Monday, June 30, 2014

Vienna's Big Lie

From Tim Butcher's June 28 article in the Daily Telegraph (emphasis added):
Princip was caught within seconds of firing his pistol, his bid for martyrdom doomed when the dose of cyanide he stuffed down his throat failed to kill him.

Two weeks short of his 20th birthday, Princip was too young to be executed as Austro-Hungarian law said the death sentence could only be given to criminals aged 20 or more. Instead, he was jailed, sentenced to 20 years solitary confinement with the condition that one day a month he was to receive no food. He died in a prison hospital on April 28 1918, his body so badly ravaged by skeletal tuberculosis that his right arm had had to be amputated.

Over the last century his voice has rarely been heard, drowned out by more powerful forces, not least Vienna which was desperate to use the assassination as a pretext to attack its small and potentially troublesome neighbour, Serbia. For this to work, Austria-Hungary worked to represent Princip and the assassination plot as the work of the Serbian government. And this alone is perhaps the greatest misrepresentation of the truth about Gavrilo Princip, with the historical record containing no convincing evidence to support the claim.

Wilfred Owen wrote of the patriotic invocation dulce et decorum est pro patria mori as "the old lie'', but I have come to see an even greater lie at the founding moment of the First World War. It is the lie used by Vienna in its deliberate misrepresentation of the Sarajevo assassination. On its hundredth anniversary, now is high time to straighten the record.
Butcher is the author of "The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War", published June 3 by Grove Press. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Deutschlandlied in Sarajevo

I used to enjoy the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year's Concerts. Having been raised in an atheist society, I never stopped to wonder why a traditional concert in the capital of a staunchly Catholic thousand-year empire was held on January 1, rather than, say, Christmas Day. Then I found out the tradition was established in 1938, by none other than Josef Goebbels.

Another revelation came last year: a Bosnian-born journalist tracked down the photograph showing Adolf Hitler gazing at the marble plaque honoring Gavrilo Princip - the Bosnian Serb who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo. A modest monument, funded privately, the plaque had been put up in 1930. Within days of the Nazi occupation in 1941, the plaque was taken down and presented to Hitler as a birthday present. He had it displayed at the same museum as the railway car from Compiegne in which Germany had signed the armistice in 1918 - and where he insisted the French sign their surrender in 1940.
(Heinrich Hoffmann/Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München/Bildarchiv)
In 1914, warmongers in Vienna used the assassination (ironically, it was the Archduke who had kept them in check) to launch a war of extermination against Serbia, which eventually destroyed the Hapsburg empire instead. Attempts have been made to blame the Serbs and Serbia for the Great War ever since.

The latest round of revisionism came as the centenary of the war approached. On June 28, mainstream media throughout the West carried stories about the "Serbian" assassin of the Archduke and his wife (Sophie Chotek was killed accidentally; Princip was aiming at General Potiorek, the hated military governor of Bosnia) and the assassination treated as the actual cause - and beginning - of the war. This fits the current narrative of (Western) European unity - under the Atlantic Empire - fighting the "evil" Russians and "troublemaker" Serbs, but it has little to do with the truth.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ukraine: Behind the Ceasefire

What's behind the Kiev junta's offer of "ceasefire" and "talks" with the two regions in the East? A genuine effort to achieve peace, or a smokescreen for another attempt to subjugate all of Ukraine to the pro-Imperial, Nazi-dominated regime?

I was one of the guests debating this in today's CrossTalk, with Eric Kraus in Moscow and John B. Quigley in Columbus, Ohio. The embedded video is not yet available, but you can watch the show at the link above.

Between the knowledge that "Ukraine" is about to sign a treaty with the EU (which the EU itself doesn't want, but is being made to sign by guess who), and the fact that events in that country are being directed using the same script created by the West for Yugoslavia, I get the feeling that the ceasefire was a trick. Especially since it didn't hold.

I would not be the slightest bit surprised if the EU put forth a motion to deploy an "international presence" in the East, disarm the rebels (but not the Nazi Guard or oligarchs' militias, as those would become "legal government troops") and buy the Kiev regime some time to get money and weapons from the Empire, in hopes of staging something like "Flash" or "Storm." Sure, Poroshenko and the Nazis aren't thinking long-term, but the people they are taking orders from do. Meanwhile, the media are already claiming Russia has "blinked" and "capitulated" by not sending in the troops - when they aren't lying about Russia having sent troops, that is.

