The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
A Sane Gessen: A Nice Putin Wouldn't Behave Much Better
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

In Politico, Keith Gessen, the sane sibling of Masha Gessen, the American Establishment’s leading voice on Russia, asks: What if instead of the Mean Putin we know, Russia were ruled by a Nice Putin?

What If Putin Were Nice?

In truth, there would be very little difference in Russia’s anti-Western policies.

By KEITH GESSEN
February 23, 2015

 
Hide 170 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. It seems to me that overall problem is that America is a country run by its Ministry of Propaganda. Ministries of Propaganda are certainly a useful adjunct to most regimes, but when they assume total control over government policy, the results can be quite unfortunate.

    Put another way, “saying doesn’t make it so”…

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Yes, believing your ideology can be bad for you.
    , @Cagey Beast
    Yes, our governing classes in the West are kind of like drug dealers who've become addicts or bartenders who've become alcoholics from dipping into their own product too much. Putin and his team are quite the opposite. It seems like the KGB that trained Putin was able to keep its planning and analysis teams segregated from its propaganda and disinformation teams.
  2. @Ron Unz
    It seems to me that overall problem is that America is a country run by its Ministry of Propaganda. Ministries of Propaganda are certainly a useful adjunct to most regimes, but when they assume total control over government policy, the results can be quite unfortunate.

    Put another way, "saying doesn't make it so"...

    Yes, believing your ideology can be bad for you.

  3. Poor, poor Russia. After 40 or more years of occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies and then adopting the attitude “we didn’t do anything wrong and btw. it’s a terrible tragedy that the whole thing fell apart”, the neighbouring ingrates don’t like Russia now. Life is so unfair.

    • Replies: @donut
    Russia invaded Poland in 1939 and Finland in Nov. of the same year , that's 76 years ago , not 40 .
    From that time until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 they did do pretty much as you said . Since 1991 the Russian Federation was involved in The Chechen War from 1991 to 1996 . So for the past 19 years the Russians haven't been "occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies". On the other hand the US since the first Gulf War in 1991 has been very busy doing just that not to our neighbors but to countries on the other side of the globe that pose no threat to the US or it's interests . In fact the greatest threat to the security and interests of the US lie in Washington D. C . and Tel Aviv .
    , @Peter Akuleyev
    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned. The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don't forgive. Attempting to build any state on the Eurasian landmass appears to require aggression to survive, and invites aggression from your neighbors the second you show weakness. Putin gets that much, his problem is that he is kind of stupid and is playing into his enemies' hands.
  4. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to call Keith less lesbian version of Masha, since the story is just another attack piece on Putin.

  5. off topic (sorry)
    there was this murder of a schoolboy in Japan a few days ago. The suspects are not yet caught, they somehow managed to disappear. One of the suspects is said to be half-american. Given the low number of murders in Japan and the the low number of half americans in Japan that is quite surprising. I wonder if half-americans in this case means half white or half black…

  6. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    Sane Gessen?

    Isn’t he the one who got Masha’s lesbian wife pregnant? Or, is there another brother?

    Btw, how is it that these two just happen to come to the US and become the prominent voices on everything Russian almost overnight?

    Are gentile Russian-Americans ever allowed to say anything about their country? Or, is it reserved only to Jewish or homo-sexual Russian-Americans?

    But then, on Charlie Rose show, 90% of voices on Middle Eastern affairs are Jewish.

  7. That’s been pretty much my take from the start. I have no love for Putin, but the guy’s foreign policy is, for the most part, pretty reasonable and not very hard to understand. And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered.

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society’s increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence. Pick any five people at random from the State Department, and I’d bet they’ve read more books between them than any 100 random Americans. And yet all it takes to understand what’s going on in Ukraine is a basic (I’m talking Wikipedia-level) understanding of European history and the ability to look at a map.

    Putin is more or less doing what any competent and patriotic American leader would do — and what they have done — in the same circumstances. No complicated conspiracy theories or high-level geopolitical theorizing are necessary!

    • Replies: @Jus' Sayin'...
    I couldn't possibly have put it better than you have.

    I'd just add that although many non-Russians may not like Mr. Putin much, a significant majority of Russians are very fond of him. There is also significant support for him among the populations of neighboring countries, and in these countries this is not just found among nervous minority ethnic-Russian populations. In fact, I suspect that a majority of Americans would be on-board with many of Mr. Putin's policies if they could just escape the din of the progressive/neocon/loony-toon echo chamber that surrounds them.
    , @MQ

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society’s increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence.
     
    No, Mr. Blank -- it's incentives, not intelligence that's the problem. Our foreign policy and defense establishment needs to manufacture threatening foreign devils for survival and entertainment. Fighting foreign devils is their reason for existing, after all. A great American back in the day said 'go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy', but we employ a bunch of people to do exactly that.

    BTW, the situation is worse than it seems, because I'm almost certain that Obama sees through a lot of this stuff, but he hasn't been able to tamp it down. It's actually very difficult to go against the warmongering ideology in DC, it's so engrained. People on this site hate Obama (for essentially racial reasons IMO, as he's a pretty typically mediocre U.S. President, better than average in some ways, worse in others). But he's taken a lot of risks to avoid war in foreign policy -- e.g. started negotiations with Iran, successfully resisted pressures to get into wars in Iran, Syria, etc. Until recently he had only really screwed up in Libya, by getting dragged into one of those 'humanitarian interventions'. But the Ukraine intervention was so well set up by the permanent bureaucracy that has been very difficult not to get dragged into it, although Obama has resisted getting US troops involved. And ISIS is so brilliant at trolling the west that we're helpless not to fight them.

    Put a true neoconservative president in charge and we'd have boots on the ground all over the place by now.

    , @Priss Factor
    "And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered."

    No, just serving their masters.
  8. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    “Poor, poor Russia. After 40 or more years of occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies and then adopting the attitude “we didn’t do anything wrong and btw. it’s a terrible tragedy that the whole thing fell apart”, the neighbouring ingrates don’t like Russia now. Life is so unfair.”

    Many Bolsheviks were Jews.

    Stalin would never have taken Eastern Europe if not for Hitler’s war on Russia. Eastern Europe fell into Stalin’s lap because of Hitler’s initiative.

    And Stalin wouldn’t have occupied North China and northern half of Korea if Roosevelt hadn’t requested he do so.

    Stalin was a bad bad guy, but the West provoked or called forth events that led to expansion of Soviet power and influence.

    And keep in mind that nations like Hungary and Romania joined Germany in the war on Russia.

  9. Heck, to turn it around, many of the Russia-loving critics of America and Israel on this very site work themselves into a frothing rage any time the U.S. or Israel take the sort of straightforward, self-interested foreign policy steps that Putin (or the Chinese) regularly engage in.

    I’m nothing if not consistent: I don’t mind when Israel or the U.S. engage in pushy, aggressive, transparently selfish behavior to protect their people — so why would I condemn Russia or China for doing the same? Geopolitics ain’t tiddlywinks; you gotta have sharp elbows.

    I say until we see Russian tanks massing on the German border, we oughta cut Putin some slack.

    • Replies: @Hepp

    I’m nothing if not consistent: I don’t mind when Israel or the U.S. engage in pushy, aggressive, transparently selfish behavior to protect their people — so why would I condemn Russia or China for doing the same? Geopolitics ain’t tiddlywinks; you gotta have sharp elbows.
     
    When was the last time the US government did anything major in foreign policy that was good for its people, rather than being good for the world's most psychotic Islamists?
    , @silviosilver

    Heck, to turn it around, many of the Russia-loving critics of America and Israel on this very site work themselves into a frothing rage any time the U.S. or Israel take the sort of straightforward, self-interested foreign policy steps that Putin (or the Chinese) regularly engage in.
     
    This smacks of Irael-firsterism masquerading as dispassionate analysis. The bare fact of the matter is that post-Soviet Russia has not behaved anywhere nearly as aggressively towards her neighbors as Israel consistently has since that state's inception, so I will certainly not allow you to sneak in any such equivalence. Critics of American foreign policy (Russia-loving or otherwise) damn America for not acting in America's interests and for its subservience to Israeli interests.
  10. @Mr. Blank
    That's been pretty much my take from the start. I have no love for Putin, but the guy's foreign policy is, for the most part, pretty reasonable and not very hard to understand. And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered.

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society's increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence. Pick any five people at random from the State Department, and I'd bet they've read more books between them than any 100 random Americans. And yet all it takes to understand what's going on in Ukraine is a basic (I'm talking Wikipedia-level) understanding of European history and the ability to look at a map.

    Putin is more or less doing what any competent and patriotic American leader would do — and what they have done — in the same circumstances. No complicated conspiracy theories or high-level geopolitical theorizing are necessary!

    I couldn’t possibly have put it better than you have.

    I’d just add that although many non-Russians may not like Mr. Putin much, a significant majority of Russians are very fond of him. There is also significant support for him among the populations of neighboring countries, and in these countries this is not just found among nervous minority ethnic-Russian populations. In fact, I suspect that a majority of Americans would be on-board with many of Mr. Putin’s policies if they could just escape the din of the progressive/neocon/loony-toon echo chamber that surrounds them.

    • Replies: @Jaakko Raipala
    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we're most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They're blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can't escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they're better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that's in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border - amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc - and he's resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven't heard that one before.

  11. @Ron Unz
    It seems to me that overall problem is that America is a country run by its Ministry of Propaganda. Ministries of Propaganda are certainly a useful adjunct to most regimes, but when they assume total control over government policy, the results can be quite unfortunate.

    Put another way, "saying doesn't make it so"...

    Yes, our governing classes in the West are kind of like drug dealers who’ve become addicts or bartenders who’ve become alcoholics from dipping into their own product too much. Putin and his team are quite the opposite. It seems like the KGB that trained Putin was able to keep its planning and analysis teams segregated from its propaganda and disinformation teams.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
    Or to apply a far harsher biological metaphor, consider a poor canine infected with the rabies virus. The virus may have no brain and its body-weight is probably less than one-millionth that of the host, but once it has seized control of the central nervous system, the animal, big brain and all, becomes a helpless puppet.

    Once friendly Fido runs around foaming at the mouth, barking at the sky, and trying to bite all the other animals it can reach. Its friends and relatives are saddened by its plight but stay well clear, hoping to avoid infection before the inevitable happens, and poor Fido finally collapses dead in a heap.
  12. I’d like to see this “mean Putin” everyone on earth is talking about. The Putin who keeps sending humanitarian aid tucks to Ukraine, who just announced he will help supply coal to Ukraine (whose reserves are very low) on extremely favorable for Ukraine terms, who keeps his cool while the US parades its tanks and troops 80 miles from St Petersburg (or 3o yards from the Russian border), who accepted Crimea back into the fold after an internationally-approved vote by the Crimeans, etc…?

    You mean that “mean Putin”?

    (Some people really do need to recall that the Soviet system collapsed in 1989.)

  13. Angela Merkel, who knows Putin better than any other world leader, having met with him often and being able to speak to him without translators has said he has a problem seeing ‘reality’. If that is her public assessment of the man I imagine her private one is even less flattering. Now Merkel is no American poodle, in fact she doesn’t even like dogs and didn’t find amusing Putin’s attempt to intimidate her with his but, despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government, she is leading the European sanctions effort. This despite her own nations dependance on Russian energy exports and German industry’s much larger trade relations with Russia which had accounted for 4% of German trade at its peak.

    Obviously if she has a problem with Putin others should pay attention to her views as she does not profit from having poor relations with her large Eastern neighbor. She has opposed American arms shipments to Kiev and the US has so far deferred to her attempt to arrange a ceasefire though she has warned Putin she would impose even tougher sanctions on Russia if it is again violated. If Germany cannot come to terms with Putin then we really have no alternatives left. That should not be that worrying though unless you believe Putin to be utterly insane. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    • Replies: @reiner Tor

    despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government
     
    Maybe it's not despite the espionage, but because of it. Maybe the Americans know something about her she'd like to keep secret.
    , @jimbojones
    "Now Merkel is no American poodle,"

    Of course she is.
    , @Minnesota Mary
    Maybe it is Merkel who has a problem with reality. She looked pretty weird and surreal in that Je suis Charlie march in Paris.
    , @colm
    Woody Wilson shoudl have left the Brest-Litovsk treaty stand. He gave in to the Polish and Czech lobbies. A big mistake.
  14. The problem with US foreign policy is that Mearsheimer and Walt were right: US policy has been hijacked by the AIPAC/Neocon/Zionist cabal. Thus Bibi will be addressing the US House of represntatives as Boehner tries to prove the establishment GOP are more loyal to their paymasters than the DEMS.

    Viewed through the prism of these groups’ interests, US Policy makes complete sense. The media propaganda machine makes no sense because at this point, it has zero conmection with the traditional american polity or its interests.

    • Replies: @Hepp

    The problem with US foreign policy is that Mearsheimer and Walt were right: US policy has been hijacked by the AIPAC/Neocon/Zionist cabal.
     
    I believed that ten years ago. Now I believe that foreign policy has been an extension of the fantasies we engage in regarding domestic policy. Sure, American black can preform as well as whites, and Libyans and Iraqis will form peaceful democracies as soon as they're given the chance. And the right to be gay and pushy about it is the most important policy there is, at home and abroad.
  15. As the international condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his actions continues unabated, I keep wondering: What if Putin were nice, rather than mean? What would a Nice Putin have done differently over the past decade and a half—or today?

    Keith Gessen wrote the quote above. But is it really true? India appears to be supportive of Russia annexing Crimea, and although China doesn’t support independence votes, their spokesman said: “We are against any nationality gaining independence through referendums. As far as Crimea is concerned, it has very special features. We know well the history of Crimea’s affiliation. … China reacts with full understanding to the challenges and threats Russia has faced in connection with the Ukrainian issue and supports Moscow’s approach to its settlement.”

    Even Israel has not condemned Russia. So given India and China’s population, we know a good chunk of the world is not condemning Russia.

    But Keith and our MSM make it seem like the world is of one opinion on this. I find it interesting that liberals are always lecturing yokels in flyover country that the world is more than just whites and that whites in fact are a minority. But on issues like this or gay marriage, it is the liberals who seem to ignore the masses of the world, and believe their worldview is more important. Is this just liberals showing their white privilege?

    • Replies: @SFG
    More 'I'm a citizen of the most powerful country on earth, flanked by weak neighbors, one of which is almost a carbon copy of it, and two oceans, and I don't have to worry about the security of my nation' privilege.

    The US's strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don't threaten our borders.

    Now Russia has a hostile alliance (NATO) literally on its border (imagine if Mexico were a Russian ally), China has Tibet and the Uighurs, not to mention Japan and Taiwan, both of which are US allies...so they have to study their neighbors well. But us? Who is going to start massing divisions on our border? The Canadians?

    I agree the Mexicans have turned California and New Mexico into a Latin American slum. Still, Mexico is nowhere near an existential threat to the USA, and most of them do turn into Americans, albeit stupid, underclass Americans. It's not as bad as the Muslims in France or England.

    The USA is the ultimate 'born on third base and thought we hit a triple' nation. We should be more humble about our achievements and capabilities, and more studious of international politics. No hegemon lasts forever, after all, and pride goeth before a fall, as a very distant relative of mine wrote. Forget trying to remake the world, and focus on reining in K Street (which includes AIPAC, of course).
  16. You mean the Putin that we have ISN’T nice?

  17. @Mr. Blank
    Heck, to turn it around, many of the Russia-loving critics of America and Israel on this very site work themselves into a frothing rage any time the U.S. or Israel take the sort of straightforward, self-interested foreign policy steps that Putin (or the Chinese) regularly engage in.

    I'm nothing if not consistent: I don't mind when Israel or the U.S. engage in pushy, aggressive, transparently selfish behavior to protect their people — so why would I condemn Russia or China for doing the same? Geopolitics ain't tiddlywinks; you gotta have sharp elbows.

    I say until we see Russian tanks massing on the German border, we oughta cut Putin some slack.

    I’m nothing if not consistent: I don’t mind when Israel or the U.S. engage in pushy, aggressive, transparently selfish behavior to protect their people — so why would I condemn Russia or China for doing the same? Geopolitics ain’t tiddlywinks; you gotta have sharp elbows.

    When was the last time the US government did anything major in foreign policy that was good for its people, rather than being good for the world’s most psychotic Islamists?

  18. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    Where are you getting that from? According to the CIA, Russia is listed as number 7, Mexico as number 11 and Pakistan as number 27.

    • Replies: @Muse
    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.
    , @unit472
    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia's gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.
  19. @Muse
    The problem with US foreign policy is that Mearsheimer and Walt were right: US policy has been hijacked by the AIPAC/Neocon/Zionist cabal. Thus Bibi will be addressing the US House of represntatives as Boehner tries to prove the establishment GOP are more loyal to their paymasters than the DEMS.

    Viewed through the prism of these groups' interests, US Policy makes complete sense. The media propaganda machine makes no sense because at this point, it has zero conmection with the traditional american polity or its interests.

    The problem with US foreign policy is that Mearsheimer and Walt were right: US policy has been hijacked by the AIPAC/Neocon/Zionist cabal.

    I believed that ten years ago. Now I believe that foreign policy has been an extension of the fantasies we engage in regarding domestic policy. Sure, American black can preform as well as whites, and Libyans and Iraqis will form peaceful democracies as soon as they’re given the chance. And the right to be gay and pushy about it is the most important policy there is, at home and abroad.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think it's a bit of this and a bit of that. There is a cabal hijacking foreign policy, there is another - largely overlapping - cabal hijacking domestic discourse, but the ideologies created for both live their own lives. Oh and there's a lot of improvisations and missteps and miscalculations etc.
  20. Priss Factor [AKA "K. Arujo"] says:

    George W. Bush was a ‘nice guy’ president. Obama seems nice. But it didn’t make any difference to the wreckage that is Ukraine, Gaza, and the Middle East/North Africa.

    As long as US presidents, nice or not, are toadies to globalist elites, they will wreak havoc on the world.

    And they will use homo agents as proxies of US globo-imperialism.

    Sheldon Adelson seems mean, and David Brooks seems nice. But they seem to agree on Palestinians. Only good Palestinians are those bombed back to the stone age. Really makes no difference.

  21. @Cagey Beast
    Yes, our governing classes in the West are kind of like drug dealers who've become addicts or bartenders who've become alcoholics from dipping into their own product too much. Putin and his team are quite the opposite. It seems like the KGB that trained Putin was able to keep its planning and analysis teams segregated from its propaganda and disinformation teams.

    Or to apply a far harsher biological metaphor, consider a poor canine infected with the rabies virus. The virus may have no brain and its body-weight is probably less than one-millionth that of the host, but once it has seized control of the central nervous system, the animal, big brain and all, becomes a helpless puppet.

    Once friendly Fido runs around foaming at the mouth, barking at the sky, and trying to bite all the other animals it can reach. Its friends and relatives are saddened by its plight but stay well clear, hoping to avoid infection before the inevitable happens, and poor Fido finally collapses dead in a heap.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    You speak about this like you have some Bobby Fischer-like ability to intuitively see the permutations and can see how this plays out. Please tell us, in a nutshell, how the end game will go down.
  22. Now I believe that foreign policy has been an extension of the fantasies we engage in regarding domestic policy.

    I agree that this is a component of US policy. All foreign policy has to consider the political implications when viewed from within the country in question. Older themes such as “manifest destiny”, “remember the Maine”, “arsenal of democracy” , “the domino theory”, “american exceptionalism”, “shining city on a hill” and “weapons of mass destruction” were spins and justification put on external foreign policies for internal consumption. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with the true reason for the policy, just a method to confuse or guide the masses. Behind this smokescreen exists the true purposes of policy, and the interests of those that will benefit.

    Notice though that the spin has increasingly become more disconnected from the purpose of the policy.

    Harassing Putin about gay and transgendered rights is merely rhetoric to distract the polity, and get them angry at big bad Vlad. Someone (Nuland and others in the State Department) hoped to benefit somebody’s interests by fostering a coup in Ukraine. Who was to benefit, and how they would benefit as a result of the policy is open to speculation.

    The neocons have been pushing US policy towards belligerent action in Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Ukraine and other countries for the past ten to fifteen years. Why and for whom? It clearly is not in the interest of the average US citizen.

  23. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    “A few months ago I was asked in a survey of Russia “experts” whether I thought the current crisis in Ukraine was primarily the result of NATO expansion or, rather, Putin’s aggressive foreign policy.”

    Come on. Don’t hide globalist influence by invoking NATO. As US is globo-controlled and as US dominates NATO, NATO is just a tool of globalists. It was globalists like Victoria Nuland and her necon gang who instigated the crisis in Ukraine. Globalists hate Russia because they nearly gained control of the entire nation in the 90s but then lost grip due to Putin. THAT is why they hate Russia and Putin.

    Globalists don’t care about right or wrong in Ukraine. It’s all about globalist power and influence. Globalists see Slavs as drunken dummies, so they think they should rule and control most of Russia/Ukraine.

    If globalists are all about principles and liberalism, why did they work with Ukrainian Neo-Nazis to overthrow the president of Ukraine? Why does globalist-controlled US work with theocratic Saudi Arabia in supporting terrorists and rebels that have spread mayhem all over Libya and Syria?

  24. @unit472
    Angela Merkel, who knows Putin better than any other world leader, having met with him often and being able to speak to him without translators has said he has a problem seeing 'reality'. If that is her public assessment of the man I imagine her private one is even less flattering. Now Merkel is no American poodle, in fact she doesn't even like dogs and didn't find amusing Putin's attempt to intimidate her with his but, despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government, she is leading the European sanctions effort. This despite her own nations dependance on Russian energy exports and German industry's much larger trade relations with Russia which had accounted for 4% of German trade at its peak.

    Obviously if she has a problem with Putin others should pay attention to her views as she does not profit from having poor relations with her large Eastern neighbor. She has opposed American arms shipments to Kiev and the US has so far deferred to her attempt to arrange a ceasefire though she has warned Putin she would impose even tougher sanctions on Russia if it is again violated. If Germany cannot come to terms with Putin then we really have no alternatives left. That should not be that worrying though unless you believe Putin to be utterly insane. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government

    Maybe it’s not despite the espionage, but because of it. Maybe the Americans know something about her she’d like to keep secret.

  25. @iSteveFan

    Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!
     
    Where are you getting that from? According to the CIA, Russia is listed as number 7, Mexico as number 11 and Pakistan as number 27.

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    They are playing with nuclear fire when they're drawing Russia and Putin into a corner.
    , @AP

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.
     
    True, but this goes both ways. America isn't going to go nuclear over the Baltics because that would mean the end of America via a response. Conversely, Putin wouldn't go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he's not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation's very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not. Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.
    , @donut
    A black swan event is an event that comes as a surprise . The foolhardy and criminal adventure that the imbeciles running our foreign policy have embarked on will almost certainly lead to a nuclear war if they continue with this madness . Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Granada or Panama . The US Army like the IDF has come to excel at killing unarmed civilians or civilians armed only with small arms . Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on . If we provoke a war with Russia how can it not lead to a nuclear war ? If the Russians feel they are losing what choice would they have ? If the US is facing a crushing defeat is there any doubt what the next step would be from the deranged leadership currently in power ? And if you think we can prevail in a nuclear war you haven't been paying attention . There have been several alarming incidents in the news related to our nuclear arsenal and it's status and leadership :

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article3954432.ece

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a12003/the-nuke-silo-cheating-scandal-explained-16388244/

    And if you are still in doubt and have the time you can read Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety"
  26. @Hepp

    The problem with US foreign policy is that Mearsheimer and Walt were right: US policy has been hijacked by the AIPAC/Neocon/Zionist cabal.
     
    I believed that ten years ago. Now I believe that foreign policy has been an extension of the fantasies we engage in regarding domestic policy. Sure, American black can preform as well as whites, and Libyans and Iraqis will form peaceful democracies as soon as they're given the chance. And the right to be gay and pushy about it is the most important policy there is, at home and abroad.

    I think it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. There is a cabal hijacking foreign policy, there is another – largely overlapping – cabal hijacking domestic discourse, but the ideologies created for both live their own lives. Oh and there’s a lot of improvisations and missteps and miscalculations etc.

  27. @Muse
    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.

    They are playing with nuclear fire when they’re drawing Russia and Putin into a corner.

  28. @iSteveFan

    As the international condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his actions continues unabated, I keep wondering: What if Putin were nice, rather than mean? What would a Nice Putin have done differently over the past decade and a half—or today?
     
    Keith Gessen wrote the quote above. But is it really true? India appears to be supportive of Russia annexing Crimea, and although China doesn't support independence votes, their spokesman said: "We are against any nationality gaining independence through referendums. As far as Crimea is concerned, it has very special features. We know well the history of Crimea’s affiliation. … China reacts with full understanding to the challenges and threats Russia has faced in connection with the Ukrainian issue and supports Moscow’s approach to its settlement."

    Even Israel has not condemned Russia. So given India and China's population, we know a good chunk of the world is not condemning Russia.

    But Keith and our MSM make it seem like the world is of one opinion on this. I find it interesting that liberals are always lecturing yokels in flyover country that the world is more than just whites and that whites in fact are a minority. But on issues like this or gay marriage, it is the liberals who seem to ignore the masses of the world, and believe their worldview is more important. Is this just liberals showing their white privilege?

    More ‘I’m a citizen of the most powerful country on earth, flanked by weak neighbors, one of which is almost a carbon copy of it, and two oceans, and I don’t have to worry about the security of my nation’ privilege.

    The US’s strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don’t threaten our borders.

    Now Russia has a hostile alliance (NATO) literally on its border (imagine if Mexico were a Russian ally), China has Tibet and the Uighurs, not to mention Japan and Taiwan, both of which are US allies…so they have to study their neighbors well. But us? Who is going to start massing divisions on our border? The Canadians?

    I agree the Mexicans have turned California and New Mexico into a Latin American slum. Still, Mexico is nowhere near an existential threat to the USA, and most of them do turn into Americans, albeit stupid, underclass Americans. It’s not as bad as the Muslims in France or England.

    The USA is the ultimate ‘born on third base and thought we hit a triple’ nation. We should be more humble about our achievements and capabilities, and more studious of international politics. No hegemon lasts forever, after all, and pride goeth before a fall, as a very distant relative of mine wrote. Forget trying to remake the world, and focus on reining in K Street (which includes AIPAC, of course).

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    The US’s strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don’t threaten our borders.
     
    You hit the nail on the head. We had the greatest strategic position any nation could ask. We reside on a rich continental sized nation, with diverse climate, abundant fresh water and low population density. And yet as you say....

    The only words I have can best be expressed by Charlton Heston in the famous ending of Planet of the Apes.
    , @Hunsdon
    Very much yes.
  29. (Some people really do need to recall that the Soviet system collapsed in 1989.)

    Not long after, the “hate Russia” party got started.

    • Replies: @Minnesota Mary
    Exactly!
  30. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    It’s a good thing for that mean man Putin that he only needs to deal with the Russian public rather than run for office in America where he would certainly lose. Voters here are much more astute, preferring the friendly smiley sort, the type who are tall, have full heads of hair and look photogenic with makeup on. Sort of like the amiable, gee-whiz Bush, you know, the one who lied through his teeth and got us to invade Iraq, turning the country into a slaughterhouse that keeps on going and getting worse even after twelve years. We don’t want mean over here, no sireee. Already a good number of comments into the thread and yet no one so far has mentioned Putin strutting around with his shirt off?

    • Replies: @Muse

    Voters here are much more astute, preferring the friendly smiley sort, the type who are tall, have full heads of hair and look photogenic with makeup on.
     
    Ahh.. thanks to womens' suffrage. The male equivalent of this phenomenon being Sarah Palin. One of many strategies to take advantage of the left half of the bell curve.

    Fortunately there is no danger of this happening with Hillary Clinton.

    , @Minnesota Mary
    Anonymous, thanks for the humor! I love the comic relief that you have given, and I am still laughing.
  31. @Ron Unz
    Or to apply a far harsher biological metaphor, consider a poor canine infected with the rabies virus. The virus may have no brain and its body-weight is probably less than one-millionth that of the host, but once it has seized control of the central nervous system, the animal, big brain and all, becomes a helpless puppet.

    Once friendly Fido runs around foaming at the mouth, barking at the sky, and trying to bite all the other animals it can reach. Its friends and relatives are saddened by its plight but stay well clear, hoping to avoid infection before the inevitable happens, and poor Fido finally collapses dead in a heap.

    You speak about this like you have some Bobby Fischer-like ability to intuitively see the permutations and can see how this plays out. Please tell us, in a nutshell, how the end game will go down.

  32. @anonymous
    It's a good thing for that mean man Putin that he only needs to deal with the Russian public rather than run for office in America where he would certainly lose. Voters here are much more astute, preferring the friendly smiley sort, the type who are tall, have full heads of hair and look photogenic with makeup on. Sort of like the amiable, gee-whiz Bush, you know, the one who lied through his teeth and got us to invade Iraq, turning the country into a slaughterhouse that keeps on going and getting worse even after twelve years. We don't want mean over here, no sireee. Already a good number of comments into the thread and yet no one so far has mentioned Putin strutting around with his shirt off?

    Voters here are much more astute, preferring the friendly smiley sort, the type who are tall, have full heads of hair and look photogenic with makeup on.

    Ahh.. thanks to womens’ suffrage. The male equivalent of this phenomenon being Sarah Palin. One of many strategies to take advantage of the left half of the bell curve.

    Fortunately there is no danger of this happening with Hillary Clinton.

  33. Priss Factor [AKA "K Arujo"] says:

    ‘liberal democracy’ is just the smiley-faced button of globalist neo-imperialism.

    If homo proxies of globalists come to your nation and smile and make an offer, you better not refuse it… or you’ll get the Russia-treatment.

    To be sure, as long as Russia is the main enemy, the globalists will ally with nations and regimes far less liberal than Russia or Putin, but that’s just how it goes.

  34. I glanced through the article… (It wasn’t worth it.) And this Gessen is no sane Gessen. The piece is a tissue of lies, calumnies, absurdities, insanities, and inanities.

    Here is a brief translation from newspeak:
    “Right-minded people ought to hate not just Putin, but all of Russia.”
    Here is a quick definition of “nice Putin” from the newspeak dictionary:
    “A nice Putin would be a Putin who dismantles all of Russia’s industries, splits Russia into 10-15 small statelets, gives all of Russia’s wealth to 15-20 controlled oligarchs who reside in London, Tel Aviv, New York, and Miami, and spends the rest of his days delivering politically correct speeches written at his “foundation” over at Virginia.”
    You know, nice. Like Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

    To get an idea of the level of Gessen’s hackery, consider the following cretinous mental ejaculation of his:
    “Though he has since been sainted by the Russian Orthodox church, Nicholas was no saint. He tolerated terrible cruelty in his dominions, authorized a stupid, losing war against Japan, …”

    From Wikipedia:
    “Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904.[24] However, three hours before Japan’s declaration of war was received by the Russian government, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur. Tsar Nicholas II was stunned by news of the attack. He could not believe that Japan would commit an act of war without a formal declaration, ”
    If one reads a bit of the scholarship on the war, one will find out that the war was financed by the Anglo-Americans. Here is a quick intro for those interested.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takahashi_Korekiyo

    And what of Putin’s sins? What makes him so not nice? He finished the original war on terror against the CIA’s Mujahedeen terrorists in Chechnya (oh those lovable Chechens, what’s there not to like about them); he jailed the thieving scumbag Khodorkovsky; and worst of all, he followed his people’s will in rejecting the LGBT imperative.

    The Ministry of Propaganda doesn’t even make an effort anymore. Doesn’t even try to show some respect to truth and the dignity of its targets. It just lies and hurls infantile abuse.
    —–

    One other note: What kind of language is this? “Nice” and “mean”? What is this, grade 5? Are the intended readers of Gessen’s article childish imbeciles? But to ask the question is to answer it.

    • Replies: @BelleCurvie
    Thanks for linking to that guy's extremely fascinating wiki entry. Do you have any other sources to point me towards regarding the financing of the war between Russia and Japan? Or Wall St's ties to the Japanese government in the early 20th century in general?
    , @AlexT
    Just wanted to compliment you on this post. Well done.
  35. @unit472
    Angela Merkel, who knows Putin better than any other world leader, having met with him often and being able to speak to him without translators has said he has a problem seeing 'reality'. If that is her public assessment of the man I imagine her private one is even less flattering. Now Merkel is no American poodle, in fact she doesn't even like dogs and didn't find amusing Putin's attempt to intimidate her with his but, despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government, she is leading the European sanctions effort. This despite her own nations dependance on Russian energy exports and German industry's much larger trade relations with Russia which had accounted for 4% of German trade at its peak.

    Obviously if she has a problem with Putin others should pay attention to her views as she does not profit from having poor relations with her large Eastern neighbor. She has opposed American arms shipments to Kiev and the US has so far deferred to her attempt to arrange a ceasefire though she has warned Putin she would impose even tougher sanctions on Russia if it is again violated. If Germany cannot come to terms with Putin then we really have no alternatives left. That should not be that worrying though unless you believe Putin to be utterly insane. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    “Now Merkel is no American poodle,”

    Of course she is.

  36. “The Night of the Ready-Made Corpse”
    Jim and Artie are assigned to investigate one Fabian Lavendor, a mortician who runs a peculiar side-line business: faking the deaths of wanted criminals.

    Maybe Snowden can find a Moscow mortician and fake his own death. He can claim cat scratch fever did him in. NBC can send Williams to Russia to cover the funeral. Send Rudy in drag to comfort Putin.

  37. @SFG
    More 'I'm a citizen of the most powerful country on earth, flanked by weak neighbors, one of which is almost a carbon copy of it, and two oceans, and I don't have to worry about the security of my nation' privilege.

    The US's strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don't threaten our borders.

    Now Russia has a hostile alliance (NATO) literally on its border (imagine if Mexico were a Russian ally), China has Tibet and the Uighurs, not to mention Japan and Taiwan, both of which are US allies...so they have to study their neighbors well. But us? Who is going to start massing divisions on our border? The Canadians?

    I agree the Mexicans have turned California and New Mexico into a Latin American slum. Still, Mexico is nowhere near an existential threat to the USA, and most of them do turn into Americans, albeit stupid, underclass Americans. It's not as bad as the Muslims in France or England.

