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Hillary Clinton

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Contrary to my expectations, I think Trump lost his first debate.

He started out strong, stronger than HRC, but then declined a lot in the third round on foreign policy – on what should have been his strongest round.

And he really lost it at the end when they pulled out the woman card.

I say this as a Trump supporter who has called Trump as the winner at each of his appearances at the Republican nomination debates.

Unfortunately, this time he really fell short, and so far as I can tell the predictions markets seem to agree with this assessment.

It’s not an absolute disaster. Trump did get in many of his key points, and remained stringently reasonable for most of the debate. However, his lack of preparation really showed. He will have to get a lot more clinical in his attacks if he wants to bring down HRC, because she will not be doing it for him.

Here are my comments on each of the three rounds:

Achieving Prosperity

Trump was very good here, really playing up protectionism – something he has been a consistent proponent for since the 1980s – in a way that credibly jived with working class concerns in the Rustbelt. He also pointed out HRC’s disingenuous comments on the TPP. She could only respond with a lame plea to check out her website and her book (that is rated 1.4 stars on Amazon).

Trump laid out a credible and easily understandable plan to reshore industry to the US by imposing tariff barriers and lowering regulations. This includes lowering the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Although the US is, overall, an excellent place to do business in – it consistently places within the top 10 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings – its rate of corporate tax remains one of the highest in the world (most of Europe is at 20%-30%!). And his promise to get rid of the carried interest provision is highly progressive. Although HRC tried to paint all this as a giveaway to the 1%, I do not think she succeeded.

He also drew attention to the ballooning debt, the politicization of the Fed, and the “big fat ugly bubble” that is the current economy, which should help get him the last few Paulistas who have yet to hop aboard the Trump Train.

The attacks on his refusal to present his tax returns were deftly deflected, and redirected towards HRC’s continuing emails scandal. He also managed to present himself as an able businessman who will save money and revamp America’s “Third World” infrastructure. That said, his response to allegations he did not pay some of his workers – “I did not like the job he did” – was weak and must have come off as callous to many people.

I would say he won this round. Trump – 8/10, HRC – 6/10.

America’s Direction

With a focus on race. Dis gonna be gud!

HRC did her standard pandering spiel, repeating the claim that young black men are more likely to be arrested, charged, and imprisoned for the same crime as whites. This “systemic racism” had to be countered by the end of mandatory minimal sentences, more second chance programs, and better police training. Because, apparently, politically correct diktats on “implicit bias” are sure to be more effective at fighting crime and protecting Blue Lives than a lifetime of instincts developed on the beat.

Now to be sure, Trump couldn’t exactly respond with dindu nuffin memes and FBI crime stats like some Alt Right shitlord – though HRC’s comments on how “everybody is jumping to conclusions about each other” was a perfect moment to mention that whole “basket of deplorables” affair. Still, he hammered his points in well, which was the most important thing. Trump emphasized the need for law and order; mentioned the endorsements that were flooding in from police unions; and pointed out that the number of homicides has increased in the past year (HRC claimed otherwise. Trump is correct and she is wrong. With any luck, progressives cajoled into researching this further will stumble upon the Ferguson Effect. And with any luck might even add two and #BLM). He even managed to slip in a mention of HRC’s “superpredator” comments, a “no, you” tactic that he would shortly use yet again.

As in the first segment, the moderator ended by mentioning another sore point for Trump – his promotion of the birther conspiracy theory. Trump had a reasonable reply, arguing that it was actually first raised by Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton-friendly journalist, and also mentioned the Kenyan garb photo spread by HRC’s campaign during the nomination contest against Obama in 2008. As such, HRC’s accusations of “racism” against him were just another example of her hypocritical “holier than thou” attitude. Overall, this was handled well, though of course some people will never be satisfied.

However, Trump’s counter to HRC’s claims that his real estate firm discriminated against black tenants was not well made. He said there had been no admission of guilt (“And so? Corporations can get away with anything,” a critic might reply), and provided a counterexample of inclusion… in the form of an non-discriminating rich person’s club that he owns in Palm Beach, Florida. This was tone deaf with regards to both blacks and the 99%, but unfortunately rather typical for Trump, who has a tendency to talk too much about his projects and especially the things he builds for rich people. Eventually, it becomes tiring, even for people who aren’t much enarmored with “We are the 1%” rhetoric.

Overall, I think Trump won this round as well, though by a thinner margin than the first. Trump – 7/10, HRC – 6/10.

Securing America

In the final round, HRC went on the warpath, the moderator’s shilling for her became pretty much explicit, and Trump tumbled badly on what should have been his strongest round.

