هل تشتبك موسكو مع تل أبيب فوق سماء فلسطين…؟

يناير 22, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

كشفت مصادر استخبارية مطلعة أنّ الروس قد يلجأون قريباً الى خطوة تصعيدية ضدّ حكومة نتن ياهو يمكن أن تغير في قواعد الاشتباك في سورية.

فقد علم أن القيادة العسكرية الروسية أرسلت اخطاراً قوياً لحكومة تل ابيب بأنّ القيادة الروسية قد تلجأ لإسقاط طائرات إسرائيلية فوق سماء فلسطين المحتلة، إذا ما استمرّ التصعيد الإسرائيلي ومحاولات قصف محيط مطار دمشق الدولي !

وطبقاً للمصادر المذكورة فقد تمّ إرسال وفد عسكري روسي الى تل ابيب يوم امس الأول، لمناقشة الوضع، حيث دارت مناقشات محتدمة وحادة خرج على أثرها الوفد الروسي غاضباً ما يدلل على اتساع رقعة الاختلاف بين الجانبين …!

إقدام العدو الإسرائيلي على غارة يوم الأحد الفاشلة كان على ما يبدو الخطوة التي أغضبت الروس أكثر فأكثر ما دفعها للتصدي المشترك مع القيادة العسكرية السورية لتلك الغارة وهو ما يحصل لأول مرة منذ مايو العام الماضي، وذلك من خلال منظومة بانسير وبوق اي ليس الـ»اس 200» التي كانت تستخدم من قبل القيادة العسكرية السورية منفردة!

فشل غارة الأحد الفاضحة خاصة وهي الأولى لرئيس الاركان الجديد الحليف لنتن ياهو المطارد بسلسلة اكبر من الفشل، دفعت بعصابة تل ابيب الى مغامرة جديدة فجر يوم الإثنين شارك فيها هذه المرة بالإضافة الى طائرات العدو منظومة صواريخ أرض أرض ايضاً وعلى دفعات متتالية، فيما اعتبر استطلاعاً بالنار في محاولة يائسة لاكتشاف مدى جدية القرار الروسي الأخير …!

الملاحظ في غارة الأحد كما في موجات القصف الاثنيني، بأنها لاذت بسماء البحر المتوسط قدر الامكان، كما ابتعدت عن سماء لبنان في محاولة للتقليل من استفزاز الروس على ما يبدو.

هذا كما حاولت عصابة تل أبيب تبرير عدوانها الجديد بالادّعاء بأنّ صاروخين هجوميّين انطلقا من الاراضي السورية تابعين لما يسمّونه للواء القدس الإيراني، وأنه هو السبب وراء موجة صواريخهم الجديدة فجر الاحد!

هذا ومن المعلوم بأنّ منظومة التصدي الميدانية الجديدة لحلف المقاومة كانت تعمل حسب المصادر آنفة الذكر بشكل متزامن من غرفة عمليات عسكرية تعمل في العاصمتين السورية والروسية بشكل مشترك!

السؤال الذي يفرض نفسه في هذه الحالة هو: أين اصبحت حالة الطيران الإسرائيلي بعد التحذير الروسي الأخير والذي بات مترافقاً مع غضب متزايد؟ وهل تلجأ موسكو فعلاً الى إسقاط طائرات «إسرائيلية» فوق فلسطين المحتلة في حال استمرّ العدوان الإسرائيلي متكرّراً على محيط دمشق؟

الأيام والأسابيع المقبلة يقال إنها حبلى بمفاجآت كثيرة، وقد تكون هذه واحدة من تلك المفاجآت…

بعدنا طيبين، قولوا الله.

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How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

By Jason Hickel
Source

3a4683d7f99349baa4791de15b662965_18.jpgLord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, and his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten, ride in the state carriage towards the Viceregal lodge in New Delhi, on March 22, 1947 [File: AP]

There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India – as horrible as it may have been – was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long – the story goes – was a gesture of Britain’s benevolence.

New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik – just published by Columbia University Press – deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.

It’s a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.

How did this come about?

It happened through the trade system. Prior to the colonial period, Britain bought goods like textiles and rice from Indian producers and paid for them in the normal way – mostly with silver – as they did with any other country. But something changed in 1765, shortly after the East India Company took control of the subcontinent and established a monopoly over Indian trade.

Here’s how it worked. The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, “buying” from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them.

It was a scam – theft on a grand scale. Yet most Indians were unaware of what was going on because the agent who collected the taxes was not the same as the one who showed up to buy their goods. Had it been the same person, they surely would have smelled a rat.

Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain’s industrialisation. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution depended in large part on this systematic theft from India.

On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.

After the British Raj took over in 1858, colonisers added a special new twist to the tax-and-buy system. As the East India Company’s monopoly broke down, Indian producers were allowed to export their goods directly to other countries. But Britain made sure that the payments for those goods nonetheless ended up in London.

How did this work? Basically, anyone who wanted to buy goods from India would do so using special Council Bills – a unique paper currency issued only by the British Crown. And the only way to get those bills was to buy them from London with gold or silver. So traders would pay London in gold to get the bills, and then use the bills to pay Indian producers. When Indians cashed the bills in at the local colonial office, they were “paid” in rupees out of tax revenues – money that had just been collected from them. So, once again, they were not in fact paid at all; they were defrauded.

Meanwhile, London ended up with all of the gold and silver that should have gone directly to the Indians in exchange for their exports.

