon as possible due to the Russia factor. Putin made a surprise visit to the island in July en route to the BRICS Summit in Brazil, and during his stay there, he announced that Russia was forgiving $32 billion of Cuba’s debt, which was 90% of the total. In exchange, it was rumored that Moscow would be reopening the Soviet-era signals intelligence base in Lourdes, which considering the tense climate of the New Cold War, would have been a massive strategic detriment for the US. With this in mind, the US immediately set off to seduce Cuba. This means that the US-Cuba deal must absolutely be viewed in the prism of current geopolitical rivalry with Russia. With that in mind, Washington scored an even larger victory than it initially seems. Russia obviously had its own secret plans for Cuba when Putin made his unannounced visit to the country over the summer, but it seems like the US has nullified them before they could get off the ground, since there is no way the US would allow Cuba to retain such a facility as part of the deal. If this was the case, then Russia is out $32 billion for an investment that will never see the light of day (made even worse by the economic war being waged against it at the moment), while Raul’s government can cozy up comfortably with dollars in their pocket from newfound American investors. How’s that for betrayal after Moscow risked a nuclear war to protect that very same government from regime change over half a century ago?"

Evidently, Korybko believes that the price of the deal is most specifically the promised "reopening the Soviet-era signals intelligence base in Lourdes," which has been sacrificed--after Russia forgave $32 billion to Cuba. Somehow, this is reminiscent of the many billions of dollars which went to enrich or subsidize Ukrainian oligarchs who came to espouse love for NATO and Bandera instead. However, I would be one of the last to assume that Cuban socialist leaders are as good or bad as Ukrainian communists-turned-oligarchs.

Korybko thus sees in the restoration of the ties between the US and Cuba a US very strategic chess move that directly threatens Russia and the current great game for Euroasia itself: "Thus, if the US succeeds in retaking the Caribbean via the Cuban card and can penetrate ALBA enough to the point of dividing its leadership and dissolving the alliance, then it will be more than able to ‘safely’ destroy Eurasia with the least amount of repercussions to its own supercontinental interests (North and South America)."

What Raul and Cuba is now accused of, however, reminds me of Russia's support for sanctions against Iran or its deal with Turkey, which does not seem to have been greatly consulted with Syria. Some may well argue that what big players are free to do is not for the smaller countries to claim or to do. But in that case one's argument loses a good deal of its virtue, and what remains becomes a matter of power politics.

Moreover, the Russian government itself has repeatedly recognized the legitimacy of the Kiev regime, which, however many times one hears from Moscow these days that "Poroshenko is a man of peace," is consistent in declaring the meaning of its existence as an endless war against Russia and hostility to Russia.

Still, the argument to socialism and revolution should not be that easily or cynically discarded or denied. For I do believe that the problems of our time and the ongoing "hybrid world war" requires some unorthodox and rather revolutionary strategies and methods even though Putin has reaffirmed conservatism as his government's ideology of choice.

It is obvious that the US has just changed its tactics, not its final goal when it comes either to Russia or to Cuba. And it is also very certain that the Cuban leadership knows this very well. It is also equally obvious that some sort of a color revolution, Maidan, and regime change is being planned for Cuba in the near future. But it is too early to predict its outcome. That too would also depend on how well Russia herself is going to defend herself and her interests--and her allies and friends.

In this regard, one is, however, compelled to ask this basic question: "What is the Russian leadership itself exactly doing now for revolution instead of protecting or trying to freeze ("conserving") the status quo? Let's not forget that the phenomenon of Novorossiya representing the much needed Russian renaissance or rebirth, the uprising in Donbass against Western colonialism and Banderite Nazism owes its very power and existence to new rekindled socialist aspirations and revolution.

Don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you. All realism, and politics of big powers, especially, has been built on the opposite, negation, and inversion of this basic ethical principle.

The Left and the Right: Heretics versus Converts and Surrogate Figures

The old adage many times tested and proving its validity runs as follows: "The left is looking for traitors, and the right is looking for converts." The general validity of this observation has deeper causes, which are both objective and subjective. Already Schumpeter and others (perhaps following Nietzsche) noted that Marxism shares some peculiar commonalities with a religious order, and, in particular, with Christianity or, better still, the Christian Church.

