Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Strong and the Weak

In my column on today, I argue that:

It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to communicate with someone so obsessed with managing the perceptions of reality that they've become incapable of recognizing reality altogether. In the Bizarro World of the Atlantic Empire, the bombing of Serbia was humanitarian, the invasion of Iraq was defensive, the occupation of Afghanistan was democratic, and the separation of Kosovo was legal – while the Russian intervention to neutralize the Georgian army and save the Ossetians from ethnic cleansing was "aggression" befitting Hitler or Stalin.

...[to Emperors current and potential] it doesn't actually matter what Russia does – whatever anyone but America (and its "allies") does is by definition evil.

One wonders if they quite understand this in Moscow. And what will happen once they do.

The best proof for my claim came from Daniel Fried, a high-ranking U.S. "diplomat" in charge of relations with Russia. Fried has fabricated reality before, in regard to Kosovo. Now he's at it again, telling today's Washington Post that "being angry and seeking revanchist victory" is a sign of a weak nation. Right, Russia is weak for slapping around an American client state that thought it could provoke it with impunity?

There's rich, there's utter nonsense, and then there's Daniel Fried.

Fried whitewashes a decade of abuse - pillaging of the country by American "transition" experts and domestic oligarchs; propping a corrupt Yeltsin regime; expanding NATO; sponsoring "democratic revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus (failed); even trying to organize a quisling opposition in Russia itself ("Other Russia") - as an effort to "encourage Russia's integration with the wider world." He says "This is a good thing. It was the right set of policies." Tens of millions of Russians beg to differ.

In the words of the WaPo reporter, "Fried said the administration is determined to prevent Russia from claiming a new sphere of influence in the Caucasus." Right, because Russia has no right to influence anywhere, especially not on its borders. But the U.S. can invade countries halfway across the world, because the U.S. "sphere of influence" is the world. Does he seriously think anyone outside the NATOsphere will buy this nonsense? Do his bosses?

This sort of drivel is proof positive that Washington simply doesn't get it. The U.S. didn't "win" the Cold War so much as the USSR lost it. In 1991, there was a golden opportunity to actually walk the walk, to show the world that "freedom" and "democracy" weren't just a guise for the latest round of power politics. Instead, people like Fried, Albright and Holbrooke got drunk on power and decided to rule the world. Their Bushean successors went a step further and declared it was their divine right to do so.

They may all still believe every lie they've told their nation (and themselves), but there are facts that no amount of wishful thinking can change. It isn't Russia that's in trouble, it's the United States.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Collision Course

So, Russia has decided to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as expected. Also as expected, the Empire is screaming bloody murder, threatening to use its veto in the UN, calling it "unacceptable" and claiming it's illegal.

Except neither Washington, nor London, nor Moscow, nor the OSCE gave a damn six months ago, when they created the "Independent state of Kosova." Was that illegal? Damn right it was. Was it a direct violation of Serbia's sovereignty, explicitly guaranteed by the UN, the Helsinki Final Act and just about any other law? Sure was. And yet the self-proclaimed "international community" simply bypassed the UN, ignored Russian objections (and those of some 150-odd countries) and declared occupied Kosovo to be a "special case" and "unique." Because they thought they could.

More than anything, the reaction from the West over Georgia reveals the utter hypocrisy and complete moral bankruptcy of the self-appointed rulers of humanity. To them, there are no absolutes except their own will. Sovereignty, democracy, legitimacy, legality - they all mean whatever they declare them to mean, subject to revision at their whim. We thought the Communists were bad, but they at least recognized their limits. For the Empire, there are no limits. Until they run up against reality, anyway.

Just because they keep telling themselves and the rest of the world that there is no wall there won't make it hurt any less when they smash into it face-first.

But wait, what about the Russians? Aren't they hypocrites for supporting the integrity of Serbia, but dismembering Georgia, just because one country is their ally, and the other is a client of the U.S.?

Actually, Serbia isn't a Russian ally at all. It's got more formal ties with NATO and the EU than with Russia. And the quisling Serbian government is certainly more inclined to Brussels and Washington than to Moscow.

That aside, I don't think Russia's policy is hypocritical, no. Georgia never actually controlled Abkhazia and Ossetia (since declaring independence), and clearly violated the 1992 armistice it pledged to uphold, and which Russia was a guarantor of. If Georgian actions in Ossetia before the Russian counterstrike don't qualify as "severe violations of human rights," I don't know what does. And shall we note that Georgian authorities never really bothered to invoke international law in their efforts to seize those territories? They simply assumed that military conquest - with the full backing of the Empire - was law enough. Sort of like what the Empire did in Kosovo, actually.

