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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.

 

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.

 

Trump is a virtuoso at playing the media.

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.

Bearing in mind the MSM’s consistency in “misunderestimating” Trump’s wiles, let’s move on to #Wiretapgate.

On March 4, Trump claimed that President Obama was “tapping” his phones in October, turbocharging the political scandal around his administration.

Here is a summary of the key elements, based upon this timeline compiled by Mark Levin and Joel Pollack:

  • Obama had drilled little holes all over the ship of state by “expanding the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections” in January as his parting gift to Trump, ensuring the new administration would be inundated with leaks.
  • New York Times report in January that the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Treasury Department were monitoring “several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties,” and later reports in February that the FBI had “intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn” and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
  • Levin summarizes: “T he Obama administration sought, and eventually obtained, authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the NSA rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government, virtually ensuring that the information, including the conversations of private citizens, would be leaked to the media.

Barack Obama’s spokesman has denied this in legalistic terms:

A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance of any US citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.

As Alexander Mercouris points out, this “does not deny that Donald Trump’s office in Trump Tower was wiretapped,” nor that his “‘associates’ (a flexible word the precise meaning of which has never been made clear) or members of his campaign team were placed under surveillance.” I would further emphasize that Obama specifically referred to “US citizens,” whereas no such protections apply to foreign citizens, and indeed we know from the Snowden leaks that it is standard strategy for the NSA to circumvent Americans’ protections by listening to American citizens’ communications with foreigners and by closely cooperating with allied foreign intelligence services, especially those of the Five Eyes (incidentally, Britain has figured prominently in this affair, from Christopher Steele’s dodgy dossier to the recent NYT article which claimed that some of the intelligence linking people in the Trump campaign and various Russians came from British and Dutch intelligence).

A further problem is that the net is cast so wide that, as the NYT inadventently admits, virtually any Russian in America with a non-hostile relationship to the Putin government is considered suspect:

The label “intelligence official” is not always cleanly applied in Russia, where ex-spies, oligarchs and government officials often report back to the intelligence services and elsewhere in the Kremlin. Steven L. Hall, the former head of Russia operations at the C.I.A., said that Mr. Putin was surrounded by a cast of characters, and that it was “fair to say that a good number of them come from an intelligence or security background. Once an intel guy, always an intel guy in Russia.”

Again, as Alexander Mercouris points out, this would encompass many of Trump’s people who have had perfectly legal and transparent business relationships with Russia, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Furthermore, I would add that by this standard a huge percentage of the US government would be compromised, since promoting US-Russia business ties has been a plank of US diplomacy until 2014 (ironically, as I pointed out a year ago, Mitt Romney, who is coldly disposed to Trump and called Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” probably actually had considerably more substantive business dealings in Russia than Trumputin himself).

To be sure, Trump’s claim on Twitter, at least, is likely false. But it does not appear to be a lie borne out of his idiocy, stress, fury, narcissism, or whatever the MSM’s latest projection consists of.

Consider the following: Trump has successfully whipped the media into a feeding frenzy, focusing the public’s attention on this in a way that acting low-key could never have. And the reality for the Establishment appears to be bad enough. Continuing to assume that there is no substantive meat to the ROG (Russian Occupation Government) conspiracy theory, what we are left with is a scandal of at least Watergate proportions, if not more so – as Alexander Mercouris points out, whereas under Nixon the scandal was that the CIA and FBI had refused to do his bidding against his political opponents, here you would have the even more egregious case of the US security agencies colluding against Trump by “carrying out surveillance upon him and his associates though there has never been any evidence that either he or they did anything wrong.”

This is the real story and I suspect we are soon going to see its denouement.

 

Russian human rights lawyer Matthew Tszen speculates:

I suspect that the global Womens March was originally conceived of as a sort of victory parade to mark the inauguration of the first US female president (Hillary Clinton). And only the unexpected victory of Trump forced them to change not even so much its character, as its tone – from that of a festive victory, to a protest. This is evidenced by its own international character – for instance, the concept that “French women are celebrating the election of a woman to the US Presidency” makes sense, but the concept of “French women protesting against the election of President Trump” is practically meaningless. Not to mention the fact the the “protesters” aren’t really able to formulate what, exactly, they are protesting, and what their demands are. Some of their slogans, e.g. “pussy grabs back,” would have looked much more natural against the background of a Clinton victory.

I still think it was organized largely after the fact by a panicking Soros, but this is an interesting theory.

It would tie in well with my speculations that a great deal of fireworks – both literal and figurative – were painstakingly choreographed to go off on Hillary Clinton’s election, possibly including a serious purge of “fake news” instead of the decidedly slapstick affair we actually got.

I am getting the distinct impression that this is a very well planned information operation that was that was meant to kick into high gear upon Hillary Clinton’s election, perhaps in conjunction with the “Russia bombed The Last Hospital in Aleppo” meme to set up the groundwork for a showdown in Syria (there are hints that this is indeed what Hillary Clinton was planning upon assuming the Presidency).

I suppose we now don’t really have any choice but to continue speculating, at least until some new whistleblower comes along to leak the deep state’s secrets to Wikileaks. Still, that’s far preferable to having had them play out in reality.

 

The entire rigmarole around “fake news” is very curiously timed.

So far as I’m aware the general “theory” behind it was primarily developed in the past year or so by Peter Pomerantsev and Edward Lucas under the aegis of the Legatum Institute. Edward Lucas is a Russophobe even by the standards of Economist journalists (suffice to say that he seriously compares Putin to Sauron). Peter Pomerantsev is a journalist with a very murky biography who emerged seemingly out of nowhere to become a hugely influential voice in the Russia debate as a propagator of the “post-fact”/”post-truth” meme. In their August 2016 report “Winning the Information War,” they went so far as to suggest Islamist deradicalization programs as a template for dealing with “radicalized, pro-Kremlin supporters, those on the far left and the far right, and Russian speakers.”

In the past couple months, impartial arbiters of the truth like Facebook – the same company that was recently found to have censored conservative news source from its news feed – have seized upon and ran with this theme. The same media outlets that cheered on the Iraq War now wax lyrical about “post-truth politics.” The German bloc in the EU – the most prominent outpost of Atlanticism in our new Trumpist world – has spearheaded the adoption of an EU resolution against Islamic State propaganda and Russian information warrior (adopting wholesale the equivalence proposed by Lucas and Pomerantsev).

