In light of recent news, now is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves of perhaps the most succinct and information dense explanation of why Assad is less bad than the “moderate rebels.”
In light of recent news, now is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves of perhaps the most succinct and information dense explanation of why Assad is less bad than the “moderate rebels.”
One of the main thrusts of the Maidanist Ukrainian and Western information campaign against Russia during the Ukrainian conflict has beeen the allegation that the NAF (Novorossiyan Armed Forces) were mostly manned by Russian citizens or even the Russian military.
This is not to say that there haven’t been voices of dissent. For instance, Prof. Paul Robinson (and Russia blogger) has argued that 80-90% of NAF fighters were locals, while even The Times’ Russia/Ukraine correspondent Mark Franchetti confirmed in summer 2014 on the Shuster Show in Kiev that based on his observations Russians amongst the rebels were a decided minority – for which he was roundly booed by the Ukrainian audience.
However, thoughout the past two years, anyone making such claims in the West ran the risk of being branded as a Russian shill. Anyone making such claims in Ukraine itself ran the risk of actually being arrested and imprisoned for the crimes of “separatism” or “denying Russian aggression.”
It just so happens however that the basic truth of the arguments that Russian citizens constituted a decided minority of NAF fighters and consequently that the war in Donbass was primarily a Ukrainian civil war has recently been confirmed – and by an organization whose Ukrainian nationalist pedigree is unquestionable – the “Peacekeeper” website.
This Ukrainian government linked website’s most significant informational peremogas (victories) include publishing the personal details of anti-Maidan journalists, some of whom like Oles Buzina would soon after be murdered, and doxxing Russian airmen serving in Syria while calling for Islamic State to take care of them and their family “by the canons of sharia.” More recently, they published a list of Ukrainian and foreign journalists who had received accreditation from the DNR, naming them “scoundrels” and “collaborators” and listing their personal details (the list included such famous Kremlin propagandists as Simon Ostrovsky).
Three weeks ago, the Maidan’s telephone directory for assassins came out with its latest coup – a list of “fighters and mercenaries” recruited by the DNR during the summer of 2014.
But, hidden within this peremoga, there was an awful zrada (betrayal): As first calculated by Ivan Katchanovski, the data revealed that of the 1,572 recruits, some 78% of them were Ukrainian citizens – a good majority of whom were from Donbass. 19% were Russian citizens, 2% were citizens of other countries, and the rest had unknown citizenship. Bearing in mind the high intensity of personal and familial ties between the Donbass and the Russian Kuban inherited from Soviet days, the percentage of DNR fighters who are true “foreign adventurists” is probably closer to just 10%. This is less or even much less than in many armed conflicts that are incontrovertibly regarded as civil wars.
Of course Ukrainian coverage of this leak paid zero attention to the inconvenient question of national compositions, and Western coverage too singularly failed to latch on to it apart from a few geopolitically orientated and generally “Russophile” alt media sites and a couple of academics such as Ivan Katchanovski. These facts are however crucial to understanding the depth of local anger towards the Maidan regime in the Donbass and why the Kremlin will find it hard to “shove” it back into Ukraine even if it really wanted to.
Long live the European court, the most humane court in the world! /s
That is why seven times as many Croat and more than ten times as many Albanian war crimes suspects, in percentage terms relative to Serbs, were acquitted by the Hague Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, with Radovan Karadzic being just its latest victim. (Source via this recent infographic from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda).
No matter that well before Srebrenica you had Sisak, where 595 Serb civilians of which 120 were women were disappeared by Croatian paramilitaries in 1991-1992. Everyone has heard of Srebrenica; almost nobody has heard heard of Sisak. The largest ethnic cleansing action of the entire war occurred in the wake of Operation Storm, when 200,000 Serbs were removed from the territories of Serbian Krajina to create the homogenous Croatia we have today. Croatia’s wartime leader Tudjman died peacefully and was buried with full honors and with no protests from the West.
It’s hard to think of an ethnic group, barring the Jews and possibly the Armenians, that has had a more traumatic 20th century. 25% of Serbians died in World War I. Another 25% died again in WW2 at the hands of the Nazis’ rabid hounds, the Ustaše. They were then incorporated into a federal state headed by an ethnic Croat whose internal divisions stranded many Serbs outside of Serbia’s borders. When in the wake of Yugoslavia’s collapse those stranded Serbs took up arms to defend themselves against revived nationalisms in Croatia and Bosnia – and ultimately, in their own country, against the metastasized Molenbeek that was Kosovo – they were steadily pushed back to their bombed out heartlands, unable to mount a sustained resistance against the Clinton clique’s sponsorship of the Croats and the Kosovars, cowardly betrayals from the Yeltsin regime in Russia, and the vaccilating Milosevic himself, always seeking to make deals with the “Western partners” (he only wised up to the fact that you can never trust the West by the time he was on the dock).
To round it all off, it was Serbia that had to send all its wartime leaders and generals off to the absolutely fair and impartial judgments of the Hague Tribunal – so fair and impartial that three times as many Serbs received prison sentences than all the other combatant parties combined – to be sacrificed on the altar of promised Euro-Atlantic integration.
A promise that now rings as almost completely hollow, the only result since then being the accession of Croatia to the EU, while Serbia has continued falling apart with the loss of Montenegro. And as of today, it is increasingly clear that the only additional peoples the EU is interested in integrating – or trying to, anyway – are young male Muslim refugees.
But not all hope is yet lost.