The purity of and obedience to the one true party line and its dogmas is a vital imperative the violation of which represents deadly heresy. And heretics deserve scorn, hate, and annihilation. Frankly and honestly speaking, the left does have a difficulty to handle debates and criticism.

The right has created a culture in which it is capable to handle various sides of its own party with respect. For the left, such respect seems to be seen as an old prejudice of high society which the devotees to the principle of equality have successfully overcome and discarded a long time ago.

For most part, the right does not depend on the necessity of following one's party line and on having the need to call divergent and different views on the right as betrayal and evil. It is thus freer and more capable to discuss options, new ideas (while being the representative of the "old regime"), and also better at criticizing itself.

One of the reasons for this (and there are more than one) is that the price of an error for the right is not perceived as being so high, if not deadly, as for the left that is operating from the position of the weaker.

At the same time, the truth is that the establishment has become very effective and good when it comes to planting its own columns within the left, as a result of which the left is often but a diluted shadow of the right these days, a shadow that follows (even if unconsciously) the animal that has cast its shadow, and the shadow is travelling around the beast depending on the position of the sun, without being ever being its own or in a real  opposition.

Still, I think that it may be fair to say that the left are greater partisans of group think. Individual thought is a key deadly sin. Punishable by eternal damnation.

Much of this is very ironic, for, in this, the left is, indeed, much based on the faith in its exclusive truth, while it originally espoused or attached to itself the adjective "scientific." But it is in science based on rigorous thinking and reason where differences can be rationally adjudicated and progress can be made. In this regard, whether one likes it or not, the right, while espousing the irrational on the inside, did get ahead with its practice of cultivated political thought.

The left, espousing (for most part) faith in rationality and progress, has not only been on the retreat, but it has also regressed from the position of philosophical leader--perhaps because it has for most part a great contempt and disdain not only for philosophy and any other schools of thought, but for almost all other traditions and hence history of thinking. In practice, this means that many on the left do or have not learned much from other thinkers.

It is easy and self-flattering to assume that one holds the one and only truth and that everyone else is and has to be wrong. And the left is falling in these self-made chains the deeper and the more easily, the more it has nothing to do with the ancient tragic archetype and the more it is ignorant of it.

Yet, more than the right, the left remains a victim to mental and existential dependence on "father figures"--old authoritarian fathers for whom "let the life live" is never an option and who suppressed and denied "the female part," to recall Socrates' strategic reprimand to the tyrannically bent revolutionaries recruited from the ranks of the Athenian oligarchic "right" in the Republic.

The left thus has its iconic and sacred father figures. They used to be three--like a trinity. At some point, Stalin counted as the fourth, and, for others, it was Trotsky, and then also Mao was added as No. 4 or No. 5. But no mothers. Again.

The treatment of these father figures can be well compared and contrasted with the treatment of the founding fathers in the US by the conservatives and the liberals. The American Founding Fathers, perfect children of their time, were children of the Age of Enlightenment. These fathers are treated more like pagan gods--with respect and reverence, but without the inquisitional zeal and insistence on virginal "purity" of the one right beliefs decreed by the one and only true, universal church.

For most part, the left still remains a heir to Western monotheism. There are, of course, also forms of the "pagan" left, but this paganism is of the post-modern kind, which means that it is based on the foundations set by the right.

The problem of the left, as I see it, stems not only from its original framing as new "Christianity for the masses," but also as being created as a radically anti-philosophic project. In a word, as a new Christianity for the masses, but, finally, purified and cleansed of any of the philosophy or "Platonism" which Nietzsche and others (on the right) saw in Christianity as its gravest danger, fault, and as its biggest Achilles' heel.