The latest prominent example is an “expose” of fake news sites by the Washington Post, one of the most widely shared articles on the planet in recent days that garnered accolades and RTs from hundreds of prominent journalists. Ironically for an article about fake news, their source is a group of (completely anonymous) “researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds” on a website with a private WHOIS profile and no detailed explanation of their methodology but who do want the FBI and DoJ to investigate the sites on their list for pro-Russia espionage. (Yes, The Unz Review makes the cut).

I am getting the distinct impression that this is a very well planned information operation that was that was meant to kick into high gear upon Hillary Clinton’s election, perhaps in conjunction with the “Russia bombed The Last Hospital in Aleppo” meme to set up the groundwork for a showdown in Syria (there are hints that this is indeed what Hillary Clinton was planning upon assuming the Presidency).

Given the extensive ties of Western intelligence services with MSM editors, as claimed by whistleblowers such as Udo Ulfkotte and Paul Barril, and the CIA’s allegiance to the “blue empire,” the direct involvement of Western intelligence services cannot be excluded.

But Trump threw a yuuuge! spanner into the works. The operation continued, carried along by inertia, but just as a snake that has had its head cut off it, its strikes became disjointed and flailing, unable to accomplish much. Hopefully we will just have to wait long enough to avoid getting accidentally bitten by the dismembered head before Trump clears out the trash and the Europeans get the memo that a new sheriff is in town.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Russia, Western Media 

Over the years I have studiously avoided commentary on MH17 because of the banal fact that I am not an expert on plane crash forensics.

The official Dutch inquiry that has just released its findings says that it was downed by a Buk missile that came from rebel-controlled territory.

Many serious people have come to other conclusions, as well as – no surprise – Russia itself. As Patrick Armstrong points out, the Americans have yet to release the intelligence they claim to have. Malaysia had for some reason been excluded from the official investigation.

As is usually the case, which version you “believe” in depends heavily on your partisan sympathies.

That said, there are two points I’d like to bring to the discussion which would be valid even if the results of the Dutch inquiry are true.

1

This does not mean that it is was entirely the fault of the rebels and Russia.

First off, a little background on Soviet SAMs.

They are very complicated systems. It takes several people to operate them. There are several control panels, and you have to turn the right knobs and press the right buttons in the correct order to acquire and kill your target. Just locking in requires locating the target on a fire control radar while adjusting for range, elevation, and azimuth. No nice 3D graphics here; targets are interferences on 1D axis or abstract blips on 2D spaces. Then you must pick the guidance mode for your missile based on factors such as whether or not your target is flying low, its speed, and whether or not it’s jamming. Then you fire the missile, which involves its own set of procedures. If your target then experiences a sudden change in speed and altitude, it probably means you’ve scored a hit. Feel free to imagine a climatic BOOM going off in the skies above, but all you’re going to hear is the continuing drone of electronic machinery.

You can explore the fascinating life of a SAM operator for yourself by downloading the SAM Simulator, a video game developed by a Hungarian aficianado of 1960-1980 era Soviet SAM systems.

9k33-osa

Screenshot of 9K33 Osa main control panel from SAM Simulator.

Here are some (Russian language) technical guides on their various SAM systems. They can be 100-200 pages long and contain calculus.

So what’s the point of it all this? The point is that operating a SAM is learnable for the average enthusiast, conscript, or Donbass rebel – you can figure out how to knock balloon targets and maybe even big airliners traveling in straight lines after a couple of hours study. Becoming good at it is another matter entirely. The Buk is a newer and somewhat simpler system than those in the SAM Simulator, but for the amateur it remains a foreboding forest of knobs and analog screens. I only explored the SAM Simulator for a few hours back in 2014, so I can’t attest to it personally, but my impression from discussions on the game’s forums is that to “git gud” you’ll need to invest a few dozens of hours in it, and while it’s about as “hardcore” as simulator as they come, it’s still not real life.

One more possibility. Consider the following two allegations:

First, that MH17 was diverted to fly over contested airspace.

Second, that MH17 was being trailed by two Ukrainian Su-25′s. (Some conspiracy theories allege that they were actually the ones who shot it down).

An alternate possibility, however, is that the Su-25 escorts and possibly the diversions were an intentional Ukrainian policy to increase the chances of an AA missile fired by an inexperienced rebel crew bringing down a civilian airliner. After drawing out the missiles, the Ukrainian fighters would engage their counter-measures and fly off, while the missiles would autonomously home in on the target with the much bigger radar signature – that is, MH17 itself. The resulting fallout would hopefully pressure Russia into withdrawing support for the rebellion.

This theory is the only one that more or less the only one explains all aspects of the case and integrates most of the main narratives.

It explains why the Americans have no released their intelligence. If it was to show the Su-25′s were directly or almost directly below MH17 then questions would be asked.

It explain why we have not seen a consistent or credible alternate theory from Russia. Because there is none. While if it where to push this theory it would then have to admit that at the it is to some extent culpable.

And it would also explain the findings of the Dutch report. It might well be just true.

2

Nor would it in any case qualify as an act of terrorism.

It cannot qualify as an act of terrorism because as phone conversations between the rebels in the immediate aftermath prove, and as the US itself has admitted, the shooting down of MH17 if done by the rebels was based on the mistaken impression that it was a legitimate military target.

That said, in the immediate aftermath, there were hystrionic calls from certain quarters to invoke NATO’s Article 5 on behalf of the Netherlands. Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite called Russia a terrorist state.

At the very least, perhaps this should be used to step up sanctions against Russia, until it acknowledges its guilt, pays compensation, and hands over any suspects to an international tribunal.

Well, I suppose you *can*. But then for consistency’s sake you would also have to label the US and Ukraine (ironically enough) as terrorist states themselves.

In 1988, a missile fired by a US warship in Iranian territorial waters took out Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian airspace The US tried to avoid responsibility, and never apologized to Iran, but eventually paid up some blood money.

In 2001, Ukrainian air defense shot down Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 during exercises. They initially tried to avoid taking responsibility until a Russian investigative team came up with definitive proof. Never apologized, though they did eventually pony up blood money.

If you do not support declaring the US and Ukraine to be terrorist states on this basis, with all the consequences thereof – massive sanctions, pariah status, etc. – then you have no ground to do so either for the DNR or Russia. The most that could be legitimately demanded is for Russia to pay the relatives.

