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So it's been a few days since the Syria Strikes, everyone and his dog have thrown in their two cents, and there has been a set of confusing and contradictory reactions from US officials and pretty much everyone else involved in this saga. The more the contradictions pile on, the less clear the picture becomes.... Read More
In the spirit of #SkinInTheGame, Taleb's idea that pundits should at least stake their reputations on the strength of their knowledge, last year I made some predictions about what has come to be known as The Current Year. Like Scott Alexander, I am calibrating my predictions by comparing the percentage of predictions I got right... Read More
Another August, another war scare. Intermittent reports of Russian military forces "staging" near Ukraine. Are the guns about to honor the title of a famous history book once again? Almost certainly not. Or at least, not by Russia's hand. (1) Though you could play a drinking time for every mention of "Gleiwitz" in conjunction with... Read More
Three hours after this story began to break it's increasingly clear that we are seeing the biggest Happening of 2016 to date, far overshading the Nice terrorist attacks yesterday. As Lenin purportedly said, "Sometimes decades pass and nothing happens; and then sometimes weeks pass and decades happen." The initial regime response was to blame the... Read More
Just a collection of completely random, not very important news snippets. (1) Diplomats’ Dissent Bolsters Calls for U.S. Assault on Assad: For now, the Obama administration seems inclined to agree. A U.S. official who did not sign the memo but read it told Foreign Policy that the document was unlikely to influence Oval Office policy... Read More
I like predictions. Part of that is related to my passion for quantifying everything, but another is philosophical, and borne of my antipathy towards charlatanism (I am extremely sympathetic to N.N. Taleb on this issue). In 2005, U.C. Berkeley psychologist Philip Tetlock published a study on expert fallibility spanning 18 years, 284 experts and 82,361... Read More
To this day, my most popular blog post ever by number of blog comments is Top 10 Most Powerful Countries In 2011, in which I tried to tally the power rating (Comprehensive National Power, as the Chinese would call it) of the world's Great Powers. It was rather unscientific, there being no particular method by... Read More
As Russian fighters begin their baptism of fire in Syria, it is worth pointing out there are at least three separate wars going on here. And they're all quite distinct. (1) The Actual War Once again I urge people to familiarize themselves with a map of the Syrian conflict (e.g. here). All of Assad's most... Read More
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... Read More
One of the more frustrating misconceptions Westerners have about Russia - including even many of the more well meaning ones - is that Putin is some kind of nationalist. He is not. Nor was he ever. It appeared he might be sort of leaning in that direction in the heady days after Crimea's return into... Read More
What striking about Syria is how so many people insist on speaking about it in profoundly moralistic, Manichaean terms. This is complete nonsense, given that its civil war isn't a showdown between democracy and dictatorship, but an ethnic and religious conflict. Here's a more realistic guide: The rhetoric: He kills his own people! He is... Read More
It might happen this June or later, reports RT citing Israeli media. Obama and Netanyahu are at least discussing the prospect. In previous years I was sure that it would happen eventually, probably before year end 2012. That is because that was the most convenient window between the fielding of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (early... Read More
I am back to writing for the US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel, which since my hiatus has found an additional home at Voice of Russia. The latest topic was on whether Russia, China, and the West could find a common approach to the challenges of the Arab Spring. My response is pessimistic, as in my view... Read More
I just remembered I'd made some in 2012. It's time to see how they went, plus make predictions for the coming year. Of course I failed to predict the biggest thing of them all: The hacking that made me throw in the towel on Sublime Oblivion (remember that?), but with the silver lining that I... Read More
It's been a great year! To recap, in rough chronological order, 2011 saw: The most popular post (with 562 comments and counting; granted, most of them consisting of Indians and Pakistanis flaming each other); Visualizing the Kremlin Clans (joint project with Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty); my National Comparisons between life in Russia, Britain,... Read More
Just as with Russia, the Western media (beholden as it is to its power elite sponsors and anti-Rest ideology) peddles many tropes about China that cloud real understanding of this fascinating civilization-state. In the spirit of Sino Triumphalism, this is my attempt to set the record straight and overturn the lazy arguments used to dismiss,... Read More
Most projections of future trends in national power fail to appreciate the importance of three crucial factors: (1) the declining EROEI of energy resources (including, but not limited to, "peak oil"); (2) the importance of human capital to economic growth, especially in developing countries' attempts to "catch up" to the advanced world; and (3) the... Read More
Next in our line of Watching the Russia Watchers interviews is Mark Chapman, the fiery Canadian sailor who's been blazing a path of destruction through the fetid Russophobe ranks since July 2010. That was when he first set up The Kremlin Stooge, after being blocked from La Russophobe, who couldn't withstand his powerful arguments without... Read More
