Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s introductory remarks at the opening of the exhibition of archive records on the 250th anniversary of the reunification of the peoples of Russia and Belarus

September 20, 2022

This year, Russia and Belarus are celebrating the 250th anniversary of the reunification of our fraternal peoples. In Soviet historiography, this event is referred to as the First Partition of Poland in 1772 that took place against the background of incessant wars in Europe.

Count Nikita Panin and Vice Chancellor Prince Alexander Golitsyn conducted talks on Russia’s behalf. They reached an agreement with Prussian envoy Count Solms and Austrian envoy Prince Lobkowitz and signed the relevant conventions in St Petersburg on August 5, 1772. The agreement between the great European powers provided for a peaceful transition (without bloodshed) for the greater part of the Vitebsk and Mogilev regions in present-day Belarus (92,000 sq km and a population of 1.3 million) becoming part of the Russian state.

This epoch event determined the destiny for a common Russian and Belarusian homeland and the course of European history. These primordial Slavic lands returned to the Russian Empire. The populations of these regions had been subjected to artificial Polonising for centuries. I think it would be appropriate to recall that this year we marked 1,030 years since the advent of Orthodoxy to Belarusian lands. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia coordinated his visits to Polotsk and Minsk with this anniversary.

Due to reunification with Russia in 1772, Belarusians managed to preserve their national identity and language and create conditions for shaping their own statehood. Since then – for a quarter of a millennium now – the Russian and Belarusian people have lived in peace and friendship. They are proud of their great common past and common victories. Together – in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and now in the Union State, they have efficiently resolved and will continue to resolve their urgent tasks and problems. We look to the future with confidence and optimism.

Today, under the Union State’s programmes of coordinated foreign policy actions, Russia and Belarus hold identical positions on the key issues of our time. They support each other at international venues and closely cooperate at the UN and the OSCE.

Under conditions of unprecedented pressure from the collective West, our two countries are strengthening their integration union and are working to create a common socio-economic, migration and defence space. We have something to present to the Russian and Belarusian public. We have fulfilled 50 percent of our goals under 28 union programmes for 2021-2023. We are drafting new cooperation programmes for the next three years. We are implementing our upgraded Military Doctrine and the Union State’s Migration Policy Concept.

I’d like to repeat that Russia and Belarus are inseparably tied by their common culture and history. We are united by common and memorable dates. These include Day of the Baptism of Russia, Day of Slavic Writing and Culture, Day of Unity between the Peoples of Russia and Belarus, February 23, March 8, Easter, Christmas and, of course, Victory Day on May 9, the dearest and holiest holiday for all of us.

This year we will time a meeting of the foreign ministry collegiums of our countries in Minsk in November to another common date – the 210th anniversary of the Battle of Berezina and the victory in the 1812 Patriotic War. I’d like to emphasise that this was a victory not only over the French but actually over all of Europe that was united under Napoleon.

On September 22-23 of this year, our Belarusian friends will hold one more important event in cooperation with the Russian Military Historical Society – the international scientific conference “Partitions of Poland in the historical memory of the peoples of Belarus and Russia.” This work is aimed at ensuring the continuity of our common history and bringing the truth about centuries-old cultural, historical, spiritual, moral and family ties to our people. It deserves respect and support.

In conclusion, I would like to thank once again the organisers of this event, the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire, which prepared a thematic exhibition of original documents related to the partition of Poland. These originals have never left the archives. They are the Russian-Prussian and Russian-Austrian conventions on the first partition of Poland, the Warsaw extraordinary peace treaty on the accession of some Polish lands to Russia, and notes on Polish affairs by Alexander Bezborodko, member of the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, to Catherine the Great, which bear her handwritten resolution. We have prepared replicas of these unique documents and will present them to our Belarusian friends as a gift.

الأطلسي ينتحر في أوكرانيا وطغمة كييف تحاكي مصير هتلر!


‎2022-‎09-‎12

محمد صادق الحسيني
رغم كلّ الضجيج والصراخ الأميركيّ عن تحرير مناطق او استعادة أخرى وإبراز هجوم أوكراني ضدّ روسيا، فإنّ الأنباء الميدانية التي تصل من ميادين المعارك في أوكرانيا عن نجاح الأطلسي في هذه المهمة باتت مستحيلة ولا تبشر إلا بالكارثة التي تنتظر طغمة كييف ورعاتها الدوليين.

فوزارة الدفاع الروسية تتحدّث عن 4 آلاف قتيل و8 آلاف جريح في صفوف قوات نظام كييف على محورين خلال الأيام الأخيرة فقط…

في المقابل فإنه وعلى الرغم من حملة الأكاذيب والتضليل الممنهج، التي أطلقها رئيس الأركان المشتركة للجيوش الأميركية، الجنرال مارك ميلي، خلال المؤتمر الصحافي المشترك مع وزير الدفاع الأميركي، الجنرال لويد اوستين، الذي عقد في قاعدة رامشتاين الجوية الأميركية في ألمانيا عقب انتهاء لقاء ما يسمّى: مجموعة الاتصال من أجل أوكرانيا (50 دولة)، بتاريخ 8/9/2022 (نص التصريحات موجود على موقع البنتاغون الرسمي)، فإنّ قراءة بين سطور تصريحاته تؤكد ما يلي:

أولأ ـ إنّ خسائر العصابات الأوكرانية، على جبهتي خيرسون في الجنوب وخاركوف في الشرق، قد فاقت كلّ الأرقام المعلنة وكلّ التوقعات أيضاً. حيث بلغت هذه الخسائر، على الجبهتين، ما يزيد على سبعة آلاف مسلح، بين «جنود» ومرتزقة أجانب، ومسلحين أوكرانيين من كتائب آزوف وكاراكن والذراع الأيمن، وغيرها من عصابات النازيين الأوكرانيين.

ثانيا ـ وقد جاء كلام الجنرال الأميركي ميلي، في قاعدة رامشتاين، ليؤكد هذه الأرقام، عندما قال: «… إنهم تكبّدوا خسائر فادحة، عشرات آلاف القتلى والجرحى…» وأضاف، في معرض حديثه عن محاولات التعرّض الفاشلة، التي قامت بها المجاميع المسلحة النازية على جبهات القتال، والتي أسماها الجنرال ميلي: محاولة استعادة المبادرة العسكرية، التي شرعت بها تلك المجاميع بداية الشهر الحالي. اضاف قائلاً: «إنه لمن المبكر تقديم تقييم دقيق عن نتائج هذا الهجوم (المضاد)، وذلك لأنّ العملية لا تزال في بدايتها».

ثالثا ـ لكن الجنرال الأميركي حاول التخفيف، من وقع كلامه الواضح نسبياً، عن فشل المغامرات الهجومية الأوكرانية، وذلك عندما أردف قائلاً: «إنّ القوات الأوكرانية تستخدم أسلحتها بشكل جيد… وهي بذلك تمهّد الطريق لإنجاح المناورة البرية بالقوات».

انّ الضجيج الإعلامي الكاذب، الذي أطلقته آلة الدعاية والحرب النفسية النازية الأميركية الأوروبية، مدّعية نجاح العصابات النازيه الأوكرانية الأطلسية الأميركية (إذ لم يعد هناك شيء اسمه الجيش الأوكراني وإنما هناك خليط من المرتزقة المحليين والأجانب وآلاف النازيين الأوروبيين يقاتلون الجيش الروسي)؛ نقول إنّ هذا الضجيج بعيد كلّ البعد عن الواقع الميداني، في مسرح العمليات، وعلى قاطع خاركوف/ إيزيوم بالتحديد.

وبما انّ الميدان هو الميزان، فإنّ وقائع الميدان تقول، خلاف ذلك تماماً كما أسلفنا في الإجمال أعلاه.

وحتى نعرف ما يجري على مسرح عمليات خاركوف طبقاً للعقيدة الحربية الروسية فقد ارتأينا أن نعود بالتاريخ الى الحرب العالميّة الثانية والعقيدة السوفياتيّة التي قاتلت بالضبط في هذا الميدان ومسرح العمليات المُشار إليه نفسه، وإليكم المقارنة:

أولا ـ لقد قامت الجيوش السوڤياتية، بقيادة المارشال إيڤان كونيڤ والمارشال نيكولاي ڤاتوتين، بتحرير مدينة خاركوڤ، من الاحتلال النازي، بتاريخ 23/7/1943. وذلك بعد معارك كر وفر طاحنة استمرت منذ صيف 1941 وحتى التحرير الكامل للمدينة وإبادة الجيوش الألمانية الغازية على تلك الجبهة، وعلى رأسها فرقة الدبابات الثانية لسلاح الإس إس (قوات الصدمة) الهتلرية. واسمها الألماني الكامل: شتورم شتافِلْ

ثانياـ إنّ الجيوش السوڤياتية كانت قد استدرجت الجيوش الهتلرية النازية، بقيادة الفيلد مارشال الألماني فون مانشتاين، والتي كانت لا تزال تسيطر على كلّ شرق أوكرانيا، الى كمين مدفعي صاروخي هائل (كانت راجمة الصواريخ من طراز كاتيوشا قد دخلت لتوّها الخدمة في الجيوش السوفياتية آنذاك)، وعندما اعتقدت القوات الألمانية انّ بإمكانها البدء بهجوم مضاد، باتجاه خطوط الجبهة السوڤياتية، أطبقت عليها الجيوش السوڤياتية وبدأت في هجومها الاستراتيجيّ، بتاريخ 3/8/1943، والذي انتهى بسحق الجيوش الهتلرية النازية على تلك الجبهة بشكل كامل. وقد استمرت هذه المعركة الكبرى حتى 23/8/1943، عندما أنهت الجيوش السوڤياتية هجومها، بتحرير خاركوف ومحيطها، من الاحتلال النازيّ.

ثالثا ـ وبتاريخ 3/8/2022 (التصادف العجيب للزمان والمكان) كانت القواتالروسية، المكلفة بِمَسْكْ محور خاركوڤ / ايزيوم، على أهبة الاستعداد، لتنفيذ أوامر هيئة الأركان العامة الروسية، التي كانت قد استكملت خططها، المبنية على معلومات استخبارية عالية الدقة، حول نوايا مجاميع القوات النازية التي تحرّكها كييڤ، في محاولة تنفيذ عمليات تعرّض للقطعات العسكرية الروسية، على تلك الجبهة. وكانت هذه هي اللحظة المناسبة، لتنفيذ خطة الهجوم الاستدراجي، المتضمّنة مسبقاً في خطة العمليات لدى الأركان العامة الروسية (خطة شهر آب 1943 نفسها وفي المكان نفسه وضدّ التشكيلات النازية نفسها)، حيث بدأت المجاميع النازية بالتحرك الهجومي، ايّ عملية للانفتاح القتالي، مما جعلها عرضة للسقوط في الكمائن الصاروخية والمدفعية والأسلحة الروسية الأخرى، بدءاً من يوم 6/8/2022 وحتى تاريخ 10/8/2022.

رابعا ـ وعلى الرغم من انّ البيانات الرسمية، التي تصدرها وزارة الدفاع الروسية، حول سير العمليات العسكرية على مختلف محاور الجبهات، في الشرق وفي الجنوب، تتسم بأعلى درجات الدقة والرصانة والمصداقية، فلا بدّ من القول إنّ خسائر المجاميع النازية، خلال الأيام الخمسة الماضية حسب مصادر الميدان، أعلى بكثير من الأرقام التي أوردها الناطق العسكري باسم وزارة الدفاع الروسية، الجنرال إيغور كوناشنيكوڤ.

خامساـ إذ انّ مصادر الاستخبارات العسكرية، في دوائر حلف شمال الأطلسي، تتحدث عن سبعة آلاف قتيل وما يزيد قليلاً عن عشرين ألف جريح، تكبّدتها المجاميع النازية خلال محاولاتها الفاشلة على محاور… جبهة خاركوڤ. هذه ارقام تتمتع، حسب تقديرنا، بنوع من المصداقية، خاصة أنّ الخبراء العسكريين ينطلقون، في حساباتهم للخسائر، من حقيقة أنّ كلّ قتيل يكون مترافقاً مع 3-4 جرحى. وهي أرقام تنطبق بدقة على خسائر الطرف الأوكراني. ويُضاف الى ذلك، طبعاً، الخسائر الكبيرة في المعدات والتجهيزات، التي تقدّرها المصادر، المُشار اليها أعلاه، بثلاثمئة دبابة ومدرعة وسيارات الدفع الرباعي، المجهّزة برشاشات ثقيلة، من عيار ٢٣ ملم و٣٧ ملم.

سادسا ـ في خلاصة الأمر، وبغضّ النظر عن التكتيكات، التي ستتبعها القوات الروسيّة وعن كيفية مناورة القيادة العسكرية الروسية بقواتها، سواء على جبهات شرق أو جنوب أوكرانيا، فإنّ الحقيقة المؤكدة لدى الخبراء هي :إنّ المجاميع النازية الأميركية الأطلسية قد استنفدت آخر ما لديها من موارد، بشرية وتسليحية، وزجّت بها الى أتون محرقة تسبّبت بها قيادة تلك المجاميع في كييف، والتي يُفترض أنها كانت على علم بأنّ محاولة الهجوم، التي خططوا لها، لا يمكن أن تتكلل بالنجاح، لأنّ إخراج القوات من تحصيناتها الدفاعية، ودفعها الى التحرك الهجومي، بدون غطاء جوي، هي عملية انتحارية فاشلة بلا أدنى شك.

سابعا ـ وعليه فإنّ هذه المحاولة الكارثية سوف تكون آخر تحرك من نوعه، تقوم به هذه المجاميع، أيّ أنها، وعوضاً عن استعادة المبادرة العسكرية في الميدان، فإنها فقدت القدرة على المبادرة لأيّ تحرك، مهما كان صغيراً، تماماً كما حصل مع الجيوش الهتلرية في محيط خاركوڤ، في شهر آب نفسه من العام 1943.

وغني عن القول انّ هزيمة الجيوش الألمانية، في معركة تحرير خاركوڤ المدينة والمقاطعة، قد مهّدت الطريق لوصول الجيوش السوڤياتية، منتصرة، الى برلين عاصمة الرايخ الثالث، في شهر أيار من العام 1945.

وهو ما يتوقع حصوله الخبراء مع الدمية النازية الأطلسبة، القابعة في كييف، زيلينسكي… الذي على الأرجح سيتمّ إخلاؤه بمروحية عسكرية أميركية، الى بولندا المجاورة، هذا إذا لم يسبقه الى ذلك قيام الشعب بالانتفاضة ضدّه والقبض عليه وزجّه في السجن أو إعدامه ميدانياً، بتهمة ارتكاب سيل من الجرائم في حق الشعب الأوكراني، والتي ليس أقلها إثقال كاهل الأجيال القادمة لهذا الشعب بالديون، التي سرقها هو وعصابته ولم يستفد منها الشعب الأوكراني في شيء أو رتّبها على شعبه بسبب استئجاره القوات الأطلسية والأميركية بديون آجلة، ولكن لأهداف ربحية أميركية محضة.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

We the Silent Majority

September 08, 2022

Source

by Asia Teacher

History has an unfortunate habit of repeating itself, invariably drawing the minority into the same world of beliefs as those who previously fell for them. Removing moral, spiritual and intellectual values, aka traditions and replacing them with woke ideologies, green agendas and cultural equality follows a well-trod political path to disaster. As we head for collapse, can or will the silent majority stop the decline?

We’re not statesmen or diplomats and we don’t know Russia’s battle plans, nor are we ever going to be president of anything. We’re famous, but unknown, who are we?

We’re the silent majority!

If you’re over forty you’ll probably remember us. We’re the ones who told you not to put your finger in the fire as it would hurt. However, if you’re under forty you’ll have met us at the ballot box every four years as we try to stop the crazies among you from voting in the demagogues promising you a utopia.

We’re an odd lot and believe in things others find strange, such as God and think Justin Bieber is something found in a tissue after blowing your nose. We don’t get our news from twitter which is probably why we’re a bit behind the new-age times and we don’t believe Generation Z when they tell us Shakespeare was an African. However, we do remember the warnings from former dissidents Solzhenitsyn, Bukovsky and even President Putin who warned you not to go down the road you’re on now.

We the silent majority were laughing at the ‘Woke’ Cultural Revolution and diversity obedience training years before it became fashionable. It was already obvious what would happen way back in 1993, coincidently, shortly after the collapse of the USSR when the European Union emerged offering the gullible an unhealthy dose of Gramscian Cultural Marxism disguised as freedom. As the vocal minority now scratch their collective heads at the mess they’ve created, we’re the silent majority occasionally heard muttering “I told you so.”

Likewise, we are not responsible for the current political, economic and moral decline around you. We did not support corporate fascism in minimum wage gig-economies, lock downs, non-existent alternative energy sources, or an unhealthy obsession with homosexuality believing it had anything to do with freedom and democracy.

As attention spans wane due to a lack of sensationalism and the Ukraine becomes just another ongoing news item, the next self-inflicted crisis is an energy one. We silent majority raise an eyebrow as we’re told that Russia is an unreliable energy supplier sanctioned from supplying the oil needed and the reason behind rising food prices is the fault of a European drought as we had two weeks of hot sun in the summer.

In our brave new world, everyone’s smiling but no one’s happy. Moreover, when we glance around us we all know something is wrong. The only difference between us is who we point our fingers at. Currently, it’s all Biden’s fault but yesterday Trump was to blame. Today it’s Russia, tomorrow it will be China (again). Russian and Chinese societies aren’t collapsing, ours are and we’ve got nowhere to flee as the stupid lash out in all directions to prolong the agony of indoctrinated beliefs they’re hiding behind.

Our political system is broken, our multicultural societies are in chaos, inflation is soaring, we’re bankrupt and awaiting possible mass civil protests in the near future; that’s if the fools in charge don’t lead us into a nuclear conflict first.

Yet whilst muttering “here we go again”, nevertheless we the silent majority are prepared to join the coming mass civil disobedience protests as the minority complain about the agents of social programming they not so long ago cheered for and are too stupid to realize they’re the cause of, but think more of it is the solution.

Asia Teacher is a UK citizen, retired teacher of English plus Social and Political Science.

US economic decline and global instability Part 2: Rise of BRICS

September 01, 2022

Source

by Phillyguy

Summary

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s preeminent military and economic power. All of the pillars supporting US power are now threatened by decades of neoliberal economic policies, spending vast sums of taxpayer money propping up financial markets, the military and attainment of economic/military parity by the Russia-China-Iran axis. In this essay, I link the continuing economic and social decline in the US/EU (collectively referred to as the ‘west) to an increasingly reckless US foreign policy, the role corporate media serves in promoting these policies to the American/EU public and the rise of Russia, China and other countries in the global south.

Introduction

This is a continuation or my previous article, linking US economic decline and global instability [1]. Briefly, the US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading economic and military power. Since that time, US global power has rested on: 1) unrivaled military and economic power, 2) control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the Middle East), and 3) maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Following the conclusion of WWII in 1945, the US had the world’s largest economy and was the major ‘growth engine’ for western capitalism for the next 3 decades. In the mid-1970s, this began to change as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, a direct consequence of spending large amounts of taxpayer money on wars on the Korean Peninsula (1950-1953) and Vietnam (1955-1975) and increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe, primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) and Asia- Japan, South Korea (Korean and Vietnam wars) and more recently China. Starting in the early 1980s, the US financial elite began pressuring policy makers to pursue neoliberal economic policies, including multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, financial deregulation, austerity, attacks on the poor and labor and outsourcing manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China and other low-wage platforms. The Soviet Union officially dissolved on Dec 26, 1991. This was viewed by the US ruling elite as the removal of the major rival to US global power and would allow unrestrained actions of the American military to invade and occupy countries which are rich in natural resources and/or occupy geo-strategic locations and expand NATO into Eastern Europe up to the Russian border. Since 1991, US/NATO have been involved in conflicts in Yugoslavia, Persian Gulf/Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine [2].

Role of Corporate Media

First Amendment of the US constitution-

‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’

It is commonly stated that the press (aka the proverbial ‘4th estate’) in the US is ‘free’ and ‘independent’ and ‘essential for the functioning of a free society’, serving as a ‘watchdog’ on government actions and policies and vital to protect the ‘liberty’ of American citizens. As is often the case, things are not always as they seem.

In a recent interview with Brian Berletic, Mark Sleboda commented that “Western media is in ‘lockstep’ with government on foreign policy to a degree that would make real dictators blush” [3]. While there is no doubt that Western (read corporate) media is indeed promoting US foreign policy, it is not the US government that formulates these polices, rather they are formulated and developed by the ruling elite, using corporate-funded foundations and ‘think tanks’, academic institutions and prominent politicians. These include the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Rand Corporation, Rockefeller Foundation, American Heritage Foundation, Atlantic Council, Brookings, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Academic institutions such as The Kennedy School (Harvard), Hoover Institution (Stanford), Walsh School of Foreign Service (Georgetown) and School of Advanced International Studies (Johns Hopkins) not only provide ‘experts’ and government officials, such as Wendy Sherman (Kennedy School) current US Deputy Secretary of State in the Biden Administration, they serve as training grounds for government officials and corporate management, some of whom are employed by above listed universities and foundations.

Once formulated, these policies are ‘sold’ to the American public by a compliant and well-disciplined media. Approximately 90% of US media is controlled by six large corporations- Comcast, Walt Disney, AT&T, Paramount Global, Sony, and Fox, with a combined market cap of circa $500 billion [4] [5]. Like other large corporations, media conglomerates have the same class interests as the financial elite, i.e., promoting policies which increase corporate power and profits and maintain US global hegemony. So called ‘public’ media, such as National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC, in the UK, function in a similar manner. Corporate media is closely integrated with large financial interests and serves as a ‘cheerleader’ for the Pentagon and US foreign policy.

Not surprisingly, major broadcasters, the paper of record (NYT), Wall St. Journal (WSJ), Washington Post, etc. are little more than a sounding board for the US ruling elite and thus, function primarily as the ‘ministry of propaganda’ for large financial interests. Any reporter, military analyst, aka ‘TV General’, etc. who ‘steps out of line’, such as telling the truth about the military debacle facing Ukraine will either be severely reprimanded or find themselves out of a job. Some examples-

1) CBS recently ran a documentary claiming that only 30% of ‘military aid’ sent to Ukraine actually arrived. The video was removed following complaints from the Ukrainian government. [6] [7].

2) David Sanger (Harvard graduate) is chief Washington correspondent for the NYT and also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) [8], whose members include corporate executives, bankers, and other representatives of the ruling elite.

3) David Ignatius (Harvard graduate) is a foreign affairs columnist for the WaPo and has close ties to the intelligence community- CIA and Pentagon.

Sanger and Ignatius serve as pundits for US global power, promoting the use of military force to promote American interests.

When you do not toe the corporate line…………

4) Gary Webb was a journalist working for the San Jose Mercury News. In 1996, Webb published a series of articles, “Dark Alliance”, describing how Nicaraguan Contra rebels, working closely with the CIA, supplied crack cocaine to the Black community in Los Angeles and used proceeds from these sales to purchase weapons to overthrow the government of Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front. Following publication of the Dark Alliance series, corporate media became hysterical, denouncing Webb, effectively ruining his career; he committed suicide in 2004 [9]

5) Julian Assange- In 2010, Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, published a series of leaks obtained from Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst, documenting US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following publication of these leaks, the American government began a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. In 2010, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct. To avoid extradition, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In 2019, Assange was arrested by British police at the Ecuadorian embassy and transferred to Belmarsh, a Category-A men’s prison in London. Up to this point, Julian Assange had not been formally charged. However, on May 23, 2019, the United States government charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and is currently awaiting potential extradition to the US [10].

The US has been almost continuously involved in overt and covert military conflicts since 1940 and as a result, war and associated violence has been normalized and institutionalized by corporate media to the point, where these policies are readily accepted by a relatively docile and ignorant American public. When foreign governments deemed hostile to US corporate interests limit press ‘freedom’, they are immediately labeled as repressive/terrorist regimes and potential candidates for direct attack and ‘regime’ change by the US State Department. Apparently, what is ‘good for the goose’ is ‘not good for the gander’. As pointed out above, any journalist that threatens the American empire risks losing their job, imprisonment and/or death.

Accelerating Decline of late-stage American Capitalism

Multiple factors have contributed to the decline of American economic power. These include economic policies, spending astronomical amounts of taxpayer money on the military and war, social instability and rise of China-Russia-Iran axis.

Economic policies

Since the mid-1970s, US policy makers have pursued neoliberal economic policies- financial deregulation, austerity, tax cuts for the wealthy, attacks on labor and job-outsourcing, which has resulted in the massive growth of the FIRE sector of the economy composed of finance, insurance, and real estate. These polices precipitated the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) 2007-2008, the largest financial shock since the Great Depression. Rather than resolve the severe structural problems confronting American capitalism which created this crisis, the FED used the Treasury as a de facto taxpayer-supported ‘piggy bank’ (the FED cannot print money) to prop up equity markets, bonds, over-priced real estate and [still] insolvent banks. To put this in perspective, since 2009, the FED has injected over $40 trillion into financial markets, increasing the wealth of the financial elite, the proverbial ‘1%’. Not surprisingly, over the last 5 years, US government deficits have increased circa $2 trillion annually, currently exceeding $30 trillion (Fig. 1); this figure does not include municipal, corporate or consumer debt. This begs the obvious question of how long can the FED continue this orgy or money printing and debt? Note- for comprehensive background information on the FED’s financial activities, see Wall Street on Parade [11].

Military Spending and War

Since its inception, the US has been built on theft and violence, justified by ‘Christian’ religion and ‘White man’s burden’. The first permanent British settlement in North America was established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. A decade later, African slaves were introduced by Dutch slave traders. Over the next 250 years, the US government would continue stealing land and displace/murder circa 90% of the indigenous population. In the mid-19th century, the US had the world’s leading economy, largely built on cotton produced by Black slaves [12]. Fast forward 150 years, the US has been almost continuously at war since 1940. 911 was a godsend for the military- US taxpayers have spent circa $21 trillion ($7.2 trillion going to military contractors) on post-911 militarization [13] [14]. The military appropriation for 2023 exceeds $760 billion. Despite this taxpayer largess, the Pentagon has not ‘won’ a war since 1945, was forced out of Afghanistan after spending $2 trillion, and confronts looming strategic debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine. This has vividly shown the rest of the world the limits of American military power. Unfortunately, after expending so much financial and human capital, the Pentagon appears incapable of extricating itself from these conflicts as doing so is an admission of failure and by extension military weakness. This was clearly seen following Joe Biden’s decision to remove US troops from Afghanistan in 2021 and the push-back he received from corporate media and people in Congress.

Political Chaos and Social Instability

We frequently hear that US society has progressed to the point, where the country appears to be increasingly ungovernable. Indeed, American society is plagued by economic inequality, racism and ubiquitous violence. The American working class has watched their standard of living plummet- a result of decades of neoliberal economic policies, including job outsourcing, austerity, stagnant income growth and since the Covid 19 pandemic, high inflation, reflected by increasing costs for rent, transportation, energy, groceries, medical care and other necessities. To put this in perspective, 60% of Americans do not have $500 in savings and thus are one expensive car repair, medical emergency or job loss away from financial ruin. At the same time the wealth of American billionaires has increased circa $1 trillion during the Covid19 pandemic. Not surprisingly in 2016, Donald Trump skillfully exploited the justifiable anger and frustration of working people, stating that he would ‘Make American Great Again’, blaming American economic problems on immigrants from Mexico and Latin America and China’s economic rise.

Rise of BRICS/SCO and US/NATO debacle in Ukraine

We are seeing the continued rise in the global power and influence of Russia, China and allied nations, on multiple fronts, including organizational, economic and militarily. The BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are expanding. Original BRICS members included Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Iran and Argentina have applied for admission, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Turkey and Egypt are applying for entry next year. SCO is the largest regional economic institution in the world, covering 60% of Eurasia with a population > 3.2 billion and combined GDP of member states circa 25% of global total. Trade between BRICS and SCO member states is increasingly being carried out using local currencies.

The Mir payment system operated by the Russian National Card Payment System [15] is a direct competitor to Visa and Mastercard and now accepted throughout the Russian Federation and in 13 countries including India, Turkey and South Korea and will soon be used in Iran. BRICS nations are developing a global currency for international trade that will directly compete with the dollar [16]. Russia is developing a new international trading platform for precious metals: the Moscow World Standard (MWS) [17]. The Russian Finance Ministry believes this new independent international structure will ‘normalize the functioning of the precious metals industry” and serve as an alternative to the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA; https://www.lbma.org.uk), [18] which for years has been accused of systematically manipulating the price of precious metals markets to depress prices [19]. Collectively, these policies have been designed to significantly reduce the dependence of economies in Russia, China, India and other countries in the Global South on the US/EU and eliminate dependence on the US dollar and Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system [20] for international trade. No doubt this is being done in close collaboration with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) whose goal is to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth [21] [22]. This trajectory has been accelerated following enactment of US/EU sanctions on Russia, Iran and China.

Over the last decade, the military power of Russia, China and Iran has greatly strengthened. The Russian military is a global leader in air-defense systems and hypersonic weapons, which are impermeable to any air-defense systems currently deployed by the US/NATO [23]. Over the last 25 years, China has modernized its military, focusing on People’s Liberation Navy and Army Air Force [24] [25]. China has developed a robust missile arsenal including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) [26]. The Pentagon now considers China a ‘formidable military force’ and a ‘major challenge’ to the US Navy in the Western Pacific. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also developed a formidable defensive military capability, which has positioned Iran as a major power broker in the region. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has concluded- ‘Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe.’ [27]. Iran has repeatedly warned the US/NATO that it can target US military bases in the region, including Al Udeid base in Qatar, the largest US base in the Middle East. We are seeing increased assertiveness from the Russia-China-Iran axis in Syria, Ukraine and Western Pacific. This was clearly articulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June, declaring an end of “the era of the unipolar world” [28]. The Pentagon is being increasingly challenged by the Russia-China-Iran axis in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Western Pacific.

Ukraine- another US/NATO debacle

For background and historical information covering Ukraine and her relationship with Russia, see [29]. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe after Russia and occupies a strategic location in Eastern Europe, sharing a circa 2300 km (1227 mi) border with Russia [30] (Fig. 2). As of 2021, Ukraine had the second largest military (circa 200,000 military personnel), after the Russian Armed Forces, in Europe and has the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world [31]. Historically, the predominantly Russian speaking population in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine has maintained close ties with Russia.

In February 2014, the US- instigated Maidan coup took place, replacing the democratically-elected President Victor Yanukovych with a Russia-phobic and far-right politician/economist/lawyer, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian government was soon dominated by an alliance of far-right/fascistic organizations including the Right Sector and Svoboda and oligarchic parties, such as Fatherland. This was predictable, as these groups were the most virulently anti-Russian factions in Ukraine [32] and are still very active in the government and military [33] [34]. Soon after the coup took place, the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics declared their independence, initiating the war in the Donbas. Over the next 8 years, the US/NATO would train circa 100,000 Ukrainian troops and channel $ billions in military aid [35], which was used to equip Ukrainian army and fortify positions adjacent to the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics [30] (Fig. 3). This buildup was accompanied by increased shelling of residential areas in the Donbas region by the Ukrainian military [36] [37], setting up a potential invasion of this region [38]. In response to the escalating attacks by Ukrainian forces. Russia recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics as sovereign states on Feb 21, 2022, just prior to the Russian invasion on Feb 24, 2022, describing this campaign as a Special Military Operation (SMO) [39]. For an excellent overview of why Russia made the decision to invade Ukraine, see [40].

Going up against a well-trained, well equipped and an entrenched Ukrainian army, Russian forces have managed to take control of circa 20% (~47,000 square miles) of southern Ukraine and are incrementally removing Ukrainian forces from this region [38] (Fig. 3). Significantly, this territory contains prime agricultural and resource-rich land. It appears that Russia is planning on annexing littoral territory extending from the Donetsk/Luhansk region to Odesa [41]. Once this happen, any future Ukrainian state will not only be land-locked and lack direct access to the Black Sea, it will also lose valuable land as well. Military analyst Andrei Martyanov [42] has pointed out the ‘combined West doesn’t have material and technological means of fighting Russia in Eastern Europe without losing catastrophically. Western weapons turned out to be nothing more than commercial items not designed to fight the modern war, plus–no Western economy, including the United States has the capability to produce them in needed quantities anyway.’

The collective west has responded to the Russian invasion by blocking the opening of the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline, which would directly supply Russian natural gas to Germany, imposed sanctions on Russian energy exports and disconnected Russian banks from the SWIFT system. To the dismay of the US/NATO, these actions have led to large increases in EU energy costs while strengthening the Russian economy [43]. Indeed, the paper of record (NYT) published a recent OpEd bemoaning the fact that despite western sanctions, Russia is making more money than ever on energy exports to China, India and other countries [44]. Despite nonstop condemnation from the US and EU of Russia’s SMO in Ukraine, many nations have not criticized the war [45]; only 1/3 of UN members supported a new anti-Russia resolution this August [46]. Thus, dwindling international support for Ukraine, coupled with success of the Russian SMO indicates that the country will not exist in its current form.

Concluding Remarks

The decline of late-stage American capitalism has been ongoing since the mid-1970s, but has been accelerated by the GFC, Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and Russian SMO in Ukraine. Not surprisingly, the ruling elite and their representatives in Washington have responded by shifting the costs of this decline onto the public, who have watched their living standard plummet, homelessness increase [47], imposed reactionary legislation such as the criminalization of pregnancy by the US Supreme Court, ratcheted up state violence against working people and people of color, while engaging in an astronomically expensive and reckless foreign policy. It appears the ruling elite view the Russia-China-Iran axis as an intolerable obstacle to US global power, reflected in the ongoing war in Ukraine, which is a de facto proxy war between the US and Russia. US-imposed sanctions on Russian energy have driven global energy prices higher; natural gas prices in the EU are 14-fold higher than the 10-year average. As a result, the UK/EU are at risk of not having sufficient quantities of natural gas for the winter, while EU industry will not be competitive with their rivals in Asia, who are being supplied with cheaper Russian energy. This is going to lead to increasing unemployment and social instability in the Eurozone.

The continued presence of US troops in Iraq and Syria is a desperate attempt to maintain control over Middle East energy reserves. The continued recklessness of this occupation can be seen from the constant Israeli attacks on Syrian and Iranian-allied forces by Israel/US, increasing the chances of a war with Iran, which can rapidly escalate, potentially incinerating the entire Persian Gulf region. It appears the US is abandoning the ‘one-China’ policy’ that has guided relations between the two countries for nearly 5 decades and is preparing to recognize Taiwan as an ‘independent’ state, a redline for the Peoples Republic of China. No doubt, this was one motivation for sending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, from ‘’liberal’ San Francisco, with a net worth exceeding $100 million, to visit Taiwan. The Pentagon is actively encouraging Japan, which is little more than a US stooge/vassal and still occupied by circa 50K US troops, to join in this effort [48]. This begs the obvious question- did Japan learn anything from their defeat in WWII? As Glen Ford has pointed out, hegemons do not have ‘allies’ they only have subordinates [49].

The decline of late-stage American capitalism has progressed to the point where the very survival of the American empire is now contingent upon endless money printing to prop up financial markets and the military. This is becoming increasingly tenuous as this orgy of money printing and debt has created gigantic bubbles in every asset class- ‘everything bubble’, increasing inflation and threatening to derail the dollar’s role as world reserve currency and viability of western capitalism. Considering the weak state of US/EU economies, what economic incentives does the US have to encourage countries in the Indo-Pacific to reduce trade with China? Obviously, this is a nonstarter [50]. The ruling oligarchy are well aware of US economic decline and in desperation, are attempting to directly confront the Russia-China-Iran axis, which has attained economic and military parity (superiority?) with US/NATO. Perilous times ahead.