However, it is hardly a secret that the Western world order operates by double standards, so I suspect that a more likely template for the future of the MH17 case is that of Pan Am Flight 103, better known as the Lockerbie bombing. At a first approximation, this would involve putting international (Western) pressure on Russia to not only pay out compensation to the victims of MH17, but to admit its guilt and to hand over any suspects to an international tribunal. It might be used as a justification for prolonging or extending sanctions, and potentially even declaring the DNR and LNR terrorist organizations.

 

Tiny Iceland once astounded the world by being the only county to send its banksters to jail and repudiating the debts taken on by the citizenry they hoodwinked.

As a result, there were no significant drops in living standards, whereas Greece, which adopted the opposite policies, got stuck in a grinding depression that continues to this date.

Days after USAID/Soros- oh sorry I meant “people power” essentially mounted a coup against the Icelandic government… they free all the banksters!!

And then, minutes later, the Panama Papers were disclosed by the ICIJ, which had a clear target: to “expose” the “circle of friends close to Putin”, and of course, to reveal the dirty laundry of the Iceland Prime Minister, who resigned just two days after his shady offshore tax dealing were revealed to the world.

There was some “conspiratorial” speculation whether the explicit hit on ex-PM Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was precisely due to Iceland’s crackdown on the country’s criminal bankers. As a reminder, Iceland is the only nation that sent bankers found guilty of crimes resulting from the financial crisis, to prison.

It turns out there may have been something valid in said speculation, because moments ago, Iceland Monitor reported that three bankers from the defunct Iceland bank Kaupthing are to be released from jail today – after serving just one year of their 5-year sentences.

Magnús Guðmundsson, Ólafur Ólafsson and Sigurður Einarsson were one of four men jailed in 2015 in the so-called ‘Al-Thani case’ on charges of breach of trust and market abuse.

Sigurður Einarsson, former chairman at Kaupþing, received a sentence of four years, while Magnús Guðmundsson, former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg, and Ólafur Ólafsson, who was the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time, both received a sentence of four and a half years.

LOLOLZ!!

Long live people power! Heil Soros!

Conspiratards were right as usual.

putin-laughing-sarcastic

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Iceland, Panama Papers 

The front page of The Guardian on the first day of Panama Leaks:

guardian-front-page-on-panama-leaks

$2 billion!? Very impressive. Though admittedly, a rather disappointing find after more than a decade’s worth of searching for Putin’s $200 billion stash.

But still, a curious choice of whom to focus on, considering the minor detail that Putin’s name doesn’t appear in the Panama Papers even once.

putins-name-doesnt-appear

This isn’t the only curious thing about it.

For instance, there is also the observation that it comes on the heels of the tabloid stories that Putin is dating Wendy Deng, a fantastic claim which has been repeated uncritically because if it’s about Putin, it’s true.

And the Reuters story about a series of women allegedly connected with Putin all buying properties from the same real estate agent.

Not to mention the identity of the two other main “first day” targets: Messi, aka FIFA. which awarded the football 2018 World Cup to Russia, and Icelandic politicians who put banksters in jail.

Then there is also the curious fact that only 149 documents of the 11 million total were actually released in the first batch, which means that our intrepid journalists must have started off by doing selective searches on all the people they could think of who they assumed were associated with Putin from his Saint-Petersburg days in the 1990s, discovered that some of them became very rich during the economic boom of the 2000s, and tallied the total value of their assets to arrive at the not especially impressive figure of $2 billion (considering the numbers of people involved in this grand conspiracy) that they were stashing away for Putin in a tropical tax haven… just like other perfectly respectable members of the global elite, from Xi Jinping, the Saudis, and German corporations to David Cameron, Petro Poroshenko, and Mitt Romney.

None of which is not exactly news.

But it is precisely Putin who has attracted something like 50% of the media fallout from the Panama Leaks. The political class of a basically irrelevant country, albeit the only one in the world which prosecuted its banker class for their financial machinations; as well as the United States’ new bugbear, FIFA, garnered another 25%.

Leaving only 25% of the coverage for everyone else:

panama-leaks-world-map

All in all, a most curious set of coincidences indeed.

There was overwhelming demand to release all the documents and make them available in a searchable database:

wikileaks-should-we-release

Unfortunately, this time, it wasn’t Wikileaks who possessed the treasure trove. Too bad!

wikileaks-too-bad

So naturally what happened was that the range of documents that were released were from the outset tightly constricted and focused against those entities the Western order considers to be its enemies, and filtered through a journalistic establishment that it has become increasingly clear loyally serves that same order.

Even those targets that did not meet the above criteria were in general either already known (the offshore adventures of David Cameron’s father), universally suspected anyway (the Saudis), or who were either irrelevant and/or had undermined and humiliated the Western order in some way (Icelandic politicians, FIFA).

Why this might have been the case becomes a bit clearer when we look at the outfit behind the Panama Leaks. That outfit is the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which is funded in its entirety by the US Center for Public Integrity, and which in turn is sponsored by… well, Soros, in short.

And all the other usual regime change/color revolution suspects.

icij-sponsors

Craig Murray explains the real deal:

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”

In effect the main targets of Panama Papers and especially Putin are mere whipping boys, politically convenient decoys to draw attention away from people asking hard questions about the banal realities of a world ruled by the 1% offshore aristocracy.

Regardless, the Guardian’s resident neocon Natalie Nougayrède, riding on the headwinds of a media storm that the media-industrial complex she serves has itself ignited, goes on to proclaim her divine knowledge of not only the most intimate details of Putin’s social ties the secrets of the Dark Lord of the Kremlin’s mind itself:

The fact that Putin’s name does not appear in the Panama Papers will not calm the paranoia and conspiracy theories that his regime thrives upon. Indeed, these revelations will be seen in Moscow’s ruling circles as part of a CIA-led operation involving the manipulation of the “Anglo-Saxon” media.

So Putin leads like 50% of the stories in Western coverage of the Panama Leaks, despite his name not appearing in any of the Panama documents even in passing, and yet thinking there is anything unusual about this makes you a conspiratard or a “useful servant” of the Russian mafia state at best, if not a proxy of Putin himself.

After all, its not like a major former editor of a prominent German outlet has ever claimed that the CIA holds extensive influence over the German media, nor have there ever been any hints whatsoever that there is an organized Western intelligence operation to undermine Putin. We know that this is just not the sort of underhanded tactics that any Western democracy would ever use.

Move along, citizen, nothing to see here.

None of this is to deny that Putin and his associates do not lead lives of luxury, have exploited their political connections to make money, or even that some of them use offshore tax havens to avoid taxes or keep their assets safe from expropriation.

