Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 16, 2015

Open Thread 2015-37

News & views ...

Posted by b on October 16, 2015 at 17:25 UTC | Permalink

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Know your enemy.

Posted by: jo6pac | Oct 16 2015 17:28 utc | 1

Stephen Hawking confirms: The problem is Capitalism, not robots!

Posted by: nmb | Oct 16 2015 17:41 utc | 2

okay trolls.. talk about zionism, israel and etc. etc. all you want.. steal others pseudonyms and continue until b figures out a way to stop the bs.. i will leave you with this from the angry arab.. ps - thanks nmb@ 2.. glad hawking is commenting on that..

Would the New York Times do a book promotion and feature article about someone who said that anti-Semitism is justified?
"“Islamophobia is a defensive reaction, one of fear, which is justified.”" He also said: "he called Islam “the dumbest religion.”...Mr. Houellebecq said he didn’t regret his earlier choice of words: “Fundamentally, I haven’t changed my mind.”" If someone were to say that about Judaism, would he get a platform in the New York Times? As for his sexism, it also never would bother the Times.

Posted by: james | Oct 16 2015 17:48 utc | 3

Interview with the commander of the YPG forces

Posted by: Anon | Oct 16 2015 18:01 utc | 4

It might be a small point, but can someone tell me who they think is paying for Russia's involvement in Syria, and looking like its greater involvement in the Iraq against the US's proxy terrorists ?

Is Syria simply printing the money, but Russia is happy to accept it because it still counts on the books ?
Is Russia simply costing it on its own back because it benefits it's counter-US empire strategy ?
Iraq can pay, eventually, because they've got so much Oil.

Posted by: tom | Oct 16 2015 19:10 utc | 5

Another demented Russophobic screed at Counterpunch:

Putin’s confidence is merely a function of his opponent’s weakness.
So now the "Left" has picked up even that right-wing meme. It is totally bankrupt.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 16 2015 19:16 utc | 6

"Putin’s confidence is merely a function of his opponent’s weakness."

That's a typo.
It should read Putin’s strength is merely a function of his opponent’s weakness... which is ALWAYS true. I'd quibble with "merely" though. It's the difference between having two big ones (like Russians) and none at all (like CounterPunch-ers).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 16 2015 19:32 utc | 7

jo6pac@1 Eliot Higgins formally Brown Moses said about Russia "So, they're generally lying about bombing ISIS, and sometimes they're telling massive whoppers about what target they're actually bombing". Higgins is lying himself, Lavrov does not discriminate between terrorists saying as the conflict got under way, “Well, if it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist – it’s a terrorist,”

Posted by: harry law | Oct 16 2015 19:36 utc | 8

"can someone tell me who they think is paying for Russia's involvement in Syria"

Is there any reason why Russia can't pay it's own citizens in Rubles to build weapons or fly planes?

What does Russia pay it's military with?

What is so magical about another country's currency, which amounts to nothing more than claims on that county's resources, which I'm pretty sure Russia doesn't need?

Posted by: paulmeli | Oct 16 2015 19:38 utc | 9

Erdogan's been watching too much Russian Humour and is playing Russian Roulette with the EU over the NATO's EU refugee crisis. It's a win-win for Erdo.
Heads - EU meets every Turkish demand.
Tails - Turkey turns East and finds friends who don't change their mind or break promises. And gets to shout "F**k the EU!" And mean it.
In other news Turkey has shot down a drone for which Russia, but not "Israel" is being blamed. Russia says all its drones are accounted for (which means whatever Russia wants it to mean).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 16 2015 19:48 utc | 10

Damian@6 Muhammad Idrees Ahmed writing in Counterpunch states.."Russian actions in Syria are an act of aggression against the country’s long-suffering people". More garbage from the head chopper supporters. Because the Syrian government invited the Russians in, by definition it cannot be aggression. The only aggression that has occurred has been when the US through its embassy in Syria in 2011 encouraged anti government forces to rise up, and since then have armed any terrorist group fighting the legitimate government.

Posted by: harry law | Oct 16 2015 19:54 utc | 11

excellent article from sst..
"MOSCOW NIGHTS IN LATAKIA' by Michael Brenner Ph. D.

Posted by: james | Oct 16 2015 20:01 utc | 12

@Hoarsewhisperer #7:

and none at all (like CounterPunch-ers)

Actually, I read a little more of that piece, so I don't think it's fair to "Counterpunchers" to call this guy a Counterpuncher, or a member of any kind of left, for that matter. Consider this:

Russian actions in Syria are an act of aggression against the country’s long-suffering people. Yet, beyond mealy-mouthed statements—and the silent hope that Syria would become Russia’s second Afghanistan—the US has done little to challenge this.
Is the author aware that the aggressors against "Syria's long-suffering people" are Syria and Turkey – with their paying and assistance of Salafi jihadi mercenaries – with the full support of the US? This person either lives in a USG propaganda cocoon or, more likely, wants the same kind of Middle East that Saudi Arabia does.

How could Counterpunch publish this? This article is defending Salifi terrorism. I don't see any other way to read it. And to think that I used to subscribe to the Counterpunch newsletter. I don't think Counterpunch is going to survive Cockburn's death. To try to keep it from dying, Jefferey St. Clair should step down.

So Russophobia is not the problem with that article. It's Salafism.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 16 2015 20:02 utc | 13

ad #7.
The problem with counter-punching as a combat strategy is that it relies too heavily on the presumption that the counter-puncher will still be on his feet when it's his turn to punch.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 16 2015 20:04 utc | 14

@harry law #11:

Yeah, as I said in my previous post, I wasn't aware that that's a head-chopper supporter.

It's amazing that Counterpunch would publish that. I can understand that US imperialism is instrumentally rational, so I can see why partisans of the Empire continually express hostility to Russia. On a certain level, this is just great power rivalry, which has been with the West ever since the appearance of the European nation-state. But letting head-choppers into the conversation, as a legitimate voice???

Posted by: Demian | Oct 16 2015 20:08 utc | 15

@5 tom
Russia is paying its own fare. It'll be rewarded with a naval/airforce base in Syria's Mediterranean provinces.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 20:24 utc | 16

There was another insane article published in Counterpunch by Michael Neumann on Oct 14: "Russia's Price for Peace in Syria": Check this out:
"Yes Russia or Russian proxies shot down a civilian airliner over the Ukraine – though not even most idiots have managed to argue that this was deliberate. Yes, Russia broke international law in annexing the Crimea. Yes, Russian elections in the Crimea and elsewhere are crooked or ‘unfree’. Yes, Ukrainian fascists don’t run the Ukraine. Yes, Russia has plenty of its own fascists* and supports neo-fascists in Europe. Yes, Russia lies a lot. Yes, Russia is homophobic, plutocratic, full or racists, corrupt and other bad things. Yes, Putin is short. Western leaders are generally taller and it’s possible to argue they’re a bit better, at least recently."

It gets better: "The fantasies of a liberal future for Syria, or one ruled by squeaky-clean pro-American groups, or bringing the Russian scoundrels to the International Court of Justice …these are self-indulgent daydreams that push an end to the conflict ever further away."

What is going on at Counterpunch?

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 16 2015 20:25 utc | 17

@6 Demian

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad is Al-Jazeera man. So he knows what to write in order to get his Qatari paycheck.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 20:36 utc | 18 I don't think it's fair to "Counterpunchers" to call this guy a Counterpuncher, or a member of any kind of left, for that matter.

If a publisher reproduces an opinion piece without a disclaimer (eg "the views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the publisher") then they're stuck with owning them. It's not the same as the views expressed in Readers Comments which are assumed to be the views of each individual Reader.
And C/Punch doesn't want to know what its Readers think and doesn't want other C/Punch Readers to know either.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 16 2015 20:40 utc | 19

@ 17

The same thing that has been going on with the writing crowd for the last 15 years. If you want to get published and paid, then you put the correct slant on it for the rag you are writing for. Nothing sinister - it's what writers have been forced to do for a long time, but now the internet has them in a tighter box with far fewer options.

"Shut up and change it, or else we will find someone else who will..."

If you don't think this is happening more today than 10 years ago, then you need to think a little more, put some personal career risk and threats to your job in there - because that is what happens in a world run by corporations.