This corrupt system meant that even while India was running an impressive trade surplus with the rest of the world – a surplus that lasted for three decades in the early 20th century – it showed up as a deficit in the national accounts because the real income from India’s exports was appropriated in its entirety by Britain.

Some point to this fictional “deficit” as evidence that India was a liability to Britain. But exactly the opposite is true. Britain intercepted enormous quantities of income that rightly belonged to Indian producers. India was the goose that laid the golden egg. Meanwhile, the “deficit” meant that India had no option but to borrow from Britain to finance its imports. So the entire Indian population was forced into completely unnecessary debt to their colonial overlords, further cementing British control.

Britain used the windfall from this fraudulent system to fuel the engines of imperial violence – funding the invasion of China in the 1840s and the suppression of the Indian Rebellion in 1857. And this was on top of what the Crown took directly from Indian taxpayers to pay for its wars. As Patnaik points out, “the cost of all Britain’s wars of conquest outside Indian borders were charged always wholly or mainly to Indian revenues.”

And that’s not all. Britain used this flow of tribute from India to finance the expansion of capitalism in Europe and regions of European settlement, like Canada and Australia. So not only the industrialisation of Britain but also the industrialisation of much of the Western world was facilitated by extraction from the colonies.

Patnaik identifies four distinct economic periods in colonial India from 1765 to 1938, calculates the extraction for each, and then compounds at a modest rate of interest (about 5 percent, which is lower than the market rate) from the middle of each period to the present. Adding it all up, she finds that the total drain amounts to $44.6 trillion. This figure is conservative, she says, and does not include the debts that Britain imposed on India during the Raj.

These are eye-watering sums. But the true costs of this drain cannot be calculated. If India had been able to invest its own tax revenues and foreign exchange earnings in development – as Japan did – there’s no telling how history might have turned out differently. India could very well have become an economic powerhouse. Centuries of poverty and suffering could have been prevented.

All of this is a sobering antidote to the rosy narrative promoted by certain powerful voices in Britain. The conservative historian Niall Ferguson has claimed that British rule helped “develop” India. While he was prime minister, David Cameron asserted that British rule was a net help to India.

This narrative has found considerable traction in the popular imagination: according to a 2014 YouGov poll, 50 percent of people in Britain believe that colonialism was beneficial to the colonies.

Yet during the entire 200-year history of British rule in India, there was almost no increase in per capita income. In fact, during the last half of the 19th century – the heyday of British intervention – income in India collapsed by half. The average life expectancy of Indians dropped by a fifth from 1870 to 1920. Tens of millions died needlessly of policy-induced famine.

Britain didn’t develop India. Quite the contrary – as Patnaik’s work makes clear – India developed Britain.

What does this require of Britain today? An apology? Absolutely. Reparations? Perhaps – although there is not enough money in all of Britain to cover the sums that Patnaik identifies. In the meantime, we can start by setting the story straight. We need to recognise that Britain retained control of India not out of benevolence but for the sake of plunder and that Britain’s industrial rise didn’t emerge sui generis from the steam engine and strong institutions, as our schoolbooks would have it, but depended on violent theft from other lands and other peoples.

من أول غزواته كسر عصاته

يناير 21, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

الفشل المحقق يلاحق قادة العدو الصهيوني والسماء السورية باتت حراماً عليهم والبحر المتوسط بات ملاذ الخائبين…!

بعد خمسة أيّام فقط من توليه منصب قائد أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي رسمياً، بتاريخ 15/1/2019، اتخذ الجنرال أفيف كوخافي أول قرار قتالي، وذلك عبر موافقته على قرار رئاسة أركان سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي القاضي بتنفيذ غارة جوية على مطار دمشق الدولي ظهر أمس، حيث قامت أربع طائرات حربية «إسرائيلية» بتنفيذ محاولة إغارة على المطار السوري وذلك من أجواء البحر المتوسط المقابلة لبلدة برجا اللبنانية/ قضاء الشوف.

وكما فشل ما قبلها من الغارات فإنّ يقظة سلاح الدفاع الجوي السوري وجهوزية طواقمه العالية قد أفشلت هذه الغارة أيضاً. إذ تمّ إسقاط جميع الصواريخ «الإسرائيلية» دون أن تصل الى الهدف الذي يعرف نتن ياهو ورئيس أركانه أنه أصبح من المحرّمات عليهما.

وعلى الرغم من تيقنهما من ذلك إلا أنهما أقدما على تنفيذ محاولة الإغارة هذه. فما السبب الذي دفعهم الى ذلك يا تُرى؟

إنّ السبب الحقيقي وراء هذه الخطوة هو المصلحة المشتركة بين نتن ياهو وكوخافي والمتمثلة في أنّ نتن ياهو يحاول الإفلات من التحقيقات القضائية التي تضيّق الخناق عليه بسرعة عبر تقديم نفسه للجمهور على أنه منقذ «إسرائيل»، بينما يحاول رئيس الأركان الجديد أن يعطي صورة قوية عن نفسه للجمهور «الإسرائيلي» خاصة أنه جنرال فاشل تماماً.

