Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 13, 2013

Putin Hits Back And He Doesn't Miss

In an international spat between Washington and Moscow this Russian response to U.S. measures will be widely applauded:
Russia on Saturday named 18 Americans banned from entering the country in response to Washington imposing sanctions on 18 Russians for alleged human rights violations.

The list released by the Foreign Ministry includes John Yoo, a former U.S. Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques; David Addington, the chief of staff for former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney; and two former commanders of the Guantanamo Bay detention center: retired Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Adm. Jeffrey Harbeson.

The move came a day after the United States announced its sanctions under the Magnitsky Law, named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested in 2008 for tax evasion after accusing Russian police officials of stealing $230 million in tax rebates. He died in prison the next year, allegedly after being beaten and denied medical treatment.

I can think of a lot more names Russia and others should put on such lists. How about McChrystal and Petraeus for running the torture campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about any Senator who voted for the Iraq war? How about those editors and journalists that cheered for those wars?

The current Russian measure is exactly the right one. Dear U.S., do your really think you have any credibility when it comes to human rights? Here is the mirror. Just take a look.

The international public will give Putin three full points for this response.

Posted by b on April 13, 2013 at 09:06 AM | Permalink


"How about McChrystal and Petraeus for running the torture campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

The Russians could certainly add Col. James Steele to that list

James Steele - The Making of Mayhem

Below is a link to a BBC film about retired Colonel James Steele who was employed by the US to foment civil war in Iraq after the invasion in 2003. Colonel Steele is a veteran of the bloody terror campaigns in Central America. No doubt, it was that experience in bringing terror and destruction upon whole civilian populations that made him the candidate of choice for a similar program in Iraq.

The Americans, of course, would have had a very difficult time in occupying and remaining in Iraq if the Iraqi factions were united against them. Hence the need for what amounted to civil war. It's an old strategy. English governments at the behest of their masters, the merchant bankers, have used it for centuries to further their commercial interests. Nothing changes. 'Divide and conquer' goes back to at least the Romans. . . . .

. . . . . he perpetrators are interviewed, one in particular. The torture is justified on the usual, 'we needed the information and the situation was desperate', type of thing. But I cannot believe that anyone seriously researching this topic, (which would have been done for the film) would not have come across the widely known truth that 'truth' is more often than not, the last thing you hear from those who are tortured. They want, above all, to stop the pain and terror. So they will say whatever they think the torturers want to hear; whatever will fit with torturers' psychotic view of the situation.

So what do the torturers want if it is not the truth?

They want to terrorise the whole community into cowering submission or violent reprisals which escalates the violence and helps those intent on destruction. This is why mutilated bodies are dumped in public places for everyone to see.

Posted by: yah . . But | Apr 13, 2013 10:32:48 AM | 1

Actually, b

I think that this wasn't that great a move by the Russians.

While, of course, it looks satisfying to the masses, it actually is neither a real quid pro quo nor smart.

A quid pro quo it is not because it stays on the surface of the surface. The usa have put 18 persons on the *official* list - and an unknown number on the non-public part.
The real danger, of course, lies in the unofficial part, i.e. usas option to stop, or worse, incarcerate pretty anyone referring to the secret part of the M. list.

Smart it is not for several reasons.

For one that M. list actually is hardly more than a gesture to the zion-money-mafia. Furthermore hardly any of the eastern bureaucrats on that list ever intended to go to the usa anyway.
More importantly though, the Russians "I can do that, too" list makes them look weak and childish. A by far better response would have been to create, finance and advertise some kind of institute researching war crimes and blatant breaches of established international law along with a message like "We thank the usa for their inspiration and contribution concerning questions of international reporting and research. While the usa unfortunately stopped rather early and quite unilaterally, possibly due to weaknesses in their system, we gladly take up and go further in that important matter".

On the other hand it has, of course, to be seen what quite probably was the driving force behind the russian parliaments resolution. They are fed up with american lies, contortions and noise and they have reached a position where they must no longer smile friendly and shut up to whatever america vomits but they can finally tell the americans to just shove their blunder up their own a**ses.

Frankly, I think that both, the american and the russian M./response acts are oud but rather unimportant anyway; the russian one possibly being some a small reward from Putin for the russian parliament for going along the line so patiently for quite some years.

The real "front" is somewhere else; it's where Putin and Xi push, strangle and stab the usa into a more adequate, i.e. low position or, in case the usa creates more trouble (other than meaningless "superiority" and "freedom" noise) into oblivion.

One extremely important theater btw. is south-america with Brazil possibly buying gen 4++ and 5 fighter jets from Russia and Venezuela staying firmly and close to the Bolivar movement and against the usa.
And this in itself is an omen of some kind: washington is becoming less and less important (albeit loud) an instrument in todays orchestra.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 13, 2013 12:26:02 PM | 2

So great! They're compiling a list of the worst American war criminals.

Russia has vast problems (mostly left over from the US-Yeltsin/Quisling enforced "shock therapy" after the collapse of the Soviet Union), but it has far greater prospects. A highly technically competent, medium-large population sitting on completely massive natural resources. They can sell resources and high tech to China, who can pay in hard cash and medium value added manufactured goods (like finished material for infrastructure) that Russia needs to connect it's Western and Eastern sections. The synergy between the two countries holds incredible promise, especially if they can draw Europe into their sphere. That's why the United States is so threatened.