Posted by: BOG | Oct 16 2015 20:41 utc | 20

@17 Lochearn

Clearly, Counterpunch is trying to widen its readership base by becoming more "objective". All we can do is to avoid it. There are plenty of other great sources on the web.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 20:44 utc | 21

@ james

Been waiting for an open thread to post this for you, thought you might find it of interest…

Canada-by hook or crook there will be deficits

Posted by: paulmeli | Oct 16 2015 20:48 utc | 22

"Russia is paying its own fare. It'll be rewarded with a naval/airforce base in Syria's Mediterranean provinces."

Not to mention the reward Russia's citizens will receive from having decent jobs, which I think should rank above all other considerations.

Global trade policies have never made any country great (in terms of it's own citizens well-being)…it has virtually always been through investment in the commons. Where did America's middle class come from? New-Deal policies and ramping up of production to fight WWII.

The 30 years of prosperity that followed (more if you count the post-1975 period chipping away at those gains) makes the post WWII period the best time in all of history for humanity (for the West anyway), and we should be damn thankful we have been so lucky to live in it…the future is likely to be Hell.

Posted by: paulmeli | Oct 16 2015 20:59 utc | 23

Tom @ 5, You ask who's paying for the Russian military action in Syria, expenditure of materiel, etc. I saw it mentioned ONCE at a not-very-reliable site that the Russians were taking a mortgage on the port of Latakia.

I guess whatever military base or airport they lease from Syria will be paid up for a very long time in advance, won't it? Supposedly, as a part of the nuke deal (to compensate for any lost oil/gas sales), Iran is to buy mega-military plane order from them plus maybe some commercial planes too. Contract's already signed, even before the deal was safely thru Congress.

However there was a prickly attitude of Iran towards Russia on the South Front:

Wonder if it's anything to do w the ominous Lieberman hearings? (next comment)

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 16 2015 21:14 utc | 24

Cartalucci re the ominous Lieberman hearings: They want to sic MEK on Iran

10/15/15 Cartalucci.

" An October 7, 2015 hearing before the US Senate Committee on Armed Forces (SASC) titled, “Iranian Influence in Iraq and the Case of Camp Liberty,” served as a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to back the terrorist organization Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) and specifically 2,400 members of the organization being harbored on a former US military base in Iraq."

"Sen. Lieberman: [MEK] deserve our support, and actually they would constitute a form of pressure on the government in Tehran that would unsettle them as much as anything else we could do because it would threaten the survival of the regime which from every objective indicator I can see is a very unpopular regime in Iran. "

"Lieberman himself suggests that proxy war and regime-change should proceed regardless of the so-called “nuclear deal” – with the 2009
Brookings report itself having stated that (emphasis added):
…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal."

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 16 2015 21:17 utc | 25

After reading today's contributions, maybe having an open thread only encourages ugliness?

Read through the above and wonder ... just how idiotic can MoA get when the contributions are ...

(You fill in the blank!)

Posted by: Rg an LG | Oct 16 2015 21:27 utc | 26

@MMARR #21:

All we can do is to avoid it. There are plenty of other great sources on the web.

I've been reading it less and less, but that was just beyond the pale. I thought that whether you are a believer in the indispensable exceptional nation or in multipolarity as represented by the old Bear, at least everyone can agree that the head choppers are a problem. (Even if with the US and Britain, there is the usual duplicity and disconnect between word and action.)

@Lockhearn #17:

Yeah, I saw that, although I just glanced through that also. But that struck me as just the usual run of the mill Russophobia. Maybe BOG is right about there being nothing special going on at Counterpunch.

But your comment reminded me that there does seem to be a general dislike of Russia on the part of the anglophone Left. (I first noticed it when I saw the response by the London Review of Books to the fascist coup in Kiev. LRB took the the standard anglo line that this was a democratic revolution.) I can see three reasons for that:

  1. The English are the worst Russophobes among Western Europeans. This is because they were the world's maritime power for over a century, and thus had a special, instinctive hostility to Russia which derived from that.
  2. The Left in general cannot forgive Russia for giving up on communism/socialism, with Yeltsin.
  3. With Putin, Russia seems to have genuinely adopted a conservative course for itself.This is a main reason why old-school anglo conservatives like Pat Buchanan like Putin. There is a Burkean quality to the kind of ideas you hear expressed today by representatives of the Russian state.
I think it infuriates leftists that today, the main opponent of predatory financial capitalism, both as destroyer of lives and as destroyer of the planet, is a nation that is guided by the conservative rather than the liberal/socialist tradition of European political thought. (I myself don't care, since I'm pretty much a Hegelian, and Hegel, as one might expect, incorporated both traditions into his political philosophy.)

Posted by: Demian | Oct 16 2015 21:35 utc | 27

Lochearn @ 17: "What is going on at Counterpunch?"

answer: $$$$$$$$$ When you can make your own, there's plenty to go around.

Posted by: ben | Oct 16 2015 21:47 utc | 28

There ARE still truthful writers working there:

Posted by: ben | Oct 16 2015 21:52 utc | 29

If I was to fill the blanks, your nic would be the number one, no contest.
On an idiotic scale, your little outburst takes the cake.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 21:58 utc | 30

@james #12

Thanks james for the link.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Oct 16 2015 22:10 utc | 32


It might be a small point, but can someone tell me who they think is paying for Russia's involvement in Syria, and looking like its greater involvement in the Iraq against the US's proxy terrorists ?

Russia is. After all, despite the Western sanctions and normal economic problems within the capitalist system, i.e. recession/inflation, Russia's economy is not bankrupt as the West likes to portray it.

The Syrian Campaign Nails Myths About the Size of Russia’s Economy

Anyone who reads Western media coverage of Russia’s intervention in Syria will notice that a note of bafflement has crept in.

How can Russia, the country "that doesn't produce anything", whose economy is supposedly smaller than Britain's or even Spain's, and which is said to be economically on the ropes, able to conduct an air campaign in Syria?

The short — and obvious — answer is that Russia's economy is much bigger than Western political leaders and commentators imagine.

Not only would Britain or Spain be unable to mount the sort of air campaign the Russians are waging in Syria.

They cannot run a huge space programme, develop rockets like the Angara rockets, build a space centre like Vostochny, develop the Arctic, construct nuclear powered ice breakers, or feed themselves.

Nor can they build a bridge as rapidly as the one the Russians are building to Crimea.

Nor can they create alternatives to Google like Yandex, or alternatives to GPS like GLONASS, or alternatives to SWIFT like the Russians have done in just a few months.

In military production, any idea any European state can simultaneously develop fifth generation fighters like the SU T50, tanks like the Armata, submarines like the Yasen and the Borei, or missiles like the Bulava and the Yars, is sheer fantasy.

Russia does all these things, and much else.

It does them without strain. In the middle of a recession Russia's budget deficit is 3% of GDP — less than Britain's or Spain's; and roughly the same as the US. Its balance of trade is in surplus. So far from being financially exhausted, Russia has far lower levels of debt than any Western state.

Are the Russian people accepting lower living standards to pay for these things?

Hardly! Until this year living standards grew in Russia every year since 1998. This year's fall in living standards is a one-off caused by the inflation that resulted from last year's devaluation of the rouble. It has now run its course.

Based on my own necessarily subjective impressions, living standards in much of Russia, especially in Moscow, now compare favourably with the best in Europe [...]

Keep on reading, truth will make you free.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 16 2015 22:14 utc | 33

@23 paulmeli

Fully agree on the future. It's all downhill from here, IMO.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 22:16 utc | 34

Regarding CounterPunch, I have seen this happen before. I have for some time had the impression that they simply don't read everything that they publish, and sometimes weird awful stuff gets published there.

Maybe it's only all the blockers on my browser, but at the moment I cannot really access CounterPunch, apparently due to a fund raising frenzy. So I found:

Then I copied the headlines and found them at other sites with Google. Nothing anti-Russian showed up, it seems.

If you want to see something amazing, check out:

Looks like Huffington Post has gone full retard.

Posted by: blues | Oct 16 2015 22:17 utc | 35

I keep hearing "regime change"...... Should we have regimes change in Amerikka?

However, if we keep on voting either the evil or the lesser evil party or candidate, when will we see regime change in Amerikka?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Oct 16 2015 22:22 utc | 36

@27, The collective spirit has stood Russia in good stead since the coming of the Bolsheviks.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 16 2015 22:24 utc | 37

Putin’s confidence is merely a function of his opponent’s weakness.

Not so. They "forgot" something. They forgot the Russian spirit.

Comfort No More? West Alarmed Not by Russia’s Weaponry But Inner Spirit

The Western media seems to be recovering from Russia’s snap military campaign in Syria, slowly acknowledging that Moscow’s might rests not only on its state-of-the-art weaponry, but on “professionalism and readiness”of its army.