Now, if Moscow tries to argue that its recognition of Abkhazia and Ossetia is legitimate because the Empire carved out Kosovo from Serbia, thus implicitly recognizing that act, then yes, I would consider it a cheap trick.

Keep in mind, though, that most Kosovo comparisons are coming from the West, and that Russians are generally staying clear of them. Russians aren't using Kosovo as an argument/excuse for intervening in Georgia; they are using it to point out that the West has no moral right to protest their intervention. That argument doesn't have much traction in the West not because it's false, but because the Empire doesn't recognize the notion of objective truth. If "we" did it, it must be right. If "they" do it, it's clearly evil. It's impossible to reason with that sort of "logic."

Then again, one doesn't have to. That wall is getting very close now, and the impact of face on hard surface seems imminent.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A view from Poland

Ignacy Nowopolski, editor of Polska Panorama, sent a comment the other day asking me to publish one of his essays here.

Now, as a general rule, I don't run "guest essays." I do post translations if I think they are relevant to the Anglophone audience, and I do on occasion quote other authors, sometimes extensively. But I publish things that reflect my own views and understanding of the world, and when I quote something it's either to criticize it ruthlessly or express my agreement.

I've read Mr. Nowopolski's piece, and it doesn't quite fit either category. But it is thought-provoking, and it comes from an interesting angle: He argues for a "Centroslavia" as a way to thwart both Russian, German/EU and American hegemony (not to mention safeguard the people of these countries from Islamic conquest).

Read it, and make up your own mind. Either way, I thank Mr. Nowopolski for reaching out. The internet is truly a wonderful thing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

None of the Above

I haven't written a whole lot about the upcoming elections for the Emperor, partly because I believe their outcome won't matter a whole lot (I'll explain in a minute) and partly because the candidates don't inspire optimism.

What, say you? How can I doubt St. Barack of the Change? Easily. Does he have a foreign policy team full of rabid imperialists from the Clinton era? He does. Is his running mate an obnoxious Senator from Delaware in love with the sound of his own voice, who was also an enthusiastic supporter of Clinton the Emperor? Check. What "change" exactly are we talking about?

I don't particularly care about John "KLA" McCain either, given that he'll be the Nero to Bush the Lesser's Caligula.

So, what did I mean about the insignificance of the election?

Look, the Empire is failing. It should be intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer. The crumbling economy, the increasingly worthless currency based on nothing, the much-touted military bogged down in wars it cannot win, the "diplomacy" gone berserk, the sheer stupidity of public officials (examples are too many; just open your local paper and laugh)... what more evidence do you want? I just hope the loss of Empire doesn't translate into America's self-destruction, but that's up to Americans themselves. Me, not being one, am going to politely stand aside and let them sort it out. Kind of like what they should have done with hundreds of other disputes throughout the world, instead of intervening and making them worse.

History isn't over. There is no such thing as Pax Americana. There was a historical chance in 1991 to make the world a little bit better; instead, the imperialists wanted power. Well, they got power. And they lost it - as it usually happens. So sometime in January next year, either Mad Mac or Barry Change will find themselves in charge of a bankrupt country with a Potemkin military, facing a very angry and resentful rest of the world. Good luck there.

To those who still think their participation in a meaningless ritual this November will make a difference, I'll only say: the only real choice is "None of the Above." Which is why you aren't allowed to make it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can you handle the truth?

Well, can you? Or are you happy to listen to the insipid drivel served to you by the mass media on government orders? If you want to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11, that there were WMDs in Iraq, that there was a genocide in Kosovo, and that Russia was the aggressor in Georgia... why the hell are you here, reading this blog?

But if you are here, and you've been reading, you know that fighting the lies is a full-time job. I do it in my spare time, as much as I can. These guys do it 24/7/365.

Now sure, I write a column for the site. Been doing so for almost eight years now. I do it because I believe in truth, justice and liberty. If you do as well, vote with your wallet and help out today. It's the best choice you will make this year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whose Demise?

The Washington Post can always be counted on to provide all the necessary calories in a balanced Russophobe's diet; nothing coming from this paper concerning Russia (or Serbia, for that matter, which WaPo sees as "Russia Lite") should come as a surprise by now.