Perhaps Karadzic will eventually be seen not as the last knight of a dying order, but as one of the first heralds of a new dawn. It was NATO’s attack on Serbia more than anything else that lifted Russia from its blind-drunk 1990s pro-Western stupor, and it has become more and more active at countering further Western designs on its territories – in Crimea and Novorossiya, and in the sovereign state of Syria. The pushback against the globalist cabal will continue and this time Serbia will no longer be alone should it rejoin the struggle.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Karadzic, despite his advanced age, will live long enough to see the wrongs done unto his people this past century avenged and to set foot one last time on a liberated Serbia.
To be sure, Trump is no affable geezer like Bernie.
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.
In the past few days there has been a sort of alt-singularity as Putin and Trump exchanged compliments, as one might think befits mature heads of powerful states (one actual, one potential). Naturally, one of these men has been taking a lot of heat for it from all the empty suit punditry and the Cuck-in-Chief himself:
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 18, 2015
Far from apologizing and backing down, Trump has instead doubled down. This is really encouraging, because it suggest that his opposition to invade/invite the world is borne of genuine convictions, and that increasing numbers of Americans are beginning to wake up to the scams the elites run on them. And of course it doesn’t hurt that the facts are solidly, incontrovertibly on Trump’s side, regardless of how much the presstitutes might hate it.
Putin’s approval rating, from National Review:
Donald Trump: Well, he is a strong leader! What am I gonna say, he’s a weak leader? He’s making mincemeat out of our president. He’s a strong leader. You would like me to call him a weak leader. He’s a strong leader, and I’m not gonna be politically correct. He’s got an 80 percent approval rating done by pollsters, from I understand this country, okay? So it’s not even done by his pollsters, he’s very popular within Russia!
That is correct. A Gallup survey conducted in 2014 showed Putin with an approval rating of 83%. The latest poll from the (liberal-leaning) Levada Center gives him 85%. A recent study by four American political scientists confirm his genuinely high level of support at around 80% or more.
No evidence Putin kills journalists, from Breitbart:
Stephanopoulos said, “Here’s what Mitt Romney tweeted, ‘there’s an important distinction, thug Putin kills journalists and opponents our presidents kill terrorists and enemy combatants.”
Trump said, “Does he know for a fact? It’s possible that he does. I don’t think it’s been proven. I’m not trying to be –”
Stephanopoulos interjected, “Allegations he was behind,” then Trump continued, “Sure, there are allegations. I have read those allegations over the years. But nobody’s proven that he’s killed anybody … If he has killed reporters, that’s terrible. He’s always denied it. He’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty at least in our country. He’s not proven that he’s killed reporters.” …
Trump answered, “I’m not saying anything. I’m saying when you say a man killed reporters I’d like you to prove it.I have never seen any information or any proof that he killed reporters, George, you’re just saying, he killed reporters. You and other people killed reporters. I don’t know that. I haven’t seen it. If he did it’s despicable. It’s horrible. You’re making these accusations, I don’t see any proof. By the way, he totally denied that he killed reports are. He totally denied it.”
This particularly enraged Establishment commentators, but once again Trump is completely right and cannot be stumped. There is absolutely no evidence that Putin ordered the assassination of a single journalist.
Moreover, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists – hardly a bastion of Putin apologists – journalist murders have plummeted in Russia under the reign of the Dark Lord of the Kremlin relative to the “free” and “democratic” 1990s when the US was best buddies with Russia, or at least the oligarchs pillaging it, and for that matter whacking any journalists who dared report on their activities.
Literally MORE Russian journalists were murdered for their reporting under 8 years of Yeltsin than 15 years under Putin.
Note also the following:
(1) Russia has a lot of journalists – according to UN data, it has twice the number of newspaper journalists as the US (despite having half the population). Adjusted for per capita rates, Russian journalists have always been far safer than any number of “democratic” countries that get on with the US such as Brazil, Mexico, India, Colombia. Even in the 1990s. And this is despite the fact that under Putin, the CPJ has been actively trying to tie any murder of a Russian journalist it feasibly could to his or her professional activity, even where such connections are questionable or altogether non-existent. According to a 2008 analysis by blogger Fedia Kriukov, considerably more than 50% of the Russian journalists the CPJ claims were killed for their professional activities – that is, angering business interests, local authorities, etc. – actually turned out to be wholly or partially falsified. Note that Putin doesn’t even begin to enter into this.
(2) As of this year, Russia imprisons only one journalist. It usually veers in the 0-1 range. Although even one is too much, but within the 1-3 range that even developed Western countries occasionally stray into. That consistently includes Israel; Italy in 2013; and for that matter, the US itself in 2013, though for some reason, the CPJ doesn’t count Barret Brown. (Another curious exception is Ukraine and the case of Ruslan Kotsaba, who is in prison and almost a year on still awaiting trial for calling the war in the Donbass a civil war and expressing his opposition to conscription). In contrast, Erdogan’s Turkey imprisons 14 journalists (an improvement from 40 in 2013). Of course that minor matter didn’t stop Jeb Bush from enthusiastically affirming his support for them when the Turks knocked a Russian warplane out of the sky for an accidental infringement of their territory for a few seconds.
On Russia as on most other things Trump steers a blazing path through Establishment lies. If he or his aides read Steve Sailer, as seems to be within the realm of possibility, it is perhaps not an entirely empty fancy of mine that they might have skimmed over a bit of my stuff as well.
A Cruel French Lesson, by Egor Kholmogorov appeared in the November 14 issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of the leading Russian dailies. It outlines what is pretty much the standard right-wing conservative Russian position on the #ParisAttacks.
