General Wesley Clark Quarterbacks the Great Game – America’s National Strategery

Uncle Volodya says, "In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.”

Uncle Volodya says, “In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time.”

Remember, a few months back, when the United States was not going to get involved in a “bidding war” over Ukraine? Back then (beginning of December, 2013), America was faintly disdainful at the notion of getting down in the mud and wrestling over Ukraine. In fact, although that reference is not the main support for this post, it contains such a wealth of rich ironies that I want to stay with it for a couple of minutes.

Starting with the hot-button statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, otherwise known as The Arch-Fool of President Obama’s buffoon government, that “violence has no place in a modern European state”. He was referring to clashes between Maidan protesters and state police in Kiev, which later turned from merely violent to deadly, resulting in the shooting deaths of protesters and police by what Kiev’s ‘investigation’ recently determined were rogue elements of the Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, in another of a disgraceful series of Ukrainian governmental cover-ups that often serve the dual purpose of getting rid of political opponents.

That so, John? Perspectives change rapidly in politics, I probably don’t have to tell you, because it wasn’t much later before the Arch-Fool and his colleagues opined that President Poroshenko had “a right to defend his country”.

Here’s a look at how he’s defending it: this is Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, in Donetsk. It hasBirds fly near the traffic control tower of the Sergey Prokofiev International Airport damaged by shelling during fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in Donetsk been completely destroyed, a write-off, by the Ukrainian Army. In case you wondered, this Donetsk is indeed in Ukraine.

Only a couple of years ago, in 2012, Ukraine spent $470 million on it getting it ready for the Euro 2012 football championship, which Ukraine co-hosted.

 

This is what it looked like then.

wpid-332390_171366672966209_1870365738_oThe Donetsk international airport was completely destroyed, in Ukraine, by Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Army shelled and bombed it to prevent it being used to resupply federalist rebels who did not want to be governed by Kiev, although God knows where that resupply was supposed to come from.  Once they took it, they used it as a stronghold from which to indiscriminately shell the city of Donetsk, killing dozens of civilians. In trying to dislodge government forces to prevent this, the federalists also shelled it, and finally took possession of the shattered, burned-out ruin. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Europe, Government, Law and Order, Military, Politics, Russia, Strategy, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 769 Comments

It Looks Like Putin is Winning, Which is the Surest Sign Yet That He is Losing

Uncle Volodya says, "Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps. Right, Liliushka?”

Uncle Volodya says, “Some mornings, it’s just not worth chewing through the leather straps. Right, Liliushka?”

Hey, is it Monday? Well, it is here, or was when I started writing. That must mean it’s time for another crazy article by Carnegie Moscow Centre’s resident sexagenarian dissident, crazy old bat and Petro-Poroshenko-for President-of Russia oligarch admirer Lilia Shevtsova! And sure enough, with the implacable certainty of death and taxes, here she is  in another self-lampooning caricature of phone-it-in journalism, telling us in the most lurid cold-war terminology that Putin is headed for a defeat so cataclysmic, so decisive that he will be pounded like a nail right through the earth to come out, befuddled and disoriented, in his antipodean obverse in the Pacific Ocean just south of Australia. Don’t forget your lifejacket, Mr. President!

Her narrative is laced with apocalyptic idioms that are the stuff of State Department wet dreams – “Mr Putin has unleashed the process he cannot stop and made himself hostage to suicidal statecraft. “ Oooh, here’s a good one: “He can rule only by subjugating the nation in a way that only war can justify.” And a perennial Cold-War favourite, “But the propaganda that plays endlessly on Russian television channels will not mesmerise [the public] for long.”

Lilia Shevtsova has a rock-solid claim on the Cold War; she lived through it. Although it is apparent now that it never ended, was merely suspended while the west watched with bated breath to see if Boris Yeltsin could accomplish his assigned mission of turning Russia over to new custodians for dismantling, it is acknowledged by U.S. historians to have begun in 1945 and ended in 1991. Lilia Shevtsova would have missed only the first 4 years of it, and was born a Cold-War baby in Lviv (what a surprise, he said in the sarcastic manner which suggested it was not a surprise at all) in 1949. In the 2008 poll of Top Public Intellectuals, she ranked 36, for reasons that are a mystery to me, since her delivery in typical articles like the one that is the subject of this post sound like they were cribbed directly from  J. Edgar Hoover’s files.