فقد كان هذا الجنرال قائداً لما يُسمّى بفرقة غزة. وهي فرقة المظليين رقم 98، في الجيش «الإسرائيلي» عندما اضطر هذا الجيش للانسحاب من قطاع غزة عام 2005. ثم شارك في هزيمة الجيش «الإسرائيلي» في لبنان سنة 2006، وعيّن بعد ذلك قائداً للاستخبارات العسكرية الإسرائيلية من سنة 2010 وحتى شهر 11/2014، حيث تمّ تعيينه قائداً للجبهة الشمالية في الجيش. ثم نائباً لرئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي منذ شهر 5/2017 وحتى تعيينه رئيساً لهيئة الأركان العامة.

إذاً فهو قد فشل في إدارة المعركة ضدّ قطاع غزة وانسحب من هناك مهزوماً. ثم فشل في جميع المهمات التي كلفت بها فرقته المظلية في الحرب الإسرائيلية ضدّ لبنان عام 2006. وبعد ذلك فشل في تحقيق أيّ نجاح، خلال توليه قيادة الاستخبارات العسكرية، سواء في الجنوب اللبناني أو الجنوب السوري. يُضاف الى ذلك فشله المدوّي على الجبهة السورية، خلال قيادته للجبهة الشمالية، خاصة أنه هو نفسه صاحب نظرية إقامة المنطقة العازلة في الجولان السوري المحرّر. وهو أيضاً فشل في منع الجيش السوري وقوات المقاومة من تحرير الأراضي التي كان يسيطر عليها الإرهابيون المسلحون في الجولان والجنوب السوري. كما فشل هو ورئيس وزرائه في منع قوات حلف المقاومة من التموضع على طول خط الجبهة مع الجولان المحتلّ وصولاً الى حوض اليرموك.

إذن فهو صاحب مسلسل فشل لن تستطيع عنتريات نتن ياهو وأكاذيب وسائل إعلامه من تغييرها. فلا «اختراقاته» في دول الخليج ولا رحلات السفاري التي قام بها الى تشاد قادرة على تغيير وقائع الميدان التي تقول:

1- إنه عاجز عن اختراق الأجواء السورية واللبنانية وأصبح مضطراً لإطلاق ألعابه النارية من أجواء البحر المتوسط.

2- إنّ رئيس أركانه الجديد، الذي يريد الإيحاء بأنه لن يتوانى في مواجهة «الوجود الإيراني» في سورية، قد فشل منذ اللحظة الأولى، أي لحظة موافقته على تنفيذ محاولة الغارة.

3- إنّ هذا الجنرال الفاشل سوف يتوّج مسلسل هزائمه بالهزيمة الكبرى التي سيشهدها كيانه والتي يُعدّ لها حلف المقاومة كل العديد والعدة والتي ستنتهي حتماً بتفكك وزوال كيان الاحتلال لا محالة…!

بعدنا طيّبين، قولوا الله.

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Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

January 19, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow.

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

It’s under this perspective that Ankara’s obstinance in establishing a security “corridor” in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates river, and free from the YPG Kurds, should be examined. It’s a matter of policing at least one sensitive border.

Still, in the chessboard from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Crimea, the specter of “foreign intervention” setting fire to the Intermarium – from the Baltics to the Black Sea – simply refuses to die.

Ukraine Russia map

‘Russian lake’?

By the end of the last glacial era, around 20,000 years ago, the Black Sea – separated from the Mediterranean by an isthmus – was just a shallow lake, much smaller in size than it is today.

The legendary journey of Jason and the Argonauts, before the Trojan war, followed the Argo ship to the farther shore of Pontus Euxinus (the ‘Black Sea’) to recover the Golden Fleece – the cure for all evils – from its location in Colchis (currently in Georgia).

In Ancient Greece, steeped in mythology, the Black Sea was routinely depicted as the boundary between the known world and terra incognita. But then it was “discovered” – like America many centuries later – to the point where it was configured as a “string of pearls” of Greek trading colonies linked to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is more than strategic, it’s crucial geopolitically. There has been a constant drive in modern Russian history to be active across maritime trade routes through the strategic straits – the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus and Kerch in Crimea – to warmer waters further south.

As I observed early last month in Sevastopol, Crimea is now a seriously built fortress – incorporating S-400 and Iskander-M missiles – capable of ensuring total Russian primacy all across the eastern Black Sea.

A visit to Crimea reveals how its genes are Russian, not Ukrainian. A case can be made that the very concept of Ukraine is relatively spurious, propelled by the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the 19th century and especially before World War I to weaken Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia for 400 years, far longer than California and New Mexico have been part of the US.

Now compare the reconquest of Crimea by Russia, without firing a shot and validated by a democratic referendum, to the US “conquests” of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Moreover, I saw Crimea being rebuilt and on the way to prosperity, complete with Tatars voting with their feet to return; compare it to Ukraine, which is an IMF basket case.

Crimea is essential to Russia not only from a geostrategic but also an economic point of view, as it solidifies the Black Sea as a virtual “Russian lake”.

It’s immaterial that Turkish strategists may vehemently disagree, as well as US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker who, trying to seduce Turkey, dreams about increasing the US presence in the Black Sea, “whether on a bilateral basis or under EU auspices.”

Under this context, the building of the Turk Stream pipeline should be read as Ankara’s sharp response to the rampant Russophobia in Brussels.

Ankara has, in tandem, consistently shown it won’t shelve the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems because of American pressure. This has nothing to do with pretentions of neo-Ottomanism; it’s about Turkey’s energy and security priorities. Ankara now seems more than ready to live with a powerful Russian presence across the Black Sea.

