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 Russian Reaction Blog
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Foreign PolicyTeasers

Results of the new PEW poll on international relations.

ROG-ZOG alliance on Trump.

pew-trump-support-2017

Russia is also the major country where approval of the US went up since Trump’s election.

pew-usa-approval

These figures are however a bit outdated (they were gathered this spring).

Levada, which keeps track of Russian opinion of foreign countries, showed US approval falling from 37% in March 2017 back to 24% in May 2017 – not far from the nadir under Obama – in what must have been a response to the US strikes on Syria.

levada-russia-usa-approval

Young people are universally more supportive of American customs coming to their countries.

I can state that the figures for Russia are definitely correct.

pew-us-customs

Australians and Israelis have the only rightists who support Trump.

pew-us-support-ideology

By “far right” party opinion:

pew-us-support-ideology-2

Pretty much everyone opposes Trump’s wall, though it is perhaps hard to see how it is anybody’s except Mexico’s business.

pew-support-wall

More Indians and Africans (!) want Trump to create Tropical Hyperborea than Russians. How sad.

pew-support-trump-climate-withdrawal

Here is how Trump stacks up against Merkel, Xi Jinping, and Putin.

pew-trump-putin-merkel

 

The figures for Russia are from Levada, those for Ukraine are from KMIS.

poll-ukraine-russia-relations-positive-negative

poll-ukraine-russia-relations-ideal

The basic story is that there was a (mutual) collapse in Ukraine-Russia views of the other country around 2014, which has remained steady since.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Opinion Poll, Russia, Ukraine, War in Donbass 

ukraine-popular-sites-2017 A couple of weeks ago, Ukraine passed an edict banning access to a host of Russian web services including VKontakte and Odnoklassniki (Russia’s Facebook, and most popular social network in Ukraine, with 13 million users; Odnoklassniki is 4th, with 9 million users; for comparison, Facebook is 8th with 5.6 million users, though tellingly it is where the country’s political elites tussle), Yandex (Google, and 5th and 11th most popular website in Ukraine for the .ua and .ru domain, respectively), Kaspersky (Europe’s foremost anti-virus software), mail.ru (an email service that is the 7th most popular site in Ukraine), and 1c accounting software (the foremost accounting software in Eurasia due to its competitive pricing and regular updates to comply with the latest labyrinth regulations of post-Soviet bureacracies).

As pretty much everyone except Ukrainian nationalists agreed, this was a stupid and self-defeating move anyway you look at it. It will create headaches for normal people and for the small businesses who rely on 1c accounting software (as if they don’t have enough problems already, what with the collapse of the Ukrainian economy and the Maidan regime’s total failure to make headway against corruption).

It doesn’t look any good from a “democratist” perspective. The only halfway comparable block in Russia is with respect to LinkedIn for its refusal to store its data in Russia. That said, sitting here in Moscow, I can open it just fine even without using VPN or other roundabout methods, which brings up another problem: Implementing such censorship is harder than it looks. It requires money that Ukraine doesn’t have. So any attempt to implement this ban seriously will have to be borne by Internet providers, which in turn will pass it onto the consumer. Not good for the country with Europe’s lowest Internet penetration rate (including Moldova).

In any case, segregating the Ukrainian Internet from Runet is doomed to failure anyway, considering that it is mostly to overwhelmingly Russophone outside the far west.

ukraine-vkontakte-language

Map of Russian/Ukrainian language usage on Vkontakte in 2013.

It might work after half a century of aggressive Ukrainization, but not today, when at least 80% of intellectual culture in Ukraine is carried on in the Russian language, despite the best efforts of Soviet Ukrainianizationists.

Finally, even bad optics aside and impracticality aside, Russia remains by far Ukraine’s biggest investor – some 38% of the total as of 2016 – so scaring off the Russian companies that remain there with armed secret police raids and “treason” charges, as recently done on Yandex’s Kiev office, seems pretty stupid.

And really, if these sites are all such a big threat to Ukraine, why didn’t it ban them back in 2014?

Two possible reasons. Maybe Poroshenko was really butthurt about the Russian tax authorities finally shutting down his chocolate factory in Lipetsk. Alternatively, and more plausibly, this was done to appease svidomy Ukrainian nationalists for a few more weeks. They have a good track record of forcing the weak Ukrainian state into acceding to and formalizing actions that it doesn’t really want to do, such as the Donbass blockade. Of course as I pointed out earlier the nationalists themselves are mostly tools of oligarchic groups who are themselves opposed to Poroshenko. Online as in real life, it is ordinary people who have the pay as the high lords play their game of thrones.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Social Media, Svidomy, Ukraine 

trump-tropical-hyperborea

Trump fights the good fight for Tropical Hyperborea… erm, I mean for Pittsburgh, not Paris.

Meanwhile, the kremlins see it fit to backstab him on this of all issues.

“President (Vladimir) Putin signed this convention in Paris. Russia attaches great significance to it.

“At the same time, it goes without saying that the effectiveness of this convention is likely to be reduced without its key participants.”

Note that this is a couple of days after Macron publicly humiliated Putin in Paris, telling him that RT.com and Sputnik are propagandists to his face.

Global warming will be great for Russia, a warming of several degrees will put an end to its endless struggle against permafrost and allow it to feed billions of people.

Instead, the kremlins are sucking up to people who won’t even thank them for it. For that matter, many Westerners think the Kremlin is behind a lot of global warming denialism anyway.

There is only one explanation for this: The kremlins are cucks. Sovok cucks. Sovcucks!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Cuckoldry, Global Warming 

In my coverage of the French elections, I’ve been vaccilating between optimism and pessimism. Obviously, Le Pen’s result – 34% of the vote – was unprecedentedly good, and her popularity seemed to be especially strong amongst French youth. On the other hand, it was perhaps not as good a result as could have been expected, considering she was facing off against the embodiment of an empty suit politician and representative of a political system that has worked hard to delegitimize itself in the past decade. In particular, her failures to make any inroads amongst the French intellectual and professional class, who control 90%+ of the media and universities, is particularly concerning.

Since then, I’ve taken the time to look through French post-elections opinion polls, and I am now leaning much more towards the pessimist side of things. I will mostly refrain from editorializing and just lay out the data, and maybe some of you could come up with a more positive interpretation.

1. IFOP: Comprehensive profile of French voters in the second tour.

france-elections-abstention-historical(a) The commenter AP has suggested that the reason MLP performed reasonably well amongst younger French is because more of them stayed home. Indeed, at 25% of the electorate, the rate of abstention in this election has been the highest since 1969.

Moreover, just as AP posited, abstentionism was concentrated Melenchon supporters (36%) and 18-24 year olds (33%) and 25-34 year olds (34%).

According to this poll, 81% of Melenchon voters in the first round ended up voting for Macron anyway (of those who voted at all, obviously). Any talk of “Red-Brown” alliances remains as chimeric as always.

(b) In the OpinionWay poll released soon after the French elections, it appeared that French women – unusually for nationalist parties – were relatively more supportive of MLP than the men (37% to 33%). This would have been pretty encouraging, since women tend to be more conformist, and a better result for MLP amongst them would imply nationalist ideas are infiltrating the mainstream and becoming less tabboo.

ipros-poll-le-pen-womenTwo consequent polls put paid to that, though. In this poll, men were more supportive of MLP than women (36% to 33%), and another IPSOS poll confirmed that picture (38% to 32%).

Still nowhere close to the 10% point or more gap in male/female voting in the recent US elections, but not a curious exception either.

(c) The biggest #blackpill, though, is the indication that support for MLP ebbs amongst the youngest age group, despite their high abstentionism.

Opinion polls in France have been conflicted on this question:

In particular, a voter poll released just now by OpinionWay is extremely encouraging – an amazing 44% of 18-24 year olds said they had voted for Marine Le Pen, compared to just 20% of over 65 year olds… This standards in positive contrast to a poll from the first round, which suggested that Le Pen’s support peaked at 29% in the 35-49 year old bracket, before declining to 21% amongst the youngest voters. It would also be a confirmation of polls from 2015 which indicated that support for the Front National increased monotonically as voters became younger.

OpinionWay, which has a sample of almost 8,000, shouldn’t be dismissed. On the other hand, though, the IFOP survey supports the interpretation that support for MLP peaks amongst the middle-aged, then begins to fall again amongst the youngest voters.

ifop-poll-france-elections-2017-age-groups

2. Some more observations:

(a) The majority of Macron voters in the second round (57%) were not voting for Macron per se, but against Le Pen.

(b) There were… debates, about who had won the debates. This poll suggests it was Macron – more voters thought more favorably of him afterwards (10%) than of MLP (6%).

financial-times-france-elections-2017-education(c) The Coming Apart thesis: Of Macron’s voters, 80% said they had benefited from globalization, or at least not lost from it; in constrast, of Le Pen’s voters, some 74% said they were losers from globalization.

Also, a striking graphic from (see right) from The Financial Times in support: Macron won 84% of the vote in the 10th decile of France’s most educated communes, versus 53% in the least educated decile.

(d) As per usual, MLP remains the candidate of the French siloviks:

…In Versailles, it is shown by the two voting stations in the Satory plateau (No. 10 and No. 11). Marine Le Pen got 64.61% and 53.34% there respectively, against 35.39% and 46.66% for Emmanuel Macron. These are the only voting stations in Versailles that don’t put Macron far ahead. In the town, Macron got 76.15% and Le Pen 23.85%. Abstention was slightly higher on the Satory plateau than in the rest of Versailles. The only people living on the Satory plateau are gendarmes, military personnel and civilians working in the defence industry who benefit from social housing.
The same observation in Nanterre, with voting station 14 which corresponds to the Republic Guard barracks. Marine Le Pen was in front with 54.04% against 45.96% for Macron. The contrast with the rest of the city is also striking here: Macron 83.15% and Le Pen 16.85%.

3. IFOP: Confessional voting:

(i) Abstentionism at about 25% for all religious denominations, except Muslims, of whom 38% abstained.

(ii) Macron actually got a higher result (71%) amongst practicing Catholics than irregular (54%) and non-practising ones(61%). I assume on account of the age difference. The irreligious voted 70% for Macron. Muslims – a near monolithic 92%.

ifop-poll-france-2017-by-religion

They also asked whom they had voted for in the first round. Fillon is the President of the Catholics. And Muslims vote highly Leftist: 37% for Melenchon, almost twice the national average, and 17% for the Socialist candidate Hamon, almost three times as high as the national average.

ifop-poll-france-2017-by-religion-first-round

4. The only foreign country where Le Pen won? Syria, LOL. (h/t Mohsen)

france-elections-2016-le-pen-macron-abroad

5. But speaking of Syria, even in the event of an MLP win, their celebration might be premature. While browsing through IFOP’s database of polls, I discovered one more #blackpill for your delectation.

The Front National portrays itself as an anti-immigration, non-interventionist party, and the former at least is definitely true – only 4% of MLP voters support immigration, versus 30% of conservative (Sarkozy) and 60% of leftist (Melenchon/Hollande) voters.

Unfortunately, it seems to be much weaker on the anti-intervention side of the equation.

In the wake of Trump’s strike on Syria, IFOP polled the French on whether they agreed with it or not, and the results are as astounding as they are depressing.

ifop-poll-2017-support-for-syria-strikes

62% of Front National voters and MLP supporters supported the strikes – that is virtually the same as those evil “globalist” En Marche!/Macron supporters.

Ergo for Fillon/conservative voters. Hamon supporters were 50/50, while Melenchon voters were actually opposed, at 45% to 55%.

This raises a disquieting scenario. Assume Marine Le Pen was to get into power by some miracle, and were to find herself hobbled by the universal hostility towards her populist-nationalist program from within and without.

What could she then do to break the deadlock?

Well, if the Trump experience is anything to go by, why not bomb some brown people in the Third World in the wake of the next round of dubious atrocity propaganda, with the quiet approval of her own electorate and the jingoistic cheers of the “moderate” centrists, who will go on to reward her “Presidential” actions with a few weeks of support before digging in their talons again.