She has occupied a number of prestigious posts, including Director of the Center for Political Studies and Deputy Director of the Institute of International Economic and Political Studies, both in Moscow. Rounding out her dissident chops, in addition to her aforementioned perch at the Carnegie Moscow Center she is a fellow of Chatham House, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, and Georgetown University as well as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Although she is of course fluent in Russian – she lives there – in her heart she is about as Russian as a funnel cake. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Government, Investment, Law and Order, Military, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Trade, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1,122 Comments

People Would Rather Believe Than Know: Activists Gone Wild

Uncle Volodya says, "The question is whether privileged élites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena.”

Uncle Volodya says, “The question is whether privileged élites should dominate mass-communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely, to impose necessary illusions, manipulate and deceive the stupid majority, and remove them from the public arena.”

Once upon a time I believed that the premiere, crème de la crème occupation in which you could be a total rolling on the floor, snapping at your own entrails, certifiable kook and still get respect – even acclamation – from the public was psychologist. After all, there are no wrong answers in psychology: the psychologist is not particularly interested in hearing you give the book answer, and is far more interested in what made you choose the response you did give. While that might be a science which reveals volumes about the human condition and baseline mental state, it also permits the practice, within the profession, of the aforementioned kooks who are merely grooming some kookie theory which has no basis in reality. It doesn’t mean all psychologists are kooks, but you could be a kook and fit right in among respected psychologists without causing a ripple.

Anyway, perhaps that was never really true of psychology. That’s just what I believed, but even if it were true, psychology couldn’t hold a candle to another professional pursuit for entertaining fantasy, wallowing in bullshit until you have to squint to see where you’re going, and prevalence of crazy people. And that professional pursuit is…drumroll, please…human-rights activist. And the craziest human-rights activists under the earth’s sun are those who write for the Kyiv Post.

Exhibit A – “Cargo 200 From Ukraine To Russia” Facebook group founder Eleva Vasilieva. According to Ms. Vasilieva, 4,000 Russian soldiers and mercenaries have been killed or are missing so far fighting in Ukraine.

That’s quite a statement, and certainly speaks to the ferocity of the Ukrainian military when you consider that according to the UN, only about 2,593 people have been killed in total – including civilians – between mid-April and 27 August 2014. While Ms. Eleva’s records tell her a thousand Russian soldiers were killed just in the battle for Ilovaisk, in only two days. Continue reading

Posted in Government, Military, Politics, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | Tagged , , , , , | 326 Comments

Counting The Dead – Soviet Losses in the Second World War – New Comment Thread

Uncle Volodya says, "There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. 'If I have seen further than other men,' said Isaac Newton, 'it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Uncle Volodya says, “There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. ‘If I have seen further than other men,’ said Isaac Newton, ‘it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

I concede defeat: I am too busy to post a new article right now, don’t even have one started, so it’s probably a couple of days away, and we have gone way over the comfortable level for comments to the point where the post is getting slow and clunky to load. You know all this already, I’m just blabbering to get enough text so that the picture doesn’t go out of alignment. I hoped to have something new ready, and God knows there’s no shortage of material, or people to make fun of. But I just can’t find the free time. So please carry on as before, just in a new spot that should load up faster.

Posted in Uncategorized | 332 Comments

Counting The Dead – Soviet Losses in the Second World War

Uncle Volodya says, "There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. 'If I have seen further than other men,' said Isaac Newton, 'it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Uncle Volodya says, “There is not a discovery in science, however revolutionary, however sparkling with insight, that does not arise out of what went before. ‘If I have seen further than other men,’ said Isaac Newton, ‘it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’ve added a new page for research papers – entitled, appropriately enough, “Research Papers”. The first contribution to it (well, I may add some older material to it later, like Jen’s research on the Caucasus and Ukraine’s economy) is hoct’s “Breaking Down Soviet WWII Losses”.