Russia is so very far north, more like Canada than the United States, but it still has great potential for developing Siberia and the Far East. The new Eastern cosmodome is a good example. Even if it is a huge amount of cash and called a boondoggle, it is a project that, like we USED to do in the United States like the Hoover Dam or other WPA projects, has the potential to open up a vast part of the country. Russia should do whatever it takes to develop and connect the disparate regions of Russia.

There is no reason they shouldn't have a standard of living like Dubai in a few decades. And because they're an actual productive society and not a slave-fueled feudal monarchy like the petro-monarchies in the Middle East, the possibilities are amazing.

Posted by: guest | Apr 13, 2013 12:42:31 PM | 3

"A by far better response would have been to create, finance and advertise some kind of institute..." ok, but a list is a lot simpler. Besides, there's lots of "institutes"; the ones the West dislike, you never hear about.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 13, 2013 12:59:12 PM | 4

@4. Right. Good idea to personalize the issue. Makes it harder for the media to ignore and distracts the public from Nicki Minaj.

Posted by: dh | Apr 13, 2013 1:16:40 PM | 5

Disagree with Mr. Pragma here.
It looks like a solid, measured response that makes it clear that the Russians aren't going to be pushed around, as well as clearly showing up the hypocrisy of the US to the world & removing any chance of using the Magnitsky act as a propaganda tool, likely the main goal of this.
The US is so used to being able to just throw their hypocritical cr*p out there that someone throwing it back in their faces in such a direct, targeted manner will likely throw shock waves into a number of bubble universes in the beltway, & there will likely be panic in some quarters that other countries facing US pressure will start doing the same.

In regards to Magnitsky himself, he was not a lawyer as claimed but an accountant who helped Browder with the books on a bunch of dodgy dealings. Browder (head of the hedge fund Hermitage Capital that Magnitsky worked for) was essentially providing a bunch of dodgy but sophisticated tax avoidance schemes to foreign investors & some locals, but Magnitsky looks to have just been an employee. The actual accusations seems to be a pretty clear case of one bunch of crooks looking to avoid prosecution by swinging as much mud as possible, but likely finding a few real targets (not surprising as Browder was essentially a sophisticated money launderer & likely new a fair bit about who was moving cash around).

Magnitsky death looks to have been a case a criminal negligence by the local prison authorities & a lousy pre-trial system for any kind of case that doesn't have a clear precedent - a big problem in Russia where they are still sorting through laws from the Soviet era - and local authorities reactions when stuck with anything outside the bureaucratic routine their natural tendency is to look to avoid dealing with it as long as possible, then try to sweep the resulting mess under the carpet. This has been improving steadily over the last decade, but it is still pretty patchy in many areas.

The Kremlin Stooge has an extensive discussion on the Magnitsky case for anyone who wants to dive into the extensive comments there, & I seem to remember the excellent Eric Kraus getting stuck into Browder in his A Personal View of Russia – Twenty Years After

Posted by: KenM | Apr 13, 2013 1:27:03 PM | 6

Do you think US and Russia are any different? Of two outhouses, the one you sit in always smells much worse than the other. But they are identical.

Posted by: sasha | Apr 13, 2013 1:27:28 PM | 7

4 & 5

You are right if one follows the american modell and adresses the (usually quite un-educated) public.

Actually, however, I think this is one of the weak sides of the Russian reaction. Like this it looks somewhat like the usa pointing to Russia and saying "They're so bad!" and now Russia pointing back and saying "Just look how bad they are!".

Sorry to possibly sound somewhat harsh here but the public is completely unimportant and one of the major differences is that Putin lives this rather openly while in usa a lot of efforts go into playing as-if ... and at the same time brainwashing the masses.

Furthermore, no matter what Russia does - they will be painted and taken as evil. And no matter what crimes the washingon politburo commits, they will be taken as the ood ones.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 13, 2013 1:38:46 PM | 8

The signing of the bill and the enthusiastic approval its rollout received in the United States ensured the damage is now done, and I doubt it can be reversed. Russia has made the philosophical adjustment that the USA wants to be an enemy rather than a friend, and its recent actions and reactions suggest it is systematically severing all arrangements with the exception of international trade, which is mostly conducted at arms-length anyway. American businesses still thrive in Russia, and I daresay they will continue to do so, but they are likely being watched as well for both improprieties which will get them kicked out, and for any evidence that they are taking up the political role NGO’s are less able to conduct without official oversight. This is shaping up to be the biggest reversal of diplomatic relations between the two nations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. US ambassador McFaul should enjoy his time in Russia, because I imagine his relief is going to be subjected to much greater vetting than he was.

Posted by: RC | Apr 13, 2013 1:53:40 PM | 9

The U.S. has carefully nurtured the idea that "human rights violations" only apply to citizens in the countries allegedly violating those rights. It does not apply to kidnapping, torturing, killing and wounding citizens of another country. Foreigners are not human, to put it bluntly. This places U.S. aggression against foreigners outside the category of "human rights violations."

Therefore the U.S. and its annual human rights reports on other countries in regard to their own citizens. This is part of the natural function of the U.S. as World Leader. There are no U.S. reports on U.S. domestic human rights violations, of course.

In this regard, one might say that these two lists are apples and oranges. The Russians see the U.S.list of Russians as domestic interference in Russia; the U.S. sees the Russian list of Americans as interference in the U.S. Global War On Terror™.