There is something Eric Kraus said that we didn't have time to discuss, but it's very interesting. Namely, the EU treaty would destroy the industry in the East and force Russia to seal the border. While Kraus thinks this will hurt the Ukrainian economy - and he's not wrong - the junta doesn't care about that. It doesn't even care that by strangling the East it's destroying the very tax base that has enabled the west - the stronghold of Banderist and Russophobic "Ukrainianism" - to survive. Had economic considerations been factoring into any of their actions, they wouldn't have staged a coup in February, or started a civil war later.

There is no solidarity among the oligarchs. At best, they prop up one another for short-term gain, but always ready to devour the power and money of whichever one of them falters (e.g. Yanukovich). To me, the EU deal is a tool to bankrupt the East (never mind that the rest of the country would follow) and force it into submission, counting on Russia having to seal off the border to avoid the flood of duty-free EU goods - and then blaming that for the ensuing economic hardship in Kiev-controlled territories.

Problem is, by doing this they've left the people of the East with nothing to lose. Even if Kiev offered them federalization - which it won't - why would they take it? There is nothing for them in a Ukraine that just became a strip-mine colony for the EU. Conversely, independence or union with Russia becomes that much more appealing. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Desperate Smearbund

Could it be an indicator of the Empire's desperation that they are now trying to "Serb" Vladimir Putin, resurrecting the Serbophobic propaganda of the 1990s to smear the Russians as "aggressors" while whitewashing the Ukrainian (and Croatian) Nazis?

What else is one to think of this June 19 article in The New Republic, by Vera Mironova and Maria Snegovaya, a combination of gross journalistic incompetence and Holocaust denial?

I have written up a reaction over at the Reiss Institute, which Julia Gorin has reposted and accompanied with further helpful links and research.

Don't let this filth go unanswered.

Screenshot of the TNR article whitewashing the Ukrainian and Croatian Nazis,
while blaming the Russians and the Serbs as "occupiers"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Operation Bagration

On June 22, 1944, three years to the day since Axis forces invaded the Soviet Union, the Red Army launched the biggest counterattack of the war, crushing the German Army Group Center.

The offensive was named after prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration, hero of Borodino.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Failure to Communicate

I attended the US-Russia Forum in Washington, DC earlier this week, and came away with mixed impressions. On one hand, almost everyone involved was trying to improve relations between Russia and the U.S. On the other, entirely too many Americans involved continue to believe that the problem here isn't the Atlantic Empire's abuse, but some phantom Russian intransigence, "revisionism" or "retrenchment."

(inspired by commenter "bearspaw" below; as seen on Facebook)
I've offered up my overview of the conference in a column over at Antiwar.com. To sum it up here, the presenters had a very real diversity of opinion, rather than being "Putin apologists" as presstwats predictably claimed. Leonid Gozman, for example, openly backed the Kiev junta, illustrating the typical position of what passes for "liberals" in Russia (and explaining why their support runs into low single digits). There were speakers blaming the EU (which has shown its utter inability to do anything but obey Washington), or even asserted that Russia's reaction in the Crimea endangered nuclear nonproliferation talks - without stopping to think it's the Imperial pattern of aggression that's compelling countries to seek nuclear insurance in the first place.

For their part, I don't think the Russians fully understand this, either. It's only normal for everyone to interpret the behavior of others through the prism of their own; so Americans always see others as aggressors, invaders, liars, murderers and terrorists. The latest example of this "flipping the script" is a New Republic feature comparing Putin to Milosevic. In reality, it is the West acting towards Russia the same way they acted towards the Serbs two decades ago. I've argued before that Putin is aware of this, though the Russian public and media in general may not be. The Russians tend to see Americans as rational actors, playing the game of politics by the rules. Perhaps they ought to watch (or better yet, read) some Game of Thrones, lest they end up like the Starks to the Anglo Lannisters.

To borrow a movie quote, what we have here is a failure to communicate. And that's not just depressing, but in the present situation, downright dangerous.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Parsing Putin's Popularity

Here is a handy graphic that explains why Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's approval ratings are north of 80% these days.

"How has Russia changed in 15 years of Vladimir Putin's governance?" (e.g. between 1999 and 2013)

GDP went from $195 billion (1999) to $2,113 billion in 2013.

Per-capita GDP went from $1,320 to $14,800.

Inflation went from 36,5% to 6.5%.

Gold reserves went from $12,6 billion to $511 billion.

Government debt went from 78% of the GDP to 8% of the GDP.