A number of articles which recently appeared in the US media clearly signal that the West is acknowledging that Russia has regained its ground in the international arena.

A “safe assumption” that the “Russian military is something of a joke” is not true any more.

However what seems to alarm Moscow’s Western partners is not “the Russian advancements in new weaponry”, but rather “an increase in professionalism and readiness”, according to The New York Times.

Russia’s military campaign in Syria has “given officials and analysts far greater insight into a military that for nearly a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union was seen as a decaying, insignificant force, one so hobbled by aging systems and so consumed by corruption that it posed little real threat beyond its borders,” the newspaper says.

“We’re learning more than we have in the last 10 years,” it quotes Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations as saying, noting the use of the new strike fighters and the new cruise missile, known as the Kalibr. “As it was described to me, we are going to school on what the Russian military is capable of today.”[...]

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 16 2015 22:33 utc | 38

@Demina, 27
Re. your points:

1) "The English are the worst Russophobes among Western Europeans."
This is patently untrue baldersash, and a vulgar generalization, to the point that I wonder if you are trolling. I have noticed that sweeping racial and ethnic statements are creeping into the comments section of this blog, and the trend is distasteful.

Whatever the political class in Westminster says or does, it does not reflect all of the English, or the British for that matter, there being a difference between the two. (FYI, 'England' is not an independent country, it is part of the UK (political) and Britain (geographical)). For example, a UK Daily Star (tabloid newspaper) reader poll of a few days ago found approx. 90-95% approval for Russia's actions in Syria. A UK Independent (broadsheet newspaper) poll of a few days ago found similar overwhelming support for Russia. UK Daily Mail (middle-tier newspaper) readers have been approving Russia's actions in Syria so overwhelmingly (20:1 approval ratings) that the Daily Mail is regularly closing down the comments section of its online website, to prevent pro-Russian comments.

Your reading of a UK-Russian maritime-derived rivalry is fanciful at best. Historically, Britain/England/UK (however you choose to look at it) had close to zero hostility towards a far-off Russia; and close to zero hostility to Russia deriving from Britain's maritime orientation from the 16th Century onwards; the UK's chief rivals were Atlantic sea-powers like Spain (16th/17th Century); France (18thy/19th century); and the USA (19th/early 20th Century); and Germany and Japan in the first half of the 20th Century. Geographically distant Russia, with no major naval capabilities, and few overlapping spheres of interest, was one of the smallest threats to the UK's interests (whether military or commercial); and the UK was allied with Russia during WW1 and WW2. The UK aligned with US-dominated NATO post WW2, out of realpolitik necessity.

2) "The Left in general cannot forgive Russia for giving up on communism/socialism, with Yeltsin."
I presume that you must still be talking about the left in the UK and/or USA, in which case I am afraid that your comment is sheer fantasy. The British "left in general" constitute one of the most right-wing "lefts" in Europe, and always have. The UK's Labour Party has almost as many upper-class, privately-educated, Oxbridge-alumni amongst its leaders, as does the UK's Conservative Party. Political scientists have long recognized this British left tendency (on the part of Leftwing politicians and left-wing voters alike) towards more "middle of the road" or "establishment-friendly" politics, in fact since the emergence of the Parliamentary Labour Party under Kier Hardy in the 19th Century. Compared to European nations such as Spain, France, Germany or Italy - all of which have experienced active and popular Communist Parties in the 20th century - the British "left in general" shunned communism.

The "left" in English-speaking nations (like the USA, Australia and New Zealand ) have similarly rejected communism by an overwhelming margin. To call oneself "left wing" or "leftist" in the USA is to position oneself far to the right of a German or French citizen (for example) who describes him or herself using the same terminology.

3) "old-school anglo conservatives like Pat Buchanan"
Well, Pat Buchanan isn't English. I mean, Buchanan man worked to re-elect Nixon, not Harold Wilson. If you want to use Buchanan to explain or measure the political positioning of the London Review of Books, that is pointless.

Posted by: BiffaBacon | Oct 16 2015 22:34 utc | 39

Counterpunch does not have "party line" on Syria and Putin. Putin does not make a good left-winger, economically, he is very conservative, and in foreign policy, totally eclectic. Many leftist were buying "Arab Spring", and it did seem a good idea to remove kleptocrats with popular movements. Going pluralistic on the issue is understandable. Actually, few days early there was another article which was so gung-ho for Russian intervention that I can understand that they tried to balance it. In my opinion, a typical Counterpunch piece, whatever the position, is not particularly thoughtful.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 16 2015 22:47 utc | 40

@24 Penelope

Iran is always prickly. It's just Iran being Iran.

Of course in Syria the interests of Iran and Russia, while not inimical to each other in this particular situation, don't completely coincide either. Russians probably want a rather limited military campaign aimed at securing Tartus and Latakia provinces (aka Alawite homeland), while Iran would prefer a complete wipeout of Sunni resistance.
Where Russians might prefer partition of Syria, Iranians would most likely reject that.

On top of that, Gulf sheiks' recent pilgrimages to Moscow - with conciliatory noises coming out after those meetings - can't help but engender distrust of Iran towards Russia.

Russia itself, unlike Iran, rarely has any fixed positions. It's always maneuvering, always ready to talk and listen to anybody, always ready to wheel and deal. Iran, resting on a bedrock of its religious convictions, is a more principled and inflexible player.
Countries like that are like fire and water. There are bound to be disagreements, even huge ones.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 22:47 utc | 41

The Left in general cannot forgive Russia for giving up on communism/socialism, with Yeltsin.

So, Yeltsin, the drunkard that sank Russia into a quagmire, who gave away the Russian wealth to thieves, crooks and banksters, who opened up Russia to foreign control, compromising its sovereignty, who corrupted Russia from top to bottom, is for this poster, a Russian hero, only because he killed socialism/communism.

A historical aberration of this size, I haven't read in quite a while.

The Left in general [...]

There is no such a thing. That's a signifier without a signified. Not different from "The English are the worst Russophobes among Western Europeans [...]," yet another sweeping generalization, already debunked by BiffaBacon@39.

The "left" does not exist in general, in fact, if the poster responsible for this statements is referring to the European left, there is no such a thing. The left, classically understood, doesn't exist anymore, in any of its manifestations, Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyite, Maoist, Socialist, Social-Democrats, etc. They all perished with the death of the Soviet Union, couldn't reinvent themselves in a new era without looking up to an ideal that was a delusion. The Soviet Union was not a socialist/communist state, at best it was state capitalism, with a thick veneer of socialist ideology. To portray the Soviet Union as a socialist/communist state, this late into the game, is either sheer historical ignorance or neo-liberal ideological blindness.

That, however, is another ball game, a theoretical discussion too long to enter into here. Suffices for now to confront meaningless generalizations.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Oct 16 2015 23:05 utc | 42

Interesting news from the north (of Syria), from the imperative country of Turkey (yes, I overdosed with al-Manar News). Prime minister announced that theologically and politically, AKP is perfectly aligned with the Islamic State (using Arabic acronym Daesh): "The difference is not 180 degrees but 360 degrees". In a perfect country, a math mistake of this magnitude would make the government loose elections by a landslide.

As we have discussed, opposition parties in Turkey does not share messianic zeal of AKP to restore Syria to the brotherhood of Sunni countries using "all means necessary", so even if AKP survives in the form of a coalition government, the shipment of arms to the rebels would probably go down. The last poll before the bombing in Ankara was projecting almost perfect replication of the elections in June. There were news implicating the government a bit, and the government is resorting to its favorite tools, total news blackout and arresting people for insulting the President. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from the number of arrests, is the most insulted person in the world. My bet is that AKP will use some seats, but not that many, meaning that no coalition without AKP will be possible. Later Erdogan will try everything to remain the sole ruler of Turkey, but "wash, repeat" will not work three times.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 16 2015 23:10 utc | 43

@ruralito, 37
Re. "The collective spirit has stood Russia in good stead since the coming of the Bolsheviks."