The U.S. list of Russians is a notable deviation from U.S. practice, by the way. All U.S. referrals to the International Criminal Court for alleged human rights violations have regarded Africans.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 13, 2013 2:10:40 PM | 10

We should see the effect of this exchange, if any, very soon.

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on National Security Advisor Donilon's Travel to Russia

National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will travel to Moscow April 14-15 to meet with senior Russian officials and review next steps in our bilateral relationship, as well as a range of key foreign policy, security, and economic issues on our international agenda. This visit offers an important opportunity to consult with senior officials ahead of President Obama’s meetings with President Putin later this year.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 13, 2013 2:21:41 PM | 11

Hhhmmm what about George W. Bush and Obama on the Russian list? heh.


Posted by: jawbone | Apr 13, 2013 2:27:23 PM | 12

I rather like it when the circular firing squad of this type shoots at each other. Name names until they are prosecuted, make my day.

Add Brennan to the list.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Apr 13, 2013 3:33:59 PM | 13

I think I lost my post. Here's a summary:

It's a fine move but the Russians seem attached to proportionality. Dispense with it and go for the jugular. RT should make well funded and written documentaries on 9/11/01. On the covert war in Iraq and US trained death squads. On US/Saudi creation of Al Qaida and it's continued use, etc. Ask the Chinese to pick them up on Xin Hua, etc. And if the US complains the Russians can be like "hey, dude. We have an independent media. We can't tell them what to do. It's called democracy, man."

There is a large international audience for such alternative viewpoints and the Russians should be fighting for it with both fists. RT will find it can develop a huge worldwide viewership if it provides that alternative.

Up until a few years ago, the US had total dominance of international media. Now it simply has a preponderance, and one that is decaying. It wouldn't be long before the US would be wishing it had never heard of Magnitsky.

Posted by: Lysander | Apr 13, 2013 3:48:33 PM | 14

We shouldn't make too much out of that M. act anyway.

After all it's hardly more than a law-job ordered by some israelis and implemented by some ... uh ... dual-citizenship (read: israeli) "parlamentarians".

I mean, nobody make noise because of some coca cola advertisement and nobody actually believes what the ad says (well, except probably some americans ...). Everybody knows that paid-for texts are unilateral and biased and want to sell something.

Why should that suddenly be different just because the PR agency happens to be "elected by the american people" us-congress Inc. or senate Corp. ?

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 13, 2013 4:02:28 PM | 15

Actually Russians are very good chess players, something most of the US commentators here who probably wouldn´t find the biggest land on earth on a map, will find out. Or maybe not...

Posted by: Mya | Apr 13, 2013 4:42:49 PM | 16

It was poor politics, the US has pending issues, Gitmo, Syria, etc and many skeletons. This spat could cause a media frenzy, but US leads that in terms of control (Mainstream) and that is a huge edge. Here in the PI our provider lost the RT news channel, as far as I was informed this was influentially removed due to the Asian Pacific push.

Just a few days ago the PI mil app gave the US the green light to set-up bases because of the N. Korea danger officially. In that, this was a bad move by the PI, it is within the strike radius, thus making itself a target and the US would, if needed, play the weaker card i.e. trade of Japan or other for the PI to be hit as a best suited escalation. This serves a secondary purpose, the disputed Island dispute (China/PI) and US control of huge Gas/Oil reserves in the region and the ability to have an 'cost effective' have a large operational hub.

One can see the snippets of news that lead to this eventuality;

China fishing ship runs aground, PI authorities take immediate legal action, before this indecent a US mine sweeper did the same, in the same area, it took 3 month to remove the US mine sweeper, and no legal action

Posted by: Kev | Apr 13, 2013 7:49:41 PM | 17

We should always be careful about taking these public events at face value. Probably Donilon had a hand in the U.S. list AND its timing, just before his visit to Russia, and he may have had a hand in the Russian list. Maybe not, but it just seems so staged, given Donilon's high-profile visit to Russia in a couple days. Obama and Putin may have a back-channel agreement not to enforce the lists, for one thing. How many of these characters are going to travel to the other country anyhow?

What needs to be done is a call-out on U.S. hypocrisy which is making a big deal about a dead Russian at the same time we see photos of laid-out dead Afghan kids, victims of Made-In-The-USA bombs delivered by U.S. airplanes. What happened to their human rights?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 13, 2013 8:52:52 PM | 18

"emptywheel" posts on this matter.
This comment from "Big Pineapple" is excellent:

"N.B., It’s not just nyah nyah nyah. Charges of USG official crime are gaining increasingly broad international consensus. That sort of concerted condemnation doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.

"The Paquete Habana makes international law an integral part of federal law. Customary international law is part of federal common law and the common law of every state, and conventions and treaties are equivalent to federal statutes under Article VI of the Constitution.

"Let’s say John Brennan is acting in full and ever-so-scrupulous compliance with domestic law but in disregard of international law – by, I dunno, by “declaring abolished, suspended or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party;” or by torture or disappearance; or by “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable;” or by failing to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants.

"Then the Nuremberg Judgment makes John Brennan a war criminal under 18 USC § 2441, since the Nuremberg Judgement is incorporated in the supreme law of the land as Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

"That means, for every US government employee, compliance with John Brennan’s criminal orders becomes a crime under US law and universal jurisdiction. Furthermore, to stop John Brennan’s crimes, all US citizens are privileged to act in a measured but effective way. If I as a US citizen commit what might otherwise be crimes, my actions must be interpreted in light of common law, statutory, procedural, or constitutional principles including but not limited to defense of others, duress, choice of evils, prevention of a crime, reliance upon governmental authority, prevention of a public catastrphe, or citizen’s arrest. Whistleblowing, sabotage, rebellion, forcible overthrow, it’s all on the table now!