Average monthly pension went from 499 rubles to 10,000 rubles.

Average monthly wage went from 1522 rubles to 29,940 rubles.

Ah, but Putin put an end to the raping and looting of Russia by Western "reformers" and their pet oligarchs, and stood up to the Atlantic Empire's reign of chaos. Can't have that. So the Western media calls him an "autocrat" (though he obeys the letter of the law punctiliously), but lavishes praise on the ruler that shrugs laws off in favor of "a pen and a phone."

No wonder no one has put together a chart like this for the United States. Those numbers must be terrifying... 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

FIFA Upholds Sieg-heiling Conviction

In November last year, when Croatia's soccer team managed to win passage to the 2014 World Cup by the skin of their teeth, one of the players sieg-heiled with the crowd in triumph. While Nazi displays in Croatia - from soccer stadiums to symbols of state - have been ignored for over two decades, FIFA couldn't let this one go. "Crazy Joe" Šimunić was fined and suspended for 10 games - starting with the World Cup.

At the end of April, a Croatian web magazine (billing itself as "one of the world’s leading portals") quoted Šimunić's lawyer Davor Prtenjača, who was optimistic that the decision would be overturned on appeal. Citing the speed of the hearing - just a month after the appeal was filed - as cause for hope, Prtenjača added that "FIFA had given up on the assertion that “Za dom – spremni” was purely a fascist salute, but still claim Šimunić had provoked racial hated at Maksimir stadium."

Both the salute and the shield have been symbols of the Croatian Nazis (Ustasha), who committed genocidal atrocities against Serbs and Jews and Roma so vicious, even some Nazis were appalled. Yet the defense is now that the salute - the Croatian equivalent of the German sieg-heil - was "not purely fascist"? Same with the checkerboard shield, which the Croats claim is an ancient symbol of their people. So? The swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol, yet it's been banned throughout much of the world because of its association with Hitler.

But even allowing for all that, for the sake of argument, what explains this?
Široki Brijeg, Herzegovina, November 2010 (source)
This photo is from a November 2010 game in the overwhelmingly Croat Široki Brijeg, in Herzegovina, where fans of the local team waved around both the actual Nazi flag and that of the Vatican - because the Church of Rome was a major backer of the Croatian Nazis, in WW2 and thereafter.

In any case, the "not solely fascist" defense didn't work. Šimunić lost his appeal on May 13, and the only way he will be involved with the World Cup - which begins this afternoon - is as a spectator. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Western Economy, Explained

And this is why I enjoy reading Karl Denninger's The Market Ticker:

Oh boy, the imagery this conjures up....

"Just when the European recovery story looked played out, the European Central Bank sent out a new mating call to equity investors with a major policy package that included rate cuts."

You're going to get mated with all right.

The problem is that it's going to be in one of the holes that does not offer the prospect of reproduction.
Today's Western economy, in a nutshell.

This is why I think all the recent protestations of power are just a bunch of hot air. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Empire of Stupid: Old Map Hoax Taken Seriously

When the tabloid media in Serbia - controlled by foreign conglomerates or oligarchs loyal to whatever quisling government happens to be in charge (since every parliamentary party has been suborned, it doesn't make much difference) - print unverified rumors and fanciful flights of wishful thinking, that's par for the course. A group of satirists even mocked this a few years back, by planting patently false stories written in such a way that they sounded plausible (think The Onion here), but wouldn't hold up to elementary fact-checking. But whether due to laziness or wishful thinking, the press never bothered to check, running the stories because they fit their confirmation bias.

So it says volumes about Foreign Policy - very much a voice of the DC establishment - that it chose to run a serious analysis of a complete and utter hoax, and a stale one at that. On June 4, FP contributor Frank Jacobs wrote about "what Russia could look like in 2035 if Putin gets his wish," referring to a map of Europe allegedly created by "Russian experts."

There is just one tiny little problem: the whole thing is a fabrication. Moreover, it's an old one: the story of it broke in Serbia in January 2013 (here is the state television, taking it at face value), and the map itself appeared in the summer of 2012 in the Russian tabloid "Express Gazeta." But that is not where it originated.

Far from being an actual analysis of the GRU or the KGB or some top-level Moscow institute or even Putin himself (because "everybody knows" Vladimir Vladimirovich is a superhuman mastermind who personally does everything in a country of some 150 million, right?), the map was produced by a Ukrainian web magazine "Obozrevatel", with the author identified as "Pavlo Nikonenko."