Some context: After the terrorist strikes, many outspoken Russian liberals rushed to wrap their digital selves in the French flag; a status signalling action made easy by Facebook’s provision of a French flag avatar coloration app (one could cynically add: To mark the most significant event in the world since the US legalization of gay marrage). This is in stark contrast to the relative silence over the Russian victims of the terrorist downing of the aircraft over the Sinai – and for that matter, the silence in regards to Lebanon, and for that matter, for Syria pretty much nonstop since 2011. (The Egyptians at least were commendably consistent, bathring the Pyramids in the flags of all four of the aforementioned nations).
To be sure, many Russians who adopted the French flag did so on the fly, with no intentions of making any overtly political point. However, some of the more ideologically pro-Western Russians were more to the point in justifying increased attention for French versus Russian victims of jihadi terrorism. For instance, the Russian liberal “hipster” publication GQ was very explicit in defending its decision to feature the Paris Attacks over KGL9268 on the grounds that they idenfied with the City of Lights as a “permanent festival,” whereas for them their own homeland was a permanent “territory of woe” and thus unworthy of any particular attention (this binary characterization might seem rather optimistic to anyone actually familiar with the Parisian banlieues). An English language illustration of this phenomenon is this Foreign Policy piece by Julia Ioffe, which bizarrely justifies the discrepancy in terms of the better performance of French special forces at Bataclan relative to Nord-Ost (no mention being made of the fact that the Chechen terrorists in 2002 were ten times as numerous and far better equipped).
Bearing this in mind, the patriotic and conservative types – seeing such widespread attitudes in the Russian media as an implicit endorsement of the theme that Westerners are first-rate peoples and the center of civilization, as opposed to disposable Russians in peripheral Eurasia – have not been overly concerned with sensitivity right now, which is clearly expressed in Kholmogorov’s article. He is not writing for Westerners, but for Russians on his side of the domestic culture war.
To be sure, translation ≠ endorsement, and there are several points one can take issue with him on. There is too much butthurt over Charlie Hebdo, which – contrary to its high media profile – is in reality a very low circulation publication in France itself. Furthermore, the French state obviously has no obligation to apologize for it. Tying the emergence of ISIS to France’s Levantine policies between the wars is far too radical a causal stretch and besides the point in relations to current French policies anyway. Perhaps most critically of all, the Russian obsession with the West – most prominent amongst the Westernists, of course, but still making itself felt, if in an inverted form, amongst nationalists like Kholmogorov – is perhaps unseemly and even maladaptive, since ironically one could say that this merely reflects and confirms Russia’s status as a peripheral country.
Nonetheless, I believe the vast majority of the points Kholmogorov makes are fair and to the point, and moreover the fact that something so “politically incorrect” can be published in a major Russian daily – can one imagine anything similar in The New York Times? Or even The Daily Mail? – testifies to the fact that Putin’s Russia, ethnically blank slatist as it might formally be, is nonetheless as good ally as any to those Europeans who still support European civilization and self-determination.
by Egor Kholmogorov
The hideous acts of terrorism in France strongly resemble a fast-forward video of the decades long terrorist war that has been waged against Russia. The massacre at the Bataclan theater is basically a French version of Nord-Ost…
So we in Russia understand what is now happening with the French like few others.
But this tragedy occured at a rather inconvenient time in relations between the two countries. It came on the heels of a French magazine’s vulgar lampooning of the victims of the terrorist attack on our aircraft over the Sinai. I have not seen a single public apology from the French. Our officials are the only people who have tried reassuring us that real French people are ashamed about this… Thus, all expressions of sympathy, alas, have to begin with a caveat: “Regardless of your mockery of the terrorist attack against us, we do really feel for you.”
We feel for you because we ourselves have felt such tragedies on our shoulders. We sympathize, and we sympathize sincerely.
But approaching this with a cool head, one can’t deny that this case is also a matter of France paying the bills, and for multiple accounts at once.
The terrorists shouted, “This is for Syria!” And this is, at some level, “For Syria” – not in the sense that French aviation is bombing ISIS, but in that when France after the First World War received a mandate to govern Syria, it first divided that territory into five states along confessional lines: Christian, Alawite, Sunni, Druze, and Armenian. Then it took them and used them to glue together two states – Syria and Lebanon, thus laying the foundations for civil war in both countries. Had they either kept Syria unified, or properly divided, there would have been no ISIS.
Two years ago, President Hollande rattled his sabre harder than anyone else in pushing for an American intervention in Syria [against Assad], and was only narrowly stopped at the last moment by Vladimir Putin.
It was Hollande and his predecessor Sarkozy who supported the overthrow of Gaddafi, who welcomed the Islamic Revolution in Egypt, who seeded the flames of war in Syria and in so doing became directly responsible for the creation of ISIS, Al-Nusra, and similar demons, for the spread of their activities to France and all Europe, and for the overwhelming waves of refugees.
When in January murderers took care of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo, instead of a sane adjustment to security and migration policy, Hollande was only interested in preventing Marine Le Pen from getting any political kudos and kickstarted the hysterical tolerance campaign “Je suis Charlie.”
Moreover, the objects of sympathy should not have been a bunch of talentless hacks, but those French citizens who were in danger of becoming victims of terrorism in the future!
Migration policy should have been tightened, and border controls strengthened. A campaign should have begun to fight against terrorist organizations globally and against the Islamist underground in France itself.
