Who Wants Some Ukraine?

November 25, 2021

by Dmitry Orlov, posted with permission of the author

On Tuesday, 23 November, Russia’s most senior military general, Valery Gerasimov, had a “deconfliction” phone conference with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, in which the two discussed “pressing issues of international security.

US, Russia army chiefs talk recent skirmish in Syria

” Actual details of what they discussed are not available; what is available is Western media speculation, which in recent days has included false reports of Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border and supposedly getting ready to invade. What Western media has studiously ignored is an actual massing of Ukrainian troops on the borders of the Donbass region—the industrialized temporarily Ukrainian region that has been de facto independent since the Kiev putsch of 2014.

Following that putsch, and the refusal of the Donbass (along with Crimea) to recognize the new US State Department-installed Ukrainian government, the Ukrainians made attempt to recapture the Donbass by force. This attempt failed, and Kiev managed to avoid all-out defeat by signing the Minsk agreements of February 2015, but has clearly had no intention of ever fulfilling them. Instead, ever since then, Ukrainian forces have been shelling the no man’s land between Ukrainian-held territory (which is mostly open prairie) and Donbass (which is urbanized and thickly settled), killing small numbers of civilians and local militia members and causing considerable property damage. Although Western press has continuously reported on “Russian forces” in the Donbass, they are yet to present any evidence of it. And although Western press likes to describe the Donbass using the hackneyed epithet “war-torn” it is actually more prosperous and stable than the rest of the Ukraine, integrated into the Russian economy and essentially functioning as a Russian region.

Turning down Western media noise, a Russian military effort to capture the Donbass, never mind the rest of the Ukraine, is exceedingly unlikely. Russia already has everything it wants. Unlike Crimea which in its 2014 referendum produced a 97% vote for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83% voter turnout, in a similar referendum in the Donbass (held against Moscow’s wishes) only 27.5% of the 74.87% who turned out voted in favor of joining the Russian Federation. Based on this result, Moscow chose to soft-pedal the Donbass situation, providing humanitarian aid and diplomatic support, granting Russian citizenship to those who want it and gradually integrating the region socially and economically. In other Ukrainian regions, were similar referendums to be held there, the level of support for joining Russia would in all likelihood have been even lower, and now, seven years later, would be lower still. From this, a conclusion can be drawn: other than Crimea (which was part of an independent Ukraine for just 23 years), none of the Ukraine was or is a candidate for inclusion within the Russian Federation. The Russians living there will receive some amount of Russian support and are, of course, welcome to move to Russia, but that is really it.

Having ruled out that which is exceedingly unlikely, let us turn to that which is quite likely; and that is a provocation in the Donbass staged by the authorities in Kiev and by their State Department, Pentagon and CIA handlers, designed to deflect the blame from the truly disastrous economic situation that is unfolding there in the hopes of being able to maintain political control of the situation. In blundering into the Ukraine and converting it into a sort of anti-Russian bulwark, the US gained a brazenly corrupt and unruly dependency. Unable to stop its inexorable slide into failed-statedom and political and social disintegration, the US is faced with the prospect of another Afghanistan-style rout, with desperate left-behinds running after US transport planes hastily taking off from Kiev’s Borispol Airport, after which point even the mental laggards who run the European Union will be forced to admit that American security guarantees are an utter joke and will start getting ready to walk into the Kremlin on their knees to kiss the gem-encrusted felt slipper.

Given this unwelcome scenario, the US is quite eager to control the optics and to make it look like it is all Russia’s fault. Since merely jumping up and down and screaming “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” is no longer doing the trick, they are looking for something—anything!—that will make the Russians show up and put up even a tiny bit of a fight so that CNN and MSNBC can broadcast staged photos of a bloodied baby blanket and US Congress can then harrumph-harrumph about “Russian aggression” and impose sanctions on Russian baby blanket manufacturers. That “anything” is called a provocation, and what better place to stage it than the Donbass, which is an existing bleeding sore they’ve been picking away at for seven years now. Of course, they will do this in great trepidation of an escalation they would be unable to control, hence the hasty “deconfliction” conference with General Gerasimov: “Look, we go pew-pew, then you go pew-pew, then we declare hostilities over and toast each other with vodka and caviar; OK?”

Given that a provocation of some sort appears to be very likely, it is worth pondering what it would look like and what the outcome of it might be.

First, here is some background. The Ukraine (which is Russian for “borderland”) has always been less a country than a heterogeneous, endlessly disputed territory, tossed back and forth between Russia, Turkey, Poland, Austria, Germany and even, very briefly, Sweden. It mostly borders Russia (Crimea, Krasnodar, Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod, Кursk and Bryansk regions). It also borders Belarus (short for “White Russia”) which is a whole lot like Russia. It has smaller borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and the unrecognized, Russian-defended Transnistria. It also borders Donetsk and Lugansk regions, collectively known as the Donbass, which is short for “Donetsk Coal Basin,” and which was formerly part of the Ukraine but de facto independent for the last 7 years and economically integrated with Russia.

Of these, the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova were quite recently part of the USSR while the rest were part of the Warsaw Pact allied with the USSR. For most of them, those were the good days; for reasons incomprehensible to rapacious Western imperialists, Russia lavished a great deal of attention and investment on its ethnically heterogeneous periphery, not only building a great deal of social and industrial infrastructure and enterprises there but also staffing it all with relocated Russians. This, most Russians now realize, was a poor choice. This lesson is continuously reinforced by observing just how poorly the former Soviet republics have performed since they gained their independence. The Ukraine is a case in point, losing as much as a third of its population (exact numbers are impossible to ascertain) and steadily degenerating from a prosperous, highly developed region to the poorest one in all of Europe.

The Ukraine aspires to NATO and EU membership, but this prospect appears exceedingly unlikely since it is much more of a liability than an asset: destitute, bankrupt, politically unstable and not in control of its own government or its own territory—a failed state, essentially. Plus, the EU and NATO are themselves perhaps not too long for this world, the EU having recently lost the United Kingdom and NATO having just fabulously failed in Afghanistan, and not really capable of accepting new members. Sensing their own weakness, and projecting onto Russia their own instincts to engulf and devour all that they can, they automatically assume that Russia will exploit this weakness and reconquer the Ukraine and perhaps some other parts of Eastern Europe as well. But this is all it is—a projection, because the contemporary Russian project is something else entirely. Russia does periodically move its troops around its own territory, thereby keeping the West in a constant state of nervous agitation bordering on outright panic, but from the Russian perspective that is just a pleasant side-effect of regularly scheduled training exercises. There was a recent hysterical outburst in Western press over Russian tanks massed on the Belorussian border, for instance. Russia is always “about to invade,” on Tuesdays especially, but somehow never gets around to it.

That is not because Russia lacks the means or the opportunity; but it does entirely lack the motive. Does it need more land? Certainly not! Does it need a restive, alienated population that will then demand to be fed, hospitalized as needed and kept safe and warm all the while resisting assimilation? Not at all! Does it need the reputational losses from unprovoked aggression? Again, no. Quite the opposite, Russia is most eager to draw the line somewhere—a notional Great Wall of Russia, with the stable, economically liberal and socially conservative Orthodox/Moslem/Buddhist Russian World on one side and an alien, increasingly bankrupt, culturally degenerate, sexually deviant and permanently hostile Europe on the other. This will give Russia the peace and stability it needs to continue developing. The problem is that, because of the messy way in which the USSR broke up, many Russians were left stranded on the wrong side of previously insignificant borders, and this Great Wall has to remain porous, allowing Russians to filter back in.

A point can be made that Russia’s romance with Western Europe was always destined to end in tears. Russia’s cooperative, egalitarian instincts have been developed and perfected over many centuries within the Eurasian context of a relatively small population controlling a vast but difficult land with almost infinite but rather diffuse resources. In this context, cooperation rather than competition are keys to survival. These instincts have been wasted on little Eastern European fiefdoms that have spent an eternity squabbling over their tiny plots of land. Their history has conditioned them to only understand and respect subservience and domination, causing them to see Russian largesse as a weakness to be exploited. When the USSR suddenly vanished, they swiftly switched allegiance, forgetting their Russian, learning English and eagerly welcoming American and Western European financial swindlers and thieves to come and pick them clean. And now that they’ve been picked clean and Americans are leaving, they would perhaps be happy for Russia to “reoccupy” them and resume feeding them (if it were not for their wounded pride), but Russia will have none of it.

Within this overall context, each Eastern European country has its own unique fate. Most of them—specifically, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova—are simply too small and inconsequential to matter and have been left to wither away slowly, being of little interest to the West or to Russia. Belarus stands out in that it quickly joined a union state with Russia, but this has not saved it from some fateful dalliances with the West which almost ended in disaster in the summer of 2020 when a foreign-instigated astroturf insurgency threatened to overthrow the elected government and install a Western stooge by the name of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, nicknamed the cutlet fairy. Since then, Minsk and Moscow turbocharged their integration process, producing the odd situation where the Belorussians feel free to poke their fingers in the eyes of Western leaders while hiding behind Russia’s broad back.

And then there is the Ukraine. It is the second-largest country in Europe by area—second only to Russia—and strategically located to be rather consequential. Ever since its independence, which it was awarded against the wishes of the majority of its population when the USSR was dissolved by a tiny group of conspirators, it has been ruled by a succession of swindlers and thieves who have continuously looted and robbed it until now it is a mere shadow of its former self, broken and destitute. This has made it an easy mark for Western geopolitical engineers who sought to fashion into a sort of anti-Russia, with the idea of preventing Russia from becoming an empire based on some flawed reasoning by the rabidly Russophobic Pole Zbigniew Brzeziński. Grand plans hatched by fools tend to misfire grandly, and this one is no exception. Instead of somehow containing Russia, it gave Russia everything it could ever want:

1. The fantastic level of Ukrainian political dysfunction that resulted from endless Western political meddling reduced the Ukraine from one of Russia’s major regional competitors to а major regional basket case and supplier of qualified Russian-speaking labor. The Ukraine once had strategically important industries that were essential for Russia’s military and civilian production, including large marine diesels, helicopter engines, rocket engines, aircraft building, shipbuilding and much else. All of these industries have now been relocated to Russia, often together with all of the blueprints and the technical expertise, and produce great value for both domestic consumption and export.

2. The 2014 putsch allowed Russia to return Crimea by undoing two mistakes—by Khrushchev, who gave it to the Ukraine in 1954, and by Gorbachev, who failed to get it back in 1991. It also allowed Russia to partially undo an older mistake—by Lenin, who gave the Donbass to the Ukraine in 1920. While the Donbass is strategically not too consequential, the return of Crimea provided numerous benefits. Coupled with the western enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic and new Russian hypersonic rockets, Crimea has allowed Russia to keep all of NATO’s European territory within its sphere of military dominance, providing an effective treatment for Europe’s congenital defect which causes it to periodically march on Moscow. Western sanctions imposed in response to Russian annexation of Crimea allowed Russia to claw back all of the disadvantages it incurred by joining the World Trade Organization, including bringing back agriculture and key manufacturing sectors, to find new, friendlier trading partners around the world, and to find ways to thrive within conditions of limited autarky. Crimea has also provided a very useful litmus test for political participation: automatically excluding anyone who would claim that Crimea is Ukrainian made it possible to effectively purge the ranks of all internal enemies and foreign agents. There are numerous other benefits as well, too many to mention.

3. The civil war in the Donbass, which is ongoing, gave Russia the opportunity to force through the Minsk agreements, whose implementation is mandated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015), and which require the Ukraine to federalize, granting a high level of autonomy to its regions. This, in the Ukrainian context, equates with the end of the Ukrainian unitary state. Beyond that point, the Ukraine becomes a set of disparate, disconnected, foreign-dominated fiefdoms, each with its own pathetic little oligarchy, with Kiev retained as a purely symbolic capital and an ancient Kievan Russia museum and tourist attraction. The government in Kiev has resisted the implementation of the Minsk agreements, realizing full well that this would spell its end, but this is merely a postponement. The civil war also simplified any future anti-Nazi mop-up operation and war crimes tribunal. Whereas before various Ukrainian nationalists and krypto-Nazis might have been difficult to identify, it has forced them to not only stand up and be counted but also to commit crimes for which there is no statue of limitations, making it easy to permanently take them out of circulation when the time comes to clean the place up.

This, then, is the background to the current situation, bringing us to the present, in which the US seems to be cooking up something in a big hurry. First, the US sends the message that Kiev must fulfill the terms of the Minsk agreements. Second, the US claims that Russia is massing troops on the Ukrainian border, getting ready to invade. The Ukrainian military denies this fact. The US repeats their claim and also sends some more weapons to the Ukraine. As the Ukrainian military is still unsure what’s going on, they are summoned and told exactly what to think. And so, there is going to be a provocation. But Russia is certainly not interested in any sort of attack or invasion, so what do you suppose is going to happen? A reasonable battle plan is for the Ukraine to attack first, to preempt the Russian invasion and to take up defensive positions within the Donbass territory. That’s a brilliant plan, if I say so myself!

The most the Ukrainian military can do is launch an attack on the Donbass. Attacking Crimea across the isthmus would be stupid and pathetic; attacking Crimea from the water would be stupid and absolutely hilarious to watch. And so Donbass it has to be, again. It won’t take long for the Russians to respond using unidentified long-range precision artillery and demolish the Ukrainians’ supply lines, trapping them in cauldrons where they will run out of ammunition, food and fuel and gradually bleed out. This is what transpired before, in 2015, leading Kiev to sign on to the Minsk agreements, because their other choice was to lose their entire army. Except now there will not be another set of Minsk agreements, no terms of surrender, no cease fires and no safe corridors for withdrawal. There will just be death. To the Russians, these people are terrorists, and terrorists get to meet God before the rest of us.

And that, perhaps, may be the entire point. The US wants to close out the entire sorry Ukrainian saga, cut its losses, pull an Afghanistan and leave in a hurry, because it has a long list of countries it has to pull out of before the fuel and the money run out, and it badly needs to pick up the pace. Okinawa is on that list; Guam; Puerto Rico; Alaska. California. Texas. The Ukraine has been refusing to even start fulfilling the Minsk agreements, which start with military deescalation along the line of contact. What seems to be the problem? Perhaps, as the US has finally figured out, it has to do with the fact that the Ukraine has a military; if it no longer had any military of any sort at all, there would be nothing to deescalate and the problem would not exist. And so that may be the clever plan for the Ukraine: suicide by Russia. As an added bonus, there will be Russia to blame because, no doubt at all, it will have all been Russia’s fault. Sanctions against Russian baby blanket manufacturers are being drafted as we speak. American TV viewers will watch it, and they will like it. They will think, “Bad Russkies! America strong!”

“But what about the Ukraine?” you might be tempted to ask. Well, the correct answer to that question seems to be, “Nobody cares.” Seriously, looking at recent Ukrainian history, that seems to be the only answer that makes sense. The Americans certainly never cared, the Russians once cared but care less and less with each passing day, and the Ukrainians themselves don’t care either and have been making that point by voting with their feet. The European Union and NATO may care a great deal about having a large failed state in the middle of Europe, and they should, because that is probably just the beginning, but a very good start.

Post-American world

NOVEMBER 14, 2021

Post-American world

Rostislav Ishchenko develops his theme first posted here: Russian World as a global project into global multipolarity and covers why and how the West ran into a dead end, and where the multipolar situation may lead.

Please note it is a machine translation with some human assistance, and it is not a perfect document.  It however makes his points clear enough, for the discussion on this massive global change.


Today we are in a unique situation – for the first time in the history of mankind, a global empire is breaking up.

Humanity is constantly living in an era of decay. At the same time, humanity is constantly living in an era of centralization. The dialectic of history works simply: the centers of disintegration and centralization are constantly changing places both horizontally (some states are weakening, others are strengthening) and vertically (against the background of a weakening center, power in the shires is always strengthening, and the weakness of the regions leads to the strengthening of the center). The art of leading a state is to correctly determine its internal and external state.

Accordingly, you need to move the control center of gravity from the regional level to the central level and back. In the field of foreign policy, in an era of weakness, try not to be too active in order to suffer as few losses as possible (and it is better not to lose anything at all), while at the time of strength, try to carefully acquire additional resources. Depending on the era, this resource can be nominated in terms of land, people, industrial power, market access, ideological leadership, information superiority, and other resources. As a rule, several interrelated factors from among the above play an important role.

The Empire of the Collective West

Today we are in a unique situation. This has never happened before in the history of mankind. For the first time, a global empire is breaking up. We used to call it the American world, because after the collapse of the USSR, the United States remained the only superpower for twenty or twenty – five years (who thinks so) and became a symbol of Western dominance. But in reality, it was the empire of the collective West.

The United States did not share the profits made by robbing the rest of humanity with Canada and Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, Japan and the EU out of a love of art or an innate desire for charity. It’s just that without the support of these vassal regimes, Washington was unable to manage the globalized world.

And, as has been known since classical feudalism, the vassal owes the master exactly the same amount as the master owes the vassal. If a prince or duke does not dress his retinue luxuriously, does not provide it with expensive horses and weapons, does not feed it to the brim and does not drink it to the point of drunkenness, then the retinue has every right to abandon such a leader and

look for a new master (the right to leave).

COMECON collapsed when the Soviet Union could no longer provide Eastern Europe with an additional resource.

In politics, these relations are expressed in a change of allies. For example, when the USSR could no longer provide Eastern Europe with an influx of additional resources (at the expense of its own population) The ATS and COMECON instantly disappeared in time and space, and their yesterday’s members lined up in NATO and the EU. Next in line were the Union republics, which fled the Union in full confidence that they were feeding Russia and would live better on their own. At the same time, the republics did not really think about any independence either. They took the queue “to the West” for Eastern Europeans, fully confident that they only need to join the EU and NATO and everything will be like in the USSR, only even more satisfying and better.

Some managed to join, some did not, but everyone was disappointed. And not at all because, as some think, the West did not want to feed freeloaders. The EU and the US were well aware of their responsibilities to their vassal countries, and they also understood that spending on their “weapons, horses, clothing, food and drink” would pay off by strengthening Western dominance around the world. The annexation of Eastern Europe and the post-Soviet states (except for Russia and the Asian republics) was supposed to significantly improve the geopolitical position of the West, strengthen its military capabilities and make its political and economic dictates insurmountable.

The sale of weapons to Eastern Europe was supposed to lead to the strengthening of Western dominance throughout the world.

When the West overestimated its strength

At first, it worked that way. The costs of maintaining Poland and demonstrating the success of the Baltic Tigers were more than repaid by predatory exploitation of Russia (in the 1990s, the West established direct or indirect control over most of Russia’s resources through local oligarchs) and outright piracy in the rest of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and after it Serbia).

Economically booming, China was unable to stand up to the collective West militarily. Russia seemed completely destroyed and only temporarily preserved the appearance of unity. At this point, the West overestimated its strength.

In any society, there are always different groups that see the purpose and meaning of existence and the direction of development of the corresponding society in different ways. And as long as there is an obvious external danger, these groups reject internal contradictions, rallying against the external enemy. If, for some reason, the authorities lose the ability to reconcile and balance internal contradictions, a catastrophe of the 1917 model occurs.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many in the West believed they had won the Cold War.

In the 1990s, the collective West believed in the “end of history”, that the world is forever Westernized, that the roles of governors and governed are assigned to different countries forever. Being in a state of euphoria, the Western left liberals launched an ideological offensive not only on the external front, but also on the internal one, trying to make their “tolerant new world” mandatory for everyone, not only in the conquered countries, but also among those who, in their opinion, “won the Third world war (cold war).”

As long as the leftists did not dig in, the resistance to their expansion in Western society was provided by certain marginal groups of conservatives, who were branded fascists by the” new left”. Broad strata of Western society were virtually untouched by the confrontation between these groups until the mid-noughties of the third millennium. Moreover, the main ideological expansion of the West was aimed at the development of “conquered territories”. It was there that the most “advanced” “public organizations” were created, spreading the propaganda of equality of norm and perversion to Western grants, even the advantages of perversion over the norm, because it “suffered for a long time”.

There, on the” new lands”, the” Soros funds ” and their many similarities worked. And left-liberal ideas, having fallen into the post-communist ideological void accustomed to the presence of a” leading and guiding ” people, were in the greatest demand. The additional appeal of these ideas was given by the fact that their local adherents, due to the support of Western funds, instantly became super-successful people against the background of the rapidly impoverished (in the 1990s) post-Soviet society.

The main ideological expansion of the West was aimed at the development of “conquered territories”, where the “Soros funds” and their numerous similarities worked.

It is difficult to say how all this would have ended if the West had had the wit and patience to wait, not to immediately cut the post-Soviet “chicken”, but to give the liberals the opportunity to demonstrate at least some success. Then it was inexpensive. But, having invested in a thin layer of people temporarily in power, the West decided that all the problems were solved. The elites will cope with educating the masses. And it was seriously mistaken.

Split in the Western family

I don’t know if Russia and China would have had a chance to stand up to the united West, which by the end of the 1990s was totally superior to them in all indicators, except for Chinese industrial growth (but it is not enough to grow quickly, you need to have time to grow), if the expansion of Western neolithic ideas would have remained exclusively external. But the left-wing liberals, sensing that they had significantly strengthened their positions due to external expansion, launched an offensive against conservatives inside the West. This was the beginning of the end, for” Every kingdom divided against itself will become desolate; and every city or house divided against itself will not stand ” (Matthew 12: 25).

The West faced several divisions at once. First, there were divisions between conservatives and liberals within each individual country. Second, there is a split between conservative Eastern Europe and liberal Western Europe within the EU. Third, a split has emerged between the European bureaucracy and national Governments.

Moreover, since the European bureaucracy came out from radical left-liberal positions, in the fight against it, even liberal national governments were forced to seek the support of conservatives, which weakened the position of liberals in each individual country.

An increasing amount of Western resources began to be directed not to maintain the hegemony of the West, but to the internal struggle of liberals for an ideological monopoly. The West has lost the ability to control planetary processes, but, being in euphoria, on the wave of success, it did not immediately notice this. When it noticed, it was too late. The divided Western society could no longer unite and was increasingly slipping into a state of cold, and then almost hot, civil war. The struggle between liberals and conservatives, like any struggle of roughly equal forces, began to devour almost all available resources, and the West began to feel resource hunger.

The struggle between liberals and conservatives began to devour almost all available resources, and the West began to feel resource hunger.

Since the opportunity to pay off the resource shortage at the expense of Russia and/or China was lost (the West thought it was temporary, but in fact it turned out to be forever), cannibalism had to be engaged: the stronger countries of the West began to redirect resources that had previously been used to support weaker and poorer countries in their favor. Immediately, the internal split deepened. In Europe, in addition to the division into West and East, there was a problem of “rich North” and “poor South”. These two parts of the EU had different views not only on the prospects of economic and financial policy of the European Union, but also set different foreign policy goals for themselves.

Divisions between the US and the EU, the US and Israel, the US and Turkey, Turkey and Israel, Israel and the EU, and the EU and Turkey have emerged and begun to deepen. Washington’s position began to weaken even in the traditionally loyal monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula.

Political laws are inexorable

The West is still trying to present a united front. In particular, the United States is forming an all-Western coalition against China and is trying to bind Russia’s forces in the European direction by forming a single pan-European anti-Russian front. In the statements of government officials, on the paper of signed agreements and according to the estimates of expert offices funded from Western budgets, it seems to work, but not so much in terms of the self-perception of the population of Western countries, which the press is increasingly forced to reflect with minimal objectivity.

The US is using NATO to form an all-Western coalition against China and Russia.

The collective West still retains a sense of civilizational unity, but in the face of growing resource scarcity, this cannot help it in any way. Still, the strong, in order to survive, is forced to withdraw resources from the weak. At the same time, even if the weak does not rebel, but allows themselves to be robbed to the end, the weakening of the West will progress at an increasing pace. On the example of Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, and the former “Baltic tigers”, we see that sooner or later there comes a time when the robbed statehood loses the ability to support itself. Starting from this period, it is necessary either to pump additional resources into it just for the sake of preserving it, or to accept that it will de facto disappear, first as an economic unit, and then as a political one, which will reduce the amount of available resources, respectively aggravating the problem.

Today, the West is already clearly divided into three clusters: the American one (the main one, torn apart in the United States by the struggle of right-wing conservative Trumpists and left-wing radical Bidenites); the European one (whose economic interests require cooperation with Russia, but the ruling elites of most countries are afraid that they will not be able to retain power if they leave the American umbrella); and the Asia-Pacific one (which has already fallen into the sphere of Chinese economic influence, but does not want to admit it for the same reason that modern Europe does not want to break with America).

Historical experience shows that political laws are inexorable. If you try to slow down the development of natural processes, then the longer you delay, the more terrible the final catastrophe will be. In the 1990s, the West could still win, in the noughties conclude a compromise peace, being in a favorable position, in the tenth it was still possible to talk about a compromise, but the main bonuses were already received by Russia and China.

At this stage, the West can only count on a complete and unconditional surrender. Further delay will lead to the fact that there will be no one to capitulate. People, houses and cities will remain, but the western system will disappear.

In the 2010s, Russia and China already received the main bonuses.

Yet the United States is trying to continue playing the game of victory, and its allies have no strength to step out of the American shadow. Further decisions should be made in the next three to five years. Either the United States will risk starting a war against China (then it should be started as early as possible, since it may be too late), or they will have to admit defeat in the global confrontation. For the collective West, this will be a greater shock than the one that shook the Soviet sphere of influence during the collapse of the USSR. The wreckage of the collective West in the form of junior partners of the United States will start looking for new patrons even more frantically than the post-socialist countries did in the 1990s.

At this point, the question will arise: where is the new assemblage point, around whom will the new centralization take place?

The square trinomial and its political roots

So far, we believe that such an assemblage point can be the Russian-Chinese Eurasia based on the SCO, the EAEU, the CSTO and other structures created and being created by Russia and China. However, China, which is trying to protect itself against a sudden (but more than likely) collapse of Western markets, has recently taken several cautious steps to establish its own control over the Trans-Eurasian trade routes under Russian control. A possible clash of interests is in Africa and Latin America, where both powers are actively increasing their economic expansion.

The Russian-Chinese Eurasia based on the SCO, EAEU, and CSTO can become an assembly point.