 

vapor-macron-le-pen My latest podcast with Robert Stark, co-host and proponent of Asian-Aryanism pilleater, and Alt Right legend Guillaume Durocher, who has written for Counter-Currents, Radix, and Occidental Observer.

We mostly talked about the French elections and French demographics. Here’s a link: http://www.starktruthradio.com/?p=4467

Topics

The final election round between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron
The French Elections 2017 (Round One)
The original candidates; Left Wing Populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Globalist Centrist Emmanuel Macron, Mainstream Conservative François Fillon, and Nationalist Populist Marine Le Pen
The demographic and regional support for the candidates
Whether Le Pen will appeal to the Conservative Fillon and Socialist Mélenchon supporters
How Macron epitomizes the worst of the establishment while Fillon and Mélenchon hold some anti-establishment positions
Macron’s work for a Rothschild Bank, Bilderberg attendance, and Neoliberal agenda
Mélenchon, his refusal to back Macron, how he is better on immigration then Macron, and his support for a basic income
Fillon, his endorsement of Macron while adopting some of Le Pen’s immigration stances
In contrast with Macron, Mélenchon and Fillon like Le Pen were more pro-Russia and non-interventionist
The ideology and agenda of Le Pen’s Front National
Comparisons to Donald Trump and how unlike Trump Le Pen has a consistent ideology
The misnomer that Le Pen is far right and her adoption of left leaning stances on issues such economics, gay rights, and the environment
Mainstream conservative Nicolas Dupont-Aignan backing Le Pen
Alain Soral and his advocacy of a left-right alliance
Éric Zemmour
The French Blackpill, Quantified
Michel Houellebecq’s Submission
Demographic Trends and future scenarios for France and Europe

 

hi-reddit-russia A couple of weeks back I had an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with /r/Russia.

Direct link: Hi /r/Russia! Anatoly Karlin, writer for The Unz Review / Анатолий Карлин, “пейсатель” о России, геополитике. AMA!

Thought I would reprint some of the questions and answers there so that they don’t vanish into the digital ether.

***

Politics

You were at the March 26 protests

Can we confidently say that the Kremlin lost young voters forever.

Does Russia have a new protest generation?

For example in the west, there was the contrast between the WWII conservative generation and the young generation of the 60s( this so-called counterculture )

Yes, here’s my account of the March 26 protests.

I don’t think the Kremlin has lost young voters, though some kremlins are definitely trying to. Ultimately, Putin after Crimea still has the steady support of about 80% of Russians, so that precludes any great dip in support amongst young people.

My impression is that paradoxically, both liberal and pro-Putin sentiments might be somewhat higher amongst the younger generations, alongside a melange of other, more idiosyncratic ideologies like monarchism and whatnot. Why? Because Communist sympathies collapse amongst younger Russians. That is, relative to the older generations, there are still plenty of “vatniks,” but many fewer “sovoks.”

If there is going to be a strong youth-based protest movement in the future – which isn’t the case now, 8,000 protesters in a city of 12 million is nothing – I suspect nationalists will play a big role in it.

***

Two questions

  1. In your opinion, what are the most important politcal challenges facing our country and how can those challenges can be adress?
  2. What should the federal government’s top three priorities be in setting a sound foreign policy vital to our interest?

(1) The lack of a clearcut succession mechanism is a serious problem. Putin after Crimea has become sort of what the poli-sci types call a “charismatic leader,” so his own power is quite secure, but you can’t say the same for the beigeocratic bugmen who make up his entourage from Medvedev on down. Hopefully he can groom an adequate replacement in his remaining years as President.

(2) It all boils down to this: Be smarter.

pushkov-need-to-be-smarter

Alexey Pushkov: “Russia invested $200bn in Ukraine’s economy in the past 20 years, the US – $5bn in the “development of democracy.” Looks like we didn’t invest correctly. Important lesson.”

The lack of a clearcut succession mechanism is a serious problem. Putin after Crimea has become sort of what the poli-sci types call a “charismatic leader,” so his own power is quite secure, but you can’t say the same for the beigeocratic bugmen who make up his entourage from Medvedev on down. Hopefully he can groom an adequate replacement in his remaining years as President.

What do you think might happen if Putin fails to produce a successor in time (for one reason or another)? Are there any political elites or oligarchs who might be plotting an aggressive move to be executed against Putin (if his support wanes over time) or shortly after him suddenly stepping down (ill health, death, or something else)? Maybe someone in the military or siloviki? Indeed, the lack of any clear mechanisms will cause chaos, which will be an opportunity for some.

I am just as skeptical about the prospects of an internal coup against Putin as about the prospects of a color revolution (detailed article about this).

Putin’s approval rating hasn’t consistently dipped below 60% since late 1999. Any event or development that brings it down into dangerous territory is likely to be so unexpected and traumatic that little could be meaningfully predicted about it. If Putin steps down due to “life” reasons (e.g. ill health), Medvedev would be the immediate logical successor. He will get by in the short to medium term, I suppose, though being much less popular and charismatic than Putin his position will be shakier.

***

How much of a role did the US have in the Russian troubles in the 90s? Mostly talking about the domestic problems. Aside from their monetary support of Yelstin in the 1996 election, can’t think of any nefarious actions, while some claim that the CIA conspired with the oligarchs to destroy the country, and then with the Chechens to destroy it again, and so on. From what I’ve read, the US (as a whole, with the exception of some officials including presidents) was mostly disinterested in Russian domestic problems, leaving it to its own problems.

Do you think that if the US managed to execute a Marshall plan-style aid for Russia back then, it would have been a better place now?

I think US role in that is overdone in “patriotic” Russian propaganda. Most of the damage was either self-inflicted (the kleptocratic nature of the privatizations), or inevitable (reintroducing markets after 60 years of central planning – you can turn a fish into a fish stew, but turning a fish stew into a fish is harder, as the economists joked).

To be sure, the oligarchs pretty much were Western agents of influence, but I agree with you that the dominant US policy towards Russia was disinterest.

Russian opinion towards the US was extremely positive in the early 1990s, through to the war against Serbia. There were even serious considerations of pursuing NATO membership through to the early 2000s. If there ever was an opportunity to draw Russia within the Euro-Atlantic orbit and preempt a Sino-Russian alliance, it was then. Instead, Washington D.C. considered itself the victory in the Cold War and chose to expand NATO (a policy opposed by both George Kennan and Henry Kissinger).

***

Do you think Lenin will be buried? How do you expect the 100th anniversary of his revolution will be “commemorated” in Russia?

Lenin was a traitor, so if his body has to be disposed of in some way, it should be cremated and scattered to the four winds.

That said, it does have some historical value as the oldest well preserved body in the world, so perhaps it could be moved to an outskirt of Moscow. Maybe the commies could crowdfund a “shrine” of some sort there.

***

If Vladimir Zhirinovsky had a daughter named Martine could she lead the LDPR to power?

Martine Lebedeva would be a good name for a video game anti-heroine.

***

Political Theory

Any favorites among right-wing thinkers from nineteenth century? Do you think that, say, Pobedonostev still holds water today as an actual political philosopher, or he should be read from purely historical POV? Name your three favorite russian philosophers, right-wing or not.

I haven’t studied Pobedonostev in any great depth, but I’m not enarmored with him; too often he seems to adopt egregiously reactionary positions just for, well, the heck of it.

I do recall him having some good thoughts on how the mass media operates, rushing to print anything without fact-checking (#fakenews?). But his proposed solutions tended to be antagonistically authoritarian, and some were outright crazy, like his arguments against mass schooling.

Favorite 3 Russian philosophers:

  1. Ivan Ilyin
  2. Vladimir Vernadsky
  3. Nikolay Berdyaev

***

What’s your take on classic Moldbug writings from 2008-2013, and separately, on current state of neoreactosphere?

I am not a big fan of Moldbug.

For instance, he not only denies AGW, but also seems to be under the impression that this makes him some sort of dissident against the “weaponized memeplex of Hypercalvinist Atheo-Oecumenic conspiracy,” as opposed to just subscribing to one of the tenets of Conservatism Inc. (USA).

As for his big idea, neocameralism – dividing up sovereignty into shares to be bought up by Silicon Valley oligarchs? Congratulations, neoreactionaries – you’ve just handed the SJWs absolute political power on a platter.

My view on NRx (in its original formulation) is that it was just libertarians trying to deal with the fact that the average person has an IQ of 100. Since I was never a libertarian, it never appealed to me all that strongly, despite certain sympathies for it. To be sure, there was also an “ethnonationalist” strain in NRx, but my impression is that it has since pretty much merged into the Alt Right (as Michael Anissimov predicted a couple of years back).

***

Let me just say that I greatly value your blogging over the years. It’s a breath of fresh air. Western coverage of Russia is 100% propaganda but the simpletons over at RT are not much better. I realise your biases – you’re open about them – but I much prefer that over feigned ‘neutrality’ which always end up in a monotone demonisation.

Now to my question. Putin strikes me as less of a nationalist than an imperialist . An imperialist believes in a larger, over-arching idea. Rome went from being a nation-state to an Empire, and being “roman” moved from an ethnic concept to a universal concept. Same is true with America.

In my view, if you’re a Russian nationalist, then you should be against imperialism. This isn’t to say that you don’t want Russia to be strong(which is often confused with being an imperialist by naïve people). Because only nationalism will preserve the Russian nation(see the Central Asian immigration problem).

So, with such a large preamble, do you A) agree with my characterisation of Putin and B) what do you think are the chances of purely ethnic Russian(with some allowances for other ethnicities, as long as they meld into the larger Russian core) nationalism? I’m thinking post-Putin mostly given that he is in his mid-60s and is unlikely to change.

I am a Russian nationalist, but I subscribe to the concept of the triune Russian nation – i.e., of Great Russians, Little Russians, and White Russians – as the nation-building core of a prospective “Big Russia.”

This implicitly demands the eventual reunification of the Russian lands – not as an imperial project, but a nation-(re)building one.

The most “imperial” aspects of Russia are (1) Chechnya/Ingushetia/Dagestan and (2) Central Asia, both of which were only brought within the Russian Empire in the middle of the 19th century. And I am indeed lukewarm about whether or not the former should remain within Russia, and am certainly opposed to any significant degree of integration with the latter (not least for demographic reasons: There are about now as many young Central Asians as there are ethnic Russians).

With that out of the way, to answer your specific questions:

(A) Putin is an imperialist, a nationalist, as well as a conservative, a liberal, a liberal-conservative, a patriot, a sovok, an opportunist, and so forth. His modus operandi has always been to balance between different political and ideological factions.

(B) Support for this strain of nationalism is certainly growing – as of the latest polls, “Russia for [ethnic] Russians” enjoys about 50% support, and that viewpoint is relatively far more prevalent amongst the younger generations.

***

Geopolitics

Who will take power next in Ukraine? Do you think the Kremlin’s decision to take a passive approach will be vindicated? My impression is that Ukraine is a bit of a dumpster fire at the moment, which will make anyone who steps inside regret it. But then, vigorous action might have and might yet restore the status quo ante of a reasonably large and friendly buffer state (minus west Ukraine).

I speculated about developments in Ukraine here. There’s a possibility that Tymoshenko is mounting a slow-motion coup against Poroshenko with the help of Turchinov, Kolomoysky, and his pet far right batallions.

I unenthusiastically supported Minsk II at the time, however I think since then its detractors have been proven right – as of Q4 2016, the Ukrainian economy was growing by close to 5% (after all, even Ukraine has to hit bottom at some point). That said, Trump’s election victory is an unexpected wild card that may yet rescue the day, and Ukrainian nationalists have proved to be reliably helpful.

restore the status quo ante
friendly buffer state

Pick one. Pre-Maidan Ukraine was not friendly.

Yes, this is true. Yanukovych only turned to EEU at the last moment, right after running an extensive pro-EU campaign. Genius!

The demographics in Ukraine are also very unfavorable in terms of attitudes towards Russia. The Far West is growing vigorously – it has some of the highest fertility rates in Europe – whereas the Donbass was in a true death spiral even before the war.