In this, not only sadly, but also tragically, the evolution of the left has confirmed the validity of one of its own dialectical laws: the law of negation, which is turning one side of the contradiction into its opposite. Or to put it more poetically, the leftist living yang, the lover of the young and living (like Machiavelli's Fortuna) has been ossified into an enfeebled, geriatric patriarch who, like the old god and father figures, are jealous and are bent on devouring their own children. If so the the left, which was much a Western or West-born affair, also remains caught in the loop of a very ancient Western archetype, no matter how atheistic or "modern" the left would like to see itself.

Now I might be able to move (possibly) to what I wanted actually address first--Andrew Korybko's denunciation of Raul Castro as a "traitor" on the account of Cuba's deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with the US.

The bottom line? If there is any, it might be this: if the right is looking for converts, it would suggest that the right recast and rejuvenated itself as a new and growing faith and religion. And if the left [the would-be principal heresy of all) is looking for heretics, it might indicate that the left is still stuck largely in the stage of an ossified cult that is fighting a rear-guard action against the new round of life--perhaps against the return of the Dionysian groupies and crowds who no longer need to think much about dogmas because they not only prefer to feel their own way. And if they get screwed, it is not necessarily because they were overpowered, but rather because they no longer mind and because they have come to like it that way. This is the point where, in Orwell's Animal Farm, people turn into the pigs (and the traitors of their own original cause, in fact).

Or the left might even transfer its need for a saving father figure to some leader of the state even though that one tries to say so often and so audibly that he has no warm feelings for any communists, left idealists or even socialists or for the Soviet past. The search for a powerful father figure often besets those whose own real father ran away and who abandoned them together with their mothers. The same impulse then makes the victims of this surrogate father complex hate (even to death) anyone who questions the wisdom and validity of such a substitution and its character. Somehow, Western culture suffers from this complex more than other civilizations.

One could thus conclude that the political problem of the left is not only a problem of its organization, strategy, and thinking. It is also a problem of its character and integrity. It is also fundamentally a psychological problem. Literally (or almost literally), it is the problem of the left's soul to which the left, by virtue of its ideology and predisposition, has always been behaving with disdain, ignorance and neglect. And if the soul is what constitutes the self, then the left has been conditioned toward the basic self-betrayal from the start.

But, as often, if not always, true Apollonians on the left are as rare as companions and comrades endowed with Socratic daemons.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mozgovoy: Victory means to understand our purpose once we stop mistaking the purpose for the means and the means for the purpose

Alexey Mozgovoy, Commander of Prizrak, in his interview from November 18 reflected on the meaning of victory, that materialism is driving us into slavish existence, and that victory is where true thought realizing the truth begins (thanks God for people like Mozgovoy): 

"Victory means not only an end of combat operations. It is also a change in man's worldview and thinking. It is a turning point. Will man go on living in the framework, into which we he was driven, or will he free oneself from such bonding? We have now a chance to start to think. If, after all this, we don't start to think and take decisions for ourselves, then we will not be able to call it victory. Then all that sacrifice would be in vain. ... We, however, need to think in any case as a man who is free, independent of slavish conditions, into which corrupted power has driven us. ... What happened to the [Donbass] cities? We are again stumbling over materialism. Yes, they destroyed buildings. So what? It is necessary to break all these stereotypes and to change thinking somehow. I understand that we are all materialists who want to eat. But we don't live in order to eat, we eat in order to live. ... If people were to lay down their weapons thoughtlessly, then they can take up arms again tomorrow. Victory will come when everyone understands why and what for he fights. And if we don't achieve such understanding, then we will fight to the end. To the victorious end. Victory is a strange thing; it belongs to everyone--just like the truth."
Победа заключается не только в окончании боевых действий. Это еще и изменения мировоззрения и мысли человека. Это переломный момент. Продолжит человек жить в тех рамках, в которые его загнали, или он освободится от этих рамок? Нам сейчас дан шанс начать мыслить. Если мы и после всего этого не станем думать и принимать сами за себя какие-либо решения, то это победой нельзя будет назвать. То есть все эти жертвы будут зря. ... Но мыслить-то мы должны все равно на уровне человека свободного, независимо от рабских условий, в которые нас загнала коррупционная власть?
... А что произошло с этими городами? Мы опять упираемся в материализм. Ну дома разрушили. И что? Необходимо ломать все эти стереотипы и менять немножко мышление. Я понимаю, что мы все материалисты, что нам всем кушать хочется. Но мы живем не для того, чтобы кушать, мы кушаем для того, чтобы жить. ...Если они его сложили просто так, бездумно, то завтра они его могут опять взять. Победа будет тогда, когда каждый поймет, за что и почему. А если не поймут, будем драться до конца. До победного. Победа — штука странная, она у каждого своя, как и правда.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