It all comes down to Montreux

Not by accident the comings and goings on NATO’s eastern flank was a key theme at last summer’s biennial Atlanticist summit. After all, Russia, in the wake of reincorporating Crimea, denied access over the eastern Black Sea.

NATO, though, is a large mixed bag of geopolitical agendas. So, in the end, there’s no cohesive strategy to deal with the Black Sea, apart from a vague, rhetorical “support for Ukraine” and also vague exhortations for Turkey to assume its responsibilities.

But because Ankara’s priorities are in fact the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish-Syrian border, east of the Euphrates river, there’s no realistic horizon for NATO to come up with permanent Black Sea patrols disguised as a “freedom of navigation” scheme – as much as Kiev may beg for it.

What does remain very much in place is the guarantee of freedom of navigation in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits controlled by Turkey, as sanctioned by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The key vector, once again, is that the Black Sea links Europe with the Caucasus and allows Russia trade access to southern warm waters. We always need to go back to Catherine the Great, who incorporated Crimea into the empire in the 18th century after half a millennium of Tatar and then Ottoman rule, and then ordered the construction of a huge naval base for the Black Sea fleet.

By now some facts on the ground are more than established.

Next year the Black Sea fleet will be upgraded with an array of anti-ship missiles; protected by S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems; and supported by a new “permanent deployment” of Sukhoi SU-27s and SU-30s.

Far-fetched scenarios of the Turkish navy fighting the Russian Black Sea fleet will continue to be peddled by misinformed think tanks, oblivious to the inevitability of the Russia-Turkey energy partnership. Without Turkey, NATO is a cripple in the Black Sea region.

Intriguing developments such as a Viking Silk Road across the Intermarium won’t alter the fact that Poland, the Baltics and Romania will continue to clamor for “more NATO” in their areas to fight “Russian aggression”.

And it will be up to a new government in Kiev after the upcoming March elections to realize that any provocation designed to drag NATO into a Kerch Strait entanglement is doomed to failure.

Ancient Greek sailors had a deep fear of the Black Sea’s howling winds. As it now stands, call it the calm before a (Black Sea) storm.

The Russian pension chicken is coming home to roost… (UPDATED)

The Saker

The Russian pension chicken is coming home to roost… (UPDATED)

January 18, 2019

[This article was written for the Unz Review]

According to RT, citing a Levada Center poll,

Over 50 percent of Russians are disappointed in the government of Dmitry Medvedev, which, they believe, is unable to curb growing prices and provide jobs for people, a new poll has revealed.  Some 23 percent said they were absolutely sure that the government must resign, with another 30 percent telling Levada-Center that they were also leaning toward this opinion.  This means that a total of 53 percent would like the country to have a new cabinet. Trust in the government has crumbled since September, when only 23 percent advocated its resignation. Meanwhile, the proportion of people who believed the government should stay in charge was 40 percent, with 14 percent expressing full confidence in the cabinet, and 26 percent saying that resignation wouldn’t be the best idea.

Source: http://www.levada.ru/en/ Jan 15th 2019 (details here: https://www.levada.ru/en/ratings/)

This was very predictable and, in fact, I did predict just that when I wrote “A comment I just saw on the YouTube chat of the inauguration was succinct and to the point: “Путин кинул народ – мы не за Медведева голосовали” or “Putin betrayed the people – we did not vote for Medvedev”. This is going to be a very widely shared feeling, I am afraid (…) Medvedev is unpopular and that most Russians hoped to see a new face. Yet Putin ignored this public sentiment. That is a very worrying sign, in my opinion“.  In a subsequent article I wrote that “it is quite clear to me that a new type of Russian opposition is slowly forming. Well, it always existed, really – I am talking about people who supported Putin and the Russian foreign policy and who disliked Medvedev and the Russian internal policies. Now the voice of those who say that Putin is way too soft in his stance towards the Empire will only get stronger. As will the voices of those who speak of a truly toxic degree of nepotism and patronage in the Kremlin (again, Mutko being the perfect example). When such accusations came from rabid pro-western liberals, they had very little traction, but when they come from patriotic and even nationalist politicians (Nikolai Starikov for example) they start taking on a different dimension. For example, while the court jester Zhirinovskii and his LDPR party loyally supported Medvedev, the Communist and the Just Russia parties did not. Unless the political tension around figures like Kudrin and Medvedev is somehow resolved (maybe a timely scandal?), we might witness the growth of a real opposition movement in Russia, and not one run by the Empire. It will be interesting to see if Putin’s personal ratings will begin to go down and what he will have to do in order to react to the emergence of such a real opposition“.

Think about it in this way: we know from ALL the past elections that the pro-Western segment of the Russian population is somewhere around 1-3% (that is why they cannot make it into the Duma).  But let’s generously give that hardcore, liberal, opposition 5%, for argument’s sake.  So if 53% of Russians want a new cabinet, and if 5% of Russians are hardcore pro-Western liberals, then who are the remaining 48%?

Or in this way: if 53% of Russians want a new cabinet, and if Putin’s approval rating is still somewhere in the 65% range, who are those Russians who like Putin but dislike the Medvedev government?