Instead of this, the orgy of “tolerance” continued, as Hollande occupied himself with weightier matters, such as saving the Kievan junta and clamping down on Mistral sales. France became a best friend of Qatar – one of the main sponsors of radical terrorism, including ISIS.
And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you…
The most horrifying fact of this strategy is that the killers in the Bataclan spoke good French with no accent. This means that they are not recent immigrants, recently arrived from the Middle East. These are French high school graduates, perhaps – French citizens, to whom they tried to teach the lessons of tolerance.
There is a hard-hitting film from 2008 starring Isabelle Adjani called La Journée de la Jupe. A female teacher in an immigrant quadrant of Paris, despairing of the thuggery and unwillingness to learn of her students, and tired of their barbaric morals, finds a gun in the possession of one of them. She grabs the gun and proceeds to take the class hostage, and force the impudent rascals to study the biography of Molière and respect women at gunpoint. The police and bureaucrats dance about in the background, convinced that the “intolerant” teacher is the main threat. Special forces prepare to storm the classroom. But in the end, the gun ends up in the hands of one of the pupils, and there begins a bloody massacre. This is a very enlightenening film that everyone should watch today.
So it is impossible to say that the French themselves are unaware of what is happening with them. And it is no accident that the Front National of Marine Le Pen is France’s leading party. But the political system there has been specially arranged in such a way that even with a plurality of the votes, the National Front still get the smallest amount of seats in Parliament. This means that the situation will only change when the Front National starts getting more than 50% of the total votes.
Dictatorships can always be excused away by the fact that the incompetence of the man in power is paid for by the sufferings of people who never elected him. But France is a democratic country. It has political leaders who were ready to rearrange politics in a way that could avert tragedy. They could have voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2002 and 2007, and for Marine Le Pen in 2012. They not only could have, but should have, voted for Marine in 2012. But instead, the French elected Hollande and his party of tolerant hypocrites.
Today has revealed the frightful cost of that decision. The streets of Paris have been stained with blood, as mobs of fightened and bewildered people rampaged through the city.
But will even this shock change anything? If, regardless of the newly introduced State of Emergency, the regional elections of December 6th go ahead – will the French finally be ready to put a stop to all this, or will they continue to vote for freedom for terrorists, and equality and brotherhood with bandits?
I am afraid that the answer to this horror will be a continuation of the same old, same old. Western propaganda has already adapted an essentially totalitarian tenor: “We will rally all the more closely around the values of multiculturalism, we will not allow any expressions of extremism, this is all Assad’s fault, if only he had stepped down – none of this would have happened…”
Unfortunately, it has become clear that what we are seeing is a live translation of the fall of the Roman Empire under the onslaught of the barbarians. The same stubborn refusal to understand what is going on, the same unpreparedness to take serious decisions, the same vacillation and buffoonery in the moment of mortal danger. It would be great if wonderful France were to finally find its Jeanne D’Arc.
But that is hard to believe.
Therefore, Russia’s main task is to learn its lesson – and to defend itself. To defend its territory. Its people. Its aircraft.
To support its allies. To remove the contagion of terrorism from the Middle East and everywhere else. To be prepared to settle accounts not just with its perpetrators, but also its sponsors.
And to avoid hoping that either the French state or Europe will learn any lessons from this. That they will change their politics, join us in fighting our common enemy, or stop behaving like an elephant in a china shop in the East. To plan our moves on such hopes would be nothing more than self-deceit.
But with the French, we sympathize. Stay strong!
Charlie Hebdo had a hearty response to the terrorist downing of KGL9268: “The dangers of low-cost Russian airlines,” “I should have taken Air Cocaine,” “Daesh: Russian aviation intensifies the bombing.” So drôle!
The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard, criticised the Kremlin for “using Charlie Hebdo to create a controversy where none exists, which is the usual manipulation you get from totalitarian regimes”. “This magazine is supposed to be irreverent, and we respect the values of democracy and freedom of expression which the Russian powers that be … do not,” he added.
Of course, as traditional with Western propaganda organs posing as dissident heroes and “pushing the boundaries” types, the concern for free speech is rather strangely limited to just Russia and other bugbears of Western hegemony:
Equal… but some groups were nonetheless plus égaux que d’autres, at least so far as Charlie Hebdo were concerned. In 2009, the cartoonist Siné, a longtime contributor to Charlie Hebdo, joked that Sarkozy’s son, Jean, would “go a long way, that little lad” on rumors that he was planning to convert to Judaism. For any basically normal, non-SJW inclined person, this would be nothing more than a harmless observation on the Jewish talent for economic success (something that is discussed at length by our own Steve Sailer, not to mention by Jews themselves). But for Charlie and the French Establishment, including the “philosopher” Bernard-Henry Lévy, the appropriate response was to fire him and then prosecute him for anti-Semitism (he was acquitted). On another occasion, Charlie started a signature collection campaign to get the Front National banned. Clearly, their own regard for free speech was very far from absolute.
Of course this merely reflects the priorities of the French Republic itself, which proceeded to open dozens of cases on pro-terrorism “hate speech,” including against the comedian Dieudonné for sardonically remarking “Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly” on his Facebook (Coulibaly was one of the CH attackers). All of which Charlie Hebdo evidently did not regard as the “usual manipulation you get from totalitarian regimes.”
Fortunately, Russians don’t take their cues from Charlie Coulibaly, and responded with hilarious cartoons of their own: “Laughter extends life!” “Not in your case Gerard.”
And soon after – and so prophetically – this happened.
Here’s another really amusing cartoon!