"One minute you’re a big shot government official and the next you’re like any other tinhorn strongman. Your authority is gone, all you’ve got is violent repression and that just digs you in deeper.

"This is how you knock over a criminal state."

Posted by: bevin | Apr 13, 2013 9:23:00 PM | 19

@17 There may be some theater in it but there is definitely a campaign going on to bring down Putin. He's a Russian nationalist and that's why he's popular. He's standing between Russia's natural resources and the corporate vultures.

Posted by: dh | Apr 13, 2013 9:28:04 PM | 20

Bring down Putin? Good luck on that.

The U.S. has "pivoted" or "rebalanced" its military to Asia, obviously anti-China. The new TPP economic pact promoted (secretly) by the US is intended to isolate China. So what country does China’s new president, Xi Jinping, visit first? Russia. There goes Nixon's efforts of forty years ago. Russia, China, and also India, Brazil and South Africa. BRICS. The new reality.

On economic matters, which is where progress is really at, against the TPP the Asian countries have come up with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. RCEP is a new alternative to TPP (which cuts out China) and includes sixteen Asian countries. That's where the economic growth is.

One could say that the "Korea crisis" and the Putin attack are intentional diversions from poor US economic performance and an attempt to shift focus from financial to military, in Asia. Russia isn't yet a part of Asian financial plans, but most of Russia is in Asia, which gives it (on paper) more of a claim than saying that Turkey is in Europe. Russia is big in Central Asia, for one thing, and it is full member of SCO.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 13, 2013 9:56:33 PM | 21

Well there are always lots of reasons to hit on Putin. He's been very uncooperative about Syria for one, then there's the crackdown on NGO's, he laughed off the titty attack ....on and on it goes...

Posted by: dh | Apr 13, 2013 10:04:08 PM | 22

"RT should make well funded and written documentaries on 9/11/01."

Not this particularly, but some of the crazier 9/11 theories seem worthy of a Soviet disinformation campaign.

"One could say that the 'Korea crisis' and the Putin attack are intentional diversions from poor US economic performance and an attempt to shift focus from financial to military, in Asia. Russia isn't yet a part of Asian financial plans, but most of Russia is in Asia"

Seems exactly right. They are definitely pushing development in Asia. If Russia can solve its social problems and populate the place, they might really have something.

Posted by: guest | Apr 13, 2013 10:09:14 PM | 23


I think you are mixing up things.

Putin had to eat a lot of dirt for many years; Russia often enough had to quite helplessly watch diverse actions of the usa. And Putin politely smiled and quietly brought his country forward and built up valuable networks.

Just think about the colour revolutions dismantling the CIS and even agitating within Russia herself.

If Putin today goes against some us-remote controlled ngos then it is *because - finally - Russia can afford to confront the usa *

And that's what Putin does. In one interview Putin was asked about the reaction of the western powers and if he wasn't worried about them being unhappy with him. He smiled and said short and clear "No. My job is to make Russians happy, not someone else".

If one leaves behind for a moment the standard purely and egotistical western view, one can see him quite clearly: This man is not even acting against the usa (because intelligent and experienced as he is, he knows that the usa is basically done with) - he acts simply *for* Russia. And yes, he does that blunt, he ignores the usas wishes bluntly.

Again, the usas dominance is over; it's no more than daemon anymore, a deamon feeding and living from the fear one has. Once one breaks free from that one sees just how ridiciulous the usa have become. Like a John Wayne with 85 demanding respect or else ...

Actually looking at Putin and analyzing his actions one can see that he doesn't attack the usa but he rather offers them opportunities to bleed, to look stupid and to slide deeper and deeper.

Today, the game is over but formally. The NAM states, many of them victims of americas wanton behaviour during the passed decades, are against the usa. BRICS and SCO, two structures basically created and driven by Russia in the same way Putin rebuilt Russia, that is silent, discrete but powerful, are more than enough to counterbalance the usa and Europe, both strongly weakened by an array of crises.

That's why I said thar Putin gave that Russian response act against the M.-act as a reward to his parliament - because it's not even important anymore.

And, that being another reason, because those acts are the american way - and therefore not the Russian way. Putins response, if one was needed, wouldn't be loud but cold, swift and brutally effective.
Don't forget: That whole democracy and public opinion game is the wests game. Russia is not in the business to somehow keep a show running; Russia is in the business to really move real things.

I don't know how much time the usa still has to completely retreat, return to their own country and leave the world alone in peace. But I'm sure that it's not much and that, should the usa not use that chance, Russia and China will brutally terminate the american terror. Actually I think that the current NK situation might well turn out to become quite physical in an ugly and painful way for the usa if they don't stop to molest the world with their "pivot" bullshit wet dreams.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 13, 2013 11:46:47 PM | 24

There was a recent Levada poll asking the Russian public about their leaders and how they ranked.

Putin was second to Alexander Nevsky and the western darling Gorbachev came in dead last. Most westerners believe that Gorby is the greatest Russian leader ever, but apparently, the Russian public doesn't see it that way.