HOW DOES THE US WANT THE BEAR SERVED? Moscow invited Friedman of Stratfor and he brought back what he was looking for (And here is the scoop)

George Friedman, director of STRATFOR, was invited to Moscow and, being a very smart observer and analyst he is, he made the following terse findings which he reported back in the US:

1. To kill the bear is better and much safer than only to wound him;
2. "the Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy" for Donbass; how much or how little of autonomy is not a key question;
3. the Russian government just needs to get out of it at least a "gesture ... affirming their significance."
4. The Russians then seem to be forgetting that "history is about power," not about gestures mainly;
5. Putin appears to be way to self-confident, which, in the scheme of things, "does not mean much;"
6. the Russian government does not want to make any other trouble for the US or the West anywhere (else);

In his reflection on his recent visit to Moscow, he wrote among other things:

"The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.

The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.

I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much."

The US terms of Russia's surrender over Ukraine has been given to the public

The US demands that Russia meet all its obligations, including debts, while denying to Russia access to West-controlled markets of capital and refinancing; the US demands Russia's complete "withdrawal" in Ukraine; Russia's consent not to be left any more to "its own instincts," and cessation of Russia's own info efforts to win the hearts and minds; these conditions are not final; conditions over Crimea and other issues would then follow once Russia surrenders over Ukraine to the US and NATO.

The US demand that Russia "cease its media battle against the Ukrainian people and state" does fit both the tone and the content as well as the letter and the spirit of how Putin and Lavrov speak of Poroshenko ("the best chance of Ukraine"; "who works for solving the conflict," etc.) and the Kiev regime, which they don't call a regime or a junta any more, but a legitimate government, and how they are mute (especially Putin) on Ukraine's fascism, Banderism, the Odessa massacre, and the crimes committed against the people of Donbass. At the same time, the Kiev regime, including Poroshenko who has been praised by Putin and Lavrov, keeps up its aggressive, hard-line rhetoric against Russia, this includes Poroshenko's and others' call for a united war against Russia.

The specific demands (articles of surrender) to Russia over Ukraine have been made public by Jason Bordoff, a (former) Obama adviser on energy and Carlos Pascual, a former US Ambassador to Ukraine who is/was also  Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs with the State Department's Energy Resources Bureau:

"The elements of a deal are well known. Russia needs to take its troops out of Ukraine, stop all support for the insurgency in Ukraine, and cease its media battle against the Ukrainian people and state. Ukraine must devolve authority to local governments and ensure that language and culture are not used as a personal referendum on who is a Ukrainian citizen. Russia must sell gas to all parties to its west on market terms. Ukraine must transit gas and pay its bills for the gas it consumes.
All parties must accept a massive presence by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the Russia-Ukraine border and developments on ground in Ukraine. The minute one observer is jailed or mistreated, the deal is off. Some will try to try to solve Crimea's future in this package. That is too complicated and must be deferred.
In exchange for its retreat from Ukraine, Russia will receive access to capital and to the technology to develop its energy resources. Ukraine must rise to implement the economic reforms that will win the confidence of international donors and investors and make its economy competitive.
Failure to grab this moment would be tragic. Russia's alternative is a deepening economic crisis that could lead to internal protest. Expect President Putin to respond with an iron hand that entrenches his authoritarian control on politics and economics. Ukraine's alternative is a continued freefall as the war in the east drains its coffers and makes economic reform seemingly insurmountable.
Sanctions are a policy tool to create opportunities for better outcomes. The collapse in international oil prices has turned that tool into an opportunity that can restore an economic livelihood to Russia and Ukraine. Skeptics will argue that Russia simply wants a Ukrainian frozen conflict, even if it abuts against Russia's own internal economic collapse. But perhaps this is the moment to test President Putin's interest in a better future for his citizens. For Russia and Ukraine, there are only upsides to try."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Russian Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and the Count (Graff/Gref) or Perestroika/Betrayal 2.0