Finally, while not yet obvious, but in the long run, the most dangerous contradiction is that the fragments of the collective West that fall into the Chinese sphere of influence (the Republic of Korea, Australia, and New Zealand), along with the Southeast Asian states already located there, have interests diametrically opposed to the interests of Europe that potentially falls into the Russian sphere of influence. Plus, India and Japan are too big a prize for Beijing and Moscow to allow each other’s sole influence there.

These contradictions are objective, and whether they can be overcome depends on the collective will of Russia and China. Today, we cannot say unequivocally that this will be achieved, if only because we do not know in what geopolitical conditions we will have to move on to building a “beautiful new world”. One thing is clear: Washington’s belated recognition of multipolarity in the form of a statement that there are three centers of power in today’s world (Russia, the United States, and China), although formally true, cannot satisfy anyone, because the dynamics of global processes are negative for the United States, and they will still try to change it, which means that the three-member structure will not be stable due to American opportunism.

In general, today the crisis is developing, the catastrophe of the collective West seems inevitable, but the subsequent catharsis does not promise peace.

A commented reading of Putin’s speech at Valdai

October 24, 2021

Note: Below is the full speech made by made by Vladimir Putin, to which I have added red colors to add emphasis and a few comments of my own written in the blue color.  And while I do not have the energy or time to repeat this exercise for the Q&A section which followed his speech, I highly encourage you all to also read it!
Andrei

——-

A commented reading of Putin’s speech at Valdai

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,

To begin with, I would like to thank you for coming to Russia and taking part in the Valdai Club events.

As always, during these meetings you raise pressing issues and hold comprehensive discussions of these issues that, without exaggeration, matter for people around the world. Once again, the key theme of the forum was put in a straightforward, I would even say, point-blank manner: Global Shake-up in the 21st Century: The Individual, Values and the State.

Here Putin clearly indicated that he is not talking about local or even regional political issues, but that what we are witnessing is a planetary crisis and a planetary shakeup of the international world order.

Indeed, we are living in an era of great change. If I may, by tradition, I will offer my views with regard to the agenda that you have come up with.

In general, this phrase, “to live in an era of great change,” may seem trite since we use it so often. Also, this era of change began quite a long time ago, and changes have become part of everyday life. Hence, the question: are they worth focusing on? I agree with those who made the agenda for these meetings; of course they are.

In recent decades, many people have cited a Chinese proverb. The Chinese people are wise, and they have many thinkers and valuable thoughts that we can still use today. One of them, as you may know, says, “God forbid living in a time of change.” But we are already living in it, whether we like it or not, and these changes are becoming deeper and more fundamental. But let us consider another Chinese wisdom: the word “crisis” consists of two hieroglyphs – there are probably representatives of the People’s Republic of China in the audience, and they will correct me if I have it wrong – but, two hieroglyphs, “danger” and “opportunity.” And as we say here in Russia, “fight difficulties with your mind, and fight dangers with your experience.”

This sentence contains two very important components: first, Putin contrasts difficulties with dangers, hinting at the fact that what Russia considered as primarily as “difficulties” in the past is transitioning into a real danger.  Second, he also indicates how Russia fought dangers in the past.  The single most important collective experience in Russia’s recent history are, of course, the two revolutions in 1917 (February and October) and WWII.  The first two were internal, the other one external.  So this could be summed up as “no revolution inside Russia and no outside aggression against Russia“.

Of course, we must be aware of the danger and be ready to counter it, and not just one threat but many diverse threats that can arise in this era of change. However, it is no less important to recall a second component of the crisis – opportunities that must not be missed, all the more so since the crisis we are facing is conceptual and even civilisation-related. This is basically a crisis of approaches and principles that determine the very existence of humans on Earth, but we will have to seriously revise them in any event. The question is where to move, what to give up, what to revise or adjust. In saying this, I am convinced that it is necessary to fight for real values, upholding them in every way.

As I have been repeating it on this blog for more than a decade, the current crisis is not (just) about resources, it is a civilizational crisis and, here is the crucial factor, while in 2010 Putin still talked about Russia being European, the tone has now changed, he is clearly opposing two civilizational models: the Western one and the Russian one.  That, by the way, clearly implies that Russia is not part of the West, at least not civilizationally.

Humanity entered into a new era about three decades ago when the main conditions were created for ending military-political and ideological confrontation. I am sure you have talked a lot about this in this discussion club. Our Foreign Minister also talked about it, but nevertheless I would like to repeat several things.

A search for a new balance, sustainable relations in the social, political, economic, cultural and military areas and support for the world system was launched at that time. We were looking for this support but must say that we did not find it, at least so far. Meanwhile, those who felt like the winners after the end of the Cold War (we have also spoken about this many times) and thought they climbed Mount Olympus soon discovered that the ground was falling away underneath even there, and this time it was their turn, and nobody could “stop this fleeting moment” no matter how fair it seemed.

This is a direct dig at those narcissistic people in the West who thought that they had “defeated Communism” while, in reality, the CPSU defeated itself, and who thought that from now on, the West would rule the world forever and unchallenged.  Some even got medals for “winning the Cold War” while, in reality, the USSR and the CPSU just committed suicide.

In general, it must have seemed that we adjusted to this continuous inconstancy, unpredictability and permanent state of transition, but this did not happen either.

I would like to add that the transformation that we are seeing and are part of is of a different calibre than the changes that repeatedly occurred in human history, at least those we know about. This is not simply a shift in the balance of forces or scientific and technological breakthroughs, though both are also taking place. Today, we are facing systemic changes in all directions – from the increasingly complicated geophysical condition of our planet to a more paradoxical interpretation of what a human is and what the reasons for his existence are.

Here, again, Putin is trying to wake up his audience, especially the delusional folks in the West, about the nature and magnitude of the changes taking place before our eyes: a series systemic changes in all directions.

Let us look around. And I will say this again: I will allow myself to express a few thoughts that I sign on to.

Firstly, climate change and environmental degradation are so obvious that even the most careless people can no longer dismiss them. One can continue to engage in scientific debates about the mechanisms behind the ongoing processes, but it is impossible to deny that these processes are getting worse, and something needs to be done. Natural disasters such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis have almost become the new normal, and we are getting used to them. Suffice it to recall the devastating, tragic floods in Europe last summer, the fires in Siberia – there are a lot of examples. Not only in Siberia – our neighbours in Turkey have also had wildfires, and the United States, and other places on the American continent. It sometimes seems that any geopolitical, scientific and technical, or ideological rivalry becomes pointless in this context, if the winners will have not enough air to breathe or nothing to drink.

The coronavirus pandemic has become another reminder of how fragile our community is, how vulnerable it is, and our most important task is to ensure humanity a safe existence and resilience. To increase our chance of survival in the face of cataclysms, we absolutely need to rethink how we go about our lives, how we run our households, how cities develop or how they should develop; we need to reconsider economic development priorities of entire states. I repeat, safety is one of our main imperatives, in any case it has become obvious now, and anyone who tries to deny this will have to later explain why they were wrong and why they were unprepared for the crises and shocks whole nations are facing.

This is very important.  Whatever one thinks of the virus and the pandemic, the total chaos in which each country did its own thing has shown that even a major crisis does NOT unite humanity, due to many objective reasons.  Furthermore, the capitalist societies, far from being solid, are all barely surviving, by a very thin thread, mostly by printing money, lying to the people and by creating bubbles.  The western unsinkable Titanic is sinking, but the orchestra is still playing, very loudly.

Second. The socioeconomic problems facing humankind have worsened to the point where, in the past, they would trigger worldwide shocks, such as world wars or bloody social cataclysms. Everyone is saying that the current model of capitalism which underlies the social structure in the overwhelming majority of countries, has run its course and no longer offers a solution to a host of increasingly tangled differences.

Marx saw the internal contradictions of capitalism, as did many many others, but nobody reads him anymore and the others are forgotten.  Personally, I will never forget the speech of a Pakistani delegate to the UN in Geneva saying “the internal contradictions of Communism have caught up with the Soviet Union before the internal contradictions of capitalism will catch up with the West“.  How right he was, and now this is hard to deny!  Capitalism, being parasitical in nature, could only live off the plundering of the planet (hence Lenin’s remark about “imperialism being the latest stage of capitalism”).  The West “survived” the USSR by 3 decades only because these decades were decades of plunder of defenseless countries: now that there is nobody else to plunder and rob (what is left is either too poor or too strong), the crisis of capitalism explodes for all to see.

Everywhere, even in the richest countries and regions, the uneven distribution of material wealth has exacerbated inequality, primarily, inequality of opportunities both within individual societies and at the international level. I mentioned this formidable challenge in my remarks at the Davos Forum earlier this year. No doubt, these problems threaten us with major and deep social divisions.

This especially for those who hate Putin for going to Davos: not only does his presence there not prove at all that he is “in cahoots with the western capitalists”, it proves that when Putin meets them (as he should, they are the real powers ruling the Empire), he warns them about their own future and indicates to them how Russia will act when the crisis comes.  This is something that the people in the West seem to have a mental block over: the Russians always talk to everybody, even their worst enemies.  One thousand years of existential warfare as taught them the wisdom of this approach: there is a time for everything, including a time to talk and a time to kill, and Russians are very expert at both!  This is why Russia talks to Israel, Iran and the KSA, and this is why Russia talks to the Taliban (which under Russian law are still terrorists, though Putin hinted that this might change in the future, depending on what the Taliban do).  Russians will never refuse to talk to any entity, no matter how evil or dangerous it is, as long as it/he has real agency!  Do the folks in Davos have real agency?  Hell yes!  So OF COURSE the Russians will talk to them.  Finally, talking to a dangerous enemy is simply not seen as bad thing, Russian princes did that with the Tatars for several centuries.  Then the Russians won, militarily.

Furthermore, a number of countries and even entire regions are regularly hit by food crises. We will probably discuss this later, but there is every reason to believe that this crisis will become worse in the near future and may reach extreme forms. There are also shortages of water and electricity (we will probably cover this today as well), not to mention poverty, high unemployment rates or lack of adequate healthcare.

Here Putin is being very specific: he warns about a future food crisis which will reach an extreme form.  You can be pretty sure that this warning is based on SVR analyses about the very real risk of violent riots, including food riots, happening in the West.  As for Russia, she has the largest freshwater reserves on the planet, is amongst the top agricultural powers on the planet, and has enough energy to keep her going for centuries.  Last but not least, Russia now has the most powerful military on the planet and she will not allow the West, even a hungry West, to come a simply rob her of her own riches.

Lagging countries are fully aware of that and are losing faith in the prospects of ever catching up with the leaders. Disappointment spurs aggression and pushes people to join the ranks of extremists. People in these countries have a growing sense of unfulfilled and failed expectations and the lack of any opportunities not only for themselves, but for their children, as well. This is what makes them look for better lives and results in uncontrolled migration, which, in turn, creates fertile ground for social discontent in more prosperous countries. I do not need to explain anything to you, since you can see everything with your own eyes and are, probably, versed on these matters even better than I.

As I noted earlier, prosperous leading powers have other pressing social problems, challenges and risks in ample supply, and many among them are no longer interested in fighting for influence since, as they say, they already have enough on their plates. The fact that society and young people in many countries have overreacted in a harsh and even aggressive manner to measures to combat the coronavirus showed – and I want to emphasise this, I hope someone has already mentioned this before me at other venues – so, I think that this reaction showed that the pandemic was just a pretext: the causes for social irritation and frustration run much deeper.

The issue of the need to never conflate or confuse cause and pretext is something Putin often mentions.  In this case, what he is saying is that the lockdowns were not the cause of the protests, but rather the spark that set off the social explosion whose true causes are in the unsustainable and, frankly, inhuman nature of the hypocritical, immoral, and unsustainable western capitalist order and worldview (capitalism is both).

I have another important point to make. The pandemic, which, in theory, was supposed to rally the people in the fight against this massive common threat, has instead become a divisive rather than a unifying factor. There are many reasons for that, but one of the main ones is that they started looking for solutions to problems among the usual approaches – a variety of them, but still the old ones, but they just do not work. Or, to be more precise, they do work, but often and oddly enough, they worsen the existing state of affairs.

Western capitalism is all about individualism.  It is based on the notion that the sum of our greeds will result in the best human society possible.  Of course, this is a lie, and while it does force people to work hard motivated either by greed (the rich) or survival (the poor), it cannot generate a society, a civilization, which can act together against a common threat: everybody pulls the blanket to himself, that is all there is to the so-called “western civilizational values”: the rest is just ideological prolefeed for the deceived masses.

By the way, Russia has repeatedly called for, and I will repeat this, stopping these inappropriate ambitions and for working together. We will probably talk about this later but it is clear what I have in mind. We are talking about the need to counter the coronavirus infection together. But nothing changes; everything remains the same despite the humanitarian considerations. I am not referring to Russia now, let’s leave the sanctions against Russia for now; I mean the sanctions that remain in place against those states that badly need international assistance. Where are the humanitarian fundamentals of Western political thought? It appears there is nothing there, just idle talk. Do you understand? This is what seems to be on the surface.

Here Putin even spells out the self-evident truth which is not impossible to conceal: Where are the humanitarian fundamentals of Western political thought? It appears there is nothing there, just idle talk.  The fact that he said it twice, so publicly, is one of the most important statements in his entire career and one of the key reasons why the western ruling classes are now going into deep hysterics: they feel like the proverbial naked king.

Furthermore, the technological revolution, impressive achievements in artificial intelligence, electronics, communications, genetics, bioengineering, and medicine open up enormous opportunities, but at the same time, in practical terms, they raise philosophical, moral and spiritual questions that were until recently the exclusive domain of science fiction writers. What will happen if machines surpass humans in the ability to think? Where is the limit of interference in the human body beyond which a person ceases being himself and turns into some other entity? What are the general ethical limits in the world where the potential of science and machines are becoming almost boundless? What will this mean for each of us, for our descendants, our nearest descendants – our children and grandchildren?

These changes are gaining momentum, and they certainly cannot be stopped because they are objective as a rule. All of us will have to deal with the consequences regardless of our political systems, economic condition or prevailing ideology.

Verbally, all states talk about their commitment to the ideals of cooperation and a willingness to work together for resolving common problems but, unfortunately, these are just words. In reality, the opposite is happening, and the pandemic has served to fuel the negative trends that emerged long ago and are now only getting worse. The approach based on the proverb, “your own shirt is closer to the body,” has finally become common and is now no longer even concealed. Moreover, this is often even a matter of boasting and brandishing. Egotistic interests prevail over the notion of the common good.

There are too many examples to list them here, so I will pick one: the “molecules of freedom” which Uncle Shmuel promised to its European vassals are now in Asia.  QED.

Of course, the problem is not just the ill will of certain states and notorious elites. It is more complicated than that, in my opinion. In general, life is seldom divided into black and white. Every government, every leader is primarily responsible to his own compatriots, obviously. The main goal is to ensure their security, peace and prosperity. So, international, transnational issues will never be as important for a national leadership as domestic stability. In general, this is normal and correct.

We need to face the fact the global governance institutions are not always effective and their capabilities are not always up to the challenge posed by the dynamics of global processes. In this sense, the pandemic could help – it clearly showed which institutions have what it takes and which need fine-tuning.

The re-alignment of the balance of power presupposes a redistribution of shares in favour of rising and developing countries that until now felt left out. To put it bluntly, the Western domination of international affairs, which began several centuries ago and, for a short period, was almost absolute in the late 20th century, is giving way to a much more diverse system.

Okay, but here allow me to point out that I said the same thing, much more directly and in detail, before Putin did :-).  See this article, where I even gave dates: “the Empire died on January 8th 2020, and the US died almost an exact year later, on January 6th 2021“.  To see the non-moderated and, therefore, quite spontaneous reaction these words elicited, please check out the comments section under the Unz version of the same article.  I fully expect the reaction to these words by Putin to mimic the hysterics in the Unz comments section: impotent rage, personal hatred, hysterical flagwaving, and a barrage of unoriginal insults.  None of that noise will affect the outcome, not in the least.  Uncle Shmuel and his Empire are dead, they only appear alive due to momentum (and superb brainwashing in Zone A) and another world order, one in which the West will play a secondary role, at best, is being formed before our eyes.

This transformation is not a mechanical process and, in its own way, one might even say, is unparalleled. Arguably, political history has no examples of a stable world order being established without a big war and its outcomes as the basis, as was the case after World War II. So, we have a chance to create an extremely favourable precedent. The attempt to create it after the end of the Cold War on the basis of Western domination failed, as we see. The current state of international affairs is a product of that very failure, and we must learn from this.

This is a topic which a lot of Russian historians and analysts talk about: in the past, all the vast reorganizations of the international order resulted in wars which then defined the final shape of that order, until the next crisis, that is.  Plainly, this is the issue the Russians are raising: can the West collapse and merge into the new international order without triggering a major war, especially since such a major war will probably be nuclear and threaten the survival of the human race?  Russia did all she can do to deter the West: she built a military capable of matching and even surpassing the united armies of the imperial West on all levels, from the tactical to the operational to the strategic, and if the West decided to go down in its own Götterdämmerung, Russia will make sure that nobody survives her (as Putin said “what need do we have of a world without Russia?” and “at least we will die like martyrs, they will just croak“).  But at the end of the day, whether the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire will trigger the final holocaust of mankind or not is in their hands.  There is nothing more Russia can do to avert that outcome.

Some may wonder, what have we arrived at? We have arrived somewhere paradoxical. Just an example: for two decades, the most powerful nation in the world has been conducting military campaigns in two countries that it cannot be compared to by any standard. But in the end, it had to wind down operations without achieving a single goal that it had set for itself going in 20 years ago, and to withdraw from these countries causing considerable damage to others and itself. In fact, the situation has worsened dramatically.

But that is not the point. Previously, a war lost by one side meant victory for the other side, which took responsibility for what was happening. For example, the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, for example, did not make Vietnam a “black hole.” On the contrary, a successfully developing state arose there, which, admittedly, relied on the support of a strong ally. Things are different now: no matter who takes the upper hand, the war does not stop, but just changes form. As a rule, the hypothetical winner is reluctant or unable to ensure peaceful post-war recovery, and only worsens the chaos and the vacuum posing a danger to the world.

Colleagues,

What do you think are the starting points of this complex realignment process? Let me try to summarise the talking points.

First, the coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown that the international order is structured around nation states. By the way, recent developments have shown that global digital platforms – with all their might, which we could see from the internal political processes in the United States – have failed to usurp political or state functions. These attempts proved ephemeral. The US authorities, as I said, have immediately put the owners of these platforms in their place, which is exactly what is being done in Europe, if you just look at the size of the fines imposed on them and the demonopolisation measures being taken. You are aware of that.

There was no coordinated international response to the pandemic, each country did what it thought it should do.  The same will happen with future threats, such is the nature of our current planetary (dis)organization and international institutions made no difference.

In recent decades, many have tossed around fancy concepts claiming that the role of the state was outdated and outgoing. Globalisation supposedly made national borders an anachronism, and sovereignty an obstacle to prosperity. You know, I said it before and I will say it again. This is also what was said by those who attempted to open up other countries’ borders for the benefit of their own competitive advantages. This is what actually happened. And as soon as it transpired that someone somewhere is achieving great results, they immediately returned to closing borders in general and, first of all, their own customs borders and what have you, and started building walls. Well, were we supposed to not notice, or what? Everyone sees everything and everyone understands everything perfectly well. Of course, they do.

That is a dig at the western libertarians: Putin is most definitely a “statist”, and he believes, like most Russians, that the state is not only useful, it is vital.

There is no point in disputing it anymore. It is obvious. But events, when we spoke about the need to open up borders, events, as I said, went in the opposite direction. Only sovereign states can effectively respond to the challenges of the times and the demands of the citizens. Accordingly, any effective international order should take into account the interests and capabilities of the state and proceed on that basis, and not try to prove that they should not exist. Furthermore, it is impossible to impose anything on anyone, be it the principles underlying the sociopolitical structure or values that someone, for their own reasons, has called universal. After all, it is clear that when a real crisis strikes, there is only one universal value left and that is human life, which each state decides for itself how best to protect based on its abilities, culture and traditions.

Here, again, Putin is not being ideological at all, he brings it all down to a basic issue of survival.  And the key to survival is the existence of a truly sovereign and strong state, with real, actual, agency.

In this regard, I will again note how severe and dangerous the coronavirus pandemic has become. As we know, more than 4.9 million have died of it. These terrifying figures are comparable and even exceed the military losses of the main participants in World War I.

That’s for those who still bought into the entire “there is no pandemic” nonsense and implies a question: what would it take for you to wake up to reality? 5 million? 10 million? 20?

The second point I would like to draw your attention to is the scale of change that forces us to act extremely cautiously, if only for reasons of self-preservation. The state and society must not respond radically to qualitative shifts in technology, dramatic environmental changes or the destruction of traditional systems. It is easier to destroy than to create, as we all know. We in Russia know this very well, regrettably, from our own experience, which we have had several times.

Putin here refers to all the terrible revolutions Russia went through during the 20th century: twice in 1917, then 1991 and 1993.  Putin is strongly opposed to ideologically motivated and violent revolutions.  That does not mean that he believes that whatever preceded these revolutions was good or should have been kept, only that changes must be made very gradually and carefully, and never under the hysterical screams and slogans of crazies drunk on ideological certainties.

Just over a century ago, Russia objectively faced serious problems, including because of the ongoing World War I, but its problems were not bigger and possibly even smaller or not as acute as the problems the other countries faced, and Russia could have dealt with its problems gradually and in a civilised manner. But revolutionary shocks led to the collapse and disintegration of a great power. The second time this happened 30 years ago, when a potentially very powerful nation failed to enter the path of urgently needed, flexible but thoroughly substantiated reforms at the right time, and as a result it fell victim to all kinds of dogmatists, both reactionary ones and the so-called progressives – all of them did their bit, all sides did.

These examples from our history allow us to say that revolutions are not a way to settle a crisis but a way to aggravate it. No revolution was worth the damage it did to the human potential.

Quick reminder: even revolutions which are announced as “bloodless” end up spilling more blood than anybody could imagine.  Here I would like to quote Gandhi “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent“.  Okay, maybe not really permanent, but certainly it lasts much MUCH longer that whatever “good” violence was supposed to achieve.

Third. The importance of a solid support in the sphere of morals, ethics and values is increasing dramatically in the modern fragile world. In point of fact, values are a product, a unique product of cultural and historical development of any nation. The mutual interlacing of nations definitely enriches them, openness expands their horizons and allows them to take a fresh look at their own traditions. But the process must be organic, and it can never be rapid. Any alien elements will be rejected anyway, possibly bluntly. Any attempts to force one’s values on others with an uncertain and unpredictable outcome can only further complicate a dramatic situation and usually produce the opposite reaction and an opposite from the intended result.

That is a direct dig at the Woke-inspired pseudo-Wakanda the crazies in the West are now advocating for, there will be much more about this below.

We look in amazement at the processes underway in the countries which have been traditionally looked at as the standard-bearers of progress. Of course, the social and cultural shocks that are taking place in the United States and Western Europe are none of our business; we are keeping out of this. Some people in the West believe that an aggressive elimination of entire pages from their own history, “reverse discrimination” against the majority in the interests of a minority, and the demand to give up the traditional notions of mother, father, family and even gender, they believe that all of these are the mileposts on the path towards social renewal.

This is about the USA and how it committed suicide.  What Putin is saying is this: you want to commit suicide, by all means, do it, but do not try to get us to follow you, because we never ever will.

Listen, I would like to point out once again that they have a right to do this, we are keeping out of this. But we would like to ask them to keep out of our business as well. We have a different viewpoint, at least the overwhelming majority of Russian society – it would be more correct to put it this way – has a different opinion on this matter. We believe that we must rely on our own spiritual values, our historical tradition and the culture of our multiethnic nation.

It’s all true.  Most Russians, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or political ideas like gender differentiated couples, with a father and a mother, each in his/her role.  If the USA wants to transform itself into a “Trannystan” run by gender fluid creatures of an undetermined nature and function, no problem.  But Russia openly and categorically rejects such a model no matter how loud the protest of “human rights” (or tranny rights) organization in the West will protest.

The advocates of so-called ‘social progress’ believe they are introducing humanity to some kind of a new and better consciousness. Godspeed, hoist the flags as we say, go right ahead. The only thing that I want to say now is that their prescriptions are not new at all. It may come as a surprise to some people, but Russia has been there already. After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx and Engels, also said that they would change existing ways and customs and not just political and economic ones, but the very notion of human morality and the foundations of a healthy society. The destruction of age-old values, religion and relations between people, up to and including the total rejection of family (we had that, too), encouragement to inform on loved ones – all this was proclaimed progress and, by the way, was widely supported around the world back then and was quite fashionable, same as today. By the way, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of opinions other than theirs.

That is also something I have said many times: many of the so-called “minorities” in the West are every bit as intolerant and even violent as the Trotskysts in Soviet Russia.  While they wrap themselves in the mantles of “acceptance”, “positivity” or “diversity” the truth is you better agree with them, or else.  I can personally attest that this blog has lost a few readers (not nearly as many as they wish to believe!) and even authors over my refusal to consider homosexuality as a “normal and natural variation of human sexuality”.  Some of these folks even wrote me long letters of insults in the apparent belief this that would impress me.  There are many minorities in the West and the world and the rulers of the Empire use them to great effectiveness to first, distract from the real issues and, second, to destroy the western civilization (I reposted one recently here).  In my experience, the single most intolerant and ideologically-wired group are homosexuals, leaving militant feminists far behind.  But the BLM or Antifa types are also display a typically Trotskyst mindset.  As for the Alt-Right, Q-anon and the rest of the “don’t tread on me” folks (who have been trodded upon since birth and never had be brains or reality awareness realize this!), they dream about “Evropa”, drive around on Harleys, stock on ammo and guns and sometimes even seem to believe that Putin or Russia is on their side.  And yes, while they are rather pathetic, they are much LESS ideological intolerant and, therefore, less potentially violent, than their “progressive” counterparts.  The US ruling classes use them ALL for the sole purpose of staying in power.

This, I believe, should call to mind some of what we are witnessing now. Looking at what is happening in a number of Western countries, we are amazed to see the domestic practices, which we, fortunately, have left, I hope, in the distant past. The fight for equality and against discrimination has turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity, when the works of the great authors of the past – such as Shakespeare – are no longer taught at schools or universities, because their ideas are believed to be backward. The classics are declared backward and ignorant of the importance of gender or race. In Hollywood memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what colour or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

He said is plainly here: “aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity”.  And, believe me, after 70 years of Bolshevik rule, Russians know all they need to know about “aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity”.  Then want NO part of it.