Notes

1. US economic decline and global instability. The Saker Jan 19, 2021; https://thesaker.is/us-economic-decline-and-global-instability/

2. American Involvement in Wars from Colonial Times to the Present- Wars From 1675 to the Present Day By Martin Kelly Nov 4, 2020; https://www.thoughtco.com/american-involvement-wars-colonial-times-present-4059761

3. Ukraine’s Growing Dependency on Terrorism w/Mark Sleboda The New Atlas Aug 25, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgiRKbTYbZQ&t=1997s

4. The Big 6 Media Companies By Adam Levy Jun 10, 2022; https://www.fool.com/investing/stock-market/market-sectors/communication/media-stocks/big-6/

5. The 6 Companies That Own (Almost) All Media; https://www.webfx.com/blog/internet/the-6-companies-that-own-almost-all-media-infographic

6. Why military aid in Ukraine may not always get to the front lines. By Adam Yamaguchi and Alex Pena CBS News Aug 7, 2022; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-military-aid-weapons-front-lines/

7. CBS censors its own report on Ukraine weapons corruption Multipolarista Aug 14, 2022; https://soundcloud.com/multipolarista/cbs-ukraine-weapons-corruption

8. Council on Foreign Relations; https://www.cfr.org/

9. How Gary Webb Linked the CIA to the Crack Epidemic — and Paid the Ultimate Price by Marco Margaritoff Feb 18, 2022; https://allthatsinteresting.com/gary-webb

10. Julian Assange, Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Assange#Seth_Rich

11. Wall Street on Parade Pam Martens and Russ Martens; https://wallstreetonparade.com/

12. Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist 2016 (Book)

13. State of Insecurity- The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 by Lindsay Koshgarian, Ashik Siddique and Lorah Steichen Institute for Policy Studies; Link: https://ips-dc.org/report-state-of-insecurity-cost-militarization-since-9-11/

14. Costs of war; https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/

15. The exponential rise of Russia’s Mir payment system by James King The Banker

July 20, 2021; https://www.thebanker.com/Transactions-Technology/FX-Payments/The-exponential-rise-of-Russia-s-Mir-payment-system?ct=true

16. Russia and China are brewing up a challenge to dollar dominance by creating a new reserve currency by George Glover Markets Indiser Jun 24, 2022; https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/currencies/dollar-dominance-russia-china-rouble-yuan-brics-reserve-currency-imf-2022-6

17. Precious Metals: Russia Proposes New Standard to Compete with LBMA Goldbroker Aug 17, 2022; https://goldbroker.com/news/precious-metals-russia-proposes-new-standard-to-compete-with-lbma-2826

18. London Bullion Market Association (LBMA); https://www.lbma.org.uk

19. Rigged Gold Price Distorts Perception of Economic Reality by Paul Craig Roberts and Dave Kranzler Sept 22, 2014; https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/09/22/rigged-gold-price-distorts-perception-economic-reality-paul-craig-roberts-dave-kranzler/

20. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system; https://www.swift.com/

21. China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the global trade, investment and finance landscape 2018;

22. Belt and Road Initiative; https://www.beltroad-initiative.com/belt-and-road/

23. Trends in Russia’s Armed Forces- An Overview of Budgets and Capabilities by Keith Crane, Olga Oliker and Brian Nichiporuk Rand Corporation 2019; https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2573.html

24. China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service Mar 8, 2022; https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

25. An Interactive Look at the U.S.-China Military Scorecard Rand https://www.rand.org/paf/projects/us-china-scorecard.html

26. China is building more than 100 new missile silos in its western desert, analysts say

Image without a caption By Joby Warrick Washington Post June 30, 2021; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/china-nuclear-missile-silos/2021/06/30/0fa8debc-d9c2-11eb-bb9e-70fda8c37057_story.html

27. Missile Defense Project, “Missiles of Iran,” Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies; https://missilethreat.csis.org/country/iran

28. President Putin’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Speech, June 17, 2022. Defense Info; https://defense.info/global-dynamics/2022/06/president-putins-st-petersburg-international-economic-forum-speech-june-17-2022

29. Ray McGovern: Historical Context for Conflicts in Ukraine Consortium News Jul 10, 2022; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gLzsQA3UGY

30. Map Explainer: Key Facts About Ukraine By Bruno Venditti, Graphics/Design: Nick Routley Feb 23, 2022; https://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-explainer-ukraine/

31. Welcome to Ukraine, the most corrupt nation in Europe by Oliver Bullough The Guardian Feb 6, 2015; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/04/welcome-to-the-most-corrupt-nation-in-europe-ukraine

32. How and why the U.S. Government Perpetrated the 2014 Coup in Ukraine by Eric Zuesse Modern Diplomacy June 4, 2018; https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/06/04/how-and-why-the-u-s-government-perpetrated-the-2014-coup-in-ukraine/

33. Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are on the March in Ukraine- Five years after the Maidan uprising, anti-Semitism and fascist-inflected ultranationalism are rampant.

By Lev Golinkin The Nation Feb 22, 2019;

34. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies Fair Observer Mar 11, 2022; https://www.fairobserver.com/region/europe/medea-benjamin-nicolas-js-davies-ukraine-war-russia-ukranian-neo-nazi-fascists-azov-battalion-89292/

35. Ukraine- World Socialist Website; https://www.wsws.org/en/topics/country/ukraine

36. Ukrainian Army terror bombings By Laurent Brayard Jun 6, 2022; https://mronline.org/2022/06/06/ukrainian-army-terror-bombings/

37. Donbass Update: Ukraine Continues to Shell Residential Areas Telesur Feb 24, 2022; https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Donbass-Update-Ukraine-Continues-to-Shell-Residential-Areas-20220224-0004.html

38. Important — A Message for Americans Gonzalo Lira June 18, 2022; https://www.strategic-culture.org/video/2022/06/20/2022-06-18-important-a-message-for-americans/

39. Putin Announces Start to ‘Military Operation’ Against Ukraine by Anton Troianovski and Neil MacFarquhar NYT Feb. 23, 2022; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/world/europe/ukraine-russia-invasion.html

40. Why Russia Invaded Ukraine by Eric Zuesse The Duran Sept 1, 2022; https://theduran.com/why-russia-invaded-ukraine/

41. All the way to Odessa by Pepe Escobar The Unz Review Aug 26, 2022; https://www.unz.com/pescobar/all-the-way-to-odessa/

42. Reminiscence of the Future (Andrei Martyanov); http://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/

43. Europe’s Markets and Energy Security Disrupted by Russia Sanctions by Kenneth Rapoza Forbes Aug 23, 2022; https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2022/08/23/europes-markets-and-energy-security-disrupted-by-russia-sanctions/?sh=6d2312b45097

44. Russia Is Making Heaps of Money from Oil, but There is a Way to Stop That

July 29, 2022; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/29/opinion/russia-oil-sanctions-biden.html

45. Why have many nations not condemned the war in Ukraine? by Bernd Debusmann News Decoder Apr 4, 2022; https://news-decoder.com/why-have-many-nations-not-condemned-the-war-in-ukraine/

46. Only one in three UN members back new anti-Russia resolution- International support for Ukraine has dropped dramatically since March RT Aug 26, 2022; https://www.rt.com/russia/561627-un-ukraine-resolution-support/

47. Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months — why the rental crisis keeps getting worse by Brian J. O’Connor Yahoo Sun, Aug 28, 2022; https://www.yahoo.com/video/census-bureau-3-8-million-100000978.html

48. U.S. presses Japan to cancel Constitution’s peace-clause. China and Japan must thus finally agree now, to avoid a war by Eric Zuesse The Duran Aug 25, 2022; https://theduran.com/why-a-deal-is-needed-now-between-china-and-japan/

49. Glen Ford’s Ukrainian Crystal Ball Black Agenda Report Jul 27, 2022; https://www.blackagendareport.com/glen-fords-ukrainian-crystal-ball

50. A New World Order is Looming and the West Doesn’t Like it by James ONeill Aug 24, 2022; https://journal-neo.org/2022/08/24/a-new-world-order-is-looming-and-the-west-doesn-t-like-it/

3 Figures

Figure 1: Total US Public Debt

Figure 2. Map of Ukraine

Figure 3. Military situation in Ukraine Aug 31, 2022

Figure 1. Total US public debt. Note that debt in Q1 2020 was $ 23.2 trillion while in Q2 2022 was $ 30.5 trillion, an increase of $7 trillion.

FRED Graph

Source: Total Public Debt; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GFDEBTN

Figure 2. Map of Ukraine

Ukraine Map

Source: US Department of Defense

Figure 3. Military Situation in Ukraine for Aug 31, 2022. Areas in Red are controlled by the allied forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Militia and Russian military.

Source: Ukraine interactive map; https://liveuamap.com

‘If not me, who?’: Mikhail Gorbachev ended Cold War and saved the world, but failed to save Soviet Union FEATURE

30 Aug, 2022

It is hard to imagine that anyone could have dismantled the Soviet Union from the inside faster or more comprehensively than Mikhail Gorbachev, a man who had no such intention. Its crumbling is both Gorbachev’s singular achievement and his personal tragedy.

It is also the most important moment in history since 1945.

Popular perceptions have transformed the former Soviet leader into a kitschy icon, remembered as much for starring in an advert for no-crust pizza, as for picking up a Nobel Peace Prize.

But in the demise of ‘The Evil Empire’ he was no naïf, nor a catalyst for generic historic inevitabilities. Almost every single event in the countdown to the fall of communism in Russia and beyond is a direct reflection of the ideals, actions and foibles of Mikhail Gorbachev and those he confronted or endorsed.

This is the story of a farm mechanic who managed to penetrate the inner sanctum of the world’s biggest country, an explanation of what drove him once he reached the top, and an attempt to understand whether he deserves opprobrium or sympathy, ridicule or appreciation.

First president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev before a parade marking the 69th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War.
RIA Novosti.
The first president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev signs autographs during the presentation of his new book “Alone with Myself” in the Moskva store.
RIA Novosti.

If not me, who? And if not now, when?
— Mikhail Gorbachev

CHILDHOOD

Growing up a firebrand Communist among Stalin’s purges

Born in 1931 in a Ukrainian-Russian family in the village of Privolnoye in the fertile Russian south, Mikhail Gorbachev’s childhood was punctuated by a series of almost Biblical ordeals, albeit those shared by millions of his contemporaries.

His years as a toddler coincided with Stalin’s policy of collectivization – the confiscation of private lands from peasants to form new state-run farms – and Stavropol, Russia’s Breadbasket, was one of the worst-afflicted. Among the forcible reorganization and resistance, harvests plummeted and government officials requisitioned scarce grain under threat of death.

Gorbachev later said that his first memory is seeing his grandfather boiling frogs he caught in the river during the Great Famine.

Yet another grandfather, Panteley – a former landless peasant — rose from poverty to become the head of the local collective farm. Later Gorbachev attributed his ideological make-up largely to his grandfather’s staunch belief in Communism “which gave him the opportunity to earn everything he had.”

Panteley’s convictions were unshaken even when he was arrested as part of Stalin’s Great Purge. He was accused of joining a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyite movement” (which presumably operated a cell in their distant village) but returned to his family after 14 months behind bars just in time for the Second World War to break out.

Just in time for the Second World War to break out. For much of the conflict, the battle lines between the advancing Germans and the counter-attacking Red Army stretched across Gorbachev’s homeland; Mikhail’s father was drafted, and even reported dead, but returned with only shrapnel lodged in his leg at the end of the war.

Although Sergey was a distant presence in his son’s life up to then and never lived with him, he passed on to Mikhail a skill that played a momentous role in his life — that of a farm machinery mechanic and harvester driver. Bright by all accounts, Mikhail quickly picked up the knack — later boasting that he could pick out any malfunction just by the sound of the harvester or the tractor alone.

But this ability was unlikely to earn him renown beyond his village. Real acclaim came when the father and son read a new decree that would bestow a national honor on anyone who threshed more than 8000 quintals (800 tons or more than 20 big truckloads) of grain during the upcoming harvest. In the summer of 1948 Gorbachev senior and junior ground an impressively neat 8888 quintals. As with many of the agricultural and industrial achievements that made Soviet heroes out of ordinary workers, the exact details of the feat – and what auxiliary efforts may have made it possible – are unclear, but 17-year-old Gorbachev became one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious Order of the Red Banner of Labor in its history.

Having already been admitted to the Communist Party in his teen years (a rare reward given to the most zealous and politically reliable) Mikhail used the medal as an immediate springboard to Moscow. The accolade for the young wheat-grinder meant that he did not have to pass any entrance exams or even sit for an interview at Russia’s most prestigious Moscow State University.

With his village school education, Gorbachev admitted that he initially found the demands of a law degree, in a city he’d never even visited before, grueling. But soon he met another ambitious student from the countryside, and another decisive influence on his life. The self-assured, voluble Raisa, who barely spent a night apart from her husband until her death, helped to bring out the natural ambition in the determined, but occasionally studious and earnest Gorbachev. Predictably, Gorbachev rose to become one of the senior figures at the university’s Komsomol, the Communist youth league — which with its solemn group meetings and policy initiatives served both as a prototype and the pipeline for grown-up party activities.

STAVROPOL

Party reformist flourishes in Khruschev’s Thaw

Upon graduation in 1955, Gorbachev lasted only ten days back in Stavropol’s prosecutor’s office (showing a squeamishness dealing with the less idealistic side of the Soviet apparatus) before running across a local Komsomol official. For the next 15 years his biography reads like a blur of promotions – rising to become Stavropol region’s top Komsomol bureaucrats, overseeing agriculture for a population of nearly 2.5 million people before his 40th birthday.

All the trademarks of Gorbachev’s leadership style, which later became famous around the world, were already in evidence here. Eschewing Soviet officials’ habit of barricading themselves inside the wood-paneled cabinets behind multiple receptions, Gorbachev spent vast swathes of his time ‘in the field’, often literally in a field. With his distinctive southern accent, and his genuine curiosity about the experiences of ordinary people, the young official a struck chord as he toured small villages and discussed broken projectors at local film clubs and shortages of certain foodstuffs.

His other enthusiasm was for public discussion, particularly about specific, local problems – once again in contrast with the majority of officials, who liked to keep negative issues behind closed doors. Gorbachev set up endless discussion clubs and committees, almost quixotically optimistic about creating a better kind of life among the post-war austerity.

POLITBURO

Cutting the line to the throne

By the 1970s any sign of modernization in Soviet society or leadership was a distant memory, as the country settled into supposed “advanced socialism”, with the upheavals and promises of years past replaced by what was widely described as ‘An Era of Stagnation’ (the term gained official currency after being uttered by Gorbachev himself in one of his early public speeches after ascending to the summit of the Soviet system).

Without Stalin’s regular purges, and any democratic replacement mechanisms, between the mid-1960s and 1980s, almost the entire apparatus of Soviet leadership remained unchanged, down from the increasingly senile Leonid Brezhnev, who by the end of his life in 1982 became a figure of nationwide mockery and pity, as he slurred through speeches and barely managed to stand during endless protocol events, wearing gaudy carpets of military honors for battles he never participated in. Predictably, power devolved to the various factions below, as similarly aged heavyweights pushed their protégés into key positions.

The Kremlin Palace of Congresses (now the State Kremlin Palace). The XXV Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Feb. 24-March 5, 1976). CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev delivering speech.
RIA Novosti.

Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov, CPSU CC Politbureau member, CPSU CC secretary, twice Hero of Socialist Labor.
RIA Novosti.Leonid Brezhnev, left, chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium and general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, with Alexei Kosygin, chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, on Lenin’s Mausoleum on May 1, 1980.
RIA Novosti.The Soviet Communist Party’s politburo member Konstantin Chernenko and central committee member Yury Andropov attend the Kremlin Palace of Congresses’ government session dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the USSR.
RIA Novosti.Yuri Andropov (1914-1984), General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee (since November 1982).
RIA Novosti.

With a giant country as the playground, the system rewarded those who came up with catchy programs and slogans, took credit for successes and steered away from failures, and networked tirelessly to build up support above and below. Gorbachev thrived here. His chief patrons were Brezhnev himself, purist party ideologue Mikhail Suslov, who considered Stavropol his powerbase, and most crucially the hardline head of the KGB, Yuri Andropov. The security chief referred to the aspiring politician as ‘My Stavropol Rough Diamond’ — another rejoinder to those seeking to paint Gorbachev as a naïve blessed outsider, a Joan of Arc of the Soviet establishment.

After being called to Moscow in 1978 to oversee Soviet agriculture — an apocryphal story suggests that he nearly missed out on the appointment when senior officials couldn’t find him after he got drunk celebrating a Komsomol anniversary, only to be rescued by a driver at the last moment — Mikhail Gorbachev was appointed to the Politburo in 1980.

The Politburo, which included some but not all of the ministers and regional chiefs of the USSR, was an inner council that took all the key decisions in the country, with the Soviet leader sitting at the top of the table, holding the final word (though Brezhnev sometimes missed meetings or fell asleep during them). When Gorbachev became a fully-fledged member he was short of his 50th birthday. All but one of the dozen other members were over sixty, and most were in their seventies. To call them geriatric was not an insult, but a literal description of a group of elderly men – many beset by chronic conditions far beyond the reach of Soviet doctors – that were more reminiscent of decrepit land barons at the table of a feudal king than effective bureaucrats. Even he was surprised by how quickly it came.

Brezhnev, who suffered from a panoply of circulation illnesses, died of a heart attack in 1982. Andropov, who was about to set out on an energetic screw-tightening campaign, died of renal failure in 1984. Konstantin Chernenko was already ill when he came to leadership, and died early in 1985 of cirrhosis. The tumbling of aged sovereigns, both predictable and tragicomic in how they reflected on the leadership of a country of more than 250 million people, not only cleared the path for Gorbachev, but strengthened the credentials of the young, energetic pretender.

Leonid Brezhnev’s funeral procession at Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
RIA Novosti.

The decorations of General Secretary of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev seen during his lying-in-state ceremony at the House of Unions.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and the last Soviet president (second left in the foreground) attending the funeral of General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Konstantin Chernenko (1911-1985) in Moscow’s Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession during the burial of Leonid Brezhnev, general secretary of the CPSU central committee, chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet.
RIA Novosti.The funeral of Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The coffin is placed on pedestal near the Mausoleum on Red Square.
RIA Novosti.The funeral procession for General Secretary of the CPSU Konstantin Chernenko moving towards Red Square.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the Central Comittee of CPSU Mikhail Gorbachev at the tribune of Lenin mausoleum during May Day demonstration, Red square.
RIA Novosti.

On 11 March 1985, Gorbachev was named the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR.

REFORMS NEEDED

Overcoming economic inefficiency with temperance campaigns

As often in history, the reformer came in at a difficult time. Numbers showed that economic growth, which was rampant as Russia industrialized through the previous four decades, slowed down in Brezhnev’s era, with outside sources suggesting that the economy grew by an average of no more than 2 percent for the decade.

The scarcity of the few desirable goods produced and their inefficient distribution meant that many Soviet citizens spent a substantial chunk of their time either standing in queues or trading and obtaining things as ordinary as sugar, toilet paper or household nails through their connections, either “under the counter” or as Party and workplace perks, making a mockery of Communist egalitarianism. The corruption and lack of accountability in an economy where full employment was a given, together with relentless trumpeting of achievement through monolithic newspapers and television programs infected private lives with doublethink and cynicism.

A line of shoppers outside the Lenvest footwear shop.
Ria Novosti.

But this still does not describe the drab and constraining feel of the socialist command economy lifestyle, not accidentally eschewed by all societies outside of North Korea and Cuba in the modern world. As an example, but one central to the Soviet experience: while no one starved, there was a choice of a handful of standardized tins — labeled simply salmon, or corned beef — identical in every shop across the country, and those who were born in 1945 could expect to select from the same few goods until the day they died, day-in, day-out. Soviets dressed in the same clothes, lived in identical tower block housing, and hoped to be issued a scarce Lada a decade away as a reward for their loyalty or service. Combined with the lack of personal freedoms, it created an environment that many found reassuring, but others suffocating, so much so that a trivial relic of a different world, stereotypically a pair of American jeans, or a Japanese TV, acquired a cultural cachet far disproportionate to its function. Soviets could not know the mechanisms of actually living within a capitalist society — with its mortgages, job markets, and bills — but many felt that there were gaudier, freer lives being led all around the world.

And though it brought tens of millions of people out of absolute poverty, there was no longer an expectation that the lifestyles of ordinary Soviets would significantly improve whether a year or a decade into the future, and promise of a better future was always a key tenet of communism.

Several wide-ranging changes were attempted, in 1965 and 1979, but each time the initial charge was wound down into ineffectual tinkering as soon as the proposed changed encroached on the fundamentals of the Soviet regime — in which private commercial activity was forbidden and state control over the economy was total and centralized.

Moscow, Russia. Customers at the Okean [Ocean] seafood store. 1988.
Ria Novosti.

Gorbachev deeply felt the malaise, and displayed immediate courage to do what is necessary — sensing that his reforms would not only receive support from below, but no insurmountable resistance from above. The policy of Uskorenie, or Acceleration, which became one of the pillars of his term, was announced just weeks after his appointment — it was billed as an overhaul of the economy.

But it did not address the fundamental structural inefficiencies of the Soviet regime. Instead it offered more of the same top-down administrative solutions — more investment, tighter supervision of staff, less waste. Any boost achieved through rhetoric and managerial dress-downs sent down the pyramid of power was likely to be inconsequential and peter out within months.

His second initiative, just two months after assuming control, betrayed these very same well-meaning but misguided traits. With widespread alcohol consumption a symptom of late-Soviet decline, Gorbachev devised a straightforward solution — lowering alcohol production and eventually eradicating drinking altogether.

Doctor Lev Kravchenko conducting reflexotherapy session with a patient at the Moscow Narcological Clinical Hospital #17.
RIA Novosti
Stolichnaya vodka from the Moscow Liqueur and Vodka Distillery.
RIA Novosti.

“Women write to me saying that children see their fathers again, and they can see their husbands,” said Gorbachev when asked about whether the reform was working.

Opponents of the illiberal measure forced Russian citizens into yet more queues, while alcoholics resorted to drinking industrial fluids and aftershave. Economists said that the budget, which derived a quarter of its total retail sales income from alcohol, was severely undermined. Instead a shadow economy sprung up — in 1987, 500 thousand people were arrested for engaging in it, five times more than just two years earlier.

More was needed, and Gorbachev knew it.

PERE­STROIKA

“We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!”

Gorbachev at his zenith

Gorbachev first uttered the word perestroika — reform, or rebuilding — in May 1986, or rather he told journalists, using the characteristic and endearing first-person plural, “We must rebuild ourselves. All of us!” Picked up by reporters, within months the phrase became a mainstay of Gorbachev’s speeches, and finally the symbol of the entire era.

Before his reforms had been chiefly economic and within the existing frameworks; now they struck at the political heart of the Soviet Union.

The revolution came from above, during a long-prepared central party conference blandly titled “On Reorganization and the Party’s Personnel Policy” on January 27, 1987.

In lieu of congratulatory platitudes that marked such occasions in past times, Gorbachev cheerfully delivered the suspended death sentence for Communist rule in the Soviet Union (much as he didn’t suspect it at the time).

“The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its leaders, for reasons that were within their own control, did not realize the need for change, understand the growing critical tension in the society, or develop any means to overcome it. The Communist Party has not been able to take full advantage of socialist society,”
said the leader to an audience that hid its apprehension.

“The only way that a man can order his house, is if he feels he is its owner. Well, a country is just the same,” came Gorbachev’s trademark mix of homely similes and grand pronouncements.” Only with the extension of democracy, of expanding self-government can our society advance in industry, science, culture and all aspects of public life.”

“For those of you who seem to struggle to understand, I am telling you: democracy is not the slogan, it is the very essence of Perestroika.”

Gorbachev used the word ‘revolution’ eleven times in his address, anointing himself an heir to Vladimir Lenin. But what he was proposing had no precedent in Russian or Soviet history.

The word democracy was used over 70 times in that speech alone.
The Soviet Union was a one-party totalitarian state, which produced 99.9 percent election results with people picking from a single candidate. Attempts to gather in groups of more than three, not even to protest, were liable to lead to arrest, as was any printed or public political criticism, though some dissidents were merely subjected to compulsory psychiatric care or forced to renounce their citizenship. Millions were employed either as official KGB agents, or informants, eavesdropping on potentially disloyal citizens. Soviet people were forbidden from leaving the country, without approval from the security services and the Party. This was a society operated entirely by those in power, relying on compliance and active cooperation in oppression from a large proportion of the population. So, the proposed changes were a fundamental reversal of the flows of power in society.

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachyov making his report “October and perestroika: the revolution continues” in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses at a joint session of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Supreme Soviet, devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Between Gorbachev’s ascent and by the end of that year, two thirds of the Politburo, more than half of the regional chiefs and forty percent of the membership of the Central Committee of Communist Party, were replaced.

Gorbachev knew that democracy was impossible without what came to be known as glasnost, an openness of public discussion.

“We are all coming to the same conclusion — we need glasnost, we need criticism and self-criticism. In our country everything concerns the people, because it is their country,”
said Gorbachev, cunningly echoing Lenin, at that January forum, though the shoots of glasnost first emerged the year before.

From the middle of 1986 until 1987 censored Soviet films that lay on the shelves for years were released, the KGB stopped jamming the BBC World Service and Voice of America, Nobel Peace Prize winner nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and hundreds of other dissidents were set free, and archives documenting Stalin-era repressions were opened.

A social revolution was afoot. Implausibly, within two years, television went from having no programs that were unscripted, to Vzglyad, a talk show anchored by 20 and 30-somethings (at a time when most Soviet television presented were fossilized mannequins) that discussed the war in Afghanistan, corruption or drugs with previously banned videos by the Pet Shop Boys or Guns N’ Roses as musical interludes. For millions watching Axl Rose, cavorting with a microphone between documentaries about steel-making and puppet shows, created cognitive dissonance that verged on the absurd. As well as its increasing fascination with the West, a torrent of domestic creativity was unleashed. While much of what was produced in the burgeoning rock scene and the liberated film making industry was derivative, culturally naïve and is now badly dated, even artifacts from the era still emanate an unmistakable vitality and sincerity.

Rock for Peace concert in Moscow, 1988.
RIA Novosti.

“Bravo!” Poster by Svetlana and Alexander Faldin. Allegorically portraying USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, it appeared at the poster exposition, Perestroika and Us.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, talking to reporters during a break between sessions. The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR (May 25 — June 9, 1989). The Kremlin Palace of Congresses.
RIA Novosti.

Many welcomed the unprecedented level of personal freedom and the chance to play an active part in their own country’s history, others were alarmed, while others still rode the crest of the wave when swept everything before it, only to renounce it once it receded. But it is notable that even the supposed staunchest defenders of the ancien régime — the KGB officers, the senior party members — who later spent decades criticizing Perestroika, didn’t step in to defend Brezhnev-era Communism as they saw it being demolished.

What everyone might have expected from the changes is a different question — some wanted the ability to travel abroad without an exit visa, others the opportunity to earn money, others still to climb the political career ladder without waiting for your predecessor die in office. But unlike later accounts, which often presented Gorbachev as a stealthy saboteur who got to execute an eccentric program, at the time, his support base was broad, and his decisions seemed encouraging and logical.

As a popular politician Gorbachev was reaching a crescendo. His trademark town hall and factory visits were as effective as any staged stunts, and much more unselfconscious. The contrast with the near-mummified bodies of the previous General Secretaries — who, in the mind of ordinary Soviet citizens, could only be pictured on top of Lenin’s Mausoleum during a military parade, or staring from a roadside placard, and forever urging greater productivity or more intense socialist values — was overwhelming.
Gorbachev was on top — but the tight structure of the Soviet state was about to loosen uncontrollably.

USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev in Sverdlovsk Region (25-28 April, 1990). Mikhail Gorbachev with the people of Sverdlovsk at the Lenin Square.
RIA Novosti.

USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev visits Sverdlovsk region. Mikhail Gorbachev visiting Nizhnij Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works named after V.I. Lenin.
RIA Novosti.CPSU Central Committee General Secretary, USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev in the Ukrainian SSR. Mikhail Gorbachev, second right, meeting with Kiev residents.
RIA Novosti.

COLD WAR ENDS

Concessions from a genuine pacifist

In the late 1980s the world appeared so deeply divided into two camps that it seemed like two competing species were sharing the same planet. Conflicts arose constantly, as the US and the USSR fought proxy wars on every continent — in Nicaragua, Angola and Afghanistan, with Europe divided by a literal battle line, both sides constantly updated battle plans and moved tank divisions through allied states, where scores of bases housed soldier thousands of miles away from home. Since the Cold War did not end in nuclear holocaust, it has become conventional to describe the two superpowers as rivals, but there was little doubt at the time that they were straightforward enemies.

“The core of New Thinking is the admission of the primacy of universal human values and the priority of ensuring the survival of the human race,” Gorbachev wrote in his Perestroika manifesto in 1988.

At the legendary Reykjavik summit in 1986, which formally ended in failure but in fact set in motion the events that would end the Cold War, both sides were astonished at just how much they could agree on, suddenly flying through agendas, instead of fighting pitched battles over every point of the protocol.

“Humanity is in the same boat, and we can all either sink or swim.”

General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and U.S. President Ronald Reagan (right) during their summit meeting in Reykjavik.
RIA Novosti.

Landmark treaties followed: the INF agreement in 1987, banning intermediate ballistic missiles, the CFE treaty that reduced the military build-up in Europe in 1990, and the following year, the START treaty, reducing the overall nuclear stockpile of those countries. The impact was as much symbolic as it was practical — the two could still annihilate each other within minutes — but the geopolitical tendency was clear.

President Reagan: Signing of the INF Treaty with Premier Gorbachev, December 8, 1987

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the US president Ronald Reagan.
RIA Novosti.
Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and the US president Ronald Reagan signing an agreement in the White House. Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the official visit to the USA.
RIA Novosti.

Military analysts said that each time the USSR gave up more than it received from the Americans. The personal dynamic between Reagan — always lecturing “the Russians” from a position of purported moral superiority, and Gorbachev — the pacifist scrambling for a reasonable solution, was also skewed in favor of the US leader. But Gorbachev wasn’t playing by those rules.

“Any disarmament talks are not about beating the other side. Everyone has to win, or everyone will lose,” he wrote.

The Soviet Union began to withdraw its troops and military experts from conflicts around the world. For ten years a self-evidently unwinnable war waged in Afghanistan ingrained itself as an oppressive part of the national consciousness. Fifteen thousand Soviet soldiers died, hundreds of thousands more were wounded or psychologically traumatized (the stereotypical perception of the ‘Afghan vet’ in Russia is almost identical to that of the ‘Vietnam vet’ in the US.) When the war was officially declared a “mistake” and Soviet tanks finally rolled back across the mountainous border in 1989, very few lamented the scaling back of the USSR’s international ambitions.

Last Soviet troop column crosses Soviet border after leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

Driver T. Eshkvatov during the final phase of the Soviet troop pullout from Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.Soviet soldiers back on native soil. The USSR conducted a full pullout of its limited troop contingent from Afghanistan in compliance with the Geneva accords.
RIA Novosti.The convoy of Soviet armored personnel vehicles leaving Afghanistan.
RIA Novosti.

In July 1989 Gorbachev made a speech to the European Council, declaring that it is “the sovereign right of each people to choose their own social system.” When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, soon to be executed by his own people, demanded — during the 40th anniversary of the Communist German Democratic Republic in October 1989 — that Gorbachev suppress the wave of uprisings, the Soviet leader replied with a curt “Never again!”

“Life punishes those who fall behind the times,” he warned the obdurate East German leader Erich Honecker. Honecker died in exile in Chile five years later, having spent his dying years fending off criminal charges backed by millions of angry Germans.

Russian tanks did pass through Eastern Europe that year — but in the other direction, as the Soviet Union abandoned its expensive bases that were primed for a war that neither side now wanted.

Graffitti at the Berlin Wall.
RIA Novosti.
East German citizens climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the border was announced early November 9, 1989. REUTERS/Herbert Knosowski BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE.
Reuters.
A big section of the Berlin Wall is lifted by a crane as East Germany has started to dismantle the wall near the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin, February 20, 1990.
Reuters.

By the time the Berlin Wall was torn down in November, Gorbachev was reportedly not even woken up by his advisors, and no emergency meetings took place. There was no moral argument for why the German people should not be allowed to live as one nation, ending what Gorbachev himself called the “unnatural division of Europe”. The quote came from his 1990 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

ETHNIC TENSIONS

Smoldering ethnic conflicts on USSR’s outskirts flare up

Ethnic tensions on the outskirts of the empire lead to full-scale wars after USSR’s collapse. Towards the end of his rather brief period as a Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev had to face a problem many thought of as done and dusted; namely, ethnic strife, leading to conflict and death.

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet Union was officially considered by party ideologists to be one multi-ethnic nation, despite it being comprised of 15 national republics and even more internal republics and regions, with dozens of ethnic groups living there in a motley mixture. The claim was not completely unfounded as the new generation all across the country spoke Russian and had basic knowledge of Russian culture along with Marxist philosophy. In fact, the outside world confirmed this unity by calling all Soviet citizens “Russians” — from Finno-Ugric Estonians in the West to the Turkic and Iranian peoples of Central Asia and natives of the Far East, closely related to the American Indians of Alaska.

Demonstration on Red Square. The International Labor Day. “Long live the brotherly friendship of the peoples of the USSR!” reads the slogan under the USSR national emblem surrounded by flags of 15 of the Union republics carried at a May Day demonstration in 1986.
RIA Novosti.

At the same time, the concept of the single people was enforced by purely Soviet methods — from silencing any existing problems in the party-controlled mass media, to ruthless suppression of any attempt of nationalist movements, and summary forced resettlement of whole peoples for “siding with the enemy” during WWII.

After Gorbachev announced the policies of Glasnost and democratization, many ethnic groups started to express nationalist sentiments. This was followed by the formation or legalization of nationalist movements, both in national republics and in Russia itself, where blackshirts from the “Memory” organization blamed Communists and Jews for oppressing ethnic Russians and promoted “liberation.”

Neither society nor law enforcers were prepared for such developments. The Soviet political system remained totalitarian and lacked any liberal argument against nationalism. Besides, the concept of “proletarian internationalism” was so heavily promoted that many people started to see nationalism as part of a struggle for political freedoms and market-driven economic prosperity. At the same time, the security services persisted in using the crude Soviet methods that had already been denounced by party leaders; police had neither the tools nor the experience for proper crowd control.

As a result, potential conflicts were brewing all across the country and the authorities did almost nothing to prevent them. In fact, many among the regional elites chose to ride the wave of nationalism to obtain more power and settle old accounts. At the same time, the level of nationalism was highly uneven and its manifestations differed both in frequency and intensity across the USSR.

In February 1988, Gorbachev announced at the Communist Party’s plenum that every socialist land was free to choose its own societal systems. Both Nationalists and the authorities considered this a go-ahead signal. Just days after the announcement, the conflict in the small mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh entered an open phase.

Nagorno-Karabakh was an enclave populated mostly, but not exclusively, by Armenians in the Transcaucasia republic of Azerbaijan. Relations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis had always been strained, with mutual claims dating back to the Ottoman Empire; Soviet administrative policy based purely on geography and economy only made things worse.

In spring 1989, nationalists took to the streets in another Transcaucasian republic — Georgia. The country was (and still is) comprised of many ethnic groups, each claiming a separate territory, sometimes as small as just one hill and a couple of villages, and the rise of nationalism there was even more dangerous. Georgians marched under slogans “Down with Communism!” and “Down with Soviet Imperialism.” The rallies were guarded and directed by the “Georgian Falcons” — a special team of strong men, many of them veterans of the Afghan war, armed with truncheons and steel bars.

“Down with Communism!”

“Down with Soviet Imperialism.”

