Hero Journalist Yulia Latynina – The Gift That Keeps On Goofing

Uncle Volodya says, "How many angels could dance on the head of a pin, if each was holding a Stinger missile? "

The Russian Flag, as normal people see it

Unable to resist the juicy morsel that is captured arms dealer Viktor Bout and the sweet lure of political opportunism, Hero Journalist Yulia Latynina once again dazzles us with her comprehensive knowledge of military weaponry, arms control or lack thereof, and the compulsive badness of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Some, if not all of her analysis seems inspired by her background as a science-fiction writer – or possibly by a big bag of glue – but what fascinates me about her articles is that they almost always lead somewhere I didn’t expect. Unless you believe them without question, of course, in which case they lead nowhere. Assuming you’re a fellow skeptic, please join me in a closer look at Ms. Latynina’s latest foray to the seamy underbelly of crime and corruption.

It goes almost without saying that Latynina’s hysteria is promptly amplified by stunt-double sidekick La Russophobe, Sancho Panza to Latynina’s Don Quixote. Although Latynina’s original headline is “Bout, Sechin and a Political Firestorm”, the La Russophobe piece is entitled “Latynina on Russia’s Criminal-Loving Leadership”, and the russophobia level is boosted yet again for the content headline; “Latynina Explains Why Russians Love Criminals”. A couple of more removes, and it’d be “Arms Dealer Bout is Vladimir Putin’s Love Child”, or maybe “Putin Grooms Bout For Russian Presidency”.

Well, as much as I enjoy comedy, let’s move on and see where this takes us. Just before we start, our intention is not to exonerate Viktor Bout. Perhaps he’s an adrenaline junkie – I couldn’t begin to imagine what would make him choose such a dangerous line of work, and he must have known that getting caught was an enormous risk. Something I find interesting is the implication that if he were to be returned to Russia, he’d be greeted with a hero’s welcome and immediately set free. I doubt that would be the reaction. Canada has pressed hard for the extradition of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, and if successful, the intention is to imprison him on arrival. In any event, the USA is going to have some tap-dancing to do when the trial gets around to where the U.S. Army knowingly used Bout’s transport services for direct support to military logistics.

Anyway, Bout’s a criminal by choice – no argument there. The second paragraph is where things begin to go off the rails, and this is entirely due to Latynina’s unfortunate choices and unsupported leaps of logic. Perhaps that’s a reliable practice in science fiction, but it seldom works in reality. We’re informed Bout’s arrest was for trying to sell 100 MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defence System) missiles to DEA agents pretending to be FARC members. Okay so far. But then, Latynina changes course. In an attempt to highlight her military chops, she goes on a meandering tour of the U.S. government’s supply of Stinger missiles to the Mujahedin. Yulia!!! That’s exactly the same thing – in principle – that Bout is headed to trial for doing! Remember? The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), AKA The Government, invited the Red Army in to help them crush the mujahedin. The United States government covertly supplied the mujahedin – remember, that’s the resistance – with missiles to help them fight the legitimate and recognized government of Afghanistan. So they were pro-Soviet; so what? What makes it different to what Bout did? Well, Bout did it for profit, and the U.S. government gave the missiles away and then bought some of them back – thank you, taxpayers – but how is that an inspirational example? Hey, remember who was an up-and-coming young military commander back then,  in the mujahedin effort to overthrow the government? Yes, that’s right: Osama bin Laden. Could you have cited a more toxic comparison? I don’t see how.

It gets worse. In her eagerness to provide a free plug for the awesome power of American weapons technology, Latynina gushes about how the “about 500” Stingers supplied to the mujahedin turned the tide of battle. Maybe so; many experts agree. But there are a couple of flies in that ointment. For one, many more missiles were transferred than she imagines – 300 in 1985 and another 700 in 1986. The mujahedin downed an incredible 275 aircraft (approximate) before the Red Army pulled out. Assuming these were all Stinger kills (unknown, but unlikely), that leaves about 725 missiles. Some of these had begun to show up in unpleasant places, such as the Pakistani Intelligence Service and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Algeria, even before the Soviet pullout had started. Russia acquired design data from the Greek Army, and the resulting SA-14 GREMLIN (Russian designator 9K34 Strela), one of the MANPADS missiles, is “a virtual copy of the Stinger”.

Had enough, No? In 1993, Muslim separatists shot down a Georgian airliner, killing everyone aboard. The heat-seeking missile used was widely believed to be a Stinger. Panicked, the CIA launched a buyback program that offered about twice the price of the Afghan Stingers (which, you’ll recall, the Afghans got for free) to try and recover the ones still floating around out there somewhere. Latynina says they were able to buy back about 300, although she offers no substantiation – I guess hero journalists don’t have to bother. But let’s assume that’s correct. That still leaves….how many? About 400 unaccounted for. Latynina suggests her apocalyptic example “gives you some perspective on what 100 MANPADS can do”. Well, what could four times that many Stingers in the hands of terrorists do? Quick!! Hide under the bed!!