I was actually smiling when HRC started off with her standard jeremiad about cybersecurity and the Russian menace. This was not a good idea, especially for someone with her record. Had her earpiece failed? Was the medical cocktail she’d been injected with beginning to wear off? Her arguments were almost self-refuting. The Russian angle is trivially easy to mock and dismiss, given the complete lack of evidence that it was actually Russia who had broken into the DNC. Furthermore, her comments essentially gave Trump free ammo to attack her on her own criminal misconduct with respect to matters of national security and her alleged complicity in stealing the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders.

And at first, Trump delivered. He mentioned that he had gained the endorsement of 200 admirals and generals. He pointed out that the hacks might have come from Russia, but it could equally well have been China, or even some “400 pound hacker” lying on a bed. The disturbing thing was that this had been possible in the first place, not to mention the revelations themselves – namely, that Bernie Sanders had been “taken advantage of by your people.” This was a well-advised nod to wavering Bernouts.

But it all went downhill from there.

Despite having already confronted a hostile Republican elite on the question of the Iraq War, Trump turned a lot more mellow on this issue in this debate – even though his audience, now half Democratic, should have been a great deal more receptive to it.

As Pumpkin Person points out, this allowed a thoroughly compromised HRC to turn the situation to her advantage:

I was stunned that Trump let Hillary and the moderator put him on the defensive for supporting the war when Hillary was a million times more culpable.

All Trump said in support of the war was shrugged and said “I guess so” when asked by Stern if he supported it but from then on he was against it.

By contrast Hillary actually VOTED for it in the senate, gave it bipartisan legitimacy, gave a speech wrongly claiming Saddam Hussein had links to Al Qaeda, and her husband propagandized for war on Letterman.

And yet Hillary made Trump look like the war monger and all Trump could do was babble incoherently when he could have ripped her to shreds on that point since it was the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history.

He repeated the line that “we should have taken their oil.” That might have played well with Republican hardasses, but it would have won him no favor amongst the progressives unhappy with HRC’s neocon-in-all-but-name militancy. A missed opportunity.

HRC argued that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric put him in a bad position to negotiate with the Muslim countries that are involved with the US in the fight against ISIS. Instead of riposting that her wars killed infinitely more Muslims than his comments ever did, or questioning the legitimacy of the sectarian involvement of Muslim countries in the Syrian civil war, or perhaps mentioning the Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation and the influence they might have on HRC’s decisionmaking, he… went on some kind of rambling rant about Obama’s weakness on Iran and the need to go into Iraq with NATO (sic). “I have a much better temperament than Hillary,” Trump concluded. Kk.

Trump expressed his sentiment that America no longer had the means to be the “world’s policeman,” and repeatedly complained that Germany, Japan, Korea, and America’s other allies don’t pay the full cost of their own defense. We know that this is a reference to the inability of almost all NATO member states to meet the informal guideline of spending 2% of their GDP on the military, which allows them and Japan to enjoy the American security umbrella for free and use the savings to provide more social benefits to their citizens. Explained thus, Trump could have appealed to the anti-war left, many of whom hate HRC; but expressed in Trump’s trademark money-grubbing language, the point was lost for progressives while failing to satisfy the #NeverTrump types kvetching about Trump’s disregard for America’s international “obligations” anyway.

In contrast, HRC struck a consistently more professional and “learned” tone; vapid at its core, to be sure, but seemingly profound to the casual observer.

At this point, this could have still been a tie, just about, but much worse was about to come. It was time for the woman card.

The moderator asked Trump to clarify his comments that HRC doesn’t have the “presidential look.” Trump just about avoided getting stumped by insisting that he actually said HRC didn’t have the stamina, but that allowed her to make this killer riposte: “Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”

Instead of using this as an opening to go back to the emails issue, Trump bought into HRC’s frame by acknowledging that she had “experience,” but prepending that it was “bad experience.” However, this argument fell flat because Trump had failed to properly grill her over the Iraq War and her other international misadventures. In any case, unfortunately for Trump, the debate had already moved beyond foreign policy. It was now about affirming HRC as a strong womyn and Trump as a misogynistic pig.

Plunging in the shiv hard and deep, HRC said that Trump had called women pigs, slobs, and dogs; reminded viewers of his comments that pregnancy was an inconvenience for employers; and criticized him for his love of beauty contests and his comments about a certain “Miss Piggy” who is a Latina and will not be voting for Trump.

Now this need not have been fatal, had Trump kept his cool. He could have claimed that these comments had been taken out of context. He could have used that to segue into his childcare proposals. He could have pointed to his good record on hiring women. He could have joked that at least he had kept his beauty contests out of the Oval Office. Not so politically correct, but funny and classically Trumpian. And if HRC wanted to play rough, there was no shortage of ways Trump could have stumped her with Bill’s record. Bombing Yugoslavia to draw attention away from the Lewinsky affair? You can be assured I’ll keep it to just words. After all, we have the best words, don’t we folks?