To the contrary, all three of these statements are substantially true.

But possibly the single biggest irony in this entire affair is that someone positively inclined towards the Kremlin could just as easily argue that the Panama Papers prove that Russia’s fight against offshoring was actually improving in recent years, under Putin:

In internal letters contained in Mossack Fonseca files, Malyushin was identified as the “beneficial owner” behind Panama-based Anttrin Services Corp., only in 2013, when the company suddenly shut down. As it appears from letters, Malyushin was in a hurry to get rid of his company.

Most likely, this was related to changes in Russian legislation. In the first half of 2013, a new pack of anti-corruption laws was adopted forbidding Russian officials from having foreign bank accounts or using foreign financial instruments, including holding shares in companies.

This is a datapoint that the 2013 anticorruption law forbidding Russian bureaucrats from holding bank accounts abroad is actually working. Incidentally, to add to the irony, that same law had been condemned at the time of its publication by the purportedly (but actually nothing of the sort) “pro-Putin” Forbes blogger Mark Adomanis, who portrayed it as a “forcible asset repatriation” that would reinforce Russian autocracy and put Putin in a “much, much more powerful and domineering position.”

If you were a journalist with a pro-Kremlin agenda you could certainly argue this point with at least as much legitimacy as if you were to follow the Western MSM party line and focus on what Panama Leaks “prove” about Putin and his entourage.

However, that journalist would almost universally be condemned as a Putin shill and not really a journalist at all, whereas the likes of neocon blowhard Natalie Nougayrède and serial plagiariser Luke Harding are free to roam and dominate Western media op-ed spaces with their own paranoid ramblings. Of late, they have even broken free from the informed scrutiny of their readers, with the Guardian’s Russia journalism apparently having joined that triggering triad of “race, immigration and Islam” on which the Guardian no longer accepts comments from the great unwashed of the “Comment is Free” discussion boards.

Which is perhaps just as well given how thoroughly the Western Narrative has become discredited even amongst The Guardian’s readers, despite the endless purges it has instigated over the years against its critics.

 

Soon after calling for ISIS to murder Russian aviators and their families, the Paris Attacks sent them into a confused tizzy, and now the Maidanists are going from proposing an alliance with ISIS to condemning them as pawns of Khuylo, Тhe Darkest One, and The God of Svidomy Ukrainians… who is otherwise known to normal people as Vladimir Putin.

Essentially, Putin cockblocked the ISIS-Maidan alliance!

Yury Sergeyev (“Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations. All tweets reflect my personal vision”): In the Paris tragedy, you should “cherchez la femme” – and her name is – Russia. We await Russia’s invitation to join the struggle against terrorism.

Though for some reason he doesn’t seem to like his “personal vision” getting RTed:

So far as conspiracy theories go, the idea that the Russian intelligence services organized the Paris Attacks down to the snackbaring suicide bombers is one of the most incredible ones out there. But if you were to think this is a fringe theory limited to a rogue diplomat or two you would be wrong.

rferl-russia-behind-paris-attacks Here are some other Ukrainian politicians, journalists, academics, and major bloggers who have advanced this “theory”:

  • Radio Svoboda/RFERL - Ukrainian arm of the US foreign media organ, screenshot right (if you recall, also the department responsible for getting Russian anti-Putin journalist Andrey Babitsky fired from RFERL for being unwilling to cover up Ukrainian far right militia war crimes). Article has since been removed, probably when the more intelligent and less ideologically crazy American bosses saw what their Galician underlings were up to.
  • Andrey Teteruk – Former far right militia commander and now Rada Deputy, recently made famous for hitting a female parliamentatian on the head with a glass bottle and causing her a brain concussion: “In my opinion, behind these terrorist acts stand the cold calculations of the Kremlin creatures, who wanted to take revenge on France for the Mistral on Friday the 13th, a symbolic date for Americans.”
  • Anton Geraschenko – Ministry of the Interior advisor, who compiled a literal hit list (available online) of anti-regime figures such as the murdered journalist Oles Buzina, and who has also started adding the names of Russian aviators for the express purpose of helping ISIS take care of them “by the canons of sharia” (sic): “Not long ago I obtained reliable evidence from good sources that it is RF President Vladimir Putin who is responsible to the flood of migrants to Europe… I recommend the French intelligence services carefully track the entire chain from the perpetrators to the sponsors of these evil acts. Who knows, maybe the Russian intelligence services stand behind it all?”
  • yury-sergeyev-russia-behind-parisYury Sergeyev – See above.
  • Mychailo Wynnyckyj – Canadian-Ukrainian “academic” writing for Euromaidan Press, this author is also a well known budding (if inadvertent) scifi writer famous for having predicted a few dozen of the past zero Russian invasions of Ukraine and nuclear wars with NATO.
  • Vitaly Gaidukevich – Prominent Ukrainian TV journalist
  • Liza Bogutskaya – Prominent Ukrainian journalist.

These are far from the only examples. To the contary, the idea that Putin is behind the Paris Attacks is close to conventional wisdom on Maidanist echo chambers across the Internet – even as Russia steps up attacks on the Islamic state to an unprecedented degree.

Recall that these are the same people who were calling for an alliance with ISIS against Ukraine just a few days beforehand.

What explains such pathological schizophrenia?

Ultimately it is to do with the fact that the Maidanist ideology reduced to its roots consists of nothing but cargo cult like adoration and mechanical imitation of the Western master, coupled with a primitive village hatred of Russia, which is forever oppressin’ and keeping it down. Based as it is on faith in the final peremoga (victory) as opposed to any genuinely attractive cultural or intellectual narrative, the Maidanist project inevitably keeps on failing, time and time again. But since Maidanism is revealed religious truth, this could never happen on account of its own internal failings; some external actor MUST be responsible, and that is where the inevitable zrada (betrayal) comes in.

In this latest iteration, the zrada in question is that of the Islamic State, which, far from coming to their rescue, has turned out to be nothing but another pawn of the Dark Lord Voldemort Putler, who as God of Svidomy Ukrainians stands behind every single act of terrorism, anywhere. And through his mastery of the Dark Arts, it increasingly seems that Putler will be able to hoodwink the Western world – barring a few unusually clearsighted but (it n0w seems) tragically ignored neocons – into ignoring the manifold strands of evidence for a Raqqa-Moscow Axis.