Life is full of surprises, though. Consider today's op-ed by one Eugene Rumer, "senior fellow at National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies." It is a most curious essay. Rumer argues that the very signs of Russia's power and strength are in fact proof it's heading for a collapse!

Sure, the West needs Russia to "feed our oil addiction, to help us cut a deal with Iran and to go on buying our currency to keep its value from sliding further." He himself claims that "Moscow may have more billionaires than other European capitals," while its GDP has "increased from $200 billion in 1999 to $1.2 trillion in 2007. Moscow has more money from oil and gas exports than it knows what to do with." But then he turns around and says that none of this is relevant, because the Soviet Union looked powerful in 1979, and now it's no more.

"...who is to say that Russia's victory in Georgia will not lead to another disaster in a few years?" he asks.

Allow me. As Rumer himself points out, Russia has more money than ever. He doesn't say that it's got almost no government debt (unlike the U.S., which is choking on hundreds of trillions, and showing no sign of stopping). Russian economy is not only far different from its Soviet days, it's also more free than those of Europe or the U.S. (see John Laughland's income tax rate comparison for just one example). The life expectancy of Russians, bad as it is now, is already increasing as medical care ruined by Communism and Yeltsin-era pillaging improves. And while the demographic decline of the Russian nation is regrettable, is that really worse than the demographic trend in the West of displacement by Third World immigration?

So, let's leave Rumer's fantasies of a world in which "North Caucasus break[s] out of Moscow's grip" and "the Far East turn[s] into a Chinese colony" to hack writers of chauvinist technoporn where they rightfully belong. If Rumer thinks Russia is in trouble, what should he say about a country that is worse than broke, short of oil and gas, has already outsourced its industry, its only growth is government, and it can't defeat any enemies, even as it exponentially generates them around the globe?

Both he and WaPo ought to be concerned with America's hard landing. But projecting one's own fears and prejudice onto a manufactured enemy is much more fun. While it lasts.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oh Please!

Carl Bildt, ex-viceroy of Bosnia and currently the Swedish FM, writes on his blog that the Georgian affair is "about principles fundamental to the peace and stability of all of Europe."

He also claims that the war was provoked by the Ossetians, that Russia is engaged in a "large-scale aggressive action" and that "no state has the right to unilaterally intervene military in another state with the pretext of protecting its citizens."

Let's start from that last one. Ever heard of the United States of America?

Moving along, then. One has to be either stupid or harbor malicious intent to call the Russian action "aggressive" when it was clearly a response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia. Russia is a guarantor of the truce that froze the conflict in the early 1990s when Ossetia and Abkhazia seceded from Tbilisi; as such, it certainly had the right and one might even argue duty to intervene when the truce was violated by, say, the Georgian army invading Ossetia wholesale.

Of course, Tbilisi claims that Ossetians attacked first. Just like Poland. Why would the Ossetians provoke the war? They had de facto independence, Russian citizenship, and could wait the Georgians out pretty much indefinitely. One could argue that it would be in Russia's long-term interest to remove an American client regime from Tbilisi, but why now? And remember, it is Washington, and not Moscow, that's been going around the world installing puppet governments.

Even if he were right on any of his points - and he is not - Bildt was a participant in the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the Bosnian protectorate, and the occupation of Kosovo. That means he's got no credibility to talk about principles or international law, or peace, or stability. None.

But his sort of "analysis" is the one you'll find common in the West: Evil Russia manipulates, provokes, attacks, threatens. Yeah, right.

It's called projection. Look it up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Second Time As Farce

I planned to post a semi-humorous piece about the Olympics, given as how they started today. Even had the perfect setup for it, with this Reuters piece about three Brit athletes who posed in the buff to promote a beverage.

But the Emperor's Georgian proxies just had to start a war.

Reading the wire dispatches (like this one here, or here), I can't help but be transported back to August 1995.

After four years of buildup, with the overt involvement of Washington, the Croatian government launched a massive military operation against the Serb-populated areas that seceded from it in 1991. Attacked from all sides, outnumbered and outgunned, the Serbs were wiped out. The government in Belgrade, supposed to be the guarantor of the truce, stood by and did absolutely nothing. Many Serbians actually groused about "those damned refugees" ruining their summer vacations. Having thus "reintegrated" the territories it claimed, sans the population, Croatia has been celebrating the largest single act of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans as "Homeland Thanksgiving Day" ever since.