Monday, June 09, 2014

Empire's White-Knighting Explained

In an article published in Counterpunch on Friday, Diana Johnstone pulls back the curtain on the Ukraine crisis:
"In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves." 
Ah yes, the shale gas canard that's physically and mathematically impossible: the U.S. simply does not have the shipping and processing capabilities to meet Europe's gas needs - nor is there nearly as much shale gas in the fracking wells as originally estimated. Doesn't stop the world's biggest conmen from trying, though.
"U.S. policy, already evident at the September 2013 Yalta meeting, was carried out on the ground by Victoria Nuland, former advisor to Dick Cheney, deputy ambassador to NATO, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan. Her leading role in the Ukraine events proves that the neo-con influence in the State Department, established under Bush II, was retained by Obama, whose only visible contribution to foreign policy change has been the presence of a man of African descent in the presidency, calculated to impress the world with U.S. multicultural virtue. Like most other recent presidents, Obama is there as a temporary salesman for policies made and executed by others."
The truth hurts. But it's blindingly obvious.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Seven Decades Hence

"The world is Hades for me now
and all men in it hellish spirits."
- The Mountain Wreath

Seventy years ago, on June 6 1944, the Western Allies launched the largest amphibious operation in history, landing hundreds of thousands of men and tanks onto the beaches of Normandy. Were they fighting and dying for an American Empire, or the world democratic revolution? The Emperor now says so.

Did those men fight so their country could pick up Hitler's torch 50 years later, back his allies, pursue his policies? With the Luftwaffe bombing Belgrade again, German boots on Serbian soil, SS marches in Latvia, and Banderist torchlight parades in Ukraine, Anglo-American boasting of how they won in 1945 are at best hypocritical and hollow. At worst, a cruel jest.

Bandera supporters march in Lwow, January 2013 (via "Kyiv Post")
The "Greatest Generation" is spinning in their graves. Hitler's ghost cackles with glee.

But the East remembers.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Of Quislings and Censorship

An old Serbian folk tale tells of a peasant who served a Turkish judge (qadi) as a cowherd. He had one cow of his own, which he shepherded along with the qadi's herd. One time, the cows got into an altercation, and the peasant's cow gored the qadi's.
So the peasant hastens into town, and tells the qadi: "Effendi, your cow gored mine!"
"Whose fault was it, did someone make them?" asks the qadi.
"No, effendi, they fought among themselves," answers the peasant.
"Well, then. Can't put cattle on trial," says the qadi.
"But effendi, did you hear what I said? My cow gored yours!" the peasant says.
"What? Wait, then, I must look at the law," exclaims the qadi and reaches for the book.
The peasant grabs his arm and says: "By God and God's faith you won't! If you didn't look at the law for mine, you won't look at the law for yours either."

Contrast that to the Roman expression "Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi" - what Jove may, the ox may not. While the Serbian cowherd insists on equality of justice, the Romans enshrine a double standard. One of the greatest accomplishments - perhaps the only one - of the Enlightenment was the notion that "all men are equal" before the law. That is, that a law is the same for rich and poor alike, for both Jove and the ox.

What if the ox is Jove? (source)
A sea of ink would run dry before one could describe all the instances of double standards and gross violations of this principle just in the case of the country that was once Yugoslavia. And this week there was another.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Fear and Loathing at the New York Times

An autocrat
A toxic mixture of arrogance and stupidity haunts the establishment class of the Atlantic Empire. They really believe they can create reality through willpower alone (as Karl Rove told Ron Suskind back in 2004), that America is the "indispensable country" (M. Albright), and that God - or whatever they believe in these days - has given them the world to do with as they please.

I'm not talking about the Emperor's West Point speech, however deluded it may have been, but about the hysterical reaction of the chattering classes to it, best exemplified by the New York Times' "conservative" columnist David Brooks.

Alarmed that His Most Elevated Imperial Majesty may have had a stray thought or two about - gasp! - restraint, Brooks upbraids Barack Obama for insufficient imperialism. Sure, Obama "argued persuasively" for the need to "mobilize democracies", and his UN envoy Samantha Power gave a "great" (i.e. fiery) speech to the new generation of Harvard drones, but let's remember that World War Two was the fault of America failing at its duty to rule the world.

Er, what? No, really. Brooks actually wrote that:
"In the 1920s and ’30s, for example, Americans were in a retrenching mood, like today. The result was a leaderless world, the gradual decay of the world order and eventually World War II."