    The USA is the ultimate 'born on third base and thought we hit a triple' nation. We should be more humble about our achievements and capabilities, and more studious of international politics. No hegemon lasts forever, after all, and pride goeth before a fall, as a very distant relative of mine wrote. Forget trying to remake the world, and focus on reining in K Street (which includes AIPAC, of course).

    The US’s strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don’t threaten our borders.

    You hit the nail on the head. We had the greatest strategic position any nation could ask. We reside on a rich continental sized nation, with diverse climate, abundant fresh water and low population density. And yet as you say….

    The only words I have can best be expressed by Charlton Heston in the famous ending of Planet of the Apes.

  38. @Jus' Sayin'...
    I couldn't possibly have put it better than you have.

    I'd just add that although many non-Russians may not like Mr. Putin much, a significant majority of Russians are very fond of him. There is also significant support for him among the populations of neighboring countries, and in these countries this is not just found among nervous minority ethnic-Russian populations. In fact, I suspect that a majority of Americans would be on-board with many of Mr. Putin's policies if they could just escape the din of the progressive/neocon/loony-toon echo chamber that surrounds them.

    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we’re most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can’t escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they’re better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that’s in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border – amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc – and he’s resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven’t heard that one before.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.
     
    And the customers of the prostitutes are who? They're going where the 'johns' are, aren't they? Are the customers of prostitutes morally superior?
    , @Hepp

    I can’t escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they’re better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that’s in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed.
     
    Is this right? Could you please provide more details? These kinds of complaints against Sweden seem like something you'd hear out of these corners of the Internet. Is this a big part of Russia selling itself to its neighbors?
    , @annamaria
    Just out of curiosity: what makes you think that you are much more superior to Putin? Also, Finland has been known for her excellent educational system, but your reasoning kind of contradicts that. Are you a recent emigre to this friendly civilized country?
    , @Peter Akuleyev
    Yes, Russia is collapsing. I spent time in Russia, Turkey and China in the early 1990s. I have been back to all three countries in the last year, including provincial cities. The difference is shocking. Russia has just partied on oil and gas wealth with nothing to show for it but shiny shopping malls, nice restaurants, sports stadiums and a few software companies. Turkey has invested heavily in hospitals, schools, roads, and now Turkish manufacturing companies are stealing market share across the region, and coming to Europe. Turkey is on its way to true regional power status. China is just a different universe. Erdogan is a leader, Putin is a farce. I can still remember when Russians looked down on Turks as backward and considered Chinese primitive savages. I am sure the Ukrainian elites remember that time as well. Anyone over 40 who thinks back to what the world looked like around 1990 should be able to understand how badly Putin has failed.

    When Putin cracked down on dissent from the emerging Russian middle class in 2012, I think that was the last straw for anyone in the region who thought maybe Russia could turn it around. Putin showed he was happy to chase anyone intelligent and ambitious away to Berlin or London, and rule a country of drunken low IQ drudges while he and his cronies kept pocketing the Gazprom revenue. The reason Ukraine is fighting Russia is that the elites see Russia as an economic dead end. The Kazakhs are desperate for a way out as well, and Tatarstan will probably be next, that is when the real problems will start.
  39. @Prokop
    Poor, poor Russia. After 40 or more years of occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies and then adopting the attitude "we didn't do anything wrong and btw. it's a terrible tragedy that the whole thing fell apart", the neighbouring ingrates don't like Russia now. Life is so unfair.

    Russia invaded Poland in 1939 and Finland in Nov. of the same year , that’s 76 years ago , not 40 .
    From that time until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 they did do pretty much as you said . Since 1991 the Russian Federation was involved in The Chechen War from 1991 to 1996 . So for the past 19 years the Russians haven’t been “occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies”. On the other hand the US since the first Gulf War in 1991 has been very busy doing just that not to our neighbors but to countries on the other side of the globe that pose no threat to the US or it’s interests . In fact the greatest threat to the security and interests of the US lie in Washington D. C . and Tel Aviv .

  40. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Muse
    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.

    True, but this goes both ways. America isn’t going to go nuclear over the Baltics because that would mean the end of America via a response. Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation’s very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not. Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.

    • Replies: @MarkinLa
    Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas.

    But neither will we and Putin is there already and we are here and nothing changes that. Russian tanks and attack helicopters cannot be stopped by what little the US can send without a Russian response. A full scale backing by the US will simply invite a Russian preemptive strike and there is no way we have the ability to oust Russia from Ukraine.
    , @Hunsdon
    Preobrazhinsky says: Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation’s very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not.

    Hunsdon says: Says you. The question every sane person should be asking right now is, what if we're wrong? What if Putin doesn't back down? What if, for whatever reason, he feels that Russia is being mortally threatened by the prospect of NATO taking over Sevastopol? What's the worst that could happen? What's the very worst that could happen?

    The very worst that could happen is nuclear war.

    If the very worst thing that could happen is pretty bad (and nuclear war is), then doing all you can to mitigate the risk seems like a sound idea. Wouldn't you say?

    But we don't seem to be engaging in any sort of risk mitigation. Maybe we are, maybe I'm just missing it, but I don't see it.

    PS: The Sane Gessen doesn't behave much differently.
    , @Muse

    Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.
     
    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?

    I take no moral stance that my country owes Eastern Europe anything. I believe US policy should be in support and in the interests of my country's citizens.
  41. Hilarious quote from the article:

    Let me be clear: The actual Putin is not at all nice. To take just a few examples:

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/nice-putin-russia-115431.html#ixzz3Su6fwmPa
    1) between 1999 and 2002 he prosecuted a vicious war in Chechnya, complete with rape, torture, filtration camps and mass graves; 2) in 2003, he jailed his leading rival, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and, when the initial sentence was almost up, extended it; 3) in 2000-01, shortly after assuming the presidency, he oversaw a government takeover of the country’s main independent television channels, chasing their owners into exile; 4) over time he has enriched his friends to an astonishing degree, such that many of the leading billionaires in Russia owe their riches directly to their proximity to Putin; 5) it is becoming increasingly the consensus view that the September 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk were the work of the secret services, and it is hard to imagine that Putin, as the prime minister of Russia and, until just a month before, the head of the FSB, would not have known about them; 6) in his third term he has unleashed the worst aspects of Russian street politics, mobilizing anti-Western, anti-gay and anti-liberal resentment to shore up his domestic popularity; and 7) in 2004, supposedly as an anti-terror measure after the terrible seizure of a school in Beslan by Chechen fighters, he canceled elections for regional governors, replacing them with appointees;.

    That’s all the ‘not niceness’ he could come up with? It definitely makes Putin the nicest Russian leader of the last century or so (OK, second nicest after Gorbachev, but Gorbachev gets dinged for screwing up the country so badly). Remember it was Yeltsin who started the butchery in Chechnya.

    Puts Putin pretty high up on the niceness list for U.S. presidents too, frankly, although we do most of our nastiness overseas.

    • Replies: @officious intermeddler

    it is becoming increasingly the consensus view that the September 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk were the work of the secret services, and it is hard to imagine that Putin, as the prime minister of Russia and, until just a month before, the head of the FSB, would not have known about them
     
    Says who? Do any of the readers here know anything about this supposed emerging consensus? Is there some new evidence that points to the secret services? Or is it just hateful anti-Putin propaganda?

    he jailed his leading rival, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and, when the initial sentence was almost up, extended it
     
    I am under the impression that Khodorkovsky was a gangster, certainly a gigantic thief and swindler who belonged in prison, and according to widespread belief a multiple murderer who deserved an executioner's bullet. Is that wrong?
  42. @Mr. Blank
    That's been pretty much my take from the start. I have no love for Putin, but the guy's foreign policy is, for the most part, pretty reasonable and not very hard to understand. And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered.

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society's increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence. Pick any five people at random from the State Department, and I'd bet they've read more books between them than any 100 random Americans. And yet all it takes to understand what's going on in Ukraine is a basic (I'm talking Wikipedia-level) understanding of European history and the ability to look at a map.

    Putin is more or less doing what any competent and patriotic American leader would do — and what they have done — in the same circumstances. No complicated conspiracy theories or high-level geopolitical theorizing are necessary!

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society’s increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence.

    No, Mr. Blank — it’s incentives, not intelligence that’s the problem. Our foreign policy and defense establishment needs to manufacture threatening foreign devils for survival and entertainment. Fighting foreign devils is their reason for existing, after all. A great American back in the day said ‘go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy’, but we employ a bunch of people to do exactly that.

    BTW, the situation is worse than it seems, because I’m almost certain that Obama sees through a lot of this stuff, but he hasn’t been able to tamp it down. It’s actually very difficult to go against the warmongering ideology in DC, it’s so engrained. People on this site hate Obama (for essentially racial reasons IMO, as he’s a pretty typically mediocre U.S. President, better than average in some ways, worse in others). But he’s taken a lot of risks to avoid war in foreign policy — e.g. started negotiations with Iran, successfully resisted pressures to get into wars in Iran, Syria, etc. Until recently he had only really screwed up in Libya, by getting dragged into one of those ‘humanitarian interventions’. But the Ukraine intervention was so well set up by the permanent bureaucracy that has been very difficult not to get dragged into it, although Obama has resisted getting US troops involved. And ISIS is so brilliant at trolling the west that we’re helpless not to fight them.

    Put a true neoconservative president in charge and we’d have boots on the ground all over the place by now.

    • Replies: @BelleCurvie
    I agree, in general, that having Obama as President likely saved us from getting involved in several unnecessary wars that President McCain would have rushed into -- although I voted for McCain, and do not regret doing so.

    However, it is not really accurate to say Obama "successfully resisted pressures to get into war[]...in...Syria..."

    In August 2013, he resisted pressure from some in his cabinet to do so without the approval of Congress, but he continued to make an effort to get public opinion behind US airstrikes and most certainly would have involved us in that civil war enthusiastically if he got Congress's OK.

    Remember this speech? Not many people do even though it was only about a year and a half ago:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbIrm42zYTU

    I don't think Obama was being dishonest as he made the case that the US had to respond militarily to Assad's supposed "gassing" atrocities. Do you?

    In fact, it is the Congressional Black Caucus that we have to thank for us not helping ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood slaughter Christians. Their votes were needed and pressure was applied, but they did not cave. Give credit where credit is due. Of course, "antiwar" House Republicans also opposed US intervention, but their votes were never in doubt.
  43. @iSteveFan

    Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!
     
    Where are you getting that from? According to the CIA, Russia is listed as number 7, Mexico as number 11 and Pakistan as number 27.

    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia’s gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia’s gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.
     
    True. But I was responding to your contention that Mexico was ahead of Russia in GDP. Mexico's economy is pretty dependent upon oil too. So the same is probably happening there. I doubt Russia has fallen beneath Mexico. And Pakistan was the other nation you mentioned. I doubt they are anywhere near Russia.
    , @silviosilver
    Don't be daft. The Russian economy didn't even enter into recession last year. No predictions regarding 2015 are of a recession greater than 3%. Even if that is realized it would hardly render CIA estimates "inoperative" (to the point that comparisons with Pakistan (!) become fair game).
  44. Not sure how many people have dealt with State Dept. flunkies, but they’re the textbook of “so smart they’re dumb”. They’ve all read the same books, attended the same schools, come from the same backgrounds, and they all “know” what everyone else “knows”, and anyone else who doesn’t “know” something just needs more education.

    It is like arguing with a cultist in a lot of ways and much more frustrating than arguing with an SJW – the SJW is usually shitting up twitter, but when you realize that this person has say in national policy and cannot see the forest for the trees its enough to make someone homicidal.

    When you corner them on SJW talking points (usually immigration in my case) they get either really snarky (“I guess they should have gotten an MBA instead of being a carpenter”) or “Well you have to see the big picture” and flee the field of battle. That department has fallen a long way in a short time. The FSOT wasn’t particularly hard – you just need a HS diploma to apply when I did, but that means nothing if you don’t have the right credentialing via the Usual Routes (Ivy League, Internships, References).

  45. @AP

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.
     
    True, but this goes both ways. America isn't going to go nuclear over the Baltics because that would mean the end of America via a response. Conversely, Putin wouldn't go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he's not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation's very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not. Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.

    Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas.

    But neither will we and Putin is there already and we are here and nothing changes that. Russian tanks and attack helicopters cannot be stopped by what little the US can send without a Russian response. A full scale backing by the US will simply invite a Russian preemptive strike and there is no way we have the ability to oust Russia from Ukraine.

    • Replies: @AP

    Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas.

    But neither will we and Putin is there already and we are here and nothing changes that. Russian tanks and attack helicopters cannot be stopped by what little the US can send without a Russian response. A full scale backing by the US will simply invite a Russian preemptive strike and there is no way we have the ability to oust Russia from Ukraine.
     
    Maybe. But that's a different argument than claiming that there is a danger of nuclear war by backing Ukraine. Russia using nukes against the USA in retaliation for USA actions in Ukraine = total annihilation of Russia and end of Russian civilization forever. Not gonna happen over Donbas, or even Crimea. Same is true for the Baltics in case Russia invades them.
  46. I have bad news for the Putin fans here.

    In the last century and half virtually all Russian leaders have left office in a state of mental collapse.

    (Only Krushchev and Gorby are the exceptions that come to mind-and that’s because they both had short reigns)

    Vlad drinks more than he lets on, doesn’t have a real home life, and is entering the alzy years.

    And who’s gonna tell him to go? Not me.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he'd declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it's gonna get for him.
  47. The ‘nice’ thing may be a little contrived, but he has a very good point: Putin’s anti-Western actions are largely responding to Russian national interests, and Putin’s personality is not necessarily the key factor here. He might have been a little more ethical, but he’d still be opposing us.

  48. @Jaakko Raipala
    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we're most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They're blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can't escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they're better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that's in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border - amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc - and he's resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven't heard that one before.

    They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    And the customers of the prostitutes are who? They’re going where the ‘johns’ are, aren’t they? Are the customers of prostitutes morally superior?

    • Replies: @AP

    They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    And the customers of the prostitutes are who? They’re going where the ‘johns’ are, aren’t they? Are the customers of prostitutes morally superior?
     
    A customer debases himself once in a while. A prostitute debases herself all the time.* Moreover, Finns aren't the ones claiming to be champions of conservative values, Orthodoxy, etc. The source of much of Europe's prostitutes is.

    BTW, HIV capital of Europe is in southeastern Ukraine. This is also the abortion capital of Europe, possibly the world. Such a bastion of conservatism and "Orthodox" values, to be defending against the Galicians.

    *I realize that many prostitutes are themselves victims of abuse etc. and don't mean to simply denigrate them. Their debasement has many causes. But still....
  49. @anony-mouse
    I have bad news for the Putin fans here.

    In the last century and half virtually all Russian leaders have left office in a state of mental collapse.

    (Only Krushchev and Gorby are the exceptions that come to mind-and that's because they both had short reigns)

    Vlad drinks more than he lets on, doesn't have a real home life, and is entering the alzy years.

    And who's gonna tell him to go? Not me.

    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him.

    • Replies: @donut
    Let's hope he has a better sense of responsibility than that . We don't know who would replace him , and it seems he is currently the best bet for staving off a general war .
    , @Jack Hanson
    I wonder if Putin and Justice Scalia would both like to do that, but realize if they step aside its likely going to end badly.

    We were kept from another mideast war in Syria thanks to a KGB agent's guile. Scalia is one of the few solidly conservative voices on the bench. So much has to line up right for us to not get another Roberts, imagining penumbras in the law.
    , @Oscar Peterson
    "If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him."

    It's not a question of being smart. He's a leader driven to achieve a particular goal or set of goals--the rebuilding of the collapsed Russian state. He'll keep at it as long as he can. He thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.) Whether he succeeds or not is, of course, an open question.

    The ultimate question though is how long the various players--Russia, China, the US--can keep up their various acts. If we can continue to print and spend and use the unique role of the USD and US Treasurys to fund our outsized military, impose sanctions at will and sustain artificially high living standards, then he is likely to fail. If not, then all bets are off.
    , @HA
    "If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him."

    He passed that peak a while ago. Upon the election of Yanukovich, who was unabashedly a fan, Putin was poised to wrap up Ukraine in the same way as Belorussia, and would have thereby come close to reviving his neo-Soviet Union. And he could have done that without a single shot being fired. But as thugs will do, he overplayed his hand and pulled the strings of his puppet too tightly, and here we are. Whatever he gets now is going to cost a lot more than it would have if he had played it with a little more finesse. If this amounts to "snookering" Nuland, I'd hate to see what losing to her would be like.

  50. @Jaakko Raipala
    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we're most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They're blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can't escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they're better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that's in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border - amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc - and he's resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven't heard that one before.

    I can’t escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they’re better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that’s in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed.

    Is this right? Could you please provide more details? These kinds of complaints against Sweden seem like something you’d hear out of these corners of the Internet. Is this a big part of Russia selling itself to its neighbors?

    • Replies: @Jaakko Raipala
    They have been sending anti-Swedish propaganda at us nonstop for half a millennium now but I guess that's just meant for Finns. (The Swedes don't have a similar tradition since all they historically had to do was to remind us that Russia has serfdom.) However right now the Swedes have poked the bear by being very active on the diplomatic front. Remember, if you believe the Russian line, the crisis was started the EU partnership program...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Partnership

    ...which "was presented by the foreign ministers of Poland and Sweden". That would be these guys:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Bildt
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rados%C5%82aw_Sikorski

    A lot of Swedes still haven't gotten over the loss at Poltava, they aren't going to miss the opportunity to deny the place to Russia and Carl Bildt seems to desperately want Sweden to become Russia's arch-nemesis again. He was part of the previous right-wing government that promoted mass immigration and I assume the desire to have more population and hence more international weight was a big part of that.

    Moscow is pissed off and we are in the middle of a bizarre propaganda war where one day Sweden is collapsing as a society because the immigration, gay friendliness and feminism have gone too far and then the next day Sweden is full of Nazi parties, the politicians have secret Nazi sympathies and Ukraine is full of Swedish neo-Nazis. Even in their English language outlets you get these hit pieces...

    http://rt.com/op-edge/182600-bildt-swiss-far-right-ukraine/

    ...and gloating about the rise of the anti-immigrant party (note how Carl Bildt suffering a humiliating defeat is news even though he was the Foreign Minister, not Prime Minister)...

    http://rt.com/news/187980-sweden-democrats-anti-immigrant-election/

    ...even though Russia Today is the one well-funded media outlet that consistently gives fair and sympathetic coverage to the various anti-immigration parties around Europe, including Sweden Democrats.

  51. @Muse
    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.

    A black swan event is an event that comes as a surprise . The foolhardy and criminal adventure that the imbeciles running our foreign policy have embarked on will almost certainly lead to a nuclear war if they continue with this madness . Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Granada or Panama . The US Army like the IDF has come to excel at killing unarmed civilians or civilians armed only with small arms . Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on . If we provoke a war with Russia how can it not lead to a nuclear war ? If the Russians feel they are losing what choice would they have ? If the US is facing a crushing defeat is there any doubt what the next step would be from the deranged leadership currently in power ? And if you think we can prevail in a nuclear war you haven’t been paying attention . There have been several alarming incidents in the news related to our nuclear arsenal and it’s status and leadership :

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article3954432.ece

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a12003/the-nuke-silo-cheating-scandal-explained-16388244/

    And if you are still in doubt and have the time you can read Eric Schlosser’s book “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety”

    • Replies: @Muse
    You don't need to convince me that we are fortunate to have not yet had had an accidental launch during peacetime.

    My point is that shooting wars take on an unpredictable life of their own, regardless of the intentions of the parties. This is a problem when each country has many large bombs on a hair-trigger. Maybe black swan is the wrong descriptor.
    , @AP

    Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on .
     
    Let's not idealize Russia's historical military prowess. The USSR managed to, with extreme difficulty and tens of millions of deaths, defeat a country with less than half its population, led by a madman. Twenty years earlier it fought Poland to a draw. And Russia is only the rump state left behind by the dissolution of the USSR. It can defeat tiny Georgia and it can defeat a Ukraine whose military has completely degraded. And, its big enough to make any invasion of the place quite a project (though thanks to nukes that would never happen). But don't pretend it is invincible. In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days. Guess who is buying nuclear-capable submarines and planes now, following Putin's hijinks?
  52. @Steve Sailer
    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he'd declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it's gonna get for him.

    Let’s hope he has a better sense of responsibility than that . We don’t know who would replace him , and it seems he is currently the best bet for staving off a general war .

  53. That a couple of polyandrous siblings from Russia can reach the corridors of the State Department and media elite, use that media to get terrorist bombing suspects a defense strategy going, and work with neo con writers to get our foreign policy in knots over a few trannies in Moscow, is truly astounding.

    • Replies: @annamaria
    tribal solidarity plus skillful opportunism
  54. @SFG
    More 'I'm a citizen of the most powerful country on earth, flanked by weak neighbors, one of which is almost a carbon copy of it, and two oceans, and I don't have to worry about the security of my nation' privilege.

    The US's strategic situation is so insanely good we can afford to do things like ignore the rest of the world. Even giant messes like Iraq and Afghanistan don't threaten our borders.

    Now Russia has a hostile alliance (NATO) literally on its border (imagine if Mexico were a Russian ally), China has Tibet and the Uighurs, not to mention Japan and Taiwan, both of which are US allies...so they have to study their neighbors well. But us? Who is going to start massing divisions on our border? The Canadians?

    I agree the Mexicans have turned California and New Mexico into a Latin American slum. Still, Mexico is nowhere near an existential threat to the USA, and most of them do turn into Americans, albeit stupid, underclass Americans. It's not as bad as the Muslims in France or England.

    The USA is the ultimate 'born on third base and thought we hit a triple' nation. We should be more humble about our achievements and capabilities, and more studious of international politics. No hegemon lasts forever, after all, and pride goeth before a fall, as a very distant relative of mine wrote. Forget trying to remake the world, and focus on reining in K Street (which includes AIPAC, of course).

    Very much yes.

  55. @Steve Sailer
    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he'd declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it's gonna get for him.

    I wonder if Putin and Justice Scalia would both like to do that, but realize if they step aside its likely going to end badly.

    We were kept from another mideast war in Syria thanks to a KGB agent’s guile. Scalia is one of the few solidly conservative voices on the bench. So much has to line up right for us to not get another Roberts, imagining penumbras in the law.

  56. @unit472
    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia's gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.

    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia’s gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.

    True. But I was responding to your contention that Mexico was ahead of Russia in GDP. Mexico’s economy is pretty dependent upon oil too. So the same is probably happening there. I doubt Russia has fallen beneath Mexico. And Pakistan was the other nation you mentioned. I doubt they are anywhere near Russia.

  57. @AP

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.
     
    True, but this goes both ways. America isn't going to go nuclear over the Baltics because that would mean the end of America via a response. Conversely, Putin wouldn't go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he's not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation's very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not. Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.

    Preobrazhinsky says: Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation’s very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not.

    Hunsdon says: Says you. The question every sane person should be asking right now is, what if we’re wrong? What if Putin doesn’t back down? What if, for whatever reason, he feels that Russia is being mortally threatened by the prospect of NATO taking over Sevastopol? What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the very worst that could happen?

    The very worst that could happen is nuclear war.

    If the very worst thing that could happen is pretty bad (and nuclear war is), then doing all you can to mitigate the risk seems like a sound idea. Wouldn’t you say?

    But we don’t seem to be engaging in any sort of risk mitigation. Maybe we are, maybe I’m just missing it, but I don’t see it.

    PS: The Sane Gessen doesn’t behave much differently.

    • Replies: @AP
    Your point seems valid, but what about applying this elsewhere? How about people with guns in their cars? What's the worst thing that could happen if one of them were pulled over for something like driving 15 mph over the speed limit? He might go berserk and shoot the officer and himself. So...better not ever pull over people for minor traffic offenses, in case the worst thing might happen, right?

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn't seem to be very realistic.
  58. @AP

    Russia has a large number of thermonuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them anywhere on the planet. Thus, foreign policy blunders have the potential to become global scale black swan events.
     
    True, but this goes both ways. America isn't going to go nuclear over the Baltics because that would mean the end of America via a response. Conversely, Putin wouldn't go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he's not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation's very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not. Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.

    Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.

    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?

    I take no moral stance that my country owes Eastern Europe anything. I believe US policy should be in support and in the interests of my country’s citizens.

    • Replies: @AP

    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?
     
    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn't California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It's probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren't Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn't you say?
  59. @donut
    A black swan event is an event that comes as a surprise . The foolhardy and criminal adventure that the imbeciles running our foreign policy have embarked on will almost certainly lead to a nuclear war if they continue with this madness . Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Granada or Panama . The US Army like the IDF has come to excel at killing unarmed civilians or civilians armed only with small arms . Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on . If we provoke a war with Russia how can it not lead to a nuclear war ? If the Russians feel they are losing what choice would they have ? If the US is facing a crushing defeat is there any doubt what the next step would be from the deranged leadership currently in power ? And if you think we can prevail in a nuclear war you haven't been paying attention . There have been several alarming incidents in the news related to our nuclear arsenal and it's status and leadership :

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article3954432.ece

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a12003/the-nuke-silo-cheating-scandal-explained-16388244/

    And if you are still in doubt and have the time you can read Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety"

    You don’t need to convince me that we are fortunate to have not yet had had an accidental launch during peacetime.

    My point is that shooting wars take on an unpredictable life of their own, regardless of the intentions of the parties. This is a problem when each country has many large bombs on a hair-trigger. Maybe black swan is the wrong descriptor.

  60. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @MarkinLa
    Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas.

    But neither will we and Putin is there already and we are here and nothing changes that. Russian tanks and attack helicopters cannot be stopped by what little the US can send without a Russian response. A full scale backing by the US will simply invite a Russian preemptive strike and there is no way we have the ability to oust Russia from Ukraine.

    Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas.

    But neither will we and Putin is there already and we are here and nothing changes that. Russian tanks and attack helicopters cannot be stopped by what little the US can send without a Russian response. A full scale backing by the US will simply invite a Russian preemptive strike and there is no way we have the ability to oust Russia from Ukraine.

    Maybe. But that’s a different argument than claiming that there is a danger of nuclear war by backing Ukraine. Russia using nukes against the USA in retaliation for USA actions in Ukraine = total annihilation of Russia and end of Russian civilization forever. Not gonna happen over Donbas, or even Crimea. Same is true for the Baltics in case Russia invades them.

  61. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @donut
    A black swan event is an event that comes as a surprise . The foolhardy and criminal adventure that the imbeciles running our foreign policy have embarked on will almost certainly lead to a nuclear war if they continue with this madness . Russia is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Granada or Panama . The US Army like the IDF has come to excel at killing unarmed civilians or civilians armed only with small arms . Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on . If we provoke a war with Russia how can it not lead to a nuclear war ? If the Russians feel they are losing what choice would they have ? If the US is facing a crushing defeat is there any doubt what the next step would be from the deranged leadership currently in power ? And if you think we can prevail in a nuclear war you haven't been paying attention . There have been several alarming incidents in the news related to our nuclear arsenal and it's status and leadership :

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article3954432.ece

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a12003/the-nuke-silo-cheating-scandal-explained-16388244/

    And if you are still in doubt and have the time you can read Eric Schlosser's book "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety"

    Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on .

    Let’s not idealize Russia’s historical military prowess. The USSR managed to, with extreme difficulty and tens of millions of deaths, defeat a country with less than half its population, led by a madman. Twenty years earlier it fought Poland to a draw. And Russia is only the rump state left behind by the dissolution of the USSR. It can defeat tiny Georgia and it can defeat a Ukraine whose military has completely degraded. And, its big enough to make any invasion of the place quite a project (though thanks to nukes that would never happen). But don’t pretend it is invincible. In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days. Guess who is buying nuclear-capable submarines and planes now, following Putin’s hijinks?

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    Let’s not idealize Russia’s historical military prowess. ...
     
    Similar things unfortunately can be said about the US military.

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn’t seem to be very realistic.
     
    The point Hunsdon was trying to make is that we don't know what the Russians will do. Some say the Russians believe that Ukraine is the key to Russia, since that is where enemies from the West have invaded. If so, then they probably feel if Ukraine falls to the West they are next. Do you really want to play nuclear chicken over an issue that is of no importance to us, but might be of existential importance to them?
    , @officious intermeddler

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.
     
    If Poland's defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.
  62. @Steve Sailer
    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he'd declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it's gonna get for him.

    “If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him.”

    It’s not a question of being smart. He’s a leader driven to achieve a particular goal or set of goals–the rebuilding of the collapsed Russian state. He’ll keep at it as long as he can. He thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.) Whether he succeeds or not is, of course, an open question.

    The ultimate question though is how long the various players–Russia, China, the US–can keep up their various acts. If we can continue to print and spend and use the unique role of the USD and US Treasurys to fund our outsized military, impose sanctions at will and sustain artificially high living standards, then he is likely to fail. If not, then all bets are off.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    "[Putin] thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.)"

    Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea.

  63. @Oscar Peterson
    "If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him."

    It's not a question of being smart. He's a leader driven to achieve a particular goal or set of goals--the rebuilding of the collapsed Russian state. He'll keep at it as long as he can. He thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.) Whether he succeeds or not is, of course, an open question.

    The ultimate question though is how long the various players--Russia, China, the US--can keep up their various acts. If we can continue to print and spend and use the unique role of the USD and US Treasurys to fund our outsized military, impose sanctions at will and sustain artificially high living standards, then he is likely to fail. If not, then all bets are off.

    “[Putin] thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.)”

    Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea.

    • Replies: @Oscar Peterson
    "Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea."

    No, it is most definitely not a good thing for Russia. It's an indicator of the fragility of the Russian state and Russian culture in general. But the issue, in my view, isn't the superiority of the "Chinese system." It' something much deeper than that. China, despite its problems, has a cultural self-confidence and cultural autonomy that helps to insulate it from potential attempts to destabilize it. If Xi keeled over tomorrow, some guy would take over, and China's basic orientation towards the world and its fundamental policies would be unchanged.

    If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability. Russia is half-European and very sensitive to and influenced by European (and US) criticisms in a way that China would never be. Medvedev lacks the force of personality to prevent aggressive destabilization of Russia. Without Putin, Russia might well devolve into a permanent version of the weakened state that Yeltsin oversaw in the 1990s, the dream of Victoria Nuland and so many others in the USG. Putin's leadership--again, in great contrast to the situation in China--is the primary bulwark against such destabilization.

    This is why western media criticisms of Russian behavior are always highly personalized and focused on Putin himself. We sense that if Putin could be knocked off, then a broad array of options to drive Russia towards strategic submission would open up. Western criticism of Chinese actions, in contrast, rarely focus on the person of Xi. That's because our strategic establishment realizes that Xi's fall would not open up any strategic opportunities and that there is nothing to be gained by targeting him.
    , @AlexT
    Unfair comparison in my opinion. Also, all this talk about Putin not taking Russia to the economic heights of China doesn't take into account that Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch. I think he wants a system similar to China's, with KGB guys replacing each other every 12 years or so. I'm betting he'll pull it off. The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia's situation when he took over.
  64. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Hunsdon
    Preobrazhinsky says: Conversely, Putin wouldn’t go nuclear over Crimea or Donbas because he’s not going to sacrifice the existence of Russia over those areas. Nukes would only have the potential of coming into play if the nation’s very existence were at stake. And in Ukraine, they are not.

    Hunsdon says: Says you. The question every sane person should be asking right now is, what if we're wrong? What if Putin doesn't back down? What if, for whatever reason, he feels that Russia is being mortally threatened by the prospect of NATO taking over Sevastopol? What's the worst that could happen? What's the very worst that could happen?

    The very worst that could happen is nuclear war.

    If the very worst thing that could happen is pretty bad (and nuclear war is), then doing all you can to mitigate the risk seems like a sound idea. Wouldn't you say?

    But we don't seem to be engaging in any sort of risk mitigation. Maybe we are, maybe I'm just missing it, but I don't see it.

    PS: The Sane Gessen doesn't behave much differently.

    Your point seems valid, but what about applying this elsewhere? How about people with guns in their cars? What’s the worst thing that could happen if one of them were pulled over for something like driving 15 mph over the speed limit? He might go berserk and shoot the officer and himself. So…better not ever pull over people for minor traffic offenses, in case the worst thing might happen, right?

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn’t seem to be very realistic.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Your argument is wrong. The worst thing that could happen for the cop when pulling over someone is getting shot, and maybe some civilians and other cops getting shot, too.

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.

    By the way I'm quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea. Some commenters here are explicitly telling us this strategy, like comparing USSR breakup to the present situation, Russia even losing Siberia, etc. Similar things were said in the Biden interview five or six years ago, when Biden talked about Russian demographics and economic woes causing Russia to be in a permanent decline.

    Now this means that there are people (certainly including Vice President Biden) who believe that Russia is about to collapse even further.

    Why on Earth would the Russians not believe in such a scenario when their opponents explicitly believe in that and play with these assumptions? Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?
    , @David R. Merridale
    The risk of nuclear war is minimal, and not very useful as talking point in a sane debate. Somewhat the same way "weapons of mass destruction" brought an hallucinatory, hysterical element into the Iraq debate.

    The point I'd make on Ukraine is that the fighting has already killed about 5,000 people. Following the warmongers, we'll be on track to have 50,000 dead before long. In the worst-case scenario, we end up in broader war with more participants, and 500,000 die. Why would we fucking want to do this, why would we fucking want to risk this?

  65. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Muse

    Avoiding nuclear holocaust is not a realistic argument for abandoning eastern Europe to the Russians.
     
    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?

    I take no moral stance that my country owes Eastern Europe anything. I believe US policy should be in support and in the interests of my country's citizens.

    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?

    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn’t California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It’s probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?

    • Replies: @MUSE

    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn’t California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?
     
    The United States should not be the world's policeman. The U.S. has often tried to justify policies as promoting democracy and human rights and enforcing international law but these are hollow arguments to obscure the true objectives. Should Russia invade California, much like the soft invasion Mexico is conducting now, it would be in the US interests to repel that invasion. That we are not using the military to repel the current Mexican invasion is a travesty.

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It’s probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.
     
    Seems like it was a mistake for Ukraine. You can add Ukraine to the list of trusting saps including Saddam Hussein, Polpot and innumerable native american tribes. It appears the Iranians and the North Koreans know better than to trust the US.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?
     