Instead he decided it would be a better idea to go on a bitter rant about how Rosie O’Donnell had “deserved” his tough words – no matter that everyone up until this point had forgotten about her – and then proceeding to whine about HRC’s negative attack ads against him. Even the staunchest Trump supporters would admit that complaining about tone is just about the last thing he should be doing. But this particular juxtaposition was especially awful.

In short, HRC stepped up her game and went on the attack, while Trump was unable to adapt and ended up affirming the prevaricating warmongering asshole stereotype that liberals have affixed to him after having refuted them in the previous two rounds.

What should have been a crowning triumph for Trump after the hard slog of the first two rounds turned into a debacle. Trump – 3/10, HRC – 7/10.

 
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Putin Derangement Syndrome and Trump Derangement Syndrome continue moving towards an ever more perfect union.

Problem is: Putin is not actually a proponent of extreme nationalism, let along its godfather. At least, not according to the people who would presumably know best: The vast majority of, like, actual Russian nationalists.

They tend to consider Putin as a representative of sovok “multinationality,” who sends “real” Russian nationalists off to jail under the infamous Article 282 (one of them, Alexander Potkin/Belov, was jailed for 7.5 years on the same day as Hillary Clinton’s announcement) while allowing mass immigration and the transfer of the Russian economy to minorities and ethnic clans. 20% of Russia’s billionaires are Jews according to a study by Lenta a couple of years ago, and a recently released report by Forbes Russia revealed that only one of the ten richest “clans” in Russia are ethnically Russian, or russkie. (Incidentally, that is a term that, tellingly, Putin himself hardly ever uses, preferring the ethnically neutral term “rossiyane” that refers to all Russian citizens. A quick way of estimating how “based” a Russian commentator is Ctrl-F’ing and tallying the russkie/rossiyane ratio in his texts).

Of course the irony is that the Clinton Clique tends to like those kinds of anti-Putin nationalists and their Ukrainian counterparts.

nuland-meeting-parubiy

Clinton protege Victoria Nuland meeting with Parubiy, Chairman of the Rada and founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine.

As for Putin’s actual nationalist/non nationalist status, what both Pozocracy hacks and the more “svidomy” elements of the Western Alt Right fail to realize is that in between:

(1) Being an open borders “keep them at arm’s length” cuck; and

never-said-this(2) Living up to the overly “optimistic”/false image that the “Russophile” wing of the Alt Right (summarized in the widely shared but 100% fake meme/quote to the right) – and the Putin Derangement Syndrome-suffering SJWs and (((neocons))) – have of Putin;

… there is a pretty big middle ground around which Putin actually falls.

Yes, many Russian nationalists are sitting under Article 282 (some of them deservedly, but yes, many of them regrettably not; it is an unjust law that should ideally go the way of the rest of Europe’s “hate laws,” i.e. into the dustbin of history). But, at least, Russia also imprisons many Islamic extremists and even anti-ethnic Russians under that same law (a partial lack of double standards that the Council of Europe is very unhappy about). And moderate Russian (anti-immigration) nationalists like Egor Kholmogorov – I have translated a couple of his pieces here and here – are hardly social or legal pariahs; they get to write op-eds in the nation’s highest circulation newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda.

And there are even outright nationalists in positions of power, such as Dmitry Rogozin, who was an outright (anti-immigration) nationalist. He currently curates the military-industrial prospect and is not an altogether impossible (if highly unlikely) Presidential successor. Although with power, he has also of course strongly toned down his prior ethnonationalist rhetoric.

To reiterate, there is a very wide spectrum between a self-hating cuckold like Wolfgang Schaeuble and /pol/’s image of Ben Garrison, and on that spectrum, Putin is far closer to the likes of Trump, Le Pen, and Orban than he is to the Western political elites aka the Pozocracy (on this, at least, the Western MSM has it correct). Reasonable figures in the Alt Right recognize such as Richard Spencer recognize that they can’t have their way all of the time, and as such urge people to support these sorts of “middle ground” politicians, despite their occasional concessions to cuckoldry (even though Spencer himself got arrested in and banned from in Hungary for holding an identitarian conference so he has personal reasons to be skeptical of Orban).