Moreover, even I can sympathize with Ukrainians who don’t want their country to be a buffer state. While both the EU and Russia can sell tantalizing (if unrealistic) visions of what is possible – TyschaVDen’ to the west, space race victory to the east – literally like, nobody, wants to be a “buffer” between a bunch of gayropean degenerates and sovok cretins. :)

***

What is your opinion on the syrian intervention and how much longer in your opinion will we stay in the country?

I initially supported it on the theory that its goals were to provide cheap real life training for the Russian Air Force; secure itself a couple of useful bases in the MENA region; use it as a bargaining chip with the US in future discussions about spheres of influence in Eurasia.

I have since become more skeptical about it. There is now a much larger degree of involvement, including ground involvement, and it seems like Russia is taking its own rhetoric about fighting the terrorists in Syria so as not to have to fight them in Russia itself seriously. That said, I still support it, though I now have major reservations about the dangers of overextension.

If there is no further substantial US intervention, I expect Syria to be eventually divided between the Syrian government west of the Euphrates, and Kurdistan east of it, maybe by 2019-20. They will come to some kind of confederal arrangement. If however the neocons win out and move forwards with HRC’s no fly zone ideas, who knows what will happen. Nothing good, that’s for certain.

***

What’s the general sentiment towards Germany? What do Russians think about Germany today and how much did the feelings towards Germany change after our relations took a change for the worse recently? Also, what do you think would need to happen to better the German-Russian relations?

(1) Were generally good until 2014. I can’t find polls on Levada, but I would imagine Russian opinion of Germany tracks that of the EU, which was consistently higher than opinion of the US, but converged after 2014.

(2) AfD comes to power in Germany. Khodorkovsky comes to power in Russia.

More realistically, if the US goes full neocon and goes gallivanting on Middle East adventures again. There are committed Atlanticists in Germany like Julian Roepcke, but they are still a minority. German assessments of US trustworthiness have already plummeted from ~60% under Obama to close to 20% after Trump (similar to the current figures for Russia), and especially if the SPD takes back power and anyone other than Macron or Hamon win in France, I could just about see the reformation of the Paris/Berlin/Moscow bloc that opposed the Iraq War. Still, it’s a huge longshot.

Thank you! Military misadventures of the US are the most realistic possibility for an improvement in my eyes, too. But such an outside influence wouldn’t be a very substantial one and also may only be short lived.

Still, it’s a bit paradox that while the “West” seems to be united in its condemnation of and mistrust towards Russia, Germany is building NordstreamII and some german lower rank politicians like Seehofer keep traveling to Moscow, seemingly to keep relations from dropping too low. I think Germany is caught in the middle, having to appease its main and most influential ally, the US, while trying to maintain some contact with Russia and access to the Russian market on which can be build upon in the future, if the situation improves and allows for it.

A last note on why I asked my question… I was very moved by Putin’s speech at the German Bundestag in 2001 and felt like the vision of a shared EU/Russian market, common security policy and general cooperation between the EU and what is now the EEU would have been a true path to stability and prosperity for our region and most of the world and it saddens me very much that this vision is more or less dead now.

***

What do you think of use of military force to achieve Russian goals? Syria seems to me to be a success, regardless of many possible concerns, however instances like Georgia and Ukraine seem to be very much a mixed bag. In short – was it worth it, and was there a viable alternative?

Georgia – Russian peacekeepers were directly attacked, no choice but to respond forcefully.

Ukraine – Crimea was an undisputed success that saved it from Donbass’ sad fate. If anything, a timely Russian large-scale intervention in early 2014 would have resulted in far fewer overall deaths and suffering.

Syria – See here.

***

Technology

Will Russia return to the cutting edge of space exploration (and/or exploitation, colonization, etc.) technology in the near future?

How does the Russian military stack up against the US and China when it comes to the space domain?

No. In fact, I expect Russia to continue slipping behind.

Ultimately, there is only so much $3.5tn economy and $3bn Roskosmos budget can sustain versus a $20tn economy (USA, China) and a $35bn NASA budget/$6bn and rapidly growing Chinese space budget.

That said, I don’t expect space colonization to occur on any substantial scale in this century, Musk’s rhetoric regardless.

***

As a transhumanist myself I don’t really understand how transhumanism and nationalism mixed together in you. The idea of transhumanism transcends the ideas of nations, races and even the human nature. Technological evolution should unite the humanity and as long people become more and more connected today with each other – the ideas of national goverments and nations will be rendered oblosete with time.

Good question.

Very legitimate one, of course. I am sure that once we get to computer superintelligence or CRISPR ourselves up to 175 average IQs, the world will become thoroughly cosmopolitan (support for tolerance, open borders, free trade, etc. tends to increase with IQ).

Problem #1 – developing those technologies takes brains. Elite brains. “Smart fractions,” as they’re known in the psychometric literature. As well as the appropriate technological growth-friendly institutions, which again need a certain level of average national IQ to maintain.

Problem #2 – the evidence suggests that mass immigration from the Third World has negative effects on average national IQ. There is also good recent economic research that suggests that immigrants tend to carry over their home country cultural attitudes, with negative impacts on the quality of institutions in the host countries. See Garett Jones.

Can you envision the US or Japan (average IQ ~100) launching a singularity? It doesn’t seem entirely implausible.

Can you envision Brazil or Indonesia (average IQ ~85) launching a singularity? Sub-Saharan Africa (average IQ ~70)? Seems rather less likely.

As the neoreactionaries say, you can’t cultivate gardens without walls. We don’t know what kind of smart fraction ingenuity would be necessary for the biosphere to complete its transition into a disembodied noosphere. As such, it makes sense to play it safe.

Thank you for broad answer! Technological singularity is my dream. I wish would live long enough only to see the start of it. I have limited knowledge about general AI and even less about gene alteration technology, but guts of the computer engineer say that achieving artificial or virtual intelligence is faster way to help humanity to solve difficult problems. Only after development of such system humanity would reach the level when they will “gene-engineer” the humanity itself. Putting it simply – be smart enough to become smarter first and use this knowledge later.

Sometimes I think that sometimes society and technology develops way ahead of human basic behavior – eat, dominate and multiply – and that creates problems we have worldwide.

***

Economics

Russia’s economic growth 2000-2008: how much is luck and how much is sound fiscal management/ macroeconomic policy? I find this to be a fundamental question when it comes to assessing Putin’s legacy.

Russia’s future economic growth: will Putin be able to deliver solid numbers or do you agree with me that the preferable route for Russia going forward would be to be led by liberal reformists such as Medvedev/Kudrin?

EEU: Does it make sense for Russia economically? Should it continue to be pursued for geopolitical purposes? Bonus: should Russia seek closer ties with Europe or do it’s own Eurasian thing?

Also, do you share my assessment that Putin’s domestic policy since 2008 of increased authoritarianism etc has been a bad thing and that there is a need for a change in direction?

(1) Russia did about average for the ex-Soviet region – much better than Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, most of the Central Asian states; about the same as two of the “Baltic tigers,” Latvia and Lithuania; and worse than Estonia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan.

Oil production in the latter two greatly increased relative to the peak Soviet period, whereas Russia’s only recovered to where they were. It might have done better without hasty corruption-wracked privatizations; even star reformer Poland didn’t rush with them, and they did very well. Even just doing what Belarus did would have probably been better. Their GDP stopped falling around 1995. OTOH, it wasn’t a total disaster like Ukraine. I don’t know if the Estonian example is extendable to Russia given its status as a tiny entrepot.

(2) What does “reform” even mean? Russia is now 40th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ratings. I call that successful reform.

Then there is the “cult of reform” which involves installing pro-Western yesmen into power for a temporary bump to the stockmarket in return for selling state assets for pennies on the dollar, unilateral geopolitical concessions, etc.

Kudrin once went on record calling on Russians to drink more vodka for the good of the budget. Vodka bingeing is the leading cause of premature mortality in Russia. I don’t think Russia needs “economic geniuses” like that, regardless of the opinions of Davos bugmen.

(3) I supported the EEU when it appeared to be something around which Russia could return to its older borders through peaceful economic integration. Since then it has started to look more like a mechanism to send cheap labor to Russia, styming automation, suppressing wages, helping Central Asian sovok dictators stay in power, and perhaps eventually turning Russia into Greater Turkestan. I support a wall with Central Asia and the regathering of the Russian lands.

(4) “Bonus: should Russia seek closer ties with Europe or do it’s own Eurasian thing?”
Meaningless question. Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong. Europe is a geographical expression. – Bismarck. For instance, even today there are huge differences in attitudes towards Russia, from Russophobic Swedes to Russophilic Italians.

(5) I don’t have any cardinal disagreements with the setup of the Russian political system, though there are certainly many specific points of disagreement (e.g. the lack of a clear succession mechanism; the undeniably high levels of corruption within the elites; etc).

Thank you for the reply.

1) This does not really answer my question. Basically, how much credit can Putin take for Russia’s fast economic growth? His critics would say he simply “got lucky” as he was able to export expensive oil and gas.

2) I have noted the progress in the “doing business” ranking. However, how significant is this in practice? By “reform”, I mean modernisation and diversification away from energy dependence. The govt seems to have largely failed in this regard – would you agree?

4) Andrei Tsygankov divides Russia’s political class into three ‘schools’: Westernisers, statists and civilisationists. Westernisers (Medvedev, Kudrin etc) perceive Russia as a “European” country and argue that Russia should join the ranks of Western countries and seek closer ties with the EU and disregard Eurasian integration initiatives – essentially, become as “normal” a European state as it can.

5) What about heavy state ownership of the media? On corruption – is it fair to say that Putin does not appear to have done enough? Are you familiar with any of the intricacies of it – ie how difficult would it be to actually “clean up” Russia and get it to Northern European levels of corruption? Saakashvili appears to have managed to do something like this in Georgia, for all his flaws.

(1) The point that I tried to make, perhaps unsuccessfully, is that this is a very hard question that might be impossible to answer without rewinding history. Perhaps Russia could have done a bit better – though not necessarily through “Western approved” methods, as Belarus showed – but it’s also easy how it could have gone considerably worse (see Ukraine).

(2) The ease of business rankings seem to be pretty important in that (a) they are objective, unlike many other indices, such as the CPI; (b) businesspeople pay a lot attention to it; (c) n=1, but it syncs with my own impressions that the Russian bureaucracy has improved, if from a very low base.

Consider diversification practically, instead of as a slogan. Since Russia produces as much oil as Saudi Arabia, diversification away from it is not easy, just as it is not for, say, Norway, or Australia (both fully developed countries with large natural resource sectors). Unlike, say, Saudi Arabia, Russia does have a substantial manufacturing base – comparable in scope to that of France, Italy, India, and Brazil. In my opinion, the problem with the Russian economy isn’t so much that there’s no diversification beyond oil and gas – there is – but that it tends to be technologically underdeveloped.

(4) There is a difference in becoming a “normal European country” (which is good, and something that Russia has been doing anyway, not unsuccessfully as was pointed out by Treisman & Schleifer as early as 2003) and pursuing European integration, which right now is akin to boarding a sinking ship, and was never a realistic option for Russia anyway.
(5) “What about heavy state ownership of the media?”

The (realistic) alternative is ownership by oligarchs who wish their own and pro-Western agendas. Here’s the famous quote on this from Pelevin (only in Russian, unfortunately):

“On corruption – is it fair to say that Putin does not appear to have done enough? Are you familiar with any of the intricacies of it – ie how difficult would it be to actually “clean up” Russia and get it to Northern European levels of corruption?”

Yes, that’s fair. He is far too easy on corrupt members of his entourage. Which, frankly, is most or all of them.

That said, I am very skeptical that Russia can “solve” corruption for a variety of historical (both Tsarist Russia and USSR failed to), comparative (Italy, Greece, etc. haven’t come anywhere near Northern European standards, despite decades of institutional convergence by dint of EU membership), and cultural/biocultural (see hbdchick’s theories on the Hajnal Line) reasons.

Obviously we should aim to become better, but expectations should be kept realistic. I am pretty sure that liberal appetites for corruption are constrained only by their own lack of access to power, not ethics, and besides, Ukraine next door has now – twice! – demonstrated that color revolutions do nothing for improving corruption.