The irony in this theory of a world conspiracy to destroy Ukraine, as promoted by the Maidanists themselves, the Ukraine itself is not an independent agent but a passive and powerless object of zrada after zrada, and the dark designs of Russia. But the paradox largely resolves itself when you start thinking of Ukraine less as a country and more as an ideological project.

 

I am too tired right now to compile all this into something more elegant than a point-by-point rant, so here goes: Some preliminary thoughts on the latest terrorist attacks that have claimed 128+ lives in Paris.

(1) The usual cucks have wasted no time in making political hay of this tragedy

So don’t be shamed by traditional social conventions about avoiding making political points out of respect for the dead. Like it or not but the information age and the 24 hour news cycle have made this genteel habit obsolete and indeed, maladaptive.

Spread the anti-”Invite the World” propaganda far and wide (Liveleak version in case YouTube shuts it down).

Note as Whyvert points out that Marine Le Pen, leading the opinion polls and the one politician who might have materially reduced the chances of this happening, is currently on trial for Islamophobia. The globalist elites don’t play fair and neither should you.

(2) It’s probably not even gonna cost you much, if anything.

For instance, here is what Wikileaks – an impressively redpilled organization – Tweeted soon after the attacks.

Contrary to their numerous detractors in the comments, this is an entirely brave and entirely appropriate Tweet. It’s the exact time and place because nobody would pay any attention otherwise.

Moreover, I took note of their follower count when they made this Tweet. It was at 2.81 million. A few hours later, it was still at 2.81 million.

Note that this in spite of the SJWs having attacked Wikileaks for politicizing these terrorist attacks but not the the likes of establishment journalists like Ezra Klein. But apart from confirming SJWs as the mercenary attack dogs of the neocons that they are, this didn’t even have any substantial effect on Wikileaks’ follower numbers, which goes once more to show that the SJWs are more bark than bite.

(3) The globalist elites are pure unadultered evil so do not take anything they say at face value.

assad-on-western-hypocrisy

And now we come to the “Invade Whe world” part.

The Syrian Civil War was a primarily US sponsored project to weaponize their Islamist lackeys to break up Syria for make benefit of Israel. And ever since Sarkozy it should be borne in mind that France has become even more “American” than the Americans, as seen in Libya, and in the ferocity of their demands to oust Assad.

Therefore do not rush to celebrate, like the otherwise astute hbdchick:

Treat everything these reptiles say with the utmost suspicion.

When Hollande declares that this is a “war,” bear in mind that he might just as easily be talking about, say, French nationalists. Indeed, given the trends towards defining Islamic terrorism as “anti-Islamic activity,” terrorist attacks like these could for the elites be a convenient way of getting rid of two birds with one stone i.e. the Islamist problem that they themselves created, plus the Front National and other pro-French and pro-European forces.

Bear in mind also that in Western rhetoric Assad is responsible for the immigrant crisis and for terrorism and everything else that their own perverse policies have created, so do not be overly surprised if in a few days or weeks there arises a renewed clamor for removing Assad – the rock that holds the last bastion of civilization in place in the region.

Note that the “intellectual” foundations for any such developments are already being laid by the neocons:

See also:

At the extreme end of the spectrum of the possible fallout from all this we could see a resuscitation of the Western plans for a no fly zone over Syria which were in place before Russia intervened (Translation: Bombing the legitimate Syrian government, helping exterminate civilized Alawites, Islamic State apemen spreading their reach to the Mediterranean Sea).

This is an idea with plenty of neocon support and Lindsey Graham has been the latest Western politician to endorse it.

As I said before I do not think the Western elites are that crazy – at least the guys in the Pentagon should be realistic and well-informed enough to put the damper on any such adventurist nonsense should it gain further traction in what passes for “debate” in American foreign policy – but then again when it comes to these people nothing can be definitively ruled out…

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, France, Syria, Terrorism 

triggered-by-neanderthal-man-1953 Yesterday I was asked by a friend if I planned to write anything about the ongoing saga over Halloween costumes at Yale. I said probably not because what would be the point? The whole affair is so bizarre that parody is redundant. Besides, plenty of other people have ably commented on it, and if you really wanted to indulge in masochism you could always go straight to the source and watch a video of those hysterical freaks haranguing the hapless Master of Silliman College for having the gall and temerity to be “committed to an ideal of free speech.”

How dare he privilege the First Amendment over safe spaces? The irony of these students demanding that adults dictate their Halloween fashion choices – a blatant exercise of authority that would have enraged their activist forebears in the 1960s – was entirely lost on them, in the unlikely event that they even considered it in the first place.

Until the early 2010s, campus leftism seems to have mainly consisted of Obama enthusiasts and a radical fringe of Bob Avakian cultists. I didn’t move in those circles, which is why for a long time I perceived the SJW phenomenon to be a highly fringe phenomenon largely confined to the Internet: Completely insane, to be sure, but amusing, entertaining, and ultimately harmless. WaPo opinion columnist Catherine Rampell agrees:

It just so happens that I left university just as the party was getting started.

Tellingly, my only significant encounter with SJW activism on campus occured during my last term at UCB, in which I was taking a class on hominin evolution to satisfy the biology part of the breadth requirements needed to graduate.

The professor showed the class the following clip from The Neanderthal Man, a bad 1953 scifi movie in which a mad scientist injects himself with a serum that regresses animals to their “primitive” states, which for humans is the Neanderthal. Or rather, the black, hirsute apeman that 1950s folks apparently imagined Neanderthals to be. This Neanderthal man proceeded to terrorize picnicking couples, bashing in the mens’ heads and taking away the women to the accompaniment of campy music.

Overall, this is pretty tame stuff – no blood, no nudity, and an overly slapstick tenor to it all – as was typical of Hollywood movies during the MPPC era. No normal person, I am sure, would take exception to showing this clip to a class of adult students for the purposes of illustrating the popular outlook on Neanderthals in the middle of the 20th century.

However, at least one member of the class did take very strong exception to it.

“Excuse me, professor,” piped up a dark-haired girl in Ben Folds glasses. “Showing rape scenes can be deeply traumatic to survivors of rape and sexual assault. This class is supposed to be a space safe, and you should have either refrained from showing this clip, or at least accompanied it with a trigger warning.”

Wow, just wow, I can’t even! I am not even exaggerating. While I hardly have perfect recollection, and her precise wording would have been different, this is in fact more or less the gist of what she said, down to the stilted speaking style as if she was reading from an SJW glossary.