This time, Charlie Hebdo’s reaction was decidedly… disappointingly… lackluster.
Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a mode of operation. Repeating ‘we are at war’ without finding the courage to name our enemies leads nowhere. Our enemies are those that love death. In various guises, they have always existed. History forgets quickly. And Paris tells them to fuck themselves.
That is like so deep man. So courageous. They Who Must Not Be Named are “are those that love death.” It even puts that great Bushism, “they hate us for our freedom” to shame!
And thus I finally started to really understand Dieudonné.
Apologies for the tabloidy title. This is an otherwise serious post.
It is well known that higher rates of cousin marriages – especially the father’s brother’s daughter (FBD) type that is common in the Arab Muslim world – tends to increase clannishness and depress IQs. It is often discussed in HBD circles. The main focus of the most prominent current discussions led by Steve Sailer are the ways in which cousin marriage relates to the European immigration crisis. His argument basically goes that Europe is about to get tons of mentally stunted inbreds who will use proceed to use cousin marriage as a mechanism by which to bring over millions more of their (literal) cousins from the Middle East and Pakistan.
That Sailer, an American nativist, chooses to focus on the “invite” side of his “invade/invite the world” dichotomy is understandable. But what it leaves unsaid is that consideration of cousin marriage patterns also appears to explain quite a lot of the dynamics of the Syrian Civil War – and crucially, in so doing, invalidates all of the “intellectual” underpinnings of the neocon clamoring for Ramboing into Syria to remove Assad.
Using data from Consang.net (a survey of cousin marriage Syria in 2008, i.e. before the war) and the ORB International Syrian 2015 opinion poll (which measured Syrian political attitudes in June 2015), I compiled the following table comparing the rate of consanguineous marriage and support for Assad across regions. The average %consang column is just the unweighted average of the rural and urban figures (I couldn’t be bothered hunting down the urban/rural breakdown for Syria’s governorates). Since with the sole exception of Tartus the rural %consang rates are systemically higher than the urban rates in a pretty predictable, linear way I do not think this is a particularly big statistical sin.
Several patterns immediately strike the eyes.
(1) As can be expected from Lebanese consanguinity data, the Christians and Alawite areas have lower rates of cousin marriage, while Sunni areas have higher rates of cousin marriage.
(2) It also maps very well onto maps of political control by Assad, Al Nusra/FSA, and ISIS, down to the detail that even in contested areas the regime tends to control the cities – Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus – while insurgents have a major presence in the surrounding countryside.
Is there an ethno-religious confound in play (i.e. Shi’ites support Assad, and Sunnis support Islamist rebels, regardless of consanguinity levels)? To a large extent, that is surely the case. But note that Al Raqqa city and its countryside, the two regions with the highest %consang rates out of all surveyed Syrian cities and rural areas, just happen to be the heartland of Islamic State power. Across the Muslim world, there is definitely a good correlation between rates of consanguineous marriage, depressed IQs, and support for radical Islamic positions on issues like apostasy. Surely it is not entirely a coincidence that the two single areas in Syria with the highest rates of consanguineous marriage also happen to host the most “virile”/virulent strains of Islamic extremism.
(3) There is an R2=0.38 correlation (excluding the one strong outlier that Idlib) between rates of consanguinity and support for Assad in the Syrian governorates. Considering the small samples, the clumsy averaging, and the uncertainties of surveying both cousin marriage rates and political attitudes in a civil war environment, this is not an unimpressive result.
But while all this might be interesting, why does it actually matter?
Because according to the neocon and liberal interventionist narrative, one of the root causes of the Syrian uprising was the hoarding of the nation’s wealth and power in the hands of a small Alawite elite. For instance, here is an entirely typical description of the Syrian political system from the BBC in 2012:
“You have got to think of Syria as a kleptocracy,” says a British financial investigator who asked not to be named, “where the state hands out licences to its friends and close relatives.”
According to this narrative, the Syrian Civil War began as a result of Syrian Sunnis getting fed up with the Shi’ites monopolizing all the most lucrative positions. (I don’t recall the question of why Christians didn’t likewise revolt against Alawite oppression ever being addressed).
The alternate and altogether more banal explanation is that differences in ethnic representation in Syria’s state apparatus and in the ranks of its moneyed elites is that the Shi’ites are simply brighter than the Sunnis because they don’t bang their cousins as much.
In other words, for the same reason that Jews constitute a third of America’s billionaires – namely, not due to some ZOG conspiracy, but the fact of a 1 S.D. advantage over the American average in intelligence that translates to much bigger “smart fractions” capable of becoming billionaires in the first place.
Very conveniently, it just so happens that according to the official Western dogma, as expounded by Saint S.J. Gould and his acolytes, IQ is a “social construct,” its relationship to economic performance is a statistical artifact that can be fully explained by variation in parental socio-economic status, and even discussing the role of cousin marriage on Muslim society and intellect is “racist” and “Islamophobic.” The Western media will freely and even enthusiastically publish calls from the neocons and imperialists to aid mythical “moderate” rebels against Assad, to bomb Syria, and even to knock Russian warplanes out of the sky for daring to attack America’s pet jihadists. But they will never in a million years print anything like this article, not least thanks to the self-styled “progressives” and even “anti-imperialists” who make it their mission to police and censor crimethink.
The end result of all this is that, if the explanations ventured here are substantially true, the American and Western establishments are in effect supporting what can functionally be described as a Bolshevik takeover of the Syrian state – just with more beheadings and slave markets.
Source: Wikipedia. Click to enlarge.