“Saakashvili appears to have managed to do something like this in Georgia, for all his flaws.”
Commented on this here:

“6% of Georgians reported paying a bribe in the past year in 2004, the first year of Saakashvili’s Presidency, and before his reforms could reasonably be expected to have taken effect; in 2013, the last year of his President, it was 4%. An improvement, sure, but not a particularly radical one. Actual opinion polls by Transparency International suggest that lowlevel corruption was not a big problem in Georgia pre-Saakashvili, and its reduction under him could just as easily have been a simple matter of the general withering away of the state’s regulatory agencies under his libertarian reforms. For instance, the near wholesale removal of university tuition subsidies – essential for democratic access to higher education in a country as poor as Georgia – led to a plunge in tertiary enrollment by almost a third relative to the early-to-mid-2000s. Fewer students automatically translates to fewer bribes for grades. These examples can be extended indefinitely: Less contact with the state automatically leads to “lower” corruption. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “good” in all cases.”

Share of exports does not equal level of dependency. Natural resources may make out a large part of Norwegian exports, but they siphon only a very small percentage​ of this income into the state budget (<4% per annum). Russia has clearly taken a bigger hit from the recent crisis than many other energy exporters.

It seems I may have fallen prey to the myth of Saakashvili’s ingenuity on this front. How come Georgia’s level of corruption was already so low? Did they not go through the same decade of looting during the 90′s? In any case, does Georgia’s relative similarly to Russia (in terms of history and culture) not suggest that Russia should be able to reach a similar level?

The revelations by Navalny suggest something bordering on complete apathy towards corruption on the part of the Russian elites, wouldn’t you agree? You don’t really see the same level of – let’s face it – looting among the leaders of less corrupt countries. This leads me to suspect they are ultimately responsible for the high levels of corruption.

On the topic of inequality – I assume you agree it is a significant problem in Russia. Do you see any remedies for it? Would you favour additional Khodorkovsky-style, let’s call it, “acquisitions” by the state? Russia appears to be in quite a unique position in that it could massively improve its level of inequality by dealing only with a few select individuals. Again, my suspicion is that the political elite much prefers the current situation, wherein it enjoys free access to these looted assets.

I wasn’t aware there was any unified consensus on what exactly constitutes oil & gas dependency (i.e. share of the budget, share of exports, share of GDP, or some combination of the three).

But speaking of the budget… The share of oil & gas in the consolidated budget is now 21%, so I don’t think the situation is exactly catastrophic. Ultimately, despite the recent collapse in oil prices, the Russian budget has avoided slipping deep into the red.

I don’t think Georgia is similar to Russia at all. It is Orthodox Christian, but otherwise they speak a totally different language, belong to another (older) civilization, are genetically distinct, etc. It is also much more rural. Don’t think its very extendable to Russia at all.

Re-corruption. Mostly agreed. I would also note that there are different kinds of corruption, e.g.:

  • Everyday corruption – high by European standards though not an outlier (not only Ukraine but Romania, Hungary, Lithuania are similar); seems to be constant under Putin.
  • Business corruption (e.g. pay to get construction permit) – high by European standards though not outlier; massively improved according to World Bank Enterprise Surveys under Putin.
  • Elite corruption – very hard to measure – not exactly like you can poll them on this, like you can random individuals and businesses – but seems to be very high; trends hard to ascertain, though my guess would be that the situation is modestly better than in the 1990s, but hasn’t seen any major improvement under Putin.

Re-inequality. The political elite as such, though wealthy, doesn’t enjoy access to most of those “looted assets.” They mostly belong to the oligarchs who became rich off the 1990s privatizations, and who were explicitly told to stay out of politics (Khodorkovsky disobeyed).

Should those oligarchs be expropriated? I don’t know. On the other hand, it might frighten businesspeople and discourage longterm investment (the standard economists’ argument). On the other hand, it’s not as if they don’t deserve it, and so long as this issue remains unresolved, the consequences of privatization will remain a potential source of political illegitimacy.

I wasn’t aware there was any unified consensus on what exactly constitutes oil & gas dependency (i.e. share of the budget, share of exports, share of GDP, or some combination of the three).

I don’t think one exists, hence my objection to going simply by “share of GDP”.

But speaking of the budget… The share of oil & gas in the consolidated budget is now 21%, so I don’t think the situation is exactly catastrophic.

That doesn’t seem too bad. However, I wonder what the number would be if you included indirect income from the oil and gas sector – ie payroll taxes on employees and even the economic activity generated by their spending (this isn’t measurable, but I’m sure some estimates could be generated). This could be quite significant simply given how much more profitable this sector is than other sectors of the Russian economy.

I don’t think Georgia is similar to Russia at all. It is Orthodox Christian, but otherwise they speak a totally different language, belong to another (older) civilization, are genetically distinct, etc. It is also much more rural. Don’t think its very extendable to Russia at all.

I can see how there are certain differences, but I don’t see why they should result in such a disparity re corruption levels. You also have to factor in the 70 years spent as part of the same union. IQ levels and GDP per capita also point in Russia’s favour in this sphere (though the latter point may be negated by the “resource curse” argument).

I find your distinction between different types of corruption useful. This leads me to believe that “elite corruption” (what I guess you could also term “inequality”) is the real problem here. This, coincidentally, appears to be the domain over which Putin should be able to exert the most influence.

I’m not sure if this is so much about the political elite, in general, as about the small clique surrounding Putin. As Navalny’s most recent work revealed, the oligarchs’ assets appear to be largely at the disposal of this inner circle. For example, Usmanov gifted Medvedev his personal homes and allowed him to stay in his residence​ in Italy. Why give that up?

Even if Putin did want to break the piggy bank this would be an extremely risky (even potentially lethal) project, as the remaining guys would do anything they can to protect their assets. However, desperate times call for desperate measures and Putin will need to maintain his “performance legitimacy” somehow.

It will be interesting to see how Putin’s popularity develops going forward. Any ideas? I assume it can only go so low post-Crimea, but the lacklustre economic predictions are not very reassuring. Absent regular foreign policy victories (which is hardly a reliable political strategy despite recent successes), I suspect there may be clouds lining up in Putin’s horizon. If there’s one thing Navalny’s documentary showed, it’s that people are eyeing the oligarchic piggy bank and they may grow increasingly unhappy with Putin if he does not let more of its contents flow into their pockets.

I kind of do and kind of don’t buy the economic argument against re-acquisition of assets. On the one hand, I believe it could be done in a way that would clearly single out the top 6-7 cats. These would be distinct from foreign investors in that they will be natives and their assets will have formerly belonged to the state and often be related to natural resources. On the other hand, I guess you can always trust clueless foreign investors with zero local knowledge to completely fail to understand what’s going on and proceed to get their panties in a twist.

Sure, the indirect effects of the oil & gas sector certainly has positive downstream effects – certainly inflates consumption to some extent – though of course similar considerations would apply to all large per capita oil & gas exporters.

Pretty much agreed with everything you say about corruption here. that seems to describe reality.

I am actually quite optimistic about economic growth in the next 5 years, barring any major political or geopolitical shocks. We’ve had a two year period of gloom, but this period also saw a tight monetary and fiscal policy, the taming of inflation, and a demographic shock as the numbers of workers entering the labor force plummeted (minimum fertility in Russia was in 1999). But the negative aspects above should attenuate soon, while the positive ones stand the Russia economy in good stead for a strong recovery in the near future.

I’m not categorically against re-appropriation. As you say, it’s not entirely obvious that the reaction will be all that bad, and certainly few people would feel sorry about the likes of Usmanov or Abramovich getting their (belated) just desserts.

I did not think of the demographic factor. I wonder if it will be sufficient to bring about decent growth figures. I wish I shared your optimism, but I feel like significant structural changes are needed to see anything above 2% growth.

***

Which sectors you believe are likely to become future drivers of Russian economy?

Probably the current mainstays: Oil & gas, steel, the military-industrial complex.

I am actually pretty pessimistic on the long-term prospects of the Russian economy, though not for the usual reasons such as demographics and corruption. Automation in manufacturing is extremely low, scientific output is minimal however you try to measure it, on virtually any hi-tech metric from numbers of supercomputers to numbers of high-thoroughput sequencers, Russia is on the level of small European countries like Sweden and Switzerland.

Despite a few areas of excellence such as nuclear power, Putin’s preference for football stadiums (and the Rotenbergs’ wallets) over R&D funding is increasing Russia’s technological lag, and I’m concerned even the MIC will simply be unable to compete with the likes of the US or China past c.2025.

Considering Putin’s past job of “acquiring” foreign technology in the DDR, he must be aware of Russia’s technological weakness.

What are the prospects of reindustrialisation and foreign investment in Russia considering the collapse in oil prices, Western sanctions as well as more positive economics aspects such as a cheaper Ruble and turning to non-Western sources of investment.

Edit: How well will raising trade barriers work for encouraging domestic manufacturing like how agriculture is benefitting now.

He’s no doubt aware of it, and has even said as much (recall the nanotech initiative back around 2008? Or his promise of 20mn (?) hi-tech jobs in 2012? There was also, of course, Skolkovo. But none of these seem to have been particularly successful to my knowledge. Rosnano was handed over to Anatoly Chubais (LOL), who I think preceeded to invest most of it in Western startups, perhaps after skimming some off for himself.

I don’t know what Russia can do to change to radically improve the situation. Even the East-Central European states that have integrated with the EU haven’t developed strong hi-tech sectors; neither has Mediterranean Europe. It’s something that remains largely confined to the US, North-West Europe, Japan, and increasingly, China. Maybe its just a combination of superior human capital and/or institutions.

However, less money on show-off sporting events and more money for R&D would surely be a good start. There’s also a huge amount of bloat and corruption in Russia higher education, from university rectors to paid-for dissertations (they constitute approximately 10% of the total according to the Dissernet plagiarism detection organization). This must be tackled, but with Putin himself being the recipient of a fictive PhD, not to mention a good percentage of the Russian elites, that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Nationalism, Neoreaction, Politics, Russia, Ukraine 

hi-reddit-russia

It’s live here: https://www.reddit.com/r/russia/comments/66q52x/hi_rrussia_anatoly_karlin_writer_for_the_unz/

/r/russia is one of the best forums on the Internet for people interested in Russia.

You can reply in either English or Russian.

Most of the people there are basically Russian patriots, though considerably more socially liberal and better acquainted with the West than the Russian average. However, there are plenty of Communists, nationalists, and liberals there as well.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Interviews, The AK 

The results are in and YES has won a narrow 51.4% victory in the Turkish referendum on making the country into a Presidential republic.

This map I found (via Turkish Wikipedia) is the only one to show regional gradations. It shows the percentage of people voting NO.

map-turkey-referendum-2017

It is electorally very typical for Turkey, which consists of three main regional patterns: The rich, cosmopolitan, higher-IQ liberal elites on the western coast and around Ankara, who vote for the Kemalist CHP; the poorer, more religious Turkish conservatives in the Anatolian heartlands, who vote for Erdogan’s AKP and the nationalist MHP; and the impoverished, low-IQ Kurdish minorities in the south-east, who vote for their ethnic minority interest group party, the HDP.

The story of this referendum is that the liberal cosmopolitans and the Kurds joined forces, but failed to stymie Erdogan’s conservative Turkish majority.

Here is a map of the vote from overseas polling stations (via /u/nine6s):

map-turkey-referendum-2017-nine6s

Looks like German “magic dirt” did nothing to make Anatolian Gastarbeiters more liberal. They voted just like their cousins back home.

However, the Turks from the Anglosphere and Asia – most of whom are students, businessmen, etc. – mostly voted NO.

turkey-referendum-2017-observers Was there fraud? Plenty of videos that suggest it (e.g. 1, 2, 3). More suspeciously, the Supreme Elections Board decided to consider unstamped ballots valid, which is against the law. There may about 2.5 million of them, which would easily be enough to tip the election if they are significantly biased towards YES. EU observers were not happy (see their statement on the right). The CHP and HDP say they will be mounting a legal challenge, but with Erdogan having declared victory, it is unlikely anuthing will come out of it.