Countering acts of racism is a necessary and noble cause, but the new ‘cancel culture’ has turned it into ‘reverse discrimination’ that is, reverse racism. The obsessive emphasis on race is further dividing people, when the real fighters for civil rights dreamed precisely about erasing differences and refusing to divide people by skin colour. I specifically asked my colleagues to find the following quote from Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character.” This is the true value. However, things are turning out differently there. By the way, the absolute majority of Russian people do not think that the colour of a person’s skin or their gender is an important matter. Each of us is a human being. This is what matters.

That’s one for those ignorant idiots who believe that Russia cares about the “White race”, including, alas, a few folks who consider themselves Russian, or say so, but whose worldview is categorically opposed to the traditional Russian one: Russians don’t think or use categories such as skin color or ethnicity (the last Czar was more German than Russian for example, and his wife was German).  Unlike the West, which was born in the 12th century and who has been imperialist ever since the First Crusade, Russia, like the East Roman Empire (aka Byzantium) or, before that, the Roman and Alexandrian empires, was always multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious and western notions such as “the White race” have no meaning whatsoever in the traditional Russian worldview (even the Bolsheviks officially were internationalists, albeit mostly russophobic ones, but that is another topic).

In a number of Western countries, the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria. Look, beware of going where the Bolsheviks once planned to go – not only communalising chickens, but also communalising women. One more step and you will be there.

Yup, he dared to say it:  “the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria”.  I can just imagine the rage these words will trigger.

Also, about “communilizing” chicken or women.  He is referring to the various ideologies, from Plato to Marx, who wanted to subvert the traditional family and make women “communal”.  For those who have no idea what I am referring to, I can only recommend the following book by Igor Shafarevich “The Socialist Phenomenon“.

Zealots of these new approaches even go so far as to want to abolish these concepts altogether. Anyone who dares mention that men and women actually exist, which is a biological fact, risk being ostracised. “Parent number one” and “parent number two,” “’birthing parent” instead of “mother,” and “human milk” replacing “breastmilk” because it might upset the people who are unsure about their own gender. I repeat, this is nothing new; in the 1920s, the so-called Soviet Kulturtraegers also invented some newspeak believing they were creating a new consciousness and changing values that way. And, as I have already said, they made such a mess it still makes one shudder at times.

Here again, Putin OPENLY denounces the entire “Woke” ideology, which he compares to the Nazi ideology (hence his use of the term Kulturtraeger), its ideologues and its CRIMES, see next

Not to mention some truly monstrous things when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. That is, the teachers actually impose on them a choice we all supposedly have. They do so while shutting the parents out of the process and forcing the child to make decisions that can upend their entire life. They do not even bother to consult with child psychologists – is a child at this age even capable of making a decision of this kind? Calling a spade a spade, this verges on a crime against humanity, and it is being done in the name and under the banner of progress.

What the US ideologues are doing to children is a crime against humanity.  It is child abuse of the worst kind.  Putin has the courage to say so openly.  Well, at least the gender-crazies in the West cannot get him fired or otherwise “cancelled”.  Good.

Well, if someone likes this, let them do it. I have already mentioned that, in shaping our approaches, we will be guided by a healthy conservatism. That was a few years ago, when passions on the international arena were not yet running as high as they are now, although, of course, we can say that clouds were gathering even then. Now, when the world is going through a structural disruption, the importance of reasonable conservatism as the foundation for a political course has skyrocketed – precisely because of the multiplying risks and dangers, and the fragility of the reality around us.

Same message: enjoy your wannabe Wakanda but stay away from us, our families, our traditions and our children above all!

This conservative approach is not about an ignorant traditionalism, a fear of change or a restraining game, much less about withdrawing into our own shell. It is primarily about reliance on a time-tested tradition, the preservation and growth of the population, a realistic assessment of oneself and others, a precise alignment of priorities, a correlation of necessity and possibility, a prudent formulation of goals, and a fundamental rejection of extremism as a method. And frankly, in the impending period of global reconstruction, which may take quite long, with its final design being uncertain, moderate conservatism is the most reasonable line of conduct, as far as I see it. It will inevitably change at some point, but so far, do no harm – the guiding principle in medicine – seems to be the most rational one. Noli nocere, as they say.

First, “do no harm” should not be a controversial notion.  But the West and all its ideologies and incarnations has dealt with that basic rule in a very simple way: “when WE do it, it is not harm, axiomatically, by definition”.  This sums of 1000 years of western imperialism, violence and intolerance: “when WE do it, it is good, because we are good” – and that is dogma.

Again, for us in Russia, these are not some speculative postulates, but lessons from our difficult and sometimes tragic history. The cost of ill-conceived social experiments is sometimes beyond estimation. Such actions can destroy not only the material, but also the spiritual foundations of human existence, leaving behind moral wreckage where nothing can be built to replace it for a long time.

That is a last warning: keep going on and you will leave nothing such a moral wreckage where nothing can be built to replace it for a long time.  Who are these words addressed to?  Not the leaders of the Empire.  Not the Woke folks, and not the braindead “Don’t tread on me” either. Not the Greta Tunberg types for sure.  I think that this  is a warning to those who still have something to preserve: Mediterranean countries, the Middle-East, Latin America and much of the entire Asian continent.

Finally, there is one more point I want to make. We understand all too well that resolving many urgent problems the world has been facing would be impossible without close international cooperation. However, we need to be realistic: most of the pretty slogans about coming up with global solutions to global problems that we have been hearing since the late 20th century will never become reality. In order to achieve a global solution, states and people have to transfer their sovereign rights to supra-national structures to an extent that few, if any, would accept. This is primarily attributable to the fact that you have to answer for the outcomes of such policies not to some global public, but to your citizens and voters.

However, this does not mean that exercising some restraint for the sake of bringing about solutions to global challenges is impossible. After all, a global challenge is a challenge for all of us together, and to each of us in particular. If everyone saw a way to benefit from cooperation in overcoming these challenges, this would definitely leave us better equipped to work together.

One of the ways to promote these efforts could be, for example, to draw up, at the UN level, a list of challenges and threats that specific countries face, with details of how they could affect other countries. This effort could involve experts from various countries and academic fields, including you, my colleagues. We believe that developing a roadmap of this kind could inspire many countries to see global issues in a new light and understand how cooperation could be beneficial for them.

I have already mentioned the challenges international institutions are facing. Unfortunately, this is an obvious fact: it is now a question of reforming or closing some of them. However, the United Nations as the central international institution retains its enduring value, at least for now. I believe that in our turbulent world it is the UN that brings a touch of reasonable conservatism into international relations, something that is so important for normalising the situation.

The leaders of the West have tried to subvert and discredit the UN for many decades already.  Why?  Simple: they don’t have a superior status there, and the P5 can veto anything.  Hence all the tall by various US Presidents about a new “rules-based international order” or a “alliance of democracies”.  That is just nonsense whose sole purpose to subvert the UN because of Russia and China.  The leaders of the West want a total monopoly on power, and when they can’t get it, they simply ignore the rules they themselves agreed to after WWII.

Many criticise the UN for failing to adapt to a rapidly changing world. In part, this is true, but it is not the UN, but primarily its members who are to blame for this. In addition, this international body promotes not only international norms, but also the rule-making spirit, which is based on the principles of equality and maximum consideration for everyone’s opinions. Our mission is to preserve this heritage while reforming the organisation. However, in doing so we need to make sure that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.

There is much more to this: for example, the West has taken total control of organizations such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ICC or even the IOC.  The list of such totally controlled international organizations is very very long.  They also run Amnesty, WWF, the ICRC etc.  As somebody who worked both at the UN and (very shortly) at the ICRC, I can personally confirm this.  Putin is too diplomatic to say this but, believe me, the Russians are absolutely aware of this, and for good reason.

This is not the first time I am using a high rostrum to make this call for collective action in order to face up to the problems that continue to pile up and become more acute. It is thanks to you, friends and colleagues, that the Valdai Club is emerging or has already established itself as a high-profile forum. It is for this reason that I am turning to this platform to reaffirm our readiness to work together on addressing the most urgent problems that the world is facing today.

Friends,

The changes mentioned here prior to me, as well as by yours truly, are relevant to all countries and peoples. Russia, of course, is not an exception. Just like everyone else, we are searching for answers to the most urgent challenges of our time.

Of course, no one has any ready-made recipes. However, I would venture to say that our country has an advantage. Let me explain what this advantage is. It is to do with our historical experience. You may have noticed that I have referred to it several times in the course of my remarks. Unfortunately, we had to bring back many sad memories, but at least our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms. People really value stability and being able to live normal lives and to prosper while confident that the irresponsible aspirations of yet another group of revolutionaries will not upend their plans and aspirations. Many have vivid memories of what happened 30 years ago and all the pain it took to climb out of the ditch where our country and our society found themselves after the USSR fell apart.

Our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms“.  That is absolutely true, thanks to 3 terrible revolutions,  several bloodbaths (including the one in 1993 and Chechnia), the total self-destruction of the post-Maidan Ukraine and now the collective suicide of the West, soemthing which is reported about every day in the Russian media, state, corporate and social.  This is why the talk about a coup against Putin is so silly: not only does he have full and total control of all the “power ministries” and the support of a majority of Russians, but as soon as any wannabe “Maidan” (like what the West tried in Belarus recently) is attempted in Russia, an infinitely larger anti-Maidan will spontaneously happen.

The conservative views we hold are an optimistic conservatism, which is what matters the most. We believe stable, positive development to be possible. It all depends primarily on our own efforts. Of course, we are ready to work with our partners on common noble causes.

I would like to thank all participants once more, for your attention. As the tradition goes, I will gladly answer or at least try to answer your questions.

Thank you for your patience.

Conclusion: this was, by far, the most important speech ever made by Putin and it is a direct, open, challenge to the West.  We all, humans, are now truly entering a most dangerous period.  When Putin came to power, he perfectly understood how weak Russia was.  So he engaged in what appeared to be 2 decades of constant Russian concessions, a retreat on all fronts, and that got a lot of people very frustrated and angry at him.  But now, in 2021, we see that what he did was trade time (and space!) to fundamentally transform Russia from a plundered, humiliated and basically dying country into a power which can finally throw a direct challenge at the consolidated West: the dead AngloZionist Empire, the dying Anglosphere and a Europe gone completely insane.  And there is really nothing much his enemies in the West can do, short of starting a suicidal war they cannot win.   After 2 decades of very careful preparations Russia is now looking directly at the West, with no fear whatsoever and with a firm resolution to not allow the West to pull Russia into its own suicidal direction.

Andrei

Dmitry Medvedev: Why contacts with the current Ukrainian leadership are meaningless

October 13, 2021

Dmitry Medvedev: Why contacts with the current Ukrainian leadership are meaningless

Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev addressed Kommersant with his new article, titled:

Five short polemical theses

Kindly note that this is a machine translation and we may edit for nuance as is necessary.  

1. Ukraine is in search of its own identity and a special path, composing its own separate history (although the same history teaches that this takes centuries). But Ukrainian leaders, especially top officials, are people who do not have any stable self-identification. Unhappy people. Who are they, what country are they citizens of, where are their roots, what is their historical identity, ethnic background, and what gods do they pray to? Who do they feel like? Are they “schiria” Ukrainians? “Europeans”? The Russians? Jews? Tatars? Hungarians? Karaites?

The current president of this tortured country is a man with certain ethnic roots, who has spoken Russian all his life. Moreover, he worked in Russia and received significant funds from Russian sources. Nevertheless, at some point, when he became the head of state, out of fear of getting another “Maidan” directed against his personal power, he completely changed his political and moral orientation. And in fact-he gave up his identity. He began to fervently serve the most rabid nationalist forces in Ukraine (which, admittedly, were always there, but made up only 5-7% of the active population).

One can only imagine how disgusting it was for him to perform such a moral “somersault-mortale”. This is reminiscent of the crazy situation when representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nazi Germany would have applied for service in the SS for ideological reasons.

Of course, this situation causes a daily “cognitive dissonance” in his soul and actions. Moreover, you can not be sure that at some point when the political situation changes, they will not come for you to sew a yellow star on your back. He must endlessly maneuver between various forces: radical nationalists (“Nazis”, as they are commonly called there), the Muslim part of the population, primarily Tatars, moderate apolitical Ukrainians and Russians, representatives of other ethnic groups— so that his neck does not break. That is why there are bastard documents like the “law” on the indigenous peoples of Ukraine. That is why he shows himself to be a greater nationalist than the most radical of them.

He had to integrate into the “pantheon of heroes” of this part of Ukrainian society. Shout along with them: “Glory to the heroes!” Accept the unconditional authority of such scoundrels as “great Ukrainians”. Pray for the blessed memory of the terrorists and Judeophobes Bandera and Shukhevych, whose followers today call themselves a significant part of the political elite of Ukraine.

Everyone knows the mournful calendar of Bandera and policemen of that period: the summer of 1941, when after the capture of the city of Lviv by German army units, about 6 thousand people died in two of the largest Jewish pogroms. This is the extermination of Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Poles in the Yanova Valley, Podkamna. These are the White Church, Babi Yar and Volyn massacre.

And here is a quote from previously unpublished materials…

“A gang of murderers broke down doors and windows, broke into apartments, shot, cut and killed people with axes and knives — including young children, old men and women, after which the corpses were loaded onto carts, taken away and buried in pits. In order to hide their crimes, some families were burned in barns and burned corpses were buried in pits. All these terrible atrocities were accompanied by massive looting of property belonging to tortured families.”

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Documents from the Archive of the Russian Ministery of Defense

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He is clearly disgusted to indulge in these sentiments, the whole history of his life, the life of his family, revolts against such an abomination. A normal, decent person just wouldn’t be able to do it. But, alas, it is necessary. Otherwise, they’ll smear their brains on the walls. He is very afraid and does not like these people, but he is forced to preach their ideologies, defend their views that are repugnant to him. A man turned inside out.

How can you negotiate and negotiate with them in this situation?

No way.

2. Ukrainian leaders of the current generation are completely independent people . Much has already been said and written about this, including in a well-known article by Vladimir Putin. The country is under direct foreign administration. Moreover, this management is much tougher than the interaction of the USSR with individual socialist countries in a certain period. The USSR gave its geopolitical allies sufficient scope to shape their domestic policy, realizing that otherwise it could end in tragic events such as the Hungarian demonstrations in 1956 or the Prague Spring of 1968. Simple pragmatic logic. In Ukraine, the dependence is complete-from cash injections into their economy (handouts from the United States and the EU) to direct leadership of the Ukrainian special services (from their American patrons). But if the USSR needed good relations with the countries of the socialist camp and the Warsaw Pact (including for joint “building socialism”), then the United States does not need anything from Ukraine, except for confrontation with Russia, total containment of our country and the creation of what was aptly called “Anti-Russia”. This means that such an alliance is extremely fragile and will eventually crumble to dust. Hopes for membership in NATO and the European Union are also ephemeral, for obvious reasons. Ukraine itself has no value on the line of direct confrontation between Western forces (including potentially military ones) and our country. There are no fools to fight for Ukraine. And it’s pointless for us to deal with vassals. Business must be conducted with the overlord.

3. At the head of Ukraine are weak people who strive only to fill their pockets. Moreover, it is desirable, just in case, to save money in a foreign offshore company. We know many of them quite well. There was no leader who could sacrifice himself for the sake of Ukraine, and not try to monetize his stay in power, and it seems that he will not be yet. On the contrary, when it comes to making a profit, hatred of Russia and the desire to join the EU and NATO give way to selfish motives, when a Muscovite with money is an enemy, but his money is more important than hostility. I recall the words of one of my colleagues in the well-known “pre-Maidan” period. To my question: “why does namesake participate in the elections, he has no chance?” – the answer followed, which surprised me very much at the time: “Don’t you understand, this is the last opportunity for him to raise money from the election campaign.” Comments are unnecessary. Nothing has changed since then. Contacts with such weak people are unproductive. They will sell at any time for five kopecks.

4. The senselessness and even harmfulness of relations with the current leaders of Ukraine also lies in the fact that ignorant and unnecessary people are at the head of this country. They are constantly changing their position to please their overseas masters and the political situation. This is how they understand the art of diplomacy. Homegrown talleyrands. They sign the Minsk agreements, negotiate in the “Normandy format”, and then — after internal turmoil in the Rada, on the square or the Central Office from across the ocean-they turn their position in a completely different direction. Yes, compromises are possible in politics, sometimes some deviations from the established line, but not to the extent that the agreed approach changes to the diametrically opposite one. And we and our partners are constantly being lied to and evaded from our decisions. And it’s not about the specific name of a particular manager. This is the position of all Ukrainian negotiators, their line of conduct, modus operandi. Such” partners ” in international relations, who compete in constant lies, do not and cannot be trusted. This means that negotiations with them are absolutely meaningless.

5. Then the eternal and main question arises: what to do in this situation? But nothing. Wait for the appearance of a sane leadership in Ukraine, which is aimed not at total confrontation with Russia on the verge of war, not at organizing moronic “Crimean platforms” created to fool the country’s population and pump up its muscles before the elections, but at building equal and mutually beneficial relations with Russia. That’s only with such a leadership of Ukraine and it is worth dealing with. Russia knows how to wait. We are a patient people.

Russia Responded to an American Strategic Ruse With the S-500 (Sonar 2050)

September 18, 2021

Russia Responded to an American Strategic Ruse With the S-500 (Sonar 2050)

Translated and subtitled by Leo.

The government’s trials of the S-500 Promitey have entered its final stage and will be completed this year. The system became an answer to the old American trick of leaving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. And it may be possible to open over Russia one more actual anti-air umbrella of an almost strategic level. Details are in this episode.

They Tricked Themselves

In May 1974, the leadership of the USA and USSR signed a treaty on limiting the number of anti-missile defense systems. By it, each base was to have not more than two areas of anti-missile defense with a radius not more than 150 km. In each of them, it was allowed to deploy a maximum of 100 fixed launchers capable of intercepting ICBMs. Soon after, the number of the allowed areas shrank to only one. The Soviet Union chose to defend the capital and the central industrial region. And the leadership of the US decided to close the silos with ICBMs located in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. But then later, the Americans decided to cheat. In December 2001, President George Bush stated the withdrawal of the US from the past treaty. He was confident that the American-made the multi-functional battle information system, Aegis, make the US invulnerable.

The system according to the design was supposed to shoot down everything. From enemy planes, to mid-range ballistic missiles. And due to the fact that its missiles were based mainly on ships, it could be brought closer to the Russian shores without extra coordination. Which afterwards started to happen systematically. And one time, an emboldened American anti-missile ship came into Sevastopol, which during the time was still Ukrainian. Military advisers to the American president convinced him that Russia is finished. And that it is so behind technologically where their counter-exit from the treaty wouldn’t become dangerous. But as the subsequent events have shown, the 43rd American president was cruelly mistaken.

New Level

Russian engineers not only brought out the strategic missile defense to the highest level, with the help of the A-253 Nudol rocket which we are talking about. There was a dash in development of tactical systems accomplished. Their job became the system S-500 Promitey. Which can be called “an answer to the American sneakiness.” The fact is that formally, the S-500 refers to the army system, which means it is not subject to any restrictions. On the factual possibility, it can be taken to the strategic level. The system has closed the gap between the strategic Nudol and the tactical S-400. Thanks to its mobility, it can quickly be focused to the most dangerous directions. And later, to change the position. With a few number of missile batteries, they could work at the same time, at suicide drones, strategic bombers, and the air command center which gives radio orders over the horizon, the same goes for the ballistic missiles, which the S-500 in one salvo can take down up to 10 of them at the same time.

In the near future, after the state-testing is complete, there will be a series production of the S-500, and its delivery to the troops will begin. It is possible that it will be not only be under the Air Defense Forces (PVO) of the army brigades, in the event of an aggravation of the international situation, a new brigade of a new actual strategic level will begin to form to cover the most important regions of the country, including Crimea. One way or another, the funeral guessing of Russia by American advisers turned out to be premature as always.

Taliban danger

SEPTEMBER 12, 2021

Taliban danger

by Batko Milacic for the Saker Blog

During the 20 years of Afghan occupation, which was initially quick and successful, the Americans and their allies failed to give Afghanistan anything. The impression is that successive US administrations initially had no strategy to pacify the country. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the country’s secular regime, abandoned by the Russians, held out for three years and collapsed only after being completely deprived of all assistance from Moscow. The allied international forces were still in the country when the government of President Ghani, which they controlled, left the capital at the mercy of the Taliban. Why?!

When Russians were in Afganistan, they not only fought, but taught the Afghans, sending one of them into space and building hospitals, roads and factories. Therefore, the Afghans, who fought on the side of the country’s last truly secular government, knew what they were fighting for.

What did the soldiers of the current Afghan army, let alone ordinary Afghans, have to die for? For the president who stole so much money that it didn’t fit into his plane? For kickbacks from US arms manufacturers who supplied Afghanistan with the equipment, all of which was inherited by the Taliban? Maybe for freedom and universal human values, which had allegedly been promoted for 20 years by numerous NGOs that squandered the money of American and European taxpayers?!

Ordinary Afghan people lives by the same rules as their distant ancestors; they don`t understand the advantages of Western culture. Two decades of US rule have cost Afghans nearly a million lives. They faced killings of civilians “by mistake,” cleansing of villages, forced prostitution and humiliation. And a small sliver of “Europeanized Afghans,” supporters of women’s rights, religious tolerance and freedom, are just as alien to ordinary Afghans as are the arrogant US military. Therefore, some Afghans greet the Taliban as liberators, while others have learned to tolerate them and believe that life will not get any worse than it is now!

However, there are still others, who have no other choice than to fight! These are representatives of ethnic minorities. Nine percent of the country’s population are ethnic Uzbeks, and 27 percent – Tajiks. Pashtuns make up 42 percent of the Afghan population and they are the main source of the support for the Taliban`s. The Pashtuns are backed by neighboring Pakistan, and provide most of the volunteers for the militants. As for the Tajiks and Uzbeks, they were the main pillars of the secular state. Their leaders, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sr. and Marshal Dostum, fought the Taliban throughout the initial period of their rule. They are less religious and not all of them are willing to spend the rest of their lives living according to strict Sharia law. Fully aware of this, the Taliban were all set not to repeat the mistakes they made in 1996-2001. The ethnic minorities must not only submit; they must be deprived of any chance to rebel. Given the fact that the country’s new rulers are divided into several groups, this goal was even easier to achieve. For example, the Haqqani Network, which is even more radical than the Taliban themselves (impossible as it may seem), and has in its ranks a large number of Arabic-speaking immigrants from ISIS and al-Qaeda, has sent out its militants to Panjshir and other northern provinces, while the Taliban still pretended to negotiate with them.

Panjshir is a small mountain valley in the north of the country, which has never really submitted to any conqueror. The passes leading to it are easy to block, and the terrain of the province itself is very conducive to guerrilla warfare. At the same time, routes go through the province to China and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, making it an important logistics hub. In addition, the sparsely populated valley (around 100,000 inhabitants) is rich in minerals, including emeralds, which actually allowed Massoud Sr. to hold out there for five years. This is why the Taliban are so eager to nip the local resistance in the bud. The only reason they needed negotiations was to improve their image in the world. In Washington, they have already been recognized as a “different” Taliban, not those who are responsible for the attacks on and killings of civilians. Well, you demonstrate to the outside world your flexibility and readiness for dialogue, and, who knows, maybe one day they will also give you diplomatic recognition! Naturally enough, Ahmad Massoud Jr. and Amrullah Saleh (also an ethnic Tajik), who had declared himself the legitimate head of Afghanistan, had no desire to leave the autonomy, give up their ability to maintain self-defense units and exercise real control over part of the government. Meanwhile, the “Haqqani Network” has already put the defense capability of the “lion cub of Panjshir” to the test.

The rest we know from news reports. After the Taliban and their allies suffered their first setbacks, drones suddenly appeared in the air, flown by Pakistani operators. According to numerous reports, Pakistani special OPs helped the Taliban break into the valley, resulting in videos from its center and from the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud being posted online on the morning of September 6. The “Lion” announced the continuation of the resistance and went into the mountains. Fearing for their life (and with good reason too) most of the local civilian population left with him. Well, the pro-Soviet forces in Afghanistan once also controlled the valley, while Massoud Sr. fought and eventually defeated them in the surrounding mountains. There is a big difference though. The best anti-guerrilla tactic is to deprive the militants of any support – in other words, “scorched earth” or genocide. With Panjshir completely cut off from the outside world, the Taliban simultaneously solve two problems – they will get rid of the disloyal population by killing them or squeezing them out to Tajikistan, and reward their supporters by handing them the houses and property left behind by the escaped local residents, thereby ensuring their loyalty and creating a formidable base against Massoud’s supporters. All of this comes as very good news for Pakistan, which has given the Taliban full control over the country and received access to the resources of the potentially very rich Panjshir.

Massoud Jr., who represents Afghanistan’s eight million Tajiks, will apparently be forced to fight to the bitter end. However, it looks like he will not be getting any outside help now that the White House has apparently decided to leave the region completely and has clinched some kind of secret deals with the Taliban or their patrons from the neighboring countries. How else to explain the position of Dushanbe? The Tajik authorities obviously ignore the situation, refusing to support their fellow country folk. Have the Americans allegedly guaranteed the Central Asian republic security against the Taliban if Dushanbe does not interfere in the process of Afghan unification? But how can one believe an old fox telling the sheep that the wolf will not touch them? All the more so, if the wolves have just bitten the red-haired deceiver?

A much similar situation has developed in Uzbekistan – the country that Marshal Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek and a graduate of Soviet military schools, who is considered a man of great courage, has fled to. However, this brave man with all his associates, including loyal fighters, has crossed the Uzbek border and disappeared. Unusual behavior for a combat-hardened general who fought for 35 years and never accepted Islamists. What was he promised? Security for the Uzbek minority? Or was he simply bought out? Or blackmailed? In any case, the last hero of all wars disappeared from the media radar without firing a single shot.