After a long silence, the class burst out laughing, and the professor, maintaining decorum but obviously struggling to battle down his mirth, told her that her that while he appreciated her concerns, the content he presented was appropriate for mature adult viewers and justified in view of the learning goals of the class. He added that he was not a qualified psychologist, so he lacked the competence to conduct any further discussions on the topic. In the event that she had any lingering concerns, he offered to refer her to a professional psychologist, or to the university department responsible for dealing with student complains (safe in the knowledge that it would chucked out with a chuckle). Her classmates were rather less polite in their responses, telling her to Reddit and Tumblr all about it after class. Very soon she realized just how weird her outburst must have looked from the sidelines, and resolved to work on her social skills and stop being an attention whore.

Of course that last part is a total fiction.

As opposed to what would happen in any normal society, the professor, who didn’t have tenure, apologized to her profusely. He thanked her for pointing out that the clip was problematic and promised that he wouldn’t show it again in his class. He invited her to further discuss her concerns with him after class or during office hours. The other students sat quietly in what I assumed was dumbfounded silence, though I might well have been overly optimistic considering that the latest polls show that an absolute majority of American students are opposed to free speech on campus.

Either way, everyone remained silent as Ben Folds glasses girl denounced prof to his face, and that of course included myself.

The professor had to get his tenure, and I had to satisfy my breadth requirement and quietly get the fuck out of a university system fast becoming a nursery school for coddled and aggressive manchildren. In the meantime, the SJW ideology and its Red Guard methods wracked up yet another Gramscian victory.

Yesterday, the Wikileaks Twitter account posted the following graph showing the growth of SJW terms such as “trigger warnings,” “microaggressions,” and “safe spaces” on the Internet in the past few years. This pretty much confirms the impression that it was limited to a sort of “enclave of extremism” until 2014 or so, but – much like the metaphor traditionally used to explain the concept of exponential growth, that of pondweed spreading almost imperceptibly slowly at the start to filling in the rest of the pond extremely rapidly at the end – has recently come to play a very prominent role in the social discourse; and indeed, much in the manner of pondweed, in a way that stiffles better and more varied alternatives.

Though Nationalist, Alt Right, and even mainstream conservative hostility to SJWism is entirely predictable, it is curious to see that cryptoanarchists and cypherpunks have adopted essentially the same negative stance towards it. Why? Because “generation trauma fad is pro-censorship which impedes our work,” according to a further comment by Wikileaks. The intense SJW hostility to cypherpunks and free information activists, probably on account of the fact that they are overwhelmingly composed of free-spirited intelligent white men – a hostility displayed throughout the Western state-sponsored campaign to persecute Julian Assange, not to mention the entirety of Gamergate – must have also played their roles in significantly “immunizing” this class of people from SJW ideology.

Since indigenous nationalism may well be the greatest challenge to the power of the Atlanticist elites, and cypherpunks provide some of the most potent tools to actualize it, it is surely rather telling that SJWs have so viciously focused on precisely these groups, as opposed to, say, actual American oligarchs and their shitlord tendencies like having sex segregated trophy wives. I wonder to what extent SJWism might even be a creation of the American deep state, to be used as an icebreaker against opponents of the creeping surveillance/security state at home and increasingly, abroad. If this sounds like that’s too much of a conspiracy theory – not that being such makes it necessarily wrong – consider that it’s now common knowledge that the CIA promoted modern art to undermine the Soviet Union. And, incidentally – and so conveniently – to provide a new and convenient method for Western oligarchs to store and increase their wealth.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Neandertals, SJWs, Triggering, Yale 

One constant theme in the immigration “debate” is that the world of Mutti Merkel and Sweden Yes! are just too stupid and/or WEIRD (capitalized) to get that it probably isn’t such a great idea to import millions of 80 IQ Third Worlders with a penchant for cultural enrichment. In fantasyland, they will help pay European pensions and provide workers; in practice, Germany and Sweden are cutting benefits, raising taxes, upping the retirement age, and kicking their own people out of social housing to provide lodgings for the Abduls and Jamals who will take good care of them.

But these two explanations are highly questionable. While the Eurocrat elites might be many things, one thing they are not is stupid. For that matter, Merkel herself is a cited physicist. Nor is it obvious to me that they are too WEIRD for their own good. Plenty of senior establishment figures have openly come out against mass immigration and they are not all called Viktor Orban. For that matter, Merkel herself in 2010 had said that European multiculturalism had failed and had no future. (This, fundamentally, is why back then I was so skeptical about the Eurabia concept. I still assumed that democracies at least to some extent answered to their people and that immigration would drastically slow down as political sentiment drifted against it. Instead, we are now seeing Sweden replacing more than 2% of its population annually, even as the “far right” Sweden Democrats climb to 25%+ in the polls. At such rates, what was once sci-fi has become a real demographic scenario).

What explains the volte face?

Maybe this particular stone just kills too many birds not to have been eventually thrown. At this point, perhaps more “conspiratorial” explanations can come to the fore.

(1) Suppress European nationalism, not just politically but eventually, demographically. It just so happens that nationalism – not socialism, social democracy, or even (especially) social justice – is also the greatest threat to oligarchic power. That is because the modern Left is too obsessed with vague notions of “social justice” to notice, while the Right only cares about making life easier for its big business sponsors in between satisfying its cuckoldry fetish.

(2) One way of doing this is to steadily stiffle freedom of speech on both the Internet and meatspace on the pretext of fighting racism and xenophobia. See the recent leaked Mutti-Zucky conversation on this:

(3) Incidentally, the SJWs and mainstream media are doing much of the “gruntwork” in this respect, so that’s an additional bonus. For instance, the Reddit regional default sub /r/europe under the benevolent guidance of /u/dClauzel is infamous for banning all real criticism of the immigration wave.

(4) This means real repressive actions, such as the endless legal cases against Marine Le Pen, can be kept at a relative minimum. That repressive reserve can be “saved up” for the real domestic enemies of NWO oligarchs, who mainly seem to be cryptoanarchists like Assange and Snowden, and those “radical” (as in, who remember their roots – their radix) Leftists like Jeremy Corbyn and various Southern European upstarts who want to substantially overhaul the entire current system of total global financial power. They are demonized in the MSM, sidelined out of power to the maximum extent possible while maintaining some semblance of democracy, and if that doesn’t work they are eventually made offers they cannot refuse, as happened to Syriza.