There is an easy cop-out argument which I´ve often offered to explain away this fact:

Levada Center is officially classified as a “foreign agent” under Russian law.  This makes sense: for one thing, Levada Center receives most of its financing from abroad, including the USA and even the Pentagon!  Furthermore, Levada is staffed by liberals (in the Russian meaning of the word which really means “pro-US”) whose biases are also reflected in their work.  However, while this is all true, Levada is still credible enough to be cited even by Russian officials.  Finally, the kind of results Levada publishes are often generally similar to the finding of the official VTsIOMpolling institution, not down to the percentage point, but often reflecting similar trends (check out the VTsIOM English language page here: https://wciom.com/).  So the fact that Putin is much more popular than Medvedev or that the majority of Russian people are unhappy with the government really is not in doubt.

So regardless of the actual numbers, it is clear that the Russian government is only popular with those whom it allows to make a lot of money (corporations and various millionaires and billionaires) and that everybody else strongly dislikes it.

And yet, recently Putin was asked if he was happy with the government and his reply was “on the whole, yes“.

This type of political yoga is hard to sustain in the long term: if Putin is the champion of the interests of the common people, and if most common people feel that the government cares more for millionaires and billionaires, then how can the President say that he is “on the whole happy” with the government?

It is truly a crying shame that the basics of Marxism-Leninism is not taught in schools and colleges any more (even some self-described “Communists” are clearly clueless about what Marx, Lenin or even Hegel taught!).  Not because the solutions advocated by Marx and his followers are so universally effective, but because one can use the Marxist-Leninist conceptual toolkit to better understand the world we live in and, one can do this without necessarily endorsing the solutions offered by Marxism.  For example, in the West at least, very few people are aware of this very simple Marxist-Leninist definition of what a state, any state, really is.  According to Lenin, the state is simply an “apparatus of coercion and violence by which the ruling class governs the society“.  Specifically Lenin wrote:

In essence, the state is ruling apparatus created from the human society. When such a group of people appears, one which is only concerned with ruling over others, and which for that purpose needs a coercion apparatus which can force people to obey by means of jails, special units, armed forces, etc, – that is the moment when the state appears (Lenin, collective works, vol 39, page 69).

From a Marxist point of view, any state is always and by definition the dictatorship of the ruling class, which is a good thing, at least according to the Marxists, when this ruling class is the workers and people, and a very bad thing when the ruling class is the plutocracy.

In the post-modern West, where political discourse has been reduced to a particularly nauseating form of intellectual flatulence, the very notion of “class” and “class warfare” has been fully replaced with vapid (pseudo-) identity politics which completely obfuscate all the real issues and problems our world is dealing with.  Thus, by removing the concepts and categories needed to understand the nature of the struggle which is taking place internationally, but also inside each of the countries currently living under the AngloZionist yoke, the leaders of the Empire have deprived the people they rule over from the means to understand why and how they are oppressed.  All that nonsense about “gay” rights, gun control, #meetoo, the many sex scandals, the struggle for racial identity (White or Black or any other), abortion, drugs and all the rest of the crap we are fed on a daily basis by the AngloZionist propaganda machine are primarily a distraction to keep the eyes of the general population from the real issues.  In a way, this zombification and re-direction to fake topics serves exactly the same function as the red cape of the bullfighter: to keep the bull busy with trying to gore a harmless red piece of cloth while completely missing the real cause of his suffering and eventual death.

From that point of view, the Russian people are much better informed and have a much better understanding of what is going on.  For example, while in the West the people define “democracy” as “people power” (or something similar), in Russia the joke is that “democracy is the power of the democrats” which, in Russia, is a general codeword/euphemism for “pro-US wealthy liberal” who want to turn Russia into some kind of “bigger Poland” or something equally uninspiring.

Various pro-Western “intellectuals” like to say that this is an old Russian pathology: to say that the Czar (President) is very good, but his court (the Ministers) are bad and that this makes absolutely no sense. These are the folks who go as far as denying the existence of a struggle between what I call Eurasian Sovereignists (roughly Putin supporters) and Atlantic Integrationists (roughly Medvedev and the “economic block” of this government).

The folks who deny this remind me of something Berthold Brecht once wrote after the 1953 uprising in Berlin in a short poem entitled “The Solution”: (emphasis added)

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

This deep alienation from the Russian masses, this notion that the Russian people have, yet again, failed to heed the “wise words” of the “progressive intelligentsia” and other (mainly financial) “elites” has plagued the Russian ruling classes since Peter I and is still at the very core of their worldview.  Believe you me, the Russian “liberals” and the folks in the West who deny that there is any 5th column in Russia are psychologically and politically joined at the hip: neither one of them can accept this.  Furthermore, both the Russian “liberals” and the western believers in the values of “democracy” and “free market capitalism” share exactly the same worldview: they want the Russian people to become “Europeans” not in a geographical sense, of course (geographically speaking most Russian live in the European part of Russia), but culturally!  This is what the Popes wanted, this is what the French Freemasons wanted, this is what the Nazis wanted, and this is what the AngloZionists want.  That dream to turn Russians into Europeans while totally cleansing them from any “Russian-ness” is what united *all* the invaders of Russia over the centuries.

But the “stubborn” Russian people just don’t seem to “get it” and, for some totally mysterious reason, they always resist all these “benevolent” western attempts at “civilizing” them.