The information vacuum will allow the Taliban to quickly take control of the whole country. The world media will not write about the millions of victims of ethnic and religious cleansing simply because it will know nothing about that. If the “young lion of Panjshir” and Saleh do not receive real support in the coming days, they are doomed, along with their compatriots. Back in 1975, the world was blissfully unaware of the insane atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own population, simply because there was no one to write about this in a country shuttered from the outside world. In 2021, they will also try to hide the death of several million people, if only this is what Washington wants. And the White House does want a dialogue with the Taliban, forgetting about the victims of September 11, forgetting about the terrorist attacks across Europe and the hundreds of young men and women who died for “democracy” in Afghanistan. But what will the Taliban do after they crack down on Afghan minorities? Will it be peaceful construction? No, because radical Islam presupposes an eternal struggle against infidels in the name of a global caliphate and constant expansion. Its supporters have no need for music, literature, cinema – all these wonderful things created by mankind. They go to God through blood and violence, and they will go beyond their immediate neighbors. With a solid base and money from the sale of resources to China and Pakistan, the new Afghan authorities will become a unifying center for all like-minded Islamists – the holdovers from al-Qaeda and ISIS. As for the Taliban’s promise to get rid of the sprawling drug industry, which, during the 20 years of US occupation spiked from 120 tons a year to a whopping 10,000 tons, it is hardly credible. Indeed, why destroy what can be sold to infidels with profit and then be spent on a “holy war” bombing peaceful American and European cities. This is exactly what the Western world will get if it fails to figure out (and fast!) how to check the triumphant advance of terrorism from Afghanistan. True, judging by its escape from Kabul, the world policeman now urgently needs to talk this over with Moscow and Beijing. Otherwise, a new 9/11 may not be too far off.

Quds Force Commander: Iran Trying To Exclude Militarism as Solution for Afghanistan

 SEPTEMBER 8, 2021

Quds Force Commander: Iran Trying To Exclude Militarism as Solution for Afghanistan

By Staff, Agencies

A member of the Iranian Parliament reported that the Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG’s] Quds Force commander, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, said in a closed Parliament session that Iran is trying that the resolve of the Afghan issue not to be through war.

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, MP Ahmad Alireza Beigi explained the closed session of the Parliament which was held in the presence of the IRGC Quds Force commander on Tuesday morning discussed the latest developments in neighboring Afghanistan.

“According to General Ghaani, political and military experts analyze the US defeat in Afghanistan far more importantly than the US defeat in Vietnam,” he said.

“The commander of the Quds Force believed that the incident took place after 20 years of US investment and the US presence in Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11, and Washington was determined to stay in Afghanistan after the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud,” the MP added.

Alireza Beig went on to say, “General Ghaani stressed that the Islamic Republic monitors the developments in Afghanistan with a view to its national interests and is interested in the fate of Afghanistan, and for this reason, from the beginning of the Soviet Union’s entry into Afghanistan, it [Iran] supported the people of this country as a religious duty.”

“According to the commander, the United States spent $300 million a day in Afghanistan, and as the US president said 18 soldiers returning from Afghanistan commit suicide every day,” he added.

“General Ghaani stressed that the security of Iran is important for us and the US plan is to engage Iran with the Sunni world, so the Islamic Republic must act in a way that the security of Iran is not compromised and the United States does not achieve its goals,” the MP noted.

“According to the commander of the Quds Force, the Shias of Afghanistan are very important for the Islamic Republic, and Iran is trying that the resolve of the Afghan issue not to be through war, and all the tribes of Afghanistan to participate in governing the country,” Alireza Beigi concluded.

لماذا العراق؟….بقلم: أ. د. بثينة شعبان

2021-09-06

 أ. د. بثينة شعبان

منذ الاحتلال البريطاني للعراق خلال الحرب العالمية الأولى التي انتهت عام 1918 لم تتوقف المحاولات الغربية لاحتواء العراق وخاصة لفصله عن امتداده الطبيعي إلى بلاد الشام حيث التبادل التاريخي والمعرفي والاقتصادي كان معروفاً بين مملكة إيبلا وبلاد الرافدين. وتشهد الرقم التاريخية والتطور الزراعي على التفاعل والتكامل والانسجام الحضاري والحياتي بين سورية والعراق على مرّ التاريخ إلى أن بدأت بالسعي لإلحاق العراق بسياساتها وربطه بمعاهدات متعددة في عشرينيات وثلاثينيات القرن الماضي وصولاً إلى حلف بغداد عام 1955 والذي كان يضم بالإضافة إلى المملكة المتحدة كلاً من العراق وتركيا وإيران الشاه وباكستان.

لقد كان الهدف الأول لهذا الحلف هو محاولة وقف نفوذ الاتحاد السوفييتي الذي كان قد وطّد ووسّع علاقته في تلك الفترة مع سورية ومصر. ومع أن الولايات المتحدة هي صاحبة فكرة إنشاء هذا الحلف ووعدت بتقديم الدعم الاقتصادي والعسكري للأعضاء إلا أنها لم تشارك فيه بشكل مباشر وإنما وكّلت بريطانيا للقيام بذلك، ولكن العراق انسحب من الحلف بعد ثورة 14 تموز 1958 التي أطاحت بالنظام الملكي الهاشمي وأعلنت الجمهورية واستقلّ العراق لأول مرة من النفوذ البريطاني، وانتقل مركز الحلف بعد ذلك من بغداد إلى أنقرة، وأقام العراق علاقات دبلوماسية واقتصادية وعسكرية مع الاتحاد السوفييتي، وبذلك أخفق هذا الحلف في وقف توسع نفوذ الاتحاد السوفييتي الذي وطّد علاقاته مع الدول العربية في تلك الفترة. ومع اندلاع الثورة الإيرانية عام 1979 أطلقت رصاصة الرحمة على حلف بغداد الذي اعتُبر من أضعف الأحلاف التي نشأت خلال الحرب الباردة.

ولكن محاولات احتواء العراق لم تتوقف وأسوأ تجلياتها على مرّ العقود الماضية كان نشوب الحرب العراقية الإيرانية بعد انتصار الثورة الإيرانية وبذل الجهود المستمرّة والمستميتة لفصل العراق عن عمقه العربي السوري، ومنع حتى إقامة أي علاقة وتواصل بين هذين البلدين المنسجمين تاريخياً وديموغرافياً وجغرافياً وحضارياً لأن التكامل والتفاعل بين سورية والعراق سيؤسس من دون شك لبنة عربية متينة قد تشكل قاعدة ومنطلقاً للعلاقات العربية السليمة والمجزية لكلّ المنخرطين فيها، ولذلك فقد كانت الحدود العراقية السورية دوماً أحد الأهداف الغربية وقد حرصت الدول الاستعمارية الغربية على خلق كافة الحجج والذرائع والمؤامرات لإبقاء هذه الحدود مغلقة في فترات طويلة من تاريخ البلدين.

إذ رغم كل الدعم الذي قدمه الغرب للعصابات الإرهابية منذ 2011 في حربها على سورية ورغم انشغاله في حرب إرهابية تدميرية في الداخل السوري فإن نظر الغرب لم يحد عن هذه الحدود وسعى إلى ضمان بقاء الإرهاب قربها كي يمنع فتحها والتواصل الحقيقي بين الشعبين السوري والعراقي لأن هذا التواصل سيعود بالفائدة الجمّة على البلدين انتماءً وثقافة وعروبة وحضارة واقتصاداً وتكاملاً حقيقياً. ولا شك أن كل الذرائع للإبقاء على هذه الحدود مغلقة تتلخص بأهداف الإدارة الأميركية القديمة الجديدة والتي تريد أن يكون العراق قاعدة للدول المنضوية تحت لواء الغرب وسدّاً في وجه روسيا والصين وإيران وفي وجه دخول الصين خاصة إلى منطقة الشرق الأوسط ومنع قيام أي مسعى وحدوي بين البلدين.

الغرب يعتبر العراق بوابة لنفوذه في الشرق الأوسط، ولا شك أن العراق بعمقه الحضاري ومؤهلات شعبه وثرواته الظاهرة والباطنة يشكّل عمقاً وحدوياً عروبياً وأن فصله عن سورية وإلهاءه بتحالفات غير قابلة للحياة وأثبتت فشلها على مرّ التاريخ يظهران أهمية العراق الحقيقية وإدراك الغرب لهذه الأهمية ومحاولاته تجيير كل مقدرات العراق لصالحه ونهب ثرواته وإلهاء شعبه بالخلافات الطائفية. من هذا المنظور يمكن أن نفهم كل محاولات التدمير والتهميش والاحتلال والحصار والعقوبات للعراق وشعبه على مدى العقود الماضية، وأن كل ما أثير من تهم له من أسلحة دمار شامل إلى غيرها كانت غطاءً بائساً لتنفيذ تلك الأهداف.

ولكن وبعد قرن ونيّف من أساليب وطموحات وطروحات الغرب هذه أصبح من البدهي أن يدرك أصحاب الشأن حقيقة ما يقال ومجافاته للواقع والهدف المراد منه؛ إذ لم يعد مقبولاً اليوم أن يشعر البعض بسعادة غامرة لأن مسؤولاً غربياً قرر أن يحضر مؤتمراً في بغداد وكأنّ هذا الحضور يشكل منّة أو قيمة مضافة في حين يهدف إلى تحقيق ما عجزوا عن تحقيقه من قبل من التواطؤ ضد نسيج العراق العربي وتواصله مع أهله وجيرانه واختراع تحالفات له لا مستقبل لها ولا تسمن ولا تغني من جوع بل تتركه فريسة لمن يتشدّق بحضارة بغداد، في حين تحلّ قواه العسكرية الطاغية قوة غاشمة على أرض العراق الطاهرة؛ تحتل الأرض وتنهب الخيرات وتدعم الإرهاب وتغزو الأسواق بمنتجاتها العثمانية وتروّج للطائفية وترسل الإرهابيين من الإخوان المسلمين في بلد تاريخه العيش المشترك والغنى الحضاري والتمازج الثقافي.

السؤال الذي يشغل بالي دائماً: لماذا لا نثق نحن العرب بقيمة ما لدينا؟ ولماذا لا نعرف أحياناً أهمية ما لدينا حتى يتم تسليط الضوء عليه من قبل الخصوم والأعداء؛ فنسعى حينذاك جاهدين إلى الاحتفاظ به أو تحريره من عدوانهم دافعين أغلى الأثمان في سبيل ذلك؟
لماذا لا نقتنع أن التكالب الغربي على بلداننا ومؤامراتهم ضدنا والتحالفات التي خلقوها لتمزيق صفوفنا وبناء الحواجز بين شعوبنا تعني أن لدينا ما هو ثمين وما يريدون الحصول عليه أو تدميره إذا لم يتمكنوا من انتزاعه منا؟ لماذا نحتاج إلى اعتراف الآخرين بأن موقعنا الجغرافي وثرواتنا الطبيعية والبشرية وعمقنا الحضاري وعيشنا المشترك عبر التاريخ يشكلون قيمة استثنائية لا يمتلكها الآخرون ويتوجب علينا الحفاظ عليها والاعتزاز بها من دون الحاجة إلى من يعترف لنا بذلك ومن دون الحاجة إلى شهادة من الخصوم والأعداء التاريخيين الذين ما زالوا يحطون من قدر بلادنا إلى أن يستولوا على مقدراتنا ويدمروها.

فهل تحتاج بغداد التاريخ إلى محتل عثماني ومتواطئ غربي كي تعرف قيمتها ومكانتها؟ وهل كانوا ليأتوا إليها لولا إدراكهم العميق لهذه القيمة؟ وهل يجوز أن تمتثل لما يريدون علماً أنهم برهنوا للمرة الألف أنهم يريدون للعراق التبعية فقط والوقوف في وجه التنين القادم من الشرق وأن تكون بغداد والقاهرة وعمّان سنداً لهم في وجه هذا التنين؟ إلى متى ستبقى المرجعية الغربية تذرّ الرماد في العيون ويبقى المستعمر الغربي متمادياً في نشر أوهامه عبر الأجيال أنه الأذكى والأقوى والأعرف؟ متى سيشكل العرب مرجعيتهم الخاصة بهم والمنطلقة من تقديرهم لذاتهم وتاريخهم وإمكاناتهم الاستثنائية ويمضون في التحالفات التي يختارونها هم بإرادتهم الحرة ولصالح شعوبهم وبلدانهم من دون ضغوطات أو إملاءات أو تهديدات من أحد؟ متى يكون الرأي حراً لا يتحكم به سوى الشأن الوطني والمصلحة العربية العليا؟

ارتباك اللاقرار في واشنطن بعد الصدمة… وزمام المبادرة

أيلول 4 2021

 ناصر قنديل

لا أحد يستطيع تفسير كلّ حالات الفشل الأميركي والغربي بمعايير الخصوصية التي تحيط بكلّ حالة منها، لمجرد الرغبة بنفي صفة المشترك بينها، وهو التراجع التاريخي للمشروع الغربي وفي طليعته المشروع الأميركي. فالمعادلة التاريخية سياق وليست حدثاً منفصلاً يليه حدث منفصل تفسرهما الخصوصية، وثمة مسار بين نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية والانسحاب من أفغانستان وبينهما سقوط جدار برلين يحكي حكاية تراجع مسار السيطرة، حيث الأميركي الذي كان يمثل 6% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على 50% من ثرواته، وصار عام 1990 يمثل 4% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على 40% من الثورات، هو اليوم أقل من 3% من سكان العالم ويستحوذ على أقل من 30% ثروات العالم. والأميركي الذي أنهى التحالف النازي الذي قادته ألمانيا بالشراكة مع الاتحاد السوفياتي، ثم أنهى الاتحاد السوفياتي وتفرد في حكم العالم، أمضى عقدين من الفشل والتراجع في كل الحروب التي خاضها في محاولة فرض نموذجه كمثال عالمي أحادي يمثل نهاية التاريخ، وهو لا يملك اليوم سبيلاً سياسياً أو عسكرياً للخروج من هذا الفشل، والفشل في أفغانستان يختصر هذا العجز، حيث السبيل السياسي انتهى بالفشل، والسبيل العسكري لن يحل شيئاً ولو بقي لعشرين عاماً أخرى كما قال جو بايدن، والبديل الثالث هو الذهاب لتفاهمات دولية كبرى تمنح الخصوم الكبار انتصارات كبرى، أو الدخول في مسلسل عنوانه العناد على البقاء منعاً لذل الهزيمة، وانتقاماً لصورة الهروب الكبير من أفغانستان، أو الانسحابات المتلاحقة وصولاً لمزيد من الفراغ يملأه الخصوم المحليون أو الإقليميون أو الدوليون، منفردين أو مجتمعين، كما يقول مثال أفغانستان أيضاً.

يتداخل في الوضعية الأميركية والغربية، على رغم الكلام الانفعالي الأوروبي وأوهام الانفراد العسكري والسياسي، كل شيء، فالغرب كله أمام خطر الهزيمة الإستراتيجية، لأن ساحة المعركة هي آسيا، وفي آسيا أكثر من نصف سكان العالم وأكثر من نصف مساحته وأكثر من نصف ثرواته وأكثر من نصف قوته العسكرية، وجوهر عنوان المعركة هو استقلال آسيا، التي تنتمي اليها كل دول وقوى المواجهة مع أميركا والمشروع الغربي على تنوعها، ولا ينتمي إليها أي من دول الغرب، ولذلك فالغرب بقيادة الأميركي يخوض مواجهة يائسة من الخارج مع نضوج ونمو قوى الداخل الآسيوي سياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً وشعبياً لمعركة الاستقلال، واختلال التوازن لصالحها، وأفغانستان ليست إلا العينة الصغرى لهذه المعركة، ولم يعد ممكناً للأميركي بعد أفغانستان إلا الاختيار بين مواجهة قد تتصاعد نحو حرب، تحت شعار استعادة الهيبة المجروحة في أفغانستان، ووقف مسلسل الانهيارات، أو مواصلة الانكفاء والتراجع تفادياً للمواجهة، والاختبار هو في العراق وسورية، وفي هذه الحال سيكون أمام مواجهة مع قوى ودول ليس عندها مجال للتهاون مع بقاء القوات الأميركية وليس لديها الاستعداد لمنح الأميركي جوائز ترضية كثمن للانسحاب، ما يعني أن الشهور المقبلة ستحمل تصاعداً تدريجياً في المواجهة، وصولاً إلى انفجارها بصورة دراماتيكية بمجرد انكشاف صورة القرار الأميركي برفض الانسحاب، بعد نهاية المهلة المعقولة لاحتواء نتائج الانسحاب من أفغانستان، وفي هذه المواجهة التي ستتحول إلى حرب، أمام الأميركي ومن خلفه حلفائه في الغرب فرضية كان قد ناقشها مراراً، وهي أن أي خيار مواجهة يعني فرضية حرب كبرى، قد تشترك فيها دول كثيرة في المنطقة وخارج المنطقة، لكن الأخطر فيها هو أن «إسرائيل» ستصبح ميدان الرمي الحر في هذه الحرب، وهو ما سبق وقاله الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما في حوار مع صحيفة «هآرتز» عام 2012 في تفسيره لسبب عدم تكرار نموذج ليبيا، مع سورية، وكل شيء يقول إن «إسرائيل» لن تستطيع الصمود وجودياً إذا واجهت هذه الفرضية في أي حرب مقبلة.

البديل المتاح هو مواصلة الانكفاء، والانكفاء الذي بدأ في أفغانستان قدم مثالاً، فهو بدأ بتفاوض لعام كامل مع حركة طالبان بشراكة حليف موثوق لواشنطن هو دولة قطر، وانتهى إلى تفاهم على حكومة شراكة بين طالبان والنظام الذي أقامه الأميركيون في كابول، يحميها توازن عسكري يمثله الجيش الذي قاموا ببنائه مقابل مقدرات طالبان العسكرية، لكن كل شيء تهاوى عندما بدأوا الانسحاب، فتقدمت طالبان وتفكك نظام أشرف غني وجيشه وهرب الرئيس وأركان حربه، ثم ذهب الأميركي إلى الخطة (ب) والتي تقوم على الانخراط مع طالبان بتفاهمات تقطع الطريق على خصوم واشنطن الكبار، روسيا والصين وإيران، وتحرمهم من الوقوف على خط الرابحين، لكن الأمور سارت سريعاً باتجاه مخالف، فروسيا ضامن ضروري لحسم طالبان مع أحمد مسعود الذي يدعمه بعض الغرب وينغص على طالبان نصرها بحكم محورية دورها في طاجكستان، وإيران مصدر الضرورات الحياتية اليومية لأفغانستان من محروقات ولحوم وخضار وطحين، والصين هي دولة التمويل المتاح بسخاء لإنعاش الاقتصاد وشق الطرق وسكك الحديد وخطوط نقل الطاقة واستكشاف واستخراج الثورات المعدنية وتطوير صناعاتها، كما قال قادة طالبان علناً، وإذا كرر الأميركي تجربة الانكفاء في حالتي سورية والعراق كما فعل في أفغانستان، ستنهار التشكيلات التي بناها في البلدين بأسرع من انهيار حكومة غني وجيشه، وسيتقدم الروسي والصيني والإيراني أسرع مما يتقدمون في أفغانستان، والأخطر هو أن محور المقاومة الذي يمثل القوى المحلية الصاعدة سيمسك بزمام المبادرة في الإقليم وسيضع أمن كيان الاحتلال في دائرة الخطر عاجلاً أم آجلاً.

لبنان في قلب هذا الارتباك الأميركي في الخيارات، وفي قلب محاولة محور المقاومة الإمساك بزمام المبادرة، كما يقول اختبار سفن المحروقات الإيرانية، الذي أطلقته المقاومة، غداة الانسحاب من أفغانستان، يسرع حسم الخيارات الأميركية، ويجعل معادلة خاسر خاسر أسرع بالنسبة للأميركيين بعد رهانات لسنوات على إسقاط لبنان على رأس المقاومة، وإظهار المقاومة سبباً لكل ما لحق ويلحق بلبنان، وإذا بواشنطن تظهر وهي تعلن أنها ستفك بعضاً من حصارها لتنافس المقاومة على صورة من يخفف المعاناة، وكانها تعترف بأن هذا الحصار هو السبب الرئيسي للأزمات، ولكنها تصيب حلفاءها بالذهول لتجنبها خيار المواجهة، واعتمادها طريق المنافسة على حلول لأزمات كانت هي المسبب الرئيسي لها.

فيديوات متعلقة

فيديوات متعلقة

Back to the future: Talibanistan, Year 2000

Back to the future: Talibanistan, Year 2000

August 31, 2021

by Pepe Escobar for The Saker Blog and friends

Dear reader: this is very special, a trip down memory lane like no other: back to prehistoric times – the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-social network world.

Welcome to Taliban Afghanistan – Talibanistan – in the Year 2000. This is when photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed it overland from east to west, from the Pakistani border at Torkham to the Iranian border at Islam qillah. As Afghan ONG workers acknowledged, we were the first Westerners to pull this off in years.

Fatima, Maliha and Nouria, at home in Kabul

Those were the days. Bill Clinton was enjoying his last stretch at the White House. Osama bin Laden was a discreet guest of Mullah Omar – hitting the front pages only occasionally. There was no hint of 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, the “war on terror”, the perpetual financial crisis, the Russia-China strategic partnership. Globalization ruled, and the US was the undisputed global top dog. The Clinton administration and the Taliban were deep into Pipelineistan territory – arguing over the tortuous, proposed Trans-Afghan gas pipeline.

We tried everything, but we couldn’t even get a glimpse of Mullah Omar. Osama bin Laden was also nowhere to be seen. But we did experience Talibanistan in action, in close detail.

Today is a special day to revisit it. The Forever War in Afghanistan is over; from now on it will be a Hybrid mongrel, against the integration of Afghanistan into the New Silk Roads and Greater Eurasia.

In 2000 I wrote a Talibanistan road trip special for a Japanese political magazine, now extinct, and ten years later a 3-part mini-series revisiting it for Asia Times.

Part 2 of this series can be found here, and part 3 here.

Yet this particular essay – part 1 – had completely disappeared from the internet (that’s a long story): I found it recently, by accident, in a hard drive. The images come from the footage I shot at the time with a Sony mini-DV: I just received the file today from Paris.

This is a glimpse of a long-lost world; call it a historical register from a time when no one would even dream of a “Saigon moment” remixed – as a rebranded umbrella of warriors conveniently labeled “Taliban”, after biding their time, Pashtun-style, for two decades, praises Allah for eventually handing them victory over yet another foreign invader.

Now let’s hit the road.

KABUL, GHAZNI – Fatima, Maliha and Nouria, who I used to call The Three Graces, must be by now 40, 39 and 35 years old, respectively. In the year 2000 they lived in an empty, bombed house next to a bullet-ridden mosque in a half-destroyed, apocalyptic theme park Kabul – by then the world capital of the discarded container (or reconstituted by a missile and reconverted into a shop); a city where 70% of the population were refugees, legions of homeless kids carried bags of cash on their backs ($1 was worth more than 60,000 Afghanis) and sheep outnumbered rattling 1960s Mercedes buses.

Under the merciless Taliban theocracy, the Three Graces suffered triple discrimination – as women, Hazaras and Shi’ites. They lived in Kardechar, a neighborhood totally destroyed in the 1990s by the war between Commander Masoud, The Lion of the Panjshir, and the Hazaras (the descendants of mixed marriages between Genghis Khan’s Mongol warriors and Turkish and Tajik peoples) before the Taliban took power in 1996. The Hazaras were always the weakest link in the Tajik-Uzbek-Hazara alliance – supported by Iran, Russia and China – confronting the Taliban.

Every dejected Kabuli intellectual I had met invariably defined the Taliban as “an occupation force of religious fanatics” – their rural medievalism totally absurd for urban Tajiks, used to a tolerant form of Islam. According to a university professor, “their jihad is not against kafirs; it’s against other Muslims who follow Islam”.

I spent a long time talking to the Dari-speaking Three Graces inside their bombed-out home – with translation provided by their brother Aloyuz, who had spent a few years in Iran supporting the family long-distance. This simple fact in itself would assure that if caught, we would all be shot dead by the Taliban V & V – the notorious Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Taliban religious police.

This is how bombed-out Kabul looked like in 2000

The Three Graces’ dream was to live “free, not under pressure”. They had never been to a restaurant, a bar or a cinema. Fatima liked “rock” music, which in her case meant Afghan singer Natasha. She said she “liked” the Taliban, but most of all she wanted to get back to school. They never mentioned any discrimination between Sunnis and Shi’ites; they actually wanted to leave for Pakistan.

Their definition of “human rights” included priority for education, the right to work, and to get a job in the state sector; Fatima and Maliha wanted to be doctors. Perhaps they are, today, in Hazara land; 21 years ago they spent their days weaving beautiful silk shawls.

Education was terminally forbidden for girls over 12. The literacy rate among women was only 4%. Outside the Three Graces’ house, almost every woman was a “widow of war”, enveloped in dusty light blue burqas, begging to support their children. Not only this was an unbearable humiliation in the context of an ultra-rigid Islamic society, it contradicted the Taliban obsession of preserving the “honor and purity” of their women.

Kabul’s population was then 2 million; less than 10%, concentrated in the periphery, supported the Taliban. True Kabulis regarded them as barbarians. For the Taliban, Kabul was more remote than Mars. Every day at sunset the Intercontinental Hotel, by then an archeological ruin, received an inevitable Taliban sightseeing group. They’d come to ride the lift (the only one in town) and walk around the empty swimming pool and tennis court. They’d be taking a break from cruising around town in their fleet of imported-from-Dubai Toyota Hi-Lux, complete with Islamic homilies painted in the windows, Kalashnikovs on show and little whips on hand to impose on the infidels the appropriate, Islamically correct, behavior. But at least the Three Graces were safe; they never left their bombed-out shelter.

Doubt is sin, debate is heresy

Few things were more thrilling in Talibanistan 21 years ago than to alight at Pul-e-Khisshti – the fabled Blue Mosque, the largest in Afghanistan – on a Friday afternoon after Jumma prayers and confront the One Thousand and One Nights assembled cast. Any image of this apotheosis of thousands of black or white-turbaned rustic warriors, kohl in their eyes and the requisite macho-sexy stare, would be all the rage on the cover of Uomo Vogue. To even think of taking a photo was anathema; the entrance to the mosque was always swarming with V & V informants.