What a piece of work. Although educated opinion does play a part in anything for which we cannot find exact statistics, this is not an opinion piece – it’s a magnificent chunk of a person’s time and persistence and patience and intelligence. Meticulously researched and diligently substantiated, it stands, for me, as the best collected and assembled work on the subject that I have ever seen. It is truly an honour to be allowed to publish it here.

Hoct (Hero Of Crappy Town) now stands revealed to the readership as Marko Marjanović, from Ljubljana, Slovenia. He describes himself thus; ” Blogger and history enthusiast writing from Ljubljana. Works as a machinist in a manufacturing plant. Rothbardian anarchist in terms of politics and ideology”. His blog can be found at http://www.crappytown.com/ , and is highly recommended for serious and well-researched content on the region and Europe. Academics researching this particular subject could do far worse than to give this article a long look. I’m still copying over the bibliography, and it’s slow going, but the meat of the research is there and I encourage all interested to check it out. Meanwhile, here’s hoct to introduce it himself:

The 26.6 million people the Soviet Union is usually believed to have lost in the Second World War is the biggest population loss of any country in any war. This being the case one might assume that the topic of Soviet war death has received a great deal of scholarly attention and that scholars so far have had a great deal to say to the public regarding this topic. In fact the opposite is true. Scholars have made only tardy and at times uncertain progress in shedding light on the question of how many Soviet citizens lost their lives in the Second World War and in what circumstances.

To begin with, at times the problem may have been the objective lack of useful primary sources relating to a desperate and chaotic conflict that is now 70 years old. More than that the archives in the Soviet Union were closed and the research by both foreign and Soviet historians greatly impeded. Morever the latter had to contend with censorship. Historians abroad did not, but in the climate of the Cold War, there reigned a certain level of disinterested in the question of how many Soviet citizens perished in the Second World War. The question that excited the Russia-specialists in the West was instead how many people had perished due to repression of the communist Soviet Union against its own citizens. Continue reading

Posted in Education, Europe, Government, Military, Politics, Russia, Slavs, Stalin, Strategy, Western Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1,041 Comments

The First-Ever Fern of England Photo Caption Contest

Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)” 
Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.


Finalists at World Imperialist Poker Championship (Ultimate Doom Edition) agree to play one last round before competing against the current champion (not pictured)

Lurch, the butler, struggles bravely to hold in fart before getting up to distribute cards and chips to the players. Miss Susan, the skullduggery maid, searches for choke-proof pretzels, before serving beers. Judges discuss whether next year’s final will be held in conditions of nuclear winter.

This is a fortuitous moment to take action on an idea proposed by Fern, as the comments are beginning to stack up in the previous post and I am going to be doing “family time” again and will be drawn away from posting and reading. Also, we have an intro coming up from hoct which will lead into publication here on a new page of scholarly articles, this post to deal with researched data on Soviet losses during the war. All things I am looking forward to but have little free time to implement.

So, the photo caption contest. Everyone knows how that works. It’s named after Fern – whose surname I do not know, hence the “Fern of England” thing – because it was her idea, and Fern will therefore be the judge as well. This unfortunately means she cannot be a contestant herself: hey, I don’t make the rules. Oh, wait – I do. Anyway, since she is the only judge and decision-maker, it stands to reason she cannot be a contestant. Feel free to carry on the discussion from the last post, but please open with your own entry to the photo-caption contest; after that, each can talk about whatever he/she likes as we are accustomed to do. But everyone’s first comment must include a suggested photo caption. On….let’s say Tuesday, Fern will render her verdict. Once the winner is announced, I will send them a prize of a brand-new, never-worn, one-size-fits-all baseball cap bearing the logo of MEGGITT Training Systems Canada, a subsidiary of a huge European defense conglomerate called EADS (European Aeronautics Defense and Space), which has since changed its name to Airbus. That might have something to do with a fairly-recent financial scandal that inspired a company-wide shakeup; might not. Whatever the case there, MEGGIT Training Systems Canada is small fry in the big pond and could have had nothing to do with Euro-gangsterism. MEGGITT makes remote-controlled targets for the Royal Canadian Navy, chiefly the Hammerhead surface target and the Vindicator air target, as well as the jet-powered air DT series. I was there for that last photo; it features my then-Commanding Officer, Commander Hayden Edmundson (HMCS REGINA) and Meggitt Training Systems Canada’s then-president, Spence Fraser, a former naval officer himself. He recently departed following a nasty head-butting contest with head office, and although he was indeed a stubborn guy, he was a visionary and dynamic leader whose advocacy for the company the parent firm were fools to let go. Behind them are a DT-25 Carrier, with the smaller DT-55 slung on the belly. This provides a very realistic scenario in which the DT-25 acts as a closing aircraft, which then looses off an air-to-surface missile (the DT-55) at you. Speeds are comparable with actual profiles (450 knots for the DT-55 or 517.8 mph, and it’s tiny, only 1.6 m long) , factoring in the size of the target compared with its real counterpart. I know, because I shot at this very target combination after the photo was taken. All this information is straight off the net, no classified sources.