This is exactly what we see today: Putin and his Eurasian Sovereignists try as hard as they can to *sovereignize* Russia; in other words, they want to make Russia *truly* Russian again.  Sounds basic, but that is categorically unacceptable to the Russian plutocrats and to their supporters in the West.  Thus any kind of defense of the Russian-ness of Russia is immediately and contemptuously dismissed as “national leftism”, “nationalism” or, God forbid!, “monarchism”.  And when the person trying to make the argument that Russia ought to be Russian uses Marxist concepts or categories, these arguments are also dismissed out of hand as an “outdated rhetoric of a system which has failed and discredited itself”.  What they fail to realize is to say that the collapse of the Soviet Union was due primarily/solely to the Marxist or Communist ideology is just as stupid as blaming the current collapse of democracy in the USA on the writings of the Founding Fathers rather than on the SOB politicians who are destroying this country day after day after day.  Tell me: when the USA finally bites the dust, will you simply declare that “democracy is dead” and that the “collapse of the USA proved that democracy is not a viable regime”?  So yes, the Soviet Union did indeed collapse, broken into 15 pieces by its own ruling elite (the Nomenklatura), but the ideas contained in the Marxist-Leninist ideology have not only not been “defeated” – they have not even been challenged (more on this issue here).

But, thank God! most Russians are still not willing to be incorporated into the “European cultural Borg collective“, at least not in the cultural sense.  And in spite of 300 years of oppression by various pro-western regimes (with various degrees of russophobia, not all were equally bad), the Russian people still want to remain Russian, not just by speaking a language, but by having a ruler and a regime in power which they feel defends their interests and not the interests of the ruling class. They want to live in their own civilizational realm, and not the kind of post-Christian intellectual desert the West has become.

Many decades of rabid russophobia by the rulers of the AngloZionist Empire have convinced the Russian people that they have no friends in the European or North American ruling elites and that true freedom comes through liberation, not submission.  That, and the appalling example of the consequences of the “Euromaidan” in the Ukraine.

At the end of the day, it is not about GDP or the availability of cheap consumer goods.  At the end of the day, it all depends on real, moral, ethical, spiritual and civilizational values.  This was true 1000 years ago and this is still true today.  At least in Russia.

It is very important to keep a close eye on this trend: the appearance of slowly but surely growing (truly) patriotic opposition (as opposed to the CIA-paid clowns in the Russian liberal camp).  As for the “official” opposition (LDPR, KPRF and the Just Russia), they might decide to grow a few teeth, initially small, baby teeth only, but if this trend accelerates, they might decide to look a tad more credible.  Until now the rather lame and ridiculous LDPR & KPRF parties are just a collective form of court jesters with no real opposition potential.  Just look at how the KPRF, thoroughly discredited by their crazy choice of the millionaire Grudinin for candidate, jumped onto the pension reform PR-disaster to suddenly try to launch a referendum.  This would never have happened in the past.

The political landscape in Russia is becoming more complicated, which is both good and bad.  It is bad because Putin’s personal political credit suffers, however modestly for now, from his continuous inability to purge the Kremlin from the 5th columnists, but it is also good because if things get bad enough Putin will have no choice but to (finally!) get rid of at least the most notorious 5th columnists.  But fundamentally the Russian people need to decide. Do they really want to live in a western-style capitalist society (with all the russophobic politics and the adoption of the terminally degenerate “culture” such a choice implies), or do they want a “social society” (to use Putin’s own words) – meaning a society in which social and economic justice and the good of the country are placed above corporate and personal profits.

You could say that this is a battle of greed vs ethics.

The future of Russia, and much of the world, will depend on the outcome of this battle.

The Saker

UPDATE: well, just as I was mentioning that the fact that Levada Center and VTsIOM mostly agree, at least on trends, the Russian media is now reporting that the latter now also is reporting a drop in the popularity of Putin.  And just to make things worse, the Russian authorities have deported an (in-)famous anti-Nazi Ukrainian journalist, Elena Boiko, to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine in spite of the fact that Boiko had requested political asylum in Russia.  Now, Boiko is a very controversial person for sure (and, personally, not *at all* my cup of tea), but the sole fact that Russia would deport ANY anti-Nazi activist to the Nazi-occupied Ukraine is disgusting and revolting.  And, sure enough, the bovine-excreta is already hitting the proverbial fan as now members of the Duma, journalists and various personalities are demanding explanations for this absolutely stupid and deeply immoral act.  Sadly,  can only agree with Nikolai Starikov who speaks of a “liberal revanche” following the “Russian Spring” of 2014.  If this kind of nonsense continues we will see a further deterioration of Putin’s personal rating along with a gradual degradation of the Russian political environment.

Bombs Over Damascus: Has israel (apartheid state) Crossed a Russian Red Line in Syria?

Bombs Over Damascus: Has Israel Crossed a Russian Red Line in Syria?

Friday, citing Russian sources the Palestinian-run, London-based, pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Russia has told Israel it will not tolerate further air strikes near the Damascus International Airport:

According to the report, which cited Russian sources, Moscow has told Jerusalem that it intends to renovate the Damascus International Airport, and that further attacks by Israel will not be welcomed.

The Russians say that the air strikes are causing airlines from the region that want to resume operations in Syria to reconsider their decision.

However, instead of this bringing calm, Israel instead launched a yet another series of attack around Damascus and against its main airport:

For two days in a row, Israel Defence Forces have been carrying out strikes on what the IDF claims are Iranian targets in Syria.

The Russian military has announced that tSyrian air defences had destroyed over 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs, when repelling an Israeli strike.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Israeli strike killed four Syrian servicemen and injured 6 others. In addition to this, the air raid has “partially damaged the infrastructure of the Damascus international airport”, the statement says.