A key figure behind the current crisis of the ruble and the biggest internal player/speculator against the ruble is Russian Sberbank led by German Gref. It was also him who, soon after Putin's speech of December 4, declared that betting and bidding against the ruble is perfectly rational and justified. Sberbank has been the biggest Russian player on the currency market.

The role of German Gref is certainly pivotal. Sberbank dominates Russia's market with credits and loans. Here is Putin's meeting with Gref back in early 2012 where Putin is asking Gref and his bank to "retain [their] social role."

Few months later, Gref was organizing and hosting a conference on the crisis of management/governance in Russia. There he took his place right next to Elvira Nabiullina, Putin's current head of Russia's Central Bank for whom Gref was not only a business partner, but also a mentor and ally. Other experts on the Russian crisis or "blind alley" of governance were presented, including a British government adviser.

It was here back in 2012 where Gref outlined the political reasoning behind something that is going on today in Russia.

At the beginning, Gref states that to think that power should belong to the people is "terrible." What is also terrible, according to Gref, is for people to know the truth and what is going on, for example, by having knowledge and information that is not duly mediated, filtered and manipulated for them by the media or the powers that be. For if the people were to know the truth, they would no longer keep the blinders on their eyes, which are needed if they remain to be manageable. And Gref bluntly explains that management means for him manipulation. He thus identifies himself as a convinced enemy of democracy or any people's power as long as it does not mean a lie or the opposite in fact. In this respect, he praises Confucius for creating what he believes was a society made of castes. He also praises Lao Tze for he believes that Lao Tze too was as wise as he is: the people cannot be told the truth, and the truth can be taught as a guarded secret only to the select.

Around 22:00 of the recording, Gref runs a poll among the select participants of the forum on what awaits or should await Russia. The overwhelming consensus is that Russia's future is to be either a regime with an authoritarian leader or a strong leader. We do know what it means, don't we? On this, Gref then adds his own expert view. He says that the people are not rational; they don't possess wisdom. Therefore, he says that Russia is bound to arrive at a new (more and better manageable and governable) system only through a stage of great disturbances and severe crisis. In a word, a crisis is needed first (to teach the people a lesson or wisdom, which they lack) and it will pave the way to the right regime led by an authoritarian/strong leader.

Gref is, of course, vain and self-centered. And for such people to commit a crime without bragging about it takes a good deal of fun from it. To confess the crime into the face of a stunned victim is part of the psychopath's pleasure. Moreover, being convinced that people are dumb anyone and that they don't pay attention, he was most likely also very assured--in his arrogance and power--that he would get away with all that anyway.

He asked Elvira to agree with him. She smiled, but she tried to be more cautious. But otherwise, as you can see, they share the same stage--side by side.

The story of the ruble: Is Russia turned into a late Weimar Republic? Counterrevolution from above? Maidan? Or "nothing to see here"?

While Medvedev is issuing weak proclamations about the ruble crisis, Putin's appointee to the Central Bank says that this is a good opportunity for "adaptation" and "to face new reality" (without bothering to say what she means by "new reality"), and leading Russian managers and bankers are calling the (their own) attack on the ruble perfectly "rational," the fact is that, while the West is behind it, Russian (quasi)state funds have been leading the charge. That is to say neither the sanctions nor the oil price nor economic fundamentals can or do explain the speed and steepness of the fall of the ruble. This means that the explanation needs to be sought in the agency, in well organized plan and activity, which go beyond mere speculation.

Some in Russia already call what is happening "the West's economic or currency blitzkrieg."