To read scores of Russian accounts from 1917 onwards, or works by later writers such as Solzhenitsyn (esp. his remarkable work, "200 Years Together") the majority of the Russian populace had a neutral or hostile attitude to Bolshevik collectivization, and Bolshevik collectivism in general. War Communism was despised by most of the Russians who were unfortunate enough to experience it, leading to numerous workers' strikes and peasant rebellions. Their hostility and resistance is perhaps unsurprising, given that this particular manifestation of the collective spirit starved to death (and worked to death) anything from 3 million to 10 million Soviet Citizens. ( Peasant farmers in the Ukraine similarly detested forced collectivisation, and paid the price for resisting it by suffering the Holodomor at the hands of the Bolshevik NKVD, leading to the deaths of 2.4 million to 7.5 million Soviet citizens. (

The Bolsheviks weakened traditional familial, social, religious, and communal ties to a profound degree - seeking to atomize the individual "worker" or "peasant", forcing each to become a tractable, moldable "new man" or "new Soviet citizen"; a blank canvass onto which Bolshevik megalomania could be painted. In doing this, the Bolsheviks cruelly and shamefully weakened the forms of collective life that most people in the Russian Empire had valued and relied on. When one fears that informers are everywhere, and the "knock at the door" may come at any moment, collective spirit has to be enforced through terror, or at bayonet point.

I can illustrate this with two soviet jokes. (Please excuse my lousy delivery, I read them decades ago and I'm recalling them from memory):

1) Stalin loses his eyeglasses, and Beria sets out to find them. A few days later, Stalin says to Beria: "I found my glasses after all, they'd fallen down the back of the nightstand." Beria is aghast: "But Comrade Stalin, I already executed the hundred traitors who confessed to stealing them!"

2) "Why does the radio announcer always say we're 'working towards communism'? Because no matter how hard it looks, the government can't find any communists in Russia. Once we import some from the West, we'll be ready!"

Posted by: BiffaBacon | Oct 16 2015 23:13 utc | 44

@BiffaBacon #39:

Whatever the political class in Westminster says or does, it does not reflect all of the English

Yes, I should have said that the English elite is the most Russophobic European elite. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to forget about the British working class these days…

@ruralito #37:

The collective spirit has stood Russia in good stead since the coming of the Bolsheviks.

The Russian collective spirit also played a role in the Napoleonic wars, according to Tolstoy, anyway.

Both your and the following comment by Lone Wolf mention the Russian "spirit". I expect we will be hearing about it quite a bit in the next few months. To quote from the preface to Ruslan and Ludmila, which I read as a child:

Там русский дух, там Руссью пахнет

The Russian spirit is there; it smells of Rus'

Here, interestingly enough, the Rus' is the Rus' in the sense of Kievan Rus', what Russia was before Moscow became the seat of power.

I've been thinking about this "Russian spirit" myself in the past few days. What is its source or basis? Usually, to get a sense of a people (Volk, народ), I look to its religion. The problem with this in the case of Russia is that I don't think I'll ever be able to understand Russian Orthodoxy, even though that's the religion I was raised in! I simply can't get into that way of thinking, since I grew up in the US. But I think I can grasp Orthodoxy intuitively. I just don't want to "go there", when it comes to figuring out what makes it tick.

Of course, this is even more of a problem for non-Russians. So they project onto Russia Western ideologies when they try to figure out what "Putin's ideology" is.

For capitalism to take over more and more aspects of people's lives and society, Christianity needed to be subdued. This happened first in England, with the skeptical philosophy of empiricism and liberalism and of David Hume in particular. In Germany this happened later, first with the rejection of Hegelian philosophy, and definitively with Nazism and the subsequent and still ongoing American occupation. In Russia Christianity has not been stamped out, and I don't think it ever will be, if for no other reason that Orthodoxy has a strong anti-rationalist streak to it. Russians get restless when you try to make everything too rational. No dialectic of enlightenment for Russia.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 16 2015 23:16 utc | 45

Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Sudanese-American student who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school in Texas, has met the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir before Obama..haha American media in despair .. Hahaha Omar is hated in 'west' due his strong ties with China

Posted by: RussianBoy | Oct 16 2015 23:19 utc | 46

@45 Demian

Rus' origin is in Novgorod Veliky (Novgorod the Great). Not in Kiev.

The very name "Kievan Rus" was invented by Vasily Klyuchevsky who was born AFTER Pushkin wrote "Ruslan and Lyudmila"

Therefore, in no way could have Pushkin meant "Kievan Rus" when he used the "Rus" in his poem.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 16 2015 23:41 utc | 47

I want to offer a couple of links I found interesting.

The first is a description of US political history from one perspective and talks to the current GOP meltdown

The second updates my understanding of the status to get change within the IMF. In this case including the Chinese currency in the SDR basket....what the article does not say is that it is my understanding that Congress needs to make the change to include China in the IMF SDR basket after the recommendation by the IMF folks.......think about the circus that would/will be and what are the odds of it happening in the pre-election environment....

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 16 2015 23:50 utc | 48

On counterpunch, I think that Sr Clair has more or less retired, and that the 'office' has taken over and is going glossy. Cockburn never even had pictures, and his pieces and those he attracted were thoughtful ... and many came from 'left field' - areas important to and followed in depth by their authors but not at all by the msm. Not so much any longer.

@41 mmarr

That's good, isnt it? Both Russia and Iran being up-front about who and what they are. Any agreements between them are less likely to suffer from 'misunderstandings'. I agree on your assessment of Russia's minimal goals in Syria. I read somewhere that there is a lot of gas offshore Syria ... which Gazprom could develop ... making the posited pipeline from the Gulf unnecessary, and in fact of little interest to Russia, since there's no play for Russia in Iranian/Qatari gas. I dont imagine Russia is against such a pipeline but that it's not part of the minimalist plan. The maximalist plan, and plans in between, is/are up to Russia's partners in the region.

But it looks like the minimalist plan is becoming more and more likely. Iraq is essential for the maximalist plan, and they seem just to be pissing away the time and initiative Russia/Syria have afforded them.

The development of Syria gas fields would help pay for the armed assistance Russia ia affording Syria, @5 tom, wouldn't they?.

I am still struck my Putin's long term approach to fossil fuels and his striking proposal in his General Assembly speech.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 16 2015 23:52 utc | 49

Is United Kingdom Russo-phobic?

I guess one can conclude that by perusing websites of the major newspapers. This is today's fare from Guardian:

Isis or Russia? Labour needs to decide which is the bigger threat (Paul Mason)

The conclusion is not what I would expect. Tah dah: "But the biggest issue will remain Trident." Translated into non-insular English, the biggest threat to Labour is neither ISIS, nor Russia but Jeremy Corbyn who lamentably got elected as a leader and possesses an unreasonable Trident-ophobia. Tridents, totally useless against ISIS and only modestly against Russia, are nevertheless the point of pride for every red-blooded Briton (except "Celtic nationalists" and "extreme Left wing of Labor"). Celts and pacifists are the top threats. Four columns march from Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, and the fifth column waits for them in Islington North.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 16 2015 23:56 utc | 50

lol the Guardian wrote that shit "Celtic nationalists".. hahaha. Maybe the Guardian is the epitome of ''Anglo Saxon- Norman nationalists''

Posted by: RussianBoy | Oct 17 2015 0:00 utc | 51

Fars news agency reports that Yemen missiles destroyed 24 Saudi planes on the ground killing dozens of officers. Hard to believe, but if true is very good news indeed

Posted by: Andoheb | Oct 17 2015 0:19 utc | 52


I think that Russian goals in Syria focus mainly at preventing the genocide of the Alawites and securing military foothold in the Mediterranean. Since Alawites will never trust their Sunni neighbors or the West, they'll solicit Russian protection. In fact, today Syrian government said they'd welcome full-scale Russian military facilities.
The way I see it, Russians don't need Syrian gas, they've got the world's largest reserves already.
If Gazprom develops something there, most of the revenue will go to the Alawites. Otherwise, Moscow will squander a lot of the good will, and
will get blame for whatever economic problems may develop.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 0:22 utc | 53

As mentioned previously, all this chaos is more than a bit depressing to me. There is an answer, dear fiends -- It's J.R. "Bob" Dobbs and The Church of the Subgenius:

While you are waiting for your Official Church Membership Card to arrive in the mail, you really, really need to check out Frank Herbert's Dune. This one is 100% guaranteed to distract you from the turmoil of the insidious information provided by this blog, plus other orifices that are all too readily available.

I mean seriously, this shit will totally blow you away. What the hell was going on in Herbert's mind? It's your duty to find out.

But please, limit yourself. No more than 15 minutes of reading this stuff at a time. THIS IS A SERIOUS WARNING! You will encounter Truth Such That You Cannot Handle! Remember no more than 15 minutes! (68% of Wikipedia is about Dune:)

Posted by: blues | Oct 17 2015 0:25 utc | 54

@MMARR #47:

Thanks for the correction. That's very interesting. I was just going by what I learned in college.