This time Gorbachev chose not to wait for clashes and a Spetsnaz regiment was deployed to Tbilisi to tackle the nationalist rallies. Again, old Soviet methods mixed poorly with the realities of democratization. When the demonstrators saw the soldiers, they became more agitated, and the streets around the main flashpoints were blocked by transport and barricades. The soldiers were ordered to use only rubber truncheons and tear gas, and were not issued firearms, but facing the Georgian Falcons they pulled out the Spetsnaz weapon of choice — sharp shovels just as deadly as bayonets.

At least 19 people were killed in the clashes or trampled by the crowd that was forced from the central square but had nowhere to go. Hundreds were wounded.

Soviet tanks are positioned on April 9, 1989 in front of the Georgian government building where pro-independence Georgians were killed as paratroopers moved in to break up a mass demonstration. An anti-Soviet demonstration was dispersed on April 9th by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries. In independent Georgia “April 9” is an annual public holiday remembered as the Day of National Unity.
AFP PHOTO.

Moscow ordered an investigation into the tragedy and a special commission uncovered many serious mistakes made both by the regional and central authorities and party leaders. However, at the May Congress of People’s Deputies, Gorbachev categorically refused to accept any responsibility for the outcome of the events in Tbilisi and blamed the casualties on the military.

Further on, the last Soviet leader persisted in the kind of stubbornness that inevitably must have played a part in his fall. In February 1990, the Communist Party’s Central Committee voted to adopt the presidential system of power and General Secretary Gorbachev became the first and last president of the USSR. The same plenum dismantled the Communist Party’s monopoly of power, even though the country had no grassroots political organizations or any political organizations not dependent on the communists save for the nationalists. As a result, the urge for succession increased rapidly, both in the regional republics and even in the Soviet heartland — the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.

In 1990, the Republic of Lithuania was the first to declare independence from the Soviet Union. Despite his earlier promises, Gorbachev refused to recognize this decision officially. The region found itself in legal and administrative limbo and the Lithuanian parliament addressed foreign nations with a request to hold protests against “Soviet Occupation.”

In January 1991, the Lithuanian government announced the start of economic reforms with liberalization of prices, and immediately after that the Supreme Soviet of the USSR sent troops to the republic, citing “numerous requests from the working class.” Gorbachev also demanded Lithuania annul all new regulations and bring back the Soviet Constitution. On January 11, Soviet troops captured many administrative buildings in Vilnius and other Lithuanian cities, but the parliament and television center were surrounded by a thousand-strong rally of protesters and remained in the hands of the nationalist government. In the evening of January 12, Soviet troops, together with the KGB special purpose unit, Alpha, stormed the Vilnius television center, killing 12 defenders and wounding about 140 more. The troops were then called back to Russia and the Lithuanian struggle for independence continued as before.

A Lithuanian demonstrator stands in front of a Soviet Army tank during the assault on the Lithuanian Radio and Television station on January 13, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.

Vilnius residents gather in front of the Lithuanian parliament following the takeover of the Radio and Television installations by Soviet troops.
AFP PHOTO.An armed unidentified man guards the Lithuanian parliament on January 19, 1991 in Vilnius.
AFP PHOTO.Vilnius residents holding a Lithuanian flag guard a barricade in front of the Lithuanian parliament on January 20, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.Soviet paratroopers charge Lithuanian demonstrators at the entrance of the Lithuanian press printing house in Vilnius. January, 1991.
AFP PHOTO.

Gorbachev again denied any responsibility, saying that he had received reports about the operation only after it ended. However, almost all members of the contemporary Soviet cabinet recalled that the idea of Gorbachev not being aware of such a major operation was laughable. Trying to shift the blame put the president’s image into a lose-lose situation — knowing about the Vilnius fighting made him a callous liar, and if he really knew nothing about it, then he was an ineffective leader, losing control both of distant territories and his own special forces.

The swiftly aborted intervention — troops were called back on the same day — was a disappointment both to the hardliners, who would have wanted Gorbachev to see it through, and to the democratic reformers, horrified by the scenes emerging from Vilnius.

This dissatisfaction also must be one of the main factors that provoked the so-called Putch in August 1991 — an attempt by die-hard Politburo members to displace Gorbachev and restore the old Soviet order. They failed in the latter, but succeeded in the former as Gorbachev, isolated at his government Dacha in Crimea, returned to Moscow only because of the struggles of the new Russian leader Boris Yeltsin. When Gorbachev returned, his power was so diminished that he could do nothing to prevent the Belovezha agreement — the pact between Russia, Belarus and Ukraine that ended the history of the Soviet Union and introduced the Commonwealth of Independent States. All republics became independent whether they were ready to or not.

This move, while granting people freedom from Soviet rule, also triggered a sharp rise in extreme nationalist activities — the stakes were high enough and whole nations were up for grabs. Also, in the three years between Gorbachev’s offering of freedom and the collapse of the USSR, nothing was done to calm simmering ethnic hatred, and with no directions from Moscow or control on the part of the Soviet police and army, many regions became engulfed in full-scale civil wars, based on ethnic grounds.

Things turned especially nasty in Tajikistan, where fighting between Iranian-speaking Tajiks and Turkic-speaking Uzbeks very soon led to ethnic cleansing. Refugees had to flee for their lives to Afghanistan, which itself witnessed a war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

Government soldiers aim at positions of armed opposition groups in the border area of Afghanistan 08 June 1993. The civil war between pro-communist forces and the opposition has left thousands dead and turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees in the last year.
AFP PHOTO.

Two fighters of the Tajik pro-Communist forces engage in a battle with pro-Islamic fighters 22 December 1992 in a village some 31 miles from the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
AFP PHOTO.Tajik women cry over the dead body of a soldier 29 January 1993. The soldier was killed during fighting between Tajikistan government troops and opposition forces in Parkhar.
AFP PHOTO.

The long and bloody war in Georgia also had a significant ethnic component. After it ended three regions that were part of the republic during Soviet times — Abkhazia, Adzharia and South Ossetia – declared independence, which was enforced by a CIS peacekeeping force. At some point, Georgia managed to return Adzharia but when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, backed and armed by Western nations, attempted to capture South Ossetia in 2008, Russia had to intervene and repel the aggression. Subsequently, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.

YELTSIN’S CHALLENGE

New star steals limelight

As Stalin and Trotsky, or Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could attest, your own archrival in politics is often on your team, pursuing broadly similar — but not identical aims — and hankering for the top seat.

But unlike those rivalries, the scenes in the fallout between Mikhail Gorbachev, and his successor, Boris Yeltsin played out not through backroom deals and media leaks, but in the form of an epic drama in front of a live audience of thousands, and millions sat in front of their televisions.

The two leaders were born a month apart in 1931, and followed broadly similar paths of reformist regional commissars – while Gorbachev controlled the agricultural Stavropol, Yeltsin attempted to revitalize the industrial region of Sverdlovsk, present-day Yekaterinburg.

Yet, Yeltsin was a definitely two steps behind Gorbachev on the Soviet career ladder, and without his leg-up might have never made it to Moscow at all. A beneficiary of the new leader’s clear out, though not his personal protégé, Yeltsin was called up to Moscow in 1985, and the following year, was assigned the post of First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party, effectively becoming the mayor of the capital.

Yeltsin’s style dovetailed perfectly with the new agenda, and his superior’s personal style, though his personal relationship with Gorbachev was strained almost from the start. Breaking off from official tours of factories, the city administrator would pay surprise visits to queue-plagued and under-stocked stores (and the warehouses where the consumables were put aside for the elites); occasionally abandoning his bulletproof ZIL limo, Yeltsin would ride on public transport. This might appear like glib populism now, but at the time was uncynically welcomed. In the first few months in the job, the provincial leader endeared himself to Muscovites — his single most important power base in the struggles that came, and a guarantee that he would not be forgotten whatever ritual punishments were cast down by the apex of the Communist Party.

Boris Yeltsin, First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Moscow City Committee, at the official meeting celebrating the 70th anniversary of the October revolution.
RIA Novosti.

Boris Yeltsin, left, candidate member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, at lunch.
RIA Novosti.Voters’ meeting with candidate for deputy of the Moscow Soviet in the 161st constituency, First Secretary of the CPSU Moscow Town Committee, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Boris Yeltsin, centre.
RIA Novosti.People’s deputy Boris Yeltsin. Algirdas Brazauskas (right) and chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council Mikhail Gorbachev on the presidium.
RIA Novosti.

But Yeltsin was not just a demagogue content with cosmetic changes and easy popularity, and after months of increasing criticism of the higher-ups, he struck.

During a public session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in October 1987, the newcomer delivered a landmark speech.

In front of a transfixed hall, he told the country’s leaders that they were putting road blocks on the road to Perestroika, he accused senior ministers of becoming “sycophantic” towards Gorbachev. As his final flourish, Yeltsin withdrew himself from his post as a candidate to the Politburo — an unprecedented move that amounted to contempt towards the most senior Soviet institution.

The speech, which he later said he wrote “on his lap” while sitting in the audience just a few hours earlier, was Yeltsin in a nutshell. Unafraid to challenge authority and to risk everything, with a flair for the dramatic, impulsive and unexpected decision (his resignation as Russian president in his New Year’s speech being the most famous).

Footage shows Gorbachev looking on bemused from above. He did not publicly criticize Yeltsin there and then, and spoke empathetically about Yeltsin’s concerns, but later that day (with his backing) the Central Committee declared Yeltsin’s address “politically misguided”, a slippery Soviet euphemism that cast Yeltsin out into the political wilderness.

Gorbachev thought he had won the round — “I won’t allow Yeltsin anywhere near politics again” he vowed, his pique shining through — but from then on, their historical roles and images were cast.

Gorbachev, for all of his reforms, now became the tame, prissy socialist. Yeltsin, the careerist who nearly had it all, and renounced everything he had achieved at the age of 54 and re-evaluated all he believed in. Gorbachev, the Politburo chief who hid behind the silent majority, Yeltsin the rebel who stood up to it. Gorbachev, the politician who spoke a lot and often said nothing, Yeltsin, the man of action.

Historically, the contrast may seem unfair, as both were equally important historical figures, who had a revolutionary impact for their time. But stood side-by-side, Yeltsin — with his regal bearing and forceful charisma — not only took the baton of Perestroika’s promises, but stole the man-of-the-future aura that had hitherto belonged to Gorbachev, who now seemed fidgety and weaselly by comparison.

While he was stripped of his Moscow role, Yeltsin’s party status was preserved. This had a perverse effect. No one stopped Yeltsin from attending high-profile congresses. No one prevented him from speaking at them. It was the perfect situation — he had the platform of an insider, and the kudos of an outsider. Tens of deputies would come and criticize the upstart, and then he’d take the stage, Boris Yeltsin vs. The Machine.

On June 12, 1990 Russia declared sovereignty from the USSR. A month later, Yeltsin staged another one of his dramatic masterclasses, when he quit the Communist Party on-stage during its last ever national congress, and walked out of the cavernous hall with his head held high, as loyal deputies jeered him.

In June 1991, after calling a snap election, Yeltsin became the first President of Russia, winning 57 percent — or more than 45 million votes. The Party’s candidate garnered less than a third of Yeltsin’s tally.

By this time Gorbachev’s position had become desperate. The Soviet Union was being hollowed out, and Yeltsin and the other regional leaders were now actively colluding with each other, signing agreements that bypassed the Kremlin.

The Communists and nationalists — often one and the same — had once been ambivalent about Gorbachev’s reforms, and anyway had been loath to criticize their leader. But inspired by Gorbachev’s glasnost, and with the USSR’s long term prospects becoming very clear, they now wanted their say as well. A reactionary media backlash started against him, generals pronounced warnings of “social unrest” that sounded more like threats, and some had begun to go as far as to earnestly speculate that Gorbachev was working for the Cold War “enemy.”

USSR IMPLODES

Failed coup brings down faded leader of fractured country

The junta that tried to take power in the Soviet Union on the night of August 18th is one of the most inept in the history of palace coups.

On August 18, all phones at Gorbachev’s residence, including the one used to control the USSR’s nuclear arsenal, were suddenly cut off, while unbeknownst to him, a KGB regiment was surrounding the house. Half an hour later a delegation of top officials arrived at the residence in Foros, Crimea, walked past his family to his office, in their briefcases a selection of documents for Gorbachev to sign. In one scenario, he would simply declare a state of emergency, and proclaim control over all the rebel republics, in another he would hand over power to his deputy Gennady Yanaev, due to worsening health.

Genuinely angry at their disloyalty, the Soviet leader called them “chancers”, and refused to sign anything, saying he would not have blood on his hands. He then showed them out of the house with a lengthy tirade — clearly recollected by all present in their memoirs — in which he crowned the plotters a “bunch of cocks.”

The plotters were not prepared for this turn of events. Gathering once again back in Moscow, they sat around looking at their unsigned emergency decree, arguing and not daring to put their names on the typewritten document. As midnight passed, and more and more bottles of whisky, imported from the decadent West they were saving the USSR from, was brought in, the patriots found their courage, or at least persuaded Yanaev to place himself at the top of the list of signatories. The Gang of Eight would be known as the State Committee on the State of Emergency. Accounts say that by the time they were driven to their dachas — hours before the most important day of their lives — the plotters could barely stand. Valentin Pavlov, he of the unpopular monetary reform, and the prime minister, drank so much he had to be treated for acute alcohol intoxication, and was hospitalized with cardiac problems as the events of the next three days unfolded.

But orders were issued, and on the morning of the 19th tanks rolled into Moscow. While news suggested that nothing had gone wrong — and at this point it hadn’t — the junta made it seem as if everything had. Not only were there soldiers on street, but all TV channels were switched off, with Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake iconically played on repeat. By four o’clock in the afternoon, most of the relatively independent media was outlawed by a decree.

But for all their heavy-handed touch the putsch leaders did nothing to stop their real nemesis. Unlike most coups, which are a two-way affair, this was a triangular power struggle – between Gorbachev, the reactionaries, and Yeltsin. Perhaps, like Gorbachev, stuck in their mindset of backroom intrigue the plotters seemed to underrate Yeltsin, and the resources at his disposal.

Russia’s next leader had arrived in Moscow from talks with his Kazakhstan counterpart, allegedly in the same merry state as the self-appointed plotters. But when his daughter woke him up with news of the unusual cross-channel broadcasting schedule, he acted fast, and took his car straight to the center of Moscow. The special forces soldiers placed around his dacha by the conspirators were not ordered to shoot or detain him.

Yeltsin’s supporters first gathered just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin walls, and then on instruction marched through the empty city to the White House building, the home of the rebellious Russian parliament. There, in his defining moment and as the crowd (although at this early hour it was actually thinner than the mythology suggests) chanted his name, Yeltsin climbed onto the tank, reclaimed from the government forces, and loudly, without the help of a microphone, denounced the events of the past hours as a “reactionary coup.” In the next few hours, people from across Moscow arrived, as the crowd swelled to 70,000. A human chain formed around the building, and volunteers began to build barricades from trolleybuses and benches from nearby parks.

Military hardware in Kalininsky prospect after imposition of a state of emergency in August 1991.
RIA Novosti.
Muscovites block the way for military weaponry during the GKChP coup.
RIA Novosti.

Moscow residents building barricades next to the Supreme Soviet during the coup by the State EmergencyCommittee.
RIA Novosti.Thousands of people rallying before the Supreme Soviet of Russia on August 20, 1991.
RIA Novosti.

Though this seemed as much symbolic, as anything, as the elite units sent in by the junta had no intention of shooting, and demonstrated their neutrality, freely mingling with the protesters. Their commander, Pavel Grachev, defected to Yeltsin the following day, and was later rewarded with the defense minister’s seat. The Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov also supported Yeltsin.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin waves from the balcony of the Russian Parliament to a crowd of demonstrators protesting against the overthrow of Soviet President Gorbachev during the brief coup in August 1991, in Moscow August 20, 1991. The result, ironically, was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. REUTERS/Michael Samojeden IMAGE TAKEN AUGUST 20, 1991.
Reuters.

Realizing that their media blackout was not working, and that they were quickly losing initiative, the plotters went to the other extreme, and staged an unmoderated televised press conference.

Sat in a row, the anonymous, ashen-faced men looked every bit the junta. While Yanaev was the nominal leader, he was never the true engine of the coup, which was largely orchestrated by Vladimir Kryuchkov, the KGB chief, who, with the natural caution of a security agent, did not want to take center stage. The acting president, meanwhile, did not look the part. His voice was tired and unsure, his hands shaking — another essential memory of August 1991.

From left: the USSR Interior Minister Boris Pugo and the USSR Vice-President Gennady Yanayev during the press conference of the members of the State Committee for the State of Emergency (GKCP).
RIA Novosti.
From left: Alexander Tizyakov, Vasily Starodubtsev, Boris Pugo, Gennady Yanayev, and Oleg Baklanov during the press conference of the State of Emergency State Committee (GKCP) members at the USSR Foreign Ministry.
RIA Novosti.

In another spectacularly poor piece of communications management, after the new leaders made their speeches, they opened the floor to an immediately hostile press pack, which openly quoted Yeltsin’s words accusing them of overthrowing a legitimate government on live television.

Referring to Gorbachev as “my friend Mikhail Sergeevich,” Yanaev monotoned that the president was “resting and taking a holiday in Crimea. He has grown very weary over these last few years and needs some time to get his health back.” With tanks standing outside proceedings were quickly declining into a lethargic farce in front of the whole country.

Over the next two days there was international condemnation (though Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat supported the coup) the deaths of three pro-Yeltsin activists, and an order by the junta to re-take the White House at all costs, canceled at the last minute. But by then the fate of the putsch had already been set in motion.

Meanwhile, as the most dramatic events in Russia since 1917 were unfolding in Moscow, Gorbachev carried on going for dips in the Black Sea, and watching TV with his family. On the first night of the coup, wearing a cardigan not fit for an nationwide audience, he recorded an uncharacteristically meek address to the nation on a household camera, saying that he had been deposed. He did not appear to make any attempt to get the video out of Foros, and when it was broadcast the following week, it incited reactions from ridicule, to suspicions that he was acting in cahoots with the plotters, or at least waiting out the power struggle in Moscow. Gorbachev likely was not, but neither did he appear to exhibit the personal courage of Yeltsin, who came out and addressed crowds repeatedly when a shot from just one government sniper would have been enough to end his life.

On the evening of August 21, with the coup having evidently failed, two planes set out for Crimea almost simultaneously from Moscow. In the first were the members of the junta, all rehearsing their penances, in the other, members of Yeltsin’s team, with an armed unit to rescue Gorbachev, who, for all they knew, may have been in personal danger. When the putschists reached Foros, Gorbachev refused to receive them, and demanded that they restore communications. He then phoned Moscow, Washington and Paris, voiding the junta’s decrees, and repeating the simple message: “I have the situation under control.”

But he did not. Gorbachev’s irrelevance over the three days of the putsch was a metaphor for his superfluousness in Russia’s political life in the previous months, and from that moment onward. Although the putschists did not succeed, a power transfer did happen, and Gorbachev still lost. For three days, deference to his formal institutions of power was abandoned, and yet the world did not collapse, so there was no longer need for his dithering mediation.

Gingerly walking down the steps of the airstair upon landing in Moscow, blinking in front of the cameras, Mikhail Gorbachev was the lamest of lame duck leaders. He gave a press conference discussing the future direction of the Communist Party, and inner reshuffles that were to come, sounding not just out-of-touch, but borderline delusional.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev addresses the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow in this August 23, 1991 file photo.
Reuters.
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev touch hands during Gorbachev’s address to the Extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Soviet of Russian Federation in Moscow, August 23, 1991. REUTERS/Gennady Galperin (RUSSIA).
Reuters.

Gorbachev resigned as the President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

“The policy prevailed of dismembering this country and disuniting the state, which is something I cannot subscribe to,” he lamented, before launching into an examination of his six years in charge.

“Even now, I am convinced that the democratic reform that we launched in the spring of 1985 was historically correct. The process of renovating this country and bringing about drastic change in the international community has proven to be much more complicated than anyone could imagine.”

“However, let us give its due to what has been done so far. This society has acquired freedom. It has been freed politically and spiritually, and this is the most important achievement that we have yet fully come to grips with.”

AFTERMATH

Praised in West, scorned at home

“Because of him, we have economic confusion!”

“Because of him, we have opportunity!”

“Because of him, we have political instability!”

“Because of him, we have freedom!”

“Complete chaos!”

“Hope!”

“Political instability!”

“Because of him, we have many things like Pizza Hut!”

Thus ran the script to the 1997 advert that saw a tableful of men argue loudly over the outcome of Perestroika in a newly-opened Moscow restaurant, a few meters from an awkward Gorbachev, staring into space as he munches his food alongside his 10 year-old granddaughter. The TV spot ends with the entire clientele of the restaurant getting up to their feet, and chanting “Hail to Gorbachev!” while toasting the former leader with pizza slices heaving with radiant, viscous cheese.

The whole scene is a travesty of the momentous transformations played out less than a decade earlier, made crueler by contemporary surveys among Russians that rated Gorbachev as the least popular leader in the country’s history, below Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.

The moment remains the perfect encapsulation of Gorbachev’s post-resignation career.

To his critics, many Russians among them, he was one of the most powerful men in the world reduced to exploiting his family in order to hawk crust-free pizzas for a chain restaurant — an American one at that — a personal and national humiliation, and a reminder of his treason. For the former Communist leader himself it was nothing of the sort. A good-humored Gorbachev said the half-afternoon shoot was simply a treat for his family, and the self-described “eye-watering” financial reward — donated entirely to his foundation — money that would be used to go to charity.

As for the impact of Gorbachev’s career in advertising on Russia’s reputation… In a country where a decade before the very existence of a Pizza Hut near Red Square seemed unimaginable, so much had changed, it seemed a perversely logical, if not dignified, way to complete the circle. In the years after Gorbachev’s forced retirement there had been an attempted government overthrow that ended with the bombardment of parliament, privatization, the first Chechen War, a drunk Yeltsin conducting a German orchestra and snatching an improbable victory from revanchist Communists two years later, and an impending default.

Although he did get 0.5 percent of the popular vote during an aborted political comeback that climaxed in the 1996 presidential election, Gorbachev had nothing at all to do with these life-changing events. And unlike Nikita Khrushchev, who suffered greater disgrace, only to have his torch picked up, Gorbachev’s circumstances were too specific to breed a political legacy. More than that, his reputation as a bucolic bumbler and flibbertigibbet, which began to take seed during his final years in power, now almost entirely overshadowed his proven skill as a political operator, other than for those who bitterly resented the events he helped set in motion.

Other than in his visceral dislike of Boris Yeltsin — the two men never spoke after December 1991 — if Gorbachev was bitter about the lack of respect afforded to him at home, he wore it lightly. Abroad, he reveled in his statesmanlike aura, receiving numerous awards, and being the centerpiece at star-studded galas. Yet, for a man of his ambition, being pushed into retirement must have gnawed at him repeatedly.

After eventually finding a degree of financial and personal stability on the lecture circuit in the late 1990s, Gorbachev was struck with another blow — the rapid death of Raisa from cancer.

A diabetic, Gorbachev became immobile and heavy-set, a pallor fading even his famous birthmark. But his voice retained its vigor (and accent) and the former leader continued to proffer freely his loquacious opinions on politics, to widespread indifference.

Gorbachev’s legacy is at the same time unambiguous, and deeply mixed — more so than the vast majority of political figures. His decisions and private conversations were meticulously recorded and verified. His motivations always appeared transparent. His mistakes and achievements formed patterns that repeated themselves through decades.

Yet for all that clarity, the impact of his decisions, the weight given to his feats and failures can be debated endlessly, and has become a fundamental question for Russians.

Less than three decades after his limo left the Kremlin, his history has been rewritten several times, and his role bent to the needs of politicians and prevailing social mores. This will likely continue. Those who believe in the power of the state, both nationalists and Communists, will continue to view his time as egregious at best, seditious at worst. For them, Gorbachev is inextricably linked with loss — the forfeiture of Moscow’s international standing, territory and influence. The destruction of the fearsome and unique Soviet machine that set Russia on a halting course as a middle-income country with a residual seat in the UN Security Council trying to gain acceptance in a US-molded world.

Others, who appreciate a commitment to pacifism and democracy, idealism and equality, will also find much to admire in Gorbachev, even though he could not always be his best self. Those who place greater value on the individual than the state, on freedom than on military might, those who believe that the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the totalitarian Soviet Union was a landmark achievement not a failure will be grateful, and if not sympathetic. For one man’s failure can produce a better outcome than another’s success.

RAISA

Passion and power

The history of rulers is littered with tales of devoted wives and ambitious women pulling strings from behind the throne, and Raisa was often painted as both. But unlike many storybook partnerships, where the narrative covers up the nuances, the partnership between Mikhail and Raisa was absolutely authentic, and genuinely formidable. Perhaps the key to Mikhail’s lifelong commitment, and even open deference to his wife, atypical for a man of his generation, lay in their courtship.

Raisa Gorbacheva, wife of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee and Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev, in Paris during their official visit to France. Ria Novosti.

In his autobiography, Gorbachev recollects with painful clarity, how his first meeting with Raisa, on the dance floor of a university club, “aroused no emotion in her whatsoever.” Yet Gorbachev was smitten with the high cheek-boned fellow over-achiever immediately, calling her for awkward dorm-room group chats that went nowhere, and seeking out attempts.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“We were happy then. We were happy because of our young age, because of the hopes for the future and just because of the fact that we lived and studied at the university. We appreciated that.”

It was several months before she agreed to even go for a walk through Moscow with the future Soviet leader, and then months of fruitless promenades, discussing exams at their parallel faculties. With candor, Gorbachev admits that she only agreed to date him after “having her heart broken by the man she had pledged it to.” But once their relationship overcame its shaky beginnings, the two became the very definition of a Soviet power couple, in love and ready to do anything for each other. In the summer vacation after the two began to go steady, Gorbachev did not think it below him to return to his homeland, and resume work as a simple mechanic, to top up the meager university stipend.

The two were not embarrassed having to celebrate their wedding in a university canteen, symbolically, on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution on November 7, 1953. Or put off when the watchful guardians of morality at Moscow State University forbid the newlyweds from visiting each other’s halls without a specially signed pass. More substantial obstacles followed, when Mikhail’s mother also did not take to her daughter-in-law, while Raisa agreed to a medically-advised abortion after becoming pregnant following a heavy bout of rheumatism. But the two persevered. Raisa gave birth to their only child in 1955, and as Gorbachev’s star rose, so did his wife’s academic career as a sociologist. But Raisa’s true stardom came when Gorbachev occupied the Soviet leader’s post.

Soviet President and General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central Committee, Mikhail Gorbachev, 2nd right, and Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbacheva, right, at the meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, left, at the Soviet Embassy in London.
RIA Novosti.

Raisa Gorbacheva, the wife of the Soviet leader (left), showing Nancy Reagan, first lady of the U.S., around the Kremlin during U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (center left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbacheva (second from left) seeing off US President Ronald Reagan after his visit to the USSR. Right: The spouse of US president Nancy Reagan. The Hall of St. George in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
RIA Novosti.Raisa Gorbacheva (left), wife of the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and Barbara Bush (right), wife of the U.S. president, attending the inauguration of the sculptured composition Make Way for Ducklings near the Novodevichy Convent during U.S. President George Bush’s official visit to the U.S.S.R.
RIA Novosti.Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva meets with Tokyo residents during Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachyov’s official visit to Japan.
RIA Novosti.The meeting between Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, President of the USSR and the heads of state and government of the seven leading industrial nations. From left to right: Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Norma Major, Raisa Maksimovna Gorbacheva and John Major.
RIA Novosti.Soviet president’s wife Raisa Gorbacheva at the 112th commencement at a female college. The State of Massachusetts. Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s state visit to the United States.
RIA Novosti.

In a symbol as powerful as his calls for international peace and reform at home, the Communist leader was not married to a matron hidden at home, but to an urbane, elegantly-dressed woman, regarded by many as an intellectual equal, if not superior to Mikhail himself. Gorbachev consulted his wife in every decision, as he famously told American TV viewers during a Tom Brokaw interview. This generated much ill-natured mockery throughout Gorbachev’s reign, but he never once tried to push his wife out of the limelight, where she forged friendships with such prominent figures as Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

Raisa was there in the Crimean villa at Foros, during the attempted putsch of August 1991, confronting the men who betrayed her husband personally, and suffering a stroke as a result. It was also Raisa by Gorbachev’s side when they were left alone, after the whirlwind settled in 1991. Despite nearly losing her eyesight due to her stroke, Raisa largely took the lead in organizing Mikhail’s foundation, and in structuring his life. In 1999, with his own affairs in order, not least because of the controversial Pizza Hut commercial, and Russians anger much more focused on his ailing successor, Gorbachev thought he could enjoy a more contented retirement, traveling the world with his beloved.

CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa at Orly Airport, France.
RIA Novosti.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (center), Soviet first lady Raisa Gorbacheva (right), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Kazakh first lady Sara Nazarbayeva during Gorbachev’s working visit to Kazakhstan.
RIA Novosti.General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev (left) and his spouse Raisa Gorbachev (center) at a friendship meeting in the Wawel Castle during a visit to Poland.
RIA Novosti.Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa during his official visit to China.
RIA Novosti.An official visit to Japan by USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev. He with wife, Raisa Gorbachev, and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu near a tree planted in the garden of Akasaka Palace.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev (center), daughter Irina (right) and his wife’s sister Lyudmila (left) at the funeral of Raisa Gorbachev.
RIA Novosti.Last respects for Raisa Gorbacheva, spouse of the former the USSR president in the Russian Fond of Culture. Mikhail Gorbachev, family and close people of Raisa Gorbacheva at her coffin.
RIA Novosti.Mikhail Gorbachev at the opening of the Raisa exhibition in memory of Raisa Gorbacheva.
RIA Novosti.

— Raisa Gorbacheva
“It is possible that I had to get such a serious illness and die for the people to understand me.”

Then came the leukemia diagnosis, in June of that year. Before the couple’s close family had the chance to adjust to the painful rhythm of hope and fear that accompanies the treatment of cancer, Raisa was dead. Her burial unleashed an outpouring of emotion, with thousands, including many of her husband’s numerous adversaries, gathering to pay their sincere respects. No longer the designer-dressed careerist ice queen to be envied, resented and ridiculed, now people saw Raisa for the charismatic and shrewd idealist she always was. For Gorbachev it made little difference, and all those around him said that however much activity he tried to engage in following his wife’s death, none of it ever had quite the same purpose.

“People say time heals. But it never stops hurting – we were to be joined until death,” Gorbachev always said in interviews

For the tenth anniversary of Raisa’s death, in 2009, Mikhail Gorbachev teamed up with famous Russian musician Andrey Makerevich to record a charity album of Russian standards, dedicated to his beloved wife. The standout track was Old Letters, a 1940s melancholy ballad. Gorbachev said that it came to him in 1991 when he discovered Raisa burning their student correspondence and crying, after she found out that their love letters had been rifled through by secret service agents during the failed coup.

The limited edition LP sold at a charity auction in London, and fetched £100,000.

Afterwards, Gorbachev got up on the stage to sing Old Letters, but half way through he choked up, and had to leave the stage to thunderous applause.

Language, objectivity, and political power

August 29, 2022

Source

by Francis Lee

Contemporary politics consists of the usual timeless formula of Machiavelli – namely: rule by force and fraud – but now with the current emphasis being on fraud, writes Francis Lee.

‘’Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, their inhabitants driven out into the countryside, their cattle machine gunned, their huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.’’ (Politics and the English Language – 1946)

‘’There is a high probability that Russia will intervene in the Baltics to test NATO’s Article 5 … ‘’ (Anders Fogh Rasmussen, ex head of NATO, February 2015).

It would be true to say that the language of politics and power – machtpolitik or realpolitik – is patently neither objective, nor particularly interested in the pursuit of truth. Quite the contrary in fact. If we take the above examples, the first is simply an attempt to mask what is an international war crime into a reasonable policy of ‘humanitarian’ intervention. All rather reminiscent of the language which evolved during the Indo-China wars, e.g. ‘we destroyed the village in order to save it.’ The purpose of the second assertion was simply designed to ramp up the current war psychosis in order to justify the eastern expansion and build-up of NATO on Russia’s western frontiers. Please note that Mr Rasmussen isn’t saying that a Russian intervention is possible, or even probable, but highly probable. This seems somewhat strange as Russia couldn’t wait to get rid of the Baltic states when it declared its independence in 1991, and now we are expected to believe that Russia wants to invade those same states!

It is said that knowledge is power, in fact the reverse seems more accurate. Those who control the means of communication are now able to create a virtual reality. This is nothing new. The father of modern Public Relations, Edward Bernays, postulated that ‘invisible’ people create knowledge and propaganda and rule over the masses, with a monopoly on the power to shape thoughts, values, and citizen response. “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” (Propaganda).

One of Bernays’ great admirers was Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels who was to apply his theories with alacrity during the Nazi ascendency 1934-1945. JG was able to convince enough of Germany’s population that ‘total war’ was really quite good fun. He and they were apparently not aware that this would ultimately involve the fire-bombing of German cities like Hamburg and Dresden. This amply demonstrates that skilful techniques of mass indoctrination are able to get people to imagine and support policies which are not necessarily in their own best interests.

In our own time this mass manipulation was identified by Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky in their seminal work The Manufacture of Consent first published in 1988. The mass communication media of the U.S. “are effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function, by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion.” This seems to be the most salient political phenomenon of our times.

Returning to Orwell, it was during his period in Spain during the war against Franco (1936-39) that he first became aware of the political potentialities of modern mass communications systems. Orwell was a passionate believer in truth, and that objective facts existed and could be identified. However, as a result of his experiences in Spain he discovered that mere facts were of secondary or even no importance. What counted was a propaganda narrative which was a function of political expediency. At the time he was serving in the military wing of POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity) sister party of the British ILP (Independent Labour Party) which he later joined – 1938. This was in 1937 after the Comintern’s right turn, away from the ultra-leftism of the Third Period, towards the Popular Front phase, a move from a policy of international revolution (identified as Trotskyism) to the defence of democracy through alliances with bourgeois political groups. Unfortunately for Orwell he was in the wrong place at the wrong time – this was the time of the big Stalinist push against Trotskyism, and in Spain this meant the POUM. He wrote:

‘’I must say something about the general charge that the POUM was a secret fascist organization in the pay of Franco and Hitler. This charge was repeated over and over in the Communist press … according to the Frenti Rojo (the Valencia Communist Newspaper) ‘’Trotskyism, is not a political doctrine; it is a capitalist organization in league with the Fascists, a Fascist terrorist band, and part of Franco’s 5th column.’’

What was noticeable from the start was that there was no evidence to support this accusation; the thing was simply asserted with an air of authority.’’ (My emphaisis – FL)

Yep, sounds familiar.

Orwell’s pessimism in this respect reached its terminal stage in his disturbing dystopian novel, 1984

This manufacture of a virtual reality is now common currency in the mass media. The press in particular – including the putatively left-wing publications, (more catholic than the Pope) the Guardian and the Independent – pretty much operate as an appendage to the ‘invisible’ people or are the ‘invisible people’ identified by Bernays. A case in point being a recent snippet in the Independent newspaper which read:

‘’60,000 tortured to death in (Syrian) government jails.’’

‘’At least 60,000 people have died in Syrian government jails during the 5-year conflict, according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) which said they died ‘’either as a result of direct bodily torture or denial of food and medicine.’’ The Observatory’s director, Abdulrahman said more than 20,000 had died in Sednaya prison near Damascus. The Observatory claimed it had been able to verify the deaths of 14,456.00 (sic) under the age of 18, since the start of the Syrian uprising since 2011.

The Independent 23-05-2106 By Tom Perry – Beirut.

Closer examination reveals that Mr Abdulrahman has lived in Coventry – a small provincial town in middle-England – since 2006 and owns a shop which he runs with his wife; nonetheless he asserts that his sources were serving officials seeking to expose what is going on.

So, we get one guy in Beirut publishing a report based upon another guy who has lived in Coventry since 2006 and who claims to have contacts at high levels in the Syrian government. Yeah, right!