Here are few basic factors that have to be stressed:
1. Russia under Putin's leadership has not implemented any significant internal economic defensive countermeasures in the face of the West's unleashed hybrid war.
2. Responses to Western sanctions have also been very limited, piecemeal, and largely unreciprocated. The lack to response was, moreover, presented by the Russian leaders as a sign of the Russian government's virtue, maturity, partnership and good behavior.
3. Thus, for most part, it has been "business as usual" for the Russian government in the face of existential threat and crisis.
4. Medvedev is a perfect "liberal"--a product of the "privatized Soviet apparatus"--who understands politics as business or as business is understood by a Russian liberal.
5. In fact, the Russian government has been planning to unleash and pursue more liberal, anti-social policies and more privatizations.
6. When it comes to Surkov who was tasked by Putin with matters pertaining to Ukraine and about whom Strelkov complained so much, it has to be said that far from being, a bad, nasty boyar who went rogue, Vladislav Surkov is Putin or, to be more precise, Putin's hand and Putin's extension. In some way, Surkov has a greater liberal arts education. But the fact that Surkov is mainly a PR mastermind or one dealing with what is called in Russia "political technologies," says a lot about how the Kremlin approached and handled Ukraine and the conflict there.

Russian leaders are now assuring the public that the current crisis of the ruble is really nothing new or special, that such fluctuations have been here before. Partially, this is correct, in other sense, it is also very dishonest and misleading. For the crisis of the ruble is part of the intensified regime change effort launched by the US and NATO. If Strelkov once said that "by taking Crimea Putin started a revolution from above," the attack on the ruble launched both from without and from within (and perhaps primarily from within) does seem like a beginning of a Russian Maidan and/or of a counterrevolution from above.

Instead of helping to fix the situation, Putin's promise of absolute amnesty for stolen wealth and theft, which Russian mafias and oligarchs took abroad, made in his December 4 speech helped to pave the way to the crisis. Not only such a "policy" can be read as an untimely voiced sign of desperation (and how bad things were), but it also signals abandonment of principles and a morally grounded position, much like is Lavrov's declaration that Crimea ought to be seen now as a unique, special exception. Exception from the rules and principles. When one runs out of principles and reasons or from them, one starts asking for the privilege to be granted a special exception, a special treatment: Please, forgive us, we want to follow and obey your rules! For we don't have our own principles anyway!

In this connection, Dugin declared that stopping the stunning offensive at the beginning of September in Donbass for the sake of the Minsk Deal was a "tragic mistake."

So, if I put my cherished Socratic bias aside and look at the crisis of the ruble as a political economist, who once I thought I was, I would say that these seem to be key factors behind it:
1. Significant limiting of access of Russia and Russian business to the Empire's fiat money or new lines of credit and financing.
2. The fact that the Russian financial system is not really a system, but clearly a colonial part of the Empire's financial system and neither Putin or Medvedev did anything to change it.
3. If in the 1980s and the 1990s, the Soviet and Russian elites threw their loyalties with the West and became "partners" (in their mind), many today's Russian oligarchs and managers are not that much different; they are doing what the West wanted them to do.
4. Much of the attack on the ruble is from within--by Russia's state corporations and monopolies.
5. I would also suspect a large and accelerated capital flight from Russia--compliment of the Russian oligarchs and Western intelligence services.
6. Some might also possibly suggest that the melting of the ruble might be also a sign of a "deal" over Donbass, which Lavrov's latest statements suggest together with the stated result of the sudden meeting of Putin with Hollande, the Penguin, at Vnukovo" in the form of "unambiguous commitment to territorial integrity of Ukraine." And that would mean--judging from the statements and demands of the US, EU, and Kiev--also reparations. And if reparations (however crazy it may sound), we would be talking about very, very large amounts of money.

One can think here of the planned conference on a financial package for Ukraine or this seemingly strange and also relevantly recent interview of a possible British insider (MI 5?) Tim Bell: "Make Putin pay!" And the first figure which Bell gives is $500 billion.

On this occasion, Tim Bell also noted: "You may not believe this, but I've discovered that ... telling the truth is a damn sight more effective than not telling the truth."