However, this still does not make Putin a nationalist. In reality, like most serious politicians, Putin is a complex figure who continuously carries out an ideological balancing act (remember Angela Merkel’s “multiculturalism is a failure” speech, a long time ago in a galaxy far away?). Yes, nationalism is necessarily a part of that, and yes, to a greater extent than a decade ago, but it still needs to be balanced out against liberal, conservative, and socialist countercurrents. The dominant strand within Russia’s current ideological matrix is liberal-conservatism, a set of political and social ideas developed under late Tsarism and later amongst the White emigration that were perpendicular to both Marxism and Westernophile cargo cultism. The philosopher that Putin cites most frequently is Ivan Ilyin, an uncompromising anti-Stalinist emigre with views that are decidedly unorthodox (one daresays, cuckservative) for a Russian “extreme nationalist.”

Here are a couple of notes I made while reading Ilyin’s Our Tasks recently:

* Frankly he is much more of an anti-Communist ideologue than a Russian nationalist. He condemns in no uncertain terms those members of the White movement who were drawn towards the late Stalinist USSR by its adoption of quasi-nationalist rhetoric and is generally sanguine about Western (though not German) intentions towards Russia, casually discussing even the prospect of the atomic bombing of his country. That is decidedly strange for a nationalist, even a highly anti-Communist one.

* He even condemns the “oppression” of ethnic minorities in the USSR, whereas a staple of traditional Russian nationalist narratives on the USSR is the disproportional influence of ethnic minorities (especially the Jews) for its “anti-Russian” nature. So far he has been rather vague on the “who to blame” question as regards the Bolshevik Revolution, not going much further than “spiritual sickness.” Again, that is very milquetoast stuff, for a purported nationalist.

Putin’s nationalism, to the extent that it exists, boils down to a practical and materialist sort of patriotism or at most, a Human Biodiversity-naive civic nationalism:

We do not have and cannot have any unifying idea other than patriotism. … You said that public servants and business and all citizens in general work to make the country stronger. Because if that is the case, then each of us, each citizen will live better, and have higher incomes and be more comfortable, and so on. And that is the national idea. It isn’t ideological, it isn’t connected with any party or any stratum of society. It is connected to a general, unifying principle. If we want to live better, then the country must become more attractive for all citizens, more effective, and the public service and state apparatus and business must all become more effective. As you said, we work for the country, not understanding it in an amorphous way, like in Soviet times… when the country came first and then there was who knows what. The country is people, that’s what working ‘for the country’ means.

Of course even this might be rather too much for someone who blames whitey when blacks shoot up policemen and rewards the families of Islamic terrorists with front row seats at her conventions. (Though given HRC’s own “racist” skeletons – associations with KKK figures, the comments on superpredators, punitive anti-Black sentencing laws, etc. – it’s quite clear that her BLM and feminist pandering rhetoric is completely cynical and mercenary).

Now to be sure, Hillary Clinton can easily get away with such comments about Putin because of the strong ignorance of Russian political realities in the West and the Russophobic tilt of the Western media. But such comments elicit more skepticism when applied to anti-elite politicians in Western countries, because by definition Westerners are more familiar with them and they are pretty clearly not true (for instance, the “nationalist” Marine Le Pen is basically the conservative mainstream of yesteryear, being infinitely closer to Charles De Gaulle than, say, Marshal Pétain). And they should elicit much more skepticism when used to smear Donald Trump, given that basically everything “racist” he has ever said was taken out of context.

Will such ceaseless lying and prevarication, of which this is but one example, eventually rebound against Hillary Clinton and the mainstream media?

And eventually, perhaps, even on American perceptions of Russia?

After all if you can’t trust your media and self-proclaimed experts to tell your the truth about your own country, why should you defer to them to them on the Far Abroad?

Let us hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

 
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To be sure, Trump is no affable geezer like Bernie.

bernie-oval-office-blm

That said, he has nothing on Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton has excoriated Donald Trump for failing to stop a supporter from roughing up a protester during a speech, saying “This kind of behavior is repugnant. We set the tone for our campaigns — we should encourage respect, not violence.” Yet, in 2011, she did nothing to stop security personnel from brutalizing a 71-year-old veteran who stood silently with his back to her during a speech.

The protester, Ray McGovern, a retired Army officer and CIA analyst, was wearing a black “Veterans for Peace” T-shirt, when he was set upon within sight of Secretary of State Clinton, who ironically was delivering a speech about the importance of foreign leaders respecting dissent. The assault on McGovern left him bruised and bloodied but it didn’t cause Clinton to pause as she coolly continued on, not missing a beat.

Note that this was a completely non-violent and even non-verbal protest in contrast to the BLM titushki hired by Soros to disrupt Trump’s rallies.