It's interesting that we're seeing the same effect with Thatcher, but in reverse. Widely hated by the Britsh public BUT instead loved elsewhere in the west along with the wealthy elite in the UK.

When the MSM engages in their daily ritual Putin-bashing, they NEVER site polls showing how popular he is nor do they provide a shred of evidence for their outlandish claims such as his 40-70 billion fortune(interesting how the west always acuses leaders who don't kow-tow to them of "stealing from their people," the supreme irony being that it's actually American politicians who are "stealing from their people" and handing the loot over to Wall Street and the massive war-making Industry).

Posted by: RC | Apr 14, 2013 3:03:09 AM | 25

@23 Mixing up things? It's obvious to me that there is a campaign to bring down Putin. Colour revolutions, NGOs, pussy riot etc are all funded by Western interests with the objective of undermining Putin. It just increases the distrust ordinary Russians feel.

Blacklisting the Americans was a proportional response IMO. I'm sure Putin has plenty more ammo if he needs it.

Posted by: dh | Apr 14, 2013 9:51:46 AM | 26

More importantly though, the Russians "I can do that, too" list makes them look weak and childish. - Mr. Pragma at 2.


It also shows that these kinds of quarrels and diplo ripostes are somewhat beside the point, trivial. Boring routine, low level symbols, expected and anticipated. Fought in the dingy or bright-lit, artistically decorated, corridors.

Yet, they count.

Meanwhile, many countries have lists of war criminals (inc. Bush Junior) who could be arrested - complicated to go into - and it was only, what, 2 weeks ago that the UN came out and condemned Gitmo in public?

To the point: ripostes, tit for tat, assessments of the past, reviews, diplo moves, are always post hoc and many years, often decades, too late. They represent a kind of after-the-fact repair and/or aggression which is past its sell-date or impact, and implicitly endorses the message, well do as you like for the moment. Putin is smarter than I am, so he knows this.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 14, 2013 9:52:32 AM | 27

The Persians are leading the way in standing up to US imperial haughtiness, bless 'em, and then others say: Hey, I can do that too. As in Korea, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, China, etc.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 14, 2013 10:07:48 AM | 28

dh (25)

Maybe I read your lines harder than they were meant. Sorry.

It is to be seen though what (little) they really achieve. According to half official numbers, the usa has poured around 40 - 50 Mio us$ into Russian opposition groups before the elections. Quite certainly the real numbers are far higher.

And then, what did they really achieve?

The answer starts with looking at where we get that information from. The western press.
One can always and anywhere find people opposing a government/politician. Decidedly looking out for them and luring them, one will find enough people for a staged demonstration or some noise *anywhere*, in any country.

Nevertheless and anyway Putin won with a majority of votes. Direct votes, that is. I think one would have a hard time to find a major western leader coming even close to that. And don't you even start with usa "elections" ...

Stripping away all the layers of deceipt and number bending Putin enjoyed and enjoys a comfortable majority far above every major western leader.

Noirette (26)

You are, of course, right. Those tits for tats have a certain importance. For the uninformed people but also, as I hinted, for psychological reasons. The mere fact that Russia must not any more shut up and eat whatever dirt the nato countries serve but that they can actually "strike back" in the same coin is relieving and an important signal.

And I can understand that Putin is not going the full confrontation course but rather is employing some kind of judo.

On the other hand, however, one can very well argue that this course might in the end turn out the more expensive one. No doubt, Putin and Xi (and others) *can* "wrestle" the usa down. But: During the years this takes the usa is creating more damage. And, possibly more important, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the usa will not start a war anyway - if only because they are so stupid and far from reality.

I would prefer something like, for instance, creating a major base in Venezuela and, once the usa complains, to declare calmly the the usa have bases that are considerably closer to Russia and China and that there obviously can't be anything bad in having such a base.
One might call it "a tit for tat with more meat".

One major reason for that being that the only major advantage the usa still has its PR/Propaganda department that has roughly a billion people in the west (and not the brightest ones ...) actually believe in their distorted reality. Therefore it's important and even strategically necessary to rip that bull**it apart - and in a way even not so brightly lit americans (and their satellites) can grasp.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 14, 2013 10:18:54 AM | 29

"...more meat." It might come to that. At the very least China and Russia need to cling to each other with treaties and high-speed rail.

Posted by: ruralito | Apr 14, 2013 11:23:20 AM | 30


Colon Powell and Malcolm McDowell clowning around together at Bohemian Grove

Posted by: yah . . .But | Apr 14, 2013 11:25:27 AM | 31

I would merrily join Putin in a brawl against another group of guys. Number one he's tough enough. You know he's got your back and that he would win. I would follow him to the dark fires of Mordor.
I wouldn't even follow Osissy down the block, he talks to much & he is annoying. I'd let him get beat up. Obama is a depressing man who acts like he's got swag, a bullshit artist. Putin doesn't talk more than he has to, he lets his actions speak louder than his words. I like that he put this list of Americans, (none of them boyscouts by the by) 18 of them out. He is showing the people of the world the warts and all that our hypocritical so called "leaders of the free world". The acts that these men have committed are antithetical to true American values of liberty, justice and fair play. The Russians are not left off the hook, but everybody understands the nature of Eastern European Slavs. They are tough, rough and have grown up in a rough neighborhood. From monarchy to dictatorial socialist, to free market economy, a climate if instability and continuous threats from east and west even south.
However we as Americans reign supreme, we have the envy of the world as far as culture goes. The most powerful army, the greatest economic system. Yet we still are getting it wrong, WHY?!!
Obama has lost all respect, affinity, excitement, emotion or understanding I could muster. Our relationship is irretrievably broken. Putin on the other hand for me is walking on water, he can do no wrong hahaha.