While Lavrov and Putin declared they want Donbass to be part of Ukraine, Kiev rightly sees it as making its position on Crimea that stronger.

Following visit to Poland, Poroshenko promises to abolish de iure Ukraine's neutrality, which, for most part, does no longer exist anyway.

Kiev's message to Moscow from the mouth of Poroshenko and Turchinov as of today: returning Donbass is not enough; capitulation, loss of Crimea, face, and soul must go to the very end.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This is the moment when either delusion or the deluded is sacrificed: a moment of crisis

The open statements of the Russian bankers and oligarchs in the wake of Putin's speech of December 4 clearly signaled the beginning of a combined frontal assault on Russia, where the hand that is striking from within is deadlier than that from the outside. Rosneft and other government Goliath-like corporations have been part of the attack on the ruble.

Thus what appeared as paralysis, sabotage, and last-second improvisations, but were presented as the acme of strategy and wisdom, do appear to be paralysis, sabotage, and improvisations ... unless the strategy had very different authorship and purpose.

In other words, those who have been paid to do the right thing seem to have been bought and paid well not to do the right thing.

And this means that, not only financially, but also politically and geopolitically, Russia has moved into the rapids. Could have this been prevented? It could have been prevented and should have been prevented.

Unfortunately, policies that are bought and sold seem to matter more than free advice or warnings, however good these were.

Now, some of us may continue to hope that the same people who brought Russia and us into this crisis could and should also take us out of it.

What would it take to correct serious mistakes or to straighten a strategy, which has been so effective and so successful?

As things now evolved--i.e. with Lavrov calling Poroshenko "the best chance Ukraine has" and Crimea being declared the one unique, exclusive exception (so what does this make the Russians on Donbass to be?), and Lavrov's clear and explicit disavowal of even federalization or local autonomy for Donetsk and Lugansk, it no longer appears out of place to assume that if the Kiev regime decided to shout "Glory to Ukraine" and Moscow-approved-and-prompted leadership of Donetsk and Lugansk were to shout back "Glory to the heroes!" (according to the old Banderite script), then Lavrov and the Kremlin would be ready to call this dialogue. The very one Lavrov has been valiantly fighting all that time for.

Kerry praises Moscow's latest decisions as "constructive": Lavrov says that Russia is now not even proposing federalization or autonomy for Donbass

I did think that the so-called constructivism has been the Empire's popular epistemology and its neo-colonial ideology. Now Kerry sees Russia emerging from the category of main threats of our time, next to ISIS and Ebola virus, as part of the Empire's constructivism. Coincidentally, the ruble is being deconstructed into a collapsing currency, the steep erasure of which cannot be explained fully or only either by the prices of oil or by the Western sanctions.

In the light of his meeting with Lavrov in Rome, John Kerry declared that, lately, Russia has undertaken constructive steps and signs of constructive decisions towards the crisis in Ukraine.

So what does "constructive" mean? Lavrov explains quite bluntly:

Lavrov also said that Russia is now (no longer) demanding or "proposing [even] federalization or autonomy ...  Moscow is also unambiguously supporting territorial integrity of Ukraine; there will no 'second Crimea' in Donbass. ... [For] Crimea is unique, the only of its kind, it is Russian land."

"Позволите мне сказать, что Россия предприняла конструктивные шаги в последние дни", - отметил госсекретарь. "Существуют признаки конструктивных решений. ..."

«Это решать самим украинцам. Мы не предлагаем федерализацию или автономию», – сказал Лавров в интервью телеканалу France 24, передает РИА «Новости».

Лавров также заявил, что Москва однозначно поддерживает территориальную целостность Украины, «второго Крыма» в Донбассе не будет.

«После встречи в Москве с президентом Франции Франсуа Олландом 6 декабря президент России Владимир Путин в ходе общения с прессой вновь подтвердил то, что говорил неоднократно: «Россия поддерживает территориальную целостность Украины». Однозначно», – сказал Лавров.

Отвечая на вопрос, касается ли это регионов юго-востока и не будет ли там второго Крыма, Лавров заметил, что «Крым уникален, единственный в своем роде, это русская земля».