Can you recommend a Russian introductory history book used in Russian high schools and/or colleges and respected by Russian historians? (Maybe I'll be able to find it online.)

@Piotr Berman #50:

I'll have to read that Guardian piece; looks like it could be entertaining.

That reminds me of a speech Obama made about a year ago: he put the threat from Russia after ISIL but before Ebola. Lavrov had a lot of fun with that.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 0:28 utc | 55

That'd be catastrophic for the Saudis. In terms of both lost firepower and Yemen's ability to conduct this kind of strikes.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 0:29 utc | 56

@54 Demian

Try Nikolai Karamzin's "History of the Russian State". It's a very substantial work (12 volumes).

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 0:49 utc | 57

@22 paulmeli.. thanks! it immediately made me think of nmb's post @2 with the stephen hawking comment.. basically hawking is suggesting technology has been and continues to replace people.. greater unemployment numbers are a given... i personally think unemployment numbers are much lower then the reality.. once one is off the jobs number list and no longer getting unemployment benefits, one become a ''non-statistic'' in this area.. not all those folks are '''self''' employed.

canada is really dependent on natural resources, especially fracked oil.. the fracking technique is a result of more modern technology too, but with fracking it requires 2-3 barrells of water for every barrel of fracked oil.. thus the '''tailing''' ponds, that come with fracked oil.. and of course the cost both economically and environmentally is much higher.. this as i understand it is where canada under harper has gone the past 10 years.. as a rep for the oil industry, harper was a good boy.. there have been higher paying jobs come out of this, but the price to get a barrel of fracked oil from the alberta tar sands is 70 and up as far as my memory serves.. might be lower, but that is what i recall..

capitalism as presently defined isn't working.. all sorts of hanky panky for economists trying to sort it out after the fact.. it reminds me of that saying by one of the amerikkan neo cons - as soon as you have figured out our reality, we have already changed it.. the imf and world bank - more rubber stamps for continuing our journey on the financial titanic, re-arranging deck chairs, or looking for new upholstery on the chairs, when we need to be creating something completely different - a new financial system basically. it is what one poster here - psychohistorian - is regularly preaching for and to which i agree with.. how to get from here to their is the 64,000 question.. not only is canada in trouble, but i think the whole world is.. thanks for sharing..

Posted by: james | Oct 17 2015 0:58 utc | 58


Good observation!

Add to that factoid that Comments on all the e-rags are now behind a Zuckerberg firewall, redacted and then blocked at will, as all my comments were, even my email account used to register then being disabled, even RT and Al Jazeera for cripes sakes, and the various former newspapers turned e-zines for the most part abandoning comments entirely ... this is deliberate 'framing the debate', no different than Red China, the paid- advertising-disguised-as-editorials, the approved and vetted peanut gallery comments, the WH Spox, the Congress Spox, it's nothing more than 1950s Cold War brainwashing Monkey Sheets.

1,000,000 monkey trolls on 1,000,000 comment sections can write the NWO Book of Shaytan, ... no problem. Just look at the last four years in your own world. My computer spontaneously shut down last night, installed some piece of spyware, then rebooted again with the message, 'Windows has forced a shutdown of your computer to install an important security app.' This, an app that turned off my firewall remotely!! Now I have a radioactive computer telling me this morning, 'the camera cannot detect your eyes, please check your settings.'

Have a nice fracking police state day!!

It's going to continue, it's going to metastasize, and you can make bank that USArya military forces in the Med and the Gulf and the S China Sea are carrying nnukes now ... that statement alone, or any email communication with anyone in CH, AF, SY, IR will put you immediately on an intel hitlist and no-fly 'sir, would you please follow me' strip down and e-cavity search.

You may now continue with your misguided Marxist fanboy Friday prayers for Mohammed Al Putin Al Oiligarchii, while the vultures flap contentedly in the e-cathedral. They can wait. They are 1000 years old.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 1:04 utc | 59

@52 mmarr

' I think that Russian goals in Syria focus mainly at preventing the genocide of the Alawites and securing military foothold in the Mediterranean. ... If Gazprom develops something there, most of the revenue will go to the Alawites. '

The two go hand in hand, don't they? Certainly Russia needs gas like Newcastle needs coal - or did (not) at one time. Maybe when they're done with Syria the Russians might turn their attentions to breaking the blockade of Gaza and similarly helping the Gazans to develop their offshore gas reserves in return for a backup naval base in the Levant?

I think the Iraqis and Iranians (and Kurds) ought to take advantage of the Russians' inertia now to forward their own interests as well, before the region sits down at the table and signs agreements that limit their future choices. What do you think?

Posted by: jfl | Oct 17 2015 1:10 utc | 60

@Piotr Berman #50:

To me, that Paul Mason piece reads not so much as Russophobia, but as something taken out of an alternate history dystopian sci-fi novel. And I used to be a big fan of the Guardian.

@MMARR #56:

Thanks, but I said introductory history book.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 1:12 utc | 61

Fracking is a method of extracting hydrocarbons from shale. In Alberta there are tar sands, heavy hydrocarbons mixed with silicate sand, the sand has to be "washed" from tar (that requires a lot of steam, hence water AND energy) and then subjected to cracking, using steam, pressure and catalysts to transform heavy hydrocarbons into normal fuels (. In some ways, this is a much more problematic process ("washing" + cracking) than fracking shale deposits, because cheap fuel (tar itself?) has to be burned to produce steam, so at the end, the energy from gasoline produced from tar is associated with more carbon emissions than coal.

It seems that producing fuel from tar sands looses money much faster than "fracking" when the prices are low, so Canada hit quite heavily now.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Oct 17 2015 1:18 utc | 62


As everyone with one good eye should know by now, Syria, (like Kenny Boy Lay's Afghanistan TAPI was intended originally), Syria is a Game of Pipelines, over Who Shall Supply the EU?

Russian gas, or Qatari gas? A trillion euro market! Russian Oiligarchs, or Qatari Oiligarchs? Who shall have this piece?

And from that resolution then follows, which International Banking Cartel Shall Launder Those Trillions?, now that the North Sea is definitely fading fast, and dismantling the NS offshore rigs is the joi de joure, and EU is against the wall.

Would you like a blindfold? A smoke perhaps?

Definitely End Times ... but then everyday is an end times, and the next day a new beginning, a double-twined helix of good and evil in a cosmological apocalypse of creation and destruction.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 1:25 utc | 63


68% of our survival as a 'industrial civilization' (sic) is about dunes of one sorts or another, the remainder 31% is about RU tioga and US maize fields (and I suppose CA and VZ tar sands, after the last LNG is long gone:)

Now what were we jabbering about? The Aleppoization of all public debate? The Talk of War? Let us go and make our visit. In the room the women come and go. Talking of Michelangelo.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 1:35 utc | 64

blues @ 53,
only pink-boy fake slackers really pay for a membership card.
Kill Bob now!

Posted by: sillybill | Oct 17 2015 1:43 utc | 65


I read somewhere not on RT or AJ of course, that all the poor zeks in Crimea who voted for RU annexation had their lands immediately collectivized snd their industries nationalized by the RU oiligarchs, but of course, that doesn't fit The Meme of the Marxist Fanboys, so it never happened.


A friend who flies internationally says you can always tell the RU passengers by the distinct stench of metabolized acetic acid in their belching, the rest, of course, in the stench of their alcoholic sweat. But that doesn't fit the Meme of The Shirtless Putin Riding a White Unicorn Farting Rainbows.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 1:49 utc | 66

@59 jfl

I don't think Russians will be helping to break the blockade of Gaza when even other Arabs (Egypt) are helping to enforce it.
Historically, Arabs have proven to be extremely treacherous and unreliable allies (plenty of them were fighting against Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya, including Palestinians), so Moscow is unlikely to spend time and treasure on promoting their cause, only to be betrayed soon thereafter.

"I think the Iraqis and Iranians (and Kurds) ought to take advantage of the Russians' inertia now to forward their own interests as well, before the region sits down at the table and signs agreements that limit their future choices. What do you think?"