Posted by: Fernando | Apr 14, 2013 12:14:07 PM | 32

Fernando (32)

However we as Americans reign supreme, we have the envy of the world as far as culture goes. The most powerful army, the greatest economic system.

Don't take it personal, OK, but ...

This whole "supreme" thingy seems to have become psychopathical in americans. Probably they have seen and heard it too often in commercials like "supreme peanut butter", "supreme leadership", or "supreme Ken and Barbie set" ...

Frankly, there are only two things supreme that I spot with americans: Supreme hybris and supreme stupidity.

"Envy of the world"???

I'm having a hard time trying to imagine something that one might envy. Mere size? Nope. The usa is a rather small country compared to a really big country like Russia. Population count? Neither. Financial power? Sorry, couldn't resist that joke. Economic power? Nope. americas economic power has been outsourced, plundered and was anyway not in americans hands (like the congress). Know-how? Hardly. I don't know the reason but for some weird reason the commercialization of whatever american scientists invents happens to be centered around tel aviv.

Uh, yes, right, you mentioned it. Culture. No, sorry, I feel no envy; neither for your TV programs (which is what most americans would associate with "culture") nor for american junk-food, not even for that famous american invention of drive-ins.

Actually pretty everyone I know about (here in Europe) can be considered to be in 1 of 2 groups: Stupid or carefully stupidized "citizens" who believe in fairy tales, commercials of all kind, and what the media tells them. And in people above a certain (not even very high) level in terms of intelligence and culture. Even quite many in the first group consider americans aggressive, rude, and primitive. In the second group pretty everyone assumes americans to stem from that part of the neanderthals who missed the development toward civilization.

The Russians I happen to know would not even talk with americans not having a PhD.

Again, don't take that personal. The mere fact that you are active here gives reason to assume that you belong to the rare americans with a brain.

I mention those facts for a simple reason: It's not weapons or money that will bring victory against the usa and make it vanish into meaninglessness - it's the people, the hybris, the stupidity, the brutal lack of culture. There will be no one to submit the usa militarily (or only superficially); it will be the americans themselves who are catapulting themselves out of the society of the civilized.

A country with presidents like bush and obama and a largely "dual-citizenship" congress - and the perople voting for them - doesn't need enemies to perish.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 14, 2013 2:13:39 PM | 33

Noticed a few photo shoots of Putin recently, it moved away from the macho judo, horse riding hunter type and had him playing with a small dog in the snow, and a few other that were family orientated. I don't see or read much mainstream Russian media so this could be a norm, and we just see what we are fed? However from a outside perspective 'is' this a PR image change that is ongoing or current. In terms of media especially in Russia, nothing goes outside 20 km's of Moscow in the past - Could the social media boom be the driver?

@Pragma, unfortunately the US is still a dream of many, be it Europe; like in Germany; even I was perplexed, Africa, Asia, you can speak to the average 18-25 year old (The next generation) and the majority would take the opportunity to move to the US if they could. As for Russians you know, it must be a very academic bunch as the Russians I have met along my path seem to talk to anyone, Americans included!

US culture can be best be seen a a salad bowl, a mix, it is technically a melting pot where all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention, but a salad bowl is better suited as it has clear divides and state intervention is very apparent. It is a relativity new country and its people have all stemmed from somewhere outside, the Native Indian who suffered acts of genocide and now just tourist attractions with made in China crafts (Guess its cheaper). In that the average american is pretty 'closed' to what happens outside the US, people are happy in bubbles (Media) but surprisingly the same youth generation in the US (18-25) are in touch with global issues and see the US as a bully in general, they are torn between being Nationalistic and truth, in short identity and cultural crisis plays both a negative and positive role; it is however saddening how blind, arrogant and outright pigheaded the older generation acts or; does not, when the US is suffering as it is right now.

As for lack of culture, name me one Country that does not have a cultural issue? We see that Multiculturalism does not work very well unless in a metropolitan/city, as it has distractions and adds flavor, the sticking point is religion as this segregates where one could say faith unites, old and new take generations to balance out.

What I see occurring is the distortion of 'Political Culture' a mix civic culture, consensus, and Homogeneity/heterogeneous all bashing heads with a military apparatus leading the role - The world is growing and economics is the only root to survival; (Even as a culture, although look at many Arabs states they have sold out their Culture for coin) it will eventually be more of (As is) the have's and have not's with less of those in-between - We are all born to a culture, and that is not by choice...

Posted by: Kev | Apr 14, 2013 8:16:09 PM | 34

Mr. Pragma @ 13

Speaking of, 'that famous american invention of drive-ins'...

the first McDonald drive-thru was opened near a military base to serve soldiers who weren't permitted to get out of their cars while wearing fatigues.

Take that Russia!

Wait! You meant drive ins, not drive

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 14, 2013 8:41:09 PM | 35

Allow me to offer a hint concerning the melting pot/salad bowl:

Whoever relocated just from, say, Spain to Poland knows about the costs incurred. That's not something the average family does easily.