    Having good relations between the US, Russia and Ukraine would be in the interest of average citizens. That was not the goal of US policy in Ukraine. It was to make Ukraine a vassal of the US financial system and deny Russia the benefits and security it enjoyed from having Ukraine closely integrated with its economy.

    As for traditional western culture, the US seems hellbent on destroying traditional western institutions such as marriage, religion , freedom of expression, birthright citizenship and the right to privacy.
    , @iSteveFan

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?
     
    The USSR and Russia are not synonymous. If you really are concerned about European civilization, you should be worried about helping Russia out of her long nightmare that was communism. Russia is a part of European civilization too.

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak. America went from being an undeniably European nation to being on the verge of having Europeans a minority in the nation they built. This is expected to happen in about 25 to 30 years, and there is really nothing at this point that can stop it. Western Europe in certain places is not even recognizable as being European anymore.

    I don't understand it. If people are pro-European and European civilization, why can't they see that the damage being done to them by their own traitorous elite is more threatening to everything they love than anything thing else out there. The Russians could have been incorporated into the European family twenty plus years ago, but that apparently was never in the cards. At this point, I'd like to have a pan European alliance from North America through Europe and all of Russia. Unfortunately, my North American homeland will probably not last in its present state, and my leaders are hell bent on alienating Russia.

  66. @unit472
    Angela Merkel, who knows Putin better than any other world leader, having met with him often and being able to speak to him without translators has said he has a problem seeing 'reality'. If that is her public assessment of the man I imagine her private one is even less flattering. Now Merkel is no American poodle, in fact she doesn't even like dogs and didn't find amusing Putin's attempt to intimidate her with his but, despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government, she is leading the European sanctions effort. This despite her own nations dependance on Russian energy exports and German industry's much larger trade relations with Russia which had accounted for 4% of German trade at its peak.

    Obviously if she has a problem with Putin others should pay attention to her views as she does not profit from having poor relations with her large Eastern neighbor. She has opposed American arms shipments to Kiev and the US has so far deferred to her attempt to arrange a ceasefire though she has warned Putin she would impose even tougher sanctions on Russia if it is again violated. If Germany cannot come to terms with Putin then we really have no alternatives left. That should not be that worrying though unless you believe Putin to be utterly insane. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    Maybe it is Merkel who has a problem with reality. She looked pretty weird and surreal in that Je suis Charlie march in Paris.

  67. @Jaakko Raipala
    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we're most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They're blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can't escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they're better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that's in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border - amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc - and he's resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven't heard that one before.

    Just out of curiosity: what makes you think that you are much more superior to Putin? Also, Finland has been known for her excellent educational system, but your reasoning kind of contradicts that. Are you a recent emigre to this friendly civilized country?

  68. @yaqub the mad scientist
    That a couple of polyandrous siblings from Russia can reach the corridors of the State Department and media elite, use that media to get terrorist bombing suspects a defense strategy going, and work with neo con writers to get our foreign policy in knots over a few trannies in Moscow, is truly astounding.

    tribal solidarity plus skillful opportunism

  69. @Svigor

    (Some people really do need to recall that the Soviet system collapsed in 1989.)
     
    Not long after, the "hate Russia" party got started.

    Exactly!

  70. @AP

    Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on .
     
    Let's not idealize Russia's historical military prowess. The USSR managed to, with extreme difficulty and tens of millions of deaths, defeat a country with less than half its population, led by a madman. Twenty years earlier it fought Poland to a draw. And Russia is only the rump state left behind by the dissolution of the USSR. It can defeat tiny Georgia and it can defeat a Ukraine whose military has completely degraded. And, its big enough to make any invasion of the place quite a project (though thanks to nukes that would never happen). But don't pretend it is invincible. In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days. Guess who is buying nuclear-capable submarines and planes now, following Putin's hijinks?

    Let’s not idealize Russia’s historical military prowess. …

    Similar things unfortunately can be said about the US military.

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn’t seem to be very realistic.

    The point Hunsdon was trying to make is that we don’t know what the Russians will do. Some say the Russians believe that Ukraine is the key to Russia, since that is where enemies from the West have invaded. If so, then they probably feel if Ukraine falls to the West they are next. Do you really want to play nuclear chicken over an issue that is of no importance to us, but might be of existential importance to them?

  71. @anonymous
    It's a good thing for that mean man Putin that he only needs to deal with the Russian public rather than run for office in America where he would certainly lose. Voters here are much more astute, preferring the friendly smiley sort, the type who are tall, have full heads of hair and look photogenic with makeup on. Sort of like the amiable, gee-whiz Bush, you know, the one who lied through his teeth and got us to invade Iraq, turning the country into a slaughterhouse that keeps on going and getting worse even after twelve years. We don't want mean over here, no sireee. Already a good number of comments into the thread and yet no one so far has mentioned Putin strutting around with his shirt off?

    Anonymous, thanks for the humor! I love the comic relief that you have given, and I am still laughing.

  72. @Mr. Blank
    That's been pretty much my take from the start. I have no love for Putin, but the guy's foreign policy is, for the most part, pretty reasonable and not very hard to understand. And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered.

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society's increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence. Pick any five people at random from the State Department, and I'd bet they've read more books between them than any 100 random Americans. And yet all it takes to understand what's going on in Ukraine is a basic (I'm talking Wikipedia-level) understanding of European history and the ability to look at a map.

    Putin is more or less doing what any competent and patriotic American leader would do — and what they have done — in the same circumstances. No complicated conspiracy theories or high-level geopolitical theorizing are necessary!

    “And yet our best and brightest just keep getting snookered.”

    No, just serving their masters.

  73. @MQ
    Hilarious quote from the article:

    Let me be clear: The actual Putin is not at all nice. To take just a few examples:

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/nice-putin-russia-115431.html#ixzz3Su6fwmPa
    1) between 1999 and 2002 he prosecuted a vicious war in Chechnya, complete with rape, torture, filtration camps and mass graves; 2) in 2003, he jailed his leading rival, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and, when the initial sentence was almost up, extended it; 3) in 2000-01, shortly after assuming the presidency, he oversaw a government takeover of the country's main independent television channels, chasing their owners into exile; 4) over time he has enriched his friends to an astonishing degree, such that many of the leading billionaires in Russia owe their riches directly to their proximity to Putin; 5) it is becoming increasingly the consensus view that the September 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk were the work of the secret services, and it is hard to imagine that Putin, as the prime minister of Russia and, until just a month before, the head of the FSB, would not have known about them; 6) in his third term he has unleashed the worst aspects of Russian street politics, mobilizing anti-Western, anti-gay and anti-liberal resentment to shore up his domestic popularity; and 7) in 2004, supposedly as an anti-terror measure after the terrible seizure of a school in Beslan by Chechen fighters, he canceled elections for regional governors, replacing them with appointees;.

     

    That's all the 'not niceness' he could come up with? It definitely makes Putin the nicest Russian leader of the last century or so (OK, second nicest after Gorbachev, but Gorbachev gets dinged for screwing up the country so badly). Remember it was Yeltsin who started the butchery in Chechnya.

    Puts Putin pretty high up on the niceness list for U.S. presidents too, frankly, although we do most of our nastiness overseas.

    it is becoming increasingly the consensus view that the September 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk were the work of the secret services, and it is hard to imagine that Putin, as the prime minister of Russia and, until just a month before, the head of the FSB, would not have known about them

    Says who? Do any of the readers here know anything about this supposed emerging consensus? Is there some new evidence that points to the secret services? Or is it just hateful anti-Putin propaganda?

    he jailed his leading rival, the oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and, when the initial sentence was almost up, extended it

    I am under the impression that Khodorkovsky was a gangster, certainly a gigantic thief and swindler who belonged in prison, and according to widespread belief a multiple murderer who deserved an executioner’s bullet. Is that wrong?

  74. @AP

    Russia has a real army with a history of winning the type war that our leaders seem determined to embark on .
     
    Let's not idealize Russia's historical military prowess. The USSR managed to, with extreme difficulty and tens of millions of deaths, defeat a country with less than half its population, led by a madman. Twenty years earlier it fought Poland to a draw. And Russia is only the rump state left behind by the dissolution of the USSR. It can defeat tiny Georgia and it can defeat a Ukraine whose military has completely degraded. And, its big enough to make any invasion of the place quite a project (though thanks to nukes that would never happen). But don't pretend it is invincible. In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days. Guess who is buying nuclear-capable submarines and planes now, following Putin's hijinks?

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.

    If Poland’s defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.

    • Replies: @AP

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.

    If Poland’s defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.
     
    I suspect they know more about such things than you or I do.
  75. @Steve Sailer
    When I was in Moscow in 2001, a Russian coed on a bus told me that at least Russia finally had a leader young enough and sober enough tp make it to the office in the morning. That was 14 years ago.

    If Putin were smart, he'd declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it's gonna get for him.

    “If Putin were smart, he’d declare victory and retire right about now. I bet this is about as good as it’s gonna get for him.”

    He passed that peak a while ago. Upon the election of Yanukovich, who was unabashedly a fan, Putin was poised to wrap up Ukraine in the same way as Belorussia, and would have thereby come close to reviving his neo-Soviet Union. And he could have done that without a single shot being fired. But as thugs will do, he overplayed his hand and pulled the strings of his puppet too tightly, and here we are. Whatever he gets now is going to cost a lot more than it would have if he had played it with a little more finesse. If this amounts to “snookering” Nuland, I’d hate to see what losing to her would be like.

  76. @Steve Sailer
    "[Putin] thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.)"

    Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea.

    “Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea.”

    No, it is most definitely not a good thing for Russia. It’s an indicator of the fragility of the Russian state and Russian culture in general. But the issue, in my view, isn’t the superiority of the “Chinese system.” It’ something much deeper than that. China, despite its problems, has a cultural self-confidence and cultural autonomy that helps to insulate it from potential attempts to destabilize it. If Xi keeled over tomorrow, some guy would take over, and China’s basic orientation towards the world and its fundamental policies would be unchanged.

    If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability. Russia is half-European and very sensitive to and influenced by European (and US) criticisms in a way that China would never be. Medvedev lacks the force of personality to prevent aggressive destabilization of Russia. Without Putin, Russia might well devolve into a permanent version of the weakened state that Yeltsin oversaw in the 1990s, the dream of Victoria Nuland and so many others in the USG. Putin’s leadership–again, in great contrast to the situation in China–is the primary bulwark against such destabilization.

    This is why western media criticisms of Russian behavior are always highly personalized and focused on Putin himself. We sense that if Putin could be knocked off, then a broad array of options to drive Russia towards strategic submission would open up. Western criticism of Chinese actions, in contrast, rarely focus on the person of Xi. That’s because our strategic establishment realizes that Xi’s fall would not open up any strategic opportunities and that there is nothing to be gained by targeting him.

    • Replies: @HA
    "If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability.... Putin’s leadership...is the primary bulwark against such destabilization."

    Putin has done a good job of stamping out any viable political opponents. To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design.

    Which, in turn, is something of a Russian tradition. The Groznys tend to be followed by one or more substitute teacher types, perplexed at why the students are not paying attention. (The fact that some of Putin's opponents and toadies are even loonier has the added benefit of serving as a poison pill strategy, and limits the likelihood foreign powers will conspire to oust him, though after a good long run, that same tactic failed for Mubarak.)

    , @Sean
    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D'Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan's personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it.
  77. @Oscar Peterson
    "Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea."

    No, it is most definitely not a good thing for Russia. It's an indicator of the fragility of the Russian state and Russian culture in general. But the issue, in my view, isn't the superiority of the "Chinese system." It' something much deeper than that. China, despite its problems, has a cultural self-confidence and cultural autonomy that helps to insulate it from potential attempts to destabilize it. If Xi keeled over tomorrow, some guy would take over, and China's basic orientation towards the world and its fundamental policies would be unchanged.

    If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability. Russia is half-European and very sensitive to and influenced by European (and US) criticisms in a way that China would never be. Medvedev lacks the force of personality to prevent aggressive destabilization of Russia. Without Putin, Russia might well devolve into a permanent version of the weakened state that Yeltsin oversaw in the 1990s, the dream of Victoria Nuland and so many others in the USG. Putin's leadership--again, in great contrast to the situation in China--is the primary bulwark against such destabilization.

    This is why western media criticisms of Russian behavior are always highly personalized and focused on Putin himself. We sense that if Putin could be knocked off, then a broad array of options to drive Russia towards strategic submission would open up. Western criticism of Chinese actions, in contrast, rarely focus on the person of Xi. That's because our strategic establishment realizes that Xi's fall would not open up any strategic opportunities and that there is nothing to be gained by targeting him.

    “If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability…. Putin’s leadership…is the primary bulwark against such destabilization.”

    Putin has done a good job of stamping out any viable political opponents. To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design.

    Which, in turn, is something of a Russian tradition. The Groznys tend to be followed by one or more substitute teacher types, perplexed at why the students are not paying attention. (The fact that some of Putin’s opponents and toadies are even loonier has the added benefit of serving as a poison pill strategy, and limits the likelihood foreign powers will conspire to oust him, though after a good long run, that same tactic failed for Mubarak.)

    • Replies: @Oscar Peterson
    "To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design."

    Well, considering that Russia was in a state of extreme instability before he assumed power from Yeltsin, I don't think we can ascribe the potential for post-Putin instability solely or even principally from his attempt to suppress opposition or anything else that he, himself, has done or not done.

    The US is seeking to perpetuate its unipolar global dominance. Putin is seeking to re-assert Russia's role as one of the three-five first-rank world powers. There is a conflict between these two aims, as there is a conflict between US goals and the goal of China's leadership in making China a strategic and economic peer of the US.

    These conflicts are the essential issue. The Russian state is weaker and more vulnerable to subversion and destabilization than the Chinese state, and the US understands this basic reality and seeks to exploit it. In connection with this construct, the bottom line, to analogize to the level of operations and theater strategy is: The Russians at Ulm and then the Chinese at Austerlitz.

    Reference your "Grozny's" point, this is true of all powerful and dynamic leaders. There are few of them, so one should naturally expect a reversion to the mean in the wake of any particular one of them.

    I do not see the limits you suggest to the efforts by "foreign powers" (read: the US) to oust Putin. Toadies et al cannot do what Putin has done and constitute an opportunity for the US, not a threat.

  78. “Says who? Do any of the readers here know anything about this supposed emerging consensus?”

    So says someone who claims there is “widespread belief” that Khodorovsky was “a multiple murderer who deserved an executioner’s bullet”. No propaganda there, that’s for sure.

    And as for the “emerging consensus” you’re so hot and bothered about, why don’t put on an investigative journalist’s hat and try and dig up the real truth? Be forewarned: one or two people have already tried that.

    • Replies: @officious intermeddler
    I have no opinion about who who bombed the apartment buildings. That has been a fraught question since the bombing happened. There are competing theories. I don't believe there is any new evidence one way or another, however, nor do I believe there is a consensus building around any particular theory.

    It is in fact widely believed that Khodorkovsky was a multiple murderer. There was a best-selling book in Russia last year by the widow of one of his alleged victims. Whether that is a minority opinion or a majority one, I do not know, nor do I have any opinion of my own on the subject. I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries.

    My point was that Gessen is pretending that there is a consensus where none exists and pretending that Khodorkovsky was just a rival politician instead of a criminal. Gessen's credibility and the credibility of his analysis are undermined by the many deceptions of this sort that pervade the article and give it the whiff of propaganda.

  79. @AP
    Your point seems valid, but what about applying this elsewhere? How about people with guns in their cars? What's the worst thing that could happen if one of them were pulled over for something like driving 15 mph over the speed limit? He might go berserk and shoot the officer and himself. So...better not ever pull over people for minor traffic offenses, in case the worst thing might happen, right?

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn't seem to be very realistic.

    Your argument is wrong. The worst thing that could happen for the cop when pulling over someone is getting shot, and maybe some civilians and other cops getting shot, too.

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.

    By the way I’m quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea. Some commenters here are explicitly telling us this strategy, like comparing USSR breakup to the present situation, Russia even losing Siberia, etc. Similar things were said in the Biden interview five or six years ago, when Biden talked about Russian demographics and economic woes causing Russia to be in a permanent decline.

    Now this means that there are people (certainly including Vice President Biden) who believe that Russia is about to collapse even further.

    Why on Earth would the Russians not believe in such a scenario when their opponents explicitly believe in that and play with these assumptions? Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?

    • Replies: @27 year old
    "The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything."

    So in other words, what's likely to happen anyway if the ruling class gets their way, with no nuclear war required.
    , @Anonymous

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.
     
    Yes. and that's why there will be no nuclear war over the Baltics, or over Crimea, much less over Ukraine.

    By the way I’m quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea.
     
    I doubt America cares about Crimea so much that it is designing a plot to topple Putin, merely to get Crimea back to Ukraine. Rather, it is punishing Russia (mildly) for violating international law and unilaterally annexing another country's territory.

    Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?
     
    Well, why would they? Ukraine was part of Poland/Lithuania/Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia you know. I've lived in Russia, I visit regularly, etc. Russians have a strong sentimental attachment to Crimea; they don't really care about the rest of Ukraine. And no Russian is so desperate for Crimea that he would want a nuclear holocaust rather than to lose it. to think that Russia's leaders may have such crazy ideas is absurd. And to base foreign policy on such absurd fears is irresponsible.

    According to Levada, about 7% of Russians want a union between Russia and Ukraine:

    http://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=502&page=1&t=3
  80. @Prokop
    Poor, poor Russia. After 40 or more years of occupying its neighbouring countries, killing and imprisoning their people, devastating their economies and societies and then adopting the attitude "we didn't do anything wrong and btw. it's a terrible tragedy that the whole thing fell apart", the neighbouring ingrates don't like Russia now. Life is so unfair.

    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned. The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don’t forgive. Attempting to build any state on the Eurasian landmass appears to require aggression to survive, and invites aggression from your neighbors the second you show weakness. Putin gets that much, his problem is that he is kind of stupid and is playing into his enemies’ hands.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned.
     
    That's like the pot calling the kettle black. Who the heck are the Turks to complain about the past 300 years? Wouldn't that include at least 200 of them with the Turks lording over Greeks and other Eastern Europeans? Three hundred years back would include the Turks taking Russian and Ukrainian slaves via Crimea.

    And the Swedes and Poles have not exactly been angels. I suppose with the Poles you'd have to go back a little over 300 years, but the Cossack revolt in 1648 didn't happen because the Poles were angels.


    The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don’t forgive.
     
    Didn't we piss off the Brits in 1776 by attempting to challenge them at their imperialist game? They forgave us. Why shouldn't they forgive Russia? It's time for Europeans to stop playing like the world is a game of Risk. The rest of the world, especially the global South, is on the march. And they have already shown they don't need tanks or armies to take land. They just need masses of humanity which they have in excess.
  81. @HA
    "Says who? Do any of the readers here know anything about this supposed emerging consensus?"

    So says someone who claims there is "widespread belief" that Khodorovsky was "a multiple murderer who deserved an executioner’s bullet". No propaganda there, that's for sure.

    And as for the "emerging consensus" you're so hot and bothered about, why don't put on an investigative journalist's hat and try and dig up the real truth? Be forewarned: one or two people have already tried that.

    I have no opinion about who who bombed the apartment buildings. That has been a fraught question since the bombing happened. There are competing theories. I don’t believe there is any new evidence one way or another, however, nor do I believe there is a consensus building around any particular theory.

    It is in fact widely believed that Khodorkovsky was a multiple murderer. There was a best-selling book in Russia last year by the widow of one of his alleged victims. Whether that is a minority opinion or a majority one, I do not know, nor do I have any opinion of my own on the subject. I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries.

    My point was that Gessen is pretending that there is a consensus where none exists and pretending that Khodorkovsky was just a rival politician instead of a criminal. Gessen’s credibility and the credibility of his analysis are undermined by the many deceptions of this sort that pervade the article and give it the whiff of propaganda.

    • Replies: @HA
    "I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries."

    And the ways in Putin enriched himself and his friends? How much prison time would that earn "under the laws of most countries"? And yet, only of those two people saw the inside of a jail cell. And given Putin's manhandling of the news media in Russia, which Gessen also notes, not to mention the untimely fates of those who tried to investigate what exactly was behind those apartment bombings (let's just say that if you *do* choose to put on that journalist's hat and dig into that, the odds are good that you'll lose it, and whatever it sits on, before the investigation is done), which set of "widespread beliefs" do you think should questioned more carefully?

  82. Gessen’s “anti-Western” = someone else’s “pro-Russian”. But he’s a voice of sanity by comparison with Masha.

    I don’t find Russia to be an existential threat to me and mine. That’s more than I can say of my own government.

    (I imagine there’ll be a lot of work being done in Eastern Europe to detach Hungary, Bulgaria etc from their historic pro-Russian sympathies. The think tanks and “pro-democracy” foundations will be busy).

    • Replies: @Peter Akuleyev
    Hungary has "historic pro-Russian" sympathies? Hardly. Ask any Hungarian about 1848, 1914, or 1956. Hungarians traditionally hate Russians. Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.
  83. @Jaakko Raipala
    Eh, which neighboring countries? Mongolia, North Korea? Looking from this neighbor, Russia is a banana republic, Putin is a crass idiot and we're most immediately threatened by the flood of Russians escaping their collapsing country. They're blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    I can't escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they're better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that's in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed. Putin has done nothing to solve the issues that make everything magically stop working at the border - amount of crime, lack of a legal system, hopeless corruption etc - and he's resorting to the traditional solution of covering it up with propaganda about how Russia has amazing values. As if we haven't heard that one before.

    Yes, Russia is collapsing. I spent time in Russia, Turkey and China in the early 1990s. I have been back to all three countries in the last year, including provincial cities. The difference is shocking. Russia has just partied on oil and gas wealth with nothing to show for it but shiny shopping malls, nice restaurants, sports stadiums and a few software companies. Turkey has invested heavily in hospitals, schools, roads, and now Turkish manufacturing companies are stealing market share across the region, and coming to Europe. Turkey is on its way to true regional power status. China is just a different universe. Erdogan is a leader, Putin is a farce. I can still remember when Russians looked down on Turks as backward and considered Chinese primitive savages. I am sure the Ukrainian elites remember that time as well. Anyone over 40 who thinks back to what the world looked like around 1990 should be able to understand how badly Putin has failed.

    When Putin cracked down on dissent from the emerging Russian middle class in 2012, I think that was the last straw for anyone in the region who thought maybe Russia could turn it around. Putin showed he was happy to chase anyone intelligent and ambitious away to Berlin or London, and rule a country of drunken low IQ drudges while he and his cronies kept pocketing the Gazprom revenue. The reason Ukraine is fighting Russia is that the elites see Russia as an economic dead end. The Kazakhs are desperate for a way out as well, and Tatarstan will probably be next, that is when the real problems will start.

    • Replies: @5371
    Watch out, Mr. Putin! Unless you change your ways, in 20 years your country may make a bad impression on somebody on the internet, which he will struggle to define!
    , @Steve Sailer
    So Turkey is still doing well? It looked good when I was there six years ago, but Erdogan hasn't gotten good press here since.
  84. @Anonymous Nephew
    Gessen's "anti-Western" = someone else's "pro-Russian". But he's a voice of sanity by comparison with Masha.

    I don't find Russia to be an existential threat to me and mine. That's more than I can say of my own government.

    (I imagine there'll be a lot of work being done in Eastern Europe to detach Hungary, Bulgaria etc from their historic pro-Russian sympathies. The think tanks and "pro-democracy" foundations will be busy).

    Hungary has “historic pro-Russian” sympathies? Hardly. Ask any Hungarian about 1848, 1914, or 1956. Hungarians traditionally hate Russians. Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century. The Hungarian prime minister Orbán (he's mainstream conservative and used to be heavily anti-Russian before 2010, even during his previous stint at government 1998-2002) started a kinda sorta friendship with Putin last January, but it isn't really based on emotions. (And before Orbán, the Hungarian leftist Hungarian government 2002-2010 also got a bit close to Putin, especially prime minister Gyurcsány between 2004 and 2009.) There are still many Hungarians who hate the Russians, but I would say it's now not nearly as uniform as it used to be before 1990. Many Hungarians are actually pro-Russian, especially since Russia is now friends with the prime minister (though that intensifies the hatred of opposition sympathizers), and Russia is also probably subsidizing (at least there are rumors) Jobbik, the nationalist party, which in turn is now quite a bit pro-Russian.

    Ask any Hungarian about 1848
     
    Actually 1849. The Habsburg emperor tried to suppress the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1848, but its armies were defeated and needed to retreat and regroup in spring 1849. The Russian Czar Nicholas I offered his help, and sent troops to suppress the Hungarians. So if we should hate the Russians for that, we should hate the Austrians even more.

    It must be noted that in Hungarian historiography and especially literature the Russians of 1849 were usually painted in a rather favorable light: they were considered to be nice people who were largely sympathetic to the Hungarians and were only obeying orders from their Czar to fight for their country, right or wrong. Actually most Czarist officers in 1849 really were sympathetic to the Hungarians, and couldn't always hide their disdain for the Austrians who executed many Hungarian revolutionary leaders and military commanders. And the Czar himself asked the Austrians for clemency, although the Austrians nevertheless executed several Hungarian generals and politicians.

    Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.
     
    Yes, Poles are regarded as brothers, they are considered to be our best friends. However, recently political relations have cooled due to Orbán's pro-Putin policies.

    It's an interesting story because I'm sure Orbán likes the Poles much more than the Russians. He originally (back in 2010 when he came to power) based his foreign policy on the Polish friendship and on distancing himself from Putin (with whom the previous leftist government had a close relationship), he for example spent a lot of money on buying back 25% of the shares in the Hungarian national oil company from Putin's personal company. (It was Surgutneftegas. Allegedly Putin is personally behind some of the offshore owners - I'm sure it's more state property masquerading as private property than Putin's personal possession, because obviously Putin couldn't keep it if he lost the presidency, and he won't be able to leave it to his daughters.) Orbán also wanted to invigorate the cooperation of Eastern Central European countries (besides Poland and Hungary also the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and possibly some other countries like Romania and the Baltic states), but in the end the Poles were more interested in the Weimar Triangle, and they also started to cultivate their separate relations to Russia. (They signed a new natural gas deal with Russia in the early 2010s.)

    This was understandable, since unlike in the Middle Ages when Hungary and Poland were of roughly the same size (Hungary might even have been occasionally larger), now Hungary is much smaller than Poland and so Hungary's friendship is not as valuable to Poland as Poland's friendship is to Hungary. So in the end Orbán realized (what the Poles probably knew all along) that he cannot really offer much to the Poles in exchange for their support, which led to a divergence of the foreign policies. While the EU and especially Poland were getting increasingly anti-Putin during the Ukrainian crisis, last January Orbán cut a deal with Putin to build new reactors to Hungary's aging nuclear power plant.

    Then came Crimea and Orbán became one of the most anti-sanctions political leaders in Europe while Poland became one of the most pro-sanctions and anti-Russian countries. This month many Polish leaders denounced Orbán for this, so our traditional friendship with Poland is now on the back-burner.

    However, I'm sure our friendship with the Poles will survive this crisis. I'm also sure there will be no lasting love between the Hungarians and the Russians. But I don't think there will be lasting hatred with them either. We are emotionally incapable of hating distant peoples, even the French (traditionally hated in Hungary for drawing our extremely unfavorable borders in 1920) are not really hated any more. The only peoples who we intensely dislike are our neighbors. (Some of them. Mostly the Romanians, but to a much lesser extent also the Slovakians, and maybe the Serbs, too. We don't care one way or the other for the Ukrainians who we cannot really distinguish from Russians anyway. We like Croatians, and we don't hate but probably don't love the Austrians.) It's mostly territorial disputes and the memory of past atrocities that accompanied the territorial changes.
  85. @Peter Akuleyev
    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned. The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don't forgive. Attempting to build any state on the Eurasian landmass appears to require aggression to survive, and invites aggression from your neighbors the second you show weakness. Putin gets that much, his problem is that he is kind of stupid and is playing into his enemies' hands.

    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned.

    That’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Who the heck are the Turks to complain about the past 300 years? Wouldn’t that include at least 200 of them with the Turks lording over Greeks and other Eastern Europeans? Three hundred years back would include the Turks taking Russian and Ukrainian slaves via Crimea.

    And the Swedes and Poles have not exactly been angels. I suppose with the Poles you’d have to go back a little over 300 years, but the Cossack revolt in 1648 didn’t happen because the Poles were angels.

    The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don’t forgive.

    Didn’t we piss off the Brits in 1776 by attempting to challenge them at their imperialist game? They forgave us. Why shouldn’t they forgive Russia? It’s time for Europeans to stop playing like the world is a game of Risk. The rest of the world, especially the global South, is on the march. And they have already shown they don’t need tanks or armies to take land. They just need masses of humanity which they have in excess.

    • Replies: @colm
    England should have caught Mustafa Kemal and executed him to avenge Gallipoli.

    He is the only guy in history who screwed the Britz (at least the Anzacs) and lived.
  86. @Mr. Blank
    Heck, to turn it around, many of the Russia-loving critics of America and Israel on this very site work themselves into a frothing rage any time the U.S. or Israel take the sort of straightforward, self-interested foreign policy steps that Putin (or the Chinese) regularly engage in.

    I'm nothing if not consistent: I don't mind when Israel or the U.S. engage in pushy, aggressive, transparently selfish behavior to protect their people — so why would I condemn Russia or China for doing the same? Geopolitics ain't tiddlywinks; you gotta have sharp elbows.

    I say until we see Russian tanks massing on the German border, we oughta cut Putin some slack.

    Heck, to turn it around, many of the Russia-loving critics of America and Israel on this very site work themselves into a frothing rage any time the U.S. or Israel take the sort of straightforward, self-interested foreign policy steps that Putin (or the Chinese) regularly engage in.

    This smacks of Irael-firsterism masquerading as dispassionate analysis. The bare fact of the matter is that post-Soviet Russia has not behaved anywhere nearly as aggressively towards her neighbors as Israel consistently has since that state’s inception, so I will certainly not allow you to sneak in any such equivalence. Critics of American foreign policy (Russia-loving or otherwise) damn America for not acting in America’s interests and for its subservience to Israeli interests.

  87. @Peter Akuleyev
    Yes, Russia is collapsing. I spent time in Russia, Turkey and China in the early 1990s. I have been back to all three countries in the last year, including provincial cities. The difference is shocking. Russia has just partied on oil and gas wealth with nothing to show for it but shiny shopping malls, nice restaurants, sports stadiums and a few software companies. Turkey has invested heavily in hospitals, schools, roads, and now Turkish manufacturing companies are stealing market share across the region, and coming to Europe. Turkey is on its way to true regional power status. China is just a different universe. Erdogan is a leader, Putin is a farce. I can still remember when Russians looked down on Turks as backward and considered Chinese primitive savages. I am sure the Ukrainian elites remember that time as well. Anyone over 40 who thinks back to what the world looked like around 1990 should be able to understand how badly Putin has failed.

    When Putin cracked down on dissent from the emerging Russian middle class in 2012, I think that was the last straw for anyone in the region who thought maybe Russia could turn it around. Putin showed he was happy to chase anyone intelligent and ambitious away to Berlin or London, and rule a country of drunken low IQ drudges while he and his cronies kept pocketing the Gazprom revenue. The reason Ukraine is fighting Russia is that the elites see Russia as an economic dead end. The Kazakhs are desperate for a way out as well, and Tatarstan will probably be next, that is when the real problems will start.

    Watch out, Mr. Putin! Unless you change your ways, in 20 years your country may make a bad impression on somebody on the internet, which he will struggle to define!

  88. @Peter Akuleyev
    Yes, Russia is collapsing. I spent time in Russia, Turkey and China in the early 1990s. I have been back to all three countries in the last year, including provincial cities. The difference is shocking. Russia has just partied on oil and gas wealth with nothing to show for it but shiny shopping malls, nice restaurants, sports stadiums and a few software companies. Turkey has invested heavily in hospitals, schools, roads, and now Turkish manufacturing companies are stealing market share across the region, and coming to Europe. Turkey is on its way to true regional power status. China is just a different universe. Erdogan is a leader, Putin is a farce. I can still remember when Russians looked down on Turks as backward and considered Chinese primitive savages. I am sure the Ukrainian elites remember that time as well. Anyone over 40 who thinks back to what the world looked like around 1990 should be able to understand how badly Putin has failed.

    When Putin cracked down on dissent from the emerging Russian middle class in 2012, I think that was the last straw for anyone in the region who thought maybe Russia could turn it around. Putin showed he was happy to chase anyone intelligent and ambitious away to Berlin or London, and rule a country of drunken low IQ drudges while he and his cronies kept pocketing the Gazprom revenue. The reason Ukraine is fighting Russia is that the elites see Russia as an economic dead end. The Kazakhs are desperate for a way out as well, and Tatarstan will probably be next, that is when the real problems will start.

    So Turkey is still doing well? It looked good when I was there six years ago, but Erdogan hasn’t gotten good press here since.

    • Replies: @peter Akuleyev
    istanbul looked very good last year. I was impressed with the progress. And even when there are economic hiccups any Turkish citizen can look at their neighbors like Greece, Russia, Iraq etc. and thank God they live in Turkey. Funny thing is that Erdogan is apparently succeeding at everything Putin's supposed to be doing - building a strong socially conservative state that will eventually be able to tell the West to go to hell, and who has been scarily good at using emigration to build influence abroad. As a Muslim though it is understandable why Erdogan does not have the paleocon fanbase that Putin has. Or that liberals seem blind to the fact that Turkey is more of a longterm threat to US hegemony than Putin.
    , @AP
    Turkey's growth was 9.2% in 2010, 8.8% in 2011, 2.1% in 2012, and 4.1% in 2013, according to the Worldbank. 2014 is estimated at about 3%.
  89. @unit472
    The 2013 CIA world book estimate is no longer operative. Russia was #7 when oil was at $115/barrel,32 roubles bought a dollar and Russia's gas export revenues were tied to the price of oil in dollars.

    Don’t be daft. The Russian economy didn’t even enter into recession last year. No predictions regarding 2015 are of a recession greater than 3%. Even if that is realized it would hardly render CIA estimates “inoperative” (to the point that comparisons with Pakistan (!) become fair game).