Brief geopolitical comment: I would note that Trump has rushed to congratulate Erdogan, whereas Putin has been conspicuous in his silence.

This supports the intuition I expressed a couple of days ago that this, in conjunction with Trump’s about-turn on Syria, presages nothing good for Russia.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Elections, Turkey 

I once wrote a long article about a Korean War II.

But this one chart tells essentually the same tale.

korean-military-balance

I suspect it will be a harder nut to crack than Iraq in 2003, or even 1991. It is an ultranationalist (not a Communist) regime with a formidable secret police, so you’re not going to be buying any generals off. North Koreans have higher IQs than Iraqis (so more competent), do not practice inbreeding (so more cohesive), and a have a lot more hills, mountains, and tunnels (which partially negate South Korean/American technological predominance).

Still, the gap is too vast for the ultimate result to be in doubt. (Unless China gets involved. Then things get complicated.)

And this is why it’s isn’t going to happen.

I do think that Kim Jong Un enjoys the good life, as do the elites he’s fostered in Pyongyang the past decade – according to Andrey Lankov, one of the foremost experts on North Korea, living standards are now far higher than during the grim 1980s or the dismal 1990s – and would prefer to keep things that way. If there is a limited strike on Nork nuclear facilities in the coming days, I doubt we will see anything more substantial than outraged rhetoric.

China will probably be just fine with that. There is very little love lost between Kim Jong Un and the current Chinese leadership. Xi Jinping recently noted that whereas his father had visited China four times, the son had yet to do so, which is a rather open criticism by demure Chinese standards. This was understandable, since Kim Jong Un has spent the last few years suppressing pro-Chinese factions in his country, including members of his own family (executed uncle, assassinated half brother). I suspect the Chinese are fine with Kim Jong Un receiving a demonstrative slapdown, and wouldn’t mind seeing his nuclear program set back a few years. After all, Beijing is considerably closer to Pyongyang than is Tokyo, to say nothing of Honolulu, and there is no telling what North Korea would do in a truly serious future crisis.

Why not get Donald “I Make the Best Deals” Trump to give Kim Jong Un a good beating, especially when he’s also offering to throw in some excellent trade deals for free. It’s a bargain!

 

I realize everyone is obsessed with North Kora right now, but the Turkish referendum that is set for April 16 may turn out to be even more significant.

Erdogan’s AKP and the MHP nationalists have proposed a set of amendments to the Turkish constitution that would remove the office of the Prime Minister, annul a ban on the President retaining membership of his political party, and vastly increase the Presidency’s power over the legislature and the judiciary. If these proposals are confirmed by the electorate, Turkey becomes an executive Presidency.

In the past week, “Yes” has assumed a lead, though that shouldn’t be weighed too heavily since these polls have been fluctuating widely. However, PredictIt currently gives a 68% chance of “Yes.” This tallies exactly with the odds given by major betting sites.

One curious aspect of Turkish politics is that the AKP is far friendlier towards Turkey’s 3 million Syrian immigrants than the Kemalist CHP, and Erdogan has even gone so far as to moot giving them citizenship – a suggestion that was not well received by most Turks. Another interesting thing I noted is that whereas the constitutional amendment is supported by the MHP leadership, some 65% of its rank and file are prepared to vote “No.”

This might hint at some very curious parallels with Russia. There, for instance, Zhirinovsky’s LDPR slavishly supports the Kremlin, and by extension its Eurasianist (read: Greater Turkestanization) project, even though its base are nationalist xenophobes who refuse to rent out their apartments to people from Central Asia and the Caucasus. I wonder if there is a similar dynamic at play in Turkey, with nationalist MHP voters being mostly opposed to Erdogan’s Ottomanist (read: Islamist-Arabization) project, but nonetheless feeling dutybound to support the Leader out of their authoritarian and neo-imperialist instincts, and hatred of the liberal elites in the cosmopolitan areas.

Anyhow, I suspect that “Yes” will be bad for Syria, and by extension, Russia’s goals in Syria (assuming there’s no convoluted 3D chess involved). Erdogan tilts towards the invade/invite end of the spectrum, and with his power becoming absolute in Turkey, he will have space to resume the “invade” part in Syria with greater vigor. Considering the sharp reversal in US-Russian relations over Syria in the past ten days, and Erdogan’s own unlimited propensity for treachery, I have dark forebodings that Putin might soon come to regret helping him survive the 2016 coup attempt.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Elections, Syrian Civil War, Turkey 

So it’s been a few days since the Syria Strikes, everyone and his dog have thrown in their two cents, and there has been a set of confusing and contradictory reactions from US officials and pretty much everyone else involved in this saga.

The more the contradictions pile on, the less clear the picture becomes.

Is it a “zrada”/betrayal? Is it 666D chess/clever plan? Or is everyone involved just a bunch of opportunists and/or bumbling morons?

And what is this all going to lead to?

podcast-3d-chess Let’s try to consider all these issues one by one. But first, for those of you who like podcasts, I have already participated in two where I go indepth into these issues

***

What Happened?

On April 4, a toxic gas engulfed the town of Khan Shaykhun, which is occupied by Tahrir al-Sham, an Al-Nusra offshoot (which in turn stems from Al Qaeda). There are many reasons to doubt that Assad was responsible, as I argued from the outset. Since then, the reasons for skepticism have only increased in number. For instance, see this Duran summary of a 14 page report by MIT Professor Theodore Postol on the Syria chemical attacks (full document also attached).

In response, without any sort of investigation, UN mandate, or even Congressional approval, Trump ordered a 59 Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Airbase, though not before warning Russia. This happened while having a chocolate cake dessert with Xi Jinping.

Opinions vary on the success of the missile strikes. At first, there were claims that 23 of the 59 missiles hadn’t even hit anything, which led to theories that either the failure had been intentional on Trump’s part, or that they have been partially intercepted by Syrian air defences. (Technical failure was very unlikely, since even in the early 1990′s Tomahawks had a failure rate of 5%, whereas here it was allegedly closer to 40%). I do not buy the first theory that it was an intentional failure. I can hardly even see how you could communicate an order like that to the military, expect it to be carried out, and not have it be leaked.

Incoming Tomahawks fly close to the ground, making them mostly invisible to ground based radar, and to my knowledge Russia does not have a continuous AWACS presence over the Syrian skies which conventional air defense systems need to take the Tomahawks out. As such, if the claims are true, I believe the likeliest explanation is the presence of a Russian EW weapon within the vicinity of Shayrat Airbase. This would be consistent with the fact that even the missiles that did get through failed to do damage; i.e., their flight path had still been affected to some extent, making them deviate from their planned course and as a result less effective.

On the other hand, more recent analyses from the past few days by ISI and War is Boring (h/t Reiner Tor) indicate a 58/59 success rate, with flights from Shayrat being sharply curtailed in the aftermath.

Reactions

syria-strike-response

politicians-behind-syria-strikes US Domestic: Defense Secretary James Mattis has raised the possibility of establishing a NFZ in Syria, and WH spokesman Sean Spicer bracketed Russia in with the Axis of Evil (2017 edition) – Syria, Iran, and the DPRK – which opposed its actions in Syria. Steve Bannon and the “nationalist” wing of Trump’s administration opposed the strike on Syria, but he has been gradually losing influence to Jared Kushner and the “neocon” wing. For instance, Katie McFarland, a Michael Flynn protege, was fired from the NSC just a few days ago and demoted to being the Ambassador to Singapore. There has even been talk of a 150,000 troop US ground intervention in Syria pushed by new NSC head Herbert McMaster and David Petraeus, though this extreme variant was apparently opposed by both Bannon and Kushner, and has already been shot down by Trump.

US International: The US and UK led the vanguard in condemning Assad’s gassing of his own people and in affirming Russian culpability in it. Nikki Haley has been busy waving photos of gassed children in the UN. Rex Tillerson and British FM were pushing for new sanctions against Syria and Russia at a meeting of the G7 before the latter’s flight to Moscow. At the G7 meeting, there was talk that Tillerson would present a carrot and stick ultimatum to Moscow: Drop support for Assad, and get reinvited back into the G8; or face newer sanctions (as it was, they failed to get European and Japanese support for the latter). The summit between Rex Tillerson and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov has just ended on an ambiguous note. Tillerson is ambivalent on Ukranie, even going so far as to describe the Russia’s incorporation of Crimea as “certain moves by Russia”, which segues with his skepticism at the G7 meeting where he asked his European counterparts why American taxpayers should care about Ukraine. On the other hand, he continued to insist that Assad should step down, and that Russia should pressure him to do that.

Russia: Russia has opposed the strikes, with Putin saying that the US-Russian relationship has deteriorated – no mean achievement, considering where it was at under Obama. More to the point, Russia shut down the military communication channel in Syria with the US, which has already resulted in a reduction in US military overflights above Syria. Just recently, Russia blocked a Western-sponsored resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council; Bolivia voted with Russia, while China and two other countries abstained because of its reference to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which had previously been used by the West to carry through regime change in Libya in 2011 despite having reassured Russia it would do no such thing.

China: Chinese state media started attacking the strikes as soon as Xi Jinping returned from the US. However, in tandem with the US rerouting the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group towards North Korea, it has expressed a willingness to also strike against the DPRK if it crossed China’s “bottom line”, and has moved 150,000 troops to its border with the hermit kingdom [fake news]. In his turn, Trump has also adopted a more positive line on China, retreating from his prior threats to label it a currency manipulator and praising Xi Jinping for what at least what Trump saw as his cooperative spirit.

666D Chess

clever-planm

So you have a bewildering range of factors to consider when trying to fit all these events into any sort of internationally consistent framework:

(1) A domestic power struggle in the US between Bannonite nativists and Kushnerite globalists, which the latter faction is winning. Indeed, there is good evidence to believe that it is not long before Bannon is dismissed entirely, with Trump now claiming that he wasn’t that critical to his victory in the 2016 elections anyway.

msm-on-syria-strikes(2) The strikes enjoy bipartisan support, the support of the Mainstream Media, and the support of a majority of Americans (~50-55% support, 35-40% oppose).

(3) What at a minimum appears to be a serious disagreement between the US and Russia on Syria, with the former insisting that Assad has to go, and mooting the possibility of no fly zones – a prospect that many thought had fallen by the wayside with Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

(4) A surprisingly more accomodating US position on Ukraine – more so than that of the Europeans – though Tillerson has taken care to explicitly rule out any quid pro quo deals with Russia that tie Ukraine to Syria.

trump-norks(5) Though Chinese state media have reacted negatively to the US strike on Syria, they have been – at least rhetorically – a lot more cooperative on another brewing flashpoint, that of North Korea (see above). The Chinese have no great love for Kim Jong Un, who is rumored to be a Sinophobe and who had his uncle executed for trying to create a pro-Chinese political/economic faction within the DPRK.

On the other hand, the DPRK is a vital security concern for China – not so much perhaps the oft stated issue of the refugee flood should the regime fall (population of North Korea: 25 million; population of just the two regions adjoining it: 70 million), but because it could do without American military bases peppering the Korean peninsula all the way up to its border. More to the point, China has a mutual defense treaty with the DPRK from 1961 that it has continued to renew, despite festering disagreements between the two countries. Could China be… too accomodating of Trump? Is the US walking into some kind of trap?

So, so many things to consider.

***

Donald’s Game

It seems to me that the Trump administrations actions in recent days fall into three major narrative bins:

  • Zrada: Trump has subscribed to the neocon agenda, on account of deep state blackmail, political convenience, or perhaps because he never had a strong commitment to “America First” anyway;
  • 4 Chess: Trump is playing 666D interuniversal Teichmuller chess (or “clever plan”/chess combination, as we say in Russian) to win over his skeptics with a “short victorious war” and return to MAGA;
  • Drumpf: Trump is an inexperienced politician, or just a moron, and is making impulsive decisions on the fly.

Let’s consider the evidence for and against each of these in turn:

Zrada (Betrayal)

Trump has subscribed to the neocon agenda, on account of deep state blackmail, political convenience, or perhaps because he never had a strong commitment to “America First” anyway.

kushner-trump-meme This is the main reaction to Donald Trump on both the anti-imperialist Left and the Alt Right.