Finally, in one of those eventful Friday afternoons, I managed to be introduced into the Holy Grail – the secluded quarters of maulvi (priest) Noor Muhamad Qureishi, by then the Taliban Prophet in Kabul. He had never exchanged views with a Westerner. It was certainly one of the most surrealist interviews of my life.

Qureishi, like all Taliban religious leaders, was educated in a Pakistani madrassa. At first, he was your typical hardcore deobandi; the deobandis, as the West would later find out, were an initially progressive movement born in India in the mid-19th century to revive Islamic values vis-à-vis the sprawling British Empire. But they soon derailed into megalomania, discrimination against women and Shi’ite-hatred.

Most of all, Quereishi was the quintessential product of a boom – the connection between the ISI and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party during the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad, when thousands of madrassas were built in Pakistan’s Pashtun belt. Afghan refugees had the right to free education, a roof over their heads, three meals a day and military training. Their “educators” were semi-illiterate maulvis who had never known the reformist agenda of the original deobandi movement.

On the Afghanistan-Iran border at Islam qilla

Reclined on a tattered cushion over one of the mosque’s ragged carpets, Qureishi laid down the deobandi law in Pashto for hours. Among other things he said the movement was “the most popular” because its ideologues dreamed that Prophet Muhammad ordered them to build a madrassa in Deoband, India. So this was Islam’s purest form “because it came directly from Muhammad”. Despite the formidable catalogue of Taliban atrocities, he insisted on their “purity”.

Qureishi dabbled on the inferiority of Hindus because of their sacred cows (“why not dogs, at least they are faithful to their owners”). As for Buddhism, it was positively depraved (“Buddha is an idol”). He would have had a multiple heart attack with Thailand’s Buddhist go-go girls, dancing topless at night and offering incense at the temple the morning after.

Doubt is sin. Debate is heresy. “The only true knowledge is the Koran”. He insisted that all “forms of modern scientific knowledge came from the Koran”. As an example, he quoted – what else – a Koranic verse (the Koran, by the way, in its neo-deobandi, Talibanized version, forbade women to write, and allowed education only up to 10 years old). I could not help being reminded of that 18th century French anonymous – a typical product of the Enlightenment – who had written the Treaty of the Three Impostors – Moses, Jesus and Muhammad; but if I tried to insert the European Enlightenment into (his) monologue I would probably be shot dead. Basically, Qureishi finally managed to convince me that all this religious shadow play was about proving that “my sect is purer than yours”.

Village elders in Herat

Play it again, infidel

Talibanistan lived under a strict Kalashnikov culture. But the supreme anti-Taliban lethal weapon was not a gun, or even a mortar or RPG. It was a camera. I knew inevitably that day would come, and it came on Kabul stadium, built by the former USSR to extol proletarian internationalism; another Friday, at 5 pm, the weekly soccer hour – the only form of entertainment absent from the Taliban’s Index Prohibitorum apart from public executions and mango ice cream.

Jason and me were lodged at the VIP tribune – less than 10 US cents for the ticket. The stadium was packed – but silent as a mosque. Two teams, the red and the blue, were playing the Islamically correct way – with extra skirts under their trunks. At half time the whole stadium – to the sound of “Allah Akbar” – run to pray by the pitch; those who didn’t were spanked or thrown in jail.

Jason had his cameras hanging from his neck but he was not using them. Yet that was more than enough for a hysteric V & V teenage informant. We are escorted out of the stands by a small army of smiling, homoerotic brotherhood, those who were then referred to as “soldiers of Allah”. Finally we are presented to a white-turbaned Talib with assassin’s eyes; he’s no one other than mullah Salimi, the vice-Minister of the religious police in Kabul – the reincarnation of The Great Inquisitor. We are finally escorted out of the stadium and thrown into a Hi-Lux, destination unknown. Suddenly we are more popular with the crowd than the soccer match itself.

At a Taliban “office” – a towel on the grass in front of a bombed-out building, decorated with a mute sat-phone – we are charged with espionage. Our backpacks are thoroughly searched. Salimi inspects two rolls of film from Jason’s cameras; no incriminating photo. It’s now the turn of my Sony mini-DV camera. We press “play”; Salimi recoils in horror. We explain nothing is recorded on the blue screen. What was really recorded – he just needed to press “rewind” – would be enough to send us to the gallows, including a lot of stuff with the Three Graces. Once again we noticed the Taliban badly needed not only art directors and PR agents but also info-tech whiz kids.

Carpet-weaving at the Herat bazaar

In Taliban anti-iconography, video, in theory, might be allowed, because the screen is a mirror. Anyway, later we would know from the lion’s mouth, that is, the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kandahar: TV and video would remain perpetually banned.

At that time, a few photo-studios survived near one of the Kabul bazaars – only churning out 3X4 photos for documents. The owners paid their bills renting their Xerox machines. The Zahir Photo Studio still had on its walls a collection of black and white and sepia photos of Kabul, Herat, minarets, nomads and caravans. Among Leicas, superb Speed Graphic 8 X 10 and dusty Russian panoramic cameras, Mr. Zahir would lament, “photography is dead in Afghanistan”. At least, that wouldn’t be for long.

The 11th century Ghazni minaret with, on the foreground, a Taliban military base

So after an interminable debate in Pashto with some Urdu and English thrown in, we are “liberated”. Some Taliban – but certainly not Salimi, still piercing us with his assassin’s eyes – try a formal apology, saying this is incompatible with the Pashtun code of hospitality. All tribal Pashtun – like the Taliban – follow the pashtunwali, the rigid code that emphasizes, among other things, hospitality, vengeance and a pious Islamic life. According to the code, it’s a council of elders that arbitrates specific disputes, applying a compendium of laws and punishments. Most cases involve murders, land disputes and trouble with women. For the Pashtun, the line between pashtunwali and Sharia was always fuzzy.

A Kuchi nomad caravan going south towards Kandahar.

The V & V obviously was not a creation of Mullah Omar, the “Leader of the Faithful”; it was based on a Saudi Arabian original. In its heyday, in the second half of the 1990s, the V & V was a formidable intelligence agency – with informers infiltrated in the Army, ministries, hospitals, UN agencies, NGOs – evoking a bizarre memory of KHAD, the enormous intel agency of the 1980’s communist regime, during the anti-USSR jihad. The difference is that the V & V only answered to orders – issued on bits and pieces of paper – of Mullah Omar himself.

Rock the base

The verdict echoed like a dagger piercing the oppressive air of the desert near Ghazni. A 360-degree panoramic shot revealed a background of mountains where the mineral had expelled all the vegetal; the silhouette of two 11th century minarets; and a foreground of tanks, helicopters and rocket launchers. The verdict, issued in Pashto and mumbled by our scared official translator imposed by Kabul, was inexorable: “You will be denounced in a military court. The investigation will be long, six months; meanwhile you will await the decision in jail”.

Once again, we were being charged with espionage, but now this was the real deal. We could be executed with a shot on the back of the neck – Khmer Rouge style. Or stoned. Or thrown into a shallow grave and buried alive by a brick wall smashed by a tractor. Brilliant Taliban methods for the final solution were myriad. And to think this was all happening because of two minarets.

To walk over a supposedly mined field trying to reach two minarets was not exactly a brilliant idea in the first place. Red Army experts, during the 1980s, buried 12 million mines in Afghanistan. They diversified like crazy; more than 50 models, from Zimbabwe’s RAP-2s to Belgium’s NR-127s. UN officials had assured us that more than half the country was mined. Afghan officials at the Mine Detention Center in Herat, with their 50 highly trained German shepherds, would later tell us that it would take 22,000 years to demine the whole country.

My objects of desire in Ghazni were two “Towers of Victory”; two circular superstructures, isolated in the middle of the desert and built by the Sassanians as minarets – commemorative, not religious; there was never a mosque in the surroundings. In the mid-19th century scholars attributed the grand minaret to Mahmud, protector of Avicenna and the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. Today it is known that the small minaret dates from 1030, and the big one, from 1099. They are like two brick rockets pointing to the sheltering sky and claiming for the attention of those travelling the by then horrific Kabul-Kandahar highway, a Via Dolorosa of multinational flat tires – Russian, Chinese, Iranian.

The problem is that, 21 years ago, right adjacent to the minarets, there was an invisible Taliban military base. At first we could see only an enormous weapons depot. We asked a sentinel to take a few pictures; he agreed. Walking around the depot – between carcasses of Russian tanks and armored cars – we found some functioning artillery pieces. And a lone, white Taliban flag. And not a living soul. This did look like an abandoned depot. But then we hit on a destroyed Russian helicopter – a prodigy of conceptual art. Too late: soon we are intercepted by a Taliban out of nowhere.

The commander of the base wanted to know “under which law” we assumed we had the right to take photos. He wanted to know which was the punishment, “in our country”, for such an act. When the going was really getting tough, everything turned Monty Python. One of the Taliban had walked back to the road to fetch our driver, Fateh. They came back two hours later. The commander talked to Fateh in Pashto. And then we were “liberated”, out of “respect for Fateh’s white beard”. But we should “confess” to our crime – which we did right away, over and over again.

The fact of the matter is that we were freed because I was carrying a precious letter hand-signed by the all-powerful Samiul Haq, the leader of Haqqania, the factory-cum-academy, Harvard and M.I.T. of Taliban in Akhora Khatak, on the Grand Trunk Road between Islamabad and Peshawar in Pakistan. Legions of Taliban ministers, province governors, military commanders, judges and bureaucrats had studied in Haqqania.

Haqqania was founded in 1947 by deobandi religious scholar Abdul Haq, the father of maulvi and former senator Samiul Haq, a wily old hand fond of brothels and as engaging as a carpet vendor in the Peshawar bazaars. He was a key educator of the first detribalized, urbanized and literate Afghan generation; “literate”, of course, in Haqqania-branded, Deobandi-style Islam. In Haqqania – where I saw hundreds of students from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan indoctrinated to later export Talibanization to Central Asia – debate was heresy, the master was infallible and Samiul Haq was almost as perfect as Allah.

He had told me – no metaphor intended – that “Allah had chosen Mullah Omar to be the leader of the Taliban”. And he was sure that when the Islamic Revolution reached Pakistan, “it will be led by a unknown rising from the masses” – like Mullah Omar. At the time Haq was Omar’s consultant on international relations and Sharia-based decisions. He bundled up both Russia and the US as “enemies of our time”; blamed the US for the Afghan tragedy; but otherwise offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US if Bill Clinton guaranteed no interference in Afghan affairs.

Turn left for the Ministry of Foreign Relations – at the time only recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Back in Ghazni, the Taliban commander even invited us for some green tea. Thanks but no thanks. We thanked Allah’s mercy by visiting the tomb of sultan Mahmud in Razah, less than one kilometer from the towers. The tomb is a work of art – translucid marble engraved with Kufic lettering. Islamic Kufic lettering, if observed as pure design, reveals itself as a transposition of the verb, from the audible to the visible. So the conclusion was inevitable; the Taliban had managed to totally ignore the history of their own land, building a military base over two architectural relics and incapable of recognizing even the design of their own Islamic lettering as a form of art.


All pictures taken from The Roving Eye Video Archives. Pepe Escobar, 2000

Will Afghanistan turn out to be US imperialism’s “Last Gleaming”?

August 26, 2021

The Saker

[this analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In October of last year I wrote a column entitled “When Exactly Did The AngloZionist Empire Collapse” in which I presented my thesis that the Empire died on 8 January 2020 when the Iranians attacked US bases with missiles and the US did absolutely nothing. Yes, this was the correct decision, but also one which, at least to me, marked the death of the Empire as we knew it.

In that article I made reference to a brilliant book by J.M. Greer’s “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” which I later reviewed here. The main plot of the book is that the US will collapse following a completely unpredictable external military defeat (read the book, it is very well written!).

So my question today is whether the debacle in Afghanistan (not only Kabul!) is such an event or not. Afghanistan is often called the graveyard of empires, but might it even become the graveyard of the last empire?

I will try to answer it below.

First, we are now all bombarded by information from, and about, Afghanistan. Issues like the failure of “country building” are mixed in with bodies falling off US transporters, US Marines sharing one (!) bottle of water with severely dehydrated kids with street whippings. None of that is analytically helpful and it conflates completely different issues. I want to offer a different set of questions which, I hope, might be more helpful:

  • Why has the US decided to leave Afghanistan?
  • Was that the correct decision?
  • Why did Kabul fall so fast?
  • Why did such a truly colossal failure in intelligence happen?
  • How was the evacuation of US forces actually executed?

These are just a few questions, there are many others, especially about what will happen to Afghanistan next, but that is one I think is too early to tackle and an entirely separate issue anyway.

Let’s take these questions one by one next.

Why has the US decided to leave Afghanistan?

I don’t know why or how this decision was taken. But my best guess is that it is due to combination of the following factors:

  • “Biden” came to power while waving the Woke/BLM/CRT/Homo/etc. agenda which I would sum up as the “Wakanda worldview” and not liberalism. But at least officially, Biden is a true, peace loving liberal. Since his policies all prove the exact opposite, he tried to “play nice” and do something “liberal”, at least in appearence (and, no, a woke-freak is not really a liberal at all! And neither is a Neocon “conservative” – these are all lies for the dull).
  • “Biden” also knew that a large part of the Trump base wanted to stop all the wars started by Obama and Co.
  • “Biden” probably thought that if the operation was a stunning success, he would get all the credit, and if it was an abject failure, he would dump it all on Trump (which is exactly what “Biden” did).
  • As for Biden himself, let’s just kindly assume that he has “the right political instincts” to maybe smell an opportunity here and bless what might have looked to him as a “good plan”.

Was the decision to leave correct?

Here, I will catch a lot of flak, but I believe that yes, it absolutely was. In his (actually very bad) speech about the withdrawal, Biden said one very true thing (quoting by memory, so don’t quote this) “those who say that 2 or 5 more years will bring us victory are lying to you” (or something pretty close). Here I agree with him 100% (as far as I can tell, only a real, hardcore Neocon ideologue would openly disagree with this; at least I hope so…).

Not only does the US (or any other country) not have any kind of mandate or responsibility to police the planet, the US is certainly the least competent imperial power ever, in spite of a lot of help from the Five Eyes and its EU lackeys. If you are bad at something, but very good at something else, why persist? The US is a true virtuoso in things like bribing, subverting, economically hurting, politically demonizing, killing undesirable leaders, etc… That is really how the Europeans eventually defeated the North American Native Indians.

[Sidebar: for those whom this thesis might throw into a patriotic rage, I highly recommend the book “The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607–1814” written by Dr. John Grenier. That book won him the Society for Military History’s Outstanding Book Award in American History in 2007; Grenier himself is a retired USAF Lieutenant-Colonel and a United States Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO, associate professor of history. His next book is announced as a “biography of Major Robert Rogers, the “Father of American Special Operations.” Hate me all you want, but read this book anyway!]

The US was founded by and for thugs. Calling them explorers, immigrants, robber-barons or founding fathers makes no difference to their true worldview, their ethos – the seizure of the North American continent was an act of international thuggery on every level. That is, of course, NOT to say good people did not exist then or did not live righteously or, even less so, that anybody in the modern USA has any kind of personal guilt over any of this. Only God can judge them! But unless we forget the true roots of the “American Dream”, we will end up with a “US Nightmare”.

Of course, some US immigrants at the same time did try to create a truly free society, protected from the kind of vicious abuses so prevalent in the Old World! The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights (aka the “the Charters of Freedom“) are a monument to both the genius and the worldview of some of the founders of the United States. But good intentions and proclamations are only credible when everybody upholds them for everybody and in each case (not the kind “but this is different, we are democracies after all!” western politicians repeat every time they are accused of hypocrisy)

In the USA, generation after generation of the thugs strengthened their grip power while pushing decent people out of the way (even more so after JFK and 9/11 and other recent events). But that was just a show, a mob “going legal” if you wish.

Thugs have guns, of course, and they can beat the crap out of any civilian. But they can’t fight a military. That is why thugs have gangs, not battalion tactical groups in the first place. Furthermore, as soon as they grow in size, the gangs of thugs try to look more respectable (by purchasing PR campaigns about their “philanthropy” is typical) and less violent. Pretty soon they outsource the violence to others, expandable, lower, gangs.

Sound familiar?

If it does – it’s because it is!

All the US “country-building exercises”, “humanitarian interventions” and other “freedom of something [fill the blank here] defense” truly are: the acts of an international conspiracy of thugs to seize the resources of our entire planet or, failing that, at the very least, destroying any country, nation, tribe or leader that would dare disobey the World Hegemon. (“We will destroy your country and bring it back to the stone age” is how Secretary Baker famously put it to Foreign Minister Aziz)

[Sidebar: as somebody who, for my sins, had a short stint in the field of “humanitarian operations” I can personally testify that the rank and file sincere humanitarians never know the true intentions, and even true affiliations(!) of their bosses. I know that for a fact. So I am not calling all US military personnel thugs. Only their bosses. Besides, I did not invent anything very new, I am just only paraphrasing (cached version) the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, Smedley Butler, wrote anyway.]

This entire invasion of Afghanistan has been one colossal drain on US resources, including human, intellectual, diplomatic and, definitely not least, financial ones (while the US taxpayers’ money flowed into Afghanistan. That money then always magically “disappeared”, for one reason or another, but some few locals got very rich. Go figure….). So, while I don’t have any pollyannaish illusions about how peace and freedom-loving the leaders of the USA really are, I think that they had enough streetsmarts (or cleverness? guile?) to figure out that getting out was necessary. Blaming any possible problems on Trump was, of course, the magic wand which, apparently, settled any discussions. (I am still assuming that at least some professional discussions took place; more accurately, I hope that they still do, and with at least some real specialists included; please don’t tell me all the real professionals have been “diversified-out” or otherwise “canceled”; that is a truly scary thought!).

Why did Kabul fall so fast?

First, what did the US actually do in Kabul? Paid some folks, trained others, gave them tons of weapons, etc. That is the usual stuff US Special Forces and a few others do a lot. While some politicians (in that category I include all officers above colonel rank) clearly saw Afghanistan as their next El Dorado, honest, if naive, servicemen probably believed that this kind of “assistance” will somehow give birth to a peaceful, happy, democratic (read “woke”), prosperous and grateful nation. Of course, it never does. As for the actual ratio of greedy “dogs of war”, assorted “intelligence operatives” or “sincere idealists” in Afghanistan, it has absolutely no military relevance to the outcome as these motives are all equally misguided, even if some are at least more naive/sincere/stupid than truly evil.

Remember the Georgian attack on Tskhinval in 08.08.08? Remember that kind of truly galactic nonsense “Analysis: Georgian Army May Be Tough Nut for Russia to Crack” posted by no less than Deutsche Welle (you know, “made for minds”!)? If not, please do read it; it will make you laugh to tears and wonder what “area specialist” wrote this “analysis” (a rebranded wet dream, really, yet somebody got paid, probably well, to do just that)! Truth is that this five-day war really lasted only three days. The Russians had plenty of problems, yet they obliterated the entire Georgian military in 3 days of actual combat. Three! This is all which the concept what “US/NATO-trained” means: a total, and always ineffective, scam.

That mentality, typical of the modern West, apparently believes that that kind of “assistance/training” can yield good results. The entire history of Latin America and all the US failures in Asia irrefutably prove the opposite, but nevermind that. An even worse mistake made by western decision-makers is that their opponents are basically and fundamentally “like all humans”, or “like everybody else”. The issue here is that these elites consider themselves as SO much superior to everybody else (narcissism is at the core of both British imperialism and Judaic exceptionalism; think Churchill or Epstein here and their real bosses!) that they only refer to those as corruptible, hypocritical, cowardly and terminally unprincipled like themselves. It’s a pure projection, of course.

In reality, US decision makers are utterly clueless about the supposed “others” who are “like everybody else” when they inadvertently tangle with any “true believers” of any kind, from saints to demons. Examples include:

  • All nations with a strong martial culture (Russia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc.)
  • Truly religious opponents (Iran, Hezbollah)
  • Truly sincere/determined political leaders (Vietnam, Cuba, Russia, China)
  • “Rabid dogs” – by that I mean the harcore, Interahamwe-like, nutcase terrorists which the US initially tries to use, only to eventually and inevitably “get bitten” back (neo-Deobandi and/or Takfiri groups, Ukie Nazis, Israeli Zionists).

In theory, of course, the US has always known that; hence, the British expression about “winning the hearts and minds”. But here is the difference: the Brits were always excellent (I did not say “ethical or kind”) diplomats, and superb intelligence officers (same caveat as before). Finally, you can call the Brits many things, but not “poor soldiers” either. In other words, the British Empire had the means of its foreign policies.

The US does not. No?

Then please tell me when was the last time that the US truly inspired somebody? West Europeans after WWII, and that was nothing but a more or less “friendly” takeover of the continent and the creation of a servile comprador ruling elite).

[Sidebar: those who would “cleverly” retort “Prague 68”, Tiananmen square, the Maidan, Poland or the Baltic pretend-states etc. should immediately stop reading at this point, dismiss all of the above as utter quackery (“Kremlin Propaganda” works too) and go watch some TV. Same advice for those saying “if the entire planet hates us, why do they all – including you – want to come here”? I apologize to the adults in the room]

NASA, Jazz, Rock, Hollywood, US writers, artists and simply kind and sincere US Americans did truly inspire millions worldwide. And the official values of the USA, the Charters of Freedom, truly did inspire millions worldwide. But I have to say that after decades of abominably incompetent Presidents (all after Bush Sr. imho) there is very little left from all this.

NASA? It turned into the current “private space” farce cum embezzlements of billions by smug billionaires getting billions from the state in a supposedly “private” venture.

Jazz and Rock have been effectively replaced by MTV and YT and their insipid woke-ideology (especially for the young – old guys like myself are mostly and happily “stuck” in the 70s and 80s or foreign, non-corporate music).

Hollywood? Peuh-leeeze! Anybody not blind (or brainwashed) already knows that this is just a crude propaganda machine which will put blacks (aka “minorities”) everywhere and anywhere. I think of it as the “Snow Black” mental disorder.

Writers? Okay, yes, there are still a lot of those around in the USA. This has probably something to do with the fact that the target audience of writers is composed of readers, not unblinking screen-gazers. But the problem here is most people read very little, and what they read is mostly worthless intellectual prolefeed anyway.

And in much of the rest of the planet, people are often too poor to read, in English or otherwise. So what I am saying is that while US writers may be very talented, they are either uncontroversial (authors like Stephen King or John Grisham) or they will only appeal to a rather small elite of, shall we say, “daring” people (authors like Stephen Cohen or Charles Murray). Thought-criminals, in Orwell’s brilliant lexicon.

Which leaves “sincere US Americans”. Do they exist? Absolutely, in the millions, all over the USA and all over the planet. The latter often go completely native and are loved by the locals. Also, millions of expats come home and see their own country in a totally different way

[Sidebar: during my college years in the USA – 1986-1991 – I observed something curious: US ex-expats preferred spending time with foreign students (officially called “legal” aliens) than from their non-travelling compatriots whom they often found quite “alien” to their own identity. That even included a few (admittedly not very many) US Americans whose only trip abroad was in uniform and to some US base! And while I initially defined my Zone A from Zone B geographically, I now think of it more as a difference in general awareness and worldview. In other words, something primarily mental]

But the problem is very simple: the US elites are doing a rather effective job silencing people, including US nationals. So what most people in Zone B experience is often very kind, friendly and otherwise great personal relations and even friendships with US Americans, but a belief that these wonderful US Americans either can’t do anything about it, or don’t really know what their leaders are really doing.

It is extremely difficult for any “not in my name” type of voices to be heard when the trans-national US propaganda machine is investing billions into silencing these voices!

Did the voices of Smedley Butler or Stephen Cohen make *any* difference to the US ruling classes other than convincing them to spend even more on imperialistic and messianc (the former always implies the latter) propaganda? This is why I have always maintained that the anti-imperialist struggle is not “just” a national liberation struggle for oppressed nations, but it is also a national liberation struggle for all the peoples (plural) of the USA.

And we all know that most of the people of the USA never had much say into what their so-called “leaders” did, no more than any other Middle-Ages’ serf. Every time they get to vote they get the opposite. I will leave it at that.

Now, coming back to our topic, in 2021 the US truly inspires nobody. Absolutely nobody. That is a sad, but undeniable fact. And that is the main reason why Kabul fell so fast: the “defenses” of Kabul were like the fists of a man with advanced osteoporosis – they lacked a crucial element: faith. No matter how good, effective or otherwise powerful those “fists” really were, or thought/pretended to be, it made no difference: one crucial element was missing and that decided it all.

Any force not moved by true/sincere faith always will end up having a “Saigon embassy” or “Berezina” or “Stalingrad” or “Kursk” moment. The preferred term or historical reference doesn’t really matter here.

As for the US armed forces, most of the (reading) public already knows the truth about why people sign up for the military: some truly go waving the flag and holding their breast, especially after the 9/11 false flag, but most simply want to survive. Yes, and while PMCs are typically motivated by pure greed, the regular US soldier only wants to survive at home and get a job (the other options are becoming a cop (less now!) prison guard or a criminal) or in the frontline trenches. And, as we all know, survival instincts go a long way and make it possible for people to do that which they thought was impossible. But there is a much stronger instinct out there, also forged over time by about 1000 of existential warfare: the spirit of self-sacrifice will always defeat any survival instinct, be it inside a warrior’s heart or on the battlefield.

[Sidebar: those US Americans who today wonder why the US could not win a war since WWII can thank General Patton and his truly silly “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his”. When he declared that, he basically made sure that the US military would never win a war again. BTW – if Zhukov, or any other Soviet marshall general had dared to publicly say such a thing, he would have been immediately accused of sabotage, subversion, collusion with the enemy, treason and summarily executed. In fact, that is exactly what Stalin did with Marshal Tukhachevskii (for other, nonetheless, equally valid reasons). Ditto for Nazi Germany. Or Imperial Japan. No need to approve of these regimes to admit that they knew more about warfare than cigar-smoking megalomaniacs].

So, short answer: Kabul fell because belief always defeats unbelief.

Next, my tiny bit longer answer: Kabul fell because the Empire’s “fists” have crumbled.

Finally, my longer answer will be in the form of a freely translated Russian joke I recently heard (can anybody guess the context? begins with “C”): “People who learn from the mistakes of other are called “smart”; people who only learn by their own mistakes are called “dumb”; and people who do not learn from their own mistakes are called “(US) Americans”.