Yet the Independent, which is said to be a ‘left leaning’ newspaper owned by the Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev who purchased it in 2010, will it seems publish extremely dubious stories without checking the sources but simply takes what they say at face value. No doubt this dishonesty serves a greater cause.

The post-modernist denial of the possibility of objective reality is now firmly entrenched in reactionary elite circles. It involves, 1. ‘Groupthink’ defined as a process where a group with similar backgrounds and largely insulated from outside opinion makes decisions without critically testing, analysing and evaluating ideas and outcomes. 2. ‘Doublethink’ where two incompatible thoughts can be carried on at the same time. It of course follows that if everyone is thinking the same then no-one is thinking at all. Finally, 3. Double standards. Describing the behaviour of your opponents as despicable, inhuman and a violation of human rights, when ‘our’ side is doing exactly the same. Of necessity this involves all of the above mechanisms. Orwell explained:

‘’Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and of course there is no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.’’ (Notes on Nationalism – 1945).

The Goebbels propaganda template was/is disarmingly simple: tell a lie, preferably a big one and then repeat it endlessly until it seeps into the popular consciousness. Taking their cue from this policy the mainstream media messages are relentless, ubiquitous, and obedient to their political masters. This was apparent during the EU referendum campaign and the geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe and the South China Sea. This information war is now the primary political phenomenon of our times, and the mass media speaks with one voice.

As Orwell opined: ‘To begin with, the era of free speech is closing down, the freedom of the press in Britain has always been something of a fake, because in the last resort, money controls opinion.’ That’s the bad news. ‘… still as long as the legal right to say what you like exists, there are always loopholes for the unorthodox writer.’ (Why I joined the Independent Labour Party – 1938). With due deference to Orwell, however, those loopholes are disappearing fast.

Sad to say, however, Orwell actually ended up spying for the British Foreign Office. At the time, 1946, the USSR and Stalin were both very popular amongst the working people of the UK. The Soviet football (‘soccer’ for all our American friends) team, Moscow Dynamo, did a tour of the UK and played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (London); it was a mass sell-out where upwards of 100,000 fans spilled over onto the pitch. Chelsea won by the way, 4-1. (See below).

A picture containing outdoor, grass, field, old

Description automatically generated

Members of my own family were actively involved in the war both in the army, Royal navy and merchant navy. One such, Uncle Tom, took part in convoys carrying armaments to the USSR – a rather dangerous undertaking from Scotland to Murmansk all the time being bombed and torpedoed by German aircraft and U-Boats based in occupied Norway. He was lucky to survive.

But that was then, and this is now.

———————————————————————————————————

Unfortunately, however, and according to Ben Norton of The Greyzone 2016 , the popularity of the USSR was not to the liking of the British political class and intelligentsia. Indeed!

Norton noted the following:

‘’It is fascinating seeing people in the 21st century, especially self-declared leftists, still lionizing George Orwell, the worst kind of reactionary turncoat.

For years, the cat has been out of the bag: George Orwell secretly worked for the UK’s Foreign Office. At the end of his life, he was an outright counter-revolutionary snitch, spying on leftists on behalf of the imperialist British government.

The US government also found Orwell’s work quite useful. The coup-plotting, death squad-training assassins and torturers at the Central Intelligence Agency turned Orwell’s books into a propaganda weapon. The CIA even funded the Animal Farm movie, which is now mandatory viewing in many high schools.

But that happened after Orwell’s death in 1950. What is more scandalous is that he knowingly collaborated with the UK government when he was still alive.

Orwell’s List” is a term that should be known by anyone who claims to be a person of the left. It was a blacklist Orwell compiled for the British government’s Information Research Department; an anti-communist propaganda unit set up for the Cold War.

The list includes dozens of suspected communists, “crypto-communists,” socialists, “fellow travellers,” and even LGBT people and Jews — their names scribbled alongside the sacrosanct 1984 author’s disparaging comments about the personal predilections of those blacklisted.

The document was declassified by the British government in 2003. The leading neoliberal newspaper The Guardian reported at the time that the blacklist “contains the names of 38 public figures, from the actors Charlie Chaplin and Michael Redgrave to the author JB Priestley, whom Orwell suggested should not be trusted by the IRD as anti-communist propagandists.”

Timothy Garton Ash, the historian who obtained the document, revealed that Orwell gave the blacklist to his close friend Celia Kirwan, who worked for the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department, from his sickbed in May 1949.

Orwell had told Kirwan in April that the list included journalists and writers who “in my opinion are crypto-communists, fellow-travellers or inclined that way and should not be trusted as propagandists.”

“There seems to be general agreement by Orwell’s fans, left and right, to skate gently over Orwell’s suspicions of Jews, homosexuals and blacks, also over the extreme ignorance of his assessments,” wrote legendary radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, sardonically referring to the anti-communist blacklist as “St. George’s List.”

“If any other postwar left intellectual was suddenly found to have written mini-diatribes about blacks, homosexuals and Jews, we can safely assume that subsequent commentary would not have been forgiving,” he added. “Here there’s barely a word.”

Cockburn’s The Nation article on the subject, “St. George’s List,” is difficult to find today. I have republished it in full below. The article was also expanded into “The Fable of the Weasel,” Cockburn’s foreword for John Reed’s Animal Farm parody Snowball’s Chance.

Apologists insist Orwell simply “sold out” later in life and became a cranky conservative, yet the story is more complex. Orwell had a consistent political thread throughout his life. This explains how he could go from fighting alongside a Spanish Trostkyite militia in a multi-tendency war against fascism to demonizing the Soviet Union as The Real Enemy — before returning home to imperial Britain, where he became a social democratic traitor who castigated capitalism while collaborating with the capitalist state against revolutionaries trying to create socialism.

Sure, the USSR did some objectionable things, but it was also the only large country in the entire world that supported the Spanish Republicans in their fight against fascism (excluding a bit of extra support from Mexico). The Soviet Union understood that one cannot have a revolution if one cannot even defeat the fascist counterrevolution first — a lesson many on the left still have not learned today.

Yet leftists like Orwell and his devoted followers continue to lament Kronstadt and revel in their ideological purity — while conveniently living relatively comfortable lives in Western imperialist country.’’

So, if it is the case that Orwell fell foul of some reactionary impulses in later life, then none of us is apparently immune to this type of propaganda. I think Orwell’s conversion dates back to his political period working for the British Colonial Office in India. His novels – Burmese Days, for example – as well as articles such as (Shooting and Elephant) and (A Hanging) seem to have insinuated themselves into his belief system. This was not at all unusual among intellectuals from the 1950’s onwards – with the honourable exception of C Wright Mills perhaps – who became fervent supporters of imperialism and is still the case today. The blue pill is apparently still all the rage among the decadent and fashionable elite! This much is manifest. Like the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, who in 1918 said of the political/moral degeneration of the West:

‘’The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity…

‘’And what rough beast its hour come round at last slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.’’

(The Second Coming)

But like the carthorse, Boxer, in Animal Farm, we, the western ‘intelligentsia’ (sic! or what passes for it) must try harder.

DENAZIFICATION – ACT I… The Great Patriotic War as Seen Through Soviet Cinema

August 22, 2022

Notes and reflections by Nora Hoppe with contributions by Tariq Marzbaan for the Saker blog

DENAZIFICATION – ACT I…
The Great Patriotic War as Seen Through Soviet Cinema – for Today’s Battle against Amnesia

As the western world descends ever deeper into a morass of ignorance, stupidity, obliviousness and inanity, accelerated by wilful amnesia and the cancellation of history and Russian culture, we feel it is indispensable to rekindle, commemorate and celebrate some of the great and noble achievements of Russia – for the future sake of Human Civilisation…

The younger generations in the West may never have even heard of the Great Patriotic War – a decisive feat that has enabled them to live in relative peace and comfort. And they might find it difficult to even imagine the number of the 27 million lives it cost.

And even fewer may know about the Siege of Leningrad, which began on 8 September 1941 and lasted nearly 900 days… when the Red Army succeeded in breaking the blockade on 27 January 1944.

The winter of 1941 – 1942 was bitterly cold and as many as 100,000 people a month died of starvation. In their desperation, the citizens ate everything from petroleum jelly and wallpaper glue to rats, pigeons and household pets. For warmth, they burned furniture, wardrobes and even the books from their personal libraries. Amongst the relics discovered later was a journal kept by a 12-year-old Leningrader named Tanya Savicheva who recorded the progressive dates of the deaths of all her family members. After the death of her mother, she wrote: “The Savichevs are dead. Everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left.”

Because of the blockade, the only way to feed the city was to bring fresh supplies across the frozen Lake Ladoga, the only open route into the city – forged over the ice by sleds and ploughs. This was known as the “Road of Life” – in spite of the fact that the trucks and sleds transporting food and fuel were to also become frequent targets of Nazi aerial attack.

Altogether an estimated 75,000 bombs were dropped on Leningrad during the period of the siege and killed many – but more died from hunger and hunger-facilitated illnesses. In total, the siege of Leningrad killed an estimated 800,000 civilians. Historian Michael Walzer summarized that “The Siege of Leningrad killed more civilians than the bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.” Due to the obvious systematic starvation (Hungerpolitik – the isolation of Leningrad; German artillery shelled bread factories and central food supply institutions) and the deliberate destruction of the civilian population of the city, one can consider the siege as an act of genocide, as do some historians (such as Jörg Ganzenmüller, Timo Vihavainen Richard Bidlack and Nikita Lomagin). One must also not forget the racism-driven persecution involved; the Nazis saw the Slavic peoples as Untermenschen (subhumans).

Untitled:Users:Nora:Desktop:Rubrica di cultura:DataBank:Pensiero:Denazification:0f567cdf046eb996b55b9aa2bf4f1eee.jpg

Those who seek to fathom the magnitude of the people’s struggle during the Great Patriotic War – beyond the information provided in books, articles and film footage – would get a closer idea of it in St. Petersburg… by visiting the State Memorial Museum of Leningrad Defence and Blockade, the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad in Victory Square and the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery where about 420,000 civilians and 50,000 soldiers of the Leningrad Front are buried in 186 mass graves. These memorials all commemorate the steadfastness, courage and dignity of the Leningraders in a powerful and deeply moving manner. For me personally, it was the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery (which I visited on an icy, dark and windy late afternoon in March 1991) that most keenly and heart-wrenchingly conveyed such a noble and agonising sacrifice of a people to Humanity.

President Putin, a Leningrad resident born in 1952, participates in memorial events dedicated to the Siege of Leningrad on a regular basis. It is a very personal story for him. His father Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin fought at Nevsky Pyatachok, a critical site of defence that was to prevent German forces from completing the blockade southeast of Leningrad during the siege; his mother remained in the city for the entire duration of the siege and his elder brother Viktor died of diphtheria in the besieged city in the winter of 1942. After laying flowers at a common grave in the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery, which, according to documents, contains the remains of his brother, the president also laid a wreath at the Motherland monument.

Untitled:Users:Nora:Desktop:Rubrica di cultura:DataBank:Pensiero:Denazification: Putin at Cemetery.png
Untitled:Users:Nora:Desktop:Bildschirmfoto 2022-08-20 um 17.12.34.png

* * *

As film remains a powerful medium that not only transcends geographic and linguistic barriers but can also often offer audiences a more intimate experience of unfolding events, we wish to commemorate the Great Patriotic War here by presenting a selection of Soviet films that portray this period from different angles.

But, before we move on to the Soviet films, we would first like to introduce a film that was, amazingly, produced in the USA and is, amazingly, still on YouTube… but – by all appearances – seems to have nonetheless been relegated to oblivion by those in power in the West…

The Battle of Russia” was directed by Italian-born American Frank Capra and Kievan-born American Anatole Litvak. To summarise some cursory information from Wikipedia… The film begins with an overview of historical failed attempts to conquer Russia: the Teutonic Knights in 1242 (using footage from Sergei Eisenstein’s film “Alexander Nevsky”), by Charles XII of Sweden in 1704 (using footage from Vladimir Petrov’s film “Peter the Great”), by Napoleon I in 1812, and by the German Empire in World War I. The vast natural resources of the Soviet Union are then described to show why the land was so coveted by would-be conquerors. Elements of Russian culture include musical compositions of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and mentions of Leo Tolstoy’s book War and Peace.

The opening credits feature the following quotes as follows:

  • “History knows no greater display of courage that that shown by the people of Soviet Russia” – Henry L. Stimson, US Secretary of War
  • “We and our allies owe and acknowledge an everlasting debt of gratitude to the armies and people of the Soviet Union” – Frank Knox, US Secretary of the Navy
  • “The gallantry and aggressive fighting spirit of the Russian soldiers command the American army’s admiration.” – George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, US Army
  • “I join… in admiration for the Soviet Union’s heroic and historic defense.” – Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief of the US Fleet
  • “The SCALE AND GRANDEUR of the Russian effort mark it as the GREATEST MILITARY ACHIEVEMENT IN ALL HISTORY.” – US General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in Chief Southwest Pacific Area

The Battle of Russia (1943)

* * * * *

In the Name of the Motherland” (1943) – Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin and Dmitriy Ivanovich Vasil’ev

In the Name of the Fatherland is a film based on the play by Konstantin Simonov “Russian People”, directed by Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin and Dmitriy Ivanovich Vasil’ev.

The plot: It is a late autumn. The Germans are still advancing and have occupied a small seaside town. But in its outskirts, on the western side of the salty estuary dividing the town, the small Russian garrison, now surrounded on all sides, is still stubbornly holding out. The German general is not in a hurry to attack, preferring to exhaust and deplete the Russian detachment, as it is cut off from fresh water. Captain Safonov sends his beloved, the scout Valechka, off on a mission to the town with orders to other scouts to blow up a strategic bridge blown. The girl is intercepted afterward and thrown in an enemy prison. New information from the command and the hope of reuniting with the main army units leads Safonov to send an experienced soldier, Globa, to rescue Valechka, to revoke the order and to divert the Germans away from the bridge…

Во имя Родины / In the Name of the Motherland (1943) фильм смотреть онлайн

“The Cranes are Flying” (1957) – Mikhail Kalatozov

Based on the play by V. Rozov “Forever Alive”.

Soviet Union, 1941. Boris Borozdin goes off to war. The parents of his fiancée, Veronika, die in a bombing raid, and the young girl is taken into the home of Boris’s father. At the same time, Boris is reported missing in action. Veronika, after some time, marries her other suitor, Mark, Boris’s cousin, without, however, ceasing to await news of her first love, unaware of the fact that Boris is in fact dead, having exposed himself to enemy fire while rescuing his friend Stepan.

The thought that she has somehow betrayed Boris haunts her: when her marriage to Mark shows its first cracks, Veronika is about to take her own life by jumping off a bridge, but she happens to save the life of a child, named Boris, who was about to be hit by a car. Learning of the tricks Mark had concocted to escape the draft, Veronika abandons her husband and starts a new life with little Boris, whose parents she has been unable to track down.

When a fellow soldier announces to her that Boris Borozdin has disappeared, Veronika, still refuses to believe in his death. When the war is over, during a victory parade, Stepan (who was rescued by Boris) suddenly appears and presents himself to Veronika with a bouquet of flowers. He then tells her of Boris’s death. Veronika, now coming to grips with the sacrifices of war, distributes the flowers to passers-by.

The Cranes are Flying | DRAMA | FULL MOVIE

“Fate of a Man” – Sergey Bondarchuk (1959)

Based on the story by M. Sholokhov… With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, truck driver Andrei Sokolov has to part with his family. In May 1942 he is taken prisoner by the Germans. Sokolov endures the hell of a Nazi concentration camp, but thanks to his courage he avoids execution and finally escapes from captivity behind the front line to his own. On a short front-line vacation to his small homeland Voronezh, he learns that his wife and both daughters have died during the bombing of Voronezh by German aircraft. Of those close to him, only his son remained, and he became an officer. On the last day of the war, on the 9th of May, Andrei receives news that his son has also died.

After the war, the lonely Sokolov works as a truck driver away from his native Voronezh – in Uryupinsk (Stalingrad Oblast). There he encounters a little boy Vanya, who was left an orphan: the boy’s mother died during the bombing, and his father went missing during the war. Sokolov decides to tell the boy that he is his father, and by doing so he gives himself and the boy hope for a new happy family life.

Fate of a Man | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

Ballad of a Soldier (1959) – Grigory Chukhray

During the Second World War, Alyosha, a young Russian soldier who has distinguished himself at the front, is offered a decoration. However, he refuses this great honour and instead asks for a leave to visit his mother. His journey is long and difficult: he must jump from train to train, and many obstacles cause him to lose time. Along the way, he meets various people who help him, or to whom he gives assistance. Then he meets Shura, a young girl travelling in the same direction. During the journey the two fall in love.

The journey comes to an end and Alyosha has to part with Shura. As she says goodbye she tells him that she has made up her mind about her fiancé and that she now loves him. Without saying goodbye, Alyosha catches up with the train. On the way he regrets that he has not confessed his love to Shura. Suddenly the train is bombed and Alyosha witnesses the deaths of several passengers.

On the road, Alyosha persuades the truck driver to take him to his home village to see his mother, at least for a few minutes. Meeting his neighbours and embracing his mother, he promises to return immediately after the war. His mother tells him she will wait for him.

A voice-over says: “He could have been a wonderful citizen, he could have decorated the land with gardens, but he was and will forever remain in our memory a soldier. A Russian soldier!”

Ballad of a Soldier (1959) – Grigory Chukhray (720p) w/English Subtitles

Ivan’s Childhood (1962) Andrei Tarkovsky

Based on the story by V. Bogomolov “Ivan”, the film is mainly set at the front during World War II, where the Soviet army is fighting the invading German Wehrmacht. The film features a non-linear plot with frequent flashbacks.

World War II, Eastern Front, Stalin line, Dnepr river area. Twelve-year-old Ivan, left without a family (father at the front, possibly dead, mother probably killed), joins first the partisans and then the regular Soviet army to fight the German invaders. Colonel Grjaznov and Captain Cholin, who take such good care of him that the former could possibly adopt him at the end of the war, take advantage of his ability to move unnoticed in those swampy places to send him on scouting missions beyond enemy lines. After a particularly difficult mission, Ivan fails to return to the intended location and instead reaches an area of the front line controlled by young Lieutenant Gal’cev, who finds it hard to believe the explanations of the dirty, fatigue-ridden boy, until he agrees to contact the military command and sees the relieved Cholin rush in.

Grjaznov decides to remove Ivan from the front line and send him to military school, to protect him, but the boy is determined to remain on the front line, because he is convinced that in war, only cowards and invalids can shirk commitment. When he is driven to the rear, he escapes alone into the desolate, battle-torn heaths, but is soon recaptured. Ivan is involved in one last mission. Cholin and Gal’cev accompany him across the river as far as they can, but then wait in vain for his return from exploration as the first snow falls. When the war is over, in Soviet-occupied Berlin, Gal’cev, a survivor but scarred in face and soul, accidentally finds Ivan’s file among the files of executed prisoners in the abandoned offices of the Reichstag, and discovers that the young boy has been hanged.

The film begins with a sharp contrast: a rural idyll bathed in bright light with a cuckoo call, butterflies flying and a happy boy who knows his mother is nearby is abruptly cut off by the cry of terror “Mama!” and the woman lying on the ground, whereupon the boy awakens to the presence of a dark, destruction-stricken world in which he must hide and fend for himself. – An emotional rollercoaster ride, then, that immediately demands the full attention of the viewer, with the black-and-white film (monochrome until the end) further intensifying the chiaroscuro contrast. The linearity of the narrative on the level of reality is later broken by further dream-like sequences; one is clearly a vision, the others could also be memories or, following the logic of dreams, a mixture of both. The film’s finale surprises not only with an abrupt jump in place and time, but also with a brief shift from fiction to documentary. The focus of these images is on the children of their own families killed by the German leadership clique; the connection to the central theme of Iwan’s childhood is thus maintained.

Ivan’s Childhood | WAR MOVIE | directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Liberation (1967 – 1972) – Yuri Ozerov

Yuri Ozerov’s epic historical film consists of five instalments, which are a dramatised account of the liberation of the Soviet Union’s territory and the subsequent defeat of Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, focusing on five major Eastern Front campaigns: the Battle of Kursk, the Lower Dnieper Offensive, Operation Bagration, the Vistula-Oder Offensive, and the Battle of Berlin.

A total of 51 real historical characters act in the film. Selecting actors to play these characters was not easy. The main problem was that most of the heroes and prototypes of the characters in the film were still alive. Many of them held high office and were very interested in what they would look like on screen. It was not just a matter of getting a portrait resemblance, but also of getting the prototype (or the film’s supervisors) to agree to the on-screen portrayal of that prototype by one actor or another.

Liberation, Film 1: The Fire Bulge | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

“The Fire Bulge” tells of the heroic battle at the Kursk Bulge in summer 1943.

Liberation, Film 2: Breakthrough | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

“Breakthrough” is about the battle for the Dnieper River and the Soviet offensive operation in 1944.

Liberation, Film 3: Direction of the Main Blow | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

“Direction of the Main Blow” is about Operation Bagration, which resulted in the complete liberation of Belarus from Nazi troops.

Liberation, Film 4: The Battle for Berlin | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

“The Battle of Berlin”. 1945, the last months of the war. These are the days when the fate of enslaved Europe is decided.

Liberation, Film 5: The Last Assault | WAR MOVIE | FULL MOVIE

“The Last Assault” is about the storming of the Reichstag, about the battle for every room, for every floor…

The Dawns Here are Quiet (1972) – Stanislav Rostotsky

“The Dawns Here Are Quiet” is a 1972 Soviet war drama, in the form of a TV series of 4 episodes directed by Stanislav Rostotsky based on Boris Vasilyev’s novel of the same name. The film deals with antiwar themes and focuses on a garrison of Russian female soldiers in World War II.

It is late spring of 1942, and the Great Patriotic War is in full swing. A long way off from the front-line, at some God-forgotten junction, the Germans make an air landing operation in an attempt to get through to the Kirov railway and the White Sea – the Baltic Sea Canal. These aren’t just ordinary paratroopers. This is a team of seasoned and highly trained infiltrators, the elite of the Waffen-SS, superhumans. The only thing in their way is an anti-aircraft artillery unit of corporal Vaskov and five young women in training. It may seem like a fight of local significance, but the country’s main strategic transportation artery is at stake. Can the corporal and his “newbies” prevent Nazi sabotage and at what cost?

The Dawns Here Are Quiet – Playlist – Episodes 1-4 Russian TV Series. English Subtitles. StarMediaEN

“17 Moments of Spring” (1973) – a series of 12 episodes – Tatyana Lioznova

“17 Moments of Spring”, directed by Tatyana Lioznova and based on the novel of the same name by Yulian Semyonov, is considered the most successful Soviet spy thriller ever made and is one of the most popular television series in Soviet history.

The series portrays the exploits of Maxim Isaev, a Soviet spy operating in Nazi Germany under the name Max Otto von Stierlitz. Stierlitz is planted in 1927, well before the Nazi takeover of pre-war Germany. He joins the NSDAP and rises through the ranks, becoming an important Nazi counter-espionage officer. He recruits several agents among German dissident intellectuals and persecuted clergy. Stierlitz discovers, and later plans to disrupt, secret negotiations between Karl Wolff and Allen Dulles taking place in Switzerland, aimed at forging a separate peace between Germany and the Western Allies. With the help of operational combinations, and especially thanks to his direct superior, Walter Schellenberg, Stierlitz succeeded, through Martin Bormann, in preventing the Anglo-American plan.

Stierlitz’s character reflected Andropov’s concept of the ideal Soviet spy: he was calculated, modest, devoted to his country and, above all, an intellectual, who fulfilled his mission by outwitting his enemies. He was based mainly, though not exclusively and loosely, on a Gestapo officer turned Soviet agent, Willi Lehmann. The American-German negotiations foiled by Stierlitz were modelled on the real agreement reached by Allen Dulles and Karl Wolff during 1945, which led to the surrender of the Wehrmacht in northern Italy on 2 May 1945. The historical basis of the film is Operation Sunrise: Behind the back of the Soviet Union, a series of secret negotiations were conducted for two weeks in March 1945 in Bern, Switzerland, between elements of the Nazi German SS and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services under Allen Dulles. (Dulles apparently made a verbal agreement to protect SS General Wolff from prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials as they worked out details of surrender. Wolff and his forces were being considered to help implement Operation Unthinkable, a secret plan to invade the Soviet Union, which Winston Churchill advocated during this period. It became the first Cold War-era contingency plan for war with the Soviet Union. Wolff was later proven to be complicit in the murder of 300,000 Jews. [See: ‘Conspiracy of Silence: How the “Old Boys” of American Intelligence Shielded SS General Karl Wolff from Prosecution’ – https://www.academia.edu/31673216])

One critic described the public reception of the series in the Soviet Union: During its first screening, the city streets emptied. It was a larger-than-life success, attracting a larger audience than hockey games.” Crime rates dropped significantly during the broadcasts; power plants had to increase production at the same time, as the activation of many TV sets caused a surge in electricity consumption. It soon became a cult series.

Apparently many commentators see analogies between President Putin and the mythic character Stierlitz. Putin himself, was said to have claimed that his decision to join the KGB was motivated by the spy thrillers of his childhood, including the series “17 Moments of Spring”.

Seventeen Moments of Spring 1973 Part 1 of 12 English Subtitles HQ:

A comment on YouTube made by viewer Carlos Cobas:

“This movie is a masterpiece of the Soviet Cinema. Now when it is available on DVD in North America, I have watched it again and I cannot think of any other old Russian/Soviet movie that strikes me so much. On the surface, the story is about an agent of the Soviet intelligence service who tries to obtain the proof of the attempts of high-rank Nazi to strike a separate deal with the Western Allies in the last months of the World War Two in Europe. However, the movie is much deeper than a spy thriller. No invisible ink, hi-tech guns and beautiful women. Or, rather, just one: the hero’s wife. He had not seen her for many years, and now he is allowed to meet her. He is in a cafe in Berlin. She enters, takes a seat in a far corner, orders a cup of coffee, and…”

“The Ascent” (1977) – Larissa Shepitko

Larissa Shepitko, Ukrainian Soviet director, screenwriter and actress, was

a student of Dovzhenko with whom she felt a kinship between their shared Ukrainian heritage and social realist imagery full of visual and poetic symbolism.

“The Ascent”, based on the novel “Sotnikov” by Vasil Bykau and set in the winter of 1942, was filmed in January 1974 in a region east of Moscow, in appalling winter conditions, as required by the screenplay. (It was Shepitko’s last film before her tragic death in a car accident in 1979).

The plot: Nazi-occupied Belarus. In a frozen forest, Officer Sotnikov and Private Rybak are sent off through the snow to a village to acquire food for their fellow stranded and famished partisans, whose ranks include women and children. After a protracted gunfight in the snow, in which one of the Germans is killed, the two men manage to flee, but Sotnikov is shot in the leg. They take shelter in the home of Demchikha, the mother of three young children. They are, however, tracked down and captured. The physically frail Sotnikov chooses to withstand torture and accepts death by execution. But Rybak, on his knees, begs for mercy and agrees to work for the Germans as a policeman. Only later does he become aware of what he has done.

The Ascent:

Come and See  (1985) Elem Klimov

“Come and See” is a 1985 Soviet anti-war film directed by Elem Klimov. Its screenplay, written by Klimov and Ales Adamovich, is based on the 1978 book “I Am from the Fiery Village” (1977), of which Adamovich was a co-author. It was filmed exclusively on Byelorussian soil in the Byelorussian language with non-professional actors. All the actions depicted in the film are based on true events that befell Belarus. The film mixes hyperrealism with an underlying surrealism, and philosophical existentialism with poetical, psychological, political and apocalyptic themes. It received generally positive critical reception upon release, and has since come to be considered one of the greatest films of all time.

The title of the film comes from the sixth chapter of the Apocalypse of John. The exclamation “Come and see” is the invitation to contemplate the devastation wrought by the four horsemen of the Apocalypse: “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, ‘Come and see!’ And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

The film’s plot focuses on the Nazi German occupation of Belarus, and the events as witnessed by a young Belarusian partisan teenager named Flyora, who – against his mother’s wishes – joins the Belarusian resistance movement, and thereafter depicts the Nazi atrocities and human suffering inflicted upon the populace of the Belarusian villages. This film, like no other, shows the tragedy of a child on a battlefield. At the beginning of the film 16-year-old Flyora is just a teenager. But In the end, having gone through horror and fear, the child becomes an adult, frighteningly adult…

Regarding his film, Elem Klimov said:

“The 40th anniversary of the Great Victory was approaching. The management had to be given something topical. I had been reading and rereading the book I Am from the Fiery Village, which consisted of the first-hand accounts of people who miraculously survived the horrors of the fascist genocide in Belorussia. Many of them were still alive then, and Byelorussians managed to record some of their memories onto film. I will never forget the face and eyes of one peasant, and his quiet recollection about how his whole village had been herded into a church, and how just before they were about to be burned, an officer gave them the offer: ‘Whoever has no children can leave.’ And he couldn’t take it, he left, and left behind his wife and little children… or about how another village was burned: the adults were all herded into a barn, but the children were left behind. And later, drunken men surrounded them with sheepdogs and let the dogs tear the children to pieces.

And then I thought: the world doesn’t know about Khatyn! They know about Katyn, about the massacre of the Polish officers there. But they don’t know about Belorussia. Even though more than 600 villages were burned there!

And I decided to make a film about this tragedy. I perfectly understood that the film would end up a harsh one. I decided that the central role of the village lad Flyora would not be played by a professional actor, who upon immersion into a difficult role could have protected himself psychologically with his accumulated acting experience, technique and skill. I wanted to find a simple boy fourteen years of age. We had to prepare him for the most difficult experiences, then capture them on film. And at the same time, we had to protect him from the stresses so that he wasn’t left in the loony bin after filming was over, but was returned to his mother alive and healthy. Fortunately, with Aleksei Kravchenko, who played Flyora and who later became a good actor, everything went smoothly.

I understood that this would be a very brutal film and that it was unlikely that people would be able to watch it. I told this to my screenplay co-author, the writer Ales Adamovich. But he replied: ‘Let them not watch it, then. This is something we must leave after us. As evidence of war, and as a plea for peace.‘… “

Come and See | WAR FILM | FULL MOVIE

There are of course many, many more powerful Soviet films on the Great Patriotic War. These are but a few…

* * *

Today in the West there is an extensive ban on featuring Russian culture in any form – be it in the realm of the arts, education or even in sports. In many of the Eastern European countries that once belonged to the Soviet Union or were part of the Eastern Bloc, we can see regimes and institutions demolishing monuments and memorials that were dedicated to the joint struggles and victories of their peoples over Nazism and Fascism. Great historic Russian cultural figures are being cast into oblivion, while Fascist and Nazi symbols seem more and more acceptable. (Could the Tschaikowskistraße in Berlin one day be renamed Stepan-Bandera-Straße?) And the Russian people?… Several European countries would like their travel to Europe be restricted. “Nobel-Prize”-winner Lech Walesa went so far as to suggest: “Today we have to either enforce change of Russia’s political system or reduce its population of less than 50 million.” The Siege of Leningrad was obviously not enough for him… Does he want a new genocide?

But however much these pathologically desperate Russophobes seek to suppress, cancel, erase, delete, obliterate anything Russian, they will not only end up suppressing, cancelling, erasing, deleting and obliterating their own cultures and identities… their intentions to destroy Russian culture and history will remain forever futile. Testimonies of the past will live on – through films like these, through many other works, through the memories of honourable witnesses and through those seeking the truth.

When a people loses its memory, it also loses its soul.

* * * * *

Some references:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Leningrad#Lifting_the_siege

https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/fr/article/view/50755/44648

https://tass.com/society/1393925

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%92%D0%BE_%D0%B8%D0%BC%D1%8F_%D0%A0%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%8B

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventeen_Moments_of_Spring#cite_note-IZ-2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ascent_(1977_film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_and_See

Welcoming speech of the Russian Minister of Defence at the opening of 10th Moscow Conference on International Security

August 17, 2022

The opening of the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security took place at Avangard Centre for Military and Patriotic Education of Youth within the framework of ARMY 2022 IMTF. The Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, addressed the participants of the event:

Ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security.

This conference comes at a time of radical change in global and regional security. The unconditional dominance of the US and its allies is a thing of the past. On February 24, 2022, the start of the special military operation in Ukraine marked the end of the unipolar world.

Multipolarity has become a reality. The poles of this world are clearly defined. The main difference between them is that some respect the interests of sovereign states and take into account the cultural and historical particularities of countries and peoples, while others disregard them. There have been numerous discussions on this topic during previous sessions of the Moscow conference.

In Europe, the security situation is worse than at the peak of the Cold War. The alliance’s military activities have become as aggressive and anti-Russian as possible. Significant US forces have been redeployed to the continent, and the number of coalition troops in Eastern and Central Europe has increased manifold.

It is important to note that the deployment of additional NATO Joint Force formations on the bloc’s “eastern flank” had already started before the start of the special military operation in Ukraine.

NATO has dropped its masks. The aggressive nature of the bloc was no longer concealed by the wording of the coalition’s purely defensive orientation. Today, the alliance’s strategic planning documents enshrine claims to global dominance. Alliance’s interests include Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim.

In the West’s view, the established system of international relations should be replaced by a so-called rules-based world order. The logic here is simple and ultimatumatic. Either the alliance’s “democratic partner” candidate loses sovereignty and becomes supposedly on the “right side of history”. Or it is relegated to the category of so-called authoritarian regimes, against which all kinds of measures, up to and including coercive pressure, can be used.

Given that the Conference is attended by heads of defence agencies and security experts from different regions of the world, I would like to highlight some aspects of the special military operation in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the Russian military is being confronted by combined Western forces that run the leadership of that country in a hybrid war against Russia.

The supply of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine is being stepped up, and training of the Ukrainian army is being carried out. Huge financial resources are transferred to maintain the viability of the nationalist regime.

The actions of Ukraine’s armed forces are planned and coordinated by foreign military advisers. Reconnaissance data is supplied from all available NATO sources. The use of armaments is supervised by Western specialists.

NATO’s efforts are aimed at prolonging the agony of the Kiev regime. However, we know for a fact that no one in NATO has any doubt that the goals of the Russian leadership’s special military operation will be achieved, and that plans to strategically and economically weaken Russia are failing. The dollar has not reached the ceiling of 200 roubles, as predicted by the US president, the Russian economy has stood firm.

The special military operation has dispelled the myth of “super-weapons” supplied to Ukraine by the West, which are capable of fundamentally changing the situation on the front. Initially, they were talking about deliveries of Javelin anti-tank systems, some kind of “unique” drones. Lately, the Westerners have been promoting the role of super-weapons with HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems and long-range howitzers. However, these weapons also grind to a halt in battle. They did not make a significant impact. The Russian weapons, for their part, have proved their best qualities in combat.

We are taking a close look at trophy weapons from the West. The features and their specific qualities are taken into account in order to improve the way combat operations are conducted and the effectiveness of Russian armaments.

The supply of NATO weapons to Kiev means that Western countries are responsible for their inhumane use and for the deaths of civilians in Donbass and in the liberated territories. Ukrainian armed forces operations are planned in Washington and London. Not only are the coordinates of the targets to be attacked provided by Western intelligence, but the input of this data into weapons systems is conducted under the full control of Western specialists.

Kiev’s role in the West’s combat approach has been reduced to supplying manpower, which is seen as expendable. This explains the huge loss of personnel in Ukraine’s armed forces and territorial defence formations.

So far, the real figures of dead soldiers and mobilised so-called territorial defence forces have been concealed by the Kiev leadership.

In time, however, this information will become public. The testimonies of POWs of AFU allow us to form a realistic picture of what is happening on the other side of the front. The dismissive attitude towards the loss of foreign soldiers reinforces the thesis that NATO has purely selfish interests in Ukraine. Clearly, Britain’s colonial experience as the main sponsor of the Kiev regime has come in very handy for London in dealing with the current leadership in Kiev.