Points For

One Breitbart-endorsed version of this was that Trump was driven to fling his Tomahawks on account of Ivanka’s tears on account of the poor Syrian babies and children. While this might have been a factor – after all, Trump is known to be very close to his daughter – the idea that important decisions are made in such soap opera fashion still beggar belief, even adjusting for the continuing Latinization of American politics.

Perhaps closer to the truth is the observation in a recent WaPo article that Bannonism isn’t any good for the Trump brand, quoting one Republican operative as saying, “The fundamental assessment is that if they want to win the White House in 2020, they’re not going to do it the way they did in 2016, because the family brand would not sustain the collateral damage… It would be so protectionist, nationalist and backward-looking that they’d only be able to build in Oklahoma City or the Ozarks.” If you elect a merchant, I suppose you will get a merchant.

Another major consideration is the changes in cadres, which indicate a gradual purge of Bannonists from the government (Lewandowski, Manafort, Flynn, McFarland – with Gorka and Bannon himself now coming under the crosshairs), in favor of various neocons, Goldman Sachs globalists, and members of the Kushner clan.

cohen-israel-syria

Alongside the rehabilitation of the neocons, it has also been acquiring a much more explicitly Zionist administration. It is worth bearing in mind that Kushner himself is a Zionist, and that Trump has always been very forthright about his support for Israel – much more so than Obama. The Israelis have been returning the favor – Trump was always very popular in Israel, and Israeli politicians have expressed strong support for the Syria strikes. This is not surprising, since Israelis see a united Syria as a greater threat to them to a Balkanized Syria swarming with Islamists and ethnic militias.

Perhaps there were always plans to move ahead with removing Assad as soon as a convenient opportunity popped up, or maybe the percentage of neocons and Zionists reached a critical mass that tilted things in this direction. I don’t suppose it matters all that much.

Another version of this narrative is that the deep state has finally acquired some nuclear level “kompromat” on Trump, which it is using to blackmail him – for instance, one commenter here has suggested pedophilia, or an expensive drug habit. Or maybe there really is damning evidence of collusion with the Russian Occupation Government. Alternatively, maybe his family is being credibly threatened in some way. I suppose this is all possible, but I don’t think it’s all too likely, considering the diversity of other, more natural explanations.

Points Against

As early as a week ago, the Trump administration was open to Assad staying on as President of Syria. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat on good terms with Trump, paid a visit to Syria several weeks ago where she called on the US to stop arming terrorists, and just a week ago Rex Tillerson was saying that the “longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.” Nikki Haley went even further, noting that “our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out.” The sheer suddenness of this 180 turn might hint at its artificiality (666D Chess Theory).

It’s worth noting that even as of today the administration still hasn’t gone full neocon. James Mattis has recently affirmed that the defeat of Islamic State remains the first priority, and Trump clarified that the US will not be entering the Syrian Civil War. Note that Thomas L. Friedman, the globalist par excellence, is currently arguing for the US to let the Islamic State be to fight against the Syrian government on the pages of the New York Times. Anti-imperialists might bewail the neocon hijacking of the White House, but frankly, there’s still some ways to go before it plummets to the level of NYT-reading “educated mainstream.” It’s pretty depressing to think about, but in the postmodernist exhibition that is current American politics, where Antifa assaults Alt Right anti-war protests, a move to the “moderate center” implicitly involves adopting the language of interventionism.

All of which suggests a second possibility…

666D Interuniversal Teichmuller Chess

Trump is playing 666D interuniversal Teichmuller chess (or “clever plan”/chess combination, as we say in Russian) to win over his skeptics with a “short victorious war” and return to MAGA;

Points For

Let’s make one thing clear. Even if it turns out we were all ultimately cucked, there were many very good reasons why we were fans of the God-Emperor for so long. One of them was his consistency. Trump was advocating protectionism back in 1988. He condemned the bombing of Serbia back in 1999. Infamously now, he was a vociferous critic of intervention in Syria in 2013.

So it is wrong to say his opposition to invade/invite the world owes itself to “President Bannon.” He was America First for decades.

Moreover, Trump’s overtly Russophile sympathies during the campaign were completely unbecoming of a US politician, and while the gesture was appreciated by some, this stance almost certainly hindered him more than helped him. He was factually correct on Putin being popular and there being no evidence of him killing journalists, and he was right that the people of Crimea supported reunification with Russia (though since becoming President, he has demanded Russia return Crimea to Ukraine). He had no apparent reasons to do this from an electoral perspective, and yet he did it anyway.

Furthermore, the US military did warn the Russians they were about to strike Shayrat, though this shouldn’t be weighed too heavily as any Russian military casualties would have risked an outright escalation, which pretty much everyone but the very craziest neocons wants to avoid.

According to the 666D Chess theory, Trump struck Syria to win some support from the MSM and the Establishment at a time of sinking approval ratings, failures in healthcare and immigration policy, and the slow-burning scandal over his purported ties to Russia.

A good example is Mike Cernovich’s take:

cernovich-syria-4d-chess

Moreover, this would not be the first time Trump has… trumped his critics.

He mentioned he’d ban the burning of the American flag – the media rushed to show Leftists burning the American flag. He promoted the observation that many hate crimes were hoaxes – soon after, it emerged that the author of the threats against Jewish centers was a Black social justice writer for The Intercept who had been fired for making up sources. He claimed you wouldn’t believe what had happened in Sweden yesterday – we couldn’t believe what happened to Sweden tomorrow.

Perhaps what we are seeing this past week is just his most formidable “chess combination” yet, which will end in the most epic pwning of the media, the neocons, the bugmen in the moden history of the United States and the final draining of the Swamp in Washington D.C.

I suppose hope dies last.

Points Against

The first is the sheer scale of the changes in cadres (see Theory #1), and the broad range of campaign promises that Trump is going back on. For instance, just these past couple of days, he has reversed his positions on labeling China as a currency manipular (perhaps in exchange for its consent to a “short victorious war” missile salvo against the norks?), on Yellen’s future, on the Export-Import Bank, and on NATO, which he has suddenly decided is not “obsolete” after all.

Moreover, its worth noting that for the most part only two major groups of people still take this theory seriously:

(1) ROG conspiracy theoricists, such as Louise Mensch, in the style of “Putin’s puppet bombed Putin’s ally to deny that he is Putin’s puppet on Putin’s orders”:

mensch-rog-is-everywhere

(2) Trump cultists, such as Bill Mitchell:

mitchell-trump-clever-plan

mensch-war-with-russia The problem with the Louise Mensches is: At which point does this sort of argumentation invalidate itself? What can Trump do to conclusively demonstrate he is not Putin’s puppet? Firebombing Khmeimim Airbase? Dropping a nuke on Moscow? Not that she will be against any of that, mind… but presumably many of the Americans who would subsequently have to live in the Fallout universe might beg to differ.

The second group are basically unironic Trump cultists, like what /r/The_Donald has now become.

When the only people to believe in a hypothesis are Trump Nashists and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers, I will probably bet against the theory.

Moreover, as a Russian, I have good reason to be especially skeptical about “666D Chess” because we have had our version of it for the past three years, namely, Putin’s clever plan/mnogokhodovka (lit. “chess combination), a term used by state propagandists to explain and rationalize Kremlin decisions of dubious wisdom, such as the Minsk agreements with Ukraine and the intervention in Syria. At one point they were seriously arguing that Syria could be used as a lever to end Western sanctions, whereas if anything it resulted in pressure for more sanctions.

In real life, clever plans/mnogokhodovkas/666D chess in geopolitics simply never exists, at least in the ever more incredible and complex forms that would be needed to explain this past week.

That is because, in practice, a lot of politicians are not the wily grandmasters of their supporters’ imagination. They are just retards.

Which brings us to Theory #3:

Donald Drumpf

Trump is an inexperienced politician, or just a moron, and is making impulsive decisions on the fly.

The major piece of evidence in favor of this particular interpretation is that the Syria strikes were worse than a crime – they were a blunder.

Let’s compile a balance sheet.

Advantages:

  • Demonstrate US resolve, credibility; enforce the red line, unlike Obama.
  • Kill the Putin collusion theory – and in fairness, people outside the dickpix/Menschosphere have started talking less about it.
  • Increased support, at least for the time being, from neocons
  • … from the MSM (17/20 of the top outlets support the strikes).
  • … and from a modest majority of Americans, including Republicans.

Disadvantages:

  • Neocon support is temporary – you just know they’re slavering to backstab Trump if he ever again fails to be sufficiently hard on Russia.
  • The media has a momentum of its own and now that the first cracks have appeared in the administration’s stance against intervention, they will just keep piling on, no matter that Trump and Mattis have since clarified that they are not committed to pursuing regime change in Syria.
  • Adding fuel to the fire, as Putin himself has pointed out, the Syrian rebels now have a perverse incentive to stage further false flag attacks, in the sure knowledge that Trump will definitely no longer have any option but to respond with massive force.
  • Moreover, this will also now be used by the globalist wing of the war party as a sledgehammer to batter down what remains of Trump’s anti-immigration agenda. As Hillary Clinton now asks, if you’re going to bomb Syrians – and you certainly should – how could you justify not taking in their refugees? Bizarrely, the American Federation of Teachers has also seen it fit to make a political stand, supporting the missile strikes on Syria but also calling for Trump to open up the borders.
  • He has already soured his relationships with Europe (too reactionary), the Muslim world in general (too Islamophobic), Latin America (position on immigration, “bad hombres”), Iran (too neocon), and China (trade policy, up to the point of claiming they invented global warming to acquire a competitive advantage). Now he apparently also wants to add Russia, one of his few remaining fans other than Israel, to this list.
  • Moreover, adding Russia to his shit-list won’t exactly improve European or Chinese attitudes towards him; the Europeans will now just think he’s G.W. Bush II, while the Chinese will be looking to get him bogged down in some quagmire to free their own hands in the South China Sea. Pretty much the only country of any note that this will make happy is the Poroshenko regime in Ukraine, which had ironically done its best to help Trump lose the elections.
  • It will directly increase the likelihood of a serious military clash with Russia in the skies over Syria, which can go in all sorts of unexpected directions. The military hotline between the two countries in Syria has been turned off, and the Russians are beefing up Syria’s air defenses even further.
  • It has moved Iran and Russia closer together, with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov inviting his Syrian and Iranian counterparts to Moscow. There are also several summits planned between Putin and Xi Jinping; though they long predate the Syria strikes, it is likely that relations between the two countries will now move forwards at a faster rate.
  • While Trump did demonstrate “resolve,” of a sort, as Alexander Mercouris points out, it also exacted a cost in credibility – the ease and suddenness with which Trump has reversed course from accepting that Assad would remain Syria’s President one week and then attacking him the next is going to be making not just the Russians, but also the Europeans and Chinese, asking to what extent he can be trusted.
  • Trump’s enemies will continue to hate him, and to work towards his undermining through the #Russiagate scandal. Don’t respond – evidence he is in league with Putin. Respond – evidence that it’s to draw attention away from his ties with Putin.
  • Conversely, he has thrown many of his most principled and fervent supporters overboard. Greg Johnson puts it best in his essay for The Unz Review: “Never betray your friends to court the favor of your enemies. If you betray your friends, the most principled and perceptive among them will drop you, leaving only the delusional and venal. That is not a good trade, given that the approval you gain is bound to be fleeting and contingent, whereas the contempt and distrust you create will be permanent. The people you betrayed may come back to you out of sentimentality or self-interest, but their trust and respect will never return. They will always regard you as a traitor.
  • To be sure, this probably isn’t going to massively impact on Trump’s poll ratings anytime soon. However, while the people most disillusioned with him – committed anti-imperialists and Alt Righters – might not be numerically large, but they did a disproportionate amount of the gruntwork for his campaign, making memes real while Hillary Clinton banked on and failed with traditional tools like big sponsors and TV. There will be a lot less “high energy” come the 2020 elections, assuming that he even makes it that long.

As we can see, there are several times more negatives than positives to this decision. It was disastrous by any objecture measure

But for this very reason there is reason to believe that it was something born out of stupidy instead of mendacity (Theory #1) or questionable genius (Theory #2).