The announcement comes shortly after the IDF press service announced that Israel had targeted alleged “military facilities of [Iranian unit] Quds Force in Syria, including weapons depots, mainly in the area of Damascus International Airport, Iranian intelligence center, Iranian training camp” in response to a missile strike in disputed Golan Heights. According to the IDF, during the raid, dozens of Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were fired, despite an unequivocal warning not to allow open fire.

Following earlier Syrian TV reports after Damascus had been rocked by powerful blasts, a Syrian military source told Sputnik that Syria’s air defences were able to shoot down a significant part of Israeli guided missiles.

So there are two possibilities. Perhaps Al-Quds, misunderstood its sources or just plain made up the story, or else the Israelis intentionally launched a second series of strikes just to show they will not respect any Russian red lines

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

January 16, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko:-25-years-ago-an-agreement-on-the-elimination-of-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-was-signed/
source: 
https://ukraina.ru/history/20190114/1022320495.html

On January 14th 1994 in Moscow the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and the US signed the tripartite declaration for the liquidation of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Under the treaty 176 intercontinental missiles and 1500 nuclear warheads on the territory of Ukraine had to be liquidated.

One might ask what has Donbass got to do with this?

When today Ukrainian radicals say that if Ukraine had preserved the world’s third biggest nuclear arsenal nobody could stop Kiev strangling an anti-fascist uprising not only in Donbass but also in Crimea, this is the absolute truth. People generally don’t joke about such things. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely that Kiev could’ve created a fully-fledged system of controlling, servicing, and using in combat all the missiles it inherited, even the existence of this arsenal made Ukraine almost invulnerable in relation to any external pressure. Taking into account the fact that Ukraine, in principle, could bring a considerable part of its available weaponry (except intercontinental missiles) to combat readiness (today, 23 years after the last warhead left the territory of “independent” Ukraine, it is possible to talk about it openly), nobody would start to clash with a monkey armed with a nuclear “grenade”.

Ukraine relinquished nuclear weapons only because its leaders attached too much value to diplomatic tinsel under the name “recognition of independence”. It is exactly what we regularly hear from patriotically dilettanti, crying out: “Why hasn’t Russia recognised Donbass yet?”

I can understand people who suffer from the fact that units of the 1st Guards tank army still haven’t come to the Dnieper, Vistula, Oder, Rhine, and, finally, the Atlantic. The desire to capture everything, to kill all enemies, and to throw internal opposition into jail – cleaning snow in Siberia – is the natural reaction of small children and infantile adults concerning the complicated and unclear to them world that surrounds them. But I am surprised by the ritual surrounding abstract recognition [of the DPR/LPR – ed] by the people who don’t understand its significance.

Here is a simple example: Russia did not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This did not prevent it from dispersing the Georgian army in one week when Saakashvili tried to restore the control of Tbilisi over these territories via armed force. Russia does not recognise Transnistria, but everyone perfectly knows that in a similar situation the reaction of Moscow will be the same. Russia never presented territorial claims to Ukraine, recognising its territorial integrity, but one month hadn’t even passed after the coup in Kiev and Crimea reunited with its Motherland. On the other hand, Japan does not recognise the Southern Kuril Ridge as Russian, but does this strongly help it? Up to the 70’s the US did not recognise the People’s Republic of China, considering the Taiwanese Kuomintang as the legitimate authority of China. And what?

Returning to Crimea. Not many people in the world recognised Crimea’s transition to the structure of Russia. But, besides the Kiev provokers, nobody tries to challenge the right of the Russian border guards to control the territorial waters of the peninsula.

In international law there is the concept of “an authority that actually controls the territory”. Irrespective of whether or not this authority is recognised by someone, or whether or not it was formed as a result of a coup, separation, or the voluntary division of the former state (as an option of merging two or several former ones), what’s important is not the fact of its international recognition, but the fact of its ability to support military-political control over a certain territory. If you have such an ability, then people will interact, trade, and even conclude quite official agreements with you. But if you formally own something but are not capable of controlling this ownership, then people will only sympathise with you whilst reaching agreements with those who control the territory.

In fact, this is what the Minsk process is based on. For several years Russia, France, and Germany have tried to explain to Kiev that it must speak and agree with the real authorities in Donbass. If it will reach an agreement on maintaining unity, then nobody will interfere, and if it won’t be able to reach an agreement, then it will be obliged to reach an agreement about a civilised divorce. But Ukrainian politicians, like 25 years ago, drag its heels concerning the question of formal recognition and demand that Donbass is returned to them under the Christmas tree either by Ded Moroz [Russia – ed], Santa Claus [America – ed], or Père Noël [France – ed].

But they could’ve learnt at least something from the story with nuclear disarmament.

Ukraine likes to remember the Budapest memorandum in connection with Crimea and Donbass. On Russian talk shows it as a rule is presented as a piece of paper without meaning (like saying: the memorandum is not a treaty and doesn’t oblige anyone to do anything). This isn’t true. A memorandum is a publicly given word of honour to follow certain rules. In some sense it is even more than a treaty. The latter, as a rule, is concluded over a certain period of time. But even termless contracts can be denounced (or just stop working) if the situation changes. But a memorandum indeed is not a binding document, it is not ratified, thus it cannot be denounced, but violating it is also not comme il faut [as it should be – ed]. This is like publicly promising a girl that you’ll marry her, and then, also publicly, bragging that you deceived her.