Against this background, speculation is spreading in the media about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the special military operation or the readiness to use chemical weapons. All of these information gibberish are lies.

From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve its goals. The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack. Its use is limited to extraordinary circumstances as defined in the Russian guideline documents, which are open to public inspection.

The allegations about the possible use of chemical weapons in Ukraine are also absurd. Let me remind you that, unlike the US, such weapons were completely destroyed in our country back in 2017 as part of our international obligations. Meanwhile, poisoning provocations have become the hallmark of Western-sponsored so-called civil society organisations such as the White Helmets in Syria.

The information provocations are aimed at distracting attention from the facts discovered in Ukraine that US experts have conducted banned military and biological research.

Currently, a significant amount of data has been accumulated and is regularly made available to the general public. Work will continue in this direction.

US military-biological activities in Ukraine are not exceptional. Pentagon-controlled laboratories have been established and operate in many post-Soviet, Asian, African and Latin American countries. Local authorities generally have no control over research carried out on their premises that poses a lethal threat to the local population. The consequences of epidemics, I believe, were felt by all during the period of the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

I would like to focus separately on the humanitarian aspects of the special military operation. Compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the rules of war has always been and remains the focus of commanders at all levels. Since the beginning of the operation, orders have been issued stipulating the procedures to be followed by soldiers in dealing with civilians and enemy prisoners of war.

In the territories liberated from nationalists, the troops are actively involved in the delivery of humanitarian aid, the restoration of infrastructure and the maintenance of law and order. This was the case in Syria, in Nagorno-Karabakh, and it is also the case in Donbass.

On humanitarian issues, there has been fruitful cooperation with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. We are grateful for the constructive, depoliticised cooperation of the leaders and staff of these organisations who interact with us. In particular, under the auspices of the UN and with Turkey’s active role, the difficult problem of grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports was resolved. The Red Cross specialists carry out an important mediation mission in relation to captured soldiers.

NATO has recently initiated a new phase of alliance enlargement, with Sweden and Finland joining the military bloc. The claim that the reason for this was the Russian special operation is untrue.

The practical rapprochement between these countries and the alliance has been ongoing for many years. In fact, the regional association NORDEFCO (Committee for Nordic Defence Cooperation) is a northern affiliate of NATO and serves as a cover for these countries’ participation in joint military training activities.

Of course, the official involvement of Helsinki and Stockholm in NATO’s strategic planning and the possible allocation of territory to these states for deployment of strike weapons will change the security environment in the Baltic region and the Arctic and will require a reconsideration of approaches to defence of Russian territory.

Certain conclusions have already been reached and are enshrined in the updated Maritime Doctrine approved by the President of the Russian Federation on July 31. Work will continue in this area.

The reinforcement of the NATO military grouping on the “eastern flank” completes the degradation of the trust and arms control mechanisms that emerged in Europe during the Cold War. A few years ago, experts proposed that the European experience should be used to build confidence-building measures, in particular in the Pacific Rim. Now, of all the “baggage” of the Euro-dialogue, only the idea of bloc confrontation is exported to Asia, which has not brought anything positive to security in Europe.

Today, no one remembers the US destruction of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Limitation Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty. Although previously these agreements were crucial for disarmament and confidence-building.

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was conceived as a platform for dialogue and consideration of different views, has become a generator of anti-Russian narratives.

Vienna Document 2011 remains formally in force, but there are no prospects for practical implementation. In the absence of trust between the parties, the verification mechanism effectively becomes a source of intelligence, which is not in the spirit of this agreement.

The situation with regard to the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty is also complicated. The agreement remains in force until 2026. On the Russian side the commitments are fulfilled, the declared levels of carriers and warheads are maintained within the established limits.

U.S. claims that Russia must earn the right to continue dialogue with the U.S. do not resist criticism. Arms control is a two-way street.

The result is only achievable if the interests and commitment of all participants are balanced. I believe that the Russian experience of interaction with the West in the field of disarmament shows that the so-called rules-based peace it promotes does not involve the implementation of treaty obligations in the traditional sense. This fact needs to be taken into account when entering into agreements, especially in the field of security and arms control.

Western opposition to the consolidation of a multipolar world, along with Europe, is most active in the Asia-Pacific region, where the US has begun to dismantle the existing ASEAN-based system of regional cooperation. This started with the announcement of the AUKUS initiative by the US, Australia and the UK. Plans to expand this partnership to include new regional partners have not been concealed. AUKUS is merging with NATO, which in turn claimed a dominant role in the Asia-Pacific region at the June summit. This is despite the fact that all NATO countries are thousands of miles away from the region.

On 2 August, the Russian Federation marked the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s entry into the war with Japan, the occasion for which was Tokyo’s militarist policy. The defeat of Japanese forces in the Far East effectively sealed the end of World War II and provided the start for the liberation of the peoples of Asia from colonial oppression. The assistance of the USSR was of key importance. We remember and are proud of the legacy of our ancestors, including those who laid the foundation for military cooperation between Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Another dangerous regional trend is the AUKUS focus on developing a nuclear submarine fleet in Australia. The implementation of this plan would have a complex negative impact on global and regional security, creating the conditions for undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The US claims that nuclear-powered submarines are needed in Australia ostensibly to offset China’s growing naval capabilities. This logic in fact replicates the actions of the US in justifying its exit from the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missile Treaty. The collapse of this agreement was also motivated by the need to offset Russian and Chinese efforts to develop missiles with a range allegedly prohibited by the treaty.

In the global context, the appearance of a nuclear-powered fleet in Australia will provide an excuse for other states to begin developing similar armaments. Pandora’s box will be opened, the global nuclear arms race will resume.

AUKUS has the potential to develop into a politico-military alliance. It cannot be excluded that NATO’s experience with joint nuclear planning and joint “allied” nuclear exercises will also be transferred to the region. The technical basis for this is already being laid by the active promotion of US-made aircraft. The participation of nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states in joint exercises on the use of nuclear weapons is contrary to obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Transferring nuclear training from Europe will blow up the region.

Although it can be assumed that this is precisely the purpose of the US. The provocative landing in Taiwan of a third person of the US bureaucratic hierarchy is another move to destabilise the situation.

Block-less, equal interaction in the region is an achievement that should not be lost due to externally imposed phobias and attempts to counter a multipolar world.

Mechanisms for interaction and dialogue with extra-regional partners are created and are proving their relevance and effectiveness. First and foremost is the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ and Partners’ Meeting, the so-called “ADMM-Plus” format. Its diverse activities focus on security issues of relevance to the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, there is positive experience of cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, of implementing mutually beneficial projects on a bilateral basis.

As before, we are ready to share our experience of combat training, in particular during the Vostok-2022 strategic exercise to be held in the near future.

Despite significant successes in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, the threat of international terrorist groups taking over the initiative remains. The Syrian military, in cooperation with allies and partners and with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, continues to suppress spikes in terrorist activity. We see a particular danger in using the Kurdish factor to unsettle the situation in Syria.

The engagement of the guarantor countries in the Astana format remains virtually the only legal and effective mechanism to address security concerns in Syria. We welcome the increased engagement between the Syrian leadership and the Arab world. Overcoming contradictions created by outside forces is possible and necessary.

The role of the military in building trust between countries is an important element in the search for political solutions. We expect that the Moscow conference will be one of the rallying points for the stabilisation of the situation in the Near East.

After the rapid withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, the situation in the Central Asian region remains extremely tense. Afghanistan’s new leadership faces serious military and economic challenges. The legacy of two decades of alliance troop presence is a disappointing one. As a result, there remains a high level of terrorist danger in the region.

The security problems of Central Asia can only be solved by coordinated action by all the countries and international organisations concerned. For our part, we will continue to support our Collective Security Treaty Organisation allies in enhancing the capabilities of national armed forces.

It is important to keep the topic of Afghanistan on the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation discussions. Russia, China, India, Iran and Pakistan together could make a significant contribution not only to stabilising the region, but also to preventing the threat from spreading beyond its borders.

The security of each region, despite the general trends of a multipolar world, has its own peculiarities.

For Africa, the specificity lies in the desire of the countries of the collective West to return to the order and rules of engagement typical of the colonial period. Neo-colonialism is imposed through military pressure on governments of sovereign countries and support for separatist and terrorist movements. A case in point is Libya, where statehood has still not been restored after the NATO invasion. Another example is the situation in West Africa, where European troops have been deployed on the pretext of combating terrorism. For decades, these EU missions had been fighting terrorists, training national security forces, until they recognised the utter failure of their own efforts.

I would like to point out that African governments and leaders are holding their own, as they call it, in the context of a multipolar world, to pursue their own agenda of independence, sovereignty, economic development and defence capabilities.

The Russian Ministry of Defence is seeking to expand cooperation with African countries in the field of military and military-technical cooperation. Interest in the participation of national teams and delegations from Africa in the Army International Games and the “ARMY 2022” IMTF has increased significantly. It is very encouraging that prominent military commanders from our friendly states – Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Republic of South Africa – are present in this hall today. We appreciate your support and intend to increase cooperation on mutually beneficial projects.

Latin America today faces serious security challenges because of the American desire to maintain influence in the region under the provisions of the so-called Monroe Doctrine. Liberal values, whose adherence is seen by the US as agreeing to live in a world based on their rules, in fact mask the true objective – to build up a military presence by blocking the possibility of sovereign development of states.

U.S. policy focuses on deterring engagement by countries in the region with any other pole of power outside Washington’s control. The purpose of this policy is to involve the region in a confrontation with Russia and the PRC, to destroy traditional ties and to block new forms of cooperation in the military and military-technical spheres.

Anti-Russian information campaigns are launched in Latin America, hiding the truth about the causes and course of the special military operation in Ukraine. Analogies can be drawn to the British actions during the conflict in the Falkland Islands. What is happening in the Western media today with the coverage of the Russian special military operation was also happening when the media was chorally broadcasting only one point of view – that of London.

The question arises: are such policies in the fundamental interest of the countries of the region? The answer is clear – no. We hope that during the discussions at the conference we will hear assessments of the situation in Latin America from our partners from Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The Tenth Moscow Conference on International Security has a special importance for the Russian Ministry of Defence as organiser of the forum for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the conference is taking place during the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. Despite attempts of the US and NATO to isolate Russia once again, your participation in the forum is a visible confirmation that these plans have collapsed. We appreciate your support.

Secondly, a multipolar world is the reality of today. The transition from dominance by a single global leader to several centres of gravity is not an easy one. However, this creates real conditions for the development of sovereign states.

Thirdly, the role of military agencies is changing in the new realities. The military not only guarantees a secure environment for economic development, but through military cooperation it builds predictability and trust between countries.

Finally, this is the tenth anniversary conference, which allows for a kind of review of what has been achieved over the years. It is important to observe how the priorities of the discussions have changed, and which conclusions and recommendations from the forum have been put into practice over the years. A short historical overview, prepared by Russian experts, can be viewed on the monitors between plenary sessions.

I wish you all good health and interesting contacts and discussions during your stay in Moscow.

Thank you for your attention.

source: https://eng.mil.ru/en/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12433677@egNews (which is blocked by western freedom loving democracies, so you need a VPN to access it!)

Five months into the Special Military Operation – a summary

July 23, 2022

On the Future of Europe: A Proposition from 1 January 2023

Note: after three months away (mostly) from the blog, it is a real pleasure for me to come back. Simply put – I missed you and I missed writing analyses. Thus I am truly delighted to be back and I want to once again thank all those who patiently waited for me to recharge my batteries. Your support means the world to me! Thank you for everything!
Andrei

***

Five months ago, on February 24th, Russia began what she called a “special military operation” (SMO). In very simple terms, this is what Russia has achieved so far: Ukraine has lost about 20% of its territory, about 3 thousand towns and villages, half of the gross national product, and a third of coal production. It completely lost access to the Sea of Azov, and traffic through the Black Sea ports froze due to fighting and mining of waterways. The number of refugees has reached 7 million (source).

But these factoids don’t even begin to tell the full story. There would be many ways that this story could be told, but to begin I want to list a few elements of the official western narrative which have now faceplanted and nobody sane would take seriously. I will present a few them in no specific order (and I will ignore the most idiotic ones, including that Putin is dying of cancer or very sick (check here for 50 headlines about this!) – he is not, to the great chagrin of the CIA –  or that Shoigu wants to overthrow him).

“Russia is losing the war, was defeated by the Ukronazis near Kiev, she is running out of ammunition and supplies and is about to collapse”.

First, if you look at the size of the Russian force which took the Antonov airport near Kiev (one airborne regiment) and the size of the force which moved by land towards that airport, you can easily convince yourself that this force was not intended to attack or invade Kiev. This force did exactly what it was intended to do, it forces the Ukronazis to move forces to protect Kiev and, thereby, it pinned them down just long enough to establish air superiority, attack and cut off the forces near and in the Donbass, destroy the Ukrainian C4I and almost the entire Ukrainian air force. This took just a few days and once that mission was completed, these forces withdrew as they had literally nothing to gain by staying in place. If anything it is the Ukrainian side which is running out of weapons, supplies and soldiers (more about that later). The Russians have all the firepower they need for many years ahead.

“Russia had to change her plans and tactics because of the heavy losses suffered by the Russian military early in the operation”

Actually, there is a grain of truth here, but not the correct explanation. As I have mentioned several times, the special military operation is “special” because it is an operation which is not a regular combined arms operation. The Russians began the SMO with fewer soldiers than the opposing side, and they privileged maneuver and long range strikes over the taking and holding of towns and cities. Most crucially, the Russians very deliberately tried all they could to minimize Ukrainian casualties and to preserve the Ukrainian civilian infrastructure (unlike the “democratic” countries out there who first destroy power plants, bridges, water stations, etc. to inflict the maximum of “shock and awe” on the civilian population!). The Russians could have easily turned, say, Kiev into Baghdad or Belgrade under US/NATO bombs, but they deliberately chose to save as many lives and civilian infrastructure as possible, even at the cost of lives of Russian soldiers).

[Sidebar: a prefect example is the small town of Avdeevka, near Donetsk, which is heavily fortified and from which the Ukronazis shell not only Donetsk, but also other towns such as Makeevka killing people and destroying the civilian infrastructure every day.  The Russians could use their TOS-1A “Solntsepyok”, airborne FAE, FAB-3000 bombs, heavy mortars and plenty of other weapons to simply turn all of Avdeevka into a lifeless desert.  But here is the problem: Avdeevka is full of civilians, including relatives of LDNR combatants.  Furthermore, if Russia used such weapons, it would only feed the Anglo-Zionist propaganda to create a “victastar” city à la Sarajevo or even accuse the Russians of a Srebrenica-like “genocide”.  The precedent of Bucha is something which limits the Russians in two major ways: first, it makes it almost impossible to retreat, now that we know that the Ukronazis will massacre all the “collaborators” in the area left by Russian forces and, second, it means that any major strike, no matter how militarily justified, will be turned into a “massacre” just like in Bosnia, Kosovo or Syria.

What apparently did take the Russians by surprise is the willingness of the Ukrainian forces in some towns to attack the Russian columns even though the local authorities seemed to have indicated to the Russians that, like in, say, Kherson, their city would not resist. Simply put, they chose the Mariupol model rather than the Kherson model. This choice was mainly dictated by the very powerful Nazi death squads who would at best arrest anybody negotiating with Russia and, at worst, simply shoot them on the spot. The Russians found plenty of bodies of executed Ukrainian soldiers.

But this does not tell the full story either.

The truth is that by the laws of warfare the Ukraine lost the war in less than a week.

What is my evidence for such an apparently outlandish and over-the-top statement? Simple: since the beginning of the SMO, the Ukrainians failed to execute a single operational level attack or counter-attack. At most they were able to execute small, tactical level attacks, the vast majority of which almost instantly failed, a few were defeated in a few days, and, crucially, not a single one gave the Ukrainian side the operational initiative. Not once.

So what happened?

If Kiev had any agency and if the Ukrainian leadership cared about their country and people, they would have immediately sued for peace. But Kiev never had any agency and the buffoons in power do not give a damn about the Ukrainian people.

Instead, it was the US that told the Ukrainians to never surrender or pull back, even if that meant huge losses in both manpower and firepower. The West, which despises and hates the Ukrainians almost as much as it hates the Russians were delighted to see the hated Ukrainians and the hated Russians killing each other (well, mostly Russians doing the killing). Furthermore, being military incompetent, the leaders of the West apparently believed that supplying weapons, money, instructors, and special forces to the Ukrainians could, if not turn the tide, slow down Russia enough to create fear, uncertainty, and doubts in the Russian public opinion. That plan also spectacularly failed, Putin is as popular as ever, the 5th column and the 6th columns in Russia are in despair (many emigrate) and the SMO has the full support of the Russian nation.

As for the much talked about “Russian plans”, which nobody has seen, they are not like the plan for a building. They are not fixed, but highly flexible and reactive and, in fact, they are constantly adjusted and refined in response to the developments on the ground. So while the Russians did have hopes that much/most of the eastern Ukraine would follow the “Kherson model” they were quick to adapt to the reality that the US and its Nazi agents in the Ukrainian military would force the eastern Ukraine to follow the “Mariupol model”. So yes, operational plans are like water in a stream, depending on the obstacles encountered, they can go left or they can go right to bypass that obstacle, but in either case, they are going down towards the ocean. The fact that armchair strategists declared that Russia “changed plans” simply proves that they don’t understand how operational planning works.

[Sidebar: most people in the West think of military operations as something similar to US football: there are “lines/fronts” which are defended and most forces are facing each other along these lines. This is not so. Modern warfare is much more similar to European soccer, where each player is “attached” to an opposing player and these players constantly maneuver and regularly engage each other. For example, modern warfare does not really have a “front” and a “rear” as we can see from the Russian strikes deep inside the western Ukraine. Finally, modern warfare deeply relies on coordinated actions. That is to say that even if side A has, say, five subunits (say companies) you cannot add them up and count them as a regiment or brigade because they lack the ability for coordinated operations (nevermind joint or combined ones). Think of your hand, it has five fingers, but these five fingers only become a powerful fist if the five fingers act in unison and become one fist. So when somebody write about, say, 60’000 Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern Ukraine, this describes a X number of platoons, companies, regiments or even “brigades” (I put quotation marks because these are not real brigades with a full table of organization and equipment), these subunits are not capable of coordinating their actions like the Russian military does. There is a lot of talk about “network centric warfare” which is nothing but combined arms operations on steroids, where the level of integration includes a full fusion of all C4ISR data into one common real time picture of the battlefield and a full coordination of all military forces/means. By the way, only Russia has fully developed such a capability (though the US has also made some serious progress in this field)].

Now let’s address two smaller but nonetheless crucial lies told by some about Russia:

“There are no Atlantic Integrationists or Eurasian Sovereignists in Russia”

If anything, this war has resulted in a major shakeup of the Russian society where some folks suddenly showed their true feelings.  Examples range from Russian journalists standing with an anti-war sign behind a newscaster to those Russians abroad who either agreed to condemn Putin and the SMO or accepted to participate in various events under a neutral or foreign flag, to Dmitri Medvedev now changing his tune 180 degrees and rebranding himself as an ultra-patriot. I listed those examples because they are known in the West, but inside Russia, there are many more such examples, including amongst business executives and elected officials. Finally, even Putin himself mentioned the existence of such internal enemies of Russia. The fact that Russia has now expanded the definition of “treason” means that pro-US agents in Russia now face a major risk for their activities. Some 5th columnists have already been sentenced to jail. As for the 6th columnists, they still hate Putin with a passion and are still chanting their “all is lost” mantra, but (almost) nobody takes them seriously anymore.

The irony is that the US wanted to create a crisis to overthrow Putin but, instead, this crisis gave him yet another boost in popularity, in spite of some very real problems (automotive sector, civilian airliners, etc.).

Next,

“Putin is an Israeli stooge, he works hand in glove with the Israelis”

In reality, it is pretty obvious that the most vociferous Russophobes in the West are overwhelmingly Jews, both inside and outside Israel. Usually, the invoked excuse is that there were anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia. Yet, in reality, all those pogroms happened in what is today the Ukraine, and yet it is pretty clear that Zionist and Jewish organizations are overwhelmingly siding with Kiev (in spite of the regime in power being undeniably Nazi), and only very few individuals side with Russia (but they exist and should never be overlooked). As for the Kremlin, it is getting fed up with the Israeli arrogance in Syria (even if the Israeli airstrikes are ineffective and make no difference for the reality on the ground) and the Russians are now demanding that the Israelis cease their attacks on Syria. The Israelis cannot stop, for internal political and even psychotherapeutic reasons, but one of two things are likely to happen: the Israeli attacks will become even more useless and symbolic, or Russia will shoot down an Israeli aircraft.

But enough about Israel here, this is only a small part of the Anglo-Zionist Empire run by the USA. Now let’s turn to the West’s actions over the past 5 months.

So what about the US/NATO/EU in all this?

First, I want to make it clear that I strongly believe that the Anglo-Zionist Empire died on January 8th, 2020 when it allowed Iran to bomb CENTCOM bases without even a single bullet being fired back. That day the Empire showed the world that it did not even have what it takes to attack Iran. As for the USA, they died on January 6th, 2021.

However, remember my example above contrasting 5 fingers with a fist? While the Empire as we knew it and the USA as we knew it did die, that does not mean that its composing parts all vanished in thin air. Countries and Empires have momentum, just like the Titanic, when they have been mortally wounded. Simply put, the final process of sinking takes time. The Russian Empire died in February of 1917, yet the civil war lasted until 1923 (and I would even argue until WWII).

Second, there are two totally different planes in which the West (well, really the USA) decided to fight Russia:

  • First, it declared total proxy war on Russia, but only total short of a direct war military confrontation with Russia
  • Second, a total #cancelRussia in the PR/propaganda virtual reality. These infantile actions (latest example here) show how frustrated and powerless the West really is.

For years now I have stated many, many times that Russia and the Empire were locked into an existential war from which only one side would walk away. I usually added that this total war was about 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic. I hesitate to provide numbers here, but I would say that after a very strong success in the first 2-3 months of the SMO, the informational war initially won by the West is now fizzling out. The economic war massively grew, as did the kinetic one (albeit still by proxy). I am very reluctant to provide numbers here, but very tentatively I would score the current war as maybe 10% informational, 50% economic and maybe 40% kinetic. Again, please don’t focus on these very tentative figures, the key thing is this: as per President “Biden”, the goal of the USA is to inflict a strategic failure on Russia. The same stuff was also spoken by the EU, UK politicians and pretty much everybody in the West.

As for the demented Poles, one of their former Presidents and Nobel Prize winner declared that he wants to reduce the population of Russia down to 50 million. Then there are the Brits, who still want to be “Great” or, at least, relevant, and who speak about “leading the free world” against Russia with such stellar allies as Poland, the 3B statelets and Banderastan.

And yet, let’s look at the outcomes on three levels:

  • Military: the best proxy the USA had in history (the Ukrainian armed forces) is being slowly and inexorably destroyed by about only 8-10 percent of the Russian armed forces.
  • Economic: while some sectors in Russia did suffer from the so-called “sanctions” (they are not sanctions, but acts of war and crude robbery, only the UNSC can impose legal sanctions), all in all, Russia did great, and seems to be set on a path for economic success due to the fact that a) most countries have refused to obey Washington’s demands and b) the Russian economy is powerful and real, not virtual like the western economies. It will take a couple of years for Russia to adapt, but now that this process has begun, it is unstoppable.
  • Propaganda: here the image is pretty clear: on one hand we have the USA and its colonies, then a few countries with comprador elites that are hated by most people, and countries that openly defy Washington. This is best expressed by this map from the Chinese foreign ministry:

One key characteristic of the countries shown in red on the bottom (realistic) map is that all these countries have two crucial factors in common: a) they (mostly) lack real resources (since their civilizations were always built on imperialism, colonialism and plain robbery) b) they hate Russia so much that they are willing to take measures which hurt themselves much more than they hurt Russia. This type of hate-saturated insanity reminds me of an old Soviet joke: “in a small village, a local discovers a bottle and when he opens it, a genie comes out and says: since you have liberated me, I will grant you one wish, the only condition is that your next door neighbor will get double of what you will. Then the man thought for a while and replied: please poke one of my eyes out!”. This is the current mental state of western “leaders”…

That is the core “philosophy” of the USA: fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, prolong the war as long as possible, get as much of the civilian infrastructure of the Ukraine destroyed, subvert the status of the dollar, crash the world economy, let the EU crash and burn economically, socially, and politically, shove the Woke agenda down everyone’s throats, even if that makes them gag and throw up and, last but not least, totally and comprehensively stick your head in the sand and deny reality in all its aspects.

Yes, the West is so soaked in rabid hatred and fear of Russia that it prefers to commit collective suicide rather than accept any type of coexistence with a sovereign Russia.

Hitler’s comparatively vague/ambiguous/oblique slogan of “Drang nach Osten” has now been replaced by a much more candid and unambiguous #cancelRussia slogan. Same idea, just much more “in your face”.

Truth be told, most of the so-called “West” is really run by these three groups, in order of influence:

  1. The US Neocons
  2. The Anglo imperialists
  3. The EU comprador ruling elites

This reminds me very much of an album by Roger Waters called “Animals” in which he separates our modern societies into three archetypes: dogs, pigs and sheep. Needless to say, the dogs and pigs will run the sheep, but as soon as a (Russian) bear shows up, they are powerless against him.

This small image tells the true story about the Ruble “turning into rubble” as “Biden” promised.

This is what we see now and which will probably continue well into 2023. The fact that the economic warfare waged against Russia or the promise of Wunderwaffen has totally failed will never be admitted by these deeply psychopathic and terminally delusional people. And if they cannot double down ad infinitum in their actions, they sure will continue to double down in their rhetoric, just as the orchestra continued to play while the “unsinkable” Titanic was sinking.

Still, at least some of the regular folks in the West are smelling the roses, hence the dismal rating of ALL the western political leaders. The hostility of many US Americans even results in polls that suggest that many of them would want to secede from the other states, in this case Trump voters. Considering that Trump voters are, as a rule, far more patriotic than Woke-soaked US “liberals”, this is very telling. But also ironic: the USA wants to break up Russia and ends up breaking up itself. Karma?

Not only. Let’s look at the map which shows which countries did and did not impose “sanctions” on Russia:

Notice that pretty much the entire green zone is composed of countries that the West has invaded, robbed, devastated, enslaved, subverted, forcibly converted, bombed, economically “sanctioned” with blockades and blackmail (by means so-called “secondary sanctions” which is a euphemism for blackmail and extortion) and, more recently, upon which the full satanic insanity of Wokeness has been imposed (hence the US embassies flying “homopride” flags). The population of these green countries, which I call “Zone B”, knows the true score and they mostly hate and despise the West. And that places all their comprador ruling elites in a very tricky situation: their US masters want them to declare total war on Russia while their population is mostly sympathetic to Russia. In the past, this would have been a no-brainer, Uncle Shmuel with his CIA-run death squads, aircraft carriers and seemingly infinite money printing capability was much more vital to these comprador elites than their own population. But now that death squads have been largely replaced with woked-out fairies which are only good at shooting unarmed civilians, now that US aircraft carriers don’t really frighten even countries like Iran, the DPRK or Venezuela and now that the entire Western-built international economic and financial system is collapsing, these comprador elites have to become much, much more careful lest they end up like the US stooges in Bolivia: out of power and in jail.  Even Colombia seems to be slowly slipping away, as does Brazil.  And I won’t even mention the absolute lack of utility of the likes of Guaido, Tikhanovskaia or the “friends of Syria” gang (Maduro, Lukashenko and Assad or all doing great, thank you!).

The writing is on the wall, and only those who deliberately shut their eyes fail to see it.

This leaves us with the issue of the US Neocons.

What about the western ruling classes, what impact, if any, did the SMO have on them?

First, let’s define our categories. In the EU we don’t really have any real “ruling class”, we only have frontmen (sorry! I meant “frontpersons” of course), puppets, pretend-rulers with no agency whatsoever (Olaf Scholz and Josep Borrell are perfect examples)  . There is no European “defense policy” or any other meaningful evidence of agency on any level.  The EU is dead, clueless and totally in the control of the US Neocons.

Second, in the USA, Neocons rule supreme, having total control of both major parties in the US. And while the GOP base is very different from the Dem’s base, their leaders are mostly interchangeable. So I will consider them as one.

Their mindset and worldview are pretty clear: they are messianic supremacists and sincerely consider themselves racially superior to the rest of mankind. The fusion of Anglo imperialism and Jewish supremacism has yielded the monster we now know as “Neocons”. These folks excel in the art of accumulating power, by hook or by crook. They like to claim that they have superior intelligence, but in reality, what separates these people is not brainpower, but two key aspects of their worldview: a) tribalism and b) drive. Simply put, most other people do not have this tribal “us against them” mindset, and only a subsection of regular people are truly driven to power and influence. Hence, while being a numerically small minority, the US Neocons are in full control of the USA.

Their psychological profile is narcissistic at best, and fully psychopathic in most cases. That also gives them an advantage, especially when dealing with weak, ignorant and easily influenceable people. But when they meet a determined pushback, be it by Russia, Iran, the DPRK or even Hezbollah, they quickly become clueless and helpless. Check the expression of Blinken on the photo above – that is the face of a coward and a loser. He might have become a decent tailor, instead, he was asked to run the foreign policy of the (now former) superpower. No wonder all he ever produced was disasters and abject failures!

Initially, feeling buoyant from their total control over Eltsin and the Russian liberals, the US Neocons celebrated victory. Then something went very wrong and suddenly they were faced with a radically different kind of leader, one with the massive support of the Russian people. Remember here that Putin was an intelligence officer specializing in the West, thus a man who had a very good understanding of his enemies. Furthermore, Putin was patient enough to realize that in the early years of the confrontation with the West, Russia was in no condition to openly defy the West, let alone fight it militarily. This is why he stopped the LDNR forces from moving any further westwards in 2014-2015 even though the Ukrainian military was in disarray.  While he knew that during the time the Ukrainians were in a panic and disorganized, he also knew that Russia could not take on the consolidated West. So between 2014 and 2018 Russia made a gigantic effort to develop the kind of capabilities needed to be able to take on all of NATO and win. By the time of the Russian ultimatum to the West last Fall, Russia was finally ready.

Notice that the Russian ultimatum was not an ultimatum to Kiev as much as it was a direct challenge to the US and NATO. The Neocons, drunk on their bravado and sense of racial superiority, basically told Russia to screw herself and doubled down in their rhetoric. And when Russia moved in, they truly freaked out, hence their suicidal policies towards Russia ever since. These folks mistakenly assumed that while Russia might (maybe!) prevail over the Ukrainian forces, they were confident that Putin would not dare openly defy the consolidated West. And when Putin did just that, they went into full panic mode, hence the nonsense we hear from the western capitals on a daily basis.

But it got even worse. Far from being deterred by western promises of fire and brimstone, the Russian then proceeded to methodically destroy the Ukrainian armed forces. In spite of the Ukrainian military being the best proxy force in US history, in spite of BILLIONS given to the Nazi regime each month, in spite of all sorts of super-dooper Wunderwaffen deliveries, in spite of economic warfare, Russia is now pounding the Ukie+western forces in the Ukraine day after day after day and while the US is ordering the Ukrainians to fight to the end and never withdraw, the many waves of Volkssturm reinforcements have had no impact on Russian warfighting capabilities. The US also ordered its vassal states in eastern Europe to send their large supplies of Soviet era weapons to the Ukraine (over 300 tanks just from Poland!), and Ukrainian-branded Mi-24s, Su-25s and MiG-29s still are seen in the Ukrainian skies almost daily in spite of the fact that almost the entire Ukrainian air force was destroyed in the first 3 days of the war. Helicopters are easy to hide, “Ukrainian” aircraft take off from bases in Poland and Romania, and yet they don’t seem to make a difference: for most of them, it is a one-way mission and they know it. But it is good PR, even if it costs lives (at least that is what Uncle Shmuel thinks). But now that the already low credibility of the legacy corporate media is in freefall, even such PR “victories” yield very little traction:

It is outright comical to hear western countries (Germany, Italy and even the USA) whining about their weapons stores getting depleted while all these truly huge deliveries have not made any difference at all on the ground since the beginning of combat operations.

[Sidebar: does Russia have air superiority over the Ukraine? Yes, absolutely. A few helicopters or fixed wing aircraft on one way missions make no difference here. In fact, a much bigger threat to the Russian Aerospace Forces are the Ukrainian air defenses which, while old, have often been modernized and have the full support of US C4ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) including surveillance drone, AWACS, satellites, SIGNIT, etc. etc. etc. and yet the Russians have adapted: the close air support aircraft fly low, while their SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) fly high with long range anti-radiation missiles on the ready. A quick reminder, while the USAF/USN has often achieved air supremacy over countries without a modern air force or any modern air defenses, it failed to knock out the Serbian air defenses during the Anglo-Zionist wars against the Serbian nation. In fact, the USAF/USN *never* operated in an environment as dangerous as the one currently created over the Ukraine, but the comparatively much smaller Russian Aerospace Force did achieve and maintain air superiority over this huge country.  As for air supremacy (as oppose to superiority), it is only achievable against a very poorly armed adversary: air superiority is the best one can hope to achieve, even theoretically, over any country with serious air defenses]

And yet, the (comparatively small, but more modern) Russian aerospace forces have achieved and maintained air superiority throughout the past 5 months of combat operations. This is an extremely alarming sign for the US and NATO forces. Just imagine what the full might of the Russian armed forces would do to NATO if it was unleashed!

But it gets even worse (for the Empire, that is): there are all the signs and even clear messages that Putin is not “bluffing” at all and that Russia has full escalation dominance over the West. but it is now becoming quite evident that the Kremlin will not stop under any circumstances short of a total victory, and if that means nuclear war, so be it. And the Russian people are overwhelmingly supportive of this stance.

Why?

Because the Russian people have now FINALLY seen the true face of the West, they now understand that this is nothing else but a continuation of WWII and that the very existence and sovereignty of the Russian people are at stake. Again, Putin said it clearly: “if someone makes a decision to destroy Russia, we have every right to fight back. Yes, it would be a global disaster for humanity and for the world, but being a Russian citizen and head of Russia, I want to ask a question, “What’s the point of the world without Russia?“. If these were just empty words, like what Biden reads (with difficulty) from his teleprompter, that would be one thing, but these words need to be remembered in the context of the deployment of Avangards, Poseidons, S-500 and all the other weapons and tactics developed by Russia while the Neocons, drunk with arrogance, slept at the wheel.

So no, while Putin rarely makes threats, he never bluffs.

Bottom line is this: anybody who sincerely believes that Russia will not wipe out the entire West if she is seriously threatened is terminally delusional, knows nothing about history, and does not understand the Russian mindset. They would do so at their own peril.

If there is one message I want to convey to anybody willing to listen it is this: Putin is not bluffing, the West cannot win, and the only variable here is what price the West is willing to pay for its defeat.

By the way, the Chinese are also getting mighty fed up with the crazies in DC, just check out their latest statements.

Will somebody actually take action against the Neocons? I doubt it. If anything, the entire Trump debacle has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that US anti-Neocons are either fakes, or that they have the willpower of a case of jello (that also goes for Tulsi Gabbard, by the way). Will the Neocons realize that if they persist in doubling down, they will personally and physically die? Maybe. At the end of the day, the US can afford to have a comprehensively destroyed Ukraine and a not less comprehensively destroyed EU. Now that the UK has left the EU, the Anglos couldn’t care less, and triggering wars in Europe is a time-honored British tradition anyway.

The real blowback from the Neocons’ arrogance and ignorance is that far from dealing with Russia first and with China as an end goal, they have greatly contributed to a major strengthening of the Russian, Chinese and Indian alliance.