I have long been skeptical about liberal arguments as to Trump’s lack of intelligence. They seemed to be all to reminscent of liberals’ Dubya obsessions in the 2000s; though I was never a fan of G.W. Bush – my first “political” experience in life was marching against the Iraq War – the psychometric evidence seemed pretty clear that it wasn’t that he wasn’t so much stupid as a bad public speaker. So I pattern matched this experience to Trump.

It also didn’t tally with Trump’s achievement in increasing his wealth by two orders of magnitude, which – contrary to media tropes – he could not have done by simply “investing in the stockmarket” or some nonsense like that. Though Trump did have a head start thanks to daddy’s money, multiplying the fortune one hundred times over does usually require brains.

However, I will now admit that I might have… “misoverestimated” Trump.

Maybe he has started to suffer from dementia, or something, but just read his latest interview, where he was describing how he informed Xi Jinping of his attack on Syria while eating “the most beautiful” piece of chocolate cake. So cringeworthy:

TRUMP: But I will tell you, only because you’ve treated me so good for so long, I have to (INAUDIBLE) right?
I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do?

And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way. And I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you. This was during dessert.

We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing.

BARTIROMO: Unmanned?

Brilliant.

TRUMP: It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five. I mean look, we have, in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing.

Now we’re going to start getting it, because, you know, the military has been cut back and depleted so badly by the past administration and by the war in Iraq, which was another disaster.

So what happens is I said we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq and I wanted you to know this. And he was eating his cake. And he was silent.

BARTIROMO: (INAUDIBLE) to Syria?

TRUMP: Yes. Heading toward Syria. In other words, we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading toward Syria. And I want you to know that, because I didn’t want him to go home. We were almost finished. It was a full day in Palm Beach. We’re almost finished and I — what does he do, finish his dessert and go home and then they say, you know, the guy you just had dinner with just attacked a country?

BARTIROMO: How did he react?

TRUMP: So he paused for 10 seconds and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again. I didn’t think that was a good sign.

And he said to me, anybody that uses gases — you could almost say or anything else — but anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that young children and babies, it’s OK.

I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Maybe the guy’s a retard after all, and the more intelligent Trump supporters were just too proficient at coming up with “clever plans” to explain and rationalize his statements to notice the awning cognitive black hole in front of them.

I do realize this reflects very badly on them, and for that matter on me, but this interpretation is less pessimistic than Theory #1 and more credible than Theory #2.

There have been persistent comments throughout the past year to the effect that Trump is just the average of the last six people he has spoken to, and that as his crowd of nativist nationalists has been replaced with neocon bugmen these past few months, so he has started adopting many of the latter’s beliefs and talking points.

Maybe, as Audacious Epigone suggests, Trump should just spend more time retweeting Twitter shitlords again – just like he did in the golden days of the Trump Train in 2016.

What is to be Done?

If Theory #1 or Theory #3 are correct, then I am afraid we are going to see the formalization of neoconservatism as the guiding light of the Trump administration, alongside its globalist accoutrements.

Invade/invite to the max.

The dismissal of Steve Bannon, which is now widely discussed in the media, will be the final confirmation that there is no 666D Chess combination after all.

In foreign policy, this will predictably be a failure. Instead of halting the process, as a wise US foreign policy would aim for, it will instead put the current trend towards a Russo-Chinese alliance into overdrive. There is also a very small but non-negligible chance of a serious escalation in Syria that could flare into a wider conflict between the US and Russia/Iran. I will explore this possibility in a later post.

Here’s the problem. Neoconservatism wasn’t cool by 2007. The Current Year is 2017. While the last ‘Murica! boomers might cheer and clap for it, those folks are not getting any younger, nor are they gaining converts; to the contrary, even many conservative warmongers of yesteryear are now opposed to further misadventures in the Middle East, such as the courageous Ann Coulter.

Meanwhile, the young MAGA nationalists, who have never cared for the more regressive elements of the traditional Republican agenda – promoting corporate interests and the 1%, hardcore social conservatism, and above all interventionism and wars for oil/Israel (cross out as per your ideological preferences) – and who are, incidentally, also the most Russophile demographic of the American population – will be utterly demoralized and repelled.

He will be left only with the bootlickers, the bankers, and the most retrograde boomers. Maybe a few token #NeverTrumpers will crawl back to him, confident now that he firmly under the thumb of the deep state, though they will still continue to despite him. That’s all!

The result of that will be a landslide victory for the Democratic candidate in 2020, which in all likelihood lead to a new sort of hell.

I’m afraid these comments by Scott Alexander from September 2016 may well prove to be prophetic:

One more warning for conservatives who still aren’t convinced. If the next generation is radicalized by Trump being a bad president, they’re not just going to lean left. They’re going to lean regressive, totalitarian, super-social-justice left.

Everyone has already constructed the narrative: Trump is the anti-PC, anti-social-justice candidate. If he wins, he’s going to be the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President. And he will fail. First of all, because he doesn’t really show much sign of knowing what he’s doing. Second of all, because all presidents fail in a sense – 80% of Americans consistently believe the country is headed the wrong direction and the president is the natural fall guy for this trend. And third of all, because even if by some miracle Trump avoids the first two failure modes, the media will say he failed and people will believe them. And when the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President fails, the reaction will be a giant “we told you so” from the social justice movement, and a giant shift of all the disillusioned young people right into their fold.

Trump is all set to be the biggest gift to the social justice movement in history. They thrive on claims of persecution, claims that they’re the ones fighting a stupid hateful regressive culture that controls everything. And people think that bringing their straw man to life and putting him in the Oval Office is going to help?

I still don’t think voting for Trump over Clinton was a mistake.

At the least, Trump’s brand of neoconservatism is going to be implemented in a cack-handed, incompetent way, as opposed to a competent and calculating one. This is good for the non-Americans who will have to deal with it.

Still, its very sad that it has come to this. I believe that Trump still has the time and opportunity to reverse his ill-starred course, but the clock is ticking down.

 

In light of recent news, now is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves of perhaps the most succinct and information dense explanation of why Assad is less bad than the “moderate rebels.”

Via Nicholas Nassim Taleb:

nntaleb-assad-vs-moderate-rebels

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Syrian Civil War, Western Hypocrisy 

Funny thing is, just the other day I was on a podcast where I joked/predicted that Antifa would try to beat up Richard Spencer’s merry band of Alt Right anti-war protesters.

Buzzfeed:

Spencer has long been an outspoken supporter of Trump and his policies, including building a wall on the southern border and banning refugees form entering the country. But his decision to lead a handful of protesters to speak out against the strike has been emblematic of the split between Trump and some of his most ardent and far-right supporters.

“We want walls, not war!” chanted some of the protesters accompanying Spencer in front of the White House. …

At one point, Spencer called the counter-protesters, “storm troopers of the establishment.”

“Commies go home,” Spencer and his supporters chanted while opponents yelled, “Nazis go home.”

As AltLeft noted today, “I never anticipated that we would be organizing and participating in actual anti-war demonstrations, but here we are.”

What a timeline!

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Antifa, Syrian Civil War, United States 

putin-derangement-syndrome I didn’t really invent this meme, as Patrick Armstrong once credited me; there were a few disjointed mentions of it there and there from before 2011. That said, I do think I did more than than anyone else to popularize it. Anyhow, the term Putin Derangement Syndrome has finally gone mainstream, with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi writing about its “arrival” a few days ago (though arguably, it arrived a decade ago).

One way we recognize a mass hysteria movement is that everyone who doesn’t believe is accused of being in on the plot. This has been going on virtually unrestrained in both political and media circles in recent weeks.

The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO’s Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.

She’s tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions (“a Russian partisan“) to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom (“agents of influence“) to Glenn Greenwald (“Russian shill“) to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also “Russian shills“), tothe 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called “Crackas With Attitudes”) to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office (“moles“). And that’s just for starters.

Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked “what kind of dossier” the Kremlin has on Nunes.

Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren’t on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be “unwitting” agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them.

Think about that last one. Does McDermott think Tracey and Jilani call their handlers at the sight of a scary Matt McDermott tweet and have the FSB send waves of Russian bots at him on command? Or does he think it’s an automated process? What goes through the heads of such people?

I’ve written a few articles on the Russia subject that have been very tame, basically arguing that it might be a good idea to wait for evidence of collusion before those of us in the media jump in the story with both feet. But even I’ve gotten the treatment.

I’ve been “outed” as a possible paid Putin plant by the infamous “PropOrNot” group, which is supposedly dedicated to rooting out Russian “agents of influence.” You might remember PropOrNot as the illustrious research team the Washington Post once relied on for a report that accused 200 alternative websites of being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season.”

Politicians are getting into the act, too. It was one thing when Rand Paul balked at OKing the expansion of NATO to Montenegro, and John McCain didn’t hesitate to say that “the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

Even Bernie Sanders has himself been accused of being a Putin plant by Mensch. But even he’s gotten on board of late, asking, “What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?”

So even people who themselves have been accused of being Russian plants are now accusing people of being Russian plants. As the Russians would say, it’s enough to make your bashka hurt.

The paranoia is matched only by its ignorance and stupidity:

Even the bizarre admission by FBI director (and sudden darling of the same Democrats who hated him months ago) James Comey that he didn’t know anything about Russia’s biggest company didn’t seem to trouble Americans very much. Here’s the key exchange, from a House hearing in which Jackie Speier quizzed Comey:

SPEIER: Now, do we know who Gazprom-Media is? Do you know anything about Gazprom, director?
COMEY: I don’t.
SPEIER: Well, it’s a – it’s an oil company.

(Incidentally, Gazprom – primarily a natural-gas giant – is not really an oil company. So both Comey and Speier got it wrong.)

As Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg noted, this exchange was terrifying to Russians. The leader of an investigation into Russian espionage not knowing what Gazprom is would be like an FSB chief not having heard of Exxon-Mobil. It’s bizarre, to say the least.

And it may lead to some very bad things, from entrenching the status quo…

Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate – in either the past or the future – is/was an act of “unwitting” cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

Imagine it’s four years from now (if indeed that’s when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.

… to war.

But if you’re not worried about accusing non-believers of being spies, or pegging legitimate dissent as treason, there’s a third problem that should scare everyone.

Last week saw Donna Brazile and Dick Cheney both declare Russia’s apparent hack of DNC emails an “act of war.” This coupling seemed at first like political end times: as Bill Murray would say, “dogs and cats, living together.”

But there’s been remarkable unanimity among would-be enemies in the Republican and Democrat camps on this question. Suddenly everyone from Speier to McCain to Kamala Harris to Ben Cardin have decried Russia’s alleged behavior during the election as real or metaphorical acts of war: a “political Pearl Harbor,” as Cardin put it. …

But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we’re still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, “If we do the investigations, we will find the connections.”

This seems especially relevant right now for some reason.

I suppose I will now need to redouble my efforts on pushing the ROG (Russian Occupation Government) meme, which is apparently so all encompassing that an American Tomahawk strike ordered by Putler’s puppet Trump on a military base with Russian advisors is, in fact, a “manufactured Cold War 2.0 which will lead to a peace deal that includes lifting sanctions on Russia” according to the top voted comment on the relevant thread at the /r/politics subreddit.

Truly, there are no limits to the reach of ROG’s tentacles.

 

haley-un-versus-assad

There are so many problems with the propaganda campaign against Assad getting unrolled now.

partisangirl-fake-sarin(1) You can’t treat exposure to sarin with your bare hands without falling ill/dead yourself, as the White Helmets were apparently doing in the aftermath of the Idlib attack.

(2) As Syrian war reporter @Partisangirl noticed, some journalists were apparently discussing a chlorine sarin attack before it actually happened.

(3) It is eerily reminescent of the aftermath of the 2013 Gouta attacks, in which the Western media and neocon and neocon-in-all-but-name politicians and punditry parroted the official line that Assad’s troops were responsible even though consequent journalistic work by Sermour Hersh and MIT raised serious doubts over the veracity of that allegation.

(4) The “moderate rebels” have themselves resorted to poison gas on various occasions.