On Feb. 15, 2011, McGovern attended Clinton’s GWU speech, deciding on the spur of the moment after feeling revulsion at the “enthusiastic applause” that welcomed the Secretary of State “to dissociate myself from the obsequious adulation of a person responsible for so much death, suffering and destruction.

“The fulsome praise for Clinton from GW’s president and the loud, sustained applause also brought to mind a phrase that as a former Soviet analyst at CIA I often read in Pravda. When reprinting the text of speeches by high Soviet officials, the Communist Party newspaper would regularly insert, in italicized parentheses: ‘Burniye applaudismenti; vce stoyat’ , Stormy applause; all rise.

“With the others at Clinton’s talk, I stood. I even clapped politely. But as the applause dragged on, I began to feel like a real phony. So, when the others finally sat down, I remained standing silently, motionless, wearing my ‘Veterans for Peace’ T-shirt, with my eyes fixed narrowly on the rear of the auditorium and my back to the Secretary.

“I did not expect what followed: a violent assault in full view of Madam Secretary by what we Soviet analysts used to call the ‘organs of state security.’ The rest is history, as they say. A short account of the incident can be found here.

“As the video of the event shows, Secretary Clinton did not miss a beat in her speech as she called for authoritarian governments to show respect for dissent and to refrain from violence. She spoke with what seemed to be an especially chilly sang froid, as she ignored my silent protest and the violent assault which took place right in front of her.

But no, it is Donald Trump who is the thuggish authoritarian Hitler reborn.

Incidentally, this is an excellent metaphor for Hillary Clinton’s politics if there ever was one.

Subsequently, McGovern was placed on the State Department’s “Be On the Look-out” or BOLO alert list, instructing police to “USE CAUTION, stop” and question him and also contact the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Command Center.

After learning of the BOLO alert, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), which is representing McGovern in connection with the 2011 incident, interceded to have the warning lifted. But McGovern wondered if the warning played a role in 2014 when he was aggressively arrested by New York City police at the entrance to the 92nd Street Y where he had hoped to pose a question to a speaker there, one of Clinton’s friendly colleagues, former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus.

In contrast, the man who rushed up to Donald Trump on stage in what could potentially have been seen as an assassination attempt got rewarded with an interview with CNN for his trouble.

 
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My latest for VoR/US-Russia Experts panel. Hope you like the title. :)

The political fragmentation of the Soviet Union was one of the major contributing factors to the “hyper-depression” that afflicted not only Russia but all the other constituent republics in the 1990′s. The Soviet economy had been an integrated whole; an aircraft might have its engines sourced from Ukraine, its aluminium body from Russia, and its navigational ball-bearings from Latvia. Suddenly, border restrictions and tariffs appeared overnight – adding even more complexity and headaches to a chaotic economic situation. Although the region was in for a world of hurt either way, as economies made their screeching transitions to capitalism, disintegration only served to further accentuate the economic and social pain. In this respect, Putin was correct to call the dissolution of the Soviet Union one of the 20th century’s greatest geopolitical tragedies.

It is no longer possible – and in some cases, even desirable – to restore much of the productive capacity lost in that period. Nonetheless, renewed economic integration across the Eurasian space – with its attendant promise of less red tape (and hence lower opportunities for corruption), significantly bigger markets offering economies of scale, and the streamlining of legal and regulatory standards – is clearly a good deal for all the countries concerned from an economic perspective. There is overwhelming public support for the Common Economic Space in all member and potential member states: Kazakhstan (76%), Tajikistan (72%), Russia (70%), Kyrgyzstan (63%), Belarus (62%), and Ukraine (56%). The percentage of citizens opposed doesn’t exceed 10% in any of those countries. A solid 60%-70% of Ukrainians consistently approve of open borders with Russia, without tariffs or visas, while a further 20% want their countries to unite outright; incidentally, both figures are lower in Russia itself, making a mockery of widespread claims that Russians harbor imperialistic, “neo-Soviet,” and revanchist feelings towards “their” erstwhile domains.

This I suppose brings us to Ariel Cohen, neocon think-tanks, Hillary “Putin has no soul” Clinton, and John “I see the letters KGB in Putin’s eyes” McCain. They studiously ignore the fact that the Eurasian Union is primarily an economic association, and not even one that insists on being exclusionary to the EU. They prefer not to mention that the integration project has strong support in all the countries involved, with Russia not even being the most enthusiastic about it – which is quite understandable, considering that as its richest member it would also be expected to provide the lion’s bulk of any transfer payments. In this respect, it is the direct opposite of the way the Soviet Union was built – through military occupation, and against the will of the vast majority of the Russian Empire’s inhabitants. Though expecting someone like McCain, who one suspects views the “Tsars” and Stalin and Putin as matryoshka dolls nestled within each other, to appreciate any of that is unrealistic and a waste of time.