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think the Russian government now expects a 5% recession this year.
  90. @Steve Sailer
    So Turkey is still doing well? It looked good when I was there six years ago, but Erdogan hasn't gotten good press here since.

    istanbul looked very good last year. I was impressed with the progress. And even when there are economic hiccups any Turkish citizen can look at their neighbors like Greece, Russia, Iraq etc. and thank God they live in Turkey. Funny thing is that Erdogan is apparently succeeding at everything Putin’s supposed to be doing – building a strong socially conservative state that will eventually be able to tell the West to go to hell, and who has been scarily good at using emigration to build influence abroad. As a Muslim though it is understandable why Erdogan does not have the paleocon fanbase that Putin has. Or that liberals seem blind to the fact that Turkey is more of a longterm threat to US hegemony than Putin.

  91. @reiner Tor
    Your argument is wrong. The worst thing that could happen for the cop when pulling over someone is getting shot, and maybe some civilians and other cops getting shot, too.

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.

    By the way I'm quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea. Some commenters here are explicitly telling us this strategy, like comparing USSR breakup to the present situation, Russia even losing Siberia, etc. Similar things were said in the Biden interview five or six years ago, when Biden talked about Russian demographics and economic woes causing Russia to be in a permanent decline.

    Now this means that there are people (certainly including Vice President Biden) who believe that Russia is about to collapse even further.

    Why on Earth would the Russians not believe in such a scenario when their opponents explicitly believe in that and play with these assumptions? Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?

    “The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.”

    So in other words, what’s likely to happen anyway if the ruling class gets their way, with no nuclear war required.

  92. @jimbojones
    I glanced through the article... (It wasn't worth it.) And this Gessen is no sane Gessen. The piece is a tissue of lies, calumnies, absurdities, insanities, and inanities.

    Here is a brief translation from newspeak:
    "Right-minded people ought to hate not just Putin, but all of Russia."
    Here is a quick definition of "nice Putin" from the newspeak dictionary:
    "A nice Putin would be a Putin who dismantles all of Russia's industries, splits Russia into 10-15 small statelets, gives all of Russia's wealth to 15-20 controlled oligarchs who reside in London, Tel Aviv, New York, and Miami, and spends the rest of his days delivering politically correct speeches written at his "foundation" over at Virginia."
    You know, nice. Like Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

    To get an idea of the level of Gessen's hackery, consider the following cretinous mental ejaculation of his:
    "Though he has since been sainted by the Russian Orthodox church, Nicholas was no saint. He tolerated terrible cruelty in his dominions, authorized a stupid, losing war against Japan, ..."

    From Wikipedia:
    "Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904.[24] However, three hours before Japan's declaration of war was received by the Russian government, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur. Tsar Nicholas II was stunned by news of the attack. He could not believe that Japan would commit an act of war without a formal declaration, "
    If one reads a bit of the scholarship on the war, one will find out that the war was financed by the Anglo-Americans. Here is a quick intro for those interested.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takahashi_Korekiyo

    And what of Putin's sins? What makes him so not nice? He finished the original war on terror against the CIA's Mujahedeen terrorists in Chechnya (oh those lovable Chechens, what's there not to like about them); he jailed the thieving scumbag Khodorkovsky; and worst of all, he followed his people's will in rejecting the LGBT imperative.

    The Ministry of Propaganda doesn't even make an effort anymore. Doesn't even try to show some respect to truth and the dignity of its targets. It just lies and hurls infantile abuse.
    -----

    One other note: What kind of language is this? "Nice" and "mean"? What is this, grade 5? Are the intended readers of Gessen's article childish imbeciles? But to ask the question is to answer it.

    Thanks for linking to that guy’s extremely fascinating wiki entry. Do you have any other sources to point me towards regarding the financing of the war between Russia and Japan? Or Wall St’s ties to the Japanese government in the early 20th century in general?

  93. @MQ

    I blame the complete failure of our foreign policy establishment to understand or respond to the Ukraine mess on our society’s increasingly-nutty drift towards valuing credentials over competence.
     
    No, Mr. Blank -- it's incentives, not intelligence that's the problem. Our foreign policy and defense establishment needs to manufacture threatening foreign devils for survival and entertainment. Fighting foreign devils is their reason for existing, after all. A great American back in the day said 'go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy', but we employ a bunch of people to do exactly that.

    BTW, the situation is worse than it seems, because I'm almost certain that Obama sees through a lot of this stuff, but he hasn't been able to tamp it down. It's actually very difficult to go against the warmongering ideology in DC, it's so engrained. People on this site hate Obama (for essentially racial reasons IMO, as he's a pretty typically mediocre U.S. President, better than average in some ways, worse in others). But he's taken a lot of risks to avoid war in foreign policy -- e.g. started negotiations with Iran, successfully resisted pressures to get into wars in Iran, Syria, etc. Until recently he had only really screwed up in Libya, by getting dragged into one of those 'humanitarian interventions'. But the Ukraine intervention was so well set up by the permanent bureaucracy that has been very difficult not to get dragged into it, although Obama has resisted getting US troops involved. And ISIS is so brilliant at trolling the west that we're helpless not to fight them.

    Put a true neoconservative president in charge and we'd have boots on the ground all over the place by now.

    I agree, in general, that having Obama as President likely saved us from getting involved in several unnecessary wars that President McCain would have rushed into — although I voted for McCain, and do not regret doing so.

    However, it is not really accurate to say Obama “successfully resisted pressures to get into war[]…in…Syria…”

    In August 2013, he resisted pressure from some in his cabinet to do so without the approval of Congress, but he continued to make an effort to get public opinion behind US airstrikes and most certainly would have involved us in that civil war enthusiastically if he got Congress’s OK.

    Remember this speech? Not many people do even though it was only about a year and a half ago:

    I don’t think Obama was being dishonest as he made the case that the US had to respond militarily to Assad’s supposed “gassing” atrocities. Do you?

    In fact, it is the Congressional Black Caucus that we have to thank for us not helping ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood slaughter Christians. Their votes were needed and pressure was applied, but they did not cave. Give credit where credit is due. Of course, “antiwar” House Republicans also opposed US intervention, but their votes were never in doubt.

  94. @Hepp

    I can’t escape the Russian propaganda directed at us about how they’re better than Sweden because Sweden is too multicultural and all I can think of is that Sweden is a successful society that’s in trouble because of its success while Russia is the failed society that will stay Russian because it once again failed.
     
    Is this right? Could you please provide more details? These kinds of complaints against Sweden seem like something you'd hear out of these corners of the Internet. Is this a big part of Russia selling itself to its neighbors?

    They have been sending anti-Swedish propaganda at us nonstop for half a millennium now but I guess that’s just meant for Finns. (The Swedes don’t have a similar tradition since all they historically had to do was to remind us that Russia has serfdom.) However right now the Swedes have poked the bear by being very active on the diplomatic front. Remember, if you believe the Russian line, the crisis was started the EU partnership program…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Partnership

    …which “was presented by the foreign ministers of Poland and Sweden”. That would be these guys:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Bildt

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rados%C5%82aw_Sikorski

    A lot of Swedes still haven’t gotten over the loss at Poltava, they aren’t going to miss the opportunity to deny the place to Russia and Carl Bildt seems to desperately want Sweden to become Russia’s arch-nemesis again. He was part of the previous right-wing government that promoted mass immigration and I assume the desire to have more population and hence more international weight was a big part of that.

    Moscow is pissed off and we are in the middle of a bizarre propaganda war where one day Sweden is collapsing as a society because the immigration, gay friendliness and feminism have gone too far and then the next day Sweden is full of Nazi parties, the politicians have secret Nazi sympathies and Ukraine is full of Swedish neo-Nazis. Even in their English language outlets you get these hit pieces…

    http://rt.com/op-edge/182600-bildt-swiss-far-right-ukraine/

    …and gloating about the rise of the anti-immigrant party (note how Carl Bildt suffering a humiliating defeat is news even though he was the Foreign Minister, not Prime Minister)…

    http://rt.com/news/187980-sweden-democrats-anti-immigrant-election/

    …even though Russia Today is the one well-funded media outlet that consistently gives fair and sympathetic coverage to the various anti-immigration parties around Europe, including Sweden Democrats.

  95. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @officious intermeddler

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.
     
    If Poland's defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.

    If Poland’s defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.

    I suspect they know more about such things than you or I do.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The US Army couldn't take Fallujah in two days, even though it was defended by a ragtag militia. Anybody believing that the larger Kaliningrad could be taken by conventional forces in a couple of days against the defending Russian military is delusional at best.

    Obviously if you're willing to nuke the place, or drop some nerve gas on it, you might be able to go faster. But the Russians might retaliate in kind.
  96. @HA
    "If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability.... Putin’s leadership...is the primary bulwark against such destabilization."

    Putin has done a good job of stamping out any viable political opponents. To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design.

    Which, in turn, is something of a Russian tradition. The Groznys tend to be followed by one or more substitute teacher types, perplexed at why the students are not paying attention. (The fact that some of Putin's opponents and toadies are even loonier has the added benefit of serving as a poison pill strategy, and limits the likelihood foreign powers will conspire to oust him, though after a good long run, that same tactic failed for Mubarak.)

    “To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design.”

    Well, considering that Russia was in a state of extreme instability before he assumed power from Yeltsin, I don’t think we can ascribe the potential for post-Putin instability solely or even principally from his attempt to suppress opposition or anything else that he, himself, has done or not done.

    The US is seeking to perpetuate its unipolar global dominance. Putin is seeking to re-assert Russia’s role as one of the three-five first-rank world powers. There is a conflict between these two aims, as there is a conflict between US goals and the goal of China’s leadership in making China a strategic and economic peer of the US.

    These conflicts are the essential issue. The Russian state is weaker and more vulnerable to subversion and destabilization than the Chinese state, and the US understands this basic reality and seeks to exploit it. In connection with this construct, the bottom line, to analogize to the level of operations and theater strategy is: The Russians at Ulm and then the Chinese at Austerlitz.

    Reference your “Grozny’s” point, this is true of all powerful and dynamic leaders. There are few of them, so one should naturally expect a reversion to the mean in the wake of any particular one of them.

    I do not see the limits you suggest to the efforts by “foreign powers” (read: the US) to oust Putin. Toadies et al cannot do what Putin has done and constitute an opportunity for the US, not a threat.

    • Replies: @HA
    "Reference your “Grozny’s” point, this is true of all powerful and dynamic leaders. There are few of them, so one should naturally expect a reversion to the mean in the wake of any particular one of them."

    This is more than reversion to the mean. This is about wiping out viable political candidates, either by direct orders, by suggestions along the line of "who will rid me of this troublesome priest", or else simply by setting up a climate where opposition is not tolerated (take your pick as to what got Nemtsov killed). He's not as bad as the Ottomans and Byzantines who assassinated their relatives as a matter of routine, but the bench is much deeper in the West, and the situation has been exacerbated in the wake of Putin's grip. Whatever those in Putin's propaganda chorus are saying now, the timing of Khodorovsky's arrest suggest the real crime was his attempt to become a political rival. Likewise, Tymoshenko almost certainly deserved some kind of prison term, but the timing of how Yanukovich (the Putin wannabe) went about prosecuting her make the real reason for her arrest apparent.

    "I do not see the limits you suggest to the efforts by “foreign powers” (read: the US) to oust Putin."

    That depends on whether or not they see it in their long-term interest to have someone in power who is even more willing to roll out tanks and start wars, or else, is weak enough so that assassination or removal by his more gung-ho courtiers (or rivals, if you prefer) becomes a real possibility. For those who just want the Russian problem to go away, neither of those scenarios are attractive, and so they're not keen to meet the new boss of Russia, as much as they dislike the old one. Those who favor conspiracy theories, and assume the West surreptitiously shoots down airliners and manipulates oil prices with hardly anything else on their mind that isn't connected with getting the upper hand on Russia, will of course see the matter differently, and there are certainly plenty of those in this forum.

  97. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @reiner Tor
    Your argument is wrong. The worst thing that could happen for the cop when pulling over someone is getting shot, and maybe some civilians and other cops getting shot, too.

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.

    By the way I'm quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea. Some commenters here are explicitly telling us this strategy, like comparing USSR breakup to the present situation, Russia even losing Siberia, etc. Similar things were said in the Biden interview five or six years ago, when Biden talked about Russian demographics and economic woes causing Russia to be in a permanent decline.

    Now this means that there are people (certainly including Vice President Biden) who believe that Russia is about to collapse even further.

    Why on Earth would the Russians not believe in such a scenario when their opponents explicitly believe in that and play with these assumptions? Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.

    Yes. and that’s why there will be no nuclear war over the Baltics, or over Crimea, much less over Ukraine.

    By the way I’m quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea.

    I doubt America cares about Crimea so much that it is designing a plot to topple Putin, merely to get Crimea back to Ukraine. Rather, it is punishing Russia (mildly) for violating international law and unilaterally annexing another country’s territory.

    Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?

    Well, why would they? Ukraine was part of Poland/Lithuania/Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia you know. I’ve lived in Russia, I visit regularly, etc. Russians have a strong sentimental attachment to Crimea; they don’t really care about the rest of Ukraine. And no Russian is so desperate for Crimea that he would want a nuclear holocaust rather than to lose it. to think that Russia’s leaders may have such crazy ideas is absurd. And to base foreign policy on such absurd fears is irresponsible.

    According to Levada, about 7% of Russians want a union between Russia and Ukraine:

    http://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=502&page=1&t=3

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The Russians feel that they let the West have East Germany, and then the West wanted the rest of the Warsaw Pact states. They gave up the Warsaw Pact states, and then they even gave up the other republics of the USSR, which nobody could have grabbed from them if they didn't voluntarily let them go. They had hoped that such renunciation of all territorial conquest will earn them the trust and friendship of the West. They were disappointed. For example the West didn't care for their concerns over Serbia, and actually probably crushed Serbia because it was the last remaining Russian ally west of the former USSR.

    The West also kept marching ever closer to their borders, having incorporated all of the former Warsaw Pact countries and the Baltic states. The West also keeps trying to subvert Russia (and of course the other ex-Soviet republics) from within via NGOs and similar methods. It is also well-known that during the Rape of Russia Western banks and government actively helped the looting. There have been consistent rumors of the West helping separatism inside of Russia. I don't know if these rumors have any substance to them, but obviously Russians seem to believe it. The West also didn't care for international law when it would have been beneficial to the Russians - for example when the Russians could have used their UN veto power to protect their allies. They were even spited by openly violating international law in recognizing the independence of Kosovo.

    In other words, the West seems to be marching on towards the Russian borders, and working to dismantle what's left of Russia. The Russians think that if they don't stop it at some point, they will eventually cease to exist as a civilization. They feel like the proverbial frog being boiled. I guess you are aware that real frogs do jump out of the water after it gets too hot. Same thing with Russia: they drew a line, and after that they decided to wage a war, or else - so their thinking goes - they'd have to face the same problem in a much worse situation. I.e. if they probably think that if they don't stop the West in Ukraine, then they'll have to face the same question over Belarus, or a constituent part of the Russian Federation, or Kazakhstan, or all of the above. So they decided to stop it.

    And believe, in such a situation they cannot back down - if they back down they'll only signal lack of determination, which will invite the West to keep marching. Already their situation is very weak (they are weaker in soft methods, and they are weaker in the conventional military sense of the word), and they know that unless they show determination there's no way they'll stop NATO's march to the east.
  98. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Steve Sailer
    So Turkey is still doing well? It looked good when I was there six years ago, but Erdogan hasn't gotten good press here since.

    Turkey’s growth was 9.2% in 2010, 8.8% in 2011, 2.1% in 2012, and 4.1% in 2013, according to the Worldbank. 2014 is estimated at about 3%.

  99. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Anonymous

    They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.
     
    And the customers of the prostitutes are who? They're going where the 'johns' are, aren't they? Are the customers of prostitutes morally superior?

    They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.

    And the customers of the prostitutes are who? They’re going where the ‘johns’ are, aren’t they? Are the customers of prostitutes morally superior?

    A customer debases himself once in a while. A prostitute debases herself all the time.* Moreover, Finns aren’t the ones claiming to be champions of conservative values, Orthodoxy, etc. The source of much of Europe’s prostitutes is.

    BTW, HIV capital of Europe is in southeastern Ukraine. This is also the abortion capital of Europe, possibly the world. Such a bastion of conservatism and “Orthodox” values, to be defending against the Galicians.

    *I realize that many prostitutes are themselves victims of abuse etc. and don’t mean to simply denigrate them. Their debasement has many causes. But still….

  100. This is a recent article by Peter Hitchens on the recent House of Lords report on the crisis in Ukraine:

    Putin’s Bite is Worse than His Bark – should we have been surprised?

    I have not yet had time to read the entire report by the House of Lords EU sub-committee on Russia, which can be accessed here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/ldeucom/115/115.pdf

    but I do urge my readers to study it, especially the section beginning on page 53. ‘the crisis in Ukraine and the EU’s response’. I suspect the whole thing has benefited by the presence on the sub-committee of Lord (Norman) Lamont, who knows a thing or two about the EU. There is also quite an impressive list of witnesses, who might be expected to know what they were talking about, including Vaclav Klaus, former President of the Czech republic, and Sir Tony Brenton, former British ambassador in Moscow.

    But it also has a pleasingly sober willingness to examine things that are generally ignored in the ‘Putin is Hitler’ hysteria which has engulfed so much of politics and the media.
    [....]

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2015/02/putins-bite-is-worse-than-his-bark-should-we-have-been-surprised.html

  101. @officious intermeddler
    I have no opinion about who who bombed the apartment buildings. That has been a fraught question since the bombing happened. There are competing theories. I don't believe there is any new evidence one way or another, however, nor do I believe there is a consensus building around any particular theory.

    It is in fact widely believed that Khodorkovsky was a multiple murderer. There was a best-selling book in Russia last year by the widow of one of his alleged victims. Whether that is a minority opinion or a majority one, I do not know, nor do I have any opinion of my own on the subject. I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries.

    My point was that Gessen is pretending that there is a consensus where none exists and pretending that Khodorkovsky was just a rival politician instead of a criminal. Gessen's credibility and the credibility of his analysis are undermined by the many deceptions of this sort that pervade the article and give it the whiff of propaganda.

    “I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries.”

    And the ways in Putin enriched himself and his friends? How much prison time would that earn “under the laws of most countries”? And yet, only of those two people saw the inside of a jail cell. And given Putin’s manhandling of the news media in Russia, which Gessen also notes, not to mention the untimely fates of those who tried to investigate what exactly was behind those apartment bombings (let’s just say that if you *do* choose to put on that journalist’s hat and dig into that, the odds are good that you’ll lose it, and whatever it sits on, before the investigation is done), which set of “widespread beliefs” do you think should questioned more carefully?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    This is a red herring. The article stated that a "nice Putin" wouldn't have imprisoned Khodorkovsky. I think a case can be made that imprisoning Khodorkovsky was not a bad thing in and of itself.
  102. The sane Gessen wrote an article on the Novorussian rebels last year that refutes the idea (lazily accepted by 90% of Western commentators) that the rebels are nothing but a Russian cat’s paw.

    Of course they are supported by Russia for Russian ends, but they also have they own very well founded motivations, and a lot of the Kiev government’s supporters are complete shits that we should not get involved with in any way.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n17/keith-gessen/why-not-kill-them-all

  103. @AP
    Your point seems valid, but what about applying this elsewhere? How about people with guns in their cars? What's the worst thing that could happen if one of them were pulled over for something like driving 15 mph over the speed limit? He might go berserk and shoot the officer and himself. So...better not ever pull over people for minor traffic offenses, in case the worst thing might happen, right?

    Russia deciding to go nuclear and thereby self-destruct (as well as destroy the entire world) over Sevastopol is such an unlikely scenario, probably much less likely than our speeder going berserk. And on the level of states, as on the streets, operating under constraints dictating by the possibility of totally irrational berserk mass destructive behavior doesn't seem to be very realistic.

    The risk of nuclear war is minimal, and not very useful as talking point in a sane debate. Somewhat the same way “weapons of mass destruction” brought an hallucinatory, hysterical element into the Iraq debate.

    The point I’d make on Ukraine is that the fighting has already killed about 5,000 people. Following the warmongers, we’ll be on track to have 50,000 dead before long. In the worst-case scenario, we end up in broader war with more participants, and 500,000 die. Why would we fucking want to do this, why would we fucking want to risk this?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    The risk of nuclear war is minimal only if everybody is aware that there is such a risk and nobody is willing to test the credibility of their opponents' nuclear deterrent. Once people start thinking along the lines of "oh, they won't dare use them anyway", the chances of a nuclear war will skyrocket. All you need is a desperate political leadership drawn into a corner and thinking that the only choices left for them are shameful obliteration or going down fighting, and them choosing the latter option.

    There was a Chinese study one or two decades ago, and they concluded that Russia suffered such enormous losses at the end of the Cold War that the end result was barely better than a nuclear war. (Of course they counted extra mortality after the collapse, they counted lost population in the newly independent republics, etc. etc., but still.)
  104. @unit472
    Angela Merkel, who knows Putin better than any other world leader, having met with him often and being able to speak to him without translators has said he has a problem seeing 'reality'. If that is her public assessment of the man I imagine her private one is even less flattering. Now Merkel is no American poodle, in fact she doesn't even like dogs and didn't find amusing Putin's attempt to intimidate her with his but, despite her distrust of the US and her annoyance with our espionage against her government, she is leading the European sanctions effort. This despite her own nations dependance on Russian energy exports and German industry's much larger trade relations with Russia which had accounted for 4% of German trade at its peak.

    Obviously if she has a problem with Putin others should pay attention to her views as she does not profit from having poor relations with her large Eastern neighbor. She has opposed American arms shipments to Kiev and the US has so far deferred to her attempt to arrange a ceasefire though she has warned Putin she would impose even tougher sanctions on Russia if it is again violated. If Germany cannot come to terms with Putin then we really have no alternatives left. That should not be that worrying though unless you believe Putin to be utterly insane. Russia is not that strong a nation. Economically it ranks between Mexico and Pakistan and no one believes Pakistan is going to start tossing its nuclear arsenal around over Kashmir or anything else!

    Woody Wilson shoudl have left the Brest-Litovsk treaty stand. He gave in to the Polish and Czech lobbies. A big mistake.

  105. @iSteveFan

    Russia is guilty of more like 300 years of bad behavior as far as the Swedes, Poles and Turks are concerned.
     
    That's like the pot calling the kettle black. Who the heck are the Turks to complain about the past 300 years? Wouldn't that include at least 200 of them with the Turks lording over Greeks and other Eastern Europeans? Three hundred years back would include the Turks taking Russian and Ukrainian slaves via Crimea.

    And the Swedes and Poles have not exactly been angels. I suppose with the Poles you'd have to go back a little over 300 years, but the Cossack revolt in 1648 didn't happen because the Poles were angels.


    The Russians also pissed off the Brits in the 19th century by attempting to challenge them at the British Imperialist game, and the Brits don’t forgive.
     
    Didn't we piss off the Brits in 1776 by attempting to challenge them at their imperialist game? They forgave us. Why shouldn't they forgive Russia? It's time for Europeans to stop playing like the world is a game of Risk. The rest of the world, especially the global South, is on the march. And they have already shown they don't need tanks or armies to take land. They just need masses of humanity which they have in excess.

    England should have caught Mustafa Kemal and executed him to avenge Gallipoli.

    He is the only guy in history who screwed the Britz (at least the Anzacs) and lived.

  106. @silviosilver
    Don't be daft. The Russian economy didn't even enter into recession last year. No predictions regarding 2015 are of a recession greater than 3%. Even if that is realized it would hardly render CIA estimates "inoperative" (to the point that comparisons with Pakistan (!) become fair game).

    I think the Russian government now expects a 5% recession this year.

    • Replies: @AP
    That would mean that Russia, in terms of growth, will be doing worse than most of the western Ukrainian provinces did in 2014:

    http://www.ukrstat.gov.ua/operativ/operativ2014/pr/tpo/tpo_u/tpo1214_u.htm

    Nice map:

    http://i057.radikal.ru/1502/c7/e337103d68ca.png
  107. The Financial Times has a pretty good selection of recent photos from the civil war in Ukraine: http://blogs.ft.com/photo-diary/tag/ukraine/

    What a tragic and unnecessary mess after just one year.

  108. Putin did nothing much to Khodorkovsky, compared to what Khodorkovsky did to the succession of people that were murdered after:- working for him (a couple who apparently knew too much and were kidnapped in front of their children and disappeared), sueing him (man whose limo was blown up, killing his chauffeur), refusing to sell him a building( woman owner was shot dead) asking him to pay his taxes ( mayor of town where Khodorkovsky’s company was based, shot dead 1 month after he started camping outside the headquarter to embarrass him into paying up).

    http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/why-john-j-mearsheimer-is-right-about-some-things/308839/

    Mearsheimer writes ANARCHY on the board, explaining that the word does not refer to chaos or disorder. “It simply means that there is no centralized authority, no night watchman or ultimate arbiter, that stands above states and protects them.” (The opposite of anarchy, he notes, borrowing from Columbia University’s Kenneth Waltz, is hierarchy, which is the ordering principle of domestic politics.) Then he writes THE UNCERTAINTY OF INTENTIONS and explains: the leaders of one great power in this anarchic jungle of a world can never know what the leaders of a rival great power are thinking. Fear is dominant. [...] “To argue that expansion is inherently misguided,” Mearsheimer writes, “implies that all great powers over the past 350 years have failed to comprehend how the international system works. This is an implausible argument on its face.” The problem with the “moderation is good” thesis is that “it mistakenly equates [so-called] irrational expansion with military defeat.” But hegemony has succeeded many times. The Roman Empire in Europe, the Mughal Dynasty in the Indian subcontinent, and the Qing Dynasty in China are some of his examples, even as he mentions how Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Adolf Hitler all came close to success. “Thus, the pursuit of regional hegemony is not a quixotic ambition,” though no state has yet achieved regional hegemony in the Eastern Hemisphere the way the United States achieved it in the Western Hemisphere. [...] “Large bodies of water are formidable obstacles that cause significant power-projection problems,” Mearsheimer writes. Great navies and air forces can be built, and soldiers transported to beachheads and airstrips, but conquering great land powers across the seas is difficult. This is why the United States and the United Kingdom have rarely been invaded by other great powers. It is also why the U.S. has almost never tried to permanently conquer territory in Europe or Asia, and why the United Kingdom has never tried to dominate continental Europe. Therefore, the “central aim of American foreign policy” is “to be the hegemon in the Western Hemisphere” only, and to prevent the rise of a similar hegemon in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Mearsheimer says realism is what is is behind just about

    • Replies: @colm
    There will always be some who get away. Putin cannot get everyone, and compared to the kindness shown to the oligarchs by London and New York he is not doing badly.
  109. @Peter Akuleyev
    Hungary has "historic pro-Russian" sympathies? Hardly. Ask any Hungarian about 1848, 1914, or 1956. Hungarians traditionally hate Russians. Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.

    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century. The Hungarian prime minister Orbán (he’s mainstream conservative and used to be heavily anti-Russian before 2010, even during his previous stint at government 1998-2002) started a kinda sorta friendship with Putin last January, but it isn’t really based on emotions. (And before Orbán, the Hungarian leftist Hungarian government 2002-2010 also got a bit close to Putin, especially prime minister Gyurcsány between 2004 and 2009.) There are still many Hungarians who hate the Russians, but I would say it’s now not nearly as uniform as it used to be before 1990. Many Hungarians are actually pro-Russian, especially since Russia is now friends with the prime minister (though that intensifies the hatred of opposition sympathizers), and Russia is also probably subsidizing (at least there are rumors) Jobbik, the nationalist party, which in turn is now quite a bit pro-Russian.

    Ask any Hungarian about 1848

    Actually 1849. The Habsburg emperor tried to suppress the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1848, but its armies were defeated and needed to retreat and regroup in spring 1849. The Russian Czar Nicholas I offered his help, and sent troops to suppress the Hungarians. So if we should hate the Russians for that, we should hate the Austrians even more.

    It must be noted that in Hungarian historiography and especially literature the Russians of 1849 were usually painted in a rather favorable light: they were considered to be nice people who were largely sympathetic to the Hungarians and were only obeying orders from their Czar to fight for their country, right or wrong. Actually most Czarist officers in 1849 really were sympathetic to the Hungarians, and couldn’t always hide their disdain for the Austrians who executed many Hungarian revolutionary leaders and military commanders. And the Czar himself asked the Austrians for clemency, although the Austrians nevertheless executed several Hungarian generals and politicians.

    Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.

    Yes, Poles are regarded as brothers, they are considered to be our best friends. However, recently political relations have cooled due to Orbán’s pro-Putin policies.

    It’s an interesting story because I’m sure Orbán likes the Poles much more than the Russians. He originally (back in 2010 when he came to power) based his foreign policy on the Polish friendship and on distancing himself from Putin (with whom the previous leftist government had a close relationship), he for example spent a lot of money on buying back 25% of the shares in the Hungarian national oil company from Putin’s personal company. (It was Surgutneftegas. Allegedly Putin is personally behind some of the offshore owners – I’m sure it’s more state property masquerading as private property than Putin’s personal possession, because obviously Putin couldn’t keep it if he lost the presidency, and he won’t be able to leave it to his daughters.) Orbán also wanted to invigorate the cooperation of Eastern Central European countries (besides Poland and Hungary also the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and possibly some other countries like Romania and the Baltic states), but in the end the Poles were more interested in the Weimar Triangle, and they also started to cultivate their separate relations to Russia. (They signed a new natural gas deal with Russia in the early 2010s.)

    This was understandable, since unlike in the Middle Ages when Hungary and Poland were of roughly the same size (Hungary might even have been occasionally larger), now Hungary is much smaller than Poland and so Hungary’s friendship is not as valuable to Poland as Poland’s friendship is to Hungary. So in the end Orbán realized (what the Poles probably knew all along) that he cannot really offer much to the Poles in exchange for their support, which led to a divergence of the foreign policies. While the EU and especially Poland were getting increasingly anti-Putin during the Ukrainian crisis, last January Orbán cut a deal with Putin to build new reactors to Hungary’s aging nuclear power plant.

    Then came Crimea and Orbán became one of the most anti-sanctions political leaders in Europe while Poland became one of the most pro-sanctions and anti-Russian countries. This month many Polish leaders denounced Orbán for this, so our traditional friendship with Poland is now on the back-burner.

    However, I’m sure our friendship with the Poles will survive this crisis. I’m also sure there will be no lasting love between the Hungarians and the Russians. But I don’t think there will be lasting hatred with them either. We are emotionally incapable of hating distant peoples, even the French (traditionally hated in Hungary for drawing our extremely unfavorable borders in 1920) are not really hated any more. The only peoples who we intensely dislike are our neighbors. (Some of them. Mostly the Romanians, but to a much lesser extent also the Slovakians, and maybe the Serbs, too. We don’t care one way or the other for the Ukrainians who we cannot really distinguish from Russians anyway. We like Croatians, and we don’t hate but probably don’t love the Austrians.) It’s mostly territorial disputes and the memory of past atrocities that accompanied the territorial changes.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century.
     
    Thanks for the personal view from a Hungarian perspective. I wish other non-Americans who speak English would do the same.

    From your list it appears Hungarians have more affinity for Catholic neighbors, than Orthodox. Is this correct?

    Also, when you mention you don't like Romanians, do you mean Gypsies, or actual Romanians?

    Finally, how do you feel towards Greece? They aren't Slavs, but they are Orthodox.

    Thanks
  110. @jimbojones
    I glanced through the article... (It wasn't worth it.) And this Gessen is no sane Gessen. The piece is a tissue of lies, calumnies, absurdities, insanities, and inanities.

    Here is a brief translation from newspeak:
    "Right-minded people ought to hate not just Putin, but all of Russia."
    Here is a quick definition of "nice Putin" from the newspeak dictionary:
    "A nice Putin would be a Putin who dismantles all of Russia's industries, splits Russia into 10-15 small statelets, gives all of Russia's wealth to 15-20 controlled oligarchs who reside in London, Tel Aviv, New York, and Miami, and spends the rest of his days delivering politically correct speeches written at his "foundation" over at Virginia."
    You know, nice. Like Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

    To get an idea of the level of Gessen's hackery, consider the following cretinous mental ejaculation of his:
    "Though he has since been sainted by the Russian Orthodox church, Nicholas was no saint. He tolerated terrible cruelty in his dominions, authorized a stupid, losing war against Japan, ..."

    From Wikipedia:
    "Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904.[24] However, three hours before Japan's declaration of war was received by the Russian government, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur. Tsar Nicholas II was stunned by news of the attack. He could not believe that Japan would commit an act of war without a formal declaration, "
    If one reads a bit of the scholarship on the war, one will find out that the war was financed by the Anglo-Americans. Here is a quick intro for those interested.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takahashi_Korekiyo

    And what of Putin's sins? What makes him so not nice? He finished the original war on terror against the CIA's Mujahedeen terrorists in Chechnya (oh those lovable Chechens, what's there not to like about them); he jailed the thieving scumbag Khodorkovsky; and worst of all, he followed his people's will in rejecting the LGBT imperative.

    The Ministry of Propaganda doesn't even make an effort anymore. Doesn't even try to show some respect to truth and the dignity of its targets. It just lies and hurls infantile abuse.
    -----

    One other note: What kind of language is this? "Nice" and "mean"? What is this, grade 5? Are the intended readers of Gessen's article childish imbeciles? But to ask the question is to answer it.

    Just wanted to compliment you on this post. Well done.

  111. @Steve Sailer
    "[Putin] thinks he is indispensable, and in a certain sense, he may be right (very much in contrast to someone like Xi in China.)"

    Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea.

    Unfair comparison in my opinion. Also, all this talk about Putin not taking Russia to the economic heights of China doesn’t take into account that Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch. I think he wants a system similar to China’s, with KGB guys replacing each other every 12 years or so. I’m betting he’ll pull it off. The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.

    • Replies: @AP

    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.
     
    Maybe...or, more likely, everyone would look like a "miracle-maker" in comparison to his predecessors.
    , @Peter Akuleyev
    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.

    Can you name one? Seriously. Can you actually point to a tangible sign of progress in Russia since 2000 that is not simply connected to spending money generated from resource extraction? By the same standard Hugo Chavez was generating "miracles" for a while in Venezuela.

    I have no doubt that Putin sincerely thinks he's a patriot, I think the guy is simply an incompetent Soviet apparatchik who has no idea how to bring Russia into the modern world.
    , @Art Deco
    Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch.
    --
    The Congo is a failed state. Russia was suffering from an economic Depression and a great deal of street crime.
  112. @Oscar Peterson
    "Is that a good thing? Maybe the Chinese system where the top guy gets put out to pasture after 10 years or so is a better idea."