The Neocons could decide to let Europe burn, while they remain in control of the USA which, unlike the EU, has plenty of natural resources and will remain, if not a world hegemon, then at least a powerful nation. In that case, their plan is simple: to continue to push for a maximum confrontation and war in Europe, but short of involving the USA in a nuclear exchange with Russia. The Brits on their island might have similar plans, just on a smaller scale and with the vital need to fully rely on the support of the USA. In the “best” of cases (for them), the UK would be in charge of managing the chaos in Europe on behalf of the USA.

I don’t think that the Neocons give a damn about Israel and the Israeli people either, by the way. Nor do the Anglo ruling “elites” give a damn about the people of the USA or the UK. If there is one lesson we must take from the horror of 9/11 is that these people won’t hesitate to murder thousands of “their own” because, in reality, for all the patriotic or Zionist flag-waving, they only care about themselves and their power.

NATO is a joke, and sooner or later, Russia will denazify all of the EU, either politically and economically, or, if no other option is left, militarily. First, the Ukraine, then the 3B+P crazies will have to be denazified. Next will be the turn of the EU/NATO beginning with Germany. By then, the US will have suffered a massive economic, social and cultural disaster which will probably reformat the current US polity. Where will the Neocons go next? I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t care. The Neocons are only dangerous just like a parasite that invades the brain of a much larger host. Once the host is down, the parasite might as well leave ditch it and find a new host.  By itself, this parasite is weak and universally disliked.

In the meantime, the stupidified Woke-sheep can keep themselves busy wondering if men can give birth or deciding whether a “twerking” senator will solve the USA’s many problems.

So where do we go from here?

Well, at least so far, the leaders of the USA are still in full “double down forever” mode, along with their volunteer slaves in eastern Europe. Their plan for Russia is best visualized with this map: (source)

These wet dreams even include the infamous “Idel Ural” which was denounced by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his articles against the equally infamous “captive nations law”. In fact, this “law” has its origins from the CIA and Nazi Germany. So we can say that this is nothing but “same old, same old again”. Although not quite, some things have changed.

During WWII the Russian people quickly understood that Hitler was no “liberator”, no more than Napoleon before him, and that he only used that kind of language to try to achieve victory. Then, during the Cold War, it was easy to believe that the enemy of the West was Communism and its idea of universal liberation from the capitalist yoke. Surely, if Russia got rid of the CPSU the West would embrace such a free Russia?

Nope, the exact opposite happened: in spite the “all you can eat” “freedoms” of bluejeans, fast foods, crime and pornography, Russia was plundered and came very very close to totally breaking up (only the 2nd Chechen war with Putin as the Commander in Chief prevented that from happening).  Instead of the promised “democratic heaven” Russia got deeply immersed in the worst kind of capitalist hell imaginable.

Furthermore, the combination of a rather inept Soviet propaganda machine and a much more effective western propaganda gave many Russians the illusion that the West was a group of free and prosperous nations only wanting the best for Russia. The Western-run nightmare of the 90s opened the eyes of some, but not all. As did the apocalypse in the so-called “independent Ukraine”. But the kind of open, direct and absolute hatred for Russia, Putin and everything Russian we all see know has convinced the vast majority of Russians that what the West erally wants is a “final solution” to the “Russian problem” not unlike what the Papist regime of Pavelic during WWII wanted for the Serbs: kill ⅓, expel another ⅓ and “convert” the remaining ⅓.

Some things never change, especially not in the West.  The Muslim are all spot on when they speak of the “modern Crusaders”!

So far, Russia has only been observing with some amazement, and even amusement, how the EU was committing economic, political and social suicide without even trying to improve its fate. For the people of Europe, there is only one thing more important than their imperialistic and racist mindset: their wallets. And that wallet has been hurting pretty badly since the self-defeating “sanctions” against Russia were implemented. In Russia that attitude is referred to as a “kid freezing his own ears to piss off his granny”: infantile, self-defeating and simply stupid. That being said: how many regimes (by that I mean political systems, as opposed to governments which are specific people; for example, if Truss replaces Johnson in the UK, this will be a government change, but not a regime change) are threatened by popular discontent in the EU?

The sad reality is that none. Oh sure, they are immensely unpopular, just like “Biden” is in the USA, but changing the puppet figureheads will do nothing to change the regimes in power (basically US-controlled colonial occupation regimes).

It is therefore likely that Russia will have to turn up the pain dial quite a few notches up before the sheep in the EU or the US come to their senses. Primarily, I think of economic measures, but if the crazies from the 3B+PU do something really stupid Russia will not hesitate to use military power if/when needed. The bottom line is this: Russia needs to denazify all of the European continent, and the more countries are told to join NATO, the more candidates for denazification Russia will have.

It is impossible to predict the future, there are simply too many variables at this point, but I would offer the following tentative suggested steps towards escalation:

  • Russia could gradually either refuse to sell her resources to Europe, not only gas and oil, of course, but everything else which Russia has been selling to the EU in the past for very good prices and which was a key to the wealth of the EU nations. So that would be a full-scale economic counter-attack from Russia against the EU.  As an initial step,  Russia could also demand to only be paid in Rubles for any and all exports to the EU.
  • Russia is already killing scores of Polish, British and other mercenaries (excuse me, “advisors” and “volunteers”) in the Ukraine, but most of these are low-level grunts. Russia could decide to target higher ranks involved in the war against Russia, including targets in Kiev and elsewhere. So far Russia has unleashed only a tiny fraction of her real firepower, but if the US/NATO weapon deliveries and deployment of mercenaries increase, Russia will have little choice but to further turn up the pain dial. And if the Poles, or the Baltic statelets go “full crazy” strikes against targets in these countries will become inevitable (Putin has already warned against that when he mentioned striking the “decision making centers”).
  • Finally, if Russia decides that enough is enough, the first targets of a Russian military response to the US/NATO proxy war would be to attack the US/NATO C4ISR capabilities, including AWACS/JSTARS aircraft, SIGINT centers and satellites.

Right now, these US/NATO aircraft are only flying along the Ukrainian airspace and remain based outside the Ukraine. But if, say, the US/NATO does actively participate in a strike against Crimea or the Crimean Bridge, then all bets will be off and S-400s and various standoff weapons will do the talking.

Imagine for a second that Russia shoots down a US AWACS/JSTARS, what will be the West’s reaction? And I don’t mean expressions of outrage and hatred, they are already at max and really have no effect on Russians. Would the US/NATO try to shoot down a Russian aircraft? And what would the Russian response to that be?

The truth is that the US/NATO simply don’t have the means to wage a land war against Russia. They literally lack everything needed to do that. Oh sure, they have many (mostly old and subsonic) cruise missiles which they could fire at Russia, but here again, this would pose a dilemma for the West: if the strikes are unsuccessful (as they were in Syria), what to do next? And if these strikes are successful, what would the Russians do next? Use their own conventional strategic deterrence capabilities to strike at targets all over Europe and possibly even the USA? And then what?

[Sidebar: airpower and cruise missiles are vastly overrated in the US propaganda. One of my teachers in college was a retired USAF Colonel who worked for the YF-23 program and who taught us a very good course in force planning. One day he said in class “what good does it do to you if you bomb all your targets, shoot down enemy aircraft if by the time you get back your officer’s club is filled with enemy soldiers?!” He was joking, of course, but what he knew is that only “boots on the ground” can win a war. And “boots on the ground” is exactly what neither the US, nor NATO (nor Israel or the KSA by the way) can deploy, especially against a military which has the biggest experience of land warfare on the planet, and by a huge margin!]

The truth is that the choice for the Neocons is binary: either accept defeat in Europe and keep the USA as their prize and host, or die in a major nuclear confrontation that will wipe out millions (which they don’t care about at all), including the Neocons themselves (which they care a lot about).

Try to reason with or convince messianic, narcissistic and delusional racist maniacs is a dangerous and mostly futile task. This is why Russia is turning the pain dial up very very slowly.  Right now, most of the efforts of the Kremlin are not even directed at the West, but at forging the core of the future multilateral world, the BRICS countries and BRICS candidates (possibly including Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Lebanon and Indonesia in the near future). Russia is also expanding her ties to Africa and Latin America. Last, but not least, Russia, China and India are constantly expanding their ties and even collaboration, especially with China.

In this respect, I would strongly recommend to the Neocons and their puppet regimes to carefully consider the implications of Putin’s words that “We haven’t really started yet anything in earnest yet” (мы ещё всерьёз и не начинали). That is not a threat, but a statement of fact. Whether the West will continue to pretend that Russia is about to collapse, or that Putin is bluffing, will determine what will happen next.

Right now, and exactly as I predicted would happen, Russia has basically totally given up on any form of dialog with the West, since the West has basically severed all its diplomatic ties with Russia. Put differently, Russia is now acting unilaterally without giving the moaning and threats from the West any consideration whatsoever. In fact, the stark reality is that Russia has no need, or use, for the West, especially a West trying to commit collective suicide by a million cuts. Right now, the West is mostly dialing up the pain dial on itself, with little or no Russian assistance. But that does not mean that Russia won’t proactively turn up that dial if/when needed. And if the sheep in the West prefer athletic events or chess tournaments without Russian participation, by all means, let them do it and, in the process, make these events meaningless. The same goes for all the #cancelRussia insanity out there, including the destruction of statues and monuments or sanctioning of Russian musicians. The putatively proud and freedom-loving East Europeans seem to especially relish their “glorious victories” against old Soviet statues and monuments. I say – let them, it just shown their impotence and utter irrelevance.  If they have no respect for themselves, why should anybody else?

As the saying goes, “go woke, go broke”. A fitting epitaph on the West’s gravestone.

As for Russia, her real future lies in the South, East and North. She has no need or use for the West. Almost one thousand years of western imperialism are coming to a shameful and self-inflicted death, one way or another. As I have written many times, that system was neither viable nor reformable. It will either die of its own internal contradictions, or Russia and China will have to cull it. They most definitely has the means to, but won’t act directly unless provoked.

But that, should it happen, is still further down the road. For the time being, we are entering a long phase (many months probably) of gradual pain dial increase. Russia will continue to grind down the NATO forces in the Ukraine and let the economic realities sink into the awareness of the European sheep.

As many observe in Russia: “now russophobia will come at a steep price”.

I couldn’t agree more.

Andrei

PS: the above was kind of a “bird’s eye view” trying to cover the key developments during the five past months.  From now on, I will write shorter, but more frequent, analyses of specific issues.  In this context, if you have questions or want me to address a specific topic in my future analyses, please let me know in the comments section below.  Thank you!

CHRIS HEDGES: NATO — THE MOST DANGEROUS MILITARY ALLIANCE ON THE PLANET

JULY 12TH, 2022

By Chris Hedges

Source

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the arms industry that depends on it for billions in profits, has become the most aggressive and dangerous military alliance on the planet. Created in 1949 to thwart Soviet expansion into Eastern and Central Europe, it has evolved into a global war machine in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

NATO expanded its footprint, violating promises to Moscow, once the Cold War ended, to incorporate 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe into the alliance. It will soon add Finland and Sweden. It bombed Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. It launched wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, resulting in close to a million deaths and some 38 million people driven from their homes. It is building a military footprint in Africa and Asia. It invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, the so-called “Asia Pacific Four,” to its recent summit in Madrid at the end of June. It has expanded its reach into the Southern Hemisphere, signing a military training partnership agreement with Colombia, in December 2021. It has backed Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, which has illegally invaded and occupied parts of Syria as well as Iraq. Turkish-backed militias are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds and other inhabitants of north and east Syria. The Turkish military has been accused of war crimes – including multiple airstrikes against a refugee camp andchemical weapons use – in northern Iraq. In exchange for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s permission for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, the two Nordic countries have agreed to expand their domestic terror laws making it easier to crack down on Kurdish and other activists, lift their restrictions on selling arms to Turkey and deny support to the Kurdish-led movement for democratic autonomy in Syria.

It is quite a record for a military alliance that with the collapse of the Soviet Union was rendered obsolete and should have been dismantled. NATO and the militarists had no intention of embracing the “peace dividend,” fostering a world based on diplomacy, a respect of spheres of influence and mutual cooperation. It was determined to stay in business. Its business is war. That meant expanding its war machine far beyond the border of Europe and engaging in ceaseless antagonism toward China and Russia.

NATO sees the future, as detailed in its “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China, and calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

“China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its economic and military heft,” the NATO 2030 initiative warned. “It has proven its willingness to use force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience, safeguard critical infrastructure, address new and emerging technologies such as 5G and protect sensitive sectors of the economy including supply chains. Longer term, China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

The alliance has spurned the Cold War strategy that made sure Washington was closer to Moscow and Beijing than Moscow and Beijing were to each other. U.S. and NATO antagonism have turned Russia and China into close allies. Russia, rich in natural resources, including energy, minerals and grains, and China, a manufacturing and technological behemoth, are a potent combination. NATO no longer distinguishes between the two, announcing in its most recent mission statement that the “deepening strategic partnership” between Russian and China has resulted in “mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order that run counter to our values and interests.”

On July 6, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, held a joint news conference in London to announce that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” They accused China, like Russia, of interfering in U.S. and U.K. elections. Wray warned the business leaders they addressed that the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

This inflammatory rhetoric presages an ominous future.

One cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The political and social turmoil in the U.S., coupled with its diminishing economic power, has led it to embrace NATO and its war machine as the antidote to its decline.

Washington and its European allies are terrified of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meant to connect an economic bloc of roughly 70 nations outside U.S. control. The initiative includes the construction of rail lines, roads and gas pipelines that will be integrated with Russia. Beijing is expected to commit $1.3 trillion to the BRI by 2027. China, which is on track to become the world’s largest economy within a decade, has organized the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade pact of 15 East Asian and Pacific nations representing 30 percent of global trade. It already accounts for 28.7 percent of the Global Manufacturing Output, nearly double the 16.8 percent of the U.S.

China’s rate of growth last year was an impressive  8.1 percent, although slowing to around 5 percent this year.  By contrast, the U.S.’s growth rate in 2021 was 5.7 percent — its highest since 1984 — but is predicted to fall below 1 percent this year, by the New York Federal Reserve.

If China, Russia, Iran, India and other nations free themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network financial institutions use to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions, it will trigger a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar and a financial collapse in the U.S. The huge military expenditures, which have driven the U.S. debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire GDP, will become untenable. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military in 2021, $ 801 billion which amounted to 38 percent of total world expenditure on the military, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will force the U.S. to slash spending, shutter many of its 800 military bases overseas and cope with the inevitable social and political upheavals triggered by economic collapse. It is darkly ironic that NATO has accelerated this possibility.

Russia, in the eyes of NATO and U.S. strategists, is the appetizer. Its military, NATO hopes, will get bogged down and degraded in Ukraine. Sanctions and diplomatic isolation, the plan goes, will thrust Vladimir Putin from power. A client regime that will do U.S. bidding will be installed in Moscow.

NATO has provided more than $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine, while the US has committed nearly $54 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the country.

China, however, is the main course. Unable to compete economically, the U.S. and NATO have turned to the blunt instrument of war to cripple their global competitor.

The provocation of China replicates the NATO baiting of Russia.

NATO expansion and the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv led Russia to first occupy Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, with its large ethnic Russian population, and then to invade all of Ukraine to thwart the country’s efforts to join NATO.

The same dance of death is being played with China over Taiwan, which China considers part of Chinese territory, and with NATO expansion in the Asia Pacific. China flies warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone and the U.S. sends naval shipsthrough the Taiwan Strait which connects the South and East China seas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May called China the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, citing its claims to Taiwan and efforts to dominate the South China Sea. Taiwan’s president, in a Zelensky-like publicity stunt, recently posed with an anti-tank rocket launcher in a government handout photo.

The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry, which, given the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, needed a new conflict. Lockheed Martin’s stock prices are up 12 percent. Northrop Grumman is up 20 percent. The war is being used by NATO to increase its military presence in Eastern and Central Europe. The U.S. is building a permanent military base in Poland. The 40,000-strong NATO reaction force is being expanded to 300,000 troops. Billions of dollars in weapons are pouring into the region.

The conflict with Russia, however, is already backfiring. The ruble has soared to a seven-year high against the dollar. Europe is barreling towards a recession because of rising oil and gas prices and the fear that Russia could terminate supplies completely. The loss of Russian wheat, fertilizer, gas and oil, due to Western sanctions, is creating havoc in world markets and a humanitarian crisis in Africa and the Middle East. Soaring food and energy prices, along with shortages and crippling inflation, bring with them not only deprivation and hunger, but social upheaval and political instability. The climate emergency, the real existential threat, is being ignored to appease the gods of war.

The war makers are frighteningly cavalier about the threat of nuclear war. Putin warned NATO countries that they “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history” if they intervened directly in Ukraine and ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on heightened alert status. The proximity to Russia of U.S. nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey mean that any nuclear conflict would obliterate much of Europe. Russia and the United States control about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

President Joe Biden warned that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be “completely unacceptable” and “entail severe consequences,” without spelling out what those consequences would be. This is what U.S. strategists refer to as “deliberate ambiguity.”

The U.S. military, following its fiascos in the Middle East, has shifted its focus from fighting terrorism and asymmetrical warfare to confronting China and Russia. President Barack Obama’s national-security team in 2016 carried out a war game in which Russia invaded a NATO country in the Baltics and used a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon against NATO forces. Obama officials were split about how to respond.

“The National Security Council’s so-called Principals Committee—including Cabinet officers and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—decided that the United States had no choice but to retaliate with nuclear weapons,” Eric Schlosser writes in The Atlantic. “Any other type of response, the committee argued, would show a lack of resolve, damage American credibility, and weaken the NATO alliance. Choosing a suitable nuclear target proved difficult, however. Hitting Russia’s invading force would kill innocent civilians in a NATO country. Striking targets inside Russia might escalate the conflict to an all-out nuclear war. In the end, the NSC Principals Committee recommended a nuclear attack on Belarus—a nation that had played no role whatsoever in the invasion of the NATO ally but had the misfortune of being a Russian ally.”

The Biden administration has formed a Tiger Team of national security officials to run war games on what to do if Russia uses a nuclear weapon, according to The New York Times. The threat of nuclear war is minimized with discussions of “tactical nuclear weapons,” as if less powerful nuclear explosions are somehow more acceptable and won’t lead to the use of bigger bombs.

At no time, including the Cuban missile crisis, have we stood closer to the precipice of nuclear war.

“A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yieldsmore than 90 million casualties in its first few hours,” The New York Times reported.

The longer the war in Ukraine continues — and the U.S. and NATO seem determined to funnel billions of dollars of weapons into the conflict for months if not years — the more the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Flirting with Armageddon to profit the arms industry and carry out the futile quest to reclaim U.S. global hegemony is at best extremely reckless and at worst genocidal.

By making China the enemy, Nato is threatening world peace

8 July 2022  

US President Joe Biden speaks at the Nato summit in Madrid on 30 June 2022 (AFP)
Jonathan Cook is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

As the saying goes, if you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. The West has the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato), a self-declared “defensive” military alliance – so any country that refuses its dictates must, by definition, be an offensive military threat. 

That is part of the reason why Nato issued a new “strategic concept” document last week at its summit in Madrid, declaring for the first time that China poses a “systemic challenge” to the alliance, alongside a primary “threat” from Russia.

Beijing views this new designation as a decisive step by Nato on the path to pronouncing it a “threat” too – echoing the alliance’s escalatory approach towards Moscow over the past decade. In its previous mission statement, issued in 2010, Nato advocated “a true strategic partnership” with Russia.

How are Americans or Europeans suddenly under threat of military conquest from China?

According to a report in the New York Times, China would have found itself openly classed as a “threat” last week had it not been for Germany and France. They insisted that the more hostile terminology be watered down so as to avoid harming their trade and technology links with China.

In response, Beijing accused Nato of “maliciously attacking and smearing” it, and warned that the alliance was “provoking confrontation”. Not unreasonably, Beijing believes Nato has strayed well out of its sphere of supposed “defensive” interest: the North Atlantic.

Nato was founded in the wake of the Second World War expressly as a bulwark against Soviet expansion into Western Europe. The ensuing Cold War was primarily a territorial and ideological battle for the future of Europe, with the ever-present mutual threat of nuclear annihilation.

So how, Beijing might justifiably wonder, does China – on the other side of the globe – fit into Nato’s historic “defensive” mission? How are Chinese troops or missiles now threatening Europe or the US in ways they weren’t before? How are Americans or Europeans suddenly under threat of military conquest from China?

Creating enemies

The current Nato logic reads something like this: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February is proof that the Kremlin has ambitions to recreate its former Soviet empire in Europe. China is growing its military power and has similar imperial designs towards the rival, breakaway state of Taiwan, as well as western Pacific islands. And because Beijing and Moscow are strengthening their strategic ties in the face of western opposition, Nato has to presume that their shared goal is to bring western civilisation crashing down. 

Or as last week’s Nato mission statement proclaimed: “The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

But if anyone is subverting the “rules-based international order”, a standard the West regularly invokes but never defines, it looks to be Nato itself – or the US, as the hand that wields the Nato hammer. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Beijing on 4 February 2022 (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in Beijing on 4 February 2022 (AFP)

That is certainly the way it looks to Beijing. In its response, China argued: “Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, [Nato] has not yet abandoned its thinking and practice of creating ‘enemies’ … It is Nato that is creating problems around the world.”

China has a point. A problem with bureaucracies – and Nato is the world’s largest military bureaucracy – is that they quickly develop an overriding institutional commitment to ensuring their permanent existence, if not expansion. Bureaucracies naturally become powerful lobbies for their own self-preservation, even when they have outlived their usefulness. 

If there is no threat to “defend” against, then a threat must be manufactured. That can mean one of two things: either inventing an imaginary threat, or provoking the very threat the bureaucracy was designed to avert or thwart. Signs are that Nato – now embracing 30 countries – is doing both. 

Remember that Nato should have dissolved itself after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. But three decades later, it is bigger and more resource-hungry than ever. 

Against all advice, and in violation of its promises, Nato has refused to maintain a neutral “security buffer” between itself and Russia. Instead, it has been expanding right up to Russia’s borders, including creeping furtively into Ukraine, the gateway through which armies have historically invaded Russia. 

Offensive alliance

Undoubtedly, Russia has proved itself a genuine threat to the territorial integrity of its neighbour Ukraine by conquering its eastern region – home to a large ethnic Russian community the Kremlin claims to be protecting. But even if we reject Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated assertion that Moscow has no larger ambitions, the Russian army’s substantial losses suggest it has scant hope of extending its military reach much further. 

Even if Moscow were hoping to turn its attention next to Poland or the Baltic states, or Nato’s latest recruits of Sweden and Finland, such a move would clearly risk nuclear confrontation. This is perhaps why western audiences hear so much from their politicians and media about Putin being some kind of deranged megalomaniac.

Has the Ukraine war become a runaway train for both Russia and Nato?
Read More »

The claim of a rampant, revived Russian imperialism appears not to be founded in any obvious reality. But it is a very effective way for Nato bureaucrats to justify enlarging their budgets and power, while the arms industries that feed off Nato and are embedded in western capitals substantially increase their profits.

The impression that this might have been Nato’s blueprint for handling Moscow is only underscored by the way it is now treating China, with even less justification. China has not recently invaded any sovereign territories, unlike the US and its allies, while the only territory it might threaten – Taiwan – is some 12,000 kilometres from the US mainland, and a similarly long distance from most of Europe. 

The argument that the Russian army may defeat Ukraine and then turn its attention towards Poland and Finland at least accords with some kind of geographical possibility, however remote. But the idea that China may invade Taiwan and then direct its military might towards California and Italy is in the realms of preposterous delusion. 

Nato’s new posture towards Beijing brings into question its whole characterisation as a “defensive” alliance. It looks very much to be on the offensive. 

Russian red lines

Notably, Nato invited to the summit for the first time four states from the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

The creation of a Nato-allied “Asia-Pacific Four” is doubtless intended to suggest to Beijing parallels with Nato’s gradual recruitment of eastern European states starting in the late 1990s, culminating in its more recent flirting with Ukraine and Georgia, longstanding red lines for Russia.

Ultimately, Nato’s courting of Russia’s neighbours led to attacks by Moscow first on Georgia and then on Ukraine, conveniently bolstering the “Russian threat” narrative. Might the intention behind similar advances to the “Asia-Pacific Four” be to provoke Beijing into a more aggressive military stance in its own region, in order to justify Nato expanding far beyond the North Atlantic, claiming the entire globe as its backyard? 

Now, Nato is casting itself as the guardian of the Asia-Pacific region too

There are already clear signs of that. In May, US President Joe Biden vowed that the US – and by implication Nato – would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if it were attacked. Beijing regards Taiwan, some 200 kilometres off its coast, as Chinese territory. 

Similarly, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called last week for Nato countries to ship advanced weapons to Taiwan, in the same way Nato has been arming Ukraine, to ensure the island has “the defence capability it needs”.

This echoes Nato’s narrative about its goals in Ukraine: that it is pumping weapons into Ukraine to “defend” the rest of Europe. Now, Nato is casting itself as the guardian of the Asia-Pacific region too.

‘Economic coercion’

But in truth, this is not just about competing military threats. There is an additional layer of western self-interest, concealed behind claims of a “defensive” alliance. 

Days before the Nato summit, the G7, a group of the seven leading industrialised nations that form the core of Nato, announced their intention to raise $600bn to invest in developing countries.

How to avert a global conflict between China, Russia and the West
Read More »

This move wasn’t driven by altruism. The West has been deeply worried by Beijing’s growing influence on the world stage through its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, announced in 2013.

China is being aggressive, but so far only in exercising soft power. In the coming decades, it plans to invest in the infrastructure of dozens of developing states. More than 140 countries have so far signed up to the initiative.

China’s aim is to make itself the hub of a global network of new infrastructure projects – from highways and ports to advanced telecommunications – to strengthen its economic trade connections to Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Europe. 

If it succeeds, China will stamp its economic dominance on the globe – and that is what really worries the West, particularly the US and its Nato military bureaucracy. They are labelling this “economic coercion”.

This week, the heads of the FBI and MI5 – the US and UK’s domestic intelligence services – held an unprecedented joint news conference in London to warn that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security”. Underscoring western priorities, they added that any attack on Taiwan would “represent one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen”.

Unilateral aggression

Back in the Cold War era, Washington was not just, or even primarily, worried about a Soviet military invasion. The nuclear doctrine of mutually assured destruction meant neither had an interest in direct confrontation. 

Instead, each treated developing nations as pawns in an economic war over resources to be plundered and markets to be controlled. Each side tried to expand its so-called “sphere of influence” over other states and secure a larger slice of the planet’s wealth, in order to fuel its domestic economy and expand its military industries. 

The West’s rhetoric about the Cold War emphasised an ideological battle between western freedoms and Soviet authoritarianism. But whatever significance one attributes to that rhetorical fight, the more important battle for each side was proving to other states the superiority of the economic model that grew out of its ideology. 

US soldiers patrol an area near the Syria-Iraq border on 12 January 2021 (AFP)
US soldiers patrol an area near the Syria-Iraq border on 12 January 2021 (AFP)

In the early Cold War years, it should be recalled, communist parties were frontrunners to win elections in several European states – something that was starkly evident to the drafters of the Nato treaty.

The US invested so heavily in weapons – today, its military budget exceeds the combined spending of the next nine countries – precisely to strong-arm poorer nations into its camp, and punish those that refused. That task was made easier after the fall of the Soviet Union. In a unipolar world, Washington got to define who would be treated as a friend, and on what terms, and who a foe. 

Nato chiefly served as an alibi for US aggression, adding a veneer of multilateral legitimacy to its largely unilateral militarism.

Debt slavery

In reality, the “rules-based international order” comprises a set of US-controlled economic institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that dictate oppressive terms to increasingly resentful poor countries – often the West’s former colonies – in desperate need of investment. Most have ended up in permanent debt slavery.

China is offering them an alternative, and in the process it threatens to gradually erode US economic dominance. Russia’s apparent ability to survive the West’s economic sanctions, while those sanctions rebound on western economies, underscores the tenuousness of Washington’s economic primacy.

The US looks only too ready to drag Nato into a military sequel to the Cold War – and risk taking the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation

More generally, Washington is losing its grip on the global order. The rival BRICS group – of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is preparing to expand by including Iran and Argentina in its power bloc. And both Russia and China, forced into deeper alliance by Nato hostility, have been seeking to overturn the international trading system by decoupling it from the US dollar, the central pillar of Washington’s hegemonic status.

The recently released “Nato 2030” document stresses the importance of Nato remaining “ready, strong and united for a new era of increased global competition”. Last week’s strategic vision listed China’s sins as seeking “to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains”. It added that China “uses its economic leverage to create strategic dependencies and enhance its influence”, as though this was not exactly what the US has been doing for decades. 

Washington’s greatest fear is that, as its economic muscle atrophies, Europe’s vital trading links with China and Russia will see its economic interests – and eventually its ideological loyalties – shift eastwards, rather than stay firmly in the western camp. 

The question is: how far is the US willing to go to stop that? So far, it looks only too ready to drag Nato into a military sequel to the Cold War – and risk pushing the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Why don’t the African cosmos support the West in its sanctions war against Russia?

July 06, 2022

Source

By José Francisco Lumango

The answer may not be simple. But the memory of European colonisation in Africa, and its harmful effects, are still visible despite the independence of its states, may be a reasonable way of understanding it. An African adage teaches that “One should never forget the lessons learned in times of pain”, which seems to be the source of inspiration for the African cosmos – the set of entities that formally and materially hold the power relations in Africa – not to forget the tragic consequences of European colonisation, to protect their independence and not repeat the errors of the past. Without being simplistic or too complex, the answer to the question in question may have several reasons:

1. Historical memory of colonisation and the struggle for national liberation: Russia, heir to the Former USSR, supported ideologically, politically, economically, and militarily the national liberation struggles of several African countries, which after the achievement of independence, followed the communist model as the basis of their political, social and economic construction. Even though they later adopted Western capitalism, the mentality of the African cosmos is still of Soviet influence, because it was there that most of them did their military and political training and received economic support to finance the liberation wars to put an end to Western colonisation, with direct and indirect help from Cuba as an intermediary in some cases. The cold war between the USA and NATO against the USSR led to civil wars in African countries to conquer the spaces of influence. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the resurgence of Russia, Westerners looked at the situation as an absolute victory. Despite this, the African cosmos has not forgotten colonisation, the interference of Western countries in their internal affairs, and the rigged processes of massive indebtedness of their economies as a way of controlling their strategic natural resources.

2. Recent memory of wars at the beginning of the 21st century: Beyond colonial issues, the African cosmos has been following since 2001 the behaviour of the West (US, NATO, and EU) in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, sweetened by the Arab Springs, attempted coups in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., without forgetting the massacre in Rwanda and the war in Somalia and Yemen. These wars and coups have destroyed thousands of human lives, social infrastructure, jobs, etc. It was a catastrophe for the entire continent and nearby territories like South East Asia. The existing wars in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, DRC, Ethiopia, etc, allow the African cosmos, even those with strong ties to the West like Morocco, for example, not to act frontally against Russia, a fact verified in the recent votes of the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council which suspended it. The expulsion of French forces by the military junta in Mali and their replacement by the Russians through the Wagner group, like the construction of a port for the Russian Nave Arms on the Sudanese Red Sea coast, could be a revealing symptom.

3. The damaging memory of Western unipolarity and the chance for a global multipolar alternative power: For Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, the Ukrainian war is a civil war within Slavic civilisation, through several wars within it: economic-financial, propaganda-media, cultural, biological, radiological, and military war. It is a hybrid war that has ended with globalisation, as confirmed by Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock. For Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, it is not a question of total deglobalisation, but of economic-financial, cybernetic-digital, energy, and commercial deglobalisation. The West was no longer interested in economic-financial globalisation because they lost the battle against China, and cybernetic-digital globalisation (software, etc.) was won by the Indians. This bipolarity also involves the division of the UN Security Council into two blocs: the first composed of the US, UK, France (G7/NATO), and the second of Russia and China (Shanghai Group and BRICS). This situation led to an operational dysfunction of the WTO and led to the resignation of its previous Director General, Roberto Azevedo. In this sense, Jalife-Rahme quotes Philipe Stephens’ article “The world is marching back from globalisation”, where he states that “The US does not see a vital national interest in maintaining an order that transfers power to rivals”. Thus, according to Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, “Everything that is not globalised becomes balkanised”. Thus, the end of globalisation, especially the economic-financial one, as dictated by Larry Fink, will inevitably entail its balkanisation, through two regional blocs, i.e. de-globalisation and bipolar trans-meta-regionalisation, on one side the G7/NATO and EU, and on the other side the BRICS/Shanghai Group and Eurasian Union.

The de-globalisation said by Larry Fink is “neoliberal de-globalisation”, which occurs through the gradual paralysis of global supply chains, which are founded on the reduction of operating costs through outsourcing (relocation of companies) and downsizing (lowering labour costs to increase shareholder profits and value companies in capital markets), according to Alfredo Jalife-Rahme. The African cosmos believes that if Russia, even with nuclear weapons, a continental country with Eurasian tradition, which supplies almost 40% of energy resources and other strategic raw materials to the West, is treated this way, what will become of African countries, which are visibly weaker in military terms? The destruction of Libya for trying to sell oil in Euro and rejecting the USD may be indisputable proof.

The meddling of the West in Africa, beyond colonisation, needs no introduction. The wars and coups d’état in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the civil war in Angola and other conflicts are facts that remain in the collective memory of the African cosmos. If the colonial memory was tragic, the expressive and aggressive interference of the West in the African cosmos is breaking any remaining trust, for historical reasons (over 400 years of colonisation), by unfair competition in the exploitation of natural resources, the massive interference in internal affairs by the IMF in the financing of road and housing infrastructures, etc., and the attempt to incorporate western values aggressively through sanctions and blackmail, even if these values do not correspond to the African historical-epistemic and gnosiological cosmogony.

4. China and Russia as a financial and military alternative for the existential survival of African countries in a multipolar world in the medium and long term: The African cosmos observes with concern and caution everything that Western leaders do against Russia as a result of the technical-military operation in Ukraine, regardless of the causes, which by common sense is perceived since 2014. The reason for this concern lies in the fact that whenever the West finds itself in crisis or politically, geostrategically, and economically cornered, it uses internal or external wars as a way out, a can be seen in the Roman wars, the colonisation of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Napoleonic wars, the First and Second World Wars. Faced with the circumstances, the African cosmos shows resistance towards sanctions against Russia, abstaining from votes at the UN, in official pronouncements, that is, maintaining certain strategic neutrality, despite the gigantic Western pressure, forcing them to choose a side as if they were still vassals or colonised. It is not that the African cosmos agrees in its entirety with Russia’s technical-military operation in Ukraine, insofar as, there is a history of invasions in Africa carried out by Westerners, Arabs, Persians, and Ottomans. The main concern is the need for an economic-financial and military alternative to the West for its own existential survival, and to protect itself from possible aggressive interference in the long term, when strategic reserves of Western raw materials reach their limit. The way the West behaved during the Covid19 Pandemic in the context of vaccine distribution policies, by buying in advance almost 80% of all vaccines in production in the world, leaving poor countries without vaccines even to buy for a certain period, and changing their position only when they realised that, the non-global distribution of the vaccines prolonged the pandemic, led to the creation of the COVAX system by the WHO, after harsh criticism from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, stating that, “The growing gap between the number of vaccines offered in rich countries and those administered through COVAX is becoming “more grotesque by the day”. And how could it be otherwise, the gesture of Russia and China in the swift distribution of vaccines and protective medical supplies was taken into account by the African cosmos at the time of decision making. As is well known, China’s economic and Russia’s military presence in Africa is seen as an alternative guarantee to what the West is offering. Since 2002, while the West was distracted with its eternal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Arab Spring, Syria, Libya, etc., China entered Africa in silence, massively funding road infrastructure projects etc., without interference in internal affairs, through the adoption of the “Win-Win” strategy.