We can now look at the last two, comparatively simpler questions, together:

Why did such a truly colossal failure in intelligence happen and how was the operation executed?

The failure in intelligence is due to the fact that political conformity is now vital for the bloated US “intelligence community”. I can see that dialog happening everywhere inside and around the beltway:

  • Sir, I am so sorry, but we cannot do that, we simply can’t!!!!
  • What, are you a hidden Trump supporter?!?!?!?!

What the actual order was matters little. Demonizing the opposition is much more important. Hiring unskilled people solely for their ideological purity is also a top priority. Who cares about abilities, which we all know are “equal”, whatever that means, even down to the individual level? Procrustes in his most insane dreams could not have dreamt-up the woke-freaks and their CRT!

That is the kind of paranoia-induced witch-hunts which all actively collapsing regimes undergo. The current collective US insanity is very reminiscent of what, first, Trotskiysts and, later, Stalinists did to the Soviet Union or the Red Guards to China.

It is also true that the US intelligence community was inevitably infected with “Patton’s logic”, and is run by politicians with zero true patriotism.

Take away a country’s intelligence community and you just shot its brains out.

Take away a country’s armed forces, and you just cut off its arms.

And there you have it: the “evacuation” of Kabul/Afghanistan is the only kind of “evacuation” you can expect from a former superpower which has lost both its brains and fists.

By the way, there are strong signs that the US has also lost its “legs”, hence the chaos and the need to suddenly resort to the use of civilian airlines. To clarify – there is nothing wrong with civil augmentation of military assets at all, quite to the contrary! The key word here is “suddenly”, not “civilian”. One of two options is true:

  • The plan, whatever it was, failed
  • There was no plan

In theory, there is a third option: “this is the plan”, but theoretical options are only relevant when they are backed with at least some empirical evidence which in this case it is not. Also, some vaguely stated intention, however sincere, also does not qualify as “plan”. For comparison’s sake, it took the Soviets about 18 months (!) to prepare their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The difference in outcomes is now self-evident.

That is not to say that the Empire will necessarily totally lose all influence in Afghanistan, or anywhere else for that matter. Wrecking a place requires very little skills. Actually, re-building anything typically requires a lot of skills.

As Che Guevara once pointed out, “the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love”. Alas, the word “revolutionary” has been terminally stained with blood; as for “love” and “truth”, they have long lost their true meanings ago (at least in the West). But let me rephrase that this way: “true change requires true, loving, faith”. Better?

The ugly truth is that as long as the United States and Europe are ruled by the current international gang of thugs, the Empire will retain a very significant capability to threaten and attack almost everybody else. And if you count their nukes, they can murder us all.

So yes, the Empire did die on January 8th 2020, and the US died almost an exact year later, on January 6th 2021. But there is plenty of momentum left in both of these two cadavers to keep deep nails inserted into the flesh of most nations out there. However, Not Russia. Not China, and not Iran. Not anymore. The US is also losing control of Central Asia and the Middle-East. That possibility is now even discussed with great concern in Israel and the CENTCOM-occupied countries of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula.

Now is the time for the US military to get its act together and seriously and carefully prepare more evacuation plans for the entire Middle-East, if not these “evacuation plans” will quickly turn into “extraction plans”, followed by more rooftop/runway nonsense the US is famous for. Does anybody still remember how the US forces left from, say, Somalia, or, maybe, Lebanon? These “evacuations” turned into a panicked “run for your dear life operations”.

Will somebody replace the USA? Please?!

It appears that just like “Biden” farmed-out the Ukraine to the Germans, “he” is now farming-out Afghanistan to the Brits. If so, this is a rather clever intention (the devil will be in the details, in this case, in the planning and execution.) Keep in mind that the Talibans do not control large parts of Afghanistan and that the traditional opposition to the Taliban rule in northern Afghanistan (Panjshir Valley) very much exists and is combat-capable (at least by local standards). As for the son of Ahmad Shah Masoud, just like his father, seems to have strong ties to Britain. Ahmad Masoud Jr. looks very much like his father and has some of his charisma. Does that not all sound familiar too?

In the meantime, a motley pack of rabid EU politicians with imperial phantom pains are also making some noises but can do nothing at all. Putin once referred to these noises as “oinking backing vocals”!

As for the AngloZionist legacy press, it is mostly wailing in despair and horror just at the mention of the possibility that Russia and/or China might actually have some influence, however tiny, in Afghanistan. (Remember “these ragheads/russkuies/goooks/niggers/sand-niggers/injuns/etc. live on OUR land and OUR resources!”). This is what “Manifest Destiny” really is. Or Germany’s “civilizational mission in the East” was. Or the “White Man’s burden”, or the French Mason’s “Universal Values” etc.. Ditto for the Papacy’s splitting of the planet in its now long forgotten (but not by its victims!) 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas) into separate control/exploitation/pillaging sectors, ad majorem Dei gloriam, of course. Modern ecologists, woke activists and militant homosexuals all very much share in that mindset.

The sad but undeniable truth is that the true roots of modern Europe are not in Rome, even less so Athens, but in the Latin Crusades and the subsequent Middle-Ages. The Reform and Renaissance changed nothing, or even made things worse. Neither did 1789 or WWII. The spiritual and philosophical roots of the West are neither Roman, nor Greek, but found amongst those who destroyed Rome and severed it off from the truly civilized world, not only in the Christian East, but worldwide: the Franks.

Imperialism originates in our heads, it is a worldview, a mindset, and that is where it must be eradicated for it to finally vanish.

The mind is where imperialism begins but also where it will end, just like any other human phenomenon. And while I do fear the inevitable chaos before some “future West” or “future Europe” can replace the current ones, I also do believe that, when shown the true cost of their mistakes, all nations will reject imperialism in all its forms.

By creating an instrument of total control (the Internet) the Empire also created the first global resistance to empire community in world history! Not only that, but the US ruling classes turned US schools and admired US academia into both an imbecile/serfs-producing machine and the laughingstock of much of the planet (even in Zone A!). But what the US ruling elites failed to do is to prevent regular, mainstream, US Americans from wanting to know, to learn, to explore and, eventually, to fight for justice. True, as political indoctrination goes, Uncle Shmuel can run circles around the Nazis or the Soviets, but no Uncle Shmuel will ever “fix” our fallen nature or the universe, so our resistance runs deep, even the US and Israel. Yes, it is mostly silenced, but in the depths, it is very much still there.

I don’t believe in any Grand Replacement plans, at least not one focused on “race”. But I do believe in a cultural/civilizational “grand replacement”, which I see as inevitable and already well under way, even in the USA and the EU!

Of course, I don’t know what the future collective West will be like, assuming there ever is one again. But I am confident that the type of imperialism which has its roots in the medieval Papacy (which even Hitler admitted with some admiration) is coming to an end.

Think of it: dreams about becoming the “next Mongol empire” must have been sexy. Or being the next East Roman (aka “Byzantine Empire”) too. And to my infinite regret, sadness and pain, (and location of my own place of birth) most of the rulers of imperial Russia fell for such temptations. And this is also the true, core, reason why the Russian monarch fell in February of 1917.

As for what actually followed this supposed “wonderful” and even supposedly “bloodless” revolution was the worst centuries of mass murder and atrocities in human history. Bravo and thank you, Kerensky (and his western masonic “sponsors”!). The Ukies did not invent their ridiculous “Maidan”! Kerensky and his supporters did. (Gene Sharp – you can see his pietistic quasi-hagiography here (Wikipedia on politics, as usual) – only systematized the study of this field). Thinking Russians can add up and realize that imperialism in any and all its forms, even call it “Capitalism with a human face” if you prefer, is a mortal danger to humanity itself.

In the Soviet times, Russians were promised “Communism” (aka the end of history and heaven on earth, “just” without God); then they were promised “democracy”. Had Russia better elites, all these delusions would not have been replaced with total horror. (Think of the monolog about true horror by Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in the brilliant allegorical movie Apocalypse Now!). The immense costs of WWII for both China and Russia truly brought the reality of imperialism to the Russians and the Chinese people, and they want none of it again. No matter how “pious” the latest pretext may be.

In other words, an overwhelming majority of Russians reject not just the execution but the very principle of imperialism (or the optional use of military force), even if Russia wins! The fact that other nations, experts, pundits either fail to realize this, or try hard to ignore this, has no bearing on that reality (at least amongst Zone B types in Russia, about 95% or more of the total). The “real reality” in 2021 is that actual imperialist delusions in Russia are only held by a small, aging and quickly shrinking group of ignoramuses and/or nutcases. This is not because Russians are somehow “better” than US Americans, Brits, Spaniards or any other imperialists. The difference is that Russians now know, personally, the true costs of Empire.

Awareness of the true costs of empire is a formidable empire-killer (as seen recently in Afghanistan between the clueless GIs and the Afghan warlords). This is why the Empire will do everything it can to deny, obfuscate or otherwise conceal these costs!

Furthermore, once the costs of empire become known by a critical mass of sincerely patriotic people (whatever the country or their political system), the core ideology needed by the empire to justify itself and simply operate becomes gravely endangered.

How bad does it get?

I have an example:

The Soviet “defeat” in Afghanistan: the USSR was never militarily or even economically defeated. Not in Afghanistan. Not by Reagan and his “freedom fighters” (currently declared “evil terrorists”, as opposed to the “good ones” from the Axis of Kindness). Not by SDI. The famous “we won” of the US CIA really should have been “they lost”. Big, big difference.

The USSR was defeated by the CPSU Party Nomenklatura who basically destroyed an entire country to rule over its many leftover chunks, almost none of which actually managed to become a viable state. Put it simply: the Soviet regime died because of its own lies, hypocrisy, inhumanity and, frankly, frequent sheer stupidity. Initially, many soldiers sincerely believed in their alleged “internationalist duty” to “fight US imperialism in Afghanistan” which was quite real. Some were not even informed that they were being sent abroad (the abbreviation “TurkVO2” was used. It meant “the “second” Turkestan military district suggesting a domestic extension/creation of a second TMD. Not a foreign military operation.

Eventually, over time, the painful truth began seeping into the Russian mind. That is how and why the Soviet forces had to be withdrawn. Not because of any particularly intrepid and CIA-run “freedom fighters” or the Stingers (devastating initially, but effective countermeasures were quickly developed and successfully practiced). Again, the US won nothing, the Soviets are the one who lost – they did it to themselves, really!

Again, does it sound familiar? It’s because it is! It just happened with the “Afghan democratic government”, as it will eventually happen to the “Ukrainian democratic government”.

To be unambiguously clear: I think that the Soviet decision to enter Afghanistan was both deeply misguided and inherently immoral (my personal interactions with Soviet officers and participating in a very interesting discussion between a representative of the Northern Alliance and Russian exiles, convinced me of that). The figure of dead, wounded, oppressed or exiled “civilians” is terrible. But the following facts are also undeniable:

  • The Soviets tried hard to stem the influence of those Takfirs which the USA had federated and the KSA paid for. In this battle, the Soviets were first.
  • The Soviets did build a lot of critical civilian infrastructure facilities, they also tried to develop the country economically and educate its people (in the Soviet mold, of course, but better than nothing at all).

Compared to what the US brought to Afghanistan, the Soviets look like both true warriors and true humanitarians. And, remember, we are talking mostly about conscripts here, many poorly trained, poorly supported and even poorly commanded. Yet they did so much better than the supposed “pros” of the “greatest military in history”.

As for what the Russians can do now, they should remember that Afghans will remember both the bad and the good (there is a large Afghan community in Russia) and they can promise to themselves that in the future all Russians will treat all the people of Afghanistan with true, informed respect and extend a sincere hand of friendship. Whether, or which, Afghans will accept that extended hand is their decision to make, nobody else’s (not even Kamala Harris!)

So all that nonsense peddled by Zbigniew Brzezinski (“Russia needs the Ukraine to be a superpower!”) and Hillary Clinton (“Putin wants to rebuild the USSR”) is solely and only an expression of the true phobia which the Western elites, especially in northern Europe, feel towards Putin, Russia, Russians and anything Russian. Makes perfect sense that the European invaders never succeeded in controlling Russia, imperial, Soviet, even “democratic” and least of all, modern Russia

As for the putatively invincible and “superior” western militaries (Sandhust! West Point! Saint-Cyr!), they completely lack the kind of experience Russians have learned for about 1000 years now: ten centuries of warfare, with no geographical boundaries, with expanses more reminiscent of the high seas than central Europe, and with no hope of mercy from their foes (most Russian attackers were hell-bent on exterminate the Russian nation, or culture or religion, mostly all three at the same time). Western ruling classes are terrified of the fact that they cannot defeat Russia militarily, so they pretend the “real Russia” doesn’t even exist.

Instead, there is a “resurgent” Russian-Soviet “Mordor” filled with noble and “diversity” loving “dissidents” who are slowly dying in “Putin’s Gulag!”, the Russian economy is ‘“in shambles” and Russia is just “a gas station masquerading as a country”. These Russkies can’t build shit and they drink vodka all day. Russians might even be an inferior race, since they are so evil and stupid! Most importantly, unless they are “contained” and “deterred” by the West (what a joke!), these Russians hell-bent on war and will invade us and the rest of the “civilized world”

This type of delusional coping mechanism is well known to modern psychology and is really quite common. It is really just a stage of grief, not an analysis of anything real.

The truth is that even the popular Putin had to work hard to defend his personal decision to engage a small, relatively weak military task force into Syria. Even a loyal Putinist like myself initially feared that this might be a huge mistake. It was not, and Putin and his generals were even smarter than I thought at the time (the entire operation is a masterpiece for future military textbooks!).

Had that operation failed, and it was both daring and very risky (in the early phases especially), there would have been hell to pay for Putin, Shoigu and all those who put their moral weight behind it. If somebody in the Kremlin ever thinks again of invading another country, he/she would be reprimanded and demoted, possibly fired or, failing that, “retired up”.

Of course, there are plenty of Russians condemning Putin for not moving forces into the Donbass (besides a few special forces, artillery spotters, forward air controllers and one very effective artillery strike across the border), but these people would have unanimously considered such a Russian military intervention, had it happened, as self-evidently purely defensive strategically (but not operationally or tactically, of course).

Frankly, the Balts and Poles look ridiculous in their narcissistic paranoia. On Russian TV, the western propaganda is immediately translated and aired, to the greatest laughter of the audience! As for the Ukronazis, they only inspire disgust and a firm determination to never allow another attack on Russia coming from the West, or elsewhere for that matter.

But there is no desire for war with any of these guys, even for a war Russia would win in a week or two. In fact, in its current shape, the Ukraine is potentially a deadly toxin for Russia, especially if the Russians ever put their guard down. The very last thing modern Russia needs is to get poisoned/infected by the many Ukrainian toxins…

Conclusions:

  • The Empire has been dead for a while
  • The USA as we have known it is dead too
  • The AngloZionists still have more than enough power to threaten or actually attack any country on earth (with the exception of Russia, China and Iran or/and without committing nuclear suicide; yes, Iran has no nukes, they banned them long ago, but they have a formidable military nonetheless.
  • For the very first time ever, the true costs of empire are slowly “seeping back” into the USA (Marx, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been happy to see that) and that has already fundamentally changed the USA as a country.
  • Dead, the old USA is currently rotting in the mogue for all to smell. The old Soviet joke about “capitalism rotting” but the smell of that “rot” smelling “oh so sweet!” is finally proven true. It took longer than expected, but like everything inevitable, it eventually happened in 2021. Now that this stench is impossible to conceal and, boy, does it stink!
  • In spite of that, I fully expect the USA to survive and even prosper with time! Maybe the US will re-emerge as a de-facto confederacy, with a minimal central power and high degree of independence for the states? Pretty much what the Confederates wanted most, but adapted to modern times and their now universally accepted norms (well, except in Israel, of course).
  • No other power (or coalition of powers) will “replace” the USA globally. Why would they? Remember, Russians and Chinese are not only theologians or philosophers culturally, but their national ethos has been deeply affected/infected with Marxism and dialectics which, for all other criticisms of them, were at least taught in Communist schools, however poorly, basically and even wrongly! So, unlike the clueless leaders of the Empire, the Russians and the Chinese fully realize that the Empire was never really defeated, but rather that it defeated itself. Most importantly, the Russians and Chinese understand that if they “replace” the USA, they will end up like the USA. They are far more ambitious, in reality!
  • Regarding Afghanistan, there are numerous local powers already deeply embedded inside the Afghan society, including indigenous ones, which, while not “replacing” anybody will most likely act like they have always in the past (“the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” and “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” point to the same reality). That means violence, chaos, bigotry, cruelty, and other horrors will continue to take place, maybe not as much or as visibly as before.
  • Currently I see no combination of local or even foreign powers which can bring true, lasting, peace to Afghanistan. But a combo of Iran+Russia+China would be the most effective in providing aid and some measure of control.
  • Logically, this is both a major risk but also a huge opportunity for all the neighbors of Afghanistan which include at least four countries with deep ties with, and knowledge of, Afghanistan: Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China. Of course, unlike some “spokespersons” at DoS, I know that Russia has no border with Afghanistan. I even know that Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan do (even China does!). These countries even have some very good special units which are quite combat capable. But the “stans” all depend on Russia for their survival anyway, and they know it. I fully expect and hope that at least the Russians, Iranians and Chinese get as involved in Afghanistan as soon as possible, if only because of the formidable “cultural intelligence” of their sophisticated intelligence community including operatives and analysts (no, a few words of Pashto combined with a bundle of dollars does not qualify as “intelligence work” – that mindset is only good for bribing). As for the Turks, they have strong “cultural intel” too, enough money and guns to wave around, they are Muslims (albeit not of the Deobandi persuasion) and they will most definitely try hard. I predict that they will fail simply because they are too far geographically and culturally. Also, Turkey does not have the means for a serious, prolonged, operation in Afghanistan.
  • It sure looks to me that the Brits have figured this one first, at least the main elements. No real surprise here (they remain the most skilled intelligence officials in the EU!), hence their Foreign Secretary Raab having to extend a very humiliating (and wholly ineffective) “olive branch” to Russia and China (all while clamoring that Russia wants to invade Europe and China all of Asia). Russia made some noises back, and maybe the Chinese too, but these are simply good diplomatic manners. Neither country will ever accept AngloZionists as a relevant force in Afghanistan. And neither will the Afghans.
  • At this point in time, nobody can truly control, nevermind bring peace to Afghanistan. If the main actors at least stopped running the country on the ground and did absolutely nothing, this would be a great improvement: not doing harm would probably be the best anybody can do. Finally, just like the Ukrainians, let the Afghan choose if they even want a unified country and, if yes, of what type? How could the people of Afghanistan best express their opinion? Let them figure it out.
  • The so-called “Afghan problem” cannot be solved under the current international system and international law. Just like the Ukraine, Afghanistan is widely recognized as a totally artificial country. But how do you fix this? You can’t as long as those who created that international system still control it. A set of new institutions will have to come first before peace comes to Afghanistan. Tragic, revolting, but true.

Will that ever happen? Will Zone B nations be strong, wise and determined enough to create new international institutions? I don’t know.

But if it does not, then our planet is indeed lost until the Second Coming.

The Saker

The Afghanistan Debacle: When Will They Ever Learn?

August 24, 2021

British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan

Brian Cloughley

President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity

Following World War Two, Europe was reeling from the devastation of so many years of savagery that it seemed it might never recover. The casualty figures are staggering, with, in addition to the Soviet Union’s some 25 million, about seven millions were killed in each of Germany and Poland, and 800,000 in France, 1.7 million in Yugoslavia, and half a million in each of Austria, Italy and Greece. The majority of these people were civilians and the surviving citizens of all these countries were suffering gravely from the catastrophe, not the least hazard being actual starvation.

The United States had only a handful of civilian casualties and prospered greatly from the commercial demands of war. In consequence it was in a position of immeasurable economic and military ascendancy and fortunately was governed by an administration that, by and large, was sympathetic and prepared to be supportive in alleviating the misery of the countless millions in Europe who seemed to have nothing in their future but endless hardship.

President Truman and his State Department brought their considerable talents to bear and constructed a scheme whereby shattered Europe could be best assisted. As noted by the History website, the 1948 European Recovery Plan was “The brainchild of Secretary of State George C Marshall, for whom it was named.” It was “crafted as a four-year plan to reconstruct cities, industries and infrastructure heavily damaged during the war and to remove trade barriers between European neighbours — as well as foster commerce between those countries and the United States.” In its final essence it didn’t entail a great deal of actual sacrifice on the part of the U.S., and in fact benefitted the agricultural community and the economic furnace that had been so effective in winning the war.

Nevertheless it was based on good will, charitable feeling, and concern for humanity, as expressed by Marshall himself in June 1947 in a speech delivered at Harvard University where he declared “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

If only there had been more Marshalls in later years, the world would be a better place. Certainly, the United States would be in a position of international economic supremacy — but it wouldn’t have invaded and almost destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and blitzed Libya into an even worse shambles than it created further east.

And as the U.S.-Nato military alliance staggers out of Afghanistan, defeated but grovelingly defiant, it should be giving thought to what has happened in that benighted country and planning for the future on the basis of what it has learned. The problem is that Nato doesn’t seem to have learned anything by its absurd foray, and is indeed intent on widening its horizons in order to attempt to justify its existence. The best lesson from Nato’s Afghanistan debacle (and its eight month bombing fandango that destroyed Libya’s economic infrastructure and encouraged home-basing of terrorist groups where none had formerly dared set a foot) is that it would be globally beneficial if Nato were to disband, but we have to be realistic and accept that common sense will not prevail in that regard.

Along the same lines, it would be sensible for Washington to objectively assess the value of the vast number of U.S. military bases around the globe, and inform U.S., openly and without qualifications or caveats, exactly what benefit their existence is supposed to offer to the U.S. and to the rest of the world. But again the signs are not good, as indicated on August 16 when an anonymous White House official spoke about a visit to Singapore and Vietnam by Vice President Kamala Harris and told the Washington Post that in spite of the concurrent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan she would continue with her trip because “Given our global leadership role, we can and we must manage developments in one region while simultaneously advancing our strategic interests in other regions on other issues. The United States has many interests around the world, and we are well-equipped to pursue them all at the same time.”

When will they ever learn?

Does President Biden genuinely believe that his Administration is “managing developments” in Afghanistan? Why is he determined to continue pursuing the supposed strategic interests of the U.S. by deploying increasing numbers of troops and ships and planes and missiles all round the globe to confront China and Russia and provoke them to react against the “global leader”?

The Washington establishment may have heard or read the latest pronouncement from the European Union concerning the wider effects of the Afghanistan debacle, but unfortunately it is unlikely it will prompt an objective analysis. On August 19 Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, affirmed to the European Parliament and the world at large that “this is a catastrophe… Let me speak clearly and bluntly: This is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”

What the rest of the world is waiting for is an alternative use of the word “reset” by the Administration in Washington. Instead of conducting another “reset” aimed at military domination and increasing confrontation with China and Russia, President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity as a whole. An Economist/YouGov poll in early 2021 indicated that “Most Americans think of China and Russia as our country’s greatest enemies. Of the two, China is the most frequently mentioned threat, followed closely by Russia”, and it is disconcerting that the U.S. President appears to be making no effort whatever to reduce international tensions.

President Biden should reflect on the civilised declaration by General George Marshall that “our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos” and consider how much better a world he could help forge if he concentrated the mightiness of the United States against the challenges presented by so many desperate problems besetting the peoples of the world.

Imagine what a Marshall Plan could achieve today.

But it seems unlikely that the U.S. Administration will consider any such thing, and it is painfully evocative of the 1960s folk-song “Where have all the flowers gone” which contains the evocative phrase “When will they ever learn?” When, indeed?

Is Afghanistan the First Domino to Fall?

War and Conflict — Strategic Culture

August 22, 2021

Tim Kirby

It certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line.

With America withdrawing from Afghanistan abruptly after some 20 years, one big question is being discussed throughout the strategic sphere by those both in big institutions and laying on their couches – is the American loss in Afghanistan the first domino to fall in the eventual collapse of the Global Hegemon? After all, Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires” probably because it is an expression that sounds nice and because the Soviets fell apart a few years after losing to the locals. So this must be the “beginning of the end” right?

Well, we should never be so quick as to jump onto narrow narratives without looking at the big picture. Side-by-side images of the Americans and their allies fleeing Vietnam and Afghanistan by helicopter are flooding Facebook, posted by those in the Alternative Media who take great joy in any loss by the 21st century’s “Evil Empire” but they seem to forget that just a few decades after losing in Vietnam the United States won the Cold War and took dominance over the planet.

Image: Strategic meme-of-the-year material for 2021.

No single event no matter how photogenic it is, is not going to be a sign of the grand demise of the “Sole Hyperpower”. It really took from the beginning of WWI till the end of WWII for the British to truly fall apart as a geopolitical force. The Soviet Union fell much quicker, but it is very widely believed that Perestroika (or the The Reykjavik Summit) was the real first white flag that devolved into the breakup of the union years later. The Roman Empire was a vastly slower burn than either of these two modern behemoths.

This means we should not be debating if Afghanistan is the first “domino” to fall, but instead we should really take a look at what the rest of the dominos falling would look like. At this point we can surely put together a rough picture of what the next tiles to fall would look like, i.e. what other major failures/events would really be signs of the Monopolar World meeting its demise? The following are a few humble offerings as to what these dominos could be…

Abandoning the Maidan Regime in the Ukraine

The unexpected surrender and soon to be total fall of Kabul has certainly resonated in another city that starts with the letter K. If Washington is finding it necessary to abandon a twenty-year Nation-Building project that they have invested vast sums of money and manpower into, that means that back-burner Kiev could be cut loose in the near future, putting the fate of the region in the hands of the Russians.

Image: We all know who secures Ukrainian “independence”.

The Maidan has been a major roadblock for Russia. As Brzeziński wrote, “It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire” and Washington has done an absolutely fantastic job of turning the region into an “anti-Russia” as Putin recently called it.

If the Maidan project were to be abandoned, it would become another quite massive domino. Washington giving up on Kiev, resulting in that current political entity probably being divided up, mostly going to Moscow, would symbolize either the USA’s inability to stop the rise of the Russians or their begrudging acceptance of it.