The ball cap itself – which is plain black with the MEGGITT logo – has history as well. I originally obtained it from MEGGITT’s RCN Special Projects Officer, John Leblanc, as a gift for Yalensis, who had won some point of discussion much earlier here on the blog. His chronic nervousness regarding personal security meant he declined to provide a mailing address (he’s a very private person, which is entirely his own affair), and it has since then been cluttering up my closet, awaiting a proud owner.

There: doesn’t that make you want it? Same rules as for the coffee mugs: if you win and prefer to donate it to someone else, you can do so. Obviously you can only win once, because I don’t have any more of them.

It’s on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 743 Comments

North America Needs a Volunteer Movement

Uncle Volodya says, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. "

Uncle Volodya says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. “

Anyone who pays attention to anything I say might have noticed my commenting and general presence have been a little light over the past few days; whether at work or at home, I have barely been at my desk or at my house over the period. Last week was a killer, and I just could not spend the time on the blog I would like to. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, I don’t do this for a living, but for fun. I’m aware that the huge queue of comments bogs things down and makes the page run slow – sometimes even crashing the browser (which is funny when you think about it, because so far I have used only 4.14 MB of my allowable space, which barely moves the needle, for the whole blog. How long does it normally take your computer to crunch up 4 MB? Typically not very long), but I can’t seem to get posts out any faster, and I am loathe to discourage free-thinking comments because the Russia-watcher blogosphere agrees we have hands-down the best comment section on the web: I am in awe of the amount of great information, thought and discussion generated by you guys.

Very much in that spirit comes this post, by Johan Meyer. A recent commenter here, Johan is a South African from Saskatchewan – a little like a griffin in a garage in that the two seem to have little in common but a shared first letter – and I think we have quickly learned to respect his intellect and be intrigued by his thinking and analysis.  In this post, Johan articulates the need for volunteerism to change the narrative and the direction in North America – a very timely point to make, as I have frequently said it is easy to criticize but much harder to propose solutions. See what you think. Johan?

“In prosperous times migration, outside of work responsibility and vacation, is a rite of old age – one’s responsibilities are taken care of, and one seeks to visit the places that stirred one’s imagination in youth. A few move early, and adopt new homes, but mostly, people go through life in the regions of their birth.

Entire continents are in migration. People flee poverty, disease, and -often foreign-sponsored – political regimes. Others flee with the loot. Neither group is very welcome with their hosts, whether within their native continents, or in ‘the west’.

The host societies grow loath to provide further training and employment of the migrants and their descendants, leading variously to crime – migrants are often housed, with the native underclass, in dilapidated older structures with lead paint, or near freeways, where they may breath the leaded exhaust fumes – now more remaining exhaust fallout, and the arriving generation is often from high lead poisoning countries; riots – crime and unemployment lead to contempt from the police; terrorism – a new generation finds meaning in instrumental yet fringe ideologies addressed mainly to them, such that they become others’ soldiers. The lucky ones end up in ethnic mafias, or employed in dead-end service jobs. By fleeing, their parents failed to escape. Continue reading

Posted in Corruption, Education, Government, Investment, Politics, Strategy | Tagged , , , , | 890 Comments