    No, it is most definitely not a good thing for Russia. It's an indicator of the fragility of the Russian state and Russian culture in general. But the issue, in my view, isn't the superiority of the "Chinese system." It' something much deeper than that. China, despite its problems, has a cultural self-confidence and cultural autonomy that helps to insulate it from potential attempts to destabilize it. If Xi keeled over tomorrow, some guy would take over, and China's basic orientation towards the world and its fundamental policies would be unchanged.

    If Putin keeled over, Russia would tend immediately towards instability. Russia is half-European and very sensitive to and influenced by European (and US) criticisms in a way that China would never be. Medvedev lacks the force of personality to prevent aggressive destabilization of Russia. Without Putin, Russia might well devolve into a permanent version of the weakened state that Yeltsin oversaw in the 1990s, the dream of Victoria Nuland and so many others in the USG. Putin's leadership--again, in great contrast to the situation in China--is the primary bulwark against such destabilization.

    This is why western media criticisms of Russian behavior are always highly personalized and focused on Putin himself. We sense that if Putin could be knocked off, then a broad array of options to drive Russia towards strategic submission would open up. Western criticism of Chinese actions, in contrast, rarely focus on the person of Xi. That's because our strategic establishment realizes that Xi's fall would not open up any strategic opportunities and that there is nothing to be gained by targeting him.

    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan’s personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it.

    • Replies: @Oscar Peterson
    "The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan’s personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it."

    Not sure what you point was here.

    Agree that states act to preserve OR expand their power. But obviously the USSR failed in thid essential function during the period 1989-91 and during the ensuing decade. When a nation state enters a period of fragility and vulnerability, the presence or absence of dynamic leadership is vital. Do you disagree?
    , @Art Deco
    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Rios Montt
    --
    The United States cut off aid to Guatemala at the end of 1977 and it was not restored until the beginning of 1986. Efrain Rios Montt was sent packing in August of 1983. What was notable about the counter-insurgency in Guatemala was that it achieved its goals without any external assistance (and with an ocean of blood). As for d'Aubuisson, he was never an ally of the U.S. Embassy, was ever an irritant, and once concocted a plot to assassinate the U.S. Ambassador.
  113. @Sean
    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D'Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan's personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it.

    “The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan’s personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it.”

    Not sure what you point was here.

    Agree that states act to preserve OR expand their power. But obviously the USSR failed in thid essential function during the period 1989-91 and during the ensuing decade. When a nation state enters a period of fragility and vulnerability, the presence or absence of dynamic leadership is vital. Do you disagree?

    • Replies: @Sean
    Germany after WW1 was more powerful because the Weimar constitution was designed to and did give it a unified national government for the first time. And there was a youth bulge. So Germany had a good basis for policies of expansion for a limited time , and they got an expansionist leader:Hitler.

    The head of the Soviet general staff Nikolai Ogarkov was sacked for complaining the the Soviet economy could not produce weapons that would enable it to successfully defend itself in a future war against the US. Then Russia began to reform its society. Basically Russia reformed itself to be stronger. When it was strong enough to successfully defend its position, by which time it was being announced that Georgia and Ukraine were going to join NATO, the leader came to the fore with a push back policy. But he was just articulating a national consensus. Putin, like any other Russian leader, can't go against that consensus.

    It is really stupid to think that Putin is motivated by something unlike what motivates a US leader whose proxies and special forces are slaughtering uppity peasants and Jesuits in the US back yard.

  114. @Sean
    Putin did nothing much to Khodorkovsky, compared to what Khodorkovsky did to the succession of people that were murdered after:- working for him (a couple who apparently knew too much and were kidnapped in front of their children and disappeared), sueing him (man whose limo was blown up, killing his chauffeur), refusing to sell him a building( woman owner was shot dead) asking him to pay his taxes ( mayor of town where Khodorkovsky's company was based, shot dead 1 month after he started camping outside the headquarter to embarrass him into paying up).

    http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/why-john-j-mearsheimer-is-right-about-some-things/308839/


    Mearsheimer writes ANARCHY on the board, explaining that the word does not refer to chaos or disorder. “It simply means that there is no centralized authority, no night watchman or ultimate arbiter, that stands above states and protects them.” (The opposite of anarchy, he notes, borrowing from Columbia University’s Kenneth Waltz, is hierarchy, which is the ordering principle of domestic politics.) Then he writes THE UNCERTAINTY OF INTENTIONS and explains: the leaders of one great power in this anarchic jungle of a world can never know what the leaders of a rival great power are thinking. Fear is dominant. [...] “To argue that expansion is inherently misguided,” Mearsheimer writes, “implies that all great powers over the past 350 years have failed to comprehend how the international system works. This is an implausible argument on its face.” The problem with the “moderation is good” thesis is that “it mistakenly equates [so-called] irrational expansion with military defeat.” But hegemony has succeeded many times. The Roman Empire in Europe, the Mughal Dynasty in the Indian subcontinent, and the Qing Dynasty in China are some of his examples, even as he mentions how Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Adolf Hitler all came close to success. “Thus, the pursuit of regional hegemony is not a quixotic ambition,” though no state has yet achieved regional hegemony in the Eastern Hemisphere the way the United States achieved it in the Western Hemisphere. [...] “Large bodies of water are formidable obstacles that cause significant power-projection problems,” Mearsheimer writes. Great navies and air forces can be built, and soldiers transported to beachheads and airstrips, but conquering great land powers across the seas is difficult. This is why the United States and the United Kingdom have rarely been invaded by other great powers. It is also why the U.S. has almost never tried to permanently conquer territory in Europe or Asia, and why the United Kingdom has never tried to dominate continental Europe. Therefore, the “central aim of American foreign policy” is “to be the hegemon in the Western Hemisphere” only, and to prevent the rise of a similar hegemon in the Eastern Hemisphere.
     
    Mearsheimer says realism is what is is behind just about

    There will always be some who get away. Putin cannot get everyone, and compared to the kindness shown to the oligarchs by London and New York he is not doing badly.

  115. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @reiner Tor
    I think the Russian government now expects a 5% recession this year.

    That would mean that Russia, in terms of growth, will be doing worse than most of the western Ukrainian provinces did in 2014:

    http://www.ukrstat.gov.ua/operativ/operativ2014/pr/tpo/tpo_u/tpo1214_u.htm

    Nice map:

  116. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @AlexT
    Unfair comparison in my opinion. Also, all this talk about Putin not taking Russia to the economic heights of China doesn't take into account that Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch. I think he wants a system similar to China's, with KGB guys replacing each other every 12 years or so. I'm betting he'll pull it off. The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia's situation when he took over.

    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.

    Maybe…or, more likely, everyone would look like a “miracle-maker” in comparison to his predecessors.

    • Replies: @Anon

    Maybe…or, more likely, everyone would look like a “miracle-maker” in comparison to his predecessors.
     
    His predecessors went through a depression in natural resource pricing. Putin's tenure coincided with a rise in oil from the low $20's to a peak of almost $140. Other natural resource prices (including natural gas) were rising in tandem, mainly because of breakneck Chinese economic growth. Now that commodity prices are tanking, they will take the Russian economy with it. Of the following major Russian exports in 2013, almost half are now priced at multi-year lows:

    Highest Value Russian Export Products

    Below are the 20 highest value export products shipped from Russia in 2013. Shown within brackets is the 6-digit harmonized tariff system code for each item.

    Crude petroleum oils: US$173,668,305,000 (HTS code 270900)
    Other petroleum oils: $91,529,091,000 (271019)
    Light petroleum oils and preparations: $17,638,522,000 (271012)
    Non-agglomerated coal: $10,599,688,000 (270112)
    Non-monetary gold: $5,573,311,000 (710812)
    Natural gas (liquid state): $5,510,958,000 (271111)
    Non-industrial diamonds: $4,105,401,000 (710231)
    Unfinished aluminum (unalloyed): $4,075,812,000 (760110)
    Semi-finished iron and steel products: $4,036,796,000 (720712)
    Unfinished nickel (unalloyed): $3,509,001,000 (750210)
    Softwood lumber: $3,503,258,000 (440710)
    Wheat and meslin: $3,469,064,000 (100199)
    Copper wire: $2,932,953,000 (740811)
    Packaged potassium chloride: $2,137,881,000 (310420)
    Unfinished aluminum (alloyed): $2,117,504,000 (760120)
    Urea in large packages: $1,733,433,000 (310210)
    Fertilizer in smaller packages: $1,731,833,000 (310520)
    Anhydrous ammonia: $1,581,047,000 (281410)
    Turbo-jets: $1,575,745,000 (841112)
    Unfinished copper cathodes: $1,554,128,000 (740311)

     

    Bottom line is that Russia did better than Ukraine because it had a lot more natural resources to export, and export prices went to the moon during his reign.
  117. @AP

    In a conventional war, Polish defense experts assume Kaliningrad can be taken by them in 1-2 days.

    If Poland’s defense experts believe that, then they are surely out of their minds.
     
    I suspect they know more about such things than you or I do.

    The US Army couldn’t take Fallujah in two days, even though it was defended by a ragtag militia. Anybody believing that the larger Kaliningrad could be taken by conventional forces in a couple of days against the defending Russian military is delusional at best.

    Obviously if you’re willing to nuke the place, or drop some nerve gas on it, you might be able to go faster. But the Russians might retaliate in kind.

    • Replies: @AP
    My apologies - it may have been 1-2 weeks rather than 1-2 days. Another result of Putin's blunder has been a massive military modernization program by Poland.
  118. @David R. Merridale
    The risk of nuclear war is minimal, and not very useful as talking point in a sane debate. Somewhat the same way "weapons of mass destruction" brought an hallucinatory, hysterical element into the Iraq debate.

    The point I'd make on Ukraine is that the fighting has already killed about 5,000 people. Following the warmongers, we'll be on track to have 50,000 dead before long. In the worst-case scenario, we end up in broader war with more participants, and 500,000 die. Why would we fucking want to do this, why would we fucking want to risk this?

    The risk of nuclear war is minimal only if everybody is aware that there is such a risk and nobody is willing to test the credibility of their opponents’ nuclear deterrent. Once people start thinking along the lines of “oh, they won’t dare use them anyway”, the chances of a nuclear war will skyrocket. All you need is a desperate political leadership drawn into a corner and thinking that the only choices left for them are shameful obliteration or going down fighting, and them choosing the latter option.

    There was a Chinese study one or two decades ago, and they concluded that Russia suffered such enormous losses at the end of the Cold War that the end result was barely better than a nuclear war. (Of course they counted extra mortality after the collapse, they counted lost population in the newly independent republics, etc. etc., but still.)

    • Replies: @AP

    All you need is a desperate political leadership drawn into a corner and thinking that the only choices left for them are shameful obliteration or going down fighting, and them choosing the latter option.
     
    This would be true if an army was bearing down on Moscow. But actions involving territory that are on the edge of Russia, not even connected to it by land, and that were not considered by Russia as Russian until 2013 (Crimea)? Unlikely in the extreme that any Russian leadership would be thinking that it was in a corner and getting desperate enough to initiate a nuclear holocaust involving Russia's own utter destruction, over such a situation.
  119. @HA
    "I do believe, though, and I think it is the overwhelming majority view, that the ways in which Khodorkovsky made his money would have constituted at least financial crimes, meriting at least long prison terms, under the laws of most countries."

    And the ways in Putin enriched himself and his friends? How much prison time would that earn "under the laws of most countries"? And yet, only of those two people saw the inside of a jail cell. And given Putin's manhandling of the news media in Russia, which Gessen also notes, not to mention the untimely fates of those who tried to investigate what exactly was behind those apartment bombings (let's just say that if you *do* choose to put on that journalist's hat and dig into that, the odds are good that you'll lose it, and whatever it sits on, before the investigation is done), which set of "widespread beliefs" do you think should questioned more carefully?

    This is a red herring. The article stated that a “nice Putin” wouldn’t have imprisoned Khodorkovsky. I think a case can be made that imprisoning Khodorkovsky was not a bad thing in and of itself.

  120. @AP

    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?
     
    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn't California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It's probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren't Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn't you say?

    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn’t California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?

    The United States should not be the world’s policeman. The U.S. has often tried to justify policies as promoting democracy and human rights and enforcing international law but these are hollow arguments to obscure the true objectives. Should Russia invade California, much like the soft invasion Mexico is conducting now, it would be in the US interests to repel that invasion. That we are not using the military to repel the current Mexican invasion is a travesty.

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It’s probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.

    Seems like it was a mistake for Ukraine. You can add Ukraine to the list of trusting saps including Saddam Hussein, Polpot and innumerable native american tribes. It appears the Iranians and the North Koreans know better than to trust the US.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?

    Having good relations between the US, Russia and Ukraine would be in the interest of average citizens. That was not the goal of US policy in Ukraine. It was to make Ukraine a vassal of the US financial system and deny Russia the benefits and security it enjoyed from having Ukraine closely integrated with its economy.

    As for traditional western culture, the US seems hellbent on destroying traditional western institutions such as marriage, religion , freedom of expression, birthright citizenship and the right to privacy.

  121. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @reiner Tor
    The risk of nuclear war is minimal only if everybody is aware that there is such a risk and nobody is willing to test the credibility of their opponents' nuclear deterrent. Once people start thinking along the lines of "oh, they won't dare use them anyway", the chances of a nuclear war will skyrocket. All you need is a desperate political leadership drawn into a corner and thinking that the only choices left for them are shameful obliteration or going down fighting, and them choosing the latter option.

    There was a Chinese study one or two decades ago, and they concluded that Russia suffered such enormous losses at the end of the Cold War that the end result was barely better than a nuclear war. (Of course they counted extra mortality after the collapse, they counted lost population in the newly independent republics, etc. etc., but still.)

    All you need is a desperate political leadership drawn into a corner and thinking that the only choices left for them are shameful obliteration or going down fighting, and them choosing the latter option.

    This would be true if an army was bearing down on Moscow. But actions involving territory that are on the edge of Russia, not even connected to it by land, and that were not considered by Russia as Russian until 2013 (Crimea)? Unlikely in the extreme that any Russian leadership would be thinking that it was in a corner and getting desperate enough to initiate a nuclear holocaust involving Russia’s own utter destruction, over such a situation.

  122. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @reiner Tor
    The US Army couldn't take Fallujah in two days, even though it was defended by a ragtag militia. Anybody believing that the larger Kaliningrad could be taken by conventional forces in a couple of days against the defending Russian military is delusional at best.

    Obviously if you're willing to nuke the place, or drop some nerve gas on it, you might be able to go faster. But the Russians might retaliate in kind.

    My apologies – it may have been 1-2 weeks rather than 1-2 days. Another result of Putin’s blunder has been a massive military modernization program by Poland.

    • Replies: @colm
    Poland can modernize its army till kingdom come but can it take out Belarus?

    poland is not poland for nothing.
  123. @AP
    My apologies - it may have been 1-2 weeks rather than 1-2 days. Another result of Putin's blunder has been a massive military modernization program by Poland.

    Poland can modernize its army till kingdom come but can it take out Belarus?

    poland is not poland for nothing.

    • Replies: @AP
    Poland fought the USSR to a draw in 1920. It did about as well against Germany in 1939 as did France or Britain. Why would it struggle with Belarus, if it came to that (which, of course, it wouldn't)? Do you believe the fairytales about Polish cavalry attacking tanks?
  124. @reiner Tor
    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century. The Hungarian prime minister Orbán (he's mainstream conservative and used to be heavily anti-Russian before 2010, even during his previous stint at government 1998-2002) started a kinda sorta friendship with Putin last January, but it isn't really based on emotions. (And before Orbán, the Hungarian leftist Hungarian government 2002-2010 also got a bit close to Putin, especially prime minister Gyurcsány between 2004 and 2009.) There are still many Hungarians who hate the Russians, but I would say it's now not nearly as uniform as it used to be before 1990. Many Hungarians are actually pro-Russian, especially since Russia is now friends with the prime minister (though that intensifies the hatred of opposition sympathizers), and Russia is also probably subsidizing (at least there are rumors) Jobbik, the nationalist party, which in turn is now quite a bit pro-Russian.

    Ask any Hungarian about 1848
     
    Actually 1849. The Habsburg emperor tried to suppress the Hungarian revolutionary government in 1848, but its armies were defeated and needed to retreat and regroup in spring 1849. The Russian Czar Nicholas I offered his help, and sent troops to suppress the Hungarians. So if we should hate the Russians for that, we should hate the Austrians even more.

    It must be noted that in Hungarian historiography and especially literature the Russians of 1849 were usually painted in a rather favorable light: they were considered to be nice people who were largely sympathetic to the Hungarians and were only obeying orders from their Czar to fight for their country, right or wrong. Actually most Czarist officers in 1849 really were sympathetic to the Hungarians, and couldn't always hide their disdain for the Austrians who executed many Hungarian revolutionary leaders and military commanders. And the Czar himself asked the Austrians for clemency, although the Austrians nevertheless executed several Hungarian generals and politicians.

    Poles are the natural friends of the Hungarians.
     
    Yes, Poles are regarded as brothers, they are considered to be our best friends. However, recently political relations have cooled due to Orbán's pro-Putin policies.

    It's an interesting story because I'm sure Orbán likes the Poles much more than the Russians. He originally (back in 2010 when he came to power) based his foreign policy on the Polish friendship and on distancing himself from Putin (with whom the previous leftist government had a close relationship), he for example spent a lot of money on buying back 25% of the shares in the Hungarian national oil company from Putin's personal company. (It was Surgutneftegas. Allegedly Putin is personally behind some of the offshore owners - I'm sure it's more state property masquerading as private property than Putin's personal possession, because obviously Putin couldn't keep it if he lost the presidency, and he won't be able to leave it to his daughters.) Orbán also wanted to invigorate the cooperation of Eastern Central European countries (besides Poland and Hungary also the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and possibly some other countries like Romania and the Baltic states), but in the end the Poles were more interested in the Weimar Triangle, and they also started to cultivate their separate relations to Russia. (They signed a new natural gas deal with Russia in the early 2010s.)

    This was understandable, since unlike in the Middle Ages when Hungary and Poland were of roughly the same size (Hungary might even have been occasionally larger), now Hungary is much smaller than Poland and so Hungary's friendship is not as valuable to Poland as Poland's friendship is to Hungary. So in the end Orbán realized (what the Poles probably knew all along) that he cannot really offer much to the Poles in exchange for their support, which led to a divergence of the foreign policies. While the EU and especially Poland were getting increasingly anti-Putin during the Ukrainian crisis, last January Orbán cut a deal with Putin to build new reactors to Hungary's aging nuclear power plant.

    Then came Crimea and Orbán became one of the most anti-sanctions political leaders in Europe while Poland became one of the most pro-sanctions and anti-Russian countries. This month many Polish leaders denounced Orbán for this, so our traditional friendship with Poland is now on the back-burner.

    However, I'm sure our friendship with the Poles will survive this crisis. I'm also sure there will be no lasting love between the Hungarians and the Russians. But I don't think there will be lasting hatred with them either. We are emotionally incapable of hating distant peoples, even the French (traditionally hated in Hungary for drawing our extremely unfavorable borders in 1920) are not really hated any more. The only peoples who we intensely dislike are our neighbors. (Some of them. Mostly the Romanians, but to a much lesser extent also the Slovakians, and maybe the Serbs, too. We don't care one way or the other for the Ukrainians who we cannot really distinguish from Russians anyway. We like Croatians, and we don't hate but probably don't love the Austrians.) It's mostly territorial disputes and the memory of past atrocities that accompanied the territorial changes.

    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century.

    Thanks for the personal view from a Hungarian perspective. I wish other non-Americans who speak English would do the same.

    From your list it appears Hungarians have more affinity for Catholic neighbors, than Orthodox. Is this correct?

    Also, when you mention you don’t like Romanians, do you mean Gypsies, or actual Romanians?

    Finally, how do you feel towards Greece? They aren’t Slavs, but they are Orthodox.

    Thanks

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I'm not sure if it has to do a lot with religion, because we dislike those of our neighbors who took the most Hungarian-populated areas from us in 1918 (and then again in 1944-45). This means first and foremost the Romanians, but also the Slovakians ("I'm older than Slovakia" is a popular slogan among soccer fans in Hungary, referring to the fact that with the exception of Tiso's pro-Nazi puppet state there has never been an independent Slovakian state before 1992), and to a lesser extent the Serbs. (With the Serbs things are made worse by the fact that they massacred the most Hungarians, between 20 and 40 thousand in 1944. But the Slovakians and Romanians also had their share of atrocities. No doubt we Hungarians also committed atrocities against all of our neighbors, but being on the losing side meant we suffered more atrocities at their hands than vice versa.) The Romanian army also occupied Budapest after the collapse of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, and shall we say we're not fond of the memory. Since you are American, you might want to know that we have much fonder memories of the then US military representative:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Hill_Bandholtz

    But still I guess culture matters a lot, and Serbs and Romanians seem more alien to us than Slovakians, and we usually rather envy than hate Austrians, in spite of the fact that most of our national heroes between 1526 and 1918 were fighting Habsburg rule, like Bocskai (1606), Bethlen (as prince of Transylvania 1613-29), Wesselényi and his co-conspirators (1667-70, mostly just an aristocratic conspiracy with very little actual fighting, but the participating aristocrats were all beheaded), Thököly (1678-85), Rákóczi (1703-11), Kossuth (1848-49), and many of our national poets (the most prominent among them being Petőfi, who died in 1849 at the battle of Segesvár fighting against Russian troops intervening on behalf of the Austrian emperor) were also opposed to Habsburg rule.

    Since you mentioned catholicism, it's interesting to note that of the leading anti-Habsburg personalities mentioned, only Wesselényi and his aristocratic co-conspirators and Rákóczi were catholic, the rest were Calvinists. In Hungary the majority of the population converted to Calvinism by around 1600, and it was only reversed by the end of the 18th century. This is a reason why Hungarians' attachment to catholicism is much weaker than Poles' attachment.

    , @reiner Tor
    Regarding Greece, Greece is too far away for us. I guess most Hungarians would have similar stereotypes of Greeks as most other Europeans. My guesses would be "lazy", "friendly", "warm", "with a Mediterranean temperament", and such similar things. But I rarely discuss Greece with my friends, it's just my impression. Reading comments below Hungarian news sections on Greece usually bring up such stereotypes in commenters, most of whom have either never been to Greece, or spent most of their time there on the beach.

    Also, please be aware that I'm just one Hungarian, and I'm fallible, so maybe I misjudge the sentiment of my compatriots. Especially since I've lived in Western Europe for a decade now, even if I'm in close contact with my relatives and friends back home, and visit my country quite often, and I also read Hungarian news outlets (and their comment sections) quite regularly.
  125. @AP

    What is the strategic interest of the United States in the Crimea and Ukraine? Particularly, how will a bellicose US foreign policy in Ukraine benefit the average taxpaying stiff?
     
    Punishing misbehavior such as invading foreign countries and unilaterally changing borders if probably good because such misbehavior should not occur. If borders can be changed on a whim why shouldn't California once its Mexican population achieves dominant demographic status pull a Crimea?

    Ukraine voluntarily gave up its huge nuke stockpile in exchange for assurances that its territory would not be violated. Now, its territory has been violated. This sends a message to everyone else about the value of Western promises regarding no nukes. It's probably in US strategic interests for there to be fewer not more countries with nukes.

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren't Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn't you say?

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?

    The USSR and Russia are not synonymous. If you really are concerned about European civilization, you should be worried about helping Russia out of her long nightmare that was communism. Russia is a part of European civilization too.

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak. America went from being an undeniably European nation to being on the verge of having Europeans a minority in the nation they built. This is expected to happen in about 25 to 30 years, and there is really nothing at this point that can stop it. Western Europe in certain places is not even recognizable as being European anymore.

    I don’t understand it. If people are pro-European and European civilization, why can’t they see that the damage being done to them by their own traitorous elite is more threatening to everything they love than anything thing else out there. The Russians could have been incorporated into the European family twenty plus years ago, but that apparently was never in the cards. At this point, I’d like to have a pan European alliance from North America through Europe and all of Russia. Unfortunately, my North American homeland will probably not last in its present state, and my leaders are hell bent on alienating Russia.

    • Replies: @AP
    Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship towards Europe. It is more European than Mexico, but less than is Spain (which has also been on the margins of Europe somewhat). Remember Aleksander Blok's famous poem about his country?

    You are but millions. Our unnumbered nations
    Are as the sands upon the sounding shore.
    We are the Scythians! We are the slit-eyed Asians!
    Try to wage war with us—you’ll try no more!

    You’ve had whole centuries. We—a single hour.
    Like serfs obedient to their feudal lord,
    We’ve held the shield between two hostile powers—
    Old Europe and the barbarous Mongol horde.

    Your ancient forge has hammered down the ages,
    Drowning the distant avalanche’s roar.
    Messina, Lisbon—these, you thought, were pages
    In some strange book of legendary lore.

    Full centuries long you’ve watched our Eastern lands,
    Fished for our pearls and bartered them for grain;
    Made mockery of us, while you laid your plans
    And oiled your cannon for the great campaign.

    The hour has come. Doom wheels on beating wing.
    Each day augments the old outrageous score.
    Soon not a trace of dead nor living thing
    Shall stand where once your Paestums flowered before.

    O Ancient World, before your culture dies,
    Whilst failing life within you breathes and sinks,
    Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,
    And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.

    That Sphinx is Russia. Grieving and exulting,
    And weeping black and bloody tears enough,
    She stares at you, adoring and insulting,
    With love that turns to hate, and hate—to love.

    Yes, love! For you of Western lands and birth
    No longer know the love our blood enjoys.
    You have forgoten there’s a love on Earth
    That burns like fire and, like all fire, destroys.

    We love cold Science passionately pursued;
    The visionary fire of inspiration;
    The salt of Gallic wit, so subtly shrewd,
    And the grim genius of th German nation.

    We know the hell of a Parisian street,
    And Venice, cool in water and in stone;
    The scent of lemons in the southern heat;
    The fuming piles of soot-begrimed Cologne.

    We love raw flesh, its color and its stench.
    We love to taste it in our hungry maws.
    Are we to blame then, if your ribs should crunch,
    Fragile between our massive, gentle paws?

    We know just how to play the cruel game
    Of breaking in the most rebellious steeds;
    And stubborn captive maids we also tame
    And subjugate, to gratify our needs…

    Come join us, then! Leave war and war’s alarms,
    And grasp the hand of peace and amity.
    While still there’s time, Comrades, lay down your arms!
    Let us unite in true fraternity!

    But if you spurn us, then we shall not mourn.
    We too can reckon perfidy no crime,
    And countless generations yet unborn
    Shall curse your memory till the end of time.

    We shall abandon Europe and her charm.
    We shall resort to Scythian craft and guile.
    Swift to the woods and forests we shall swarm,
    And then look back, and smile our slit-eyed smile.

    Away to the Urals, all! Quick, leave the land,
    And clear the field for trial by blood and sword,
    Where steel machines that have no soul must stand
    And face the fury of the Mongol horde.

    But we ourselves, henceforth, we shall not serve
    As henchmen holding up the trusty shield.
    We’ll keep our distance and, slit-eyed, observe
    The deadly conflict raging on the field.

    We shall not stir, even though the frenzied Huns
    Plunder the corpses of the slain in battle, drive
    Their cattle into shrines, burn cities down,
    And roast their white-skinned fellow men alive.

    O ancient World, arise! For the last time
    We call you to the ritual feast and fire
    Of peace and brotherhood! For the last time
    O hear the summons of the barbarian lyre!

    Ukraine, in contrast, is much more unambiguously European. Russians conveniently forget that central Ukraine was part of Lithuania, Poland or Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia (southern Ukraine was settled later but its settler were mostly central Ukrainians moving south).

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak.
     
    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn't be as outnumbered by liberal "post-European" societies.
  126. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @AP

    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.
     
    Maybe...or, more likely, everyone would look like a "miracle-maker" in comparison to his predecessors.

    Maybe…or, more likely, everyone would look like a “miracle-maker” in comparison to his predecessors.

    His predecessors went through a depression in natural resource pricing. Putin’s tenure coincided with a rise in oil from the low $20′s to a peak of almost $140. Other natural resource prices (including natural gas) were rising in tandem, mainly because of breakneck Chinese economic growth. Now that commodity prices are tanking, they will take the Russian economy with it. Of the following major Russian exports in 2013, almost half are now priced at multi-year lows:

    Highest Value Russian Export Products

    Below are the 20 highest value export products shipped from Russia in 2013. Shown within brackets is the 6-digit harmonized tariff system code for each item.

    Crude petroleum oils: US$173,668,305,000 (HTS code 270900)
    Other petroleum oils: $91,529,091,000 (271019)
    Light petroleum oils and preparations: $17,638,522,000 (271012)
    Non-agglomerated coal: $10,599,688,000 (270112)
    Non-monetary gold: $5,573,311,000 (710812)
    Natural gas (liquid state): $5,510,958,000 (271111)
    Non-industrial diamonds: $4,105,401,000 (710231)
    Unfinished aluminum (unalloyed): $4,075,812,000 (760110)
    Semi-finished iron and steel products: $4,036,796,000 (720712)
    Unfinished nickel (unalloyed): $3,509,001,000 (750210)
    Softwood lumber: $3,503,258,000 (440710)
    Wheat and meslin: $3,469,064,000 (100199)
    Copper wire: $2,932,953,000 (740811)
    Packaged potassium chloride: $2,137,881,000 (310420)
    Unfinished aluminum (alloyed): $2,117,504,000 (760120)
    Urea in large packages: $1,733,433,000 (310210)
    Fertilizer in smaller packages: $1,731,833,000 (310520)
    Anhydrous ammonia: $1,581,047,000 (281410)
    Turbo-jets: $1,575,745,000 (841112)
    Unfinished copper cathodes: $1,554,128,000 (740311)

    Bottom line is that Russia did better than Ukraine because it had a lot more natural resources to export, and export prices went to the moon during his reign.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.
  127. @Anon

    Maybe…or, more likely, everyone would look like a “miracle-maker” in comparison to his predecessors.
     
    His predecessors went through a depression in natural resource pricing. Putin's tenure coincided with a rise in oil from the low $20's to a peak of almost $140. Other natural resource prices (including natural gas) were rising in tandem, mainly because of breakneck Chinese economic growth. Now that commodity prices are tanking, they will take the Russian economy with it. Of the following major Russian exports in 2013, almost half are now priced at multi-year lows:

    Highest Value Russian Export Products

    Below are the 20 highest value export products shipped from Russia in 2013. Shown within brackets is the 6-digit harmonized tariff system code for each item.

    Crude petroleum oils: US$173,668,305,000 (HTS code 270900)
    Other petroleum oils: $91,529,091,000 (271019)
    Light petroleum oils and preparations: $17,638,522,000 (271012)
    Non-agglomerated coal: $10,599,688,000 (270112)
    Non-monetary gold: $5,573,311,000 (710812)
    Natural gas (liquid state): $5,510,958,000 (271111)
    Non-industrial diamonds: $4,105,401,000 (710231)
    Unfinished aluminum (unalloyed): $4,075,812,000 (760110)
    Semi-finished iron and steel products: $4,036,796,000 (720712)
    Unfinished nickel (unalloyed): $3,509,001,000 (750210)
    Softwood lumber: $3,503,258,000 (440710)
    Wheat and meslin: $3,469,064,000 (100199)
    Copper wire: $2,932,953,000 (740811)
    Packaged potassium chloride: $2,137,881,000 (310420)
    Unfinished aluminum (alloyed): $2,117,504,000 (760120)
    Urea in large packages: $1,733,433,000 (310210)
    Fertilizer in smaller packages: $1,731,833,000 (310520)
    Anhydrous ammonia: $1,581,047,000 (281410)
    Turbo-jets: $1,575,745,000 (841112)
    Unfinished copper cathodes: $1,554,128,000 (740311)

     

    Bottom line is that Russia did better than Ukraine because it had a lot more natural resources to export, and export prices went to the moon during his reign.

    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.

    • Replies: @Anon

    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.
     
    Norway's oil and gas exports amounted to $75b around 2012, about 15% of its GDP. Apart from oil and gas exports, Norway's economy is pretty similar to Sweden's, except Norway's a little more backward. Yet Norway had a GDP per capita roughly 2x Sweden's. That suggests an oil and gas multiplier effect of rough 3x the export value, i.e without O&G exports, Norway's GDP would be half of what it is. Oil and gas exports are also 15% of Russia's GDP. Take out O&G exports, and it's possible that Russia's GDP falls in half ($7K), to within shouting distance of Ukraine's ($4K). Even then, Russia has a bunch of other raw materials across its massive expanse Ukraine can only dream of producing, let alone exporting. Note that Russia doesn't just benefit from exporting 6m bpd - it also benefits from the surplus from the 4m bpd it produces and consumes locally.
    , @Anon
    Note also that Russian production costs (mid to high single digits) per barrel are lower than Norway's offshore oil, which are estimated to be in the mid-30s's to 40's. Which means that the Russian GDP multiplier for O&G production is probably significantly larger than Norway's.
    , @The most deplorable one
    Vox Day points out in Shots Across the Bow that reality might just have changed.

    Russia has advantages that Venezuela never had, including a bunch of white people who can work hard and who have a history of doing amazing things (like putting a man in orbit--sure, he died on reentry, coming up with a revolutionary tank, the T34, before anyone else, and some surprising things with jet aircraft, like the Mig 15) and those things happened under the spirit sapping aegis of Communism. I rather suspect that they will do more surprising things now that they have largely been freed from that peculiar institution (reference intended.)
  128. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.

    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.

    Norway’s oil and gas exports amounted to $75b around 2012, about 15% of its GDP. Apart from oil and gas exports, Norway’s economy is pretty similar to Sweden’s, except Norway’s a little more backward. Yet Norway had a GDP per capita roughly 2x Sweden’s. That suggests an oil and gas multiplier effect of rough 3x the export value, i.e without O&G exports, Norway’s GDP would be half of what it is. Oil and gas exports are also 15% of Russia’s GDP. Take out O&G exports, and it’s possible that Russia’s GDP falls in half ($7K), to within shouting distance of Ukraine’s ($4K). Even then, Russia has a bunch of other raw materials across its massive expanse Ukraine can only dream of producing, let alone exporting. Note that Russia doesn’t just benefit from exporting 6m bpd – it also benefits from the surplus from the 4m bpd it produces and consumes locally.