But notice that, unlike Kiev, the US and Great Britain, which together with Russia signed the Budapest memorandum, and also France and China, which gave Ukraine similar guarantees in special separate declarations, do not see any violations of the mentioned document. The answer to the question “Why?” is in the mentioned Tripartite declaration, the 25th anniversary of which we celebrated on January 14th. The following provisions were a part of the Budapest memorandum in an unchanged form. Ukrainian diplomacy likes to refer to them, but in practice they haven’t been violated:

“- reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

– refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

– reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

– reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a nonnuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;

– reaffirm, in the case of the Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state”.

It is not difficult to notice that exactly the same obligations that were given to other states that joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as non-nuclear states also apply to Ukraine. Help to Ukraine (including via immediate actions of the UNSC) is promised only if Kiev becomes a victim of aggression or the threat of aggression with the use of nuclear weapons. I.e., in the event of non- nuclear aggression, nobody owes Ukraine anything. It was promised to Ukraine to not use economic coercion against it. But even now, despite all the unfriendly steps made by Kiev, Russia did not tear up any treaty or any agreement on the initiative. Economic ties were torn up only where Ukraine tore them up.

Concerning territorial integrity, guarantees are given only within the framework of the CSCE final act. At the same time, peacefully changing the borders is allowed (who will say that Crimea was conquered? And, by the way, it is precisely for this reason that Turchynov demanded war in March 2014 – back then it was possible to try to record a violation of the Budapest memorandum). Moreover, even the obligation not to use armed force against Ukraine has no absolute character, the vague formulation “except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations” was used. Let’s note that the UN did not record a violation of the Charter by Russia (only the UN Security Council has the competence to do this).

So formally the Memorandum hasn’t been violated.

Let’s be frank, it is indeed formulated in such a way that it is impossible to violate it whatever may happen. And Ukraine knew this. Pay attention: the Tripartite declaration is dated January 14th 1994 (it was signed by Kravchuk), and the Budapest memorandum was signed on December 5th (practically one year later) by Kuchma. During all this time Ukrainian diplomacy tried to squeeze out the best conditions from the guarantor states. But it didn’t squeeze them out, and couldn’t have.

A critical mistake was made by Kiev on May 23rd 1992. On this day Russia, the US, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed the Lisbon protocol on the basis of which, Kiev, Minsk, and Astana joined the NPT as non-nuclear countries. Kazakhstan and Belarus also did not apply for nuclear status. For them, the signing of this document was natural. However Ukraine tried to keep its nuclear arsenal. But Kiev decided that it would be possible to bargain later, and that the most important thing at the time was international recognition. And Ukraine was frankly blackmailed with the refusal to recognise it as a nuclear state.

Kiev did not understand that a country with the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal would be recognised anyway. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, it will be possible to wait for however long is necessary – agreements will be made with it all the same and its opinion will be taken into account in international affairs. Kravchuk was afraid that the people [of Ukraine – ed] won’t treat the “sovereign” government seriously if it isn’t internationally recognised. His Minister of Foreign Affairs (Zlenko) hurried to report on recognition by “the whole world” (to start with – by “all the civilised world”) and open embassies everywhere where it was possible. And he signed the Lisbon protocol in which Ukraine unambiguously took upon itself the obligation to relinquish nuclear weapons. All the rest is two years of floundering in an attempt to get out of the already undertaken obligations or to at least squeeze out at least some dividends from this.

In fact, the issue of Kiev’s relinquishment of its nuclear status was decided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (not the Rada, not the government, and not the president). Of course, Zlenko had the correspondingly issued powers, but it is his signature that is underneath the protocol, and, most importantly, it is he and his department who developed recommendations for decision-making bodies. Ukraine at the time had no other experienced foreign affairs specialists.

The fact of recognition and having their own diplomatic missions played the same role for the Ukrainian authorities that pieces of glass, beads, and broken guns played for African savages in the 15th-16th centuries, or blankets and whisky for Indians a couple of centuries later. It was a fetish for which it is possible to give everything. And they indeed gave. And thank God. It is difficult to imagine what would’ve happened to the world if Ukraine had kept its nuclear weapons. In any case, Kiev would’ve for sure launched a war against Russia in the 90’s.

Since the clever learn from the mistakes of fools, it is worth remembering the story of Ukrainian nuclear disarmament and not to make a fetish out of the recognition of someone’s independence and sovereignty. This is a little more than a mere formality that sometimes others try to flog expensively. The fact of recognition does not give anything other than the right to officially maintain diplomatic mission in the countries that recognised you. But, for example, Taiwan, after most of the world recognised the People’s Republic of China and severed diplomatic relations with Kuomintang, simply renamed its embassies into trade missions. Nothing else changed and won’t exchange until Taipei is able to keep the island under control. But as soon as the unity of China will be restored, even those ten countries that still recognise not the People’s Republic of China, but the Republic of China (Taiwan), will absolutely quietly accept the new reality.

What’s important is the actual state of affairs, and not the theoretical one. Imagine that Zlenko didn’t sign the Lisbon protocol, Kravchuk didn’t sign the Tripartite declaration, Kuchma didn’t sign the Budapest memorandum, and Ukraine would’ve kept its nuclear arsenal. Do you think that it would’ve remained unrecognised for long? Right. And now let them kick themselves.

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