(5) Unlike in 2013, Assad is now winning. Why on Earth now, of all times, would he resort to poison gas – one of the few things he can do to that is capable of provoking a strong Western reaction – just to kill all of 75 civilians?

this-makes-sense

It just makes no sense.

So one can’t help but treat Nikky Haley’s melodramatic performance at the UN with skepticism. The idea that the poisoning was due to a bomb hitting a chemical weapons manufactory seems more plausible.

Trump’s initial non-interventionist rhetoric on assuming the Presidency was encouraging, as was his promotion of other anti-war figures such as Tulsi Gabbard. However, the latest response of the US administration, including Trump himself, is not giving any cause for optimism:

I will tell you that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me, big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it, and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that… And I will tell you it’s already happened, that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.

To be sure, one might view this as a merely ritualistic expression of outrage, but also coming on as it does on the eve of Steve Bannon’s dismissal from the National Security Council… one can’t help but start having dark thoughts on whether the deep state might be triumphing after all.

 

It’s like the CIA/Mossad/Illuminati-financed Takfiri mercenaries, otherwise known as radical Islamists amongst sane people, have embarked on a marketing campaign in favor of a visa regime with Central Asia.

A group of Islamists ambushed a pair of Russian policemen doing a routine vehicle check on a minibus in Astrakhan oblast. Eight men of apparent Kazakh ethnicity, including the driver who participated in the conspiracy, are wanted.

I would note that Kazakhs are some of the most secular Muslims around, not just by global standards, but even by Central Asian ones. They don’t have a reputation for terrorism. Yet here, in a Russian oblast where they make up just 7% of the population according to official statistics – that translates to about 70,000 Kazakhs – it has emerged that there’s not just one “lone wolf” terrorist amongst them, but a cell of at least eight.

Note that this comes the day after the Saint-Petersburg terrorist attack, where the starring role was played by a Kyrgyz national of Uzbek ethnicity with a Russian Federation passport. It also comes several weeks after an attack by North Caucasus militants on a National Guard base, which left six soldiers dead.

A couple of days ago, I was planning to write a data-heavy article about how Navalny doesn’t have any chance. Too unpopular, too much of a Ukrainian nationalist, etc. I’ll still write it, but I will now have to preface it with a cautionary note. Since Navalny is a longtime proponent of visa regime with Central Asia, which contrasts with Putin’s support of Central Asian enrichment, this is something that he can really play up now (if his liberal sponsors allow him to, anyway).

Just consider the recent train of events. In the past month, thanks in large part to Navalny’s efforts, Medvedev’s relative reputation for probity has been destroyed. Now, Putin’s reputation for ending Islamic terrorism is also increasingly under question.

This is all very, very good for Navalny. I still think Navalny’s prospects in this electoral cycle are very slim, but I don’t now exclude the possibility of the Kremlin “clever planning” themselves into a serious crisis. Nothing is beyond those “geniuses.”

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Terrorism 

A week ago, I speculated that Voronenkov was most likely killed by a Ukrainian nationalist who overdosed on svidomism, and not by the Dark Lord of the Kremlin:

That said, there is a good chance he was killed by genuine Ukrainian nationalists. They hate Poroshenko, and they cannot be very happy about the red carpet treatment rolled out for someone who not only supported but helped enable Crimea’s incorporation into Russia.

According to the latest reports, his killer – who has just died in hospital – was an ATO veteran and a member of the National Guard. Now yes, its possible that Russian intelligence services outsourced the assassination. But Occam’s Razor suggests that it was just a case of excessive svidomism.

This was strongly suggested by the fact that the gunman, Pavel Parshov, was a former member of a Donbass batallion that had participated in the ATO. He had also been convicted in 2011 for economic crimes.

More recent news have all but confirmed it. A couple of days ago, the Ukrainian journalist Alyona Lunkova revealed that Parshov wasn’t acting on his own, but came with his friend Yaroslav Levenets, who was supposed to be the getaway driver.

levenets-political-prisoner

As it turns out, Levenets also has a most colorful history.

A native of Dnepropetrovsk oblast who worked as an instructor in the Ukrainian martial art of “khopak,” Levenets was arrested in 2012 under charges of theft, fictitious entrepreneurshup, and tax avoidance. His comrades insisted this was a politically motivated prosecution on account of his actions against drug trafficking and membership in Trizub, a nationalist organization then run by Dmitry Yarosh.

After the “Revolution of Dignity,” he was recognized as a political prisoner and freed, albeit remaining under house arrest, and promptly went off to fight the Donbass rebellion as part of the “Carpatian Sich” unit of the Donbass batallion, the same unit where Vorononenkov’s killer Pavel Parshov was serving. His nom de guerre there, as listed on Right Sector’s website, was “Hunter.”

In 2015 he was once again put on the Wanted List due to his violating the conditions of his parole, and in 2016 was once again the subject of court proceedings, for which he was again put under house arrest. In both 2012 and 2015, he was vouched for by the ex-head of Donbass batallion (and Internet lolcow) Semen Semenchenko.

According to his wife, as reported by Right Sector spokesman Artem Skoropadsky, when she last talked with him half an hour prior to Voronenkov’s assassination, he said that he had gone to Kiev on business, to visit the Procuracy.

He is currently wanted to arrest, location unknown.

So there are now essentially two main versions of Voronenkov’s assassination:

(1) As suggested by the above: A pair of svidomy nationalists who both had major beef with the Ukrainian authorities decided to take out their rage on an unprincipled adventurist who voted to recognize Crimean independence, and who had nonetheless been embraced by the Maidanist elites even as true patriots like themselves were the subjects of endless prosecutions despite their “service” in the Donbass;

(2) As suggested by Poroshenko, Anton Gerashchenko, and John McCain, respectively: That this was an “act of state terror” by Russia, which carried the imprint of Russian security services, “just as has repeatedly happened in European capitals”; that Parshov was an agent recruited by Russia, who had entered the country via Belarus in 2015 to train at a school for saboteurs that “had been created in the era of Stalin’s NKVD”; that this was a “vile crime” in the “style of the KGB” to terrorize anyone against “the tyrant Vladimir Putin.”

One ever so wonders which of these is the likelier story.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Assassinations, Russophobes, Svidomy, Ukraine 

brexit-triggering

Article 50 has been triggered in the UK, after many merry months of triggerings of… another sort.

There has been a lot of wishful thinking in British liberal circles that some way would be found to circumvent Brexit. But calls for “the elites” to “rise up against the ignorant masses” were never realistic*, for all the childish tantrums on social media and the MSM. The Conservative Party has no good reason to torpedo itself by going against the democratically expressed wishes of its core electorate, the Middle Englanders who overwhelmingly voted Leave, and so the button was pushed as soon as all the judicial delaying procedures were exhausted.

I have been consistent that the adverse economic effects of Brexit have been greatly exaggerated by a Brexit-averse Establishment. As Bryan MacDonald pointed out last year, the apocalyptic rhetoric has consistently failed to translate into reality, and there is no reason to expect that to change.

To be sure, some global banks and companies will redirect more of their staff to Frankfurt, but London remains the world center of the financial industry – more so even than New York – and the concentration of human capital that props it up isn’t going to evaporate over a single year, or ten.

In the meantime, growth rates remain solid (the figures sync with my own impressions when I was in London), the devaluation is making British exports more competitive, and there will be a fiscal upside once the UK no longer needs to subsidize East European welfare leeches (currently, the average Briton paid a net 500 Euros to the EU in 2010-14).

brexit-2017

I also believe that the renewed worries about Scottish independence are exaggerated, the hystrionics of J.K. Rowling and Dawkins regardless. The Scots don’t want to hold a second independence referendum, and “No” consistently leads by at least 5 percentage points, just like in 2014, when they rejected it by a 10 percentage point margin.

Obviously the Scots are not very happy about Brexit, having voted against it 3-to-2, but it is still not something they want to break the Union over. The most likely avenue by which support of independence could grow is if the UK were to experience severe economic hardship as Brexit gets underway, but as I noted above, that is unlikely to happen.

* I gave a 90% chance of Article 50 getting invoked this year in my predictions for 2017, so I am not making this up as I go along.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, European Union, United Kingdom 

With a bit less than a year left to Russia’s Presidential elections in 2018, the general contours of this cycle’s protest movement against Putin are already coalescing.

Alexey Navalny has called a march for tomorrow along Tverskaya Street, a central boulevard that leads to the Kremlin. The Moscow mayoralty refused to allow it, and Navalny in turn refused its offer of alternative venues, so the march is going to be unsanctioned. These events tend to come with a high journalist to protester ratio, because Navalny’s office plankton constituency doesn’t like events where there is a non-negligible chance they’ll be roughed up by the police. So I don’t expect much to come out of it. But we’ll see. I’ll probably go myself to observe it first hand.

As in 2011-2012, when he coined the term “The Party of Thieves and Scoundrels” to describe United Russia, the brunt of Navalny’s attacks are going to be on corruption in the Kremlin. It appears that the centerpiece this time around is going to be a massive investigation carried out by Anti-Corruption Fund on Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev, and released early this March:

In Russia, even amongst liberals, Medvedev has a reputation as a cuddly, affable, and absent-minded sort of fellow, often nodding off at meetings, but endowed with a hip, modernist outlook that will take “Russia forwards” into the clean, prosperous, sponsored content clicking future. This expresses itself in things such as appreciation for Deep Purple, support for the Skolkovo technology hub, and an obsession with hip electronic gadgets – the latter of which earned him his nickname, iPhonchik. Another of his nicknames is his diminutive, “Dimon,” which became very popular after his press secretary told Russia’s bloggers, commenters, and online trolls not to use that name: “He is not Dimon to you.” That worked on the Internet! (Not).

medvedev-scheme-simple

But according to Navalny’s investigation, which builds on earlier work by Russian journalists, the nice, professorial teddy bear is a mere mask for a deeply corrupt swindler; not so much a fan of hi-tech Apple gadgets as of big money and elite properties. Piecing together documents, his team constructed a convoluted web of charitable funds directed by Medvedev’s friends, classmates, and even relatives that don’t seem to do much in the way of genuine charity work, but do maintain a sprawling network of elite real estate for make benefit of the Prime Minister.

This includes an elite estate in Moscow’s Rublevka district and a luxury ski resort in Krasnodar, each of which is valued at about $100 million; a big estate and agro holding compnay in his ancestral homeland of Kursk oblast; two yachts, both named after the Orthodox version of his wife’s name; an elite apartment in Saint-Petersburg; and even a wineyard and villa in Tuscany, Italy, bought in 2012-13 for $120 million. There is strong evidence, including from Medvedev’s Instagram account, that he has stayed at many of these properties, and partaken of his yachts.

These “charitable funds” are sponsored by a bevy of Kremlin-friendly oligarchs and state banks. For instance, one of them was funded by Novatek’s Simanovsky and Mikhelson, who contributed $500 million. The Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who spent six years in a Soviet prison in the 1980s for financial fraud, appears to have funded the acquisition of the Rublevka property. Gazprombank is on record giving a loan of $200 million in 2007. Its Deputy Chairman at the time? Ilya Eliseev, a classmate of Medvedev’s from his time at Saint-Petersburg State University, who also happens to be listed as the current chairman of most of these charitable funds. In total, documented “contributions” run to about 70 billion rubles, or more than $1 billion.

Even a small fraction of this would sound the death knell for any politician in a country within the Hajnal Line.

In Russia, however, this is not atypical for the elites. Everybody knows that they are stealing, and if Russians didn’t move to overthrow them in 2011-12, in the aftermath of massively fraudulent elections in Moscow and at a time when Putin was at a trough in his popularity, they are certainly not going to do so now; not when Putin’s approval rating remains north of 80% in the long afterglow of the Crimea euphoria. Moreover, Navalny’s own reputation has since become tarnished, due to his own corruption scandal (which might disqualify from running for the Presidency entirely), and due to his ardent pro-Ukrainian rhetoric, which has driven off most of his former nationalist supporters.

This, at least, is my impression.

Anyhow, March 26 will be an opportunity to more directly gauge his support at the level of the streets.

 
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.


PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.