(5) Neoliberalism can be legally entrenched, with “reforms” such as higher retirement ages and lower minimum wages pushed through to help the surviving Aylans with $15,000 annually, as Soros suggested. The media, organized in a few oligarch-owned conglomerates, is and will of course continue to be fully on board with this plan. The TPP will merely accelerate and globalize this process.

(6) The surveillance state has all the justifications it needs to continue metastasizing without end. Not just on the grounds of preventing terrorism, which wouldn’t be much of an issue had mass immigration not happened in the first place, but also perhaps to detect and trace back all the vile racists and their hate speech. Dystopian sci-fi scenario of mass unemployment in which universal basic income depends on your social justice karma level? You heard it here first.

(7) Finally, the permanent refugee crisis itself – not to mention many other ills too numerous to count – can be ascribed by a compliant media to whoever happens to be not under the NWO’s thumb, and as such, its enemy. Putin in particular comes to mind. This in turn can be used as a pretext to foment ever more instability in the Middle East and Russia’s borderlands, leading to their continued destabilization, ever bigger refugee outflows, and the consolidation of the neoliberal/surveillance/social justice transnational Atlantic megastate.

No doubt there are many very powerful people who stand to benefit from all this.

I wonder to what extent this is an organized conspiracy as opposed to an emergent phenomenon. At one point, I used to think it was mostly or entirely the latter. But why not the former? (apart from the convenient notion promoted by the MSM that conspiracies aren’t real and people who credit any measure of truth to them are paranoid uneducated idiots)

goldberg-troll

He literally looks like a trollface.

Consider the recent case of Joshua Goldberg, an impressive Internet troll who managed to pose as a White Nationalist who wrote for The Daily Stormer, a Jewish supremacist calling for Palestinian extermination, a crazy feminist SJW against Gamergate, and an Islamist extremist who managed to unlock that most elusive of troll achievements: Convincing people to carry out a terrorist attack in meatspace.

One Goldberg – tens of online aliases, thousands of virtual discussions, hundreds of thousands of Likes, upvotes, and shares to Facebook and Twitter.

A few tens of Goldbergs (with some AI bots helping out) – thousands of online aliases, millions of virtual discussions, billions of Likes, upvotes, and shares to Facebook and Twitter.

Maybe with some highly illegal and sordid initiation rituals to serve as potential kompromat.

Maybe an Agent 47 or three to prevent too many people spilling too many beans in too short an interval of time.

Maybe with a few conspiratorial-looking fronts – the Bilderberg Club in particular comes to mind – to take the “heat” away from any real conspiracy.

Put that way, it doesn’t seem all that impossible, now does it?

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Conspiracy Theories, Immigration, RealWorld 

One of the more frustrating misconceptions Westerners have about Russia – including even many of the more well meaning ones – is that Putin is some kind of nationalist.

He is not. Nor was he ever.

It appeared he might be sort of leaning in that direction in the heady days after Crimea’s return into Russia. For the first time, he even started using the term russkie – ethnic Russians, as opposed to the multiethnic, and about as fictional as “Soviet,” nationality called rossiyane – in some of his speeches. But since then he moved back into old forms and familiar habits, and the wholesale “regathering of the Russian lands” that many (but far from all – it’s complicated) Russian nationalists were salivating after in mid-2014 wasn’t to happen.

This is not, of course, to say that Putin is a bad leader, or anti-Russian, like the real Russian nationalists have always claimed. It is not exactly a secret that yours truly believes he is objectively better for the Russian nation and its ethnic minorities than any plausible liberal or Communist opposition alternative. But apart from being a patriot, Putin is also an ethnic blank slatist. No nationalist of whatever stripe would have allowed large-scale Central Asian immigration into the Slavic Russian heartlands, which even many of my decidedly anti-nationalist and cosmopolitan acquaintances in Russia have complained about.

And most nationalists would have supported Novorossiya to the hilt, Western sanctions and ostracism be damned. Ironically Putin might get damned either way. It doesn’t much matter if you steal $10,000 (Crimea) or $10 billion (Novorossiya and Malorossiya) from a bank. Either way, the (world) police is going after you. I personally don’t fully buy this argument 100%, but it should be stressed that this has been one of the main domestic criticisms of Putin’s Ukraine policy from the Right (which in Russia includes the Hard Left, i.e. the Communists). And these criticisms are arguably far more potent and potentially dangerous for Putin than criticisms from pro-Western liberals for going against the West.

10155125_722041587847886_5018408765055168752_n

Egor Prosvirnin, the chief editor of Sputnik i Pogrom, the closest thing Russia has to a US-style Alt Right.

It is in this context that we the see the police search of Egor Prosvirnin’s apartment, and the confiscation of his computer and other electronics.

Egor Prosvirnin is the chief editor of Sputnik i Pogrom (SiP), a Russian nationalist glossy magazine. Unlike most of the Neo-Nazis and liberal nationalists, they are ardent supporters of Novorossiya, and tend to idolize Tsarism and the White movement. Prosvirnin has met with Igor Strelkov on several occasions and SiP has been responsible for raising several millions of dollars in humanitarian aid and in organizing “vacations” to the lush resorts of the Donbass. In this sense, their Novorossiya policy is in line with that of the Communists and the Eurasianist imperialists, and (to a far more limited extent) to that of the Russian state proper.

It is also the closest thing Russia has to a US-style Alt Right, though as with all European nationalist movements, it does not have the Americans’ preoccupation with race, and is far less literate on IQ matters. Its writers tend to be young, socially liberal, supportive of free speech, and unusually familiar with Europe and the US. It has been called “Russian nationalism for hipsters” by several commentators. One anecdote to illustrate this: Dugin, their “Eurasian” antithesis, appears to believe “transhumanism” is some particularly deviant variant of transgenderism. The SiPers, in stark contrast, are familiar with Ray Kurzweil and write articles about Russia’s potential role in the technological singularity.

Sometimes this familiarity with the West leads them down some very questionable avenues in which they overestimate Western wisdom and intellectual vitality. I got the (possibly mistaken) impression that Prosvirnin believes that the European immigration crisis is a devious plot by Germany to enhance its power in Europe, as opposed to Merkel being her usual dithering and feckless self. He is a militant atheist who wouldn’t be out of place at /r/atheism. He regularly cites Stratfor, and more or less reprints its geopolitical analysis. Now Stratfor might be very good at marketing itself as a “shadow CIA” but it is far less competent at actual geopolitics, or even password security for that matter. And the SiP guys are positively obsessed with the concept of “Putinsliv,” that is, the idea that Putin is going to “flush” Novorossiya anytime now. In this obsession, they are a somewhat ironic mirror image of Ukrainian “svidomy” who harp on about peremogi – victories, and zrada – betrayals, and the endless ways in which they morph and coalesce between each other.