But what does any of this have to do with the homeland of Stalin? Maybe everything. The regime of Michael Saakashvili is an American client, much more so than Franjo Tudjman's ever was. Saakashvili himself spent a long time in the US, and was installed in power by a US-organized "Rose revolution" in 2003 (using the same template that was tested in 2000 in Serbia and later applied in Ukraine).

Here's the trouble: two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, refuse to be ruled by Tbilisi. Their inhabitants are not ethnic Georgians. Russian troops have been stationed in both regions. Saakashvili's regime views this as "Russian aggression" - but of course, the Abkhaz and the Ossetians see the Russians as the only thing between them and the kind of "reintegration" that Croats imposed on the Krajina Serbs in 1995.

Saakashvili may think what worked for Franjo Tudjman in 1995 could work for him. After all, he serves the same master. Speculation by Reuters suggests that the regime in Tbilisi is hoping to "reintegrate" Abkhazia before the Russians respond. Except that Dmitry Medvedev is not Slobodan Milosevic, and Russia of 2008 is not Serbia of 1995.

Reuters now quotes Saakashvili begging for American help:

"This was a very blunt Russian aggression. ... We are right now suffering because we want to be free and we want to be a multiethnic democracy," Saakashvili said in the interview.

Saakashvili, whose country is pushing to join NATO, said the conflict "is not about Georgia anymore. It's about America, its values."

"I ... thought that America stands up for those freedom-loving nations and supports them. That's what America is all about. That's why we look with hope at every American," the U.S.-educated president said.

(emphasis added)


Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Just like in Bosnia"

Just the other day I quoted Brendan O'Neill about how the hysterical Imperial propaganda about Bosnia fueled the jihad. Today I present the following video as an exhibit.

Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled's argument is simple. There are 20-30 million Muslims in Europe, and they are having babies. Europeans are not. So Muslims will become a majority "within 20 years". In order to prevent this (natural and desirable, by implication) course of events, the evil, ignorant infidels of Europe are out to "provoke" the Muslims, so they could have a pretext for ethnically cleansing them.

" they had in Bosnia."

See the video:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More Myths from the NY Times

"Hero to Some, Butcher to Others" is how New York Times' Dan Bilefsky describes Gen. Ratko Mladic. Good versus evil, black-and-white, typical for coverage of Bosnia (and the Balkans in general).

Here is just an example of the banality of journalistic evil:

On May 2, 1992, one month after the Bosnian Republic‘s declaration of independence, Mr. Mladic’s forces blockaded Sarajevo. They shelled the city and destroyed its mosques.

More than 10,000 people died in Sarajevo during the siege, including about 1,500 children. Thousands of Serbs also died in the Bosnian conflict.

The numbers given here are about as reliable as the "250,000 dead" canard repeated for so many years. The mosque claim is patently false. The part about Serbs shelling Sarajevo leaves out the part where Muslims shot up the Serb parts of the city. Honestly, the biggest surprise for me is the admission that "thousands of Serbs also died" in the war. That's more than the mainstream media ever dared admit before. Even so, it's an afterthought, and presented in passive voice, as if no one actually killed (or beheaded, burned, impaled or mutilated) those Serbs.

Bilefsky's "understanding" of Yugoslavia's collapse is equally facile:

When Slobodan Milosevic played on Serbian grievances to win control of Yugoslavia in the late 1980s, he also appealed to army officers, indoctrinated to maintain the old Yugoslav federation, that they had to act to prevent its dissolution.

Uh, what? Milosevic did not "win control" of Yugoslavia, he became president of one of its republics. And since when is teaching army officers to defend their country "indoctrination"?! To Bilefsky, a 45-year-old country may be "old," but I bet he would not describe the United States as "old federation" in an article about the misnamed Civil War, now would he? And the U.S. was 74 or 85 years old at the time, depending on whether we count from 1776 or 1787 (when the Constitution was adopted). Finally, wasn't Yugoslavia, in fact, disintegrating? And wasn't the army's job to, you know, prevent that?

Here's another sample of Bilefsky's turgid prose:

" Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1991, Mr. Mladic was ready to do his part in the schemes devised by Mr. Milosevic in the name of protecting and assuring the dominance of the Serbs, the largest ethnic group."