The Chinese have an interesting concept that quantifies Great Power status, called Comprehensive National Power (CNP). This index is produced by processing the economic, military and cultural factors that make countries powerful: GDP, technological development, number of tanks and ICBM's, as well as "softer" factors such as influence on global media and international institutions. Since... Read More
This is a reprint of a post from Arctic Progress. This is a TRANSLATION of an article by Jules Dufour published September 7th, 2010 at Mondialisation.ca ("Le Canada: un plan national pour la militarisation de l'Arctique et de ses ressources stratégiques"). In my opinion its a tad too alarmist over the scope of Canada's military... Read More
Every so often there appear claims, not only in the Western press but the Russian one, that (rising but overpopulated) China is destined to fight an (ailing and creaking) Russia for possession of its resources in the Far East*. For reasons that should be obvious, this is almost completely implausible for the next few decades.... Read More
Sorry for not posting on either of my blogs for almost a week now and being slow on responding to the emails. I've been rediscovering the pleasures of old-fashioned book reading after purchasing a Kindle. I'm very happy with it. When faced between the choice of surfing the interwebs or reading a paper book, the... Read More
This is a reprint of a post from Arctic Progress. Back when Iceland tipped over into financial collapse during 2008 and the UK seized Icelandic banks’ assets using anti-terrorist laws as fig cover, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar stated that Russia could make use of the Keflavik air base in return for a $5bn loan to... Read More
I was recently interviewed on Middle East geopolitics and the Iran Question by Marat Kunaev, a blogger and translator at InoForum. I would like to thank him for the opportunity to express my views on the topic and providing a possible gateway into the geopolitical commentary on Runet. I'm reprinting the interview from here, with... Read More
There's been lots of fanfare over China's GDP overtaking Japan's in Q2 2010 (coming hard on the heels of a big ruckus over its DF-21 "carrier killing" ballistic missile and rising tensions with the US over North Korea and the South China Sea). The big debate is now whether China will overtake the US as... Read More
Kicking off the Watching the Russia Watchers interview series at S/O is the promising new blogger A Good Treaty. He is a DC-based foreign policy analyst who prefers a "good treaty with Russia" to only treating with a good Russia: as a foreign policy realist, he is averse to neocon (and neoliberal / liberal interventionist)... Read More
How will the global South fare in our likely future of energy shortages, climate change and resource nationalism (and wars)? India has China's population mass, but lacks its industrial dynamism and human capital. Africa has Russia's energy and mineral wealth, but not the military power or social coherence to defend it. South America's prospects appear... Read More
In the wake of the economic crisis in which Russia's GDP fell by a stunning 7.9% in 2009, its status as a BRIC economy - with its connotations of promise and progress - was brought into question. After all, isn't it a dying nation with rapidly degrading infrastructure? Isn't it amazingly corrupt? Wouldn't its contempt... Read More
As was inevitable, the commentary on Israel's raid / high seas piracy / legal blockade enforcement / call-it-what-you-will has degenerated into a polarized flame-war between the blind and the deaf, which although very entertaining is also pretty useless*. By far the best analytical article on this issue I've found that really cuts through the partisan... Read More
So given that it's the only game in town, let's start provocative? The only group who behaved rationally are the Israeli commandos and the Americans. And perhaps the Turkish government. The Israeli position on the Gaza blockade is understandable (which is not to say optimal). The Palestinians elected Hamas, a militant group to Israel that... Read More
I enjoyed the egg-throwing scenes from Ukraine's Rada on the ratification of the gas-for-fleet deal with Russia as much as anyone. It also reflected the polarized commentary on the interwebs. The Ukrainian patriot-bloggers get their knickers in a sweaty twist. The academic beigeocrat Alexander Motyl (he of "Why Russia is Really Weak" fame some four... Read More
The recent sinking of a South Korean (ROK) corvette, with the probable deaths of several dozen sailors, brings to focus the fraught situation on the Korean peninsula. Now the cause of this incident - North Korean (DPRK) torpedo or tragic accident - is not yet clear. Moreover, the two sides have a long history of... Read More
After two hundred years of global ascendancy, the West is in rapid relative decline to (re)emerging Asia, which is mounting a steady "Great Reconvergence". Likewise, the legitimacy of today's "neoliberal internationalist" order promoted by the West is being questioned by the more statist, neo-Westphalian visions of the leaders of the Rest, the so-called BRIC's. This... Read More
I have long noted Russia's resurgence back into the ranks of the leading Great Powers; I predicted that the global economic crisis will not have a long-term retarding impact on the Russian economy; and within the past year I have bought into Stratfor's idea that the defining narrative now in play in Eurasia is Russia's... Read More