But such minor quibbles aside, SiP is an excellent resource that regularly produces quality articles on Russian history and culture as well as on more loaded political topics, and (for Russian speakers) it is well worth its $50 annual subscription price. Its name regardless, it is not particularly anti-Semitic. It just don’t care about Jews very much (which admittedly is equivalent to anti-Semitism in many Western and Russian liberal circles).

Nor, until recently, did SiP appear to have particularly big problems with the Russian state.

What happened?

Russia does not have the First Amendment. It does have Article 282 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes hate speech, like in most European countries. But it is a tool that has been wielded selectively, mostly against politicians of the Neo-Nazi persuasion. Incidentally, the Neo-Nazis as well as the “liberal nationalists” (mostly Krylov and the more famous Navalny) have for the most part been the Russian nationalists most against Novorossiya, seeing it as a sovok creature and praising the Ukrainian junta as the new citadel of the White Nationalist global revolution. (Asking them what they thought of this White nationalist paradise having a Jewish oligarch as Fuehrer and an Armenian sci-fi nerd as Goering was a reliable and entertaining way to trigger them).

Anyway, Article 282… a tool that has been wielded selectively… until now. In that its application against a public figure with no obvious Neo-Nazi connections and a history of support for Novorossiya is unprecedented.

Now to be fair, Prosvirnin has always been staunchly – even rabidly – anti Putin. But this never got him into legal trouble before, so that is unlikely to have been a key motivator now.

The pessimistic explanation – and one advanced by Prosvirnin himself – is that Putin is indeed plotting some great “zrada” (betrayal) against Novorossiya. Naturally, this would excite massive opposition amongst most Russian nationalists, so in this interpretation the confiscation of Prosvirnin’s computer equipment – especially were it to lead to further arrests and prosecutions of Novorossiya supporters – could be the Russian state nipping potential opposition in the bud.

Here is the opinion of one SiP writer, Kirill Kaminets:

Now it should be noted at the outset that SiP doesn’t have a great predictive record. It is been predicting Putinsliv for more than a year now, but during this same period the DNR and LNR have consolidated themselves as functioning states, and the Novorossiya Armed Forces are far more powerful today than they were even in early 2015 during the Battle of Debaltsevo. It would be strange of Putin to have enabled all this, only to “flush” it all down later on. In any case, the Minsk Agreements are failing on all fronts – most of all thanks to helpful Ukrainian nationalists who are the main obstacle to Poroshenko implementing his side of the deal. With Minsk II in its death throes, it would be exceedingly difficult for Putin to commit his “zrada” in any plausibly face-saving way.

And yet… and yet…

If that is indeed the plan, to decisively close up the Novorossiya project, try to make amends with the junta, and hope they and the Western “partners” forget and forgive Crimea, this is pretty much what I’d be doing in Putin’s place: Harassing and seizing the computers of Novorossiya supporters, using that to build criminal cases against them, discrediting them in the media, and sending them off to prison. So this might conceivably be Step 1 of such an operation. Or it might not be. It probably isn’t.

But then again… back in July of this year, Prosvirnin on his Facebook page – I can’t locate it now, but it was certainly there – predicted that Novorossiya would soon be betrayed (nothing new) and replaced with a propaganda campaign in favor of Russian involvement in Syria, including boots on the ground (very new!).

He even argued that this would be a way of mending US-Russian relations, which certainly cuts against the conventional wisdom – both in the mainstream and the altsphere – that the West and Russia are fundamentally at odds in Syria and that the US is committed to seeing Assad go.

In effect, Russia would doing the “dirty” work of wrapping up the Syrian Civil War with the quiet acquiescence and approval of the West and the Gulf Arab states while they get to wash their hands of it, condemn Russia, take meaningless symbolic actions against it (e.g. requesting that Greece close its airspace to Russian military cargo only for Greece to promptly refuse it), and otherwise quietly shake Putin’s hand and congratulate him with the restoration of order in the Levant and, in the Europeans’ case, for helping end the refugee crisis.

And for all my, and the Saker’s, prior skepticism… some of this does seem to be happening.

Russians tanks and gunships are appearing in the Alawite heartlands. Bases are getting expanded. According to the latest reports from gazeta.ru (an anti-Kremlin publication), Russian military contractors are being sent to Syria to fight for Assad against their will.

It looks increasingly that Prosvirnin must have either guessed very, very well… or that he had very, very senior informants in the Kremlin.

If this version of affairs is in any way accurate, then it appears that Putin is setting himself up for a fail of epic, 1989-like proportions.

My operating assumption is that the US does not tend to honor those of its commitments that are not both written and binding (just ask Gorbachev about NATO expansion). Imagine that Russia “sorts out” Syria, assuming onto itself the opprobrium of keeping “bloody Assad” in power and doubtless taking some military casualties in the process to boot. Assume it also betrays Novorossiya, as Prosvirnin has been insisting it would for over a year now. Assume it does all this on some promise from the US to drop sanctions, accept Crimea, and help reintegrate Russia into the international (read: Western) community.

But why would it?

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on… shame on you, as that old Texan saying somewhere in Tennessee goes. If Putin falls for a trap this obvious, he will have nobody to blame himself. And with an approval rating now presumably in tatters, he will find both nationalists and liberals coming at him with knives unsheathed (unless, perhaps, he takes care of them beforehand).

But it is also this very obviousness that is also the best argument against it. Say what you will of him, but one thing Putin definitely is not, is stupid.

The alternative explanation, and one in line with the theory of the “mnogokhodovka” – the idea or faith amongst pro-Kremlin commentators that Putin has a very devious, multi-step plan for final victory in Ukraine – is that Putin does plan to walk into this trap but to then spring it on the US itself. If so, it would be fascinating to see this play out.

The third, and in my opinion likeliest scenario, is that both Prosvirnin and I are overanalyzing things, that the case against Egor is just what it says on the tin (alleged hate speech in one of SiP’s articles), and that nothing particularly radical is happening in either Syria or Ukraine.

Though in fairness to Prosvirnin, he at least has the benefit of his conspiracy theories being given weight by the heavy, arbitrary hand of the Russian justice system.

 
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 “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.