I admit to not having been following the Syrian Civil War anywhere near as closely the war in the Donbass.
But with recent rumors of stepped up Russian involvement now being confirmed by videos – and even talk of China possibly sending troops (crazy, but a year ago you’d have said the same of Russians) – it is well past time to remedy this.
The first thing I like to do when it comes to getting up to speed on some conflict or other is studying maps. Just looking at them for an hour or two. Wikipedia has a very impressive data gathering operation that gets updated in real time. In combination with this article listing the military histories for all the major cities and towns you can get a very good idea of the ebb and flow of the conflict through time. Arguably, this is far more useful than reading any number of editorials on the subject.
Some patterns immediately jump out.
Source: Washington Post.
(1) The pattern of regime, FSA/Al-Nusra and ISIS control correlate exceedingly well with the ethnic and religious composition of the geographic areas in question. The coastal Alawite heartlands of Tartus and Latakia, corresponding to the old borders of the eponymous state, are near totally secure. Shi’ite and Christian minorities, such as the Druze, Assyrians, and Armenians, correlate with pockets of regime support – even the Armenian pocket around Deir es-Zor in the desert each of the country, still holding out despite being completely surrounded by the Islamic State. In contrast, Palmyra fell to ISIS this year despite being more than 150km from the nearest area of ISIS control at Kabajeb. Suweida, populated by Dzuze and other minorities, is under Assad’s control in the far south, while neighboring Daraa – entirely Arab Sunni – is held by the FSA.
All this just goes to show the extent to which this is an ethnic, tribalistic war, where the “normal” rules of military theory – where force concentrations are king, and surrounded pockets get liquidated fast – don’t apply as they do even in the Donbass War. I suspect and nothing I’ve read about Syria contradicts this that this is ultimately due to the very low combat effectiveness of Arab armies. Unlike Europeans or East Asians, who have a long tradition of nation-statehood and conscript armies, the Arabs as a people only fight well for clan and God. A dictator like Saddam Hussein or Assad can force them to fight, but not very well or enthusiastically, while a democracy can barely do anything at all – see how ISIS once steamrolled their way to the outskirts of Baghdad, even though the Iraqi forces are armed with modern US equipment that the Syrian Arab Army can only dream about). This has the effect of depressing the value of conventional military power, with the result that warfare becomes a lot like urban gang warfare, just with much fancier military toys and more rape and ethnic cleansing. In this kind of “4GW” confrontrations, the fact that rebel groups and ISIS are much more enthusiastic, more combat effective (due to fighting for clan and/or God instead of a country whose lines were drawn by the French and British), and have the option of blending in with the civilian population in areas where they enjoy support allows them to level out the military capital (tanks, artillery, etc.) superiority of the SAA. Even the SAA has over the past few years bowed to these realities and become much more of a homogenous (primarily Alawite) force and come to rely less on unmotivated conscripts and more on the locally-rooted National Defense Forces.
ORB International poll, Syria, July 2015.
(2) The pattern of control also tallies very well with support for Assad in opinion polls (to a large extent this will of course be an ethnic/religious confound). No area in which Assad has more than 60% support is there a very serious rebel threat. In areas where he has less than 40% support, there is either very intensive fighting or the area is entirely ruled by an opposing faction. Aleppo, the “Stalingrad” of the conflict, registers 39% support for Assad; Idleb, in between Aleppo and Alawite Latakia – and the scene of major rebel successes this year, with just a small regime garrison continuing to hold out in the Shi’ite villages around Fu’ah – registers just 9% support for Assad. Nowin fairness, opinion polls have to be treated with some caution in Syria, because none of the warring factions is exactly very nice to visible dissenters. Still, the fact that Assad registers 27% support in ISIS ruled territories, while the FSA registers 15% in areas held by the government – as opposed to near 0% in both cases – does imply that the fear of speaking one’s mind at least privately is far from total throughout Syria.
(3) More generally, many Western media propaganda/neocon talking points immediately become hollow through this simply map-viewing exercise.
For instance, the idea that Assad isn’t interested in fighting ISIS, or even that he is in some sort of alliance with them. Where the areas under Assad’s control and ISIS border each other, there is intense fighting, e.g. an entire frontline on the approach to Al Salamiyah behind which lie Homs and Hama, and the struggle to relieve the surrounded Kweiris airbase. But by far the biggest challenges the legitimate Syrian government faces right now lies in the areas of Idlib and Aleppo, which apart from being large territories under JaN and FSA control also splinter SAA forces and constitute a conduit for Turkish arms supplies to other rebel formations throughout the country. Focusing attention on this area is just military common sense – and its not like there is any cardinal moral difference between Al Nusra and ISIS anyway (Al Nusra just doesn’t act axe-crazy for the cameras).
Another common talking point that has been raised especially since Russia stepped up its involvement is the claim that Assad’s forces have killed far more Syrians than ISIS. The aim is quite transparent: Since ISIS has so ably demonized itself, associating Assad with them by way of quantitative comparison should be pretty easy to do. And I think it mostly works. I see a lot of people in comments sections raising this point in in that really smarmy, pretentious way that the more intelligent American imperialists adopt to come off as “smart” and “balanced.” Entirely absent of course is context:
Now in fairness I do know that the neocons have a narrative to keep up and so do their shills in the media, like Michael Weiss who is constantly agitating for aggressive actions to overthrow both Putin and Assad and enjoys huge influence in the media despite having zero knowledge of either Russian or Arabic. Same goes for their dupes and bots on the comments sections. But anyone else seriously arguing that Assad is on a level with ISIS has all of this to address first.