Russia, on the other hand, has become the main military alternative, accounting for 49% of total arms exports to Africa by 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database, to avoid internal conflicts and protect itself from external interference. Paul Stronski confirms that “The rulers of many African countries look to Moscow from Soviet-era links, and Moscow takes advantage of this and manages to maintain its influence. In the case of Algeria [and Angola], this is done by writing off old debts. Sometimes Russia also makes generous promises, assuring that it will build workshops or facilities for manufacturing or maintenance.

The African cosmos serenely realises that a defeat of Russia in Ukraine will lead the world to a more aggressive, self-centred and militarised Western unipolarisation and the weaker countries will have no alternative for survival and existential resistance. The fear of perishing and becoming a colonial space again seems to be more important to the strategists of the African cosmos than Western values about democracy, neoliberalism, capitalism, etc. For the African cosmos, its course and future depend on the economic-financial cover of China and the military cover of Russia, so that there is a certain balance in its relations with the West.

And it considers the situation of Russia and Ukraine as an internal issue between brothers of the same homeland linked historically, culturally, linguistically, and religiously. But it does not mean that it wants a radical change in its strategic relations with the West. It is only a preventive measure of existential survival.

The way the West treats Ukrainian refugees compared to what has been done with African refugees arriving via the Mediterranean and from the Canary Islands via the Atlantic has not been forgotten, as have the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage and the destruction of Libya. These historical events may justify the fear of the African cosmos in resisting in the face of Western pressure to give up its strategic relations with Russia and China.

This neutrality and strategic ambiguity serve to prevent a geostrategic and existential risk for sovereign and independent countries in the medium and long term. And, according to an African adage “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. Thus, the African cosmos realises that it is grass in this war of titans, and Ukraine only as a geostrategic, geopolitical, geoeconomic, and geofinancial singularity of the hegemonic power struggle between Eurasia and the West. So that may have been the reason they refrained from the sanctions war against Russia, for the lessons learned from their tragic experiences, old and recent, of their relations with the West.

The African cosmos does everything it can to avoid being the grass in the conflict at hand, promoted by the West since 2014, through the coup d’état against Viktor Yanukovich, and the failure to implement the Minsk I and II agreements. Soon, it seems that the African cosmos uses the proverbial philosophy of its ancestors to avoid entering into another’s war, even though it is already feeling the side effects of the increase in the prices of wheat, fertilizers, oil, gas, etc., and the risk of probable retaliations, for disobedience of political guidelines, by the West.

The claim by Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chairperson-in-Office of the African Union on his recent visit to Russia, in demanding the West remove sanctions affecting Africa’s food security is, without doubt, a clear and unequivocal demonstration of this position. ”

Turkey and NATO: a vital alliance, with limits

With deepening global polarization, can Ankara retain its foreign policy autonomy within NATO?

July 04 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Turkey has had an uneasy history as a NATO member country. The push and pull of strategic autonomy constantly grated against a security guarantee the alliance offered, and also a way of reinforcing its western identity. The west, in turn, wanted Turkey because of the Cold War.

The enigma still continues: Was Turkey’s shift from neutrality to alignment a real necessity in 1951? Did Stalin indeed cast an evil eye on Turkish lands? Would any other Kemalist leader than Ismet Inounu, an unvarnished Euro-Atlanticist whose conception of modernisation implied cooperation with the west, have succumbed to the Anglo-American entreaties?

The relations between Turkey and the Soviet Union remained relatively calm during the period of Turkey’s admission to NATO.

In November 1951, Moscow actually directed a note to Turkish Government protesting the latter’s decision to participate in NATO, which asserted that “it is quite obvious that the initiation to Turkey, a country which has no connections whatever with the Atlantic, to join the Atlantic Bloc, can signify nothing but an aspiration on the part of imperialist states to utilise Turkish territory for the establishment of military bases for aggressive purposes on the frontiers of the USSR.”

The ideological aspirations in becoming an integral  part — at least within the framework of a military alliance — of the western world played a decisive role in Turkey’s decision in 1951, whereas, in reality, there was no imminent or explicit Soviet threat to Turkey.

On the other hand, Turkey’s geographical importance to both the west and to the Soviet Union gave her a particular value in an east-west context, which, to her credit, Ankara would successfully leverage to its advantage through subsequent decades.

Curiously, this complex inter-locking in some ways bears an uncanny resemblance to the current accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin must have alluded to it obliquely when he told the media Thursday on the sidelines of the Caspian Summit in Ashgabat:

“NATO is a relic of the Cold War and is only being used as an instrument of US foreign policy designed to keep its client states in rein. This is its only mission. We have given them that opportunity, I understand that. They are using these arguments energetically and quite effectively to rally their so-called allies.

 

“On the other hand, regarding Sweden and Finland, we do not have such problems with Sweden and Finland as we have, regrettably, with Ukraine. We do not have territorial issues or disputes with them. There is nothing that could inspire our concern regarding Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO. If they want it, they can do it,… let them do it. You know, there are rude jokes about stepping into  unsavoury things. That is their business. Let them step into what they wish.”

While returning from NATO’s Madrid Summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underscored that by lifting Ankara’s reservations about Sweden’s and Finland’s membership, he advanced Turkish interests. And he added the caveat that their accession is far from a done deal yet, and future developments would depend on their fulfillment of commitments under the memorandum of understanding they signed in Madrid with Turkey.

Indeed, both Sweden and Finland have bent over backward to give Turkey extensive anti-terrorism assurances that require changes in domestic legislation in return for Ankara withdrawing veto against accession talks. Erdogan insists that what matters are not their pledges but the delivery of those pledges.

It is a tough sell domestically for both Sweden and Finland, since one of the pledges is the extradition of 76 Kurds, deemed as terrorists by Turkey. This is easier said than done, as the courts in Stockholm and Helsinki may have their own definition of a “terrorist.”

The Turkish National Assembly’s ratification is a must for the Nordic countries’ admission to be formalised at NATO level. There is some speculation that US President Joe Biden incentivized Erdogan to compromise, but make no mistake, the latter’s warning about compliance by Sweden and Finland — as also the audible rumblings already on the left in Sweden — are reminders that the issue is still wide open.

After all, North Macedonia had been a NATO partner country since 1995 but could become a NATO member in March 2020. And Greece’s reservation was that the newly independent former Yugoslav republic wanted to be known as Macedonia, whereas Athens saw the name as a threat to its own region of Macedonia — and ultimately, Greece won. In comparison, Turkey’s concerns are tangible and directly impinge on its national security.

Turkey was never a ‘natural ally’ of NATO. How far Turkey subscribes to NATO’s latest strategic concept of Russia being a “most significant and direct threat” is debatable. Arguably, Turkey would feel more at home with the alliance’s 2010 doctrine that called Russia a “strategic partner.” This would need some explanation.

Professor Tariq Oguzlu, a leading exponent of the changing dynamics of Turkish foreign policies in recent years from a structural realist point of view, wrote an analysis last week titled Madrid Agreement and the balance policy in Turkish foreign policy, which was interestingly featured by Anadolu, Turkey’s state news agency. Oguzlu explained the rationale behind Turkey’s decision not to veto the two Nordic countries’ accession:

“Turkiye began to change its perspective on NATO a long time ago due to its strategic autonomy and multilateral foreign policy understanding… Considering the realist turnaround in Turkish foreign policy in the last three years, it is quite meaningful that Türkiye did not veto NATO enlargement..

“On the one hand, the second Cold War between the west and Russia narrows the room for maneuver in Turkish foreign policy, while on the other hand, it increases Türkiye’s strategic importance. The most important challenge for Turkish foreign policy in the coming years will be the successful continuation of Türkiye’s strategic autonomy-oriented multi-faceted foreign policy practices in an environment of deepening international polarization.”

“The balance policy pursued between the west and Russia is one of the most important strategic legacies left to the Republic of Türkiye from the Ottoman Empire. It is a strategic necessity for Türkiye, which has a medium-sized power capacity, to follow a policy of balance in order to achieve national interests. The policies adopted by Türkiye since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine until now and the stance displayed at the last NATO summit in Madrid show that this historical heritage is embraced and successfully executed.”

To put matters in historical context, in 1920, Mustafa Kemal formally approached Vladimir Lenin with a proposal for mutual recognition and a request for military assistance. The Bolsheviks not only responded positively but by throwing in their lot with the growing movement of Turkish nationalists, they helped shore up the new Turkish state’s southern borders. In the period from 1920 to 1922, Soviet Russia’s military help to Ataturk was almost 80 million lire — twice Turkey’s defense budget.

In 1921, in Moscow, the two sides concluded the “Treaty of Friendship and Brotherhood,” which resolved the territorial disputes between the Kemalists and the Bolsheviks. The north-eastern border of Turkey established then remains unchanged to this day.

However, both Moscow and Ankara understood that cooperation between Turkish nationalists and Russian communists would be short-lived. Soon afterward, Turkey deserted Moscow’s camp, banned the communist party, and during the Nazi invasion, looked for an opportunity to invade the Soviet Caucasus if the Red Army collapsed. Nevertheless, Ataturk never forgot the help that Soviet Russia provided in his hour of need.

A historical perspective is needed to understand the US’ manipulation of Turkey — and of Sweden and Finland in the present-day context. Biden is following President Harry Truman’s footfalls. Washington has used the very same Cold-War tactic to draw Sweden and Finland into the NATO fold as it employed 70 years ago with regard to Turkey.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Related Videos

Turkey, NATO and political and military gains in Syria

Lavrov gets it right by comparing European Union and NATO to Hitler’s old Axis

June 28, 2022

Source

By Guilherme Wilbert

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on 06/24/2022 that the European Union and NATO appear to be carrying out a military coalition for a war against Russia. The statement was given in Baku in Azerbaijan during an interview.

“They are creating a new coalition for fighting, that is, for war with Russia. We will follow this very closely,” the Minister rightly declared, because that is what has been happening anyway. But first let’s go to the archetypes of the entities mentioned.

The European Union, in its initial design, may have come up with good proposals for the integration of Europeans, with some Balkan countries, for example, applying to be part of the economic and diplomatic bloc, but it so happens that few people pay attention to history, especially during World War II.

Hitler wanted a union of the European countries, what he called a “Pan-European Union”, a form of closer integration between countries that would naturally be against the Soviet Union and communism in general. No wonder Hitler set up puppet governments in some European countries such as Denmark, for example, which was under the tutelage of Nazi Germany during the period August 1943 until May 1945, after the success of Operation Weserübung.

As for NATO for example, it is seen as a super aggressive military alliance that causes barbarism in various parts of the world, especially in the former Yugoslavia, which had its territory balkanized after an intervention in the country in 1999 where some war crimes were committed because those bombs would hit civilian buildings, such as the famous bombing of Serbian TV, which was not a legitimate military target, but turned out to be a Yugoslav “propaganda broadcast” (obviously) at the time.

So it didn’t take much effort on the part of some “non-aligned diplomats” (which is the case of Lavrov) to understand that the European Union and NATO act together to stand up to the former Soviet Union, now Russia.  NATO even characterized the country as an “enemy” several times, emphasized by Vladimir Putin in his speeches.

It’s not as if they left options for today’s Russia, unfortunately

After NATO’s expansions into Eastern European countries, even after a verbal agreement made between Soviet and American diplomats at the time that they would not move “an inch east” in the early 2000s, the opposite was seen and this was stated several times before the start of Operation Z, and was characterized in various ways by Kremlin spokespersons that Ukraine’s entry into NATO was a criminal act. And it was.

And like any criminal act, the police power, even if governed by a country’s Armed Forces, needed to come into effect because after the NATO vs. Russia diplomatic rounds no documentary agreement of truth properly bound by international law was reached. And to make matters worse, Zelensky would state on 02/19/2022 in a speech at the European Security Conference in Munich (just 5 days before the start of Operation Z) that he would no longer ratify the Budapest Memorandum, which is a treaty that denuclearizes Ukraine since 1994.

This would sound an alarm throughout Russia because its door to Europe would be with nuclear missiles possibly aimed at Moscow with orders coming from Washington for provocation after the fall of Putin’s allied government of Yanukovych.

With that said, Lavrov’s comparison of Hitler’s Axis with the current European Union and NATO is once again correct, because the current prejudice against Russians was seen against Jews in Nazi Germany, the attempt at various provocations such as the recent case of the Lithuanian blockade of Kaliningrad (Russian exclave) was seen when Hitler spoke of “vital space” putting countries neighboring Germany on invasion alert, and many more are the parallels.

This is a lost war and Ukraine needs to recognize this or else hardly a resident of Kiev will be able to enjoy the good beaches of the Black Sea.

References: https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2022/06/24/7354408/

Behind the Tin Curtain: BRICS+ vs NATO/G7

June 28, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The west is nostalgically caught up with outdated ‘containment’ policies, this time against Global South integration. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the world is moving on, together.

The Cradle

Once upon a time, there existed an Iron Curtain which divided the continent of Europe. Coined by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the term was in reference to the then-Soviet Union’s efforts to create a physical and ideological boundary with the west. The latter, for its part, pursued a policy of containment against the spread and influence of communism.

Fast forward to the contemporary era of techno-feudalism, and there now exists what should be called a Tin Curtain, fabricated by the fearful, clueless, collective west, via G7 and NATO: this time, to essentially contain the integration of the Global South.

BRICS against G7

The most recent and significant example of this integration has been the coming out of BRICS+ at last week’s online summit hosted by Beijing. This went far beyond establishing the lineaments of a ‘new G8,’ let alone an alternative to the G7.

Just look at the interlocutors of the five historical BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa): we find a microcosm of the Global South, encompassing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America – truly putting the “Global” in the Global South.

Revealingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear messages during the Beijing summit, in sharp contrast to G7 propaganda, were actually addressed to the whole Global South:

– Russia will fulfill its obligations to supply energy and fertilizers.

– Russia expects a good grain harvest – and to supply up to 50 million tons to world markets.

– Russia will ensure passage of grain ships into international waters even as Kiev mined Ukrainian ports.

– The negative situation on Ukrainian grain is artificially inflated.

– The sharp increase in inflation around the world is the result of the irresponsibility of G7 countries, not Operation Z in Ukraine.

– The imbalance of world relations has been brewing for a long time and has become an inevitable result of the erosion of international law.

An alternative system

Putin also directly addressed one of the key themes that the BRICS have been discussing in depth since the 2000s — the design and implementation of an international reserve currency.

“The Russian Financial Messaging System is open for connection with banks of the BRICS countries.”

“The Russian MIR payment system is expanding its presence. We are exploring the possibility of creating an international reserve currency based on the basket of BRICS currencies,” the Russian leader said.

This is inevitable after the hysterical western sanctions post-Operation Z; the total de-dollarization imposed upon Moscow; and increasing trade between BRICS nations. For instance, by 2030, a quarter of the planet’s oil demand will come from China and India, with Russia as the major supplier.

The “RIC” in BRICS simply cannot risk being locked out of a G7-dominated financial system. Even tightrope-walking India is starting to catch the drift.

Who speaks for the ‘international community?’

At its current stage, BRICS represent 40 percent of world population, 25 percent of the global economy, 18 percent of world trade, and contribute over 50 percent for world economic growth. All indicators are on the way up.

Sergey Storchak, CEO of Russian bank VEG, framed it quite diplomatically: “If the voices of emerging markets are not being heard in the coming years, we need to think very seriously about setting up a parallel regional system, or maybe a global system.”

A “parallel regional system” is already being actively discussed between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China, coordinated by Minister of Integration and Macroeconomics Sergey Glazyev, who has recently authored a stunning manifesto amplifying his ideas about world economic sovereignty.

Developing the ‘developing world’

What happens in the trans-Eurasian financial front will proceed in parallel with a so far little known Chinese development strategy: the Global Development Initiative (GDI), announced by President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly last year.

GDI can be seen as a support mechanism of the overarching strategy – which remains the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), consisting of economic corridors interlinking Eurasia all the way to its western peninsula, Europe.

At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, part of the BRICS summit, the Global South learned a little more about the GDI, an organization set up in 2015.

In a nutshell, the GDI aims to turbo-charge international development cooperation by supplementing financing to a plethora of bodies, for instance the South-South Cooperation Fund, the International Development Association (IDA), the Asian Development Fund (ADF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Priorities include “poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines,” industrialization, and digital infrastructure. Subsequently, a Friends of the GDI group was established in early 2022 and has already attracted over 50 nations.

BRI and GDI should be advancing in tandem, even as Xi himself made it clear during the BRICS summit that “some countries are politicizing and marginalizing the developmental agenda by building up walls and slapping crippling sanctions on others.”

Then again, sustainable development is not exactly the G7’s cup of tea, much less NATO’s.

Seven against the world

The avowed top aim of the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau at the Bavarian Alps is to “project unity” – as in the stalwarts of the collective west (Japan included) united in sustainable and indefinite “support” for the irretrievably failed Ukrainian state.

That’s part of the “struggle against Putin’s imperialism,” but then there’s also “the fight against hunger and poverty, health crisis and climate change,” as German chancellor Scholz told the Bundestag.

In Bavaria, Scholz pushed for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine – a ludicrous concept considering Kiev and its environs might as well be reduced to a puny rump state by the end of 2022. The notion that the G7 may work to “prevent a catastrophic famine,” according to Scholz, reaches a paroxysm of ludicrousness, as the looming famine is a direct consequence of the G7-imposed sanctions hysteria.

The fact that Berlin invited India, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal as add-ons to the G7, served as additional comic relief.

The Tin Curtain is up

It would be futile to expect from the astonishing collection of mediocrities “united” in Bavaria, under de facto leader of the European Commission (EC), Fuehrer Ursula von der Leyen, any substantial analysis about the breakdown of global supply chains and the reasons that forced Moscow to reduce gas flows to Europe. Instead, they blamed Putin and Xi.

Welcome to the Tin Curtain – a 21st century reinvention of the Intermarium from the Baltic to the Black Sea, masterminded by the Empire of Lies, complete with western Ukraine absorbed by Poland, the Three Baltic Midgets: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Czechia and even NATO-aspiring Sweden and Finland, all of whom will be protected from “the Russian threat.”

An EU out of control

The role of the EU, lording over Germany, France and Italy inside the G7 is particularly instructive, especially now that Britain is back to the status of an inconsequential island-state.

As many as 60 European ‘directives’ are issued every year. They must be imperatively transposed into internal law of each EU member-state. In most cases, there’s no debate whatsoever.

Then there are more than 10,000 European ‘rulings,’ where ‘experts’ at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels issue ‘recommendations’ to every government, straight out of the neoliberal canon, regarding their expenses, their income and ‘reforms’ (on health care, education, pensions) that must be obeyed.

Thus elections in every single EU member-nation are absolutely meaningless. Heads of national governments – Macron, Scholz, Draghi – are mere executants. No democratic debate is allowed: ‘democracy,’ as with ‘EU values,’ are nothing than smokescreens.

The real government is exercised by a bunch of apparatchiks chosen by compromise between executive powers, acting in a supremely opaque manner.

The EC is totally outside of any sort of control. That’s how a stunning mediocrity like Ursula von der Leyen – previously the worst Minister of Defense of modern Germany – was catapulted upwards to become the current EC Fuhrer, dictating their foreign, energy and even economic policy.

What do they stand for?

From the perspective of the west, the Tin Curtain, for all its ominous Cold War 2.0 overtones, is merely a starter before the main course: hardcore confrontation across Asia-Pacific – renamed “Indo-Pacific” – a carbon copy of the Ukraine racket designed to contain China’s BRI and GDI.

As a countercoup, it’s enlightening to observe how the Chinese foreign ministry now highlights in detail the contrast between BRICS – and BRICS+ – and the imperial AUKUS/Quad/IPEF combo.

BRICS stand for de facto multilateralism; focus on global development; cooperation for economic recovery; and improving global governance.

The US-concocted racket on the other hand, stands for Cold War mentality; exploiting developing countries; ganging up to contain China; and an America-first policy that enshrines the monopolistic “rules-based international order.”

It would be misguided to expect those G7 luminaries gathered in Bavaria to understand the absurdity of imposing a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports, for instance. Were that to really happen, Moscow will have no problems fully cutting energy supply to the G7. And if other nations are excluded, the price of the oil and gas they import would drastically increase.

BRICS paving the way forward

So no wonder the future is ominous. In a stunning interview to Belarus state TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov summarized how “the west fears honest competition.”

Hence, the apex of cancel culture, and “suppression of everything that contradicts in some way the neoliberal vision and arrangement of the world.” Lavrov also summarized the roadmap ahead, for the benefit of the whole Global South:

“We don’t need a new G8. We already have structures…primarily in Eurasia. The EAEU is actively promoting integration processes with the PRC, aligning China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian integration plans. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are taking a close look at these plans. A number of them are signing free trade zone agreements with the EAEU. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also part of these processes… There is one more structure beyond the geographic borders of Eurasia.”

“It is BRICS. This association is relying less and less on the Western style of doing business, and on Western rules for international currency, financial and trade institutions. They prefer more equitable methods that do not make any processes depend on the dominant role of the dollar or some other currency. The G20 fully represents BRICS and five more countries that share the positions of BRICS, while the G7 and its supporters are on the other side of the barricades.”

“This is a serious balance. The G20 may deteriorate if the West uses it for fanning up confrontation. The structures I mentioned (SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, EAEU and CIS) rely on consensus, mutual respect and a balance of interests, rather than a demand to accept unipolar world realities.”

Tin Curtain? More like Torn Curtain.

Yellow Vest Win: Proving that Western Liberal Democracy is the same old autocracy

June 27, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

If we say that the Yellow Vests are not socialist revolutionaries even latently, then what are they protesting about?

To put it the most simply: they are protesting the end of European Social Democracy, with the limited protections it provided.

(This is the seventeenth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best ValuesPlease click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The Yellow Vests intuited that the pan-European project has ended the era of European Social Democracy (1945-75) and replaced it with elite-driven, free market, winner-take-all Liberalism.

Seeing that their list of 43 demands doesn’t include the word “Europe” once, however, the Yellow Vests don’t really grasp that the European Union represents the organisational assassin of European Social Democracy. The European Union and Eurozone’s response to the Great Recession made it entirely clear: these are institutions which are perfectly hostile to Social Democracy’s minor redistributions and protections which fundamentally embolden the average worker and citizen.

Social Democracy was not born after World War II, just as “neoliberalism” was first on display back in 1871, with what was imposed after the destruction of the Paris Commune. Marx chronicled the birth of European Social Democracy, in 1848, when the Mountain Party (which initially claimed the mantle of neo-Jacobinism) sided with the small-traders in the June Days massacre instead of with the urban proletariat and rural peasantry, as the Jacobins had done in 1789. They went from supporting Socialist Democracy to calling themselves Democratic Socialists (Démocrate-socialistes) and this – and not the downward slope from Napoleon Bonaparte to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte – should be considered the truest essence of Marx’s famous line of history repeating itself as farce.

“The revolutionary point was thereby broken off from the social demands of the proletariat and a (social) democrat turn given to them….”

That was the birth of Social Democracy: an ideology where the social demands of the recently-feudal masses (decent pay, health care, education, pensions, etc.) get only partially addressed while the political demands of an aristocracy opposing an absolute monarch (free speech, property rights, trial by jury, etc.) are fully met. Liberalism has always sought to limit progressive changes to the political question of how to move on from feudalism, and to stop progressive changes to the social question of how to move on from feudalism. The reformist ideology of Social Democracy has operated within Western Liberal Democracy for nearly 175 years and only partially prevailed for 30 of them.

The sooner the Yellow Vests realise that Social Democracy will never be a harmonious solution to the elitism dominant in Liberalism, the better, as Marx did:

“The peculiar character of Social Democracy is epitomised in the fact that democratic-republican institutions are demanded as the means, not to remove the two extremes – capital and wage-slavery – but in order to weaken the antagonism and transform them into a harmonious whole.”

Putting capital primarily in the hands of the recently-feudal masses so they can provide the broad economic stability and success which would end wage- and debt-slavery has never been a goal of Social Democracy, from the Mountain Party to Leon Blum to Francois Mitterrand to Francois Hollande to the “Democratic Socialists of America” led by Bernie Sanders in the 21st century United States.

Yellow Vest: “We are not beggars! What is 100 euros only given one time? State taxes compose 60% of the price of gasoline, so calling it 100 euros is totally false – the people truly only receive 40 euros. This is election nonsense, but Macron won’t win votes with these crumbs.”

Marx continued in his examination of France and gave us the key to the capitalist culture of both Liberal and Social Democracies: “This substance is the transformation of society along (Social) democratic lines, but a transformation within the boundaries of the small-trader’s class.” One extraneous sentence later: “It believes rather that the special conditions for its own emancipation are the general conditions under which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle be avoided.”

Trotsky and the Yellow Vests saw that, due to the rise of financial capitalism, a leftist alliance must include the small businessman, but they reject the goal of Social Democracy to elevate their virtues and needs over those of the average worker and citizen.

Thus even when Social Democracy prevails in Liberalist capitalist cultures the virtues of the usually bourgeois-aspiring, individualistic, managerial small-trader class become the highest virtues to be promoted. Everyone must be a self-interested, competitive entrepreneur who aspires to be a boss and a “job creator”. This veneration of the small trader is the most obvious in American culture, and it is American culture which has been imposed on France via the pan-European project: at the alleged “end of history”, with the fall of the USSR, the United States shepherded the pan-European project, which is rightly said to be even more Liberalist (i.e. Bankocratic) than anything which could be created in the United States.

What we see in the modern era, and as this book proves, is that Liberalism, Social Democracy and Fascism have all joined together and “become bourgeois”. This amalgam of 18th century Liberalism, 19th century Social Democracy and 20th century fascism is ultimately not different from the aristocracy of the 17th century and earlier, which which ruled the 99% in an entirely autocratic manner. The extremely modest expansion of wealth and political power from a blood/marriage line to a line of the super-wealthy 1% still results in the exclusion of the recently-feudal masses from policy making, and this is what the Yellow Vests emphatically reminded. Their primary demand was not Socialist revolution but merely to get more public opinion into public policymaking.

The bourgeois bloc continually dangles Social Democracy as a reformist possibility, and thus they secure the loyalty of both the big and the small bosses and owners. However, when the moment of implementation comes, amid the next guaranteed bust in Liberalist capitalism, the response is the anti-Socialist virulence of Liberalism via the ruthless elite domination of a Fascism which has made peace with big capital.

Yellow Vest: “Macron’s repeatedly evaded the main problems. His solutions are not concrete, and it is certain that in a few months we will just be in the same situation. This is why we will keep protesting, for certain.”

Baudelaire wrote, “The most beautiful trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist,” and this is what modern Western Liberal Democracy has done with the elitism, arrogance and autocracy which is the basis of absolute monarchy. Macron’s “Jupiterian” remove has pulled the sheet off of Western Liberal Democracy, again, and reminded that the idea of an autocratic ruler remains the preference of a Western elite which has always been totally opposed to Socialist-inspired measures.

The republican lie of Liberalism

When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.

This is especially true in France and the United States, where royalism has been fully discredited from holding public power. Thus, there is a constant emphasis by contemporary French leaders and their mainstream media on maintaining “republican” values.

However, the republicanism of both is an antiquated one as it is based on Liberal and not Socialist Democracy. A perfect example of the inadequacy of their elite-led republicanism is found in the Orwellian name of the group which wages the actual physical repression of the Yellow Vests: the detested CRS riot police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité – Republican Security Companies.) A woman wearing a full-body bathing suit – a “burkini” (combination of “burqa” and “bikini”) is breathlessly presented as a bigger threat to French republicanism than the repression of the Yellow Vests. Most obviously, there is the mainstream conservative party’s name change shepherded by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2015 – from L’Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) to les Républicains: the party had so many corruption scandals that a rebranding was deemed unavoidable.

Such is the false republicanism in Liberal Democracies.

The lip service towards republicanism allows the perpetuation of the outdated notion in France that the world still views them as the brightest beacon of progressive politics. They are different than almost all of Northern Europe, where royals still – bewilderingly – remain on thrones which hide mountains of the public’s rightful riches and influence. Indeed, an Iranian can find in France a refuge from the common Western toleration and whitewashing of monarchism.

The elite in the United States uses “freedom”, while monarchies like the UK use “human rights” in the same way – to insist that freedom and human rights for their modern aristocracies still represents the pinnacle of progressivism.

The legacy of 1789 exists in France today only in this constant demand to uphold “republicanism”, even if it is not at all the spirit of 1789 and only mouths its forms. The Yellow Vest repression will remind all of history that the freedoms offered by the republicanism of Western Liberal Democracy with French characteristics are a fantasy – there is only the autocracy of the bourgeois bloc.

France’s 21st century belief that “the republic” must jingoistically unite the French is ultimately a means used to falsely claim the legacy of 1789 while also ensuring that talk for progressive politics ends with this very initial answer to the “political question”, and with no answer to the “social question”, as well.

This also explains why there is so much forced discussion in France about what a huge threat Islam poses to this immoral republicanism: Islam correctly insists on God and morality being the highest allegiance, and certainly not laws forced through by a Fascist-allying, imperialist bourgeois bloc.

Nothing is more Liberalist than the European Union, and thus the ‘Social Fascist’ repression of anti-austerity movements and the Yellow Vests

We have already linked the European Union with the birth of neoliberalism and neo-imperialism, we have established how Fascism was subsumed and its tactics adopted, and we have shown how the goal of the third restoration of Western Liberalism is to roll back the modest gains of Social Democracy.

All that’s needed is to show how Western Liberal Democracy wields the power of the state as autocratically as royal families and their coteries used to – for this we simply have to look to the Yellow Vests.

Western Liberal Democracy and pre-1789 autocracy – there is no real difference.

Whether the form is a parliamentary republic based on Liberalism, or an executive-led republic based on Liberalism, or a constitutional monarchy based on Liberalism – the autocracy has been the same. Only the truly elite have the money to buy Liberalist rights and influence in public policy.

Yellow Vest: “As usual, no prison for the rich – everything goes fine for them, always. They never know hunger or poverty, but put everything on the average person’s back. Benalla should have been treated like anyone else – justice should be equal for everyone.”

Just as the trends of 250 years of Iranian or Chinese history can be summarised so too can the trend of the past 250 years of French and Western history, and this book has aimed to do that. Above all the trend of moving away from an autocratic monarch and towards an empowered people’s republic is discerned. The problem has been Western Liberal Democracy’s conception of a republic: what they have always had is an oligarchic republic, inspired by the English, which aims for perpetual repression of the recently-feudal (to Asian conceptions of time!) Western masses.

The early years of all revolutionary republics are always fraught with missteps and mistakes, but made with the sincere goal of broad societal progress. In 1789 the move away from absolute monarchy was met with great difficulty and international opposition. In 1848 the move away from a limited monarchy was met with great difficulty, also caused by great inexperience. In 1871 the move towards a social republic was met with great difficulty and international opposition, also caused by great inexperience. But inexperience is not the primary difficulty of the people today – they know how to rule, but they still face great international opposition. As Marx wrote:

“The cry of ‘social republic’ with which the February Revolution (of 1848) was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supersede the monarchical form of class rule but class rule itself. The Commune (i.e. the first appearance of Socialist Democracy) was the positive form of that republic.”

However, the social republic was annihilated by neoliberalism and would not appear until 1917 in the eastern frontier of Europe – Russia.

The Yellow Vests reminded those in the 21st century who believe that the “end of history” had occurred in 1991 that the people’s desires for a social republic are no longer vague. However the Yellow Vests have had the misfortune of living in the world’s only region – the West – where socialist-inspired revolutionary cultures have never won implantation.

To their great credit, the Yellow Vests created a revolutionary condition for all of France. When it was thwarted by Liberal Democratic politicians, media and unions the Yellow Vests continued to march to keep promoting what may truly turn into a revolutionary culture at the next major uprising over Liberalism’s endemic failures. The Yellow Vests have created a vast and reliable network – there’s no doubt they will spring into action at the next opportunity.

The next political progression for the Yellow Vests is the realisation that the pan-European project only dangled the illusion of mere Social Democracy, but that its “neoliberal” basis is actually Fascist and autocratic to its very core.

The analysis of that splendidly successful revolutionary Bolshevik, Trotsky, must be remembered today if the Yellow Vests are to break with the perpetual illusion of mere Social Democracy:

The program of the Communist International has the following to say on this subject: Side by side with the Social Democracy, which assists the bourgeoisie to stifle the proletariat and to lull its vigilance, Fascism appears.’ The Communist International failed to understand that it is not the mission of Fascism to function side by side with the Social Democracy, but to destroy all the existing workers’ organizations, including the reformist. The task of Fascism, in the words of the program, is to ‘annihilate the Communist strata of the proletariat, and their leading cadres.’ Fascism, then, does not at all threaten the Social Democracy and the reformist trade unions; on the contrary, the Social Democracy itself plays a “Fascist” role to an ever increasing degree. Fascism achieves nothing more than the consummation of the labours of reformism, by functioning ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’.” (Emphasis his)

The Communist Bolsheviks rejected mere Social Democracy and instead used Socialist Democracy as their guiding structure ideology, as do Socialist-inspired countries today, who then adapt its primary economic and political imperatives to local cultures and mores. They saw that Social Democracy and Fascism work together to destroy not just Socialist Democracy-inspired groups, unions, parties, countries, etc, but also groups, unions, parties and countries which attempt Social Democratic reforms of Liberalism. As time goes on the Yellow Vests will realise, thanks to their own repression, that Liberal Democracy and Social Democracy offer them no solution except the destruction of the Yellow Vests.

One sentence later – in which Trotsky expressed his usual disapproval with the Moscow-based Comintern – Trotsky continued:

We have here before us all the basic elements of the theory of social fascism. The leaders of the Communist International failed to understand that capitalism in decay is no longer able to come to terms with the most moderate and most servile Social Democracy, either as a party in power, or as a party in opposition. It is the mission of Fascism to take its place not ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’, but on its bones. Precisely from this there flows the possibility, the need and the urgency for the united front.” (Emphasis his)

(Recall that a united front (joining together in society’s leftist struggles), is not the same as a popular front (an electoral alliance).)

Call it what you want: Social Fascism, Liberalism, autocracy, Fascism, constitutional monarchy, rule by the 1% – it is all the same oligarchic autocracy for the recently-feudal masses. I call it Western Liberal Democracy to properly place it in a geographic and historical context.

As soon as the Yellow Vests stop trying to win back the Social Democratic measures which Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande and Macron rolled back, the sooner they will realise that Socialist-inspired countries have shown a better way, method and goal. Without a major reformulation of the pan-European project – which seems impossible to get off the ground in a Liberalist-dominated media – the pan-European project’s initial lure of even greater Social Democratic gains should be seen only as a chimera.

The Yellow Vests know enough to reject existing establishment institutions, as well as pathetic PFAXIst (Popular Fronts Against Xenophobia but for Imperialism) electoral strategies – they must realise the monarchist-elitist-reformist-fascist alliance which is Western Liberal Democracy must be rejected in favor of Socialist Democracy.

That, of course, will lead to even more repression.

But their bravery will earn them more and more comrades; their correctness will only increase as the repression accumulates; the guaranteed cycles of failure in capitalism and the clockwork greed of high finance all make the move away from autocratic Liberalism certain.

The combination of royalism, Liberalism and Fascism is doomed, but people must be liberated from the long-outdated and pernicious influence of Liberalism before the next political advancement can take place. Thus the Yellow Vests, and thus this book, which is another humble tally of Liberalism’s failures.

Yellow Vest: “The people I speak with express absolutely no desire to stop the movement and remain very positive. The Yellow Vests are, above all, the French people, and the French people recognize this and this is why the movement will have a second wind.”

So admirably, The Yellow Vests have cleared the path for France: the despairing working poor, middle and lower classes have a fighting force which can never, ever be called Fascistic. France is back to being the West’s leaders of progressive politics.

Marx’s most important passage on France – guiding France from 1789 to 2022 and beyond

Here we have the most important passage in Marx’s writings on France – from his writings on the Paris Commune – because it historically summarises a century of turbulent political and socio-economic changes and pinpoints the establishment of modern Western Liberal Democracy.