Taiwan, Hong Kong and/or South Korea

The Trump-era State Department Democracy storm that was inflicted on Hong Kong has seemed to fade away, but a total abandonment of the thorns in the side of the Chinese Dragon would also result in another domino being placed into position.

Image: Not State Department = No Professional Protest Organizers in China.

Bailing on Hong Kong activists or failing to maintain Taiwan’s independence would certainly present a strong sign of weakness and inability from the standpoint of Washington. Furthermore, although China has never had a passionate love for the North Koreans, having South Korea as essentially an American beachhead right next door has been a cause of concern for decades for Beijing. The South Korean economy on paper looks amazing and their cities dazzle with progress but what would be the effects of Ameria giving up on them? Is South Korea able to stand as a great nation, or is it really only successful thanks to the American umbrella? The answer to that would reveal itself within two weeks of an America-free Korean Peninsula.

Simply put, if Washington gives up on Hong Kong, Taiwan and/or South Korea it is another sign of the end for sure as China would be more or less rid of these weak points that have been exploited against it for decades.

A Loss of Control Over the “Bigs”

Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Agro and so on, have dutifully served Washington’s interests despite their theoretically international nature. But we should never forget that large for-profit entities are quite “whoreish” and will serve whichever master they need to. If Washington cannot control the Bigs as it used to, this would be another domino.

To a small extent this is happening in Hollywood where the Chinese market’s (and its official and unofficial) demands are having a major impact. But if it comes to a point that Hollywood is only making a chunk of the world’s blockbusters rather than nearly all of them it would be the end of the total unobstructed Soft Power dominance of this American institution. Or even worse, if Hollywood can be bought out from under America then a new global narrative could be spun quite quickly.

If the Hegemon fades, the leadership of the Bigs will feel increasing pressure from the Russians, Chinese and Arabs to give up the whole “gay thing” and portray these societies in a positive light whether through bribery or threats of force. Apple may be “designed in California” but if need be they would surely bail for greener pastures rather than living a life of poverty loyal to a failed America.

Mexico, Lakotastan and African-America

The United States has done a fantastic job of fostering independence movements within its rivals while making diverse masses “American” at home. However, as with the Soviets and the British, waves of breakaway republics and successful secessionist movements would be a very big domino indeed.

The Soviets tried to create an African workers uprising in America in the 60’s and failed miserably, but BLM could get out of control, or in the case of a dying USA, could become used by foreign powers. An Afro-American Maidan would certainly be another sign of doom.

The rise of an independent Native-American state like the Lakota Indians’ lands would be yet another tile being stood into place, opening the door for further break-away attempts.

When the Mexicans lost the Mexican-American war they lost the chance to become the dominant power on the continent. Few remember, but the destiny of this New World was not just given to the Americans wrapped in a box. If the Mexicans had won the war they would be the ones with access to the Atlantic (via the Gulf of Mexico) and the Pacific simultaneously, not Washington. It would have been very possible for them to secure the entire West Coast. A Mexico that would begin to take action as an independent actor would certainly be another sign of serious trouble for Washington. Thus far, on the North American continent “there can be only one” but perhaps that isn’t necessarily going to always remain the same “one”.

The death of the Dollar or collapse of the Federal Reserve

If the dollar were to collapse, or there were serious problems at the Federal Reserve, as have been predicted for many years due to insane national debt, this would of course be the biggest domino of all. The West has been able to accumulate bafflingly massive debt with no consequences because of the dominance of Washington. It is very hard to call in a debt from the toughest kid school surrounded by his henchmen. But when the big bully stops growing, and loses his buddies, all of a sudden getting your $5 back with a few whacks from a baseball bat becomes viable.

Image: If you are powerful enough no one can call in your debts.

No one can call in the debt of a Global Hegemon, but Regional Powers have to balance their checkbook. A decrease in power could lead to the national debt prophecy coming true in our lifetimes which would be probably the largest domino of all.

In conclusion

Is Afghanistan “the first domino to fall” in the death of the American Empire? This cannot be proven, but it certainly looks like a domino that has been put in position poised to fall waiting for others to take their places in the line. Other major defeats would be required to say for sure that this “New American Century” is over, not even making it to the one-fourth mark. It is really the other potential signs of the end that are of most concern not squabbling over Afghanistan’s domino status. So the big question is, if Washington is losing its Monopolar World Order, then where will be the next grand retreats?

U.S. Fears of China Nuclear Expansion… Déjà Vu of Soviet Missile Gap Hype

Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

July 31, 2021

Finian Cunningham

China is providing the equivalent scaremongering of the Soviet “missile gap” in order to sustain America’s militarist-dependent capitalist economy.

Media reports from the U.S. this week – regurgitated by the European press – highlighted concerns that China is embarking on a massive scale-up of underground silos for launching nuclear weapons.

Hundreds of silos are alleged to be under construction in the western regions of Xinjiang and Gansu, according to U.S. media reports citing commercial satellite data. American military officials and State Department diplomats are quoted as saying they are “deeply concerned” by the purported expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal.

For its part, Beijing has not yet commented on the claims of new nuclear silos. Some Chinese media reports say that the excavation could be due to something else entirely – the construction of large-scale wind farms. A Global Times dismissed the U.S. claims as “hyped”.

Context, as ever, is crucial. For a start, the U.S. headlines are equivocal and heavily qualified, indicating that the information is far from conclusive.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “China Appears to Be Building New Silos for Nuclear Missiles, Researchers Say”.

While CNN headlined: “China appears to be expanding its nuclear capabilities, U.S. researchers say in new report”.

Despite the lack of definite information that didn’t stop Pentagon and government officials from saying they were “deeply concerned”, thus adding a veneer of factuality to reports that were speculative.

Here’s another consideration. So what if China is expanding its nuclear arsenal with new silos? The People’s Republic of China has a stockpile of warheads numbering 350. The United States has a stockpile of some 5,550 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The U.S. has a nuclear offensive power 15 times greater than China. So even if China is planning to double its arsenal of nuclear weapons, according to the Pentagon, that increase is still a fraction of American destructive capability.

Beijing maintains that the onus is on Washington to de-escalate its nuclear arsenal. The United States and Russia have resumed talks this week in Geneva on renewing arms-control efforts – efforts that have been put on hold by Washington since the Trump administration. Washington and Moscow – both possessing over 90 percent of the world’s total nuclear warheads – need to get on with their obligations for disarmament before China is reasonably brought into the discussion, along with other minor nuclear powers, such as Britain and France.

Another consideration for context is the ramping up of hostility by the United States towards China. The Biden administration is continuing the aggressive agenda of its Trump and Obama predecessors. Arming the renegade Chinese island territory of Taiwan, sailing warships into the South China Sea, media vilification of China over allegations of human rights abuses, genocide, malign conduct in trade, cyberattacks, and the Covid-19 pandemic. All of this speaks of stoking confrontation with China and inflaming U.S. public opinion to accept war with China.

Pentagon officials tell Congressional hearings that they consider war with China a distinct possibility in the near term.

Given this context, it would be reasonable to expect China to expand its nuclear defenses in order to shift the American calculation away from contemplating a war. The problem is not the alleged Chinese military buildup. It is Washington’s criminal policy of hostility towards Beijing that is fueling the risk of war.

But here is another key factor: the United States is undergoing a trillion-dollar upgrade of its nuclear arsenal. That began under Obama and was continued under Trump and now Biden. That puts alleged Chinese expansion into perspective. The United States has already nuclear power that dwarfs China’s and yet the U.S. is expanding what is a provocative threat to China.

Furthermore, Washington’s nuclear upgrade of its triad of submarines, silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers is hurtling out of control financially.

A recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned that the trillion-dollar nuclear upgrade was ballooning with “stupefyingly expensive” cost overruns. In just two years, the cost was over-budget by $140 billion and the upgrade program is to run for a total of three decades.

This eye-watering waste of taxpayers’ money has led some U.S. lawmakers to call for drastic cuts in nuclear arms expenditure. Senator Ed Markey and others have decried “our bloated nuclear weapons budget”. Given the crumbling state of America’s civilian infrastructure, popular opposition to exorbitant military spending is potentially a major political problem for the Pentagon and its industrial complex.

The U.S. media hype over the alleged expansion of Chinese silos begins to look like déjà vu of the alleged “missile gap” with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the 1950s and 60s, Washington and the compliant corporate media became animated by CIA data that purported to show the Soviet Union outpacing the U.S. in the numbers of nuclear missiles. It turned out that the “missile gap” was non-existent. But the fear-mongering it engendered, in turn, created public acceptance of massive military expenditure by Washington that has become structural and chronic to this day. The warped allocation of financial resources is a parasitical drain on American society. Any rational, democratic mind would abhor the grotesque priorities.

China today is providing the equivalent scaremongering of the Soviet “missile gap” in order to sustain America’s militarist-dependent capitalist economy.

الانسحاب الأميركي من وسط آسيا بين الفوضى والاستقرار

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كاتب وباحث سياسي في العديد من المنافذ الإخبارية العربية ، ومنها جريدة الأخبار ، وقناة الميادين الإخبارية الفضائية ، وعربي 21 ، وراي اليوم ،.

 الأربعاء 28 تموز 2021

المصدر

عمرو علان

كما كان دخول أميركا عسكرياً إلى قلب آسيا، من خلال احتلال أفغانستان قبل 20 عاماً، تبدّلاً نوعياً في وضع الجغرافيا السياسية الذي كان قائماً في وسط آسيا آنذاك، فإنَّ انسحابها اليوم لا يقلّ أهميّة كذلك من هذا المنظور.

لم يكن دخول أميركا إلى آسيا الوسطى – قبل 20 عاماً من خلال احتلال أفغانستان – نقلة هامشية في لعبتي الشطرنج الجغرافيتين، السياسية والاقتصادية، فكما يقول الأستاذ المساعد البروفيسور برياني تود في مركز البحوث الاستراتيجية “Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies” في جامعة ” National Defense University” الأميركية: “إذا ما كنّا – يقصد الأميركيين – خلال التسعينيات ننظر إلى منطقة وسط آسيا من خلال البعد الروسي، فإننا صرنا في الألفية الثانية ننظر إلى تلك المنطقة من خلال البعد الأفغاني”.

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كان الدخول العسكري الأميركي إلى قلب آسيا تحولاً استراتيجياً إذ جعل منها المهيمن الرئيس في عموم منطقة أوراسيا

إنَّ وجود أفغانستان في قلب آسيا يجعل منها عقدة مواصلات برية في حركتي نقل البضائع والأفراد، ولا سيما أنَّ لها حدوداً مشتركة مع 6 دول آسيوية، 3 منها تعد دولاً محورية، هي الصين شرقاً، وباكستان جنوباً، وإيران غرباً. يضاف إلى ذلك وقوع أفغانستان في حيّز اهتمام جمهورية روسيا الاتحادية ضمن عقيدة “الخارج القريب” أو استراتيجية “سياسة الوصول جنوباً” في حقبة ما بعد الاتحاد السوفياتي؛ فمن خلال البرّ الأفغاني يمكن لروسيا الوصول إلى باكستان، ومنها إلى المحيط الهندي.

لهذا، كان الدخول العسكري الأميركي إلى قلب آسيا تحولاً استراتيجياً، إذ جعل منها المهيمن الرئيس في عموم منطقة أوراسيا، ومؤثراً أساسياً في سياسات دول تلك المنطقة ونُظُمِها، ما شكَّل مصدر إزعاج لكلٍ من روسيا والصين وإيران؛ فبالنسبة إلى روسيا، صار الوجود العسكري الأميركي في حديقتها الخلفية، علاوة على قطع الطريق عليها للوصول إلى المحيط الهندي. بالنسبة إلى إيران، شكَّل تموضع قوة عسكرية عدوانية على حدودها تهديداً استراتيجياً دائماً، ولا سيما بعد تمدد هذا الوجود إلى الساحة العراقية في غرب آسيا، ليضع إيران بين فكّي كماشة.

أما صينياً، فشكَّل الوجود الأميركي في أفغانستان حاجزاً أمام طريق الصين التجاري للوصول إلى الغرب؛ هذا الطريق الذي تحوّل في ما بعد إلى استراتيجية “مبادرة الحزام والطريق” الصينية. وازدادت أهمية الممر الأفغاني في “مبادرة الحزام والطريق” بعد بناء الصين ميناء “جوادر” على بحر العرب في باكستان، وبعد تَبَلْور اتفاقيات “الممر الاقتصادي الصيني الباكستاني” الذي يعد درَّة التاج في “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

يظهر هذا الاهتمام الصيني المتزايد في أفغانستان في زيادة حجم المساعدات النقدية لهذا البلد، وفي اتفاقيات الاستثمار الصيني الموقَّعة حديثاً في قطاع التعدين واستغلال مناجم النحاس، إضافةً إلى مشاريع بنى تحتية أخرى من سكك حديد وغيرها.

ورغم أنَّ العديد من المشاريع الاقتصاديّة الاستراتيجيّة التي تم الاتفاق عليها بين الصين وأفغانستان ما زالت تنتظر الدخول حيز التنفيذ، ورغم أنَّ عدد الشركات الصينية التي دخلت فعلاً إلى السوق الأفغاني لم يتجاوز الـ300، وهي تقتصر حالياً على كبريات الشركات الصينية، كشركة “هواوي” مثلاً، فإنَّ المصالح “الجيو-سياسية” و”الجيو-اقتصادية” الصينية باتت واضحة في الساحة الأفغانية. كل هذه الاستثمارات الاقتصادية لا تنتظر سوى زوال العائقين الرئيسين أمام البدء بها، وهما الوجود الأميركي واستعادة الاستقرار السياسي في هذا البلد الذي أنهكه الاحتلال والحروب البينية.

إذاً، كما كان دخول أميركا عسكرياً إلى قلب آسيا تبدّلاً نوعياً في وضع الجغرافيا السياسية الذي كان قائماً في وسط آسيا آنذاك، فإنَّ انسحابها اليوم لا يقلّ أهميّة كذلك من هذا المنظور. 

وهنا، نلحظ أنَّ انسحاب الاحتلال السوفياتي أواخر الثمانينيات عقب فشله في أفغانستان، كان قد حصل ضمن استراتيجية وخطة منظمة، ما ساعد في صمود حكومة نجيب الله التي كانت مدعومة سوفياتياً حتى تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي ذاته، بينما نجد أن الانسحاب الأميركي تم بطريقة عشوائية، ومن دون استراتيجية واضحة، ما يطرح احتمالات دخول أفغانستان في حالة عدم استقرار سياسي ودورة عنف داخلي متجدّد، حتى إنَّ صحيفة “وول ستريت جورنال” كانت قد كشفت مؤخراً عن تقديرات استخبارية أميركية جديدة تتنبأ بسقوط حكومة كابول المدعومة أميركياً خلال 6 أشهر بعد استكمال الانسحاب الأميركي.

لهذا، صدرت تقديرات في كلٍّ من روسيا والصين تُخمِّن أن طريقة الانسحاب الأميركية غير المدروسة تهدف عن عمد إلى إدخال الساحة الأفغانية في حالتي فوضى وعدم استقرار، ما يضرب الاستراتيجيتين الروسية والصينية في منطقة وسط آسيا، اللتين يعدّ استقرار أفغانستان عنصراً مهماً فيهما.

بمعنى آخر، إنَّ الأميركي يسعى إلى إشعال كرة نار ليلقي بها في الحضن الروسي والصيني، وحتى الباكستاني والإيراني، ويمكن لعدم الاستقرار في أفغانستان أن يؤثر في ساحتي باكستان وإيران الداخليتين، ولا سيّما الساحة الباكستانية. وبهذا، يترك الأميركي على عاتق هذه الدول عبء ترتيب الفوضى التي خلقها بنفسه. ولعل هذا ما يفسر رؤية الصين وروسيا للانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان على أنّه فرصة وتحدٍّ في آنٍ واحد.

وقد عبَّرت الصين صراحةً عن توجُّسها من طريقة الانسحاب الأميركي غير المنظم، وذلك في كلمة مندوب الصين في جلسة “مجلس الأمن الدولي” في 22 حزيران/يونيو 2021، التي خُصِّصَت لنقاش الوضع في أفغانستان، كما أكّد هذا التوجُّس وزير خارجيتها وانغ يي خلال افتتاح “منتدى السلام العالمي” التاسع الذي عُقِد في بكين في 3 تموز/يوليو 2021.

لكنْ مهما كان الحال، سواء كان انسحاب أميركا، كما وصفه بدقّة ديمتري ترنين مدير “مركز كارنيغي موسكو”، حين كتب أنَّ الانتشار الأميركي خارج العالم الغربي يتضمّن مشكلتين؛ أولهما أن الأميركي عندما يدخل منطقة بالقوة يُحدِث اضطراباً في “جغرافيّتها السياسية” السائدة، والأخرى تكون عند انسحابه، إذ يُخلِّف وراءه فوضى، أو أنَّ الانسحاب الأميركي جاء فوضوياً بشكلٍ متعمّد؛ ففي الحالتين، لا يغير ذلك من حقيقة الأمر ومما يترتّب عليه.

وحتى إن عددنا الانسحاب الأميركي تحولاً إلى استراتيجية “التحكّم في الفوضى عن بُعد” في محاولةٍ لضرب مصالح الصين وروسيا في منطقة وسط آسيا بكلفة أقل، يظل هذا انكفاءً على وقْع فشَلٍ لاحتلال دام 20 عاماً، إذ أخفق الاحتلال في تحقيق هدفه الاستراتيجي بتثبيت سيطرةٍ مستتبةٍ للأميركي وحلفائه على قلب آسيا، وعلى عقدة المواصلات البرية عبر أفغانستان.

ولا ننسى أن الهدف المعلن الأميركي عند احتلال أفغانستان كان القضاء على حركة “طالبان” نهائياً، بينما نجد اليوم أن احتمال عودة “طالبان” إلى الحكم صار كبيراً، بعد أن باتت التقارير المتواترة تشير إلى تَمكُنها من استعادة السيطرة على نحو 80% من مساحة أفغانستان في فترة زمنية قياسية، وبعد أن باتت كلّ الدول المجاورة لأفغانستان، إضافة إلى روسيا، تتعاطى مع الحركة على أنها اللاعب الرئيس في المشهد الأفغاني. وبدأت الهند أيضاً مؤخراً بفتح خطوط تواصل معها، رغم الموقف العدائي للهند تجاهها، بسبب ديناميات التحالفات في ذلك الإقليم وتعقيداتها، بين الصين وباكستان من ناحية، والهند من ناحية مقابِلة.

وفي المحصّلة، تفرض المرحلة القادمة تحدياً على الدول الفاعلة في ذاك الإقليم، ولا سيما الصين وروسيا، بالتعاون مع إيران وباكستان والهند، من أجل ترتيب الوضع الداخلي الأفغاني واستعادة هذا البلد استقراره السياسي الذي يتوقف عليه انطلاق حركة إعادة الإعمار والتنمية، بما يخدم الشعب الأفغاني بداية، ويصب تبعاً في مصلحة الاستراتيجيات الكبرى لمركزي القوى العالميين الصاعدَين، الصين ومبادرتها “الحزام والطريق”، وروسيا واستراتيجيتها “الأوراسية”؛ هذه الاستراتيجيات التي تمهّد لولادة عالَم ما بعد الهيمنة الغربية.

من أجل هذا الهدف، توجد عدة اتحادات وتحالفات إقليمية يمكن البناء عليها من أجل إعادة رسم الجغرافيتين السياسية والاقتصادية في منطقة وسط آسيا، وامتداداً غرب آسيا، لكن من دون الخوض في التفاصيل، يرى البعض أن تكون “منظمة شانغهاي للتعاون” هي الأكثر قدرة على القيام بهذه المهمة الكبرى التي لا تخلو من الفخاخ والمصاعب.

أما بالنسبة إلى آثار هذه التحولات في المنطقة العربية، فنوجزها بالمعادَلة الآتية: كل صعود للشرق، وأفول للغرب، وتراجع للإمبريالية والهيمنة الغربية، هو مصلحة محققة لـ”دول الأطراف” عموماً، ما يوجِد فرص وبيئة جديدة مؤاتية في المنطقة العربية، يبقى على عاتق العرب حُسن استثمارها وتوظيفها في مصلحة الإقليم.إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Russian Return to the Middle East

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21 Jul 21 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Alexander Dugin

Today it is common wisdom to claim that Russia is returning to the Middle East. Some regard it with hate, the others with suspicion, the third with hope.

But before any evaluation according to interests and positions of different players and observers, we need first to clarify how Russia returns? What represents contemporary Russia on the new map of balance of world powers – especially regarding the Middle East?

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In the last 50 years, Russia has thrice changed radically its geopolitical and ideological status. During the Soviet period in the context of a bipolar world, Russia was undoubtfully a geopolitical superpower, the stronghold of Land Power, and the center of universal communist ideology, seeking to gain the mortal fight with the capitalist system, for the global control on the human societies on a planetary scale. The opposite camp – NATO States – represented geopolitically Sea Power and liberal ideology. Geopolitics and ideology, interests and values were densely intertwined forming two totalities – two blocks, two projects for humanity claiming to evict sooner or later the opponent. 

During this period the Soviet Union effectively was present in the Middle East – both as the power geopolitically opposing the capitalist West in most of regional conflicts, but at the same time supporting movements and parties that had in their programs and doctrines something that resonated roughly with the Left – secularism, progressivism, anti-capitalism, and anti-colonialism. The concrete politic of USSR in the region with a mostly religious population varied from the direct support of communist and socialists parties (not too influential and powerful) to pragmatic alliances with nationalist and anticolonial movement when they were not too religious.

So the function of the USSR in the Middle East was based on this two side scheme: geopolitical interests of USSR as great continental power (realist approach) combined with orientation to reach the goal of promoting communist World Revolution (idealist approach). We should consider this paradigm carefully because it shows two distinct cornerstones in the Soviet strategy. They were merged and intertwined in the whole complex but they were nevertheless different by nature and structure.

For example, this paradigm explains why USSR avoided dealing with anti-Western and anti-capitalist movements in the Middle East that were deeply affected by Islam and has religious values at their core. Salafism, Ikhwans, or Shiits were regarded by Soviets by mistrust. For the same reason, USSR itself provoked the disbelief inside these currents.

The Western pole had during the bipolar period a symmetric structure. The pure geopolitical interests (Sea Power) with its inherent scenarios repeating more or less literally force lines of old British imperialism were coupled with liberal ideology, always choosing in regional issues, the opposite side to socialist, leftists or anticolonial forces presumably naturally supported by Soviets.

The crucial moment comes with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That was the fall of the geopolitics of Land Power. The zone of influence of the core Heartland of Eurasia has shrunk radically on three circles. 

·       The large domain of influence including Latin America, Africa, and South Asia

·       The Warsaw Treaty Organization

·       The Soviet Union itself split into 15 parts.

In the realm of ideology, the change was yet more profound because Moscow has totally abandoned Marxism and embraced liberal capitalist ideology.

It was the end of bipolarism – in geopolitics and ideology. Russia has refused to continue to represent the second pole as an alternative, and accepted with Eltsine the role of periphery of the Same.

We need to remember that collapse of USSR as an ideological system was not accompanied by the symmetric abandoning by the USA and Europe of their liberal-capitalist ideology. The end of the cold war happened by the voluntary self-annihilation of only one of the players – the Soviet East has rejected its ideology but the capitalist West did not. That’s how liberal globalism has shaped its form. The globalization in the unipolar world was necessary to the expansion of liberal ideology, accepted by all as some universal norm – hence human rights, parliamentarian democracy, civil society, free market, and other purely ideological dogmas have become necessary global standards, ideological standards secured and promoted by the globalization itself.

There was a unipolar moment (as Ch. Krauthammer called it) that started in 1991. 

In this period Russia has completely withdrawn from the Middle East. It was entirely engaged in inner problems balancing in the 90th on the edge of further collapse of Russia itself. But by pure inertia, some connections established during bipolarity were somehow conserved, as well as the image of Russia as a geopolitical alternative to the West; this image was still living in the societies of the Middle East. The unipolarity left the Arabic population one to one with the Atlanticist liberal West, which was finally free to affirm itself as a unique global player and the highest instance of the decision making. That is unipolarity and it affected the Middle East during the last 30 years culminating in a chain of color revolutions sponsored by the West in order to drown democracy, human rights, and liberalism in “retarded societies”.

The final purge of secular nationalist and somehow socialist regimes (as Baath parties in all its versions – in Iraq, Libya and Syria) has become inevitable – in the unipolar paradigm, there was no global symmetric power that would be capable to contend such processes and support anti-Western political systems and leaders.  

Talking about the second pole – USSR from now on was the hole.

During the last 20 years of Putin’s rule in Russia, the country has restored partly its power. In the clear contrast to Eltsine’s contemporary first term in office, Russia didn’t follow unconditionally any order of the West and led its own sovereign politics. But this time, Russia restores its force only as great geopolitical power – as Land Power, hence the concept of Eurasia, the Eurasianism in general.

But in the field of ideology in Russia, there is a kind of vacuum. The gap left by rejected communism is filled with pragmatic and syncretic conservatism with no hard line. That makes Putin’s Russia much more flexible. Russia represents today’s only geopolitical entity – more and more clearly opposed to the West (Sea Power) but without any clearly defined ideology. 

At the same time, modern Russia cannot any more pretend to be the second pole in the bipolar structure. To play this role Russia is too weak compared with the aggregated potential of the USA and NATO countries. But there is new China whose economic growth has made it comparable with the American economy and threats to overcome it. 

Hence Russia reaffirms itself not as the second pole in the new bipolar system, but as one of the few poles (more than 2!) in the context of multipolarity. Today Russia (militarily and on the level of geography and natural resources) and China (economically) already are two poles of something like a tripolar system. But India, the Islamic world, Latin America, and Africa can one day form other self-sufficient poles. So, the Russian geopolitics of the Great State evolves now in the totally new context of multipolarity. As usual, Russia is still the Land Power opposing Sea Power, but China is also the Land Power having exactly the same global opponent – the liberal West.

So, Russia returns to the Middle East in totally new conditions and with different functions. It is not a second pole opposing the West, but one of the few poles struggling against unipolarity in favor of multipolarity.

By the way, I explained these changes in my book “The Theory of Multipolar World” which was recently published in the USA by Arktos Publishers. 