I am going to start off by looking at Europe, defined as the region under the influence of Western Christianity and/or the European Union (not Russia or Turkey, which will be covered in a later Eurasia Report). Demographic problems: aging, low fertility and Eurabia? The unsustainability of the modern welfare state? Cultural decline & reaction... Read More
This is my second follow-up post to The Belief Matrix, in which I attempted to advance a universal model for civilizational responses to subsistence crises (The Malthusian Loop) and the Western challenge (The Sisyphean Loop). This time I will look at Germany, a nation that was always torn between its hard-assimilated Roman / Western identity,... Read More
This is the second article of a three-part series about the Iranian Question - that is, the question of how the world is going to deal with the Islamic regime's pursuit of a nuclear bomb, which is likely to be one of the defining processes of global geopolitics in the next five years. The first... Read More
Every once in a while, there occurs a major shift in the international arena. The First World War and its consequences were the seminal change of the last century, collapsing ancient empires and ushering in a new era of ethno-nationalist clashes, political radicalism and emerging powers challenging the established order of Versailles, forces that were... Read More
Whispers of war are heard in the Caucasus, as the anniversary of last year's South Ossetian War approaches. Will the guns of August be fired in anger to mark the occasion? Here are some things we need to keep in mind when analyzing this: It was Georgia that attacked South Ossetia last year, mere hours... Read More
In most Russian bookstores, there is a bookshelf or two dedicated to so-called "patriotic literature" - reappraisals of Stalin against "liberal revisionism", overviews of Russia's secret super-weapons, the exploits of its special forces and Russian theo-philosophy. Much of it is (apparent) nonsense, but the economic crisis has forced me to reconsider one particular "patriotic" thesis... Read More
This is a list of common Russophobe myths about Russia and its people, and the successor to a March 2008 post on a similar theme. Please be sure to check the supporting notes at the bottom before dismissing this as neo-Soviet propaganda. Also partially available en français & на русском thanks to Alexandre Latsa's translation.... Read More
With the recent election of the controversial (to put it mildly) Ahmadinejad to the Iranian Presidency, it is time to look at what this portends for the future of Iran and the Middle East region in general. The first question we need to ask is whether Ahmadinejad's victory was free and fair. Stratfor believes it... Read More
This April, Michael Bohm, editor at the Moscow Times, published the article New Kremlin Dreamers, which questioned Russia's stated intention of becoming an advanced industrial nation by 2020. I wasn't much impressed by its pessimistic assertions - for instance, regarding Russia's hopes of becoming the world's fifth largest economy by 2020, he falls into the... Read More
Riding on the apathy of the masses, crony Communists rig the elections in a small, corrupt post-Soviet backwater to retain their iron grip on power. But their dastardly plans to crush democracy and draw benighted Moldova back into the Eurasian darkness are foiled by the heroic students of Chisinau. Inspired by their boudiccan (and photogenic)... Read More
Chinese in Russia number in the hundreds of thousands, so the Far East is not in danger of demographic domination by the Chinese.
One of the staples of alarmist, pessimistic and/or Russophobic (not to mention Sinophobic) commentary on Russian demography* is a reworking of the yellow peril thesis. In their fevered imaginations Chinese supposedly swim across the Amur River in their millions, establish village communes in the taiga and breed prolifically so as to displace ethnic Russians and... Read More
The Next 100 Years by George Friedman, published in 2010. Rating: 3/5 George Friedman at Stratfor is one of my favorite analysts on world geopolitics. This is because he tries to look at the world as it is, without the pointless moralizing, neoliberal ideologizing and end-of-history triumphalism that clouds too much American geopolitical thinking. Hence... Read More
The Western MSM (mainstream media) was abuzz the last few weeks about how Obama's apparent extension of a hand to Russia did not make them willing to unclench their fist, citing the closure of the Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan. This was linked to Russia's announcement of 150mn $ in aid and 2bn $ of credit... Read More
Let's start with two excellent new resources I've recently come across. Russia: Other Points of View states its objectives thus: Hmm... Sounds quite similar to Da Russophile, in fact, and makes a substantial part of our News posts redundant. As such I'll be referring to it frequently. The other is the Moscow Defence Brief, an... Read More
For all the noise being made this month about Georgia, about NATO, about Tibet, etc, possibly the most portentous is that it seems Russia hit its oil peak (strictly speaking, its second - the first happened in 1987), well in line with peakist predictions. Production increases via application of new technology, as seen in the... Read More
America's desire to have Ukraine and Georgia accede to MAP foundered on European opposition from Germany, France and (somewhat surprisingly) the UK, despite Saakashvili's implicit comparison of this to Nazi appeasement. Nonetheless, this is good for NATO as an alliance (as we've covered previously, the European desire for a rapprochement is linked to Russian logistical... Read More
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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.