  129. @Steve Sailer
    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.

    Note also that Russian production costs (mid to high single digits) per barrel are lower than Norway’s offshore oil, which are estimated to be in the mid-30s’s to 40′s. Which means that the Russian GDP multiplier for O&G production is probably significantly larger than Norway’s.

  130. @AlexT
    Unfair comparison in my opinion. Also, all this talk about Putin not taking Russia to the economic heights of China doesn't take into account that Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch. I think he wants a system similar to China's, with KGB guys replacing each other every 12 years or so. I'm betting he'll pull it off. The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia's situation when he took over.

    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.

    Can you name one? Seriously. Can you actually point to a tangible sign of progress in Russia since 2000 that is not simply connected to spending money generated from resource extraction? By the same standard Hugo Chavez was generating “miracles” for a while in Venezuela.

    I have no doubt that Putin sincerely thinks he’s a patriot, I think the guy is simply an incompetent Soviet apparatchik who has no idea how to bring Russia into the modern world.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
    Yes, Russia has experienced the strongest gains in productivity in Europe, in the non O&G sector, in the past ten years. See car production for example. Having lived there for two years I find the stereotypes to be very wrong.
  131. @Oscar Peterson
    "The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan’s personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it."

    Not sure what you point was here.

    Agree that states act to preserve OR expand their power. But obviously the USSR failed in thid essential function during the period 1989-91 and during the ensuing decade. When a nation state enters a period of fragility and vulnerability, the presence or absence of dynamic leadership is vital. Do you disagree?

    Germany after WW1 was more powerful because the Weimar constitution was designed to and did give it a unified national government for the first time. And there was a youth bulge. So Germany had a good basis for policies of expansion for a limited time , and they got an expansionist leader:Hitler.

    The head of the Soviet general staff Nikolai Ogarkov was sacked for complaining the the Soviet economy could not produce weapons that would enable it to successfully defend itself in a future war against the US. Then Russia began to reform its society. Basically Russia reformed itself to be stronger. When it was strong enough to successfully defend its position, by which time it was being announced that Georgia and Ukraine were going to join NATO, the leader came to the fore with a push back policy. But he was just articulating a national consensus. Putin, like any other Russian leader, can’t go against that consensus.

    It is really stupid to think that Putin is motivated by something unlike what motivates a US leader whose proxies and special forces are slaughtering uppity peasants and Jesuits in the US back yard.

  132. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @colm
    Poland can modernize its army till kingdom come but can it take out Belarus?

    poland is not poland for nothing.

    Poland fought the USSR to a draw in 1920. It did about as well against Germany in 1939 as did France or Britain. Why would it struggle with Belarus, if it came to that (which, of course, it wouldn’t)? Do you believe the fairytales about Polish cavalry attacking tanks?

  133. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @iSteveFan

    Also, expansion of Euro-civilization (of which America is a part) is good for all of Euro-civilization. Would we had been better off if the entire Continent had been abandoned to Communism? Expansion of western political and social structures by taking in other Western peoples (not by imperialism and taking in non-Europeans) is good for the West. Western and Central Ukrainians aren’t Turks or Algerians, they are Westerners too, trying to return home. Furthermore, they are socially and politically conservative Westerners, like Poles. Their inclusion will make the West larger and more traditional. A good thing for traditionalist westerners everywhere, wouldn’t you say?
     
    The USSR and Russia are not synonymous. If you really are concerned about European civilization, you should be worried about helping Russia out of her long nightmare that was communism. Russia is a part of European civilization too.

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak. America went from being an undeniably European nation to being on the verge of having Europeans a minority in the nation they built. This is expected to happen in about 25 to 30 years, and there is really nothing at this point that can stop it. Western Europe in certain places is not even recognizable as being European anymore.

    I don't understand it. If people are pro-European and European civilization, why can't they see that the damage being done to them by their own traitorous elite is more threatening to everything they love than anything thing else out there. The Russians could have been incorporated into the European family twenty plus years ago, but that apparently was never in the cards. At this point, I'd like to have a pan European alliance from North America through Europe and all of Russia. Unfortunately, my North American homeland will probably not last in its present state, and my leaders are hell bent on alienating Russia.

    Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship towards Europe. It is more European than Mexico, but less than is Spain (which has also been on the margins of Europe somewhat). Remember Aleksander Blok’s famous poem about his country?

    You are but millions. Our unnumbered nations
    Are as the sands upon the sounding shore.
    We are the Scythians! We are the slit-eyed Asians!
    Try to wage war with us—you’ll try no more!

    You’ve had whole centuries. We—a single hour.
    Like serfs obedient to their feudal lord,
    We’ve held the shield between two hostile powers—
    Old Europe and the barbarous Mongol horde.

    Your ancient forge has hammered down the ages,
    Drowning the distant avalanche’s roar.
    Messina, Lisbon—these, you thought, were pages
    In some strange book of legendary lore.

    Full centuries long you’ve watched our Eastern lands,
    Fished for our pearls and bartered them for grain;
    Made mockery of us, while you laid your plans
    And oiled your cannon for the great campaign.

    The hour has come. Doom wheels on beating wing.
    Each day augments the old outrageous score.
    Soon not a trace of dead nor living thing
    Shall stand where once your Paestums flowered before.

    O Ancient World, before your culture dies,
    Whilst failing life within you breathes and sinks,
    Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,
    And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.

    That Sphinx is Russia. Grieving and exulting,
    And weeping black and bloody tears enough,
    She stares at you, adoring and insulting,
    With love that turns to hate, and hate—to love.

    Yes, love! For you of Western lands and birth
    No longer know the love our blood enjoys.
    You have forgoten there’s a love on Earth
    That burns like fire and, like all fire, destroys.

    We love cold Science passionately pursued;
    The visionary fire of inspiration;
    The salt of Gallic wit, so subtly shrewd,
    And the grim genius of th German nation.

    We know the hell of a Parisian street,
    And Venice, cool in water and in stone;
    The scent of lemons in the southern heat;
    The fuming piles of soot-begrimed Cologne.

    We love raw flesh, its color and its stench.
    We love to taste it in our hungry maws.
    Are we to blame then, if your ribs should crunch,
    Fragile between our massive, gentle paws?

    We know just how to play the cruel game
    Of breaking in the most rebellious steeds;
    And stubborn captive maids we also tame
    And subjugate, to gratify our needs…

    Come join us, then! Leave war and war’s alarms,
    And grasp the hand of peace and amity.
    While still there’s time, Comrades, lay down your arms!
    Let us unite in true fraternity!

    But if you spurn us, then we shall not mourn.
    We too can reckon perfidy no crime,
    And countless generations yet unborn
    Shall curse your memory till the end of time.

    We shall abandon Europe and her charm.
    We shall resort to Scythian craft and guile.
    Swift to the woods and forests we shall swarm,
    And then look back, and smile our slit-eyed smile.

    Away to the Urals, all! Quick, leave the land,
    And clear the field for trial by blood and sword,
    Where steel machines that have no soul must stand
    And face the fury of the Mongol horde.

    But we ourselves, henceforth, we shall not serve
    As henchmen holding up the trusty shield.
    We’ll keep our distance and, slit-eyed, observe
    The deadly conflict raging on the field.

    We shall not stir, even though the frenzied Huns
    Plunder the corpses of the slain in battle, drive
    Their cattle into shrines, burn cities down,
    And roast their white-skinned fellow men alive.

    O ancient World, arise! For the last time
    We call you to the ritual feast and fire
    Of peace and brotherhood! For the last time
    O hear the summons of the barbarian lyre!

    Ukraine, in contrast, is much more unambiguously European. Russians conveniently forget that central Ukraine was part of Lithuania, Poland or Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia (southern Ukraine was settled later but its settler were mostly central Ukrainians moving south).

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak.

    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn’t be as outnumbered by liberal “post-European” societies.

    • Replies: @iSteveFan

    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn’t be as outnumbered by liberal “post-European” societies.
     
    No, it would not. Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot. We can win elections, we can have "our" guy put "our" guy on the Supreme Court, and it amounts to almost nothing. We can't even stop an amnesty put forth by obama despite giving "our" guys control of both houses of Congress. And remember, conservatives are supposedly the rugged patriots who own all the guns. Yet, we are forever in retreat, and are now headed towards a full fledged rout as the left and our erstwhile corporate allies put the finishing touches on our population replacement.

    Ukraine is not going to do anything for the EU except suck more welfare and provide a place for a large chunk of her young population to emigrate. In fact joining the EU would probably exacerbate Ukraine's demographic problems. Ukraine is not going to band together with Poland to push conservative values. In fact it is Poland that is going to change to conform to the rest of EU.

    Poland will not be able to hold up to the relentless propaganda the media, corporate and other forces will push. If you don't think it is possible, I say look at what happened to America. To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine's best bet is to never join.
  134. @Sean
    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D'Aubuisson and Ríos Mont was nothing to do with Ronald Reagan's personality. See, states act to preserve their power, whoever is in charge, and that is all there is to it.

    The US Central American policy making use of characters like Blowtorch Bob D’Aubuisson and Rios Montt

    The United States cut off aid to Guatemala at the end of 1977 and it was not restored until the beginning of 1986. Efrain Rios Montt was sent packing in August of 1983. What was notable about the counter-insurgency in Guatemala was that it achieved its goals without any external assistance (and with an ocean of blood). As for d’Aubuisson, he was never an ally of the U.S. Embassy, was ever an irritant, and once concocted a plot to assassinate the U.S. Ambassador.

  135. @AlexT
    Unfair comparison in my opinion. Also, all this talk about Putin not taking Russia to the economic heights of China doesn't take into account that Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch. I think he wants a system similar to China's, with KGB guys replacing each other every 12 years or so. I'm betting he'll pull it off. The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia's situation when he took over.

    Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch.

    The Congo is a failed state. Russia was suffering from an economic Depression and a great deal of street crime.

    • Replies: @The most deplorable one
    You can read a (now free) Mil SciFi book by Tom Kratman called A Desert Called Peace that looks at some similar issues to those over the last few decades etc.

    In my view, the whole series is worth a read, and the first one is now free.

    In addition, Caliphate explores, it seems, the concept that Demography is Destiny, and it too is free.
    , @reiner Tor
    And a bunch of provinces that didn't pay taxes to the central government, with some of these provinces declaring themselves to be independent (excluding Chechnya the most notable example was Tatarstan, but there were declarations of independence in places like Yakutia), and a government that was incapable of paying wages for its employees (including soldiers and military officers), which led to the awkward situation in Tatarstan that the Tatar government (which didn't pay the taxes to Moscow) paid salaries to military units stationed in Tatarstan. This led to the situation where these soldiers couldn't have been used to suppress Tatar independence even if the federal government had wanted to. And then there was Chechnya (and some other parts of the Caucasus, like Dagestan).

    Maybe Russia wasn't a failed state in the sense the Congo is, but it was probably closer to being one than Mexico is.
  136. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Hugo Chavez had a good run in Venezuela pretty much simultaneous with Putin. Chavez had the good sense to die before the oil boom was over, however.

    Vox Day points out in Shots Across the Bow that reality might just have changed.

    Russia has advantages that Venezuela never had, including a bunch of white people who can work hard and who have a history of doing amazing things (like putting a man in orbit–sure, he died on reentry, coming up with a revolutionary tank, the T34, before anyone else, and some surprising things with jet aircraft, like the Mig 15) and those things happened under the spirit sapping aegis of Communism. I rather suspect that they will do more surprising things now that they have largely been freed from that peculiar institution (reference intended.)

  137. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @Art Deco
    Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch.
    --
    The Congo is a failed state. Russia was suffering from an economic Depression and a great deal of street crime.

    You can read a (now free) Mil SciFi book by Tom Kratman called A Desert Called Peace that looks at some similar issues to those over the last few decades etc.

    In my view, the whole series is worth a read, and the first one is now free.

    In addition, Caliphate explores, it seems, the concept that Demography is Destiny, and it too is free.

    • Replies: @The most deplorable one
    While I am at it I should mention Amazon Legion, also by Kratman.

    It contains the most realistic treatment* of women in combat one can find, IMO.

    *Why you might want women in combat and what might happen to them.
  138. @Art Deco
    Putin started off with a failed state that he has had to rebuild from scratch.
    --
    The Congo is a failed state. Russia was suffering from an economic Depression and a great deal of street crime.

    And a bunch of provinces that didn’t pay taxes to the central government, with some of these provinces declaring themselves to be independent (excluding Chechnya the most notable example was Tatarstan, but there were declarations of independence in places like Yakutia), and a government that was incapable of paying wages for its employees (including soldiers and military officers), which led to the awkward situation in Tatarstan that the Tatar government (which didn’t pay the taxes to Moscow) paid salaries to military units stationed in Tatarstan. This led to the situation where these soldiers couldn’t have been used to suppress Tatar independence even if the federal government had wanted to. And then there was Chechnya (and some other parts of the Caucasus, like Dagestan).

    Maybe Russia wasn’t a failed state in the sense the Congo is, but it was probably closer to being one than Mexico is.

  139. @iSteveFan

    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century.
     
    Thanks for the personal view from a Hungarian perspective. I wish other non-Americans who speak English would do the same.

    From your list it appears Hungarians have more affinity for Catholic neighbors, than Orthodox. Is this correct?

    Also, when you mention you don't like Romanians, do you mean Gypsies, or actual Romanians?

    Finally, how do you feel towards Greece? They aren't Slavs, but they are Orthodox.

    Thanks

    I’m not sure if it has to do a lot with religion, because we dislike those of our neighbors who took the most Hungarian-populated areas from us in 1918 (and then again in 1944-45). This means first and foremost the Romanians, but also the Slovakians (“I’m older than Slovakia” is a popular slogan among soccer fans in Hungary, referring to the fact that with the exception of Tiso’s pro-Nazi puppet state there has never been an independent Slovakian state before 1992), and to a lesser extent the Serbs. (With the Serbs things are made worse by the fact that they massacred the most Hungarians, between 20 and 40 thousand in 1944. But the Slovakians and Romanians also had their share of atrocities. No doubt we Hungarians also committed atrocities against all of our neighbors, but being on the losing side meant we suffered more atrocities at their hands than vice versa.) The Romanian army also occupied Budapest after the collapse of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, and shall we say we’re not fond of the memory. Since you are American, you might want to know that we have much fonder memories of the then US military representative:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Hill_Bandholtz

    But still I guess culture matters a lot, and Serbs and Romanians seem more alien to us than Slovakians, and we usually rather envy than hate Austrians, in spite of the fact that most of our national heroes between 1526 and 1918 were fighting Habsburg rule, like Bocskai (1606), Bethlen (as prince of Transylvania 1613-29), Wesselényi and his co-conspirators (1667-70, mostly just an aristocratic conspiracy with very little actual fighting, but the participating aristocrats were all beheaded), Thököly (1678-85), Rákóczi (1703-11), Kossuth (1848-49), and many of our national poets (the most prominent among them being Petőfi, who died in 1849 at the battle of Segesvár fighting against Russian troops intervening on behalf of the Austrian emperor) were also opposed to Habsburg rule.

    Since you mentioned catholicism, it’s interesting to note that of the leading anti-Habsburg personalities mentioned, only Wesselényi and his aristocratic co-conspirators and Rákóczi were catholic, the rest were Calvinists. In Hungary the majority of the population converted to Calvinism by around 1600, and it was only reversed by the end of the 18th century. This is a reason why Hungarians’ attachment to catholicism is much weaker than Poles’ attachment.

  140. @AP
    Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship towards Europe. It is more European than Mexico, but less than is Spain (which has also been on the margins of Europe somewhat). Remember Aleksander Blok's famous poem about his country?

    You are but millions. Our unnumbered nations
    Are as the sands upon the sounding shore.
    We are the Scythians! We are the slit-eyed Asians!
    Try to wage war with us—you’ll try no more!

    You’ve had whole centuries. We—a single hour.
    Like serfs obedient to their feudal lord,
    We’ve held the shield between two hostile powers—
    Old Europe and the barbarous Mongol horde.

    Your ancient forge has hammered down the ages,
    Drowning the distant avalanche’s roar.
    Messina, Lisbon—these, you thought, were pages
    In some strange book of legendary lore.

    Full centuries long you’ve watched our Eastern lands,
    Fished for our pearls and bartered them for grain;
    Made mockery of us, while you laid your plans
    And oiled your cannon for the great campaign.

    The hour has come. Doom wheels on beating wing.
    Each day augments the old outrageous score.
    Soon not a trace of dead nor living thing
    Shall stand where once your Paestums flowered before.

    O Ancient World, before your culture dies,
    Whilst failing life within you breathes and sinks,
    Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,
    And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.

    That Sphinx is Russia. Grieving and exulting,
    And weeping black and bloody tears enough,
    She stares at you, adoring and insulting,
    With love that turns to hate, and hate—to love.

    Yes, love! For you of Western lands and birth
    No longer know the love our blood enjoys.
    You have forgoten there’s a love on Earth
    That burns like fire and, like all fire, destroys.

    We love cold Science passionately pursued;
    The visionary fire of inspiration;
    The salt of Gallic wit, so subtly shrewd,
    And the grim genius of th German nation.

    We know the hell of a Parisian street,
    And Venice, cool in water and in stone;
    The scent of lemons in the southern heat;
    The fuming piles of soot-begrimed Cologne.

    We love raw flesh, its color and its stench.
    We love to taste it in our hungry maws.
    Are we to blame then, if your ribs should crunch,
    Fragile between our massive, gentle paws?

    We know just how to play the cruel game
    Of breaking in the most rebellious steeds;
    And stubborn captive maids we also tame
    And subjugate, to gratify our needs…

    Come join us, then! Leave war and war’s alarms,
    And grasp the hand of peace and amity.
    While still there’s time, Comrades, lay down your arms!
    Let us unite in true fraternity!

    But if you spurn us, then we shall not mourn.
    We too can reckon perfidy no crime,
    And countless generations yet unborn
    Shall curse your memory till the end of time.

    We shall abandon Europe and her charm.
    We shall resort to Scythian craft and guile.
    Swift to the woods and forests we shall swarm,
    And then look back, and smile our slit-eyed smile.

    Away to the Urals, all! Quick, leave the land,
    And clear the field for trial by blood and sword,
    Where steel machines that have no soul must stand
    And face the fury of the Mongol horde.

    But we ourselves, henceforth, we shall not serve
    As henchmen holding up the trusty shield.
    We’ll keep our distance and, slit-eyed, observe
    The deadly conflict raging on the field.

    We shall not stir, even though the frenzied Huns
    Plunder the corpses of the slain in battle, drive
    Their cattle into shrines, burn cities down,
    And roast their white-skinned fellow men alive.

    O ancient World, arise! For the last time
    We call you to the ritual feast and fire
    Of peace and brotherhood! For the last time
    O hear the summons of the barbarian lyre!

    Ukraine, in contrast, is much more unambiguously European. Russians conveniently forget that central Ukraine was part of Lithuania, Poland or Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia (southern Ukraine was settled later but its settler were mostly central Ukrainians moving south).

    If you are really concerned about expanding Euro-civilization (of which America is a part), then you should be worried that Europe and America are becoming less and less European as we speak.
     
    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn't be as outnumbered by liberal "post-European" societies.

    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn’t be as outnumbered by liberal “post-European” societies.

    No, it would not. Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot. We can win elections, we can have “our” guy put “our” guy on the Supreme Court, and it amounts to almost nothing. We can’t even stop an amnesty put forth by obama despite giving “our” guys control of both houses of Congress. And remember, conservatives are supposedly the rugged patriots who own all the guns. Yet, we are forever in retreat, and are now headed towards a full fledged rout as the left and our erstwhile corporate allies put the finishing touches on our population replacement.

    Ukraine is not going to do anything for the EU except suck more welfare and provide a place for a large chunk of her young population to emigrate. In fact joining the EU would probably exacerbate Ukraine’s demographic problems. Ukraine is not going to band together with Poland to push conservative values. In fact it is Poland that is going to change to conform to the rest of EU.

    Poland will not be able to hold up to the relentless propaganda the media, corporate and other forces will push. If you don’t think it is possible, I say look at what happened to America. To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.

    • Replies: @AP

    Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot.
     
    Eastern European conservatives are not like American ones. The culture there is not preoccupied with PC, and there isn't really much of a guilt complex - rather a self-righteous victim complex, which tends to stiffen resistance.

    Also, keep in mind that Russia is much more rotten culturally than the West,* so abandoning these areas to Russia is much worse than doing so with the West.

    To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.
     
    Leave EU to...join Russia? See the footnote below. Russia is a bad influence.

    The best alternative is to expand the zone of conservative central-eastern European countries so that they form their own cultural zone; their cooperation has a greater likelihood of retaining traditional values in Europe, than would be splitting these countries into decadent German and rotten Russian spheres of influence/decay.

    *Setting aside Russian PR about being conservative or Orthodox, the place has the highest abortion rate in the world, highest HIV and murder rates in the White world, well below average Church attendance, etc. etc. In terms of actual living, rather than Putin's rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans. Within Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbas is even worse than Russia itself. Whereas Galicia may be the most conservative place in Europe, other than Poland. Forcing western Ukraine to be subservient to decadent Russia or its eastern Ukrainian proxy is perverse.
  141. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @The most deplorable one
    You can read a (now free) Mil SciFi book by Tom Kratman called A Desert Called Peace that looks at some similar issues to those over the last few decades etc.

    In my view, the whole series is worth a read, and the first one is now free.

    In addition, Caliphate explores, it seems, the concept that Demography is Destiny, and it too is free.

    While I am at it I should mention Amazon Legion, also by Kratman.

    It contains the most realistic treatment* of women in combat one can find, IMO.

    *Why you might want women in combat and what might happen to them.

  142. @Anonymous

    The worst thing that could happen in a nuclear war is obliteration of you, your family with all of your descendants, your tribe, your country, everything.
     
    Yes. and that's why there will be no nuclear war over the Baltics, or over Crimea, much less over Ukraine.

    By the way I’m quite sure the US endgame here is to somehow topple Putin so that his successor would give up the Crimea.
     
    I doubt America cares about Crimea so much that it is designing a plot to topple Putin, merely to get Crimea back to Ukraine. Rather, it is punishing Russia (mildly) for violating international law and unilaterally annexing another country's territory.

    Why on Earth would they not believe that Ukraine is about the very existence of Russia?
     
    Well, why would they? Ukraine was part of Poland/Lithuania/Poland-Lithuania longer than it was part of Russia you know. I've lived in Russia, I visit regularly, etc. Russians have a strong sentimental attachment to Crimea; they don't really care about the rest of Ukraine. And no Russian is so desperate for Crimea that he would want a nuclear holocaust rather than to lose it. to think that Russia's leaders may have such crazy ideas is absurd. And to base foreign policy on such absurd fears is irresponsible.

    According to Levada, about 7% of Russians want a union between Russia and Ukraine:

    http://www.kiis.com.ua/?lang=eng&cat=reports&id=502&page=1&t=3

    The Russians feel that they let the West have East Germany, and then the West wanted the rest of the Warsaw Pact states. They gave up the Warsaw Pact states, and then they even gave up the other republics of the USSR, which nobody could have grabbed from them if they didn’t voluntarily let them go. They had hoped that such renunciation of all territorial conquest will earn them the trust and friendship of the West. They were disappointed. For example the West didn’t care for their concerns over Serbia, and actually probably crushed Serbia because it was the last remaining Russian ally west of the former USSR.

    The West also kept marching ever closer to their borders, having incorporated all of the former Warsaw Pact countries and the Baltic states. The West also keeps trying to subvert Russia (and of course the other ex-Soviet republics) from within via NGOs and similar methods. It is also well-known that during the Rape of Russia Western banks and government actively helped the looting. There have been consistent rumors of the West helping separatism inside of Russia. I don’t know if these rumors have any substance to them, but obviously Russians seem to believe it. The West also didn’t care for international law when it would have been beneficial to the Russians – for example when the Russians could have used their UN veto power to protect their allies. They were even spited by openly violating international law in recognizing the independence of Kosovo.

    In other words, the West seems to be marching on towards the Russian borders, and working to dismantle what’s left of Russia. The Russians think that if they don’t stop it at some point, they will eventually cease to exist as a civilization. They feel like the proverbial frog being boiled. I guess you are aware that real frogs do jump out of the water after it gets too hot. Same thing with Russia: they drew a line, and after that they decided to wage a war, or else – so their thinking goes – they’d have to face the same problem in a much worse situation. I.e. if they probably think that if they don’t stop the West in Ukraine, then they’ll have to face the same question over Belarus, or a constituent part of the Russian Federation, or Kazakhstan, or all of the above. So they decided to stop it.

    And believe, in such a situation they cannot back down – if they back down they’ll only signal lack of determination, which will invite the West to keep marching. Already their situation is very weak (they are weaker in soft methods, and they are weaker in the conventional military sense of the word), and they know that unless they show determination there’s no way they’ll stop NATO’s march to the east.

  143. @iSteveFan

    We Hungarians used to hate Russians when they were here, but the hatred has largely subsided over the past quarter century.
     
    Thanks for the personal view from a Hungarian perspective. I wish other non-Americans who speak English would do the same.

    From your list it appears Hungarians have more affinity for Catholic neighbors, than Orthodox. Is this correct?

    Also, when you mention you don't like Romanians, do you mean Gypsies, or actual Romanians?

    Finally, how do you feel towards Greece? They aren't Slavs, but they are Orthodox.

    Thanks

    Regarding Greece, Greece is too far away for us. I guess most Hungarians would have similar stereotypes of Greeks as most other Europeans. My guesses would be “lazy”, “friendly”, “warm”, “with a Mediterranean temperament”, and such similar things. But I rarely discuss Greece with my friends, it’s just my impression. Reading comments below Hungarian news sections on Greece usually bring up such stereotypes in commenters, most of whom have either never been to Greece, or spent most of their time there on the beach.

    Also, please be aware that I’m just one Hungarian, and I’m fallible, so maybe I misjudge the sentiment of my compatriots. Especially since I’ve lived in Western Europe for a decade now, even if I’m in close contact with my relatives and friends back home, and visit my country quite often, and I also read Hungarian news outlets (and their comment sections) quite regularly.

  144. http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/ronald-reagan-finance-genocide-guatemala/story?id=19179627

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/02/05/reagan_administration_archbishop_romero_pope_francis_roberto_d_aubuisson.html

    Rowland Evans and Robert Novak praised D’Aubuisson After D’Aubuisson entered politics in 1982, then-U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Deane R. Hinton called D’Aubuisson a “fine young Democrat,” later declaring him “an intelligent man” and a “dynamic leader.” Senator Jesse Helms was an unabashed supporter…Elliott Abrams, then assistant secretary of state for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, told a congressional committee that the former army major was not an extremist because one would have to be “involved in murder” to earn that designation.

    He was a shock jock with a difference the people he denounced on his radio show were usually murdered within the week. ARENA the party he founded became the party of government in the country.

  145. HA says:
    @Oscar Peterson
    "To the extent that Russia is poised for serious instability once he leaves, that is by his design."

    Well, considering that Russia was in a state of extreme instability before he assumed power from Yeltsin, I don't think we can ascribe the potential for post-Putin instability solely or even principally from his attempt to suppress opposition or anything else that he, himself, has done or not done.

    The US is seeking to perpetuate its unipolar global dominance. Putin is seeking to re-assert Russia's role as one of the three-five first-rank world powers. There is a conflict between these two aims, as there is a conflict between US goals and the goal of China's leadership in making China a strategic and economic peer of the US.

    These conflicts are the essential issue. The Russian state is weaker and more vulnerable to subversion and destabilization than the Chinese state, and the US understands this basic reality and seeks to exploit it. In connection with this construct, the bottom line, to analogize to the level of operations and theater strategy is: The Russians at Ulm and then the Chinese at Austerlitz.

    Reference your "Grozny's" point, this is true of all powerful and dynamic leaders. There are few of them, so one should naturally expect a reversion to the mean in the wake of any particular one of them.

    I do not see the limits you suggest to the efforts by "foreign powers" (read: the US) to oust Putin. Toadies et al cannot do what Putin has done and constitute an opportunity for the US, not a threat.

    “Reference your “Grozny’s” point, this is true of all powerful and dynamic leaders. There are few of them, so one should naturally expect a reversion to the mean in the wake of any particular one of them.”

    This is more than reversion to the mean. This is about wiping out viable political candidates, either by direct orders, by suggestions along the line of “who will rid me of this troublesome priest”, or else simply by setting up a climate where opposition is not tolerated (take your pick as to what got Nemtsov killed). He’s not as bad as the Ottomans and Byzantines who assassinated their relatives as a matter of routine, but the bench is much deeper in the West, and the situation has been exacerbated in the wake of Putin’s grip. Whatever those in Putin’s propaganda chorus are saying now, the timing of Khodorovsky’s arrest suggest the real crime was his attempt to become a political rival. Likewise, Tymoshenko almost certainly deserved some kind of prison term, but the timing of how Yanukovich (the Putin wannabe) went about prosecuting her make the real reason for her arrest apparent.

    “I do not see the limits you suggest to the efforts by “foreign powers” (read: the US) to oust Putin.”

    That depends on whether or not they see it in their long-term interest to have someone in power who is even more willing to roll out tanks and start wars, or else, is weak enough so that assassination or removal by his more gung-ho courtiers (or rivals, if you prefer) becomes a real possibility. For those who just want the Russian problem to go away, neither of those scenarios are attractive, and so they’re not keen to meet the new boss of Russia, as much as they dislike the old one. Those who favor conspiracy theories, and assume the West surreptitiously shoots down airliners and manipulates oil prices with hardly anything else on their mind that isn’t connected with getting the upper hand on Russia, will of course see the matter differently, and there are certainly plenty of those in this forum.

  146. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @iSteveFan

    Well, integrating conservative, European Ukraine to Europe would be a good thing, then. Poland wouldn’t be as outnumbered by liberal “post-European” societies.
     
    No, it would not. Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot. We can win elections, we can have "our" guy put "our" guy on the Supreme Court, and it amounts to almost nothing. We can't even stop an amnesty put forth by obama despite giving "our" guys control of both houses of Congress. And remember, conservatives are supposedly the rugged patriots who own all the guns. Yet, we are forever in retreat, and are now headed towards a full fledged rout as the left and our erstwhile corporate allies put the finishing touches on our population replacement.

    Ukraine is not going to do anything for the EU except suck more welfare and provide a place for a large chunk of her young population to emigrate. In fact joining the EU would probably exacerbate Ukraine's demographic problems. Ukraine is not going to band together with Poland to push conservative values. In fact it is Poland that is going to change to conform to the rest of EU.

    Poland will not be able to hold up to the relentless propaganda the media, corporate and other forces will push. If you don't think it is possible, I say look at what happened to America. To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine's best bet is to never join.

    Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot.

    Eastern European conservatives are not like American ones. The culture there is not preoccupied with PC, and there isn’t really much of a guilt complex – rather a self-righteous victim complex, which tends to stiffen resistance.

    Also, keep in mind that Russia is much more rotten culturally than the West,* so abandoning these areas to Russia is much worse than doing so with the West.

    To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.

    Leave EU to…join Russia? See the footnote below. Russia is a bad influence.

    The best alternative is to expand the zone of conservative central-eastern European countries so that they form their own cultural zone; their cooperation has a greater likelihood of retaining traditional values in Europe, than would be splitting these countries into decadent German and rotten Russian spheres of influence/decay.

    *Setting aside Russian PR about being conservative or Orthodox, the place has the highest abortion rate in the world, highest HIV and murder rates in the White world, well below average Church attendance, etc. etc. In terms of actual living, rather than Putin’s rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans. Within Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbas is even worse than Russia itself. Whereas Galicia may be the most conservative place in Europe, other than Poland. Forcing western Ukraine to be subservient to decadent Russia or its eastern Ukrainian proxy is perverse.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Here's a comparison: pre and post-Soviet Armenian Americans. Armenians who came to the U.S. before 1924 or who came via Beirut are mostly fine. Armenians who got here after growing up under the Soviet Union tend to be trouble. The Soviet Union was a school for bad behavior.
    , @Cicero
    The commenter doth protest too much.

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the 'true' Ukrainians: those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII with much gusto. If some posters here are blind to the flaws in Russian society, you and your cohorts seem oblivious to the relative merits of Russians and the flaws of the Galicians.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU. Either that or you are justifying statements made by the government in Kiev of 'cleansing' the Eastern Ukraine of Asiatic Moskals and reclaiming it for the Pure, Glorious Ukrainian nation. Either way your arguments are not being made in good faith, and certainly not for the good of the United States.

    I cannot see where Ukraine becoming part of the European Union will benefit them. The Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, and much of the former Yugoslavia continue to wither socially and demographically despite implementing Western-style economic reforms, and Poland has not been fully immune to it either. I don't see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the "Conservative" values of the Galicians or their literacy rates; Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe, and the educated Galicians won't be received any differently. They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe. Spain and Italy are being rapidly transformed, Romania is just beginning to receive it, and Lithuania is looking to import its own crop of skilled Indian workers to displace the native doctors and computer programmers it chased away:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31488046

    Give it twenty years and the Galicians can learn the joys of modern Diversity as well.

    On an aside note, Russia's and Ukraine's abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel. The high abortion rate in the Soviet Union was caused in part to idiotic policies introduced by the Communist Party going back to the 1920's that promoted the procedure as the first and often only legitimate means of birth control available to women, and this festered for decades.
    , @Hepp

    In terms of actual living, rather than Putin’s rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans.
     
    "Rhetoric" can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion. In the US, if a random college professor did the same he'd be hounded out of the job. I tend to have a much greater hope for a society that at least recognizes a problem, even if they don't live up to their standards, than one that sees liberalism as "progress."

    And Russia's trends are going in the right direction. According to Slate, not a bunch of Putin apologists by any means, "Though still low, Russia’s fertility rate of 1.7 children per women is higher than the EU average."

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/10/13/russia_birth_rate_did_vladimir_putin_really_boost_the_country_s_fertility.html

    To sum up, for conservatives isn't it better to support people who agree with you on the problem, whatever else their faults, rather than people who see you as enemies to be destroyed?
  147. @AP

    Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot.
     
    Eastern European conservatives are not like American ones. The culture there is not preoccupied with PC, and there isn't really much of a guilt complex - rather a self-righteous victim complex, which tends to stiffen resistance.

    Also, keep in mind that Russia is much more rotten culturally than the West,* so abandoning these areas to Russia is much worse than doing so with the West.

    To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.
     
    Leave EU to...join Russia? See the footnote below. Russia is a bad influence.

    The best alternative is to expand the zone of conservative central-eastern European countries so that they form their own cultural zone; their cooperation has a greater likelihood of retaining traditional values in Europe, than would be splitting these countries into decadent German and rotten Russian spheres of influence/decay.

    *Setting aside Russian PR about being conservative or Orthodox, the place has the highest abortion rate in the world, highest HIV and murder rates in the White world, well below average Church attendance, etc. etc. In terms of actual living, rather than Putin's rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans. Within Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbas is even worse than Russia itself. Whereas Galicia may be the most conservative place in Europe, other than Poland. Forcing western Ukraine to be subservient to decadent Russia or its eastern Ukrainian proxy is perverse.

    Here’s a comparison: pre and post-Soviet Armenian Americans. Armenians who came to the U.S. before 1924 or who came via Beirut are mostly fine. Armenians who got here after growing up under the Soviet Union tend to be trouble. The Soviet Union was a school for bad behavior.

    • Replies: @AP
    Exactly!

    To an eastern European, Western conservatives pointing to Russia as a conservative ally/mentor sounds like, to an American, a European who would point to African-American homophobia, love of gospel music and self-proclaimed Christianity as evidence of A-A deep conservatism. As a Finnish guy wrote here, "They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves."

    The solution to avoiding becoming Berkeley, isn't to join Detroit. Yet some Western conservatives want to force eastern Europe into the tender mercies of its version of Detroit.

    BTW, those of you lauding Putin on his foreign policy - how do you like his support for Mugabe?
  148. @AP

    Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot.
     
    Eastern European conservatives are not like American ones. The culture there is not preoccupied with PC, and there isn't really much of a guilt complex - rather a self-righteous victim complex, which tends to stiffen resistance.

    Also, keep in mind that Russia is much more rotten culturally than the West,* so abandoning these areas to Russia is much worse than doing so with the West.

    To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.
     
    Leave EU to...join Russia? See the footnote below. Russia is a bad influence.

    The best alternative is to expand the zone of conservative central-eastern European countries so that they form their own cultural zone; their cooperation has a greater likelihood of retaining traditional values in Europe, than would be splitting these countries into decadent German and rotten Russian spheres of influence/decay.

    *Setting aside Russian PR about being conservative or Orthodox, the place has the highest abortion rate in the world, highest HIV and murder rates in the White world, well below average Church attendance, etc. etc. In terms of actual living, rather than Putin's rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans. Within Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbas is even worse than Russia itself. Whereas Galicia may be the most conservative place in Europe, other than Poland. Forcing western Ukraine to be subservient to decadent Russia or its eastern Ukrainian proxy is perverse.

    The commenter doth protest too much.

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians: those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII with much gusto. If some posters here are blind to the flaws in Russian society, you and your cohorts seem oblivious to the relative merits of Russians and the flaws of the Galicians.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU. Either that or you are justifying statements made by the government in Kiev of ‘cleansing’ the Eastern Ukraine of Asiatic Moskals and reclaiming it for the Pure, Glorious Ukrainian nation. Either way your arguments are not being made in good faith, and certainly not for the good of the United States.

    I cannot see where Ukraine becoming part of the European Union will benefit them. The Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, and much of the former Yugoslavia continue to wither socially and demographically despite implementing Western-style economic reforms, and Poland has not been fully immune to it either. I don’t see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the “Conservative” values of the Galicians or their literacy rates; Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe, and the educated Galicians won’t be received any differently. They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe. Spain and Italy are being rapidly transformed, Romania is just beginning to receive it, and Lithuania is looking to import its own crop of skilled Indian workers to displace the native doctors and computer programmers it chased away:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31488046

    Give it twenty years and the Galicians can learn the joys of modern Diversity as well.

    On an aside note, Russia’s and Ukraine’s abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel. The high abortion rate in the Soviet Union was caused in part to idiotic policies introduced by the Communist Party going back to the 1920′s that promoted the procedure as the first and often only legitimate means of birth control available to women, and this festered for decades.

    • Replies: @AP

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:
     
    I wasn't discussing inferiority, but morality. Russian high culture is second to none in the world. And my statements about morality are based on facts.

    those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII
     
    1. That was 65 years ago.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That's about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.

    3. Given that over half of Russians think Stalin was good, it's odd for a pro-Russian to complain about this.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU
     
    The best thing would be to assimilate the wayward people of Donbas with true Christian values. If that's impossible (and it seems so) then I agree - dump it.

    I don’t see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the “Conservative” values of the Galicians or their literacy rates;
     
    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.

    Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe
     
    Have you been to Poland? It's a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.

    They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe
     
    As of 2011, 98.6% of people in Poland are of European descent.

    On an aside note, Russia’s and Ukraine’s abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel.
     
    http://liveactionnews.org/the-abortion-ripple-effect-russias-tragic-abortion-tale/

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.
    , @HA
    "Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:..."

    Context is key. In contrast to what is regularly broadcast about the novorussians by the RT fan-club (on threads that have little or anything to do with Russia or Ukraine), there's been very little of anything positive said about Ukrainians at all here, other than claiming that what is happening now is clearly a violation of agreements signed in the wake of their denuclearization. Claiming that Putin is a thug does not mean that Ukraine is not still mired in Soviet-style corruption and dysfunction.

    We've had months of posts from those like Andrew, who are convinced that Ukrainians don't even exist (apparently, any group with insufficient listing in the 1910 Encyclopedia Brittanica, or something like that, loses the right to ever after be considered a people), that their language is just "pidgin Russian", etc., as well as others who claim that Ukrainians are just Jew-led fascists and Nuland puppets fighting against "real Christians" with manly/brotherhood/warrrior... (and other similar encomia piled on until it starts to look like thinly veiled homo-erotica). If you dispute that, you haven't been paying attention.

    So if you're just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you're a little late protesting, to the extent that you've tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is "but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists", or something similar, don't bother.
  149. @Peter Akuleyev
    The man has worked miracles if you take into account Russia’s situation when he took over.

    Can you name one? Seriously. Can you actually point to a tangible sign of progress in Russia since 2000 that is not simply connected to spending money generated from resource extraction? By the same standard Hugo Chavez was generating "miracles" for a while in Venezuela.

    I have no doubt that Putin sincerely thinks he's a patriot, I think the guy is simply an incompetent Soviet apparatchik who has no idea how to bring Russia into the modern world.

    Yes, Russia has experienced the strongest gains in productivity in Europe, in the non O&G sector, in the past ten years. See car production for example. Having lived there for two years I find the stereotypes to be very wrong.

  150. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Here's a comparison: pre and post-Soviet Armenian Americans. Armenians who came to the U.S. before 1924 or who came via Beirut are mostly fine. Armenians who got here after growing up under the Soviet Union tend to be trouble. The Soviet Union was a school for bad behavior.

    Exactly!

    To an eastern European, Western conservatives pointing to Russia as a conservative ally/mentor sounds like, to an American, a European who would point to African-American homophobia, love of gospel music and self-proclaimed Christianity as evidence of A-A deep conservatism. As a Finnish guy wrote here, “They’re blasting propaganda at us about their amazing conservative values while my neighborhood in Helsinki is teeming with Russian women prostituting themselves.”

    The solution to avoiding becoming Berkeley, isn’t to join Detroit. Yet some Western conservatives want to force eastern Europe into the tender mercies of its version of Detroit.

    BTW, those of you lauding Putin on his foreign policy – how do you like his support for Mugabe?

  151. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Cicero
    The commenter doth protest too much.

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the 'true' Ukrainians: those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII with much gusto. If some posters here are blind to the flaws in Russian society, you and your cohorts seem oblivious to the relative merits of Russians and the flaws of the Galicians.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU. Either that or you are justifying statements made by the government in Kiev of 'cleansing' the Eastern Ukraine of Asiatic Moskals and reclaiming it for the Pure, Glorious Ukrainian nation. Either way your arguments are not being made in good faith, and certainly not for the good of the United States.

    I cannot see where Ukraine becoming part of the European Union will benefit them. The Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, and much of the former Yugoslavia continue to wither socially and demographically despite implementing Western-style economic reforms, and Poland has not been fully immune to it either. I don't see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the "Conservative" values of the Galicians or their literacy rates; Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe, and the educated Galicians won't be received any differently. They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe. Spain and Italy are being rapidly transformed, Romania is just beginning to receive it, and Lithuania is looking to import its own crop of skilled Indian workers to displace the native doctors and computer programmers it chased away:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31488046

    Give it twenty years and the Galicians can learn the joys of modern Diversity as well.

    On an aside note, Russia's and Ukraine's abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel. The high abortion rate in the Soviet Union was caused in part to idiotic policies introduced by the Communist Party going back to the 1920's that promoted the procedure as the first and often only legitimate means of birth control available to women, and this festered for decades.

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:

    I wasn’t discussing inferiority, but morality. Russian high culture is second to none in the world. And my statements about morality are based on facts.

    those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII

    1. That was 65 years ago.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.

    3. Given that over half of Russians think Stalin was good, it’s odd for a pro-Russian to complain about this.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU

    The best thing would be to assimilate the wayward people of Donbas with true Christian values. If that’s impossible (and it seems so) then I agree – dump it.

    I don’t see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the “Conservative” values of the Galicians or their literacy rates;

    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.

    Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe

    Have you been to Poland? It’s a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.

    They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe

    As of 2011, 98.6% of people in Poland are of European descent.

    On an aside note, Russia’s and Ukraine’s abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel.

    http://liveactionnews.org/the-abortion-ripple-effect-russias-tragic-abortion-tale/

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.

    • Replies: @Cicero

    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.
     
    Who are these other conservatives? I don't see much traction for such views in current European politics, even with movements like PEGIDA attempting to emerge. It's always one form of the Left or the other that seems to gain the upper hand at the end of the day, and the people on the street go along with even if rather resignedly. Maybe behind their veneer of Old World farmer culture the Galicians are liberals too, but like the Spanish after the death of Franco are looking for an excuse to embrace these new values. So the Russians serve as an appropriate boogeyman, and a very effective one at that.

    Have you been to Poland? It’s a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.
     
    Mexico is not that poor of a country by global standards, like Russia it's a cautionary tale of what happens when a resource-rich and and relatively educated nation has a crappy civil culture. Not that it's a one-to-one comparison, but there are parallels.

    Poland is not poor, but it has an unemployment rate of over twelve percent and a TFR of 1.3. The former is still true after millions of young Poles traveled West for work and stayed there, and the latter happened because of the former. And they are being pushed ever closer to Western norms on social issues.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Godson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krystian_Legierski
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Maxwell_Itoya

    There are very few there now, but they are growing, and with Poland's EU membership there is nothing to stop the non-European population from continuing to grow. Poland wants to be part of Europe, and multiculturalism is part of that. I can't tell you when Poland will begin to really be impacted by it, or even if it will happen. But there is a very good chance it will happen, and one that grows greater as the other EU states rapidly fill up with migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq, the Maghreb, Western Africa, and Central Africa.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.
     
    Only 100,000? Wow, just a drop in the bucket! But the Galicians get an A for effort because they mostly used farming tools to hack up their victims. If they had industrial might comparable to the USA, I'm sure they would have firebombed the Poles simply for reasons of efficiency. But at the end of the day if we are going to agree that Stalin starving Ukrainians is bad, and Americans fire bombing the Germans and Japanese is bad, then the Galicians slaughtering Polish civilians is also bad. They had no special moral agency in that war, nor do they have one in 2015. Neither do the Russians in this case, their double standard about the importance of Crimea versus Donbas illustrates that. But the Galicians have to live with the fact that the Russians are their neighbors, and the American government sees the Ukraine as a cat's paw, and no amount of blind idealism and moral posturing is going to change that.

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.
     
    Statistics are a tricky game. That UN report from 2010 says the abortion rate is 37.4, but the below source says it was 19.13 in 2003.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Health/Abortions-per-1000

    The table I found from the UN said that Russia's abortion rate in 2004 was 53.7

    http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=GenderStat&f=inID%3a12

    And another says 68.4 in 2009. And far behind EU member Romania at that.

    http://top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=292947b6

    That's a massive discrepancy that can't be easily dismissed.

    Still most sources suggest that Russia's abortion rate has been dropping rapidly. If we trust the Russian government, they say that 1,012,399 abortions were performed in 2013, down from 2,138,800 in 2000 and 4,103,425 in 1990. Abortion is legal in Russia, so while activists claim the the number of illegal abortions push this total higher, I can't believe it's that much greater in total. Certainly the idea of more than one illegal abortion being performed for every legal abortion seems strange, but if someone can explain it I'm willing to listen.
  152. @AP

    Despite more people identifying as conservative in the USA than either moderate or liberal, conservative Americans have done next to nothing to prevent the spread of cultural rot.
     
    Eastern European conservatives are not like American ones. The culture there is not preoccupied with PC, and there isn't really much of a guilt complex - rather a self-righteous victim complex, which tends to stiffen resistance.

    Also, keep in mind that Russia is much more rotten culturally than the West,* so abandoning these areas to Russia is much worse than doing so with the West.

    To see how far America has changed socially in the past thirty years is just mind blowing. And that change was driven from the top down. Poland will never hold up to that. Her best bet is to leave the EU. And Ukraine’s best bet is to never join.
     
    Leave EU to...join Russia? See the footnote below. Russia is a bad influence.

    The best alternative is to expand the zone of conservative central-eastern European countries so that they form their own cultural zone; their cooperation has a greater likelihood of retaining traditional values in Europe, than would be splitting these countries into decadent German and rotten Russian spheres of influence/decay.

    *Setting aside Russian PR about being conservative or Orthodox, the place has the highest abortion rate in the world, highest HIV and murder rates in the White world, well below average Church attendance, etc. etc. In terms of actual living, rather than Putin's rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans. Within Ukraine, the pro-Russian Donbas is even worse than Russia itself. Whereas Galicia may be the most conservative place in Europe, other than Poland. Forcing western Ukraine to be subservient to decadent Russia or its eastern Ukrainian proxy is perverse.

    In terms of actual living, rather than Putin’s rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans.

    “Rhetoric” can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion. In the US, if a random college professor did the same he’d be hounded out of the job. I tend to have a much greater hope for a society that at least recognizes a problem, even if they don’t live up to their standards, than one that sees liberalism as “progress.”

    And Russia’s trends are going in the right direction. According to Slate, not a bunch of Putin apologists by any means, “Though still low, Russia’s fertility rate of 1.7 children per women is higher than the EU average.”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/10/13/russia_birth_rate_did_vladimir_putin_really_boost_the_country_s_fertility.html

    To sum up, for conservatives isn’t it better to support people who agree with you on the problem, whatever else their faults, rather than people who see you as enemies to be destroyed?

    • Replies: @AP

    “Rhetoric” can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion.
     
    Let me put it to you this way: one the one hand you have someone who talks about Jesus a lot, and disparages homosexuals, but has 4 kids with 4 baby mommas (or 4 abortions with four different women), doesn't really go to church, carries an STD, has an assault record, and binge drinks regularly.

    Is he your hero because he talks Jesus and isn't afraid to admit he hates gays?

    If so, Afro-America is your natural ally. Like Putin and Russia.

    Compare the guy above with someone who goes to church regularly, has no assault record, has no STDs, has kids with his wife, and drinks moderately. That's Russia's European enemies.

    In the US, if a random college professor did the same he’d be hounded out of the job.
     
    In Eastern Europe, it isn't Putin vs. liberal American university professors, it's Putin/Russia vs. Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics. See the analogy above for what this contrast is really like.

    you seem to be punishing genuinely conservative and decent European people, for the sins of some liberal American professors.

    And Russia’s trends are going in the right direction.
     
    And they're still abysmal. If the guy I described cuts down on the drinking and crack use, does he become a hero? Especially in comparison to his enemy who doesn't do these things in the first place?
  153. HA says:
    @Cicero
    The commenter doth protest too much.

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the 'true' Ukrainians: those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII with much gusto. If some posters here are blind to the flaws in Russian society, you and your cohorts seem oblivious to the relative merits of Russians and the flaws of the Galicians.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU. Either that or you are justifying statements made by the government in Kiev of 'cleansing' the Eastern Ukraine of Asiatic Moskals and reclaiming it for the Pure, Glorious Ukrainian nation. Either way your arguments are not being made in good faith, and certainly not for the good of the United States.

    I cannot see where Ukraine becoming part of the European Union will benefit them. The Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, and much of the former Yugoslavia continue to wither socially and demographically despite implementing Western-style economic reforms, and Poland has not been fully immune to it either. I don't see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the "Conservative" values of the Galicians or their literacy rates; Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe, and the educated Galicians won't be received any differently. They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe. Spain and Italy are being rapidly transformed, Romania is just beginning to receive it, and Lithuania is looking to import its own crop of skilled Indian workers to displace the native doctors and computer programmers it chased away:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31488046

    Give it twenty years and the Galicians can learn the joys of modern Diversity as well.

    On an aside note, Russia's and Ukraine's abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel. The high abortion rate in the Soviet Union was caused in part to idiotic policies introduced by the Communist Party going back to the 1920's that promoted the procedure as the first and often only legitimate means of birth control available to women, and this festered for decades.

    “Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:…”

    Context is key. In contrast to what is regularly broadcast about the novorussians by the RT fan-club (on threads that have little or anything to do with Russia or Ukraine), there’s been very little of anything positive said about Ukrainians at all here, other than claiming that what is happening now is clearly a violation of agreements signed in the wake of their denuclearization. Claiming that Putin is a thug does not mean that Ukraine is not still mired in Soviet-style corruption and dysfunction.

    We’ve had months of posts from those like Andrew, who are convinced that Ukrainians don’t even exist (apparently, any group with insufficient listing in the 1910 Encyclopedia Brittanica, or something like that, loses the right to ever after be considered a people), that their language is just “pidgin Russian”, etc., as well as others who claim that Ukrainians are just Jew-led fascists and Nuland puppets fighting against “real Christians” with manly/brotherhood/warrrior… (and other similar encomia piled on until it starts to look like thinly veiled homo-erotica). If you dispute that, you haven’t been paying attention.

    So if you’re just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you’re a little late protesting, to the extent that you’ve tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is “but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists”, or something similar, don’t bother.

    • Replies: @Cicero

    So if you’re just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you’re a little late protesting, to the extent that you’ve tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is “but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists”, or something similar, don’t bother.
     
    Convincing? Who am I trying to convince? I gave up that game years ago. People think what they want to think until they change their minds. You can put your cards on the table, and that's about it. What I can do is try to look at things as clearly as I can and give my thoughts on it. Take it or leave it, but don't put motives on it that aren't there.

    Besides, the people who deciding this thing are halfway around the world, shooting it out while we play keyboard warrior. You can scream to the high heavens about "Drunken Putin" this, or "Fascist Kiev" that; it won't be the deciding factor, so let's calm down.

    With that out of the way, I'll bring in a few voices from the past that had great clarity on the problem of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The Soviet scholar Dimitry Likhachov, a man considered one of the greatest experts on Russian culture and national identity ever to live said,

    "Over the course of the centuries following their division into two entities, Russia and Ukraine have formed not only a political but also a culturally dualistic unity. Russian culture is meaningless without Ukrainian, as Ukrainian is without Russian."

    Robert Gordon Latham, one of the greatest experts on ethnic studies in Victorian Britain and one who studied Russia extensively said,

    "A good deal more than I can either confirm or contradict has been said about their [Russia and Ukraine's] separate nationality. It lies I imagine much within the same limits as that of the English and the Scotch, Kiev being the Malorussian Edinburgh."

    I don't like the thought of two people who are essentially brothers duke it out while a crowd of strangers egg them on, which is what the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine reminds me of. To expand from Latham, it would be like the English and Scots killing each other right now over who owns Yorkshire. In the way the English and Scots reached an agreement over time to be united, I'd like to see that with Russia and Ukraine. It won't happen though as long as people like Poroshenko and Putin put their desire for power and their fragile egos on the line over good diplomacy and the greater good of their people. The Nuland and Brzezinski-types can also gladly piss off, since they are perfectly happy to create vast wastelands out of productive nations and claim it makes America safer while ignoring our problems at home.

    But again, I refer you to the top of my post. I'm not here to change your mind; I'm speaking my piece.

  154. @AP

    Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:
     
    I wasn't discussing inferiority, but morality. Russian high culture is second to none in the world. And my statements about morality are based on facts.

    those wonderful Galicians who gleefully massacred their Polish brethren during WWII
     
    1. That was 65 years ago.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That's about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.

    3. Given that over half of Russians think Stalin was good, it's odd for a pro-Russian to complain about this.

    By your logic, if Donbas is just a cesspool full of those inferior Russians you keep on yammering about, and the Galicians are such wonderful, superior, economically-productive yeoman farmers, then Ukraine should just sign over the Eastern territories over to Moscow and be free from that dead weight to take their rightful place among the EU
     
    The best thing would be to assimilate the wayward people of Donbas with true Christian values. If that's impossible (and it seems so) then I agree - dump it.

    I don’t see the Germans or the French giving a crap about the “Conservative” values of the Galicians or their literacy rates;
     
    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.

    Polish and Lithuanian graduate students are reduced to cleaning toilets and picking vegetables in Western Europe
     
    Have you been to Poland? It's a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.

    They will however be made to absorb the huge numbers of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African refugees that are continuing to inundate the Mediterranean coast of Europe
     
    As of 2011, 98.6% of people in Poland are of European descent.

    On an aside note, Russia’s and Ukraine’s abortion rates have both been dropping for the better part of a decade now, so you can stop quoting health statistics from 2002 as if they are still gospel.
     
    http://liveactionnews.org/the-abortion-ripple-effect-russias-tragic-abortion-tale/

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.

    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.

    Who are these other conservatives? I don’t see much traction for such views in current European politics, even with movements like PEGIDA attempting to emerge. It’s always one form of the Left or the other that seems to gain the upper hand at the end of the day, and the people on the street go along with even if rather resignedly. Maybe behind their veneer of Old World farmer culture the Galicians are liberals too, but like the Spanish after the death of Franco are looking for an excuse to embrace these new values. So the Russians serve as an appropriate boogeyman, and a very effective one at that.

    Have you been to Poland? It’s a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.

    Mexico is not that poor of a country by global standards, like Russia it’s a cautionary tale of what happens when a resource-rich and and relatively educated nation has a crappy civil culture. Not that it’s a one-to-one comparison, but there are parallels.

    Poland is not poor, but it has an unemployment rate of over twelve percent and a TFR of 1.3. The former is still true after millions of young Poles traveled West for work and stayed there, and the latter happened because of the former. And they are being pushed ever closer to Western norms on social issues.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Godson

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krystian_Legierski

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Maxwell_Itoya

    There are very few there now, but they are growing, and with Poland’s EU membership there is nothing to stop the non-European population from continuing to grow. Poland wants to be part of Europe, and multiculturalism is part of that. I can’t tell you when Poland will begin to really be impacted by it, or even if it will happen. But there is a very good chance it will happen, and one that grows greater as the other EU states rapidly fill up with migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq, the Maghreb, Western Africa, and Central Africa.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.

    Only 100,000? Wow, just a drop in the bucket! But the Galicians get an A for effort because they mostly used farming tools to hack up their victims. If they had industrial might comparable to the USA, I’m sure they would have firebombed the Poles simply for reasons of efficiency. But at the end of the day if we are going to agree that Stalin starving Ukrainians is bad, and Americans fire bombing the Germans and Japanese is bad, then the Galicians slaughtering Polish civilians is also bad. They had no special moral agency in that war, nor do they have one in 2015. Neither do the Russians in this case, their double standard about the importance of Crimea versus Donbas illustrates that. But the Galicians have to live with the fact that the Russians are their neighbors, and the American government sees the Ukraine as a cat’s paw, and no amount of blind idealism and moral posturing is going to change that.

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.

    Statistics are a tricky game. That UN report from 2010 says the abortion rate is 37.4, but the below source says it was 19.13 in 2003.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Health/Abortions-per-1000

    The table I found from the UN said that Russia’s abortion rate in 2004 was 53.7

    http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=GenderStat&f=inID%3a12

    And another says 68.4 in 2009. And far behind EU member Romania at that.

    http://top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=292947b6

    That’s a massive discrepancy that can’t be easily dismissed.

    Still most sources suggest that Russia’s abortion rate has been dropping rapidly. If we trust the Russian government, they say that 1,012,399 abortions were performed in 2013, down from 2,138,800 in 2000 and 4,103,425 in 1990. Abortion is legal in Russia, so while activists claim the the number of illegal abortions push this total higher, I can’t believe it’s that much greater in total. Certainly the idea of more than one illegal abortion being performed for every legal abortion seems strange, but if someone can explain it I’m willing to listen.

    • Replies: @AP

    "The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans."

    Who are these other conservatives? I don’t see much traction for such views in current European politics, even with movements like PEGIDA attempting to emerge.
     

    I was talking about Poland and other states between Germany and Russia (liberal Czech Republic is an exception). Ukraine is a European "red state" wanting to join the others.

    With Poland’s EU membership there is nothing to stop the non-European population from continuing to grow. Poland wants to be part of Europe, and multiculturalism is part of that. I can’t tell you when Poland will begin to really be impacted by it, or even if it will happen.
     
    Poland has been an EU member for years and it's still almost 99% European. Poles and other eastern Europeans are inoculated against Western self-hatred (based largely on guilt for past crimes) by their own history of having been victims more than perpetrators.

    "Total number of estimated victims of Ukrainian nationalists over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany."

    Only 100,000? Wow, just a drop in the bucket! But the Galicians get an A for effort because they mostly used farming tools to hack up their victims. If they had industrial might comparable to the USA, I’m sure they would have firebombed the Poles simply for reasons of efficiency. But at the end of the day if we are going to agree that Stalin starving Ukrainians is bad, and Americans fire bombing the Germans and Japanese is bad, then the Galicians slaughtering Polish civilians is also bad.
     

    Minor correction: most Polish victims were by Orthodox Volhynians rather than Galicians (both are western Ukrainians). I did not imply that this crime was justifiable - it was not. Murder of civilians is a crime. But place this in the context of the 20th century and you see that it was sadly typical behavior. Western Ukrainians committed their crime on their own territory (where they had been a majority population forever) in what they saw as a desperate attempt to get rid of those whom they saw as foreign colonizers. They didn't kill any civilians in places such as Warsaw (unlike, say, Chechens in Moscow, or IRA in London) despite having cells in those areas. They slaughtered depending on estimates, 60,000-100,000 Polish civilians in western Ukraine. Meanwhile, Germans did nothing to Americans, yet Americans incinerated 100,000s of German civilians. Probably two American bombing raids would have accounted for as many victims as all the Poles in western Ukraine. Germans and Soviets each slaughtered many millions, of course. Soviets probably killed more Poles than did western Ukrainians. Little Croatia murdered 100,000s of Serbs and gypsies. How many Jews did the Romanians kill? We can go later in time - how many Afghans did the Soviets kill? How many Vietnamese and Iraqis did Americans kill? What about Chechnya? Etc. etc.

    Western Ukrainian crimes - criminal and evil as they were - were fairly typical stuff for this bloody period in human history. All bad, but not equally bad.

    The table I found from the UN said that Russia’s abortion rate in 2004 was 53.7

    http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=GenderStat&f=inID%3a12

    And another says 68.4 in 2009. And far behind EU member Romania at that.

    http://top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=292947b6

    That’s a massive discrepancy that can’t be easily dismissed.

    These figures all confirm that Russia's abortion rate is atrocious. And it's similar for murder rate, HIV rate, etc. Russia is not a "conservative" country.

  155. @HA
    "Your post seems to go in a circle about how inferior Russians are to the ‘true’ Ukrainians:..."

    Context is key. In contrast to what is regularly broadcast about the novorussians by the RT fan-club (on threads that have little or anything to do with Russia or Ukraine), there's been very little of anything positive said about Ukrainians at all here, other than claiming that what is happening now is clearly a violation of agreements signed in the wake of their denuclearization. Claiming that Putin is a thug does not mean that Ukraine is not still mired in Soviet-style corruption and dysfunction.

    We've had months of posts from those like Andrew, who are convinced that Ukrainians don't even exist (apparently, any group with insufficient listing in the 1910 Encyclopedia Brittanica, or something like that, loses the right to ever after be considered a people), that their language is just "pidgin Russian", etc., as well as others who claim that Ukrainians are just Jew-led fascists and Nuland puppets fighting against "real Christians" with manly/brotherhood/warrrior... (and other similar encomia piled on until it starts to look like thinly veiled homo-erotica). If you dispute that, you haven't been paying attention.

    So if you're just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you're a little late protesting, to the extent that you've tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is "but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists", or something similar, don't bother.

    So if you’re just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you’re a little late protesting, to the extent that you’ve tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is “but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists”, or something similar, don’t bother.

    Convincing? Who am I trying to convince? I gave up that game years ago. People think what they want to think until they change their minds. You can put your cards on the table, and that’s about it. What I can do is try to look at things as clearly as I can and give my thoughts on it. Take it or leave it, but don’t put motives on it that aren’t there.

    Besides, the people who deciding this thing are halfway around the world, shooting it out while we play keyboard warrior. You can scream to the high heavens about “Drunken Putin” this, or “Fascist Kiev” that; it won’t be the deciding factor, so let’s calm down.

    With that out of the way, I’ll bring in a few voices from the past that had great clarity on the problem of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The Soviet scholar Dimitry Likhachov, a man considered one of the greatest experts on Russian culture and national identity ever to live said,

    “Over the course of the centuries following their division into two entities, Russia and Ukraine have formed not only a political but also a culturally dualistic unity. Russian culture is meaningless without Ukrainian, as Ukrainian is without Russian.”

    Robert Gordon Latham, one of the greatest experts on ethnic studies in Victorian Britain and one who studied Russia extensively said,

    “A good deal more than I can either confirm or contradict has been said about their [Russia and Ukraine's] separate nationality. It lies I imagine much within the same limits as that of the English and the Scotch, Kiev being the Malorussian Edinburgh.”

    I don’t like the thought of two people who are essentially brothers duke it out while a crowd of strangers egg them on, which is what the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine reminds me of. To expand from Latham, it would be like the English and Scots killing each other right now over who owns Yorkshire. In the way the English and Scots reached an agreement over time to be united, I’d like to see that with Russia and Ukraine. It won’t happen though as long as people like Poroshenko and Putin put their desire for power and their fragile egos on the line over good diplomacy and the greater good of their people. The Nuland and Brzezinski-types can also gladly piss off, since they are perfectly happy to create vast wastelands out of productive nations and claim it makes America safer while ignoring our problems at home.

    But again, I refer you to the top of my post. I’m not here to change your mind; I’m speaking my piece.

    • Replies: @AP

    With that out of the way, I’ll bring in a few voices from the past that had great clarity on the problem of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The Soviet scholar Dimitry Likhachov, a man considered one of the greatest experts on Russian culture and national identity ever to live said,
     
    With all due respect quoting a Soviet scholar, no matter how intelligent and thoughtful he is, about Russian-Ukrainian relations is a bit like quoting an Israeli scholar about the Palestinians, or a Polish one about the Germans, etc.

    In the way the English and Scots reached an agreement over time to be united,
     
    I'm no expert on English-Scottish relations, but it seems that Scots have voted to remain in the UK. Ukrainians never voted to remain in Russia and indeed have consistently voted to join Europe (while previous Ukrainian elections were close and sometimes pro-Russian people have won, the latter victories were exclusively due to the strength of the ethnic Russian vote; with the loss of Crimea this issue has been resolved forever). Forget historians' opinions and look at facts:

    Western Ukraine has been part of the West (as an independent kingdom with a Papal crown, as part of Poland, or as part of Austria) for its entire history until 1939. Central Ukraine was part of Poland, Lithuania or Poland-Lithuania for longer than it had been part of Russia. While an East Slavic language due to grammar structure, the Ukrainian vocabulary actually has more words in common with Polish than with Russian. Southern Ukraine was part of the Ottoman Empire until taken by Russia, but was mostly settled by central Ukrainians (see above). The natural home for Ukraine is within the West. Russian rule has always been unnatural, and hence the parade of Ukrainian historical "traitors" instability, etc.
  156. HA says:

    “What I can do is try to look at things as clearly as I can and give my thoughts on it. Take it or leave it, but don’t put motives on it that aren’t there.”

    Actions speak more to motives than words; in particular, the timing of those actions. You may think that your alternately yin/yang and pox-on-both-houses attitude arises from clear-eyed objectivity. However, throughout all the pro-Russian propaganda this site has been showered with since the start of this conflict and before, you happened to chime in against the almost solitary voice to the contrary. That itself indicates there is more motive in your comments than you give yourself credit for.

    • Replies: @Cicero
    You're hardly solitary, although you are in the minority. What it comes down to is you loudly denounce anyone who disagrees with you, and I suspect it's not done in good faith. Unlike Dr. Preobrazhensky above, who simply wanted me to explain my motives, and statements, you question my motives in of themselves. That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed.

    And what of my timing? I comment when I can. Speaking last does not equal duplicity. Does the man who blurts out the first thing on his mind have the most valid argument? That's applying General Forrest's tactic of "Getting there fastest with the mostest," to win a debate. Sadly, I think a lot people in this world would agree with that concept.

    Still, that you need to take the time to answer me is kind of flattering, it means you take the words I wrote seriously enough to challange them, lest others take them seriously. I must be doing something right.
  157. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Hepp

    In terms of actual living, rather than Putin’s rhetoric, Russians are much less conservative than Europeans.
     
    "Rhetoric" can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion. In the US, if a random college professor did the same he'd be hounded out of the job. I tend to have a much greater hope for a society that at least recognizes a problem, even if they don't live up to their standards, than one that sees liberalism as "progress."

    And Russia's trends are going in the right direction. According to Slate, not a bunch of Putin apologists by any means, "Though still low, Russia’s fertility rate of 1.7 children per women is higher than the EU average."

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/10/13/russia_birth_rate_did_vladimir_putin_really_boost_the_country_s_fertility.html

    To sum up, for conservatives isn't it better to support people who agree with you on the problem, whatever else their faults, rather than people who see you as enemies to be destroyed?

    “Rhetoric” can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion.

    Let me put it to you this way: one the one hand you have someone who talks about Jesus a lot, and disparages homosexuals, but has 4 kids with 4 baby mommas (or 4 abortions with four different women), doesn’t really go to church, carries an STD, has an assault record, and binge drinks regularly.

    Is he your hero because he talks Jesus and isn’t afraid to admit he hates gays?

    If so, Afro-America is your natural ally. Like Putin and Russia.

    Compare the guy above with someone who goes to church regularly, has no assault record, has no STDs, has kids with his wife, and drinks moderately. That’s Russia’s European enemies.

    In the US, if a random college professor did the same he’d be hounded out of the job.

    In Eastern Europe, it isn’t Putin vs. liberal American university professors, it’s Putin/Russia vs. Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics. See the analogy above for what this contrast is really like.

    you seem to be punishing genuinely conservative and decent European people, for the sins of some liberal American professors.

    And Russia’s trends are going in the right direction.

    And they’re still abysmal. If the guy I described cuts down on the drinking and crack use, does he become a hero? Especially in comparison to his enemy who doesn’t do these things in the first place?

    • Replies: @Hepp
    Well, you've given me a bit to think about. Certainly Eastern Europeans are better behaved than Russians, I just have the feeling that their leadership sees America and Western Europe as the ideal they should be moving towards.

    On the other hand, I'm sure Harvard humanities professors don't have assault records and are "conservative" and well-behaved in their daily lives. But because of the ideals they hold and their influence on society, they are the enemy of those wanting to bring sanity back to our society. The Russians may be the opposite: badly behaved themselves, but pushers of ideas that positive.

    I think a lot of conservatives like Putin because he at least acknowledges there's a problem in our culture. If you watch Fox News or CNN, you would think everything was perfect, and, although I'm not sure how to solve our problems, recognizing they exist is the first step.

    But as you can tell, I'm very conflicted about all this, and respect where you're coming from.
  158. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Cicero

    The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.
     
    Who are these other conservatives? I don't see much traction for such views in current European politics, even with movements like PEGIDA attempting to emerge. It's always one form of the Left or the other that seems to gain the upper hand at the end of the day, and the people on the street go along with even if rather resignedly. Maybe behind their veneer of Old World farmer culture the Galicians are liberals too, but like the Spanish after the death of Franco are looking for an excuse to embrace these new values. So the Russians serve as an appropriate boogeyman, and a very effective one at that.

    Have you been to Poland? It’s a prosperous, middle class sort of place. You make it seem like Mexico.
     
    Mexico is not that poor of a country by global standards, like Russia it's a cautionary tale of what happens when a resource-rich and and relatively educated nation has a crappy civil culture. Not that it's a one-to-one comparison, but there are parallels.

    Poland is not poor, but it has an unemployment rate of over twelve percent and a TFR of 1.3. The former is still true after millions of young Poles traveled West for work and stayed there, and the latter happened because of the former. And they are being pushed ever closer to Western norms on social issues.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Godson
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krystian_Legierski
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Maxwell_Itoya

    There are very few there now, but they are growing, and with Poland's EU membership there is nothing to stop the non-European population from continuing to grow. Poland wants to be part of Europe, and multiculturalism is part of that. I can't tell you when Poland will begin to really be impacted by it, or even if it will happen. But there is a very good chance it will happen, and one that grows greater as the other EU states rapidly fill up with migrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq, the Maghreb, Western Africa, and Central Africa.

    2. Perspective: Total number of estimated victims over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.
     
    Only 100,000? Wow, just a drop in the bucket! But the Galicians get an A for effort because they mostly used farming tools to hack up their victims. If they had industrial might comparable to the USA, I'm sure they would have firebombed the Poles simply for reasons of efficiency. But at the end of the day if we are going to agree that Stalin starving Ukrainians is bad, and Americans fire bombing the Germans and Japanese is bad, then the Galicians slaughtering Polish civilians is also bad. They had no special moral agency in that war, nor do they have one in 2015. Neither do the Russians in this case, their double standard about the importance of Crimea versus Donbas illustrates that. But the Galicians have to live with the fact that the Russians are their neighbors, and the American government sees the Ukraine as a cat's paw, and no amount of blind idealism and moral posturing is going to change that.

    In 2010, a United Nations report showed that the abortion rate in Russia was 37.4 abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years, the highest of any country represented in data collected by the UN.
     
    Statistics are a tricky game. That UN report from 2010 says the abortion rate is 37.4, but the below source says it was 19.13 in 2003.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Health/Abortions-per-1000

    The table I found from the UN said that Russia's abortion rate in 2004 was 53.7

    http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=GenderStat&f=inID%3a12

    And another says 68.4 in 2009. And far behind EU member Romania at that.

    http://top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=292947b6

    That's a massive discrepancy that can't be easily dismissed.

    Still most sources suggest that Russia's abortion rate has been dropping rapidly. If we trust the Russian government, they say that 1,012,399 abortions were performed in 2013, down from 2,138,800 in 2000 and 4,103,425 in 1990. Abortion is legal in Russia, so while activists claim the the number of illegal abortions push this total higher, I can't believe it's that much greater in total. Certainly the idea of more than one illegal abortion being performed for every legal abortion seems strange, but if someone can explain it I'm willing to listen.

    “The point is to create their own better world alongside other conservative Europeans.”

    Who are these other conservatives? I don’t see much traction for such views in current European politics, even with movements like PEGIDA attempting to emerge.

    I was talking about Poland and other states between Germany and Russia (liberal Czech Republic is an exception). Ukraine is a European “red state” wanting to join the others.

    With Poland’s EU membership there is nothing to stop the non-European population from continuing to grow. Poland wants to be part of Europe, and multiculturalism is part of that. I can’t tell you when Poland will begin to really be impacted by it, or even if it will happen.

    Poland has been an EU member for years and it’s still almost 99% European. Poles and other eastern Europeans are inoculated against Western self-hatred (based largely on guilt for past crimes) by their own history of having been victims more than perpetrators.

    “Total number of estimated victims of Ukrainian nationalists over three years was up to 100,000. That’s about as many civilians as were killed in 1-2 Allied bombing runs over Germany.”

    Only 100,000? Wow, just a drop in the bucket! But the Galicians get an A for effort because they mostly used farming tools to hack up their victims. If they had industrial might comparable to the USA, I’m sure they would have firebombed the Poles simply for reasons of efficiency. But at the end of the day if we are going to agree that Stalin starving Ukrainians is bad, and Americans fire bombing the Germans and Japanese is bad, then the Galicians slaughtering Polish civilians is also bad.

    Minor correction: most Polish victims were by Orthodox Volhynians rather than Galicians (both are western Ukrainians). I did not imply that this crime was justifiable – it was not. Murder of civilians is a crime. But place this in the context of the 20th century and you see that it was sadly typical behavior. Western Ukrainians committed their crime on their own territory (where they had been a majority population forever) in what they saw as a desperate attempt to get rid of those whom they saw as foreign colonizers. They didn’t kill any civilians in places such as Warsaw (unlike, say, Chechens in Moscow, or IRA in London) despite having cells in those areas. They slaughtered depending on estimates, 60,000-100,000 Polish civilians in western Ukraine. Meanwhile, Germans did nothing to Americans, yet Americans incinerated 100,000s of German civilians. Probably two American bombing raids would have accounted for as many victims as all the Poles in western Ukraine. Germans and Soviets each slaughtered many millions, of course. Soviets probably killed more Poles than did western Ukrainians. Little Croatia murdered 100,000s of Serbs and gypsies. How many Jews did the Romanians kill? We can go later in time – how many Afghans did the Soviets kill? How many Vietnamese and Iraqis did Americans kill? What about Chechnya? Etc. etc.

    Western Ukrainian crimes – criminal and evil as they were – were fairly typical stuff for this bloody period in human history. All bad, but not equally bad.

    The table I found from the UN said that Russia’s abortion rate in 2004 was 53.7

    http://data.un.org/Data.aspx?d=GenderStat&f=inID%3a12

    And another says 68.4 in 2009. And far behind EU member Romania at that.

    http://top5ofanything.com/index.php?h=292947b6

    That’s a massive discrepancy that can’t be easily dismissed.

    These figures all confirm that Russia’s abortion rate is atrocious. And it’s similar for murder rate, HIV rate, etc. Russia is not a “conservative” country.

  159. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Cicero

    So if you’re just interested in fair and unbiased analysis, you’re a little late protesting, to the extent that you’ve tipped your hand. Next time, try and chime in a little earlier, and you might be more convincing. And if your only excuse is “but the Ukrainians ARE just fascists”, or something similar, don’t bother.
     
    Convincing? Who am I trying to convince? I gave up that game years ago. People think what they want to think until they change their minds. You can put your cards on the table, and that's about it. What I can do is try to look at things as clearly as I can and give my thoughts on it. Take it or leave it, but don't put motives on it that aren't there.

    Besides, the people who deciding this thing are halfway around the world, shooting it out while we play keyboard warrior. You can scream to the high heavens about "Drunken Putin" this, or "Fascist Kiev" that; it won't be the deciding factor, so let's calm down.

    With that out of the way, I'll bring in a few voices from the past that had great clarity on the problem of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The Soviet scholar Dimitry Likhachov, a man considered one of the greatest experts on Russian culture and national identity ever to live said,

    "Over the course of the centuries following their division into two entities, Russia and Ukraine have formed not only a political but also a culturally dualistic unity. Russian culture is meaningless without Ukrainian, as Ukrainian is without Russian."

    Robert Gordon Latham, one of the greatest experts on ethnic studies in Victorian Britain and one who studied Russia extensively said,

    "A good deal more than I can either confirm or contradict has been said about their [Russia and Ukraine's] separate nationality. It lies I imagine much within the same limits as that of the English and the Scotch, Kiev being the Malorussian Edinburgh."

    I don't like the thought of two people who are essentially brothers duke it out while a crowd of strangers egg them on, which is what the current conflict in Eastern Ukraine reminds me of. To expand from Latham, it would be like the English and Scots killing each other right now over who owns Yorkshire. In the way the English and Scots reached an agreement over time to be united, I'd like to see that with Russia and Ukraine. It won't happen though as long as people like Poroshenko and Putin put their desire for power and their fragile egos on the line over good diplomacy and the greater good of their people. The Nuland and Brzezinski-types can also gladly piss off, since they are perfectly happy to create vast wastelands out of productive nations and claim it makes America safer while ignoring our problems at home.

    But again, I refer you to the top of my post. I'm not here to change your mind; I'm speaking my piece.

    With that out of the way, I’ll bring in a few voices from the past that had great clarity on the problem of Russo-Ukrainian relations. The Soviet scholar Dimitry Likhachov, a man considered one of the greatest experts on Russian culture and national identity ever to live said,

    With all due respect quoting a Soviet scholar, no matter how intelligent and thoughtful he is, about Russian-Ukrainian relations is a bit like quoting an Israeli scholar about the Palestinians, or a Polish one about the Germans, etc.

    In the way the English and Scots reached an agreement over time to be united,

    I’m no expert on English-Scottish relations, but it seems that Scots have voted to remain in the UK. Ukrainians never voted to remain in Russia and indeed have consistently voted to join Europe (while previous Ukrainian elections were close and sometimes pro-Russian people have won, the latter victories were exclusively due to the strength of the ethnic Russian vote; with the loss of Crimea this issue has been resolved forever). Forget historians’ opinions and look at facts:

    Western Ukraine has been part of the West (as an independent kingdom with a Papal crown, as part of Poland, or as part of Austria) for its entire history until 1939. Central Ukraine was part of Poland, Lithuania or Poland-Lithuania for longer than it had been part of Russia. While an East Slavic language due to grammar structure, the Ukrainian vocabulary actually has more words in common with Polish than with Russian. Southern Ukraine was part of the Ottoman Empire until taken by Russia, but was mostly settled by central Ukrainians (see above). The natural home for Ukraine is within the West. Russian rule has always been unnatural, and hence the parade of Ukrainian historical “traitors” instability, etc.

  160. @HA
    "What I can do is try to look at things as clearly as I can and give my thoughts on it. Take it or leave it, but don’t put motives on it that aren’t there."

    Actions speak more to motives than words; in particular, the timing of those actions. You may think that your alternately yin/yang and pox-on-both-houses attitude arises from clear-eyed objectivity. However, throughout all the pro-Russian propaganda this site has been showered with since the start of this conflict and before, you happened to chime in against the almost solitary voice to the contrary. That itself indicates there is more motive in your comments than you give yourself credit for.

    You’re hardly solitary, although you are in the minority. What it comes down to is you loudly denounce anyone who disagrees with you, and I suspect it’s not done in good faith. Unlike Dr. Preobrazhensky above, who simply wanted me to explain my motives, and statements, you question my motives in of themselves. That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed.

    And what of my timing? I comment when I can. Speaking last does not equal duplicity. Does the man who blurts out the first thing on his mind have the most valid argument? That’s applying General Forrest’s tactic of “Getting there fastest with the mostest,” to win a debate. Sadly, I think a lot people in this world would agree with that concept.

    Still, that you need to take the time to answer me is kind of flattering, it means you take the words I wrote seriously enough to challange them, lest others take them seriously. I must be doing something right.

    • Replies: @HA
    "That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed."

    Squash you? I think you're being paranoid. You're not the first to complain about bias in favor of Ukrainians while apparently seeing no problem whatsoever with the deluge of RT-suitable propaganda on the Christian conservative virtues of fine upstanding people like Putin and his supporters. So it seems just happened to pick this particular comment and moment in time to chip in your two cents? All right, then. You are free to keep that up as long as you please. The fact that I'm calling you on it hardly amounts to trying to squash you.

  161. @AP

    “Rhetoric” can be pretty important. Putin has denounced lower birth rates, ethnomasochism, and gender confusion.
     
    Let me put it to you this way: one the one hand you have someone who talks about Jesus a lot, and disparages homosexuals, but has 4 kids with 4 baby mommas (or 4 abortions with four different women), doesn't really go to church, carries an STD, has an assault record, and binge drinks regularly.

    Is he your hero because he talks Jesus and isn't afraid to admit he hates gays?

    If so, Afro-America is your natural ally. Like Putin and Russia.

    Compare the guy above with someone who goes to church regularly, has no assault record, has no STDs, has kids with his wife, and drinks moderately. That's Russia's European enemies.

    In the US, if a random college professor did the same he’d be hounded out of the job.
     
    In Eastern Europe, it isn't Putin vs. liberal American university professors, it's Putin/Russia vs. Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics. See the analogy above for what this contrast is really like.

    you seem to be punishing genuinely conservative and decent European people, for the sins of some liberal American professors.

    And Russia’s trends are going in the right direction.
     
    And they're still abysmal. If the guy I described cuts down on the drinking and crack use, does he become a hero? Especially in comparison to his enemy who doesn't do these things in the first place?

    Well, you’ve given me a bit to think about. Certainly Eastern Europeans are better behaved than Russians, I just have the feeling that their leadership sees America and Western Europe as the ideal they should be moving towards.

    On the other hand, I’m sure Harvard humanities professors don’t have assault records and are “conservative” and well-behaved in their daily lives. But because of the ideals they hold and their influence on society, they are the enemy of those wanting to bring sanity back to our society. The Russians may be the opposite: badly behaved themselves, but pushers of ideas that positive.

    I think a lot of conservatives like Putin because he at least acknowledges there’s a problem in our culture. If you watch Fox News or CNN, you would think everything was perfect, and, although I’m not sure how to solve our problems, recognizing they exist is the first step.

    But as you can tell, I’m very conflicted about all this, and respect where you’re coming from.

    • Replies: @AP
    Thanks for the respectful response. If I've been snarky, I apologize.

    Certainly Eastern Europeans are better behaved than Russians, I just have the feeling that their leadership sees America and Western Europe as the ideal they should be moving towards
     
    They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine's non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with "International Democratic Union" or the European Peoples' Party, which includes Germany's CDU or Britain's Tories. The main alternative is the far right. The type of radical young student extremists who in Berkeley might be Maoists, in Ukraine would be fascists or neo-Nazis. This is bad PR that Russia emphasizes all the time, but they are a minority. There is literally no center-left, not to mention left, party in modern Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine, of course, had a very strong Communist Party. This is pro-Putin Ukraine. The side some Western conservatives support!

    Similarly, both of Poland's two main parties are center-right (Poland's former communists, who are now pro-Russian, are down to about 5% support although their presidential candidate is a very nice-looking lady).

    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.


    On the other hand, I’m sure Harvard humanities professors don’t have assault records and are “conservative” and well-behaved in their daily lives.
     
    True. But they probably aren't church-goers and are probably pro-choice.

    Russia has a very beautiful old culture, that was wrecked by the Communists. It is trying to come back, and that is good, but it is still far behind its western neighbors in terms of day-to-day values and still spread toxic culture or debasement of those values. Placing normal eastern Europeans at the mercy of post-Soviet Russians and their proxies is a bit like forcing rural Americans (or for that matter urban people from places such as Utah) under the rule of corrupt Detroiters. It's just wrong.

  162. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Hepp
    Well, you've given me a bit to think about. Certainly Eastern Europeans are better behaved than Russians, I just have the feeling that their leadership sees America and Western Europe as the ideal they should be moving towards.

    On the other hand, I'm sure Harvard humanities professors don't have assault records and are "conservative" and well-behaved in their daily lives. But because of the ideals they hold and their influence on society, they are the enemy of those wanting to bring sanity back to our society. The Russians may be the opposite: badly behaved themselves, but pushers of ideas that positive.

    I think a lot of conservatives like Putin because he at least acknowledges there's a problem in our culture. If you watch Fox News or CNN, you would think everything was perfect, and, although I'm not sure how to solve our problems, recognizing they exist is the first step.

    But as you can tell, I'm very conflicted about all this, and respect where you're coming from.

    Thanks for the respectful response. If I’ve been snarky, I apologize.

    Certainly Eastern Europeans are better behaved than Russians, I just have the feeling that their leadership sees America and Western Europe as the ideal they should be moving towards

    They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories. The main alternative is the far right. The type of radical young student extremists who in Berkeley might be Maoists, in Ukraine would be fascists or neo-Nazis. This is bad PR that Russia emphasizes all the time, but they are a minority. There is literally no center-left, not to mention left, party in modern Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine, of course, had a very strong Communist Party. This is pro-Putin Ukraine. The side some Western conservatives support!

    Similarly, both of Poland’s two main parties are center-right (Poland’s former communists, who are now pro-Russian, are down to about 5% support although their presidential candidate is a very nice-looking lady).

    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.

    On the other hand, I’m sure Harvard humanities professors don’t have assault records and are “conservative” and well-behaved in their daily lives.

    True. But they probably aren’t church-goers and are probably pro-choice.

    Russia has a very beautiful old culture, that was wrecked by the Communists. It is trying to come back, and that is good, but it is still far behind its western neighbors in terms of day-to-day values and still spread toxic culture or debasement of those values. Placing normal eastern Europeans at the mercy of post-Soviet Russians and their proxies is a bit like forcing rural Americans (or for that matter urban people from places such as Utah) under the rule of corrupt Detroiters. It’s just wrong.

  163. HA says:
    @Cicero
    You're hardly solitary, although you are in the minority. What it comes down to is you loudly denounce anyone who disagrees with you, and I suspect it's not done in good faith. Unlike Dr. Preobrazhensky above, who simply wanted me to explain my motives, and statements, you question my motives in of themselves. That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed.

    And what of my timing? I comment when I can. Speaking last does not equal duplicity. Does the man who blurts out the first thing on his mind have the most valid argument? That's applying General Forrest's tactic of "Getting there fastest with the mostest," to win a debate. Sadly, I think a lot people in this world would agree with that concept.

    Still, that you need to take the time to answer me is kind of flattering, it means you take the words I wrote seriously enough to challange them, lest others take them seriously. I must be doing something right.

    “That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed.”

    Squash you? I think you’re being paranoid. You’re not the first to complain about bias in favor of Ukrainians while apparently seeing no problem whatsoever with the deluge of RT-suitable propaganda on the Christian conservative virtues of fine upstanding people like Putin and his supporters. So it seems just happened to pick this particular comment and moment in time to chip in your two cents? All right, then. You are free to keep that up as long as you please. The fact that I’m calling you on it hardly amounts to trying to squash you.

    • Replies: @Cicero
    I've never personally claimed Putin was a devout Christian, or a hero of Conservative values. I think he's a middlebrow technocrat who is offended he's not able to call the shots in international affairs the way an Obama or Xi can. Any positive feelings I had for him fell away after Crimea, not because he annexed it mind you, I could understand that from a security standpoint. He's perfectly happy to see tens of thousands of ethnic Russians die and millions of other be marginalized economically so that he can play his 'subtle' Eurasianist games. He so subtle he's going to turn his nation into a client state of the PRC within two decades or less if someone does not put the brakes on him. But I can also separate one man from a nation of 146 million people.

    The major issue is that if the US government had its way, it would crush the Russians and try to castrate them under the aegis of some crook that would make Yeltsin look like a towering figure of statesmanship. Our behavior enables Putin to maintain his grip, and our leaders reduce things to a binary choice that leads only to misery for all parties involved (Keith Gessen is implying as much in his article). So I give my support to the Russian people in the hope that they might puzzle a better solution out of it. I don't wish any ill on the Ukrainians either, but I will point out their leadership is every bit as bad as Putin, just in a way that Washington finds acceptable to its goals. Bad things will continue to happen until they owe up to that.

    And as an aside, RT is a joke. It's only marginally better than the National Inquirer on most issues. You can practically tell when someone down off the office got a call by how quickly they yank some story that does not fit their version of the narrative. They do have some great non-political documentaries on Russian culture and everyday life though, if you dig deep enough.

    Also, to another poster:

    They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories.

     


    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.
     
    Dr. Preobrazhensky, I don't think that's quite the complement you intended it be towards the Center-Right. It confirms to me that the so-called Conservatives movements in Poland and Ukraine are a bunch of neo-liberal dupes at the very best. Or to put it this way, how successful has Britain been at confronting its demographic and social issues under Cameron? Did Bush II usher in conservative values in the US during his two terms? Is Merkel more concerned about the rising number of asylum seekers coming in from Syria and other nations torn up by civil conflict, or the rising number of Germans objecting to those asylum seekers? You tell me, because as I am currently reading it, Poland and Ukraine are about 25 years behind those other countries in their downward trajectory, and lack any will to change that.
  164. @HA
    "That for me to write anything contrary to you is a threat that must be squashed."

    Squash you? I think you're being paranoid. You're not the first to complain about bias in favor of Ukrainians while apparently seeing no problem whatsoever with the deluge of RT-suitable propaganda on the Christian conservative virtues of fine upstanding people like Putin and his supporters. So it seems just happened to pick this particular comment and moment in time to chip in your two cents? All right, then. You are free to keep that up as long as you please. The fact that I'm calling you on it hardly amounts to trying to squash you.

    I’ve never personally claimed Putin was a devout Christian, or a hero of Conservative values. I think he’s a middlebrow technocrat who is offended he’s not able to call the shots in international affairs the way an Obama or Xi can. Any positive feelings I had for him fell away after Crimea, not because he annexed it mind you, I could understand that from a security standpoint. He’s perfectly happy to see tens of thousands of ethnic Russians die and millions of other be marginalized economically so that he can play his ‘subtle’ Eurasianist games. He so subtle he’s going to turn his nation into a client state of the PRC within two decades or less if someone does not put the brakes on him. But I can also separate one man from a nation of 146 million people.

    The major issue is that if the US government had its way, it would crush the Russians and try to castrate them under the aegis of some crook that would make Yeltsin look like a towering figure of statesmanship. Our behavior enables Putin to maintain his grip, and our leaders reduce things to a binary choice that leads only to misery for all parties involved (Keith Gessen is implying as much in his article). So I give my support to the Russian people in the hope that they might puzzle a better solution out of it. I don’t wish any ill on the Ukrainians either, but I will point out their leadership is every bit as bad as Putin, just in a way that Washington finds acceptable to its goals. Bad things will continue to happen until they owe up to that.

    And as an aside, RT is a joke. It’s only marginally better than the National Inquirer on most issues. You can practically tell when someone down off the office got a call by how quickly they yank some story that does not fit their version of the narrative. They do have some great non-political documentaries on Russian culture and everyday life though, if you dig deep enough.

    Also, to another poster:

    They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories.

    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.

    Dr. Preobrazhensky, I don’t think that’s quite the complement you intended it be towards the Center-Right. It confirms to me that the so-called Conservatives movements in Poland and Ukraine are a bunch of neo-liberal dupes at the very best. Or to put it this way, how successful has Britain been at confronting its demographic and social issues under Cameron? Did Bush II usher in conservative values in the US during his two terms? Is Merkel more concerned about the rising number of asylum seekers coming in from Syria and other nations torn up by civil conflict, or the rising number of Germans objecting to those asylum seekers? You tell me, because as I am currently reading it, Poland and Ukraine are about 25 years behind those other countries in their downward trajectory, and lack any will to change that.

    • Replies: @AP

    "They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories.

    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates."

    Dr. Preobrazhensky, I don’t think that’s quite the complement you intended it be towards the Center-Right. It confirms to me that the so-called Conservatives movements in Poland and Ukraine are a bunch of neo-liberal dupes at the very best. Or to put it this way, how successful has Britain been at confronting its demographic and social issues under Cameron? Did Bush II usher in conservative values in the US during his two terms? Is Merkel more concerned about the rising number of asylum seekers coming in from Syria and other nations torn up by civil conflict, or the rising number of Germans objecting to those asylum seekers? You tell me, because as I am currently reading it, Poland and Ukraine are about 25 years behind those other countries in their downward trajectory
     
    If the Euro Center Right had no pressure from the Left to deal with at all, would it be as bad?

    The other issue is a structural advantage: almost no people want asylum in Poland or Ukraine. Poland remains nearly 99% European. This is a near-permanent feature - Poland despite coming a long way economically is still much poorer than Germany and will be for at least a generation. Therefore, the 25-year countdown you mentioned above probably won't even start until Poland achieves near-parity with Germany economically - which may be never, or may be in 20-30 years.

    Why would an asylum-seeker or economic migrant choose Poland, a place where he has no community to help him settle and in which the income is much lower, rather than Germany, right next door, with higher incomes and with his own people already there to help him settle in (not to mention, many Turks etc,. study German, whereas Polish remains a little-known exotic language). So the Polish Center-Right parties have the luxury of not having to deal with the immigration issue.

    Let me remind you, btw, that under Putin's watch Russia was flooded with migrants from Central Asia. He also cut a deal with the Chechens, one side-effect of which is that Chechens are rarely arrested for crimes, or quickly released. Before Putin distracted the Russian people with the Ukraine war, there were actually anti-Putin protests and uprisings by Russian citizens outraged by their status as second-class citizens in their own country:

    http://rbth.com/society/2013/07/11/pugachev_murder_triggers_popular_unrest_over_governments_ethnic_polic_27981.html

    To summarize: Putin allowed Russia to get flooded by cheap Asian labor, he allowed the Chechens free reign, the Azeris to take control over Russia's markets, and in order to regain his popularity and shift the population's anger elsewhere, he grabbed Crimea and fomented a war in which thousands of European Christians have died.

    Never mind his rhetoric, the behavior is no better than that of any Western politician, even the pro-immigrant ones.
  165. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @Cicero
    I've never personally claimed Putin was a devout Christian, or a hero of Conservative values. I think he's a middlebrow technocrat who is offended he's not able to call the shots in international affairs the way an Obama or Xi can. Any positive feelings I had for him fell away after Crimea, not because he annexed it mind you, I could understand that from a security standpoint. He's perfectly happy to see tens of thousands of ethnic Russians die and millions of other be marginalized economically so that he can play his 'subtle' Eurasianist games. He so subtle he's going to turn his nation into a client state of the PRC within two decades or less if someone does not put the brakes on him. But I can also separate one man from a nation of 146 million people.

    The major issue is that if the US government had its way, it would crush the Russians and try to castrate them under the aegis of some crook that would make Yeltsin look like a towering figure of statesmanship. Our behavior enables Putin to maintain his grip, and our leaders reduce things to a binary choice that leads only to misery for all parties involved (Keith Gessen is implying as much in his article). So I give my support to the Russian people in the hope that they might puzzle a better solution out of it. I don't wish any ill on the Ukrainians either, but I will point out their leadership is every bit as bad as Putin, just in a way that Washington finds acceptable to its goals. Bad things will continue to happen until they owe up to that.

    And as an aside, RT is a joke. It's only marginally better than the National Inquirer on most issues. You can practically tell when someone down off the office got a call by how quickly they yank some story that does not fit their version of the narrative. They do have some great non-political documentaries on Russian culture and everyday life though, if you dig deep enough.

    Also, to another poster:

    They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories.

     


    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.
     
    Dr. Preobrazhensky, I don't think that's quite the complement you intended it be towards the Center-Right. It confirms to me that the so-called Conservatives movements in Poland and Ukraine are a bunch of neo-liberal dupes at the very best. Or to put it this way, how successful has Britain been at confronting its demographic and social issues under Cameron? Did Bush II usher in conservative values in the US during his two terms? Is Merkel more concerned about the rising number of asylum seekers coming in from Syria and other nations torn up by civil conflict, or the rising number of Germans objecting to those asylum seekers? You tell me, because as I am currently reading it, Poland and Ukraine are about 25 years behind those other countries in their downward trajectory, and lack any will to change that.

    “They have an affinity for Western European center-rightists. Ukraine’s non-pro-Russian parties, for example, despite competing against each other and infighting are all affiliated with “International Democratic Union” or the European Peoples’ Party, which includes Germany’s CDU or Britain’s Tories.

    If America were Ukraine or Poland, national elections would resemble Republican primaries in terms of the types of candidates.”

    Dr. Preobrazhensky, I don’t think that’s quite the complement you intended it be towards the Center-Right. It confirms to me that the so-called Conservatives movements in Poland and Ukraine are a bunch of neo-liberal dupes at the very best. Or to put it this way, how successful has Britain been at confronting its demographic and social issues under Cameron? Did Bush II usher in conservative values in the US during his two terms? Is Merkel more concerned about the rising number of asylum seekers coming in from Syria and other nations torn up by civil conflict, or the rising number of Germans objecting to those asylum seekers? You tell me, because as I am currently reading it, Poland and Ukraine are about 25 years behind those other countries in their downward trajectory

    If the Euro Center Right had no pressure from the Left to deal with at all, would it be as bad?

    The other issue is a structural advantage: almost no people want asylum in Poland or Ukraine. Poland remains nearly 99% European. This is a near-permanent feature – Poland despite coming a long way economically is still much poorer than Germany and will be for at least a generation. Therefore, the 25-year countdown you mentioned above probably won’t even start until Poland achieves near-parity with Germany economically – which may be never, or may be in 20-30 years.

    Why would an asylum-seeker or economic migrant choose Poland, a place where he has no community to help him settle and in which the income is much lower, rather than Germany, right next door, with higher incomes and with his own people already there to help him settle in (not to mention, many Turks etc,. study German, whereas Polish remains a little-known exotic language). So the Polish Center-Right parties have the luxury of not having to deal with the immigration issue.

    Let me remind you, btw, that under Putin’s watch Russia was flooded with migrants from Central Asia. He also cut a deal with the Chechens, one side-effect of which is that Chechens are rarely arrested for crimes, or quickly released. Before Putin distracted the Russian people with the Ukraine war, there were actually anti-Putin protests and uprisings by Russian citizens outraged by their status as second-class citizens in their own country:

    http://rbth.com/society/2013/07/11/pugachev_murder_triggers_popular_unrest_over_governments_ethnic_polic_27981.html

    To summarize: Putin allowed Russia to get flooded by cheap Asian labor, he allowed the Chechens free reign, the Azeris to take control over Russia’s markets, and in order to regain his popularity and shift the population’s anger elsewhere, he grabbed Crimea and fomented a war in which thousands of European Christians have died.

    Never mind his rhetoric, the behavior is no better than that of any Western politician, even the pro-immigrant ones.

  166. HA says:

    “I’ve never personally claimed Putin was a devout Christian, or a hero of Conservative values.”

    I never said or implied that you personally did — I was referring to fits of gushinglike this and this and this, all of which just slid right by you, and we get a couple of those a week on threads having no relation whatsoever to Putin or Ukraine.

    But as soon someone ventures to say something positive about the family values of Ukrainians, it is then that you’re engaged enough to respond. On a site that’s all about noticing things, well, you should expect that someone will pick up on that.

  167. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:

    Meanwhile in Western Ukraine…

    They are celebrating Bach by playing his music live on the city’s streetcars:

    http://tvoemisto.tv/news/u_lvivskyh_tramvayah_nazhyvo_grayut_muzyku_baha_69089.html

    Around Christmas they have live caroling with traditional Christmas music on the streetcars.

    That’s the kind of place Lviv is. Russia media just show some nationalistic cafes and portray it as a place of violent neo-Nazi thugs rampaging around.

    • Replies: @The most deplorable one
    How is that different from the MSM in the US which typically portrays the South as full of violent white thugs lynching blacks and gays?
  168. The most deplorable one [AKA "Fourth doorman of the apocalypse"] says:
    @AP
    Meanwhile in Western Ukraine...

    They are celebrating Bach by playing his music live on the city's streetcars:

    http://tvoemisto.tv/news/u_lvivskyh_tramvayah_nazhyvo_grayut_muzyku_baha_69089.html

    Around Christmas they have live caroling with traditional Christmas music on the streetcars.

    That's the kind of place Lviv is. Russia media just show some nationalistic cafes and portray it as a place of violent neo-Nazi thugs rampaging around.

    How is that different from the MSM in the US which typically portrays the South as full of violent white thugs lynching blacks and gays?

    • Replies: @AP

    How is that different from the MSM in the US which typically portrays the South as full of violent white thugs lynching blacks and gays
     
    Does one wrong justify the other?
  169. AP [AKA "Dr. Preobrazhensky"] says:
    @The most deplorable one
    How is that different from the MSM in the US which typically portrays the South as full of violent white thugs lynching blacks and gays?

    How is that different from the MSM in the US which typically portrays the South as full of violent white thugs lynching blacks and gays

    Does one wrong justify the other?

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS
PastClassics
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?
Hundreds of POWs may have been left to die in Vietnam, abandoned by their government—and our media.