Enough with entertaining the senile ramblings from those quarters. Integration makes patent economic sense; it enjoys broad popular support throughout the CIS; and there are no global opponents to it – official China, for instance, is supportive – barring a small clique of prevaricating, anti-democratic, and perennially Russophobic ideologues centered in the US and Britain. Neither the West nor any other bloc has any business dictating how the sovereign nations of Eurasia choose to coordinate their economic and political activities.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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So Assange has fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, in scenes reminiscent of what happens to dissidents in truly authoritarian countries. (The parallels keep adding up don’t they).

Let’s recap. His site kept releasing classified documents, from secretive and typically nasty organizations. Too bad that some of them belonged to the Pentagon and the State Department; otherwise, no doubt Assange would still be feted as a heroic whistleblower in the West. Instead, he got an extradition request to Sweden for a rape at about the same time as Cablegate; a “rape” in which the purported victim tweeted about what a great guy he was the morning after (the tweet has since been deleted, of course). One of the supposed victims had posted online tips for girls on filing false rape reports on men who dumped them (this too has since been wiped).

Now Sweden is in Assange’s words “the Saudi Arabia of feminism” and indeed that much is undeniable to any reasonable person who doesn’t derive pleasure from slavishly kowtowing to women. See their recent attempts to ban men from pissing upright because apparently it is an assertion of patriarchy. And which other country could have produced a bestseller like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which would have instantly been condemned as misogynist claptrap had the slurs against men in it been instead been directed towards women? So even in the best possible interpretation it is Swedish feminists running amok in Europe, much like their Viking forefathers did a millennium ago. The alternative explanation is that this is politically motivated.

The balance of probabilities indicates that it probably is, with Swedish rape laws being used as a cover to repress Western dissidents. (Much like NATO uses leashed Islamist radicals to promote crusader hegemony in the Middle East). Although Sweden is considered to be a shining liberal democracy, the reality falls far short of that ideal as explained by Glenn Greenwald:

In general, small countries are more easily coerced and bullied by the U.S., and Sweden in particular has a demonstrated history of aceeding to U.S. demands when it comes to individuals accused of harming American national security. In December, 2001, Sweden handed over two asylum-seekers to the CIA, which then rendered them to be tortured in Egypt. A ruling from the U.N. Human Rights Committee found Sweden in violation of the global ban on torture for its role in that rendition (the two individuals later received a substantial settlement from the Swedish government). The fact that Sweden has unusually oppressive pre-trial procedures — allowing for extreme levels of secrecy in its judicial proceedings — only heightens Assange’s concern about what will happen to him vis-a-vis the U.S. if he ends up in Swedish custody.

These concerns are entirely rational because there has been an accumulating body of evidence indicating that the US has a sealed indictment against Assange. For instance, according to a Fred Burton (VP of Stratfor) email from this January, exposed in an Anonymous hack of the organization:

“Not for Pub – We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”

One can only imagine what Hillary Clinton discussed in her recent weekling visit to Sweden, the first such high-ranking American visit since 1976, to meet the Swedish neocon Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and other important Swedish functionaries.

And with only two weeks left at most since his extradition to Sweden, with all legal channels exhausted after the UK’s supreme court ruled 5-2 against his petition, it is of course understandable why Assange would want to claim political asylum in a country that is outside the Western imperial orbit (if still susceptible to its pressure). It’s basic self-preservation, not – as many blowhards argue – some perverted desire to escape “justice” for his sexual crimes.

Whither now? It is hard to tell. The US has a lot of clout and may well force Ecuador to surrender Assange to Scotland Yard. To some extent it seems like a dead end. Is it really possible for him to spent years within the Ecuadorian Embassy? The British police can’t legally enter it, but nor can Assange move anywhere, not even by helicopter or something (since that would require crossing British airspace). An “understanding” will have to be reached between Britain and Ecuador, as happened between Britain’s return of the Lockerbie Bomber to Libya in exchange for greater access to Libyan oilfields on the part of British oil corporations. Needless to say Ecuador has no such clout.

As usual, what I found most interesting was the media reaction to all this.

* The Guardian’s loathsome effort was Ecuador’s free speech record at odds with Julian Assange’s bid for openness. I.e., the Guardianista bastards pretend to give a fuck about Assange after their writers David Leigh and Luke Harding backstabbed Assange in one of the lowest ways possible, accusing Assange of revealing the passcodes to the unedited cables when it was they themselves who did it. At the same time they use the opportunity to crap all over Ecuador, only now deciding to notice some issues with freedom of speech rights even just a half year ago they’d written that Ecuador could be “the most radical and exciting place on earth”. Obviously, the Guardianista hate for Assange takes precedence over a brief fling with Ecuadorian policies on nature rights and tree-hugging.