Now go back in time to the 17th and 18th century. There were extremely few who could have afforded to relocate from Europe to the usa. Evidently someone helped to pay for the fare. And that someone had a reason.
Let me indicate that those who could afford to pay the relocation did definitely not send their best or even their average citizens away ...

Secondly the rich, i.e. mainly the aristocrats know from before (South America) about the hardships and dangers of conquering large and unknown lands. The difference isn't that they sent ... uh ... dispensable people; the difference is that (with Northern America) they sent the dispensable people and those, "thrown in the pot" just *had* to somehow make. In the end, this should be quite evident, the rich would win anyway. For many reasons, money and buying up the then civilized land being one of the "friendlier" ones.

And here is the bridge to today. Once upon a time those unwanted lowest-class people had the right social structure, attitudes and habits: they were primitive, brutal, and aggressive (as one can easily see when looking at how they treated the indigenious people ...).
When later their masters, not often gentle people, and quite often from Abkhazia, arrived it urned worse; for everyone, because the new masters didn't care the slightest about those who worked, fought, and died for the new lands.

Et voila, the result is what today likes to be talked about in terms of "salad bowl", "melting pot" and the like. And they tried to do with the world what they had been sent to do with northern america.

History is widely falsified and bent. This is true not only for the usa. But sometimes it helps a lot to ask some simple questions.

For the sake of fairness: Yes, the americans were (ab?-)used; they were sent and later betrayed by the one and the same party. But so was the lower European aristocracy. Of course it seemed tempting to solve the problem by sending those uncivilized people of the lowest classes away and to comfortably, so it seemd, get rid of them and, even better, have them do something potentially very lucrative. In the end there was just one winner; not those who went, not the aristocracy but those who would later send "their" people (that's how they saw and see them) to fight their wars.

I do not mean to insult anyone, really not, but I see the americans (except for a few intelligent people with culture) as "dogs", as "war dogs" of the power behind them.
It's about time to stop that ugly game. It's about time to free the world of those war dogs - and it's about time to (later) do what should have been done hundreds of years ago that is, to help and guide those primitive people from beeing slaves toward becoming civilized humans. It's about time to not blabber about freedom (or, as they might say "supreme freedom") without having the slightest hint what that is and that that is not something the average american enjoys but to really have it.
The longer we wait the higher the price becomes. For everyone incl. the americans themselves.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Apr 14, 2013 9:07:45 PM | 36

I get what your asserting, however 'War' is a human trait not an 'American' trait. I don't agree with US foreign policy (Basically a dictator) and I don't care about it's internal policy since I do not live there, although I once did. Culture - War Before Civilization, Lawrence H. Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois, says that approximately 90–95% of known societies throughout history engaged in at least occasional warfare, and many fought constantly -Perhaps that is our culture?

No one is born equal, we are all born into an environment and that is our future direction; if I was born in the Congo, I am sure I would be an entirely different person, for better or worse, who know's?

Granted, blanket bombing, cohesion, threat, economic stagnation ploys, political interference (Even elimination), extrajudicial detention (Bush) to extrajudicial assassination (Obama) are not conducive actions to promote peace and preserve humanity at all. Also the ability by a Nation not to see that killing people has repercussions; will cause hate, distrust, revenge, it's clandestine and as old as mankind even if the nation in question has the very same culture (Mafia/Mob).

The reality of the World is we as people will always live in some form of turmoil, each generation will hear of, see, engage or be victim to War. There will always be a powerhouse with partners, none are better or worse than the last and someone will always be on the boot end of the kick.

Who would be the next 'War Dogs' if the US stopped? Because if it did stop, someone would take it's place; it in our nature as a species, although we do spew that War is our Cultural views, between conflicting ideas and beliefs of society's moral codes. We are a species where pacifism can never exist other than co-exist as long as it does not interfere or have/gain something of value outside being a non-threat.

Question, when has mankind been at peace, a period of no War or conflict? Never I am assuming, in that assumption we never can be.

Just in the last two decades we have had many Wars, the largest still ongoing conflict, is the Second Congo War, with 3–5 million deaths since 1998, nearly invisible in non-African media. (Yes, we have the War on Terror, Somalia, Columbia, Burma etc). As of 2013, the largest ongoing conflict in terms of deaths is the Mexican Drug War and the Syrian civil war. In the latter two, if my nation was on the border of either two this then would be my priority and focus! In this, I just do not understand or fathom the US logic as it's door step has more important dangers, one that could escalate past a Narco War - This is in N. America...

Posted by: Kev | Apr 14, 2013 9:58:21 PM | 37

The culture pushed out by the big media corporations is absolute garbage. The Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys - these are just horrifying displays of non-culture. And non-culture it is, because it has nothing to do with creativity at all. It is art created for profit, or propaganda, and sometimes (something like Argo) both. It's like McDonald's compared to grandma's cooking.

But again - and where people point out that people still want to come to the US - is the real American culture, created away from corporations. American independent culture - music and film, now and in the past, the creation of Jazz on New Orleans street corners. Of Rock n' Roll. Of the whole huge variety of artists escaping Nazi Germany and bringing their skills here (one of which is honored here in the title of this blog)... this is real. And it is very attractive to people not from the US.

America is such an incredible oddity, historically, geographically, culturally. For all of its faults, there is something in its unique history that gave it a great attractiveness and a great motor of creativity that as it slowly gets more crowded, connected, and unequal is certainly being lost.