The passage covers the vital and obscured history of France for a century after 1789. The short parentheticals are mine and designed to add clarity to Marx’s meaning:

“If the parliamentary republic, as M. Theirs said, ‘divided them least’ (the different factions of the French ruling class in 1850), it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their unionand in view of the threatening upheaval of the proletariat they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the national (and imperialist) war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they were, however, bound not only to invest the executive with continually increased powers of repressionbut at the same time divest their own parliamentary stronghold – the National Assembly – one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of (President) Louis(-Napoleon) Bonaparte, turned them out. The national offspring of the ‘Party of Order’ (the dominant political party of the 2nd) Republic was the Second Empire (of Emperor Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte).

The (Second) empire, with the coup d’etat for its birth certificate, universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor. It professed to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of national glory.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation. (As they would acquire, starting with the Paris Commune and then later the USSR, China, Iran, etc.) It (the 2nd French Empire) was acclaimed throughout the world as the saviour of society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies (Marx uses this last word literally, per scandals of the time); the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved (i.e. the bourgeois elite of the 2nd Republic), were laid bare by the bayonet of Prussia, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme seat of that regime from Paris to Berlin.”

The globalist descendants of the victors of 1871 would eventually comprise on Brussels instead of Berlin. Belgium – the country fabricated so that France and Germany would have a place to fight their wars, it is often joked – became “the seat of that regime”.

Yellow Vest: “We are not proud, at least not yet, because we have many more victories to accomplish. We insist on having referendums initiated by citizens, in order to democratically give a voice to all of France and to the Yellow Vests. We will keep marching to ensure that our common future is serene and peaceful.”

If we make only minor substitutions in Marx’s passage to include contemporary developments, does this not make an up-to-date history of France and Europe covering over two centuries?

If the pan-European project “divided them least” (the different factions of national ruling classes in Europe) least, it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their union; and in view of the threatening upheaval of the Yellow Vests they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the international war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they (the pan-European project) were, however, bound not only to invest the national executive branches with continually increased powers of repression, but at the same time divest their own national parliamentary branches, one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of a modern Louis Bonaparte (or something new and revolutionary, perhaps similar to the Supreme Leader branch of government in Iran)could not be allowed to have turned them – Brussels – out. The national offspring of the pan-European project was the neoliberal Empire of the European Union.

The empire, with the fall of the USSR for its birth certificate, denying the national referendums which rejected the European Union and which were based on universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the neo-peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor and who desired to avoid more intra-European wars, free movement around Europe and the strengthening of a Social Democratic safety net. It also professed to save the working class by breaking down national parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of supranational glory via colluding with the United States to enforce Liberalist values worldwide.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had fully acquired the faculty of ruling the nation, something they had no experience with in 1848. It (the pan-European project) was acclaimed throughout the West as the saviour of European society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, such as the profit drags and democratic nuisances created by the era of Social Democracy, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies; the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved – the royals threatened by 1789, the bourgeois threatened by 1848, the colluding Social Democrats threatened by 1917 and the Fascists threatened by 1945 – were laid bare by the bayonet of the Yellow Vests, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme national seat of that regime from Brussels back to Paris.”

France is not Cuba, Iran, China or even Southern Lebanon – it will likely take a civil war for the Yellow Vests to ever use bayonets to finally win political and economic redistribution. However, the Yellow Vests emphatically prove the willingness of Western Liberal Democracy to use violence just as brutally as the autocracies of 1788.

The Yellow Vests also remind that Western Liberal Democracy does not even allow the rights which Liberalism claims to protect – how long can that persist in a country which regularly demands the right to publicly exercise such rights, and whose pens have been freed by the digital era?

If the French elite is not going to permit even the basic rights of Liberalism, then France needs a defensive force which can protect the Liberalist rights of protesters. That is the subject of the next chapter.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Europe’s Third Attempt at Suicide and Generation Z+

June 27, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

‘The next war in Europe will be between Russia and Fascism, except that Fascism will be called Democracy.’

Fidel Castro, c. 1992

Introduction

Europe is a serial suicide. The first attempt began in Sarajevo in 1914 and finished in Versailles in 1919. The second began a generation later in Warsaw in 1939 and ended in Berlin in 1945. Having very nearly succeeded at the second attempt (it missed atomic bombs by mere months), Europe sobered up and slowed down, waiting till the centenary of 1914 before it tried for the third time. This attempt began in Kiev, again in Eastern Europe, in 2014 and is continuing in the Special Military Operation (SMO). At every attempt Europe has lost. The first time it lost three empires (the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian and the German), the second time two Empires, the fatally weakened British and French, so ensuring the supremacy of the American Empire in Europe, as in the rest of the world.

What will Europe lose this time? It will lose the only Empire remaining – the EU. When? Only some time after the conclusion of the SMO. Now, it would be foolish to predict with exactitude when that, which is the culmination of Europe’s third attempted suicide, will be. It could all be over in early July. Alternatively it could drag on for years. However, both those outcomes are extreme possibilities and there are other possibilities inbetween. Nevertheless, some tendencies are clear. It is only the extent and speed at which they will progress that is uncertain. In any case, whatever happens in the Ukraine, Europe will be reformatted. It will never be the same again. The seed sown by the Western elite in Kiev in 2014 is being reaped today in the harvest of division, discontent and poverty in Europe.

If we look at the three aims of the Special Military Operation, we can see that the first and second aims, the liberation of the Donbass and demilitarisation, are both 75% done, despite new arrivals of Western arms to prolong the agony. However, the reality is also that the operation has had to be much extended from the Donbass to the east and south of the Ukraine and there we are not even 50% done. However, the third aim, the denazification of the Ukraine, has not even begun and cannot begin until the murderous Zelensky regime has been replaced with a government which actually cherishes the independence and cultural traditions of the Ukraine. Then it will no longer be a servile chimpanzee of the LGBT West and its Nulands who, very politely speaking, have no time for Europe.

Military

Some have criticised the Allied Special Operation in the Ukraine. After four months, they say, not even the whole of the Donbass has yet been liberated. Such critics should get out of their armchairs and go and fight against NATO. We would soon see how fast they would go. Why has progress been ‘slow’? Firstly, because though the Allied Forces are small in size, they are fighting against the vast bulk of the Kiev Army, which has been trained, retrained, supplied and resupplied and dug into its fortified positions by NATO over eight years. Secondly, because the Allies are trying to avoid civilian casualties and of course casualties to themselves. That is not easy when Kiev is using civilians as human shields and shelling from residential areas. The Allies will not carpet-bomb like the West. There is no hurry.

However, with the very recent events in Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, the gateway to the whole of Central and Western Ukraine is being opened. Thus, we read the report on 25 June: ‘The Office of the President ordered the transfer of all reserves from the Mykolaiv/Odessa/Kharkiv direction for a counterattack in the Severodonetsk direction’. In other words, Kiev has only reserves left and it wants to transfer all of them. This sounds like desperation – the end is near. Judging by the quality of Kiev’s reserves so far, this will be a walkover. And that firstly presumes that the reserves will be willing to be massacred. And that secondly presumes that they can be transferred when all around the roads are occupied by Allied troops, or are controlled by Russian radar, artillery, drones and aircraft.

Most significantly of all, this means that Mykolaiv/Odessa/Kharkiv will be left more or less defenceless, without even reserves. According to serious Western data, Ukrainian military losses are about 200,000 killed with nearly three quarters of military equipment and ammunition destroyed. In just four months. This is catastrophic. If even Western spies from MI6, the BRD and Poland say this, then there is little future or hope for the US puppets in Kiev. We can only expect military collapse and the formation of a new government, authentically pro-Ukrainian (that is anti-American) and therefore pro-Russian. What happens after the liberation of the Ukraine? The liberation of Moldova? Of the Baltics? We do not know. But if aggressive NATO/EU sabre-rattling continues, all is possible.

Economic, Political and Ideological

As we know, the Western anti-Russian sanctions, have been a self-imposed economic disaster, an own goal. Blowback has been nasty. Dedollarisation is happening. Pay in roubles, please. Now. Food, fertiliser, oil, gas, all are rocketing in price, and it is not winter. Popular discontent and street demonstrations in Western Europe are mounting. In France the Rothschild candidate Macron has lost control of the French Parliament to the left and to the right. In the UK the ‘delusional’ (the word of members of his own Party) Johnson (a man condemned by his own as ‘an opportunistic journalist who has at his heart a moral vacuum’) is seen as a liability, who will lead the Tory Party to annihilation in any election. We will not speak here of other nonentities like Scholz, Draghi, Trudeau and Biden.

Then there is the formation of alternatives to the Western bloc. A new G8/BRICS+? Russia has seen plenty of discreet and not so discreet support from China, India, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Iran, Indonesia, Africa (from Egypt to South Africa), Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Argentina, Hungary…. That is, from the aptly-named ‘emerging’ world on all five Continents, from those who have raw materials and manufacturing infrastructure. They want to emerge from the ruins of colonialism and neo-colonialism. The isolated West, the US, Canada, UK, EU, Australia, has few friends outside its inward-looking little world. There are just a few occupied vassals in Asia, like Israel, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, who are forced to buy Western arms in order to stop themselves being liberated from themselves, and that is it.

Even the mercenaries of the State-controlled Western media are beginning to go back on their State-paid lies. They are used to turning everything on its head, to inverting it all. Thus, the Russian Army was composed of ‘demoralised and untrained raw conscripts’, who had suffered ‘massive losses’ and ‘lacked fuel and ammunition’, ‘raped children and murdered’, were ‘in full retreat’ and bombed and shelled ‘residential areas and civilians’. Just change the word ‘Russian’ to ‘Kiev’ and we are a lot nearer the truth. Does anybody believe these media lies any more? Surely only the living dead? It must be embarrassing for these hacks who have been telling, or rather were ordered to tell, the opposite of the truth. They used to report their dreams as reality. Now they have to report reality – their worst nightmares.

Conclusion: The Age of Empires Is Over

After the Western defeats, or rather routs, in Iraq and Afghanistan, NATO has no military or political future. In fact, it should have been abolished after the fall of the USSR. The Ukraine (or whatever it will be called in whatever borders it will have when its liberation is complete) is Russian. Just forget it, NATO. You have already lost. The expansion of NATO into Asia? What a joke. Taiwan is Chinese, as will be all the Western Pacific. Just forget it, NATO. You have already lost. The American Century which began in February/March 1917 with the palace revolt by corrupt aristocrats and generals in the Russian Empire, carefully orchestrated from London and New York, is over. Europe no longer needs to attempt suicide, let alone succeed. You are free to restore the sovereignty of your nation states.

The fact is that the Age of Empires is over. 1917 signalled the beginning of this. In 1991 the Red Star (USSR) Empire collapsed. Today the White Star (USSA) Empire, with its Twelve-Star EU (USSE) vassal Empire in tow, is collapsing, and for exactly the same reason: because nobody believes in their ideologies any more. Both Communism and Capitalism have failed. Now is the Age of Free Alliances of Sovereign Nations. What is the future of Europe after its third failed attempt at suicide? It is in reintegrating the Sovereignty of Eurasia, protected by the Russian resource umbrella. The Atlantic never united Europe, it divided Europe. If those who live across the Atlantic want to rediscover from us how to start living normal lives again, they can. But it will be on our terms, those of our Sovereignty, not on theirs.

We have spoken of the Special Military Operation as the culmination of Europe’s third attempted suicide. We have said that Europe will never be the same again after it. This is because, unless Europe is really serious this time about suicide (and it has managed to avoid it twice before), this Operation Z is going to split up the tyrannical Western world, EU and UK Europe, from the USA. It is Operation Z+. And who are we, those who will survive? We are Generation Z+. We are those who will come ‘out of great tribulation’ and survive. We are those who are going to live in the real Global world, not in the Western bubble Globalist world. We are the real Europeans of ancient and new European history, who refused to commit suicide, the Sovereign Europeans. Reality is dawning at last.

Some Replies to Some Comments on Recent Articles

June 26, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

1. Errors

I do apologise for the rare error which comes from not checking the text enough times. For example, Kuleba is of course the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, not the Minister of the Interior. Thank you, readers, for any factual corrections!

2. Why did the Russian Revolution happen, if everything was going so well before 1917?

There never was a Revolution. It is a myth of Western/Soviet history. But there was a mutiny of the ruling class, effectively a revolt of the uprooted, English- and French-speaking elite, or aristocracy, against Russia. They had great wealth and so they wanted what comes next – power. The people, apart from the bread and circus mob, did not follow, but were too weak and disorganised to resist. The mutiny was organised, abetted and aided by foreign powers, above all by the British from their Embassy in the then capital in Saint Petersburg.

Empires always use the same techniques. Just as the Romans had their client-states and proconsuls or governors (in Jerusalem it was Pontius Pilate) and took the children of the local elite hostage by ‘educating’ (= indoctrinating/ westernising) them in their home capitals and main cities, so did Imperial Britain, and today so does the USA. Local treachery goes a long way when you give all the traitors in the capital a lot of dollars (remember how they flew planes stuffed with billions of dollars into Baghdad?) and some infrastructure (as in a recent classic case, Kiev in 2014). However, do not blame foreign powers entirely – no foreign power can do anything if there is not local treachery. But you can always find locals who will sell their souls for a mess of pottage/dollars.

3. Nazism

Although back on 29 March, in my very first writing for The Saker, What Does Nazism Mean?, I explained what Nazism is, there is still confusion. In speaking of Nazism in the Ukraine, the Russian Federation is not speaking of Nazism as a phenomenon that existed for twelve years during the Third Reich and was marked, by other things, by its persecution of the Jews. Nazism, and so denazification, is something far greater, far more ancient, far more profound.

Nazism is the millennial ideology of the (imagined) Superiority of the Western/Westernised World, the ideology of the ‘master race’. It began with the First Reich of the Carolingians of 800-1806, the foundation act of the Western ‘Middle Ages’. And it was repeated in the Second Reich of the Prussian militarists of 1871-1918, long before the Third Reich. Thus, we can call also the Normans Nazis, the Crusaders Nazis, the Conquistadors Nazis, British merchants in India – Nazis. The largely British genocide of Native Americans was a Nazi act, as was the Belgian genocide of the Congolese, as was the Japanese genocide in Chinese Nanking, as was the Hitlerian holocaust of the Slavs (30 million), as was the US genocide of the Vietnamese. Today the USA and its UK/EU/Canadian/Australian etc vassals, ‘the Collective West’, are the Fourth Reich.

Yes, it is true that throughout history probably all countries or ethnic groups or tribes or clans have at some point attacked another country in order to try and grab its resources. The vital difference here is that Western attacks are not one-offs out of greed. They are institutionalised, systematic, justified as part of a millennial ideology, and they are global. Various words have been used to justify this Nazi ideology, from Catholicism to Protestantism, from Spanish to British, from German to Israeli, from freedom to democracy, and from American to Woke. It is all the same thing, still the same evil banditry and brutal thuggery of organised violence behind the excuse. The ‘Cancel Russia’ bookburning of the 2020s is just as Nazi as Hitler’s bookburning of the 1930s. It is the same Anti-Culture of the same Anti-Civilization. Whatever tag you want to give it, ‘Western’, ‘Nazi’, ‘European’, ‘American’, ‘Woke’, it is ultimately all the same Satanism.

This is why the conflict in the Ukraine, which could so easily have remained a purely local affair in the Donbass and been over in 2014, spread to the whole of Novorossija (the east and south of the ‘Ukraine’) and has spread throughout Eastern and Western Europe. Russia’s primary task, indeed mission, and many of us knew this from the very outset and indeed have believed in it all our lives, is to free Europe of ‘Nazism’, to ‘denazify’ Europe. (China can deal with Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia and, quite easily, Africa; Russia may deal, quite easily, with Latin America. As for the USA and Canada, like Israel, they will have to be quarantined, isolated and left to rot until they decontaminate themselves, like corpses which over time only leave bleached bones.

This denazification will hopefully chiefly be political, economic and ideological – but it may in some cases also have to be military, as in the Ukraine. This is what Operation Z is about. In writing these very words, I am very modestly taking part in Operation Z and you, in reading these words, are also taking part in Operation Z. Z is the Great Liberation. We have been waiting for this moment all our lives, whether we realised it or not.

4. What are the sources for the article about Russia before the ‘Revolution’, Myths from the Past and the Third Incarnation of Russia since 1721?

There are few sources in English. This is deliberate. Few things resembling the truth about Russia get written or translated – which is of course part of the systematic censorship of Russia. The bibliography below represents only the tip of the iceberg, therefore I would rather call it an essential reading list:

In Russian:

The Diaries of Nicholas II, in 3 Volumes, ed. S. V. Mironenko, Moscow, 2013

Alferiev E. E., Tsar Nicholas II as a Man of Strong Will, New York-Jordanville, 1983

Belousov P. (compiled), The Tsar and Russia, Otchij Dom, Moscow, 2017 (Contains reprints of many important articles by Solonevich, Nekrasov, Obruchev, Obolensky, Pavlov, Tikhmenev, Stremoukhov, Zajtsev and others)

Bokhanov A. N., Rasputin, the Anatomy of a Myth, Moscow, 2000

Bokhanov A. N., Nicholas II, Moscow, Veche, 2008

Borisiuk A. A., The History of Russia Which They Ordered To Be Forgotten, Moscow, Veche 2018 (2nd edition). (Statistical Facts)

Brazol B.L., The Reign of Tsar Nicholas II in Facts and Figures (1894-1917), New York, 1959

Dolmatov V., The Sovereign, Twenty Three Steps Up, Dostoinstvo, Moscow 2015

Fomin S., Gregory Rasputin, An Investigation, 9 Volumes, Moscow, Forum, 2007-2015

Gubanov V. (compiled), The Holy Tsar Nicholas II and the New Russian Martyrs, Stavros, Moscow, 2004

Kapkov K.G., The Spiritual World of Emperor Nicholas II and His Family, Moscow-Livadia, 2017

Kobylin V. The Anatomy of a Betrayal, the Sources of the Anti-Monarchist Conspiracy, Saint Petersburg, 1998 (reprint)

Mirek A., The Emperor Nicholas II and the Destiny of Orthodox Russia, Spiritual Enlightenment, Moscow, 2013

Mironova T., From Beneath the Lie, Vesti, Saint Petersburg, 2005

Multatuli P.V., The Foreign Policy of Emperor Nicholas II (1894-1917), Moscow, 2012

Multatuli P.V., Myths and the Truth about the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, Ekaterinburg, 2013

Multatuli P.V., Nicholas II, The Way of the Cross, Smolin, Moscow, 2013

Multatuli P.V., Emperor Nicholas II, The Man and the Monarch, and, Emperor Nicholas II the Martyr, Veche, Moscow, 2018

Multatuli P.V., Emperor Nicholas II, The Tragedy of a Misunderstood Sovereign, Smolin, Moscow, 2018

Oldenburg S. S., The Reign of Nicholas II, Saint Petersburg, Petropol, 1991 (reprint)

Platonov O., Nicholas II, His Life and Reign, Saint Petersburg, 1999

Platonov O., Nicholas II in His Secret Correspondence, Algorithm, Moscow, 2005

Platonov O., A Life for the Tsar, Rodnaya Strana, Moscow, 2015

Reshetnikov L., To Return to Russia, Moscow, 2013

Shargunov Archpriest A., The Miracles of the Royal Martyrs, 2 Volumes, Moscow, 2000

Shargunov Archpriest A., The Tsar, Zlatoust, Moscow, 2013

Zhevakhov N.D. Memoirs, Saint Petersburg, 2014

In English:

Den L., The Real Tsaritsa, Nabu Public Domain Reprints, Undated

Maylunas A. and Mironenko S., A Lifelong Passion, Nicholas and Alexandra, Weidenfeld, London, 1996 (Their Correspondence)

Nekrasov G., Nicholas II as Military Commander, Sovereign Journal No 5, Royal Russia, 2017

Rogger H., Jewish Policies and Right-Wing Politics in Imperial Russia, Berkley, 1986

Romanova Olga Alexandrovna, 25 Chapters of My Life, Librario, Kinloss, 2009 (reprint)

Vorres I., The Last Grand Duchess, Olga Alexandrovna, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1964

Wilton E. and Sokolov N., The Last Days of the Romanovs, General Books, Memphis, 2012 (reprint)

In French:

Chavelsky G., J’ai Vecu La Fin de la Russie Imperiale, Editions Singulieres, Sete, 2011. (A very good translation and a portrait of the traitors surrounding Tsar Nicholas, written by one of them)

Gilliard P., Le Tragique Destin de Nicolas II et de sa famille, Payot, Paris, 1929

Jacoby Jean, Le Tsar Nicholas II et la Revolution, Fayard, Paris, 1931

Joukoff Archpriest B. (compiled), Nicolas II, Le Dernier Empereur Orthodoxe, Villemoisson, 2015

Loupan V., Nicholas II, Le Saint Tsar, Syrtes, Paris, 2001

5. Who am I?

I am the Russian Orthodox rector of a very large parish in Europe. I have served in many countries in Western Europe and have lived in Russia and the Ukraine. I have also worked as a lecturer in Russian and European history and politics. Enough said.

Myths from the Past and the Third Incarnation of Russia since 1721

June 22, 2022

By Batiushka

The First and Second Incarnations of Russia

The Russian Lands existed for well over a thousand years before 2022 and took on many highly significant political and geographical forms. These could be described at another time; here we do not have space. However, in the last 300 years, between 1721 and 24 February 2022, they had known only two incarnations: The Russian Empire (1721-1917), and the Soviet Union with the Post-Soviet Russian Federation (1917-2022). The USSR and its totalitarian faults are fairly well known in the West, but even here the West still refuses to believe in the many ‘Soviet’ social virtues, its free medicine, education and culture, which were all inherited from the Empire. The West has blinded itself with its own anti-Russian (disguised as anti-Communist) propaganda. The continuation of a weakened USSR in the Post-Soviet Federation was initially loved by the West, as it was its own creation. Indeed, in many respects the post-Soviet Federation appeared to have adopted the worst of the West and rejected the best of the Soviet Union. By reaction, some suggested that the Federation should return to the USSR. That was never on the agenda. That was an experiment that had failed. On the other hand, the idea that the Federation would become just another Western chimpanzee like Japan was never going to happen either. The Russian Lands have their own identity, their own civilisation.

On the other hand, the Russian Empire is virtually unknown in the West, as the West still believes its own ignorance and lies about it. After all it was the West which destroyed it, with the help of internal traitors and decadent aristocrats, who cruelly exploited the poor and so guaranteed the fall of the Empire. Unsurprisingly, many of these traitors soon afterwards emigrated to the West, given the disaster that they had created in Russia with Western backing. We will therefore spend some time below disillusioning those who still believe in the racist Western/Soviet propaganda stereotypes of ‘tyrannical Asiatic autocracy’, ‘backward obscurantism’, which kept its people in a state of poverty and ignorance. The condescending West said: ‘If only they had been like us clever Western people, all would have been well’. We will look at these realities (1) firstly because they are so little known and many still actually believe in the myths, and secondly because the positive aspects of the pre-Revolutionary Empire are at the heart of the USSR and will also be at the heart of today’s Third Incarnation (see further). Below we look at the real Russian Empire.

The Economy

In the 20 years before 1917 the population of the Empire increased by 62 million, some 50%. It was a time when industrialisation and modernisation accelerated very sharply. National income and productivity increased at a rate unrivalled anywhere else in the world and the budget increased threefold. Personal taxation in the Russian Empire was half the level of that in France and Germany and a quarter of that in Great Britain.

Average earnings were higher than those in any Western European country, less only than those in the USA. Prices were among the lowest in the world and inflation and unemployment were practically non-existent. Thanks to the monetary reform that the Tsar personally insisted on carrying out in 1897, the rouble was guaranteed by gold. The Empire had the largest gold reserves in the world and the Russian gold rouble remains one of the safest investments in the world.

Between 1890 and 1913 GNP increased fourfold. There was a fourfold increase in the extraction of coal and the production of cast iron, and a fivefold increase in that of copper. Between 1911 and 1914 investment in engineering increased by 80% and electrification had begun in many cities. In 1901 the USA extracted 9.9 million tons of oil, Russia 12.1 million tons. Between 1908 and 1913 productivity surpassed that of the USA, Great Britain and Germany. The Empire was the biggest exporter of textiles and one of the biggest of metals and engineering. Russia was on course to becoming the leading world economy by 1950, surpassing both Europe and the USA.

Infrastructure and Agriculture

The Trans-Siberian Railway was completed at the insistence of the last Tsar despite opposition. In 20 years the length of railways and telegraph networks doubled, indeed, the rate of railway construction was one of the highest in the world, the later Soviet rate being a mere fraction of it. Its locomotives were among the best in the world. This was why armoured trains appeared in Russia. The largest fleet of river ships in the world doubled in tonnage during that period. The plane industry was on a par with that of the American.

The car industry was in a similar situation to the German, Russian cars winning races at rallies in Monte Carlo and San Sebastian. Indeed, Mercedes and Daimler engines were invented by the Russian engineer Boris Lutskoy. Pre-Revolutionary Russia also invented: the wireless telegraph, the helicopter, the television, cine-news, the tramway, hydroelectric power stations, the electric plough, the submarine, the parachute, the radio, the electron microscope, the powder fire extinguisher, the astronomical clock, the seismograph, the electric omnibus, the flying boat, the icebreaker, the motorcycle, the airship and double-decker railway carriages.

Thanks to the Agrarian Reform, by 1914 100% of usable land in Asian Russia and 90% in European Russia belonged to the people. The Empire was the biggest exporter of cereals, flax, eggs, milk, butter, meat and sugar in the world. The wheat harvest was one third larger than that of the USA, Canada and Argentina combined. Cereal production doubled during the reign and the number of cattle increased by 60%. The Empire was also first in the world for the numbers of horses, cows, sheep and one of the biggest for the numbers of pigs and goats.

Social Justice, Health and Education

From June 1903 all employers in the Russian Empire were obliged to pay benefit and pension to all employees and their families who had suffered an accident. This amounted to between 50% and 66% of their salary. Trade Unions were formed in 1906 and from June 1912 compulsory health insurance at work was introduced to cover illness or accident. Social insurance legislation was introduced before other European countries and the USA. The US President William Taft declared that: ‘Your Emperor has created such perfect labour legislation which no democratic state can boast of’.

In 1898 the Empire introduced a universal medical welfare system that cost the tiny sum of one rouble per year. The Swiss hygienist Friedrich Erismann praised this system as ‘the greatest achievement in the world in the field of social medicine’. Russia was third in the world for the number of its doctors. The Tsar personally insisted on introducing economic reforms and measures against alcohol abuse, often in spite of the Duma. Alcohol consumption per head was one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in Europe outside Norway. In 1913 the number of mentally ill was 187 in every 100,000, compared to 5,598 per 100,000 in the Russian Federation in 2013. The number of suicides in the Empire was 4.4 per 100,000. In the Russian Federation in 2012 it was 19.5 and 12.1 in the USA.

Compulsory primary education was introduced in 1908, over a generation later than in the West. However, by 1916 literacy in the Empire had already reached 85%. By 1914 there were 150,000 students studying at university institutions. In terms of numbers of students the Russian Empire was joint third in the world with Great Britain. Another 300 million roubles was spent in 1913 on country schools, a budget up from 70 million in 1894. In less than 20 years the education budget rose by 628%. By 1913 there were 130,000 schools in the Empire with 6 million pupils. All education, primary, secondary and tertiary, was free.

The Internal Situation

The pogroms of the late nineteenth century and very early twentieth century, basically race riots, led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, about half of them Non-Jews and about half of them Jews. Similar to the Catholic-Protestant race riots in Northern Ireland in the late 20th century, some were started by one side, others by the other. There is no recorded instance of them being encouraged by the State, which built many large synagogues for the Jewish population. None of the pogroms occurred in Russia, but only in what are now Lithuania, Poland, the west of the Ukraine and Moldova. Many Jews lived there because they had been chased out of Western Europe by Anti-Semitism centuries earlier. Sadly, Western propaganda on this subject is still widely believed in the West. It is notable that where the race riots took place were the same places as where the Nazis received help from the local population when they invaded from 1941 onwards.

Another piece of Western/Soviet mythology is the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march in 1905. In this event it was revolutionaries who opened fire and troops defended themselves. There were 130 victims – not 5,000, as invented by Western propaganda. All victims were given immediate medical care. The Tsar was not even in the city at the time. When he learned of it, horrified, he sacked the officials who should have been in charge and at once gave each family that had suffered the enormous sum of 50,000 roubles from his personal money.

Crime was lower than in Western Europe and the USA. In 1908 56 people per 100,000 were imprisoned. In the Soviet Union in 1949 the figure was 1,537 per 100,000 and in the Russian Federation in 2011, 555, with 724 per 100,000 in the USA in the same year. There was a free press and freedom of speech, unlike in the West where strict ‘editorial policies’ (= censorship) were pursued. The Tsar never rejected a single petition for pardon. Fewer death penalties were carried out during his whole reign than in any single day in the Soviet Union until the death of Stalin.

International Relations

The Hague International Tribunal of Justice, suggested in 1898 to prevent wars, but derided by other European leaders, was the personal brainchild of Tsar Nicholas. If it had been implemented as he had wanted, there would never have been any First World War, let alone later wars. Thus, those who had derided it, notably the British and the Germans, signed their own death warrants.

When in February 1904 Japan, urged on, financed and armed to the teeth by the geopolitical imperialists of Great Britain and the USA, treacherously attacked the small and poorly-armed Russian Navy without first declaring war (as it later did at Pearl Harbour), it only took the non-militaristic Russian Empire eighteen months to recover. However, instead of continuing the war and crushing the by then bankrupt Japan militarily, Russia entered peace negotiations, but imposed such terms at the talks in the USA that Japan, forced to agree to them, went into mourning.

During the Great Patriotic War (as the First World War was then known) the Tsar constantly visited the Front. After less than a year, in 1915, given the incompetence of the former supreme commander, his arrogant and foul-mouthed uncle, he took on supreme command, against the advice of all, showing his strength of will. Russia began winning the greatest victories of the War, advancing huge distances and taking huge numbers of prisoners, for example the Tsar Nicholas Offensive, euphemistically known in the West as the ‘Brusilov Offensive’. This was undreamed of by the jealous Western Allies, who were bogged down in immobile and bloody trench warfare, where millions were dying. On the Russian Front, facing far more enemy troops, deaths amounted to fewer than 700,000.

The Armed Forces

In 1914 the Russian Empire was able to 2,000 engineers to help the USA at its request to set up a heavy armaments industry. The Russian Air Force, founded in 1910, was by 1917 the largest in the world, with 700 planes and by 1917 the Russian Navy, reformed and modernised after the dreadnought-armed Japan’s victories, was one of the strongest in the world. Had it not been for the treason of the Allies, of most of the aristocracy and many in the middle class, historians consider that Russia would have occupied Vienna and Berlin in 1917, thus ending the murderous war at least a year early and saving millions of lives. Over 95% of the 2,417,000 captured enemy soldiers returned home safely after the War.

Only 39% of males aged between 15-49 were mobilised in the Russian Empire, as against 81% in Germany, 79% in France, 74% in Austro-Hungary, 72% in Italy and 50% in Great Britain. Per 100,000 of its population, the Empire lost 11 people, as against 34 in France, 31 in Germany, 18 in Austria and 16 in Great Britain. (Reported very high Russian losses are propaganda myths of the anti-Russian West). The military reform was creating one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in the world, which would have been the best by 1917 if Germany had not started the First World War. It was the officers trained in the Imperial Army who in their forties and fifties won the Second World War.

Church Affairs and Culture

By 1913 the Russian Orthodox Church had 67,000 churches and 1,000 monasteries. It had great influence in the Holy Land, Asia and seventeen Russian churches had been built in Western Europe. The Tsar personally paid for the building of St Nicholas Cathedral in New York and ensured that the number of bishops in North America went from one to three. In 1916 there were plans to make sure that every Western capital would have a church and that the service-books of the Church would be translated into all the main Western languages.

Russian culture went through a period known as the Silver Age, with developments in science, philosophy, art, architecture, music and literature. The French writer Paul Valery stated that Russian culture at the beginning of the 20th century was ‘one of the wonders of the world’. Two of the five founders of Hollywood came from Russia. Chanel No 5 was invented by the Russian émigré Verigin.

The Third Incarnation

So much for the little-known past. Of course, there were many iniquities in the Russian Empire. Otherwise, it would not have fallen. The corruption of the parasitic aristocratic class (oligarchs) and the neglect of the working poor were too great. The gap was too large and the Tsar’s move to social justice did not go fast enough to keep pace with the challenges of rapid industrialisation. However, the positive aspects of the Empire and its huge advances and industrialisation, were retained by the Soviet Union. Despite the huge step backward wrought by the Civil War, Bolshevik persecution and artificial famines, by 1930 the USSR was back where Russia had been in 1916. Only in the last generation since the fall of the Soviet Union have those positive aspects been threatened. However, we will talk no more of the past, but of the future, of Russia’s Third Incarnation, of post-24 February 2022 Russia, the New Russia. This Incarnation has realised that it must keep the best of all previous Incarnations in order to survive and to move forward.

We are able to speak of this now only since the campaign of liberation of the Ukraine began on 24 February. Initially, this was launched to free only the Donbass and prevent the planned NATO-sponsored attack on it, set for early March 2022. This liberation campaign has been so successful that it has had to be extended. It seems certain now that all of Novorossiya (the east and south of the Ukraine) will be liberated, enabling Transdnestria to join the Russian Federation. However, given the continued aggression of the rest of the Ukraine and NATO threats from elsewhere, Russian military success may have to be extended.

Until the whole of the Ukraine is demilitarised, and it is continually being remilitarised by the West, the liberation cannot stop. Moreover, with potential threats from NATO-armed Poland and Lithuania towards Kaliningrad and from Romania towards Moldova, from arms shipments from Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Lands and the Baltic States, especially from the US puppet-government in Lithuania, with threats from Sweden and Finland to join NATO, where will it stop? The West has to be freed from Nazism/woke liberalism (it is the same thing. As they say: there is nothing so intolerant as liberalism). True, Germany, France and Italy, their economies crippled by US-imposed, anti-Russian sanctions, are showing reason. This is unlike the laughable bluster coming from the militarily feeble Johnson-regime in the UK, which may well be toppled by popular internal discontent and a wave of strikes.

The Global Implications of the Third Incarnation of Russia

However, it is the economic aspect, with its international dedollarisation, of the Third Incarnation of Russia which is truly world-changing. In the light of the speech of Vladimir Putin at the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum of June 2022, we can say that Russia is returning to its historic path. It wants to leave aside the errors of the past, become a sovereign nation again and no longer be a Western colony. This is unlike the EU, which is clearly just a US vassal, both economically and politically. The future world order will be formed only by strong sovereign states, independent of the dollar and the massive debts of Western countries. These have been caused by their inflationary printing of money that is not based on real commodities such as cereals, oil, gas, minerals, metals, rare earth elements, fertilisers, timber, manufactured goods and gold.

The break with the West and the ‘obsolete geopolitical illusions’ of its elite’s superiority complex, essentially a form of Nazism, is irreversible. Russia will invest in internal economic development in microeconomic and macroeconomic terms, ensuring ‘technological sovereignty’ (which means for instance that Russia already has unique hypersonic missiles), encouraging free enterprise against bureaucracy, improving infrastructure, but also ensuring social justice, fighting against poverty and supporting the family, encouraging far more ‘families to have two, three or more children’. The ideal of social conservatism together with social justice is what is intended. Russia will also help nations in Africa and the Middle East to avoid Western-imposed famine. True, this is an ambitious programme for the future, but this Third Incarnation of Russia is beginning now.

Note:

1. As the definitive statistical source, compiled by my friend A. A. Borisiuk, see The History of Russia Which They Ordered to be Forgotten, Veche, 2018. This for the first time conveniently collates all Pre-Revolutionary, Soviet and Emigré Statistics (in Russian).

Mixed Bag June 22

June 22, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

%d bloggers like this: