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The Guns of August II
The Reasons Behind the Cease-Fire
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The piping-hot stage of the Ukraine crisis was over with signing of Minsk cease-fire agreement. It is far from clear how long the cease-fire will last, and whether it will morph into stable peace; still this pause provides a chance to review policies and strategies of the sides. The first part of this essay dealt with the Ukrainian crisis up to the Boeing incident. I wrote there of lacklustre achievements of the rebels and concluded that “without direct Russian involvement, a separatist movement in Novorussia was doomed to fail.”

After the Boeing disaster, the Russians have made peace in Ukraine their priority. Paradoxically, this called for more Russian involvement. From the beginning, State Department claims notwithstanding, Putin did not want the war in the Ukraine, and still less he wanted a war with Ukraine. He would prefer the Ukraine remain neutral and friendly. This dish was not on the menu as the US intended to fight Russia by Ukrainian hands, or at least, to strengthen its hold over Europe by using Russian scarecrow. Still Putin procrastinated hoping things will sort out.

He miscalculated: he did not count on Poroshenko’s military ardour, on the new Kiev ruler’s readiness to inflict huge civilian casualties and to sacrifice his own army. This was unexpected development – after peaceful transition of Crimea, Putin could expect Kiev will honour Donbass desires. Putin could not leave Donbass in flames and forget about it. One million refugees from Ukraine already crossed into Russia; continuation of Kiev’s war in Donbass could dislodge up to five million refugees, too much for Russia to swallow.

Putin was ready to negotiate with Poroshenko and achieve a peaceful settlement; Poroshenko refused. The low-level support for Donbass rebels was not sufficient to change the rules of the game and force Poroshenko to negotiate. This called for a limited victory, at the price of some Russian involvement.

It appears that the “involvement” rapidly changed the situation. Facing defeat at seaport city of Mariupol, Kiev accepted Putin’s proposals. Did the involvement amount to invasion? I have no access to the secrets of state, but I’ll share with you what I have heard and seen and understood.

First, compare Russia to Vietnam of fifty years ago.

  • Vietnam was divided into North and South by the West, like the USSR was divided into Ukraine and Russia by the West.
  • North Vietnam became independent; Russia became independent;
  • South Vietnam remained under occupation, Ukraine remained under Western occupation.
  • People of South Vietnam rose against their US-installed government and North Vietnam certainly supported their struggle.
  • The US presented the war as “North Vietnamese aggression”, but North and South Vietnam weren’t two independent states; this was one state artificially separated by the West.
  • Likewise, the US presents now the war in Ukraine as “Russian intervention”, but Russia and Ukraine aren’t two fully independent countries; they are rather two halves of one country, in the eyes of Russians and Ukrainians. In their view, people of the Ukraine rose against the US-installed government, and independent Russia had to support their struggle.

People of my generation remember as the US killed millions of Vietnamese people, bombed their cities and ruined their nature – under the banner of “resisting North Vietnamese aggression” but it ended by unification of Vietnam. Poroshenko is a Ngo Dinh Diem of the Ukraine, Putin is an unlikely Ho Chi Minh of Russia.

Actual Russian involvement took form of (1) providing equipment and training for the Novorussia forces, like the US trained the Syrian rebels in Jordan, and (2) allowing some Russian officers to take leave from their duties and join the rebel forces on the voluntary basis. The Russia-trained and equipped rebel units fortified by some Russian officers, weren’t quite up to scratch as regular army goes; their enthusiasm made up for the lack of skill. Kiev regime estimated the whole Russian military presence in the Ukraine at one thousand men; a negligible amount in comparison with 50,000 troops of Kiev regime and 30,000 of the main rebel forces, but it made the difference. Even more important was (3) strategic command and advice provided by retired planners of the Russian General Staff.

I’ve been told by people on the ground that the Novorussian military leader Colonel Strelkov (I described him in Part One) had no previous experience of commanding big-scale operations, and despite his personal courage he could not successfully lead a force of 30 thousand men. Apparently he was asked to leave the command to more experienced professionals. These first-class military planners rapidly improved the situation by stabilizing the link between Russia and the rebel-held enclave. The Kiev army has been pushed away from the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.

An additional rebel force crossed the old Russian-Ukrainian border far to the south of Donetsk and closed on Mariupol, an important city and port on the Sea of Azov. The lightening speed of the Mariupol attack changed the equilibrium on the ground. Now the rebels could proceed for Melitopol, eventually heading for Kakhovka, a place of ferocious battles of the Civil war in 1919. If they were to take Kakhovka, they would be able to secure the whole of Novorussia or even retake Kiev. This development proved to Poroshenko that he needs a cease fire. He agreed to the Minsk formula and the armistice took place. The rebels were upset by the armistice as they felt their victory was stolen from them, but they were convinced by the Russians that it would be better to safeguard Donbass.

The sanctions

For the main antagonist of Russia, the US, the cease-fire was a minor setback. Washington would prefer the Russians of Russia and Ukraine to fight each other to death, but it had to consider the weakness of Kiev forces. In 1991, at the break-up of the USSR, the Ukraine has got a much better equipped and much stronger army than Russia had, but twenty years of embezzlement turned it into a feeble pushover. When the Kiev army will be beefed up by Western mercenaries and by NATO soldiers, the war is likely to renew, unless there will be a political settlement.

Meanwhile, the US applied various means of economic warfare against Russia. These means are called “sanctions”, though this word is misleading. “Sanctions” are acts of a legitimate authority towards its subjects; such are Security Council sanctions. The US and EU’s measures against Russia aren’t “sanctions” but acts of war on Russia by economic means.


Some “sanctions” were aimed against most powerful Russians in Putin’s inner circle. The idea was to cause these strongmen to plot and get rid of the popular president. This circle of sanctioned persons grew to include many parliamentarians and businessmen, while the ordinary Russians took the sanctions in their stride, or even enjoyed the discomfort they caused to the wealthy of the land. Putin joked that EU travel bans on top legislators would leave them more time to spend with their constituents.

Other sanctions were aimed at Russian economy: banks, credits were hit; the US allies were forbidden to transfer advanced technology to Russia. Russians were used to this treatment: in the Soviet days, it was called CoCom (Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls), an embargo on advanced technology supplies to the socialist countries. It was a powerful obstacle to their development; if other countries could buy advanced technology from, say, Japan, the Russians and Chinese had to steal it or reinvent it. CoCom is one of the reasons for Soviets after WWII being rather behind-the-times, in comparison with 1930s, when the Soviets could and did buy the most advanced technology of its time. Apparently, Obama resurrected CoCom; and this is the most serious threat to Russia until now.

This will have a strong effect in many ways, not only on Russia’s profits but on Russia’s thinking as well. After 1991, Russia gave up many of its own industries, notably aircraft and switched to buy Boeing or Airbus. Now they have to build their own planes. Russia is fully integrated in Western banking and it has billions of US securities at its account. Russia used its oil profits to buy Dutch cheese, Polish apples, Italian wine, while neglecting its own food production. Under Western sanctions, the Russians are likely to back out of international cooperation and begin to develop or resurrect their own industries and agriculture. This will cost money; the social projects will suffer. The prosperity of the last ten years is likely to vanish.

Russia sparingly applied counter-sanctions. It discontinued importing foods from sanctioning countries, thus applying pressure on European farmers. This measure is likely to influence Europe. In France, for the first time ever, it can bring Mme Le Pen of the Front National into the Palais de l’Élysée, as both mainstream parties are equally beholden to the US. Finland, Slovakia, Greece will ponder leaving the EU altogether. In Russia, its pro-Western glittering and chattering class was quite upset with the disappearance of oysters and parmesan cheese; the food prices rose all over but slightly.

Sanctions after cease-fire

The Russians were bewildered by the Western response of applying more sanctions despite the cease fire in the Ukraine. Apparently, they thought and hoped to restore the ante-bellum friendly co-existence with the US by giving up on the bulk of Novorussia. The Russian ruling elites were ready to accept their heavy strategic losses in the Ukraine and to live with it. But they counted without the US, as Washington pushed for more sanctions.

Slowly, it transpires that for the US administration, the Ukraine crisis just supplied a plausible explanation and a trigger to attack Russia. To be on the safe side, Obama has opened the Second Front against Russia in the Middle East; ostensibly against the chimera of Caliphate, but it has another target.

ISIS (or ISIL, or IS, or Daish, or Caliphate) is a neo-colonisation project for Syria and Iraq. The technique is familiar: Anglo-Americans create a demon, nurture it to its fullness and then destroy and take over the land. They created Hitler, supported him, then demonised and destroyed him by Russian hands. Germany remains an occupied country to this very day. Al-Qaeda was created in 1980s to fight Russians in Afghanistan and later on it was used to create the casus belli in 2001. Afghanistan is still occupied. ISIS was created to fight Russians in Syria, and now it is being used to bomb Iraq and Syria. At the end, the US will occupy and control the whole Fertile Crescent, with Israel as its centrepiece. Some religiously inclined persons may see it as fulfilment of the prophesy of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.

The Russians, like the Middle Easterners, do not believe in the official story of saving the world from the threat of ISIS. They remember that quite recently ISIS was supposed to be a moderate force fighting for democracy against the bloody tyrant. They think that the US uses its own toy monster to break up Iraq, to create “independent” Kurdistan, to bomb Syria, to remove Bashar al-Assad from power and lay a new gas pipeline from Qatar via Kurdistan and Syria to Turkey and Europe, thus pushing Russia out of European gas market altogether, to ensure Russia’s income dwindles and the dangerous liaisons of Europeans with Russia are terminated.

Russians do not like Islamic takfiri extremists just like everybody else, so they were surprised that in the US pundits’ minds, there is a connection between ISIS and Russia. Robert Whitcomb, the Wall Street Journal editor, says in an essay called Wishful thinking about Putin and the Islamic State that these two are somehow equal in their sheer wickedness. “We might make fun of those Renaissance paintings in which little devils skitter around. We don’t like to accept that there’s something like evil in the world. But you look at something like the Islamic State and the Putin regime and you realize that those people in 1500 were on to something.” (You won’t be surprised that Whitcomb hates Islam and loves Israel, would you?)

Anne-Marie Slaughter, an ex-State Department and a Professor at Princeton, called for intervention in Syria to teach Russians a lesson. “The solution to the crisis in Ukraine lies in part in Syria. Obama’s climb-down from his threatened missile strikes against Syria last August emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex Crimea. It is time to change Putin’s calculations, and Syria is the place to do it. A US strike against the Syrian government now would change the entire dynamic. After the strike, the US, France, and Britain should ask for the Security Council’s approval of the action taken, as they did after NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Equally important, shots fired by the US in Syria will echo loudly in Russia.”


In Russia, there are some voices calling to support the US strikes in Syria. Important politicians and parliamentarians propose to repeat 2001, when Russians supported the US war on terror, despite its grim consequences. (Since 2001, Afghanistan has been occupied by the US, and the traffic of drugs to Russia and Europe increased twenty-fold). Actually, there are many pro-western politicians in power in Russia, and especially in Russian media. Once, the West had freedom of expression, while Soviet Russia spoke in one voice. Now the positions has been reversed: Russia enjoys pluralism of views and freedom of expression, while in the West, alternative views exist on the margins of the public discourse.

Why the US is so keen on subjugating Russia, provided that Russia is not punching above its weight and is generally accommodating to the US demands? The US is special, as this heir to the British Empire guided by Jewish spirit is the only country ever possessing the unique, expensive and uncomfortable desire to rule the whole of planet Earth. They view every independent force in the universe as a challenge they can’t tolerate. They think that Russia with its nuclear weapons and educated people can become too strong and disobedient. Russia is a bad example for Europe, Japan, China, India as these powers could strive for independence, as well. Russia with its oil and gas can attempt to undermine the dollar’s status as the world currency. Russian weapons could protect Iran and Syria from American anger.

For these reasons, a war between the US and its proxies and Russia seems very probable. Syria and Ukraine are two perspective battlefields where the battle of will precedes the battle of steel. The war may be conventional or nuclear, regional or world-embracing. The alternative is the US’s full spectrum global domination. Many Russians would prefer a war to this grim prospect.

Israel Shamir can be reached at [email protected]

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Ukraine 
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  1. Kiza says:

    There is nobody writing in English who understands Ukraine, possibly even Russia, better than Israel Shamir. Only a small disagreement I have with a single sentence: “Still Putin procrastinated hoping things will sort out.”

    Although the Western countries tend to project Putin through their MSM as some kind of Tsar (for domestic suckers), in reality the Russian leadership is a complex animal. It consists of nationalists-traditionalists such as Putin, and of Western leaning liberals such as Medvedev. Medvedev represents interests of the Russian Oligarchs. The success of United Russia ruling party has been to unite Russians cross-class, to establish social unity, and to crash-course teach the nouveau riche Russian oligarchs the social responsibilities. Therefore, Putin did not procrastinate, he simply had to wait for this Western liberal wing of his party to understand the US strategy on Ukraine and how un-independent the EU is (and corrupt and unrepresentative of the interest of the European peoples). He was waiting for the pro-Westerners to understand that there is no accommodating the West. Even the glorified Merkel appears to be doing things against German national interests. Further, many of the Russian oligarchs idolise old-money countries such as England and have mansions there. To make things critical, these same oligarchs the West will rely on if it succeeds in maidanning Russia. This is a new verb, to “maidan” a country, just as Vicky maidanned Ukraine with her \$5B NGOs (maidan means a square in Ukrainian). To maidan a country means to do a coup whilst snipping both sides, replace democracy with oligarchocracy and appoint selected oligarchs (Kolomoyskyi) to rule fragments of the country (Ukraine, Iraq, Libya, and, they hope, Russia). Therefore, maintaining unity in United Russia is politically even more important than saving the lives of the Novo-Russians (sad but true). These same west-leaning Russian liberals slash oligarchs Putin has to count on to bear the losses of sanctions and counter sanctions. Whether Western attack on Russia will succeed or not depends to a great extent on whether Putin and his traditionalists have installed enough respect for Russia into their oligarchs. Does Putin give them enough influence already or would they get more from Vicky & the Neocon Gang. The first step is to assassinate or depose of Putin, return Russia to Yeltsin’s time, then fragment and exploit Siberia.

    100 years ago, Alaska, Siberia and Arctic were unreachable wildernesses. A Russian tsar pawned Alaska to the US bankers for a gambling debt because it was almost worthless then. Now that the human reach and the thirst for resources makes these areas proxim, the West wants to fight Russia for Siberia, Arctic and Antarctic. US and Canada are on a direct collision course with Russia. A bit harder to understand what EU, Australia and a few others stand to gain from the leadership change in Russia.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  2. Kiza says:

    Special US representatives visited Germany, Finland and Slovakia in the past few weeks and forced them to remove objections to a new round of EU sanctions on Russia. The Russian leadership, surprised itself by this aggressive development, now hopes that this will convince the Russian pro-Westerners and doubters that there is no accommodating the West. Russia accepted losses to make peace, stopped when it was winning the war, but then got slapped with sanctions regardless. Obviously, because this a war on Russia not on Eastern Ukraine, kapish? Therefore, sacrifices by both the oligarchs and the people are unavoidable because the paranoid and power-mad US ruling elite exhibits zero tolerance for even a medium-size competitor, such as Russia, in the World. As Shamir writes here – Russia would set a bad example for other powers to be, such as China. Only servants, such as EU, may exist in the World ordered by the US. Multi-polar world is not tolerable by the Western Anglo-Jewish money elite. Germany and the EU it controls will be strongly on the US side because the Germans are hoping to take over the Western-ruling-block, if ever the US collapses financially, economically and/or socially during the PNAC project of re-arranging the world. It would be like getting the World Reich for free, without having to bleed as much for it as in WW1 and WW2.

    The West will keep attacking Russia economically, because the nuclear war is a no-win and because the Europeans will be paying most of the price of the economic war. NATO military will be only an additional tool of pressure and exhaustion. Every now and then a plane full of Europeans will fall out of the sky just to remind the stingy EU bastards who the enemy is.

    It is very interesting how China will react to this Western attack on Russia. Will it just take advantage of the Russia’s predicament? Will it accept an offer to be given the Russian far East, Vladivostok and the islands? Will it sell to Russia the Western oil-exploitation technology that it can still buy at huge profits? How far does the Chinese leadership think, what is their decision horizont? If the Chinese horizont is beyond 50 years, China will abstain from taking advantage of Russia’s predicament and will be strongly on the Russian side.

  3. bob sykes says:

    China’s primary goal is Taiwan. Besides the obvious cultural, historical and economic motives, China needs to consolidate its control over the northern part of the China Sea before commencing operations in the south.

    Their timeframe for all this is not known, but if the Ukraine blows up, I should expect a move on Taiwan very soon. It need not be military. The Taiwanese leadership, including its military leadership, could be bought off in various ways. A political settlement would obviate any American moves against the reunification.

  4. Mike says:

    The US State Department is AIPAC – NOTHING good is going to happen until that is changed.

    All of the millions of words written, spoken, and propagated about US foreign affairs are half truths and lies. Never is making peach an option in the Jewish controlled Western media.

    There is NO reason for America to attack Russia – we want to trade with Russia, not attack it – we do it only because it is in the interest of Israeli power.

    Step back and think about it – the wrong being done to humanity is monumental – it is greater then anything that has ever happened before.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Israel… The Guns of August II provides vital insights for one such as I, who do not have time to study the region but who perceive the capacity of the proxy US/Russian conflict as the possible crucible of WWIII. Many thanks, Adam.

  6. KA says:

    The author alludes to the Israelization of the politicilazation of the Middle East from Niles to Euphrates although he sees it developing under the Anerican military initiatives.
    Here is the though momentary ephemeral confluence of the US vision or wishes and Israeli interests . It is a mirage . Israel is nothing more than allowing American citizen to momentarily feel to be the arbiter of the events. In last 14 yrs of active bombings,killings,destructing ,and degrading behavioral kinetics that we efficient war ,Americans have not achieved any of the stated goals other than removing Saddam and killing Osama . Again these two gains may be questioned ( Regime change for the sake of regime change was not a goal in Iraq and Osama was not the priority of Bush ) .
    The gigantic failures are captured in this articles
    But it is not a failure for the visionary like Herzl, Ben Guiron, Yoded Yinon,Sharon,PNAC consortium of visionary, FDD,AEI,Project Israel,Pamela Geller,family of Marcus or ,Pritzker, or Sheldon or Saban or the occasional reluctant impartial figures like D Ross and M Indyk or R Cohen or T Froedman or the virulent Israeli centric souls of Podohoretz,Goldberg( Yohana and Geffry ) or WSJ columnists and editorialists who moonlight for FOX along with newly emerging names with different colors and beliefs .

    Today ( from 2002) Israel can bomb Lebanon,Syria,Golan,and fly drones over Iran,supply arms to Kurds,open bases in Kurds,supply interrogators and torturers for Egypt,Saudi,and American forces and kill repeatedly American citizen or Turkish- NATO citizen, force US what and what not should or should not be undertaken pertaining to Iraq,Egypt,Libya,and obviously Iran. It can force American media to lie . Israel can tell privately to some of the figures in military,intelligence,and in political circles what Israel plans to do in Gaza and WB and then force the Congress and Senators to lie . Israel can use those lies afterwards to advance its causes and interests .
    Israelization is complete . Americanization is over . America has retreated from ME under the sprawling shadow of an eagle that is in reality an Israeli hawk looking for the lambs in the Evangelical land of future return of Jesus.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Putin is well aware of the situation of Oligarchs selling Russia out short. He recently gave them an ultimatum – You are either with us or against us. If you are with us then return all your offshore money to the state of Russia or, alternately, goodbye!