* Western commentators are divided into two camps: One, and a majority I’d say, has swallowed the Kool Aid and rails for Assange to be arrested (even though that’s against international law), to “face the music”, to be assassinated, for Ecuador and his “buddies” in Bolivia and Venezuela to be bombed, etc. They also rant that if Assange had done this to Russia or China he’d have long since gone for an extended swim with the fishes, which they use to “prove” that Assange is an anti-Western fanatic; however, their frustration that the US doesn’t do something similar to what they imagine Russia or China would do is palpable. The other half sees it as the politically motivated issue that it almost certainly is.

* Russian commentary on this is far more cynical, even on liberal sites. About 80% believe it is politically motivated, and that the West too – like Russia – prosecutes dissent when it overreaches certain boundaries. Some even argue that it demonstrates Russia is more democratic than the West – after all, has anything happened to Navalny? Another 20% or so, that is liberals, buy wholly into the Establishment version that Assange is a sex predator who hates Western civilization and should be extradited to America ASAP. No doubt these folks are also the ones dreaming of “lustrations” once the Putin regime falls.

(Republished from AKarlin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
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These are the results of our first poll (running from January 11 to March 19).

I am pleased to see that the number of people thinking it’s brilliant decisively outnumber those who think it should be deleted. (So I’ll remain on the blogosphere.) Otherwise, don’t bother with digressions, aesthetics or more features, but concentrate more on regular news and editorials. Well, I’ll try. I’m not really the kind of person who loves pumping out stuff at constant intervals, but I’ll have a go at making updates more frequent (and posts smaller). As for Core Articles – well, we have a juicy one coming up tomorrow – Top 10 Russophobe Myths, as well as a finished News 19 March.

The next poll asks the question Which President would be best for US-Russia relations? (Feel free to interpret best as least worst).

Osama Hussein sounds reasonable.

Sen. Obama (D-IL) has said Russia is “neither our enemy nor close ally,” and said the United States “shouldn’t shy away from pushing for more democracy, transparency, and accountability” there. He has focused much of his discussion of Russia on diminishing the possibility of nuclear weapons use. In a July 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Obama said the United States and Russia should collaborate to “update and scale back our dangerously outdated Cold War nuclear postures and de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons.” In an October 2007 speech in Chicago, Obama said if elected he would work to “take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material.” He said he would seek a “global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons” and an expansion of “the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles.”

In 2005, Obama traveled with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) to nuclear and biological weapons destruction sites in Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. Obama and Lugar then introduced legislation to eliminate nuclear stockpiles throughout the former Soviet Union. That law was enacted in 2007.

Reasonable, dry and technical. A few meaningless platitudes about transparency and stuff. Excellent you say, crossing your fingers and smiling like an old billionaire creep? Not so fast…the eXile fears his Cabinet.

So, who are Obama’s advisors? This is where it gets a little scary. Obama has surrounded himself with a combination of the cream of Bill Clinton’s foreign policy team, a few gold-medal liberal hawk fanatics, and, worst of all, the obsessively Russophobic Zbigniew Brzezinski plus Zbig’s power-lawyer son, Mark.

Brzezniski pere is a Polish refugee who like so many East European immigrants brought his Old World bigotries to the New World as a guiding principle. That bigotry is a hatred of Russia and a desire to see it destroyed, no matter what the consequences. Indeed Brzezinski recently revealed his Dr. Evil plot from the late 1970s: as Carter’s National Security Advisor, he had personally overseen an operation to incite the Soviet-Afghanistan war, to draw Russia into invading in order to bleed his nemesis dry. Considering that the policy eventually led to the Taliban and 9/11, it’s a rather odd bragging right to claim. Unless you don’t give a shit about biting your host America’s nose off to spite your old enemy Russia’s face….in the 1990s, he led the charge for rapid NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, stood for pulling Ukraine into NATO as a way of weakening Russia, and pushed for control of Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea oil even at the cost of ignoring Azerbaijan’s anti-democratic regime. (Meanwhile Brzezinski worked for a consortium that allowed him to personally profited from Azeri oil). Most sinister of all, Brzezinski is a charter member of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, a creepy NGO featuring an A-List of Islam-bashing neocons like Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney and James Woolsey, who found a ray of Islamic pity in their Clash of Civilization hearts for just one Muslim people–the Chechens, who just happened, by coincidence, to conveniently be at war with Russia.