My own personal take is that the 20th Century was the high point of this uniqueness that made the US powerful both materially and culturally. And these idiots like the people at PNAC who think they can reverse this fundamental historical change are like a stone along the shore that thinks it can change the ocean.

Posted by: guest | Apr 15, 2013 3:52:22 AM | 38

Youth Bugle is a critical factor for unrest, and War. I was speaking to a friend, a very astute security analyst who is adamant that the US Gov pushes ‘War’ to mitigate its own ‘Youth Bulge’ crisis and has been doing so since the Vietnam War. In that, the US enlists the youth and sends them to War rather than possible unrest at home. - To best articulate YB, here is a link on the subject matter;

Fact: From the 1970s through the 1990s, more than 90 percent of all societal conflicts broke out in countries with ayouthful age structure-a population with a median age of 25 years or less. While I was in Kosovo, this was a major factor towards civil unrest, the huge number of Youth, 60% jobless. By 2009, nearly 100,000 peacekeepers were stationed in countries that had recently experienced a societal conflict and of those, about 70 percent had youthful populations.

I have a interesting theory, as mad as it sounds, and very controversial concept - The making of a ‘Gay ‘Nation, it may sound absurd, but if you view the mainstream media, Gay rights dominate the news, even in times of ‘Hot’ news such as disasters or even War. The US seems not only endorsing a ‘Gay’ culture, but I feel driving this as a method to curb YB since the late 80’s.

I looked at the concept using Freakonomics and the effects of an abortion ban in Romania (Decree 770), stating that "Compared to Romanian children born just a year earlier, the cohort of children born after the abortion ban would do worse in every measurable way: they would test lower in school, they would have less success in the labor market, and they would also prove much more likely to become criminals.

In theory, YB was curbed by China with the ‘One Child Law’. Global peace can simply be accomplished via population stemming is a doable method, not genocide or Euthanasia; but simply a one child rule; or making half ‘Gay’.

Scientific consensus, however, is the rate at which the current population is expanding is a threat. The ecosystem is being damaged, resources are being utilized faster than they are being made, and global warming ( believe it, or not) is something to be cognizant of. It does not matter if there is more land to spread out on. We are actually breeding ourselves to our own demise, perhaps War is our own built in lemming syndrome?

Posted by: Kev | Apr 15, 2013 5:04:10 AM | 39

In defense of America, I will say that immigrants fit in better and find acceptance here more quickly than anywhere else I'm aware of. And up until 15 years ago, people had the protection of the rule of law (for the most part.)

Both of those are changing for the worse, but they were nice while they lasted. Life in America is also pretty convenient in many ways. Plenty of open spaces. Lots of beautiful things to see. Cost of living is a lot cheaper than Europe.

There are problems, though. Everyone with any kind of business is afraid of being sued and has to carry insurance against it. Any organization has a vast set of mindless rules and everyone is afraid of (being caught) breaking them. "Safety" has become a god to be worshiped at the expense of common sense. Even the most remote risks have to be avoided, regardless of expense. Or simply the appearance of 'doing something' is needed even when nothing is improved.

Of course, it's a militaristic culture where open criticism of the armed forces, soldiers, etc will earn you a lot of anger. And people have a most annoying habit of believing whatever lie the government tells them, no matter how illogical or disprovable. I suspect with the growth of the internet and decline of print and tv media, that will improve...somewhat.

Oh, and public education truly sucks here. Higher ed is ok, but go to any grad school in science and see how many students are white Americans vs East Asians/Indians/Pakistanis/Etc.

Other problems such as rule by a banking elite are very distressing, but I see the exact same thing in Europe. Ask the Cypriots and Greeks if you don't believe me.

Posted by: Lysander | Apr 15, 2013 8:47:50 PM | 40

The foreign supported insurgents have stretched their forces. They have tried to occupy too many areas and places.

All true. And one huge problem the rebels have is that they lack unity of command. They are a bunch of disparate unorganized renegade bands with different agendas. Sometimes they fight with each other, and sometimes against each other. Unity of command -- very important. Pentagon definition, from the DOD Dictionary:
unity of command: The operation of all forces under a single responsible commander who has the requisite authority to direct and employ those forces in pursuit of a common purpose.

The rebels have a similar problem on the political side, which makes it worse.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 15, 2013 9:19:23 PM | 41

@Lysander - As I recall, In the mid 80's-mid 90's the US was a nice place, customer service was fantastic, people smiled, never to busy to help out, communities were inviting, most people had un-fenced, unlocked properties (Rural and township). I don't know what happened since. Society is now gated, divided or segregated, service is down the drain, one is even scolded for complaining, everything has become defensive, communities are splintered. It's either I have grown up and see life though different eyes or the US has dramatically changed in such a short space of time!

Gone is 'Have a nice day', 'Your welcome', 'please come again', gone is apple pie, gone are the street parties, gone is the trust, even of each other. That is internal. Externally the view of the US is horrendous compared to a decade or two ago. I meet Americans who actually apologize without a prompt today, it's not expected, or a norm. A norm (generalization part in jest) ; is loud, boastful, patriotic; much like a Brit norm is wearing a football shirt, or a German having his towel on the sun lounger at 4am to stake his claim.

The US does have a fracture; or even a break and it needs fixed...

Posted by: Kev | Apr 15, 2013 9:20:24 PM | 42

sorry - wrong thread

Posted by: Don Bacon | Apr 15, 2013 9:21:44 PM | 43

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