Source: Google Maps.
(4) A single, 153km road separates Palmyra from Kabajeb, the nearest ISIS-controlled area to Palmyra prior to the month-long offensive in July 2015 that led to its capture and other tragic consequences. This area looks like it could be used to film a Mad Max sequel. It should also be exceedingly easy for anyone with a competent airforce with air superiority to make mincemeat of any attack along this route. To the contrary, the kind of out-in-the-open, logistically challenging, and lengthy ISIS operation that should have been one of the easiest to forestall went on right ahead, successfully.
So why didn’t the US with its vaunted air campaign against ISIS do anything?
Because ultimately it is entirely fine with ISIS making advances when it is at the expense of the regime. This is not too surprising, since ISIS is after America’s baby and destabilizing Assad is its entire raison d’etre – as declassified Pentagon documents, Wikileaks, and the intuitions of Syrians themselves have proved over the past few months.
Plus, ISIS is better than Assad anyway. Look at all the hundreds of articles making this point they can’t all be wrong.
The US has an air campaign that is supposedly fast “degrading” ISIS, but there is no evidence of it making any kind of dent in its military capabilities. From its unconditional demands to have Assad step down to its attempts to pressure its NATO allies to block airspace to Russian planes carrying military aid to Syria (Bulgaria obliged, Greece didn’t) the US cannot be considered a sincere partner in wishing peace upon Syria. And that will remain the case so long as the US continues to be ruled by the neocon agenda, even if the actual neocons are now mostly out of power.
In Western popular culture, and to be honest most of the rest of the world, Kazakhstan is most commonly associated with Borat and his putative homeland of slapstick provincial troglodytes. And following Nursultan Nazarbayev’s 98% win in the recent elections, and his reaction to it…
I apologize if these numbers are unacceptable for the super democratic countries but there was nothing I could do.
… the casual observer might feel that it has some elements of truth to it. He would be wrong, and in reality, Nazarbayev has nothing to apologize for.
To be sure, the recent Kazakh elections were neither free and fair, and his 98% win was completely made up – no concrete voter numbers were given, just the percentages of turnout per hour by region, which fluctuated in statistically impossible ways. But there’s no question that Nazarbayev would have won regardless. Western opinion pollsters have consistently established his approval ratings at around 80%-90% of the population, which is not that surprising considering the immense progress the country has seen under his stewardship.
It is not at all obvious that it should have been this way in 1992. On the plus side, it had ample oil reserves, though as yet little production. But it was also landlocked, afflicted with the structural economic distortions common to the whole ex-Soviet space, and most worryingly, riven by pent up ethnic divisions and historical resentments. There was no particular good reason why Kazakhstan should not have pursued a politics of vendetta against Russian speakers and its Russian legacy; all the prerequisites for it were there.
Though Cossack penetration dates back centuries, much of what is now northern Kazakhstan had only been settled by Russians (and Ukrainians) from the 1880-90s, when the area was first opened to mass cultivation; this demographic shift was given a further impetus under the Soviet industrialization campaign, which saw the appearance of major new cities like Karaganda on the steppes. A traditionally nomadic people, the forced settling of the Kazakhs into the new cities and farms in the early 1930s might have destroyed as much as a quarter of their population. As with Ukraine, however, it was only during the Soviet period that the Kazakhs truly came into their own as a modern nation, to the extent that there was mass rioting on the part of Kazakh nationalists when Gorbachev appointed an ethnic Russian to head Kazakhstan for the first and last time from 1986 to 1989. What if one of those “activists” had come to power in 1992?
Well, assume that the Russian military would not have set up military surplus stores near the Kazakh borders, and ended up annexing northern Kazakhstan and reducing it to a rump state around Almaty. At a minimum, even more Russians would have emigrated from Kazakhstan in the 1990s, whose population dropped from a peak of 6.3 million in 1989 to 3.8 million by the time of the 2009 Census. At first glance, this might appear to be a good thing, at least from the Kazakh nationalist perspective. The problem is that they would have also lost most of the people staffing critical technical positions in industry; according to a joint study by Richard Lynn and Andrey Grigoriev, the mean ethnic Kazakh IQ is around 82, which would make the Eastern Slavs there a kind of cognitive elite.
The Russians have a mean British IQ of 103.2 and comprise 23.6% of the population; the Kazakhs have a mean British IQ of 82.2 and comprise 63.1% of the population; the Uzbeks have a mean British IQ of 86.0 and comprise 2.8% of the population. Weighting the IQs of these three groups by their percentages of the population gives an IQ of 87.9 for Kazakhstan. These three groups comprise 89.5% of the population. The remaining 10.5% consists of Chuvash, Tartars, Uyghurs and other south Asian peoples. Early studies of intelligence in the former Soviet Union found that these peoples had lower IQs than ethnic Russians (Grigoriev & Lynn, 2009). Their IQ is likely about the same as that of Kazakhs (82.2). On this assumption, adding this fourth group and weighting the IQs of the four groups by their percentages of the population gives an IQ of 87.3 for Kazakhstan.
Without them, their GDP per capita (PPP adjusted in 2011 US dollars) would have likely been closer to that of Uzbekistan ($5,000 and 5% Russian population share) or Tajikistan ($2,500 and 1% Russian population share) than to their current $22,000, which is similar to that of Russia, Poland, and the Baltic states.