This leads to Brzezinski’s greatest livelong obsession: the idea (and the policy) of breaking up the Soviet Union along ethnic lines, an obsession going back to his college Master’s Thesis. It was an idea first trumpeted by Poland’s fascist intra-war dictator Jozef Pilsudski, and it fulfills every Polish nationalist’s dream of seeing Russia’s permanently confined to a wheelchair.

Brzezinski’s agenda should jibe perfectly with another all-star on Obama’s foreign policy team, Samantha Power, who is cut from the same liberal hawk cloth as all the Michael Ignatieffs, David Rieffs and Thomas Friedmans, not to mention the Anthony Lakes and other Clinton A-listers on Obama’s staff.

Furthermore, when he has taken on Michael “Myth of the Academic Model” McFaul as his Russia advisor; when Kim Zigfeld, the eponymous La Russophobe, thinks he has seen the Light; when Khodorkovsky henchman Robert Amsterdam claims:

It is interesting however to imagine how it could be possible to reconcile support of Barack Obama and support for Vladimir Putin. Such an inherent contradiction must rob one of sleep.

One does get a new appreciation for Bush’s diplomatic finesse when dealing with Russia. Are those years really going to become the Golden Age of US-Russian relations? With Obama, all bets are off.

So what about the Hildebeast, then?

Sen. Clinton (D-NY), like most of her fellow Democrats, favors diplomacy toward Russia with the goal of promoting democracy there and reducing nuclear stockpiles. In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Clinton pledged to “negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.”

She also called for engagement with Russia on “issues of high national importance,” including Iran, loose nuclear weapons, and the status of the Serbian province of Kosovo. She said Washington’s “ability to view Russia as a genuine partner depends on whether Russia chooses to strengthen democracy or return to authoritarianism and regional interference.”

Still, she told the Boston Globe in October 2007, “I’m interested in what Russia does outside its borders first. I don’t think I can, as the president of the United States, wave my hand and tell the Russian people they should have a different government.”

Awfully kind of her, deigning to allow Russians to choose their own government. But doesn’t sound too bad overall.

But then again, she is someone who can go on and on in detail about the failures of Russian democracy, yet manages to garble the name of one of the most important leader’s she’ll be working with for the next four years (if she gets elected), essentially calling him a woman. Most analysts are far from worked up by the prospect of President Hillary and Russia. And that’s on top of lame rip-offs from the McCainiac.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q55SxoaiJjw&w=425&h=355]

Well, at least Putin put her in her place. And talking of places, is the Presidency the right place for her? Unfortunately, yes. At least the other two have already made their Russophobia explicitly clear. There’s hope yet that she’ll be more reasonable once the pandering to the Russophobes (who make up 46% of the US population) bit is done.

Could it even be McCain? Granted,

Sen. McCain (R-AZ) has strongly criticized Putin, whom he has called “a dangerous person.” In an October 2007 Republican debate, McCain expressed support for President Bush’s plan to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. “I don’t care what [Putin’s] objections are to it,” he said.

In a November 2007 Foreign Affairs article, McCain called for a new approach to what he called a “revanchist” Russia. In that piece, he advocated Russian exclusion from the G-8, and said the West should send a message to Russia that NATO “is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.” He also said the United States should promote democracy in Russia.

However, the folks over at the eXile have another perspective on The McCainiac.

But presidents don’t make policy alone, and to the extent that we know who’s advising McCain on foreign affairs, the picture is less clear. McCain takes advice from his neocon friend William Kristol, but also his close friend Henry Kissinger, the corpulent doyen of realpolitik, who is the honorary co-chairman for McCain’s presidential campaign in New York.

A recent New York Times profile of McCain mentioned other “realist” advisors unlikely to push him into confrontation with Moscow unless serious red lines are crossed, such as Richard Armitage, Colin Powell, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Brent Scrowcroft. Other names that have popped up in recent months include ex-drug war czar Barry McCaffrey and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. Ferguson, who has no problem with empires so long as they are Anglo-American, has predicted that Russia will attempt to reconstitute a capitalist, Christian version of the “evil empire.”

Another issue muddying up McCain’s Russophobic credibility was revealed in a recent Washington Post article exposing McCain’s friendly links to (and vacation getaways with) Kremlin oligarch Oleg Deripaska. More importantly, the piece revealed cozy ties between McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis and the Russian power elite more generally, from Deripaska to pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovich, who battled against the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004.

But then again, this is a guy who sees the letters “K-G-B” in Putin’s eyes. Considering that that only happens to me when I’m real drunk, I’d be real careful about electing him to office.

In conclusion, these are the best US Presidents for US-Russian relations.

  1. Clinton
  2. McCain
  3. Obama

This poll will run until the Democrats and Republicans confirm their party nominations.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
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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.