    Go and click on the most recent video upload

  8. pyrrhus says:

    I only question one point, which is that China’s objective is Taiwan. I think that China feels it can seize Taiwan any time it wants, and is using it to suck in Western capital. I believe that China’s long term objectives are quite different, namely dominating its whole extended sphere of influence.

  9. KA says:

    Neocons created the atmosphere conducive to military attacks on Iraq,Yemen,Libya,Somalia,and Syria to help Israel gain political hegemony from Euphraites to Niles and colonization across Palestine . Every time its dreams been rolled back by more just and righteous forces or by American self interests ,it has not hesitated to gut those factors and destroy those figures and banish those groups . Carter, Bush1, Oslo Process, Rabin, or the mild attempts by Clinton all have ended in defeat,shame or political oblivion or death .

    Russian attempt to protect Syria from the same fate sealed the fate of Russia as well in the backyard of Ukraine as summed up in this article by Perry –

  10. Mr. Shamir,

    This Ukraine conflict is about breaking up Russia, preventing Russia from developing into a rival Eurasian superpower, per Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard” written over a decade ago. “Without Ukraine, Russia is no longer a Eurasian power.” (paraphrased from Brzezinski).

    It is also about the EU’s dependence on Russia’s natural gas. Russian gas runs through Ukraine and Russia has cut off the gas supply over Ukrainian tampering before.

    I hope that Israel will join with the BRICS alliance in the future, and drop the Anglo-American world. Israel aligns and is integrated with the Anglo-American Empire politically, militarily, and economically; but Israel aligns with the BRICs culturally, historically, and possibly in the future, economically as well. Israel is an Eurasian country, with Asian cultural values and an Asian religion.

    • Replies: @Swede55
    , @Anonymous
  11. Swede55 says:
    @Anti-racist Atheist

    Israel will never side with the BRICs since the Anglo-Americans have become Jewish puppets. Israel has got what it wanted in the Middle East lately, Iraq smashed, Syria wrecked and Libya shattered.

  12. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anti-racist Atheist

    No way…the Anglo’s can keep the israeli’s..

  13. Steve says:

    Russia made a huge strategic blunder a century ago in deciding to go to war against Germany and Austria-Hungary nominally to protect Serbia (itself aggressive enough), but really to try to achieve Russian strategic objectives at the expense of the Central Powers (also Turkey), and achieve domestic unity, without serious consideration of the likely cost (or future potential for conflict with the temporary Allies). Even though Russia itself went under, so did Germany and the others, ruining the old balance of power and putting the Western powers on top despite the brief Soviet empire, and moving reduced Germany into the western camp decisively by the time the smoke cleared. Propaganda aside the Kaiser’s Germany had no real conflict with Russia so long as it left things alone in Europe and permitted trade. Now Russia finds itself practically alone apart from Iran and China, amongst the powers, (Brazil being too far away and still weak to count for much) and they are difficult allies with their own agendas. The America-led west definitely and logically enough favours a reduced Russian power in the world, that cannot threaten western dominance alone or alongside China and Iran et al, and will continue to exert pressure short of outright war to this end. The line of ‘can’t we all just live together and get along’ is just naive, power politics will never go away, and those in a position to push for gain will continue to do so, as has Russia when it was able. Russia having played such a game cannot now seriously expect to be spared from it when things don’t suit it, and the Great Game goes on. On current form Russia will definitely emerge weaker, in terms of having lost most of Ukraine from its orbit, and possibly others to follow, despite closer ties to China, which are not much of a substitute, and may bring their own problems in train down along the line.

  14. Ron says:

    I have noticed that Jews in the USA and for that matter around the world are very antagonistic towards Russia. This may account in part for the US aggression against Russia. I assume that this is because the Jews were mostly forced out of Russia and had great difficulty amassing power in Russia after the area of Lenin (and in the last 50 years after WWII). In this period the Jews took over the USA completely but had no success in Russia, and were suppressed – they went to Israel and the USA for the most part. Perhaps they are very angry about this. I would love to see an article about this phenomenon.

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