Above is a graph of GDP per capita (PPP adjusted in 2011 US dollars) in some of the biggest and most representative former Soviet states. Since independence, Kazakhstan has virtually converged with Russia – a not unimpressive achievement, taking into account the population cognitive gap which if anything widened with the large-scale emigration of Russians, Ukrainians, and Germans – and has even overtaken Latvia, one of those Baltic “star reformers” which joined the EU and NATO and gets good scores all the usual democracy and economic freedom NGOs. It has also left Ukraine in the dust, it being evident that hard work and good management are for some reason better for economic growth than quacking about European values and having color revolutions every decade.
And here is another graph, showing Kazakhstan’s performance relative to its position in 1990. Barring Belarus, yet another unlikely success story, it has performed better than both Latvia and Russia, and incomparably better than Ukraine. No wonder that Nazarbayev has 90% approval ratings!
What is the secret of his, and Kazakhstan’s, undeniable success?
In short, it is pragmatism over ideology. The narrow-minded nationalist would have demanded Russians learn Kazakh or go home. Nazabayev made Kazakh the official language, but at the same time denoted Russian as “the language of interethnic communication,” a status not unlike that of English in Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore. Incidentally, and unsurprisingly, Nazarbayev is a big fan of LKY, naming him as one two “eminent founding statesmen” (the other is Charles de Gaulle), and his policies reflect these beliefs: Low level economic liberalism, high level state industrial policy and financial management (the oil windfall has not been squandered, but stored up in an investment fund), and a commitment to intelligent authoritarian leadership that does not however overspill into the tyrannical brutality that you see in neighboring Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan.
The middle class will not emerge without a sustainable economy which cannot exist without a sufficiently strong and wise leadership capable of getting the country out of free-fall.
Unlike LKY’s Singapore, corruption is pretty high; then again, pretty much no strongman apart from LKY ever managed to solve this. Even so, corruption in Kazakhstan is managed and contained – i.e., it is a “known quantity” – so it does not really scare away businessmen and foreign investors. Revolutions bring with them redivisions of the spoils, so elites are very hesitant to commit to long-term development projects in unstable countries like Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan; instead, their incentives are to maximize extraction in the here and now, before new people take their places at the trough. In stable authoritarian polities like Kazakhstan or Belarus, the people in power have more of an incentive to promote development because they have a reasonable degree of confidence that they will still have access to a what would be a much bigger pie a decade hence. It’s basically Mancur Olson’s theory about “roving bandits” vs. “stationary bandits” – the latter tend to be much better, because they are invested in the longterm success of their demesnes.
This pragmatism extends to foreign relations. Kazakhstan is on good terms with pretty much everyone who matters. It is in good standing with Russia; Nazarbayev was, in fact, the first post-Soviet leader to propose something along the lines of the Eurasian Union. But he is no Russian stooge either. Separatism and even talk of separatism are harshly suppressed, and all the more remarkably, this was done with Russia’s willing acquiesence: Eduard Limonov, a National Bolshevik and once Putin opponent, served two years in prison for allegedly trying to raise an army to “liberate” north Kazakhstan in the early 2000s. The capital was moved from Almaty to ethnic majority Russian Astana in the north, which gave Russians more of a reason to feel invested in Kazakh statehood while at the same time filling up a strategic city with ethnic Kazakhs to the extent that it now has a big Kazakh majority. This is a microcosm of changes taking place across the country as a whole, as highly fertile Kazakhs push up their share of the population back to where it was before Stolypin’s time. Over the longterm – i.e., another generation or so – this will likely solve Kazakhstan’s demographic/ethnic Russian northern majority problem in its entirety.
As the incarnadine cherry on the cream and custard pie, this careful equidistancing between Russia and the West, and his economic liberalism, has made Western elites very much appreciative of Nazarbayev. No American NGOs bother pushing for patently ridiculous concepts like free elections, or human rights, while holding them near sacrosanct in less wholesome countries, like Russia or Ukraine.
A day after scolding Russia for retreating on democracy, Vice President Cheney flew to oil-rich Kazakhstan yesterday and lavished praise on the autocratic leader of a former Soviet republic where opposition parties have been banned, newspapers shut down and advocacy groups intimidated.
Cheney stood next to Kazakhstan’s longtime president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in a marble hall of the presidential palace in Astana and congratulated him on his country’s vibrant economy. His tone was markedly different from the tenor of his remarks about Russia a day earlier during a stop in Lithuania, when he accused Moscow of violating its citizens’ rights and using “intimidation or blackmail” against neighbors.
In the course of a 395-word opening statement, according to a White House transcript, Cheney pronounced himself “delighted” to be a guest of Nazarbayev, saying “I consider him my friend” and adding that “the United States is proud to count Kazakhstan as a friend.” Cheney professed “great respect” for Nazarbayev and said that “we are proud to be your strategic partner” and look forward “to continued friendship between us.”
Asked about Kazakhstan’s human rights record, he expressed “admiration for all that’s been accomplished here in Kazakhstan” and confidence that it will continue.
Who cares? Who even knows about the Zhanaozen massacre? Of course the Russian protesters who threw rocks at the police in the Russian Bolotnaya protests in May 2012 were a much more grievous violation of human rights. After all, Brussels, Washington, and Freedom House all tell us so, and surely they wouldn’t be doing it anything but the most altruistic and humanistic reasons?
Just a couple of days ago in Salon: Our stunted democracy could learn from Kazakhstan: Another Bush/Clinton race doesn’t look free to the rest of the world. There are of course many things Nazarbayev’s Kazakhstan has gotten right, but democracy isn’t one of them… unless you wish to abolish it entirely.