Final remark: The Western pole today, as before, is keeping its ideological content intact. More than that – during unipolar moment – when it yet looked like as something sustainable – liberal ideology seemed so powerful and indisputable, that globalists themselves – having no more formal ideological enemies – started to purge the liberal ideology itself, trying to make it yet more liberal. Hence, the disproportional volume of the gender problem raised in the last two decades. (I dedicated my book “Fourth Political Theory” to the discussion of this argument)

So now, I suggest the Middle East readers to compare the function of two global players in the contemporary regional balance of powers. The return of Russia in the Middle East is the coming of Land Power trying to resist the pressure of unipolar West, but this time without any ideological replacement of one secular materialist ideology by the other, of one form of capitalist totalitarianism with the other – communist. Modern Russia has nothing to impose on Middle East peoples on the ideological level. It is enough to regard Russia as an ally and to resist the pressure of the unipolar globalist West. No matter what is the reason for the rejection of the West by the Muslim population – religious, economic, national, or others. Russia is essentially in the Middle East to secure multipolarity not insisting on what should come in exchange for liberalism. This realism and this flexibility open totally new historical opportunities to Russian-Arab friendship.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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How CPC succeeded in transforming China into a global power

How CPC succeeded in transforming China into a global power

July 15, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

With the beginning of the 20th century, geopolitics was changing rapidly. The centries old, empires, Kingdoms, Dynasties were facing severe challenges, and many revolutions were witnessed. The biggest change was the Russian revolution in 1917, as the Marxist first country in the world. People fed up with imperialism, feudalism, capitalism, and Western Style liberalism, democracy, and colonialism were looking at the Russian revolution as a ray of hope and solutions to all problems.

Since the beginning, anti-Marxism forces, led by America, provided a platform to all Western Style democracies to prove the Russian revolution a failure. However, the world has witnessed a Marxist revolution in many countries around the globe, Eastern Europe, was prominent. In many Arab countries also, a so-called socialist revolution took place like Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, etc. In few African and Asian countries also similar revolutions happened. But most prominent was in China.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded on 01 July 1921 in shanghai. After 28 years of intense struggle, succeeded in establishing the People’s Republic of China as a socialist state in 1949, under the great leadership of Chairman Mao.

The US launched a cold war against Marxism and socialism and formed NATO and non-NATO alliances against the communism threat. The US and its allies did everything possible to harm all Marxist states and used all possible tools against them, like media as narrative building, sanctions, covered operations, coercion, military and non-military operations, espionage, conspiracies, etc.

The former USSR was disintegrated in 1991 and followed series of many Marxist states to collapse, especially, in Eastern Europe. Only a few countries claiming Marxism, are still existing, among them is China, the most prominent.

Why Marxism is still alive and successful in China whereas failed in many other countries? What are the secrets behind the CPC for its success? Before getting any conclusion, we need to understand the structure, and nature of Chinese characteristics of Socialism, which is based on Marxism, with Chairman Mao’s thoughts, Deng Xiao Ping’s theory of opening up and economic reforms, and President Xi’s vision. We must explore the reasons for the success of CPC in China and learn a lesson if suits.

Fortunately, China was blessed with visionary, sincere, and competent leadership uninterruptedly. The Chinese leadership kept on transforming CPC from time to time to meet the emerging situations. Like, pre-1949, Chairman Mao led CPC for guerrilla war to outs the corrupt, incompetent, and disloyal to the nation, the Guo-Ming Dang (Nationalist Party, ruling China at that era. But after 1949, Chairman Mao transformed the CPC to rule the country and develop a governance system, to unite the nations, political reforms, agriculture developments, industrialization, etc. In 1978, Deng Xiao Ping, introduced his theory of opening up and economic reforms, the CPC was reformed to implement his thoughts and transformed China from a poor and backward country into the Second largest Economy in the world, and the property was visible in China everywhere. President Xi’s vision was to globalize China, he transformed CPC to suits his vision. Today China has emerged as a strong, modern, prosperous global power. All these successes were achieved because of the hard work of the people of China and the visionary leadership of China. The introduction of the right policies at the right time was key to all these achievements. The CPC deserves credit os all achievements.

The Induction of new members is based on strict merit, and regular training of party members is also contributing toward the Chinese achievements. The regular strict monitoring of officials and accountability also plays its role to keep the transparency, merit, and corruption-free systems. CPC is well disciplined, well organized, competent, and sincerely working for the total welfare of people.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President Xi Jinping delivered an outstanding historic speech before a jubilant and roaring crowd of more than 70,000 people at the famous Tiananmen Square in Beijing. President Xi who is also the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission declared that the nation is advancing with unstoppable momentum and rejuvenation.

Then-President Xi’s speech provided a much larger impetus to the momentum for the already strong and confident nation where he made a promise to continue this glorious journey for the next 100 years.

This rejuvenated nation eradicated absolute poverty, fought a heroic battle against the once-in-a-century pathogen, created a thriving economy, made immense agriculture advancement and technological progress, including successful space expeditions, and above all brought happiness to its people, all of which are significant highlights of a prosperous and peaceful China.

President Xi declared that China has finally achieved the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. He was drawing attention to recent triumphs that China has accomplished: poverty alleviation and economic stability. A sense of confidence and pride with humility is reflected from the speech when President Xi said that China is marching towards becoming a great modern socialist country in all respects.

It is important that President Xi also highlighted in his speech how the CPC has achieved great success in making people united, worked through the revolution, famines, and wars, and later kicked off reforms, opening up and marched forward in the new era. When the CPC was established in 1921, there were only a few members but today, it has grown into a family of 95 million people in a country of 1.4 billion people. The CPC is one of the largest parties in the world and has remarkable global influence especially because of its visionary leadership.

The language of the speech reflects the poise that the CPC leadership has after working tirelessly day and night to transform China from rags to riches, to a modern socialist country with Chinese characteristics. An interesting aspect is that in this entire change period, the CPC led Chinese people in developing their model of governance and their indigenous way to reform their society for all-around prosperity.

For the past 100 years, Chinese people have not launched any foreign war, but rather they fought for their destiny and left a glorious legacy for the peaceful rise. As a result of the CPC leadership, nearly 800 million people are now out of poverty and China amounts to one of the largest consumer markets with thriving foreign direct investment wherein its GDP exceeds 100-trillion yuan.

As the CPC enters the next phase of 100 years, the leadership is firm and ready to uphold the foundation and lifeblood of the party and the country. President Xi encouraged the party members to unite and lead the nation to work tirelessly for a better life.

Any attempt to divide the CPC leadership or members will bound to fail as the 1.4 billion Chinese people will never let this happen. There is also a vow to continue developing socialism with Chinese characteristics as China has built its indigenous new model for human civilization. This model is based on peaceful coexistence. President Xi however warned anyone who would attempt to bully Chinese people will find themselves forged against a great wall of steel of 1.4 billion Chinese people.

CPC has a history full of achievements and demonstrated success on many fronts. On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary, global leaders have congratulated the CPC and acknowledged the performance of CPC. Let’s congratulate the CPC and learn the secrets of their success which suits our nations.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

July 13, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

July 12, 2021

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667. The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context. These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such ”hypotheses“ became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution. By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external ”patrons“ prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn ”the crimes of the Soviet regime,“ listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years. Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the ”aggressor state“ is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their ”full adherence“ to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats. And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military ”development“ of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the ”right“ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

Jerusalem Conflict: Identity Theft on top of Everything Else

By VT Editors -July 11, 2021

https://www.veteranstoday.com/2021/07/11/jerusalem-conflict-identity-theft-on-top-of-everything-else/

by Seth Ferris, for VT and New Eastern Outlook

As many previous colleagues have discovered, writing about Israel is a thankless task best avoided, especially by a self-hating Jew. Before people even read a given article, they have made up their own minds about Israel and cross-checked their views against others they hold to see if they are ideologically sound, i.e., politically correct.

Then the information presented is processed to fit whatever views people already hold, and it is well-nigh impossible to convey what might actually be happening in the real world.

In many places, readers also have to look over their shoulders. What is the Israeli lobby in a certain place going to think or say if they take any notice of your opinion, as they surely will? If you knew who your friends were before you thought this or that, will you have the same friends afterwards, and will they want you?

However the recent Jerusalem protests, still on-going but beneath the global news radar, have raised a general issue which cuts across nationality and statehood. Few will be surprised by how they have been presented. But why do we accept such a presentation as the norm?

Israel was founded to give a homeland to people who had a certain identity, even if their actual nationalities or backgrounds were widely different. It endures because that identity has a right to exist, to live in peace and to make its own decision on its own development.

This identity is recognised by all, whatever their views on the State of Israel or whether it should be there or take the form it does. So why is it that everyone is queuing up to deny Israelis the very thing – identity – which forms the basis of their proffered nation state, or opposition to their so called state?

Israel is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t, and must always live with this fact. But is there any point in continuing to deny its residents basic humanity, using the same old tricks which led to Israel being established in the first place?

Flags in False Colours

In any conflict situation, such as that Israel lives in perpetually, everyone tries to categorise the sides. Not simply those involved do this, but outsiders who want to know who to cheer for and who to oppose – or simply want to help, and therefore want an understanding of the people they are dealing with.

Sometimes these categorisations are merely ethnic or national – all Serbs or Cubans are supposed to believe this, and all Croats or Americans must believe that. But very often political opinion is used as a means of drawing distinction – these are the “right”, those are the “left”, or variations thereon.

Those who identify themselves as Israeli, or Jewish, or Friends of Israel, come from all shades of opinion. They have demonstrated this throughout the history of the country, where government has swung between left and right wing blocs comprised of parties of widely differing persuasions – for example, Israel once had two Liberal parties, whose views were closer to one another than to those of any other party, but one was part of the Likud bloc and the other part of the Labour Alignment.

Yet the protestors in Jerusalem—and by extension those who are closer to their side than to those they are protesting against, are routinely described as “right-wing”. Yes, some of them are, and yes, such actions attract, and are often organised by, political groups who are comfortable with that label. But is everyone on that side of the argument “right-wing”? Really?

Arab media outlets are predictably fond of using this term. Many of these outlets are highly professional, often more so than their mainstream media counterparts in the Western world. Yet even the rightly respected Aljazeera is jumping on this bandwagon to express its own position rather than tell us what is happening.

It is common for newly independent countries, however they obtained their independence, hook or crook, to descend into civil war soon afterwards. This because people who were part of the independence movement, bound together by a common cause, find that with that cause gone, the differences in their opinions become more important, but dissent means dissent with the new system, not between partners in the same political system.

This process demonstrates what is going on in Jerusalem. Israelis are not hitching themselves to the star of far right groups they are unlikely to vote for. They are simply expressing their identity – and whether we like it or not, and agree with it or not, this is always going to happen in a place founded to encourage just that.

The US has fought many wars, and started many others, to protect us all from Communism, which it would have eradicated long before if it had directed those same energies at Communist states. What they were actually fighting against wasn’t Communism, but localism – people who felt they belonged to a particular group of the population wanted better lives, a very American thing to want, and this merely happened to coincide with the Communist aim of overthrowing a US-supported government, even though the Communist solution was not one most of the population wanted.

Ho Chi Minh was held up as a repressive Communist when the US was engaged in the Vietnam War. In many respects this view was justified. But Ho also fought against colonial rule by the Japanese and French, and famously paraphrased the US Declaration of Independence as the basis of his reasons for opposing Imperial Japan. Ho may have thought independent Vietnam should be Communist, but independence was the point, and most of his countrymen, of all political persuasions, agreed with him.

So why does everyone who recognises a national or ethnic identity have to be right-wing, left-wing or anything else? Why can’t identity be enough? Because if you have a certain persuasion, you can only have certain friends – and therefore can only be listened to for as long as those friends are tolerated by those with the most power.

Embraced to Death

Whether someone is right-wing, left-wing, moderate or radical is decided by who the speaker thinks their friends are, or should be. Aljazeera is more likely to call the Jerusalem protestors “right-wing” than an Israeli outlet for its own political and commercial reasons. But while they are doing this, Israeli outlets are using the same terminology to describe opponents of the same new Israeli government which authorised the nationalist march.

If you are described as right- or left-wing it means you have particular friends who the speaker doesn’t like. These will be politicians, governments and whole races of people who the speaker feels are “other”. Within the speaker’s own spectrum, everyone is different and has an individual voice. Those on the other side are all the same, and all have something wrong with them which means like can always be compared with like.

During the Cold War the West was very fond of lumping all Communist countries together in one joke bag. China and the Soviet Union were never on the same side, and Yugoslavia broke with the Warsaw pact to pursue its own path. Yet whether a given country was allied with, or even talking to, either China or the Soviet Union they were all the same, whereas the United States always had a different identity to Western Europe, and each individual Western country was distinct from the other.

This is one purpose of claiming that identity has to have a political slant – giving you an excuse to attack particular people with any weapon. The other is the opposite – to develop a coalition of fellow travellers, until such time as it is no longer useful.

A number of Arab countries have had, or still have, governments of a supposedly socialist character – Syria, Egypt, Iraq. When seeking friends, they call upon those of the same political persuasion first of all, rather than other members of the Arab League, or any other international organisation they may belong to, where governments of a different complexion often hold sway.

Even today, this is used as a means of justifying alliances with greater powers of the same political slant – “we have to go running to Big Brother in Moscow/Beijing/Havana because they have the means to help their own, and there are many of us. Greater powers then use the same arguments in reverse – “We have to help our brethren to succeed in our own struggles, and they are natural allies, and therefore natural takers of our rules, because we say so”.

Consequently an expectation forms that if you see yourself a certain way, you have to support a particular set of friends and oppose a particular set of enemies. Yanukovych’s Ukraine again provides a good example of this – though Russia could understand it having relations with the EU, the same didn’t apply in reverse, because if Ukraine wanted to work with both sides it couldn’t be a democracy, in the Western understanding.

Many of these new friends would be natural rivals in any other time or context. A right-wing government in India is expected to be more anti-Pakistani than a left-wing one, and the same is true in reverse in Pakistan. Nevertheless, they can all serve a purpose for a particular time, and exploit the assumptions made about them for their own benefit until the international wind changes – an art which China, invited to buy up every Western country whilst remaining Communist.

But all of this is done at the expense of national identity, even if it is meant to enhance it. Who loses when that happens? Every country which needed to do this so to make friends, which can be easily discarded for not being right-wing, left-wing or moderate or radical enough when a new game comes to town.

There is an old saying, “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are”. The next step of course is, “If you want to change your friends, this is what it makes you”. A leading politician can associate with kings and with crooks without anyone caring. But those beneath them have to be in one category or the other, exclusively – because they are somehow expected to earn the identity they already have by existing, and to jump through the required hoops to do so.

Only a Person Can Win

There will never be peace in the Middle East until identity is allowed to have its own face. Neither individuals nor states have to be always one collection of things and never another collection of things, and to wear the label which goes with that. If they could be what they are and talk about what was bothering them, we would all get somewhere.

Israel should be leading the way in this, as it is only there because its people share a deep common identity, not politics or friends or even religion, per se. With a new coalition now in power there, including Arab parties, and an imperative to heal the wounds created by the previous administration and its more exclusive composition, it can create a blueprint which will help its diverse neighbours solve their own problems, which are largely caused by being told they have to be this or that to be true believers in someone else’s view of Israel.

Herding people and countries into this and that camp, and then into others when the need arises, only debases those people and countries and empowers those who are herding them. The Jews have not torn off their yellow stars – quite the contrary, they wear them as red badges of pride, courage. whilst those who pinned them on reap the benefits of not having this identification.

When a politician gets into trouble, their supporters insist that they can be many things, and that there will always be those who call them every name under the sun. Some think they are too hard, some too soft, some too extreme, some not extreme enough. The higher you rise, the more it goes with the territory. But should only the biggest and best have the right to be seen this way?

Taking away identity throws people into the arms of modern day Pol Pots who want to dehumanise everyone so that only they can rule. Israel is the last place where such behaviour should be accepted. If only it actually did its job, even its greatest enemies would have much more to gain than lose by merely living.

Seth Ferris, investigative journalist and political scientist, expert on Middle Eastern affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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A Saigon moment in the Hindu Kush

A Saigon moment in the Hindu Kush

July 07, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

And it’s all over

For the unknown soldier

It’s all over

For the unknown soldier

The Doors, The Unknown Soldier

Let’s start with some stunning facts on the ground.

The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their P.R. arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul – de facto reduced to administer a few scattered cities under siege.

Afghanistan in Badakhshan province, seen from the Pamir highway in Tajikistan during my November 2019 Central Asian loop. This district, not far from Ishkashim, is now under Taliban control. Photo: Pepe Escobar

Already on July 1st the Taliban announced they controlled 80% of Afghan territory. That’s close to the situation 20 years ago, only a few weeks before 9/11, when Commander Masoud told me in the Panjshir valley , as he prepared a counter-offensive, that the Taliban were 85% dominant.

Their new tactical approach works like a dream. First there’s a direct appeal to soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to surrender. Negotiations are smooth – and deals fulfilled. Soldiers in the low thousands have already joined the Taliban without a single shot fired.

Mapmakers cannot upload updates fast enough. This is fast becoming a textbook case on the collapse of a 21st century central government.

The Taliban are fast advancing in western Vardak, easily capturing ANA bases. That is the prequel for an assault on Maidan Shar, the provincial capital. If they get control of Vardak they will be literally at the gates of Kabul.

After capturing Panjwaj district, the Taliban are also a stone’s throw away from Kandahar, founded by Alexander The Great in 330 B.C. and the city where a certain mullah Omar – with a little help from his Pakistani ISI friends – started the Taliban adventure in 1994, leading to their Kabul power takeover in 1996.

The overwhelming majority of Badakhshan province – Tajik majority, not Pashtun – fell after only 4 days of negotiations, with a few skirmishes thrown in. The Taliban even captured a hilltop outpost very close to Faizabad, Badakhshan’s capital.

I tracked the Tajik-Afghan border in detail when I traveled the Pamir highway in late 2019. The Taliban, following mountain tracks on the Afghan side, could soon reach the legendary, desolate border with Xinjiang in the Wakhan corridor.

The Taliban are also about to make a move on Hairaton, in Balkh province. Hairaton is at the Afghan-Uzbek border, the site of the historically important Friendship Bridge over the Amu Darya, through which the Red Army departed Afghanistan in 1989.

ANA commanders swear the city is now protected from all sides by a five-kilometer security zone. Hairaton has already attracted tens of thousands of refugees. Tashkent does not want them to cross the border.

And it’s not only Central Asia; the Taliban have already advanced to the city limits of Islam Qilla, which borders Iran, in Herat province, and is the key checkpoint in the busy Mashhad to Herat corridor.

The Tajik puzzle

The extremely porous, geologically stunning Tajik-Afghan mountain borders remain the most sensitive case. Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, after a serious phone call with Vladimir Putin, ordered the mobilization of 20,000 reservists and sent them to the border. Rahmon also promised humanitarian and financial support to the Kabul government.

The Taliban, for their part, officially declared that the border is safe and they have no intention of invading Tajik territory. Earlier this week even the Kremlin cryptically announced that Moscow does not plan to send troops to Afghanistan.

A cliffhanger is set for the end of July, as the Taliban announced they will submit a written peace proposal to Kabul. A strong possibility is that it may amount to an intimation for Kabul to surrender – and transfer full control of the country.

The Taliban seem to be riding an irresistible momentum – especially when Afghans themselves were stunned to see how the imperial “protector”, after nearly two decades of de facto occupation,

left Bagram air base in the middle of the night , scurrying away like rats.

Compare it to the evaluation of serious analysts such as Lester Grau, explaining the Soviet departure over three decades ago:

When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they did so in a coordinated, deliberate, professional manner, leaving behind a functioning government, an improved military and an advisory and economic effort insuring the continued viability of the government. The withdrawal was based on a coordinated diplomatic, economic and military plan permitting Soviet forces to withdraw in good order and the Afghan government to survive. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) managed to hold on despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Only then, with the loss of Soviet support and the increased efforts by the Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Pakistan, did the DRA slide toward defeat in April 1992. The Soviet effort to withdraw in good order was well executed and can serve as a model for other disengagements from similar nations.

When it comes to the American empire, Tacitus once again applies: “They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger… they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor… They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace.”

In the wake of the Hegemon, deserts called peace, in varying degrees, include Iraq, Libya, Syria – which happen to, geologically, harbor deserts – as well as the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan.

That Afghan heroin rat line

It looks like Think Tank Row in D.C., between Dupont and Thomas Circle alongside Massachussets Avenue, have not really done their homework on pashtunwali – the Pashtun honor code – or the ignominious British empire retreat from Kabul.

Still, it’s too early to tell whether what is being spun as the US “retreat” from Afghanistan reflects the definitive unraveling of the Empire of Chaos. Especially because this is not a “retreat” at all: it’s a repositioning – with added elements of privatization.

At least 650 “U.S. forces” will be protecting the sprawling embassy in Kabul. Add to it possibly 500 Turkish troops – which means NATO – to protect the airport, plus an undeclared number of “contractors” a.k.a mercenaries, and an unspecified number of Special Forces.

Pentagon head Lloyd Austin has come up with the new deal. The militarized embassy is referred to as Forces Afghanistan-Forward. These forces will be “supported” by a new, special Afghan office in Qatar.

The key provision is that the special privilege to bomb Afghanistan whenever the Hegemon feels like it remains intact. The difference is in the chain of command. Instead of Gen. Scott Miller, so far the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, the Bomber-in-Chief will be Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of CENTCOM.

So future bombing will come essentially from the Persian Gulf – what the Pentagon lovingly describes as “over the horizon capability”. Crucially, Pakistan has officially refused to be part of it, although in the case of drone attacks, they will have to overfly Pakistani territory in Balochistan. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan also refused to host American bases.

The Taliban, for their part, are unfazed. Spokesman Suhail Shaheen was adamant that any foreign troops that are not out by the 9/11 deadline will be regarded as – what else – occupiers.

Whether the Taliban will be able to establish dominance is not an issue; it’s just a matter of when. And that leads us to the two really important questions:

1.  Will the CIA be able to maintain what Seymour Hersh initially, and later myself, described as the Afghan heroin rat line that finances their black ops?

2.  And if the CIA cannot continue to supervise opium poppy field production in Afghanistan as well as coordinate the subsequent stages of the heroin business, where will it move to?

Every thinking mind across Central/South Asia knows that the Empire of Chaos, for two long decades, was never interested in defeating the Taliban or fighting for “the freedom of the Afghan people”.

The key motives were to keep a crucial, strategic forward base in the underbelly of “existential threats” China and Russia as well as intractable Iran – all part of the New Great Game; to be conveniently positioned to later exploit Afghanistan’s enormous mineral wealth; and to process opium into heroin to fund CIA ops. Opium was a major factor in the rise of the British empire, and heroin remains one of the world’s top dirty businesses funding shady intel ops.

What China and the SCO want

Now compare all of the above with the Chinese approach.

Unlike Think Tank Row in D.C., Chinese counterparts seem to have done their homework. They understood that the USSR did not invade Afghanistan in 1979 to impose “popular democracy” – the jargon then – but was in fact invited by the quite progressive UN-recognized Kabul government at the time, which essentially wanted roads, electricity, medical care, telecommunications, education.

As these staples of modernity would not be provided by Western institutions, the solution would have to come from Soviet socialism. That would imply a social revolution – a convoluted affair in a deeply pious Islamic nation – and, crucially, the end of feudalism.

“Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s imperial counterpunch worked because it manipulated Afghan feudal lords and their regimentation capacity – bolstered by immense funds (CIA, Saudis, Pakistani intel) – to give the USSR its Vietnam. None of these feudal lords were interested in the abolition of poverty and economic development in Afghanistan.

China is now picking up where the USSR left. Beijing, in close contact with the Taliban since early 2020, essentially wants to extend the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – one of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) flagship projects – to Afghanistan.

The first, crucial step will be the construction of the Kabul-Peshawar motorway – through the Khyber pass and the current border at Torkham. That will mean Afghanistan de facto becoming part of CPEC.

It’s all about regional integration at work. Kabul-Peshawar will be one extra CPEC node that already includes the construction of the ultra-strategic Tashkurgan airport in the Karakoram highway in Xinjiang, only 50 km away from the Pakistani border and also close to Afghanistan, as well as Gwadar harbor in Balochistan.

In early June, a trilateral China-Afghanistan-Pakistan meeting led the Chinese Foreign Ministry to unmistakably bet on the “peaceful recovery of Afghanistan”, with the joint statement welcoming “the early return of the Taliban to the political life of Afghanistan” and a pledge to “expand economic and trade ties”.

So there’s no way a dominant Taliban will refuse the Chinese drive to build infrastructure and energy projects geared towards regional economic integration, as long as they keep the country pacified and not subject to jihadi turbulence of the ISIS-Khorasan variety – capable of spilling over to Xinjiang.

The Chinese game play is clear: the Americans should not be able to exert influence over the new Kabul arrangement. It’s all about the strategic Afghan importance for BRI – and that is intertwined with discussions inside the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), incidentally founded 20 years ago, and which for years has advocated for an “Asian solution” for the Afghan drama.

The discussions inside the SCO regard the NATO projection of the new Afghanistan as a jihadi paradise controlled by Islamabad as not more than wishful thinking nonsense.

It will be fascinating to watch how China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and even India will fill the vacuum in the post-Forever Wars era in Afghanistan. It’s very important to remember that all these actors, plus the Central Asians, are full SCO members (or observers, in the case of Iran).

Tehran plausibly might interfere with potential imperial plans to bomb Afghanistan from the outside – whatever the motive. On another front, it’s unclear whether Islamabad or Moscow, for instance, would help the Taliban to take Bagram air base. What’s certain is that Russia will take the Taliban off its list of terrorist outfits.

Considering that the empire and NATO – via Turkey – will not be really leaving, a distinct future possibility is a SCO push, allied with the Taliban (Afghanistan is also a SCO observer) to secure the nation in their terms and concentrate on CPEC development projects. But the first step seems to be the hardest: how to form a real, solid, national coalition government in Kabul.

History may rule that Washington wanted Afghanistan to be the USSR’s Vietnam; decades later, it ended up getting its own second Vietnam, repeated as – what else – farce. A remixed Saigon moment is fast approaching. Yet another stage of the New Great Game in Eurasia is at hand.

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