What "schemes" are these, precisely? And what "dominance"? If being derided as "bourgeois oppressors", divided between four republics, having several new "nations" (like "Montenegrins") carved out of them and being the only component of the federation sub-partitioned with autonomous provinces (Vojvodina and Kosovo, the latter being under Albanian domination for decades) qualifies as "dominance", I'd hate to see what subjugation would look like.

But the reason I decided to even bother writing about this is that Bilefsky included a juicy quote about Mladic hating "the West, Albanian nationalism, and Muslims" from "Seki Radoncic, a leading Bosnian investigative journalist."

Now that's just laugh-out-loud funny. Go Google "Seki Radoncic." He wrote a screenplay for a 2006 movie, a book about Muslims in Montenegro, and another book or two about police in Montenegro. The propaganda outfit IWPR describes him as "investigative journalist from Montenegro currently living in Bosnia." Stipulating he is, in fact, an investigative journalist (as opposed to, say, a tabloid muckraker - and those are a dime a dozen over there), he's not "Bosnian" and all, and much less "leading."

The biggest media empire in Bosnia is owned by one Fahrudin Radoncic. He is also a Montenegrin Muslim - or, as the Bosnian Muslims call them derisively, Sandzaklija - who rose from obscurity as the propaganda chief for the Izetbegovic regime. What are the odds that Seki and Fahrudin are related, and that this is the secret of Seki's success?

Either way, that Bilefsky quotes Radoncic as a "leading Bosnian investigative journalist" suggests that he's being fed "information" by the other Radoncic. Thus the New York Times becomes an outlet for Radoncic's Avaz, a government-subsidized daily blending tabloid journalism with vitriolic propaganda. Not that this is by any means hard.

Maybe the NYT should re-hire Jayson Blair. That way we'd get testimonies from "Srebrenica genocide" survivors, leading experts on Balkans politics, and even secret supporters of Ratko Mladic, all without the author ever leaving his New York cubicle. Saves the expense of a plane ticket, and is just about as credible, or truthful.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Turning Point

Legendary Soviet dissident and exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, died on August 3 in Moscow. He was 89.

Solzhenitsyn is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning "Gulag Archipelago," a three-volume novel/testimony about the Soviet prison camps. He spent eight years in the camps, a decade in internal exile, and 20 years of exile in the West, 1974-1994.

I would like to quote a portion of an interview he gave to the German magazine Der Spiegel, in July 2007; asked about the difficulties in relations between the West and modern Russia, he replied:

"I can name many reasons, but the most interesting ones are psychological, i.e. the clash of illusory hopes against reality. This happened both in Russia and in West. When I returned to Russia in 1994, the Western world and its states were practically being worshipped. Admittedly, this was caused not so much by real knowledge or a conscious choice, but by the natural disgust with the Bolshevik regime and its anti-Western propaganda.

This mood started changing with the cruel NATO bombings of Serbia. It’s fair to say that all layers of Russian society were deeply and indelibly shocked by those bombings. The situation then became worse when NATO started to spread its influence and draw the ex-Soviet republics into its structure. This was especially painful in the case of Ukraine, a country whose closeness to Russia is defined by literally millions of family ties among our peoples, relatives living on different sides of the national border. At one fell stroke, these families could be torn apart by a new dividing line, the border of a military bloc.

So, the perception of the West as mostly a "knight of democracy" has been replaced with the disappointed belief that pragmatism, often cynical and selfish, lies at the core of Western policies. For many Russians it was a grave disillusion, a crushing of ideals.

At the same time the West was enjoying its victory after the exhausting Cold War, and observing the 15-year-long anarchy under Gorbachev and Yeltsin. In this context it was easy to get accustomed to the idea that Russia had become almost a Third World country and would remain so forever. When Russia started to regain some of its strength as an economy and as a state, the West’s reaction - perhaps a subconscious one, based on erstwhile fears - was panic. (emphasis added)

Another shock to the Russians came when the Yeltsin government fell for NATO's bluff in June 1999 and betrayed Belgrade. Russian generals bypassed the Kremlin to try and salvage the shameful "peace" (which NATO interpreted as surrender, and acted accordingly), but their gambit ultimately failed when Washington was able to prevent additional troops and material from being flown in.

But by subjugating Serbia, the Empire "lost" Russia. Just six months later, Yeltsin was out, and Vladimir Putin was in. A strange coincidence? Solzhenitsyn did not seem to think so. He knew both Russia and the West all too well. I tend to believe him.