I agree. Everyone is doing exactly that right now. It's going to be a tough slog.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 1:51 utc | 67

Demian@ 6:

It's a good thing to note and counter issues of framing occurring even at sites we rely on for analysis like Counterpunch. The latest Crosstalk at RT has included one commenter who takes the position that Hezbullah's participation in the push against ISIS means an anti-Sunni involvement on the part of Russia that makes Russia's involvement in Syria the same as the involvement of the US - just another terrorist group. There was pushback on this during the program, but to me the most effective points were the ones rejecting that commenter's claim that this was an anti-Sunni move on Russia's and Assad's part. The moderator pointed out there are Sunnis in high positions in the Syrian army, and that Assad's wife is Sunni also.

For the sake of interest in how other parts of the world are seeing this, here's a 'take' from my native land (the comments are interesting also):

Reflecting the Five Eyes identity government, media down under is just as corrupted, and this article calls them out.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 17 2015 1:52 utc | 68

Solzhenitsyn is a complete scumbag, fascist, and a liar. And this kind of nonsense: "collective spirit starved to death (and worked to death) anything from 3 million to 10 million Soviet Citizens" is absolute horseshit. Not to mention all the b.s. about the "new Soviet man" which you hear about mostly as grist for J. Edgar Hoover's anti-Communist mill. It's plucking out the 10 worst of 70 years of Soviet history, and multiplying the numbers by 10 and then saying "that's the history of the USSR".

It is junk.

There was certainly political repression during the 1930s, but this was a country that had just emerged from 700 years of Czarist dictatorship - a dictatorship that made Bolshevism considerably progressive. Yes, there was famine, but the Russian Empire had always been subject to famine. So a natural disaster which has a long history in the same areas now suddenly is labeled as "Bolshevik Murder!!!" by the drooling anti-Communists and the Russophobes. We should all reread b's piece on the famine. There is nothing anywhere to suggest this famine was some sort of intentional policy and everything to indicate it was another in a many centuries long string of famines (and one of the last, it should be noted, thanks to the progress made in the USSR).

The fact is the USSR was rather a normal country emerging from an amazing state of backwardness. But just like the US took nearly 200 years (and still working in it) to achieve "All Men Are Created Equal" so the USSR was struggling to live up to its potential and its ideals, and surely it made great strides in its time. De-Stalinization was as critical a historical event as was the Civil Rights movement in the United States. And I would say that its relatively peaceful break up was a sign of living up to its constitution of a collection of sovereign states.

To take the worst events of the Stalin period and make them so much worse than even they were by adding millions upon millions of dead (of which those who talk in such terms have nothing to base those numbers on except they're bandied about amongst the far right in the West) and then to claim this is all of Soviet history is the purest horseshit. But this is what passes as "history" in the West, so poisoned by anti-Communism because the fact is that it was the US in Cold War killing millions, not the USSR.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 17 2015 2:03 utc | 69


Read The Conquest of Bread by Kropotkin, read Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky, read The Cherry Orchard by Chekhov and lastly, also read The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn, although the last is a bit self-serving for the author, like The Satanic Verses was for our feted refugee boy Rushdie.

RU today is simply a Medieval Strong Arm State Mafiocracy, not discernably different from the zKSA House of Saud. And any so-called 'History of Russia' will be a bourgeiose intelligencia puff piece adoration of the apparatchiks, and teach you nothing about the life of the zeks.

You might as well read My Pet Goat.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 2:05 utc | 70

@60 Demian

Nothing comes to mind right now. If I remember/find something worthwhile, you'll be first to know.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 2:05 utc | 71

Interesting, Putin has just caused to be erected a monument to those executed during the Stalin-era repressions. Those in the West who want to blabber about "13 million killed!!!" (or "60 million" or "80 million") should note that there are actually RUSSIANS who track these things, Russians who might be a little closer to Russian History, having lived it, than say Robert Conquest and Timothy Snyder who are/were paid to come up with higher and higher "Communist Death Toll" as cover for US Cold War crimes.

The Russian Memorial NGO says the following: "about 720,000 death sentences were passed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s – the height of the Stalinist purges."

There is your history. Ugly repression no doubt, but nothing near the hyperventilating nonsense of those who work day and night to give the impression that the USSR was somehow "worse than the Nazis".... you don't have to think hard about who that nonsense benefits, now do you....

The fact is, that we have a clear historical example of how the citizens of the Russian Empire fought for the Czar (they rejected the war and then overthrew the scumbag) and how those same citizens of the USSR fought for it (like tigers). The reason for the change is clear - the USSR was their country, the Russian Empire belonged to the Czar.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 17 2015 2:14 utc | 72


But you stopped in the 1950s. Keep going!!

Brezhnev-Gorbachev-Yeltzin was almost exact moral equivalents of Bush the Elder-Clinton-Bush the Lesser, in their complete destruction of the State.

Today both RU and US are Mafiocracies. Period. All the rest of your Hope and Change rhetoric is just Hearts and Minds sop. Can't we all just get along with the jackboots stomping our faces ... forever?

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 2:16 utc | 73

@60 Demian

Please disregard the unsolicited literary advice from Chipnik. Those are not history books, but fiction.

The lunatic is obviously in a talkative mood, which in his case doesn't do anyone any good.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 2:17 utc | 74

"RU today is simply a Medieval Strong Arm State Mafiocracy, not discernably different from the zKSA House of Saud."

Russia, with its many political parties, its relative egalitarian society with rising living standards, its regular elections, its welfare state, and its multicultural nature.. just like Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 17 2015 2:20 utc | 75

I can accept that USSR/Russia and the US might be moral equivalents... if the US didn't kill 10 million people since 1945.

Though in Russia, all boats seems to be rising with the tide (they still have a better GINI coefficient) where as in the US, the elite seems to be sinking all the other boats (having just sold off all the life preservers to the cheapest bidder).

Which isn't to say Russia is a wonderful place. But to call it "Saudi Arabia" or to compare it to the Imperial United States.... I'm going to have to go ponder that one.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 17 2015 2:28 utc | 76

@68 @71 guest

I'm no authority on Stalin or the USSR in the 1930s, but I read an interesting piece at ruralito's earmarked site, Kremlin Stooge, the other day Add a Cup of Crocodile Tears: “Western Values” is a Myth

How far do you want to go back? As the newborn Soviet Union began to think urgently about restarting production in a country ravaged by World War I and then three years of brutal and destructive civil war, it urgently needed western equipment and machinery to rebuild its shattered factories and to modernize, to move forward. The Soviet Union was on the gold standard, producing a gold coin called the Chervonets. It would pay in gold for modern machinery.

Except the west wouldn’t take it. Why not? Because a competing currency backed by gold reserves threatened the reach of an emerging financial empire dominated by the American dollar and the British pound sterling. The Chervonets disappeared, to be replaced by a rouble which was not backed by gold. The Soviet Union was then recognized by the west, and shortly thereafter, in 1925, it announced again its wish to accelerate industrialization, and to purchase western equipment and machinery. The west refused again to accept gold, and agreed the only mediums of exchange could be oil, timber and grain. In 1933 the west introduced the Russian Goods Import Prohibition Act. The only means of payment entertained - Soviet grain.

Stalin’s government was faced with a choice: either to give up restoring industry, so capitulating to the West, or continue industrialising, leading to a dreadful internal crisis. If the Bolsheviks took grain away from the peasants, there was the very great probability of a famine which, in turn, might lead to internal unrest and removal from power. So no matter what Stalin chose, the West would remain victorious. Stalin and his entourage decided to force their way through and stop at nothing.

You know what happened. The Holodomor, which Ukraine frequently refers to as a deliberate genocide of Ukrainians, although Ukraine was heavily agrarian - the breadbasket of the Soviet Union - and it stands to reason it was hardest hit.

Cannot vouch for its accuracy but it sounds in line with "Western values" of the title and so, credible, to me.

Posted by: jfl | Oct 17 2015 2:37 utc | 77

Demento: I didn't say Russian spirit.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 17 2015 2:40 utc | 78

"The Bolsheviks weakened traditional familial, social, religious, and communal ties to a profound degree - seeking to atomize the individual "worker" or "peasant", forcing each to become a tractable, moldable "new man" or "new Soviet citizen"; a blank canvass onto which Bolshevik megalomania could be painted. In doing this, the Bolsheviks cruelly and shamefully weakened the forms of collective life that most people in the Russian Empire had valued and relied on. When one fears that informers are everywhere, and the "knock at the door" may come at any moment, collective spirit has to be enforced through terror, or at bayonet point."

Bullshit. If that was true the Russians in the west would have run into the arms of their liberators, the Nazis and the Wehrmacht would have swept through Stalingrad as through an old barn.

Bolshevik Megalomania!? That's straight off the cereal box where you go to school. The 50's called: they want their shoe phone back.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 17 2015 2:55 utc | 79

73 74 75

The Fan-Boy is Strong In This One.

I don't remember seeing you on MoA before, MMARR, who's your troll daddy?

I never said those novels weren't fiction, but they were social observer contemporaries, like Matt Tiabi on the History of Wall Street, and Fear and Loathing on the US Political Reich.

I stand firmly behind my statement that any History of Russia is just the same apparatchiks that the trolls for Putin Hope and Chains sop out. You might as well read Wkipedia.

I am in friendly communication with two RU businessmen, in RU, that we did a contract with on the Soviet Navy Ship-Breaking deal, where funny ending, the Soviet nnuke reactors ended up melted down into German razor blades. Ha, ha. Mob joke.

And I work with a US businessman in oil and gas, my speciality, who did many contracts in RU. They all independently tell me the same story ... RU is a totally destroyed cratered-State Mafiocracy, no different from Mexico, Phillipines, Colombia or any other former republic now ruled by 'The Eight Families'.

So who the hell are you MMARR, employing the classic troll behavior, slur the messenger. What do you bring to MoA?

Sure, the zeks and the campesanos may, as you claim, live a relatively egalitarian life among themselves in their mutual poverty, the communal share for survival, just the same as any dumpster community in the US is 'egalitarian' too, about where to get hot soup and a cot. They are the non-person zeks!!

We're not talking about the zeks. We're talking about the mob bosses who run RU and US. Syria is just another of 1000s of their oil, arms sales, money laundering, drugas cartel deals, all paid for by taxpayers, all pimped by the trolls like you and all the other fresh faces who just showed up on MoA.

I've been here since B launched the original MoA.

Who are you and your Marxist fan-boy crew?

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 2:59 utc | 80

@guest77 #71:

There is your history. Ugly repression no doubt, but nothing near the hyperventilating nonsense of those who work day and night

Thanks for that and the link to the RT piece. I trust you and Russian individuals and organizations currently doing research into this, so I don't feel any need to look into it myself.

To once more go off on an impressionistic tangent: one way you can tell that the Nazi and the Stalinist episodes were not equivalent is that Russia bounced back and was able to maintain its historical continuity and identity, whereas Germany was not. What happened in contrast with Germany is that after Hitler, Germany came under occupation, and it has been under occupation ever since. The continuity with pre-Nazi German cullture has been lost, because the American occupiers made the Germans believe that since the Nazis were so evil, the explanation for how they could have risen to power must lie in German culture itself. Thus, the only way out for Germans is to in effect reject their own culture, stop being Germans, and become like Americans (to the best of their ability).

The Russian occupiers of Germany did not do that: they taught the Germans that the cause of Nazism was not in the German themselves, but in fascism. And today we see the thanks the Russians get from the Germans for not dehumanizing them the way the Americans did.

@MMARR #73:

Those are not history books, but fiction.

Yes, I was aware of that.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 3:04 utc | 81

Chipnik, who cares how long you've been posting your inanities here. It may be a news to you, buy there is no seniority on the internet.

I certainly have zero reverence for you. Only empathy for your shrink. He/she must be dealing with a really tough case every time you run out of meds.

Demian clearly asked for a history book, not for a "social observer contemporaries". Pay attention, and maybe you'll look like a total moron a bit less often.

Bye now.

Posted by: MMARR | Oct 17 2015 3:13 utc | 82


Israel is the sole 'Western Deocracy (c)' whose GDP is rising and whose Foreign Credit-Debt is falling. All the rest, including Russia, are auguring in, most especially resource export states like AU and RU.

So to claim in your balalikan hearts and minds rhapsody in blue that 'all boats are rising' RU, is pure Hope and Chains! You're not contributing to the issue, you're obfuscating it! The Syrian people are as f*cked as the Ukranian people by the same International Oiligarchy, which Putin is a member of.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 3:18 utc | 83

Max Blumenthal on Israel:

Posted by: ben | Oct 17 2015 3:19 utc | 84


Classic zio-troll response, thank you for proving me right.

Posted by: Chipnik | Oct 17 2015 3:20 utc | 85

@ruralito #77:

I didn't say Russian spirit.

I know how to read, so I knew that. I didn't unambiguously and directly ascribe that to you.

Your take is that the Russians were able to resist the Nazis because of "the coming of the Bolsheviks". (Has a religious ring, doesn't it, like "the coming of the Lord".) But before the Soviets, the Russians were able resist Napoleon and today, the Russians are able to resist the Empire. Why are the Russians able to resist the Empire whereas the west Europeans are not? Why do Russians have this "collective spirit" you speak of but west Europeans apparently do not?

And we have seen what happens to a country inhabited by ethnic Russians who lack the Russian spirit: it becomes a colonized wasteland and a failed state – present day Ukraine.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 3:23 utc | 86

@ chipnik

Dead-on about Russia and Amerika. Mirror-like with a time-slip. I 'had' contracts and paid, er, tariffs to get them. Same thing here - they just go by other names that sound more pleasant, like ISO9000. Funny how the companies that approve and audit that little cert are all owned by the same group of folks too...

Posted by: BOG | Oct 17 2015 3:23 utc | 87

@Demian, "coming of..." was not what I should have said in retrospect. The Bolsheviks were already there of course. So "the appearance of..."? That doesn't work either. BTW, I am told bolshe is Russian for majority and so it makes good sense that the majority should have their way and not the 1% who puff themselves up in their own narratives which they force us to swallow.

If their is a "Russian" spirit, it's something that's been enforced by geography, climate, the movement of peoples, invasions, plagues...

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 17 2015 3:44 utc | 88

Lone Wolf @ 33

I'm definitely no economist, but as far as who is paying for what, this article may give some idea of the shifting sands financially speaking:

Thinking purely in terms of investment, I remember that Russia was calling on its own oligarchs to return to support the country as the sanctions began to kick in, and now perhaps others are finding the pickings mighty slim in the world at large. Belt tightening plus national pride may be looking very attractive compared with what Wall Street has to offer.

Russia thinks of this conflict as a necessary one to protect its own borders, and a suggestion I read from Mike Whitney (also at Counterpunch) was that Putin may have had to act now since the US was about to institute a no-fly zone which would have enabled Turkey to invade from the north. True or not, that no-fly tactic has been tried in the past, so it has the tang of truth to it.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 17 2015 3:45 utc | 89

@BOG #20
Absolutely correct although the process started early to mid 90's.
Driven by Murdoch corp changing news collection business model to counteract growing internet.
Essentially they created 'news' consolidation sites where all input was gathered. From there sub-editors could choose from the pool of stories available to subsequently publish.
Advantages: 1) Huge cost savings by sacking thousands of hacks across the group
2) Massive cost advantage over rival news organisations
3) The virtual disappearance of investigative journalism (previously independent journalists submitted work to an editor of a magazine for consideration of publishing. If accepted they got paid if not they submitted elsewhere. After this 'innovation' on many occasions anything out there was just 'stolen' and plagiarised. Any complaints were met with "if you don't like it then sue us".
Eventually, all the major media houses followed the model.
It's a fact. That's the world we live in.

Posted by: martin | Oct 17 2015 3:52 utc | 90

Demian at 54 -- Nicholas Riasanovsky's "History of Russia" was widely used back in my day, covers from Rus on. Still in print, at Amazon.

guest77 at 68 -- I would describe Solzhenitsyn as crank, not a scumbag. His "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" is an excellent bit of semi-autobiography, a document both of the Stalin era and the Thaw under Khrushchev. You've noted the "catch-up" ball that the Soviets had to play, under capitalist invasion and then semi-embargo (they did business with Weimar). The best document of that, the burst of planned industrialization of the First Five Year Plan, is John Scott's "Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia City of Steel."

jfl at 76 -- As with the best bourgeois obsfucation, partial truth and a biased conclusion.

The relevant literature (e.g. L. Viola on "The best sons of the fatherland : workers in the vanguard of Soviet collectivization") paints a more complex picture. The economic measures associated with the New Economic Policy had aid speculators and entrepreneurs, with urban working populations resentful of the new control over grain supplies exerted by so-called "kulaks," rich peasants active in the grain trade.

The urban working class favored not only collectivization but industrialization as well. This policy, emphasizing heavy industry (and large hydro projects) favored the working class. Their number and status rose immediately, and standards of living began to rise by the start of the war (model workers were not only model producers but model consumers too, with their material rewards for outstripping quotas and norms).

Collectivization was supposed to regain control over grain not only for export but to secure urban food supplies as well. And it was supposed to increase production through modern production techniques and equipment. Greater efficiency would allow for workers to be moved into the growing industrial sector.

The disruptions of the transition I think proved unexpected. Many peasants destroyed holdings of grain and livestock rather than surrender them to the collective farms. Enthusiasm of local party organs caused the Central Committee to pull back, as Stalin criticized them as "Dizzy with Success."

Stalin and his associates knew these measures would strain, indeed, abuse the economy. But "the Great War" had shown Russia to be incapable of fighting a modern war, as it lacked the productive capacity. The ongoing hostility of England and France, even after the rise of Hitler, suggested to them that time was short before another Western invasion (Teutonic Knights, Poles, Swedes, French, Germans, as well as intervention in Russian Civil War on behalf of the Whites.

In effect, the Soviets compressed the enclosure movement and the Commercial and Industrial Revolutions into perhaps, a decade. The proper comparison would be with the human cost of Soviet industrialization vs. the Industrial Revolution (which would include chattel slavery as well as the iconic "dark and satanic mills").

This would not have been necessary, had not the German Social-Democrats used the Freikorps supplied by the General Staff to suppress the Spartacists and the Munich Soviet. The Bolsheviks saw themselves as the vanguard of international revolution; no German revolution meant no fraternal aid for industrialization from the German proletariat.

Posted by: rufus magister | Oct 17 2015 3:54 utc | 91

@ martin 89

Even more telling, the USPTO is a complete joke. Talk about an unending racquet. The fees, the whole thing. Then government can just take it and make state secret without compensation ($50k not compensation, and less has been given). Then the examiners are graded by patent actions, nothing else. So most everything first refused.

Even IF you go through the 3-5 year process, they allow claims that are on top of other patents - the philosophy is 'get the fees and let lawyers sort it out. First multiple exp hand on this one - TTP needed to defray legal challenges if nothing else, at least on powerful ideas.

Posted by: BOG | Oct 17 2015 4:02 utc | 92

My goodness, if you haven't heard it yet, do listen to

Beginning is boring. At 7 he speaks of opposition crossing border into Turkey. At 16 he confirms the electrical substations taken out by US, makes deadpan but scathing remarks. Earlier he even makes remarks about hospitals.

I'm still listening; don't know what he'll say next.

Posted by: Penelope | Oct 17 2015 4:07 utc | 93

Demian @45, one way to look at what Orthodoxy means in Russia is a memory I have of an elderly black lady who was blind, who used to visit our little Orthodox church. She was very Southern Baptist, but I remember that she enjoyed the experience very much - she said it felt like her own church, with the beautiful singing in which the entire small community participated, especially the young and the old. That sense of an historical faith plus the intimacy of community (I think the Russians call it 'sobernost') is perhaps rare in the US in general, but can be found in small churches with community participation here that have had the opportunity to build generational tradition, baptisms, weddings, funerals. It's a bit like the bond that forms between soldiers, only fuller.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 17 2015 4:13 utc | 94

@rufus magister #90:

Riasanovsky's "History of Russia" was widely used back in my day, covers from Rus on

Yes, that's where I got the idea of Kievan Rus' that MMARR objected to. Of course, it might not have been called "Kievan Rus" in Pushkin's day, but the idea could have been basically the same.

@ruralito #87:

If their is a "Russian" spirit, it's something that's been enforced by geography, climate, the movement of peoples, invasions, plagues...

Don't forget the occupation by the Mongol Horde (or whatever the P.C. name for that is nowadays.) The Russians lived under occupation by people with a different religion without losing their own religion. And then of course after they kicked the Mongols out, the Russians expanded, without however converting to Christianity people whose lands they took over. (Kicking Turks out of where they didn't belong was another matter.)

So, as you can see, Russians have had a very musticultural experience over the centuries, both as top dog and as being the subjects of occupiers.

Then there is the fact that Russia belongs to a different branch of Christianity than western Europe, obviously the original main branch. That follows from the simple fact that the Eastern church did not adopt Latin.

Note that religion does matter when it comes to economic and political development. The Reformation, which allowed for a more dynamic society, led the north of Europe to overtake the south. We may be seeing similar today, with western Christianity being unable to resist the centrifugal forces of capitalism in the way that Orthodoxy apparently can, so that Orthodoxy serves as the ultimate foundation of the collective identity you speak of.

By the way, when I've written my comments in this thread, I've had the following NY Times story at the back of my mind:

Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice

Self-interest cannot explain why Russian elites bother to ensure that Russia continues to exist as a sovereign, unified nation, as opposed to becoming colonized by the finance driven Anglo Empire, as western Europe has.

(Western) reason had an opportunity to tame capitalism, but it failed. So now the West has to use its second line of defense, Russia's less rational means of motivating collective action.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 4:29 utc | 95

@juliania #93:

Thanks, that helps. I guess I do believe tat Orthodoxy is in some sense the "core" of Russian identity, but to many, it can be just a reference point and part of the background, as opposed to participating and believing in it directly. For example, for me (overlooking my childhood upbringing), Orthodoxy is mediated by Dostoyevksky's novels and the problems they explore.

What made me take Orthodoxy seriously again was the Ukraine civil war. I couldn't believe what the Novorossiyans did with some of their Ukrainian prisoners: they just let them go. I would have shot them. (The Geneva Convention does not apply to civil wars.) That made me think: "Wow, these Russians really take this Christian thing seriously!" I could not help but be impressed by that. And later, I read that Orthodoxy does not have a just war doctrine: according to Orthodoxy, even if you have good reasons to engage in war, your actions are still evil. (I believe you and I have talked about this before.) Westerners, with their sophistry (a Catholic specialty), do not think that way.

Posted by: Demian | Oct 17 2015 4:51 utc | 96

Just for the record. There is a bit of a spat going on in the '' space with the Zionist troll Spengler (David P. Goldman) throwing mud at Moslem immigrants in Sweden (and by implication all over). Link

The usual smear strategy at work. Seems he has some trouble accepting that others have a different opinion about his fav little Crusader outpost parked on Palestinian lands. All about 'rape' in Sweden and nothing about death, murder, theft and brutality to men, women and children of Palestine.

There is good push back argument in some quarters but Goldman seems unable to tolerate any UN-level criticism of his little darlings when it comes to comparing Zionist Israel with Apartheid South Africa. It's obviously a corn on his toe.

While the usual trash level 'debate' goes on, and he's happy to leave it on the record, a couple of posts have been removed which refer to "Ex-U.N. Official John Dugard: Israel’s Crimes are "Infinitely Worse" Than in Apartheid South Africa" (May 2015) Link to John Dugard

Pointing out the similarities between odious South African apartheid regimes and Zionist Israeli regimes seems to be a little too close to home for the Spengler cult to handle.

I'm rather puzzled as to why people like Pepe Escobar and M.K. Bhadrakumar tolerate associating online with this clearly racist Spengler/Goldman character -- certainly brings down the neighborhood and one of the reasons I largely skip '' (and will never donate) and seek these two authors in other places. Anyone got an answer to this puzzle? I can only assume it is $$$'s from certain sources that keep them afloat.

Posted by: doveman | Oct 17 2015 4:55 utc | 97

I have to disagree with both MMARR and Guest77 in describing the Russian ethos - you won't find it in history books but you will find it in the great fiction and also in ancient Kievan heritage, whether you want to call it Rus or not. I remember Putin referring to that directly in one of the first speeches he gave to the Duma on the subject of Crimea's request for inclusion in the Russian Federation.

Both the Czar and the Bolsheviks fell far short of being good leaders for Russia. It was the people and their love for the country itself, suffering greatly, that withstood invasion, helped by the fierce and mighty Russian winters. It may look like just a narrow strip of land on some maps, but there are seven time zones in that strip I think, as well as other ethnic groups besides the Orthodox. That's important, because it frames the attitude toward a multipolar world - already the country is a microcosm of that world.

Posted by: juliania | Oct 17 2015 4:56 utc | 98

p.s. sorry about the link mess up (above) but it still works for the two links mentioned.

Posted by: doveman | Oct 17 2015 4:58 utc | 99

Wow. I've never seen a mainstream US broadcast with a completely Palestinian frame.

Posted by: RussianBoy | Oct 17 2015 5:30 utc | 100

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