Okay, come out from under there. For one thing, according to the Arms Control Association, “the rhetoric surrounding the MANPADS threat has become increasingly exaggerated and misleading”. For another, there are thousands of them out there, many looted from unsecured, unguarded arms depots in Iraq in 2003. Hiding under the bed won’t do any good. But it makes Bout’s puny 100 missiles look like a drop in the bucket, without excusing his conduct. Latynina’s dizzying leap of logic – that because Bout was trying to flog 100 missiles, he must “obviously” have had Russian government support – looks a little silly in that light. The U.S. Army let Iraqi insurgents get their hands on thousands of them; was that obviously a government-sponsored program? Maybe that’s where Bout got them. It makes a whole lot more sense than him showing up at the Kremlin with a requisition for 100 missiles and a couple of big trucks.

I haven’t seen what the prosecutor will throw at him if he is extradited to the U.S. to stand trial, of course. But now that I mention it, where are the 100 MANPADS missiles the DEA bought (or agreed to buy) from Bout? I’d be willing to bet they never even actually saw one; they likely have him on tape agreeing to the terms of the sale. If that’s the case, Bout can argue that he never actually had them – he just agreed to supply them. A smart lawyer (and for the kind of money Bout can pay, there are no stupid ones) would be all over that like Rush Limbaugh on a jelly roll.

In fact, the practice of supplying arms to the jihadis in Afghanistan was a decision that continues to circle and bite America in the ass. Despite bellicose rhetoric about a new Iranian-made mine being used against American tanks in Afghanistan, “…evidence from the U.S. Defense Department, Canadian Forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban itself suggests that the increased damage to NATO tanks by Taliban forces comes from anti-tank mines provided by the U.S. to the jihadi movement in Afganistan in the 1980’s”. These are mostly Italian-made TC-6’s.

We’ve got just enough time left to touch on Latynina’s breathless revelation of “international scandal” because there was some sleight-of-hand regarding the nationality of a captured aircraft that was found to be carrying weapons. So? Happens all the time. Back in the glory days of the Bush presidency, when the law was what he said it was, CIA ‘black flights” spiriting hapless detainees off to “extraordinary rendition” in countries that didn’t mind using creative violence to get answers routinely flew around Europe using the callsign of Jetsgo, a defunct Canadian airline from Montreal. Did you freak out, Yulia? I suspect not.

Stick to writing fiction, Yulia. It comes more naturally to you than analysis, and the pay is probably better.

Update: In case you missed it, the reference to CIA aircraft using bogus callsigns also contains this: “During the time the plane was in the air, USAFE changed some of the flight plan timings and at the same time the registration changed. The aircraft metamorphosed into 40112E but continued to be a Learjet 35 and was still JGO 80 and a humanitarian, government and diplomatic flight.

While the Learjet was on the ground at Tuzla, an Ilyushin 76 was loading a cargo of 45 tons of surplus weapons and ammunition sold off by the Bosnian military and destined for Rwanda in defiance of a UN embargo. The Ilyushin left Tuzla, flew over Italy and headed south in the direction of Africa. The American Learjet took off 55 minutes later.

In a report exposing arms trafficking to war-torn central Africa, Amnesty International has suggested that “US security authorities were engaged in a covert operation to ferry arms to Rwanda in the face of political opposition from the European Union”.

What’re the chances the Ilyushin belonged to Bout’s operations? Just a thought. How many other arms dealers out there have a fleet of Russian aircraft?

Further investigation of the Amnesty International allegation yields this.  It closes with “The arms industry is state terrorism and while the major powers get away with fuelling conflicts, the media keeps the general public ignorant about these issues”.

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49 Responses to Hero Journalist Yulia Latynina – The Gift That Keeps On Goofing

  1. Pingback: Hero Journalist Yulia Latynina – The Gift That Keeps On Goofing … | algertoday

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  3. Misha says:

    Congrats on the pingbacks Mark. Individually Googling the title of each your blog posts in quotations is another way of gauging your reach.

    Note the irony of how some of those perceived as anti-Soviet use the word “Hero,” which was used as a designation in Soviet times.

    I’m suddenly reminded of two issues having to do with a stated Red/Brown extremism in Russia and the use of “Hero.”

    During Yushchenko’s presidency, the Ukrainian government issued a decree recognizing WW II era Galician Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera as a “Hero.” Under a successor Ukrainian presidency that’s more representative of that former Soviet republic’s population, the pro-government Bandera support has been deemphasized. Note the irony of anti-Communist Bandera getting a hero designation.

    Related to that subject:

    http://www.eurasianhome.org/xml/t/expert.xml?lang=en&nic=expert&pid=2355

    http://www.russiablog.org/2006/04/yuschenkos_wife_and_the_ugly_h.php

    The commentariat has a way of spinning Russians with some views over others. Besides the subject of the above blog post is the singer who recently had it out in the open with Putin:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/olga-sherwood/poet-and-tsar

    Note the spin on the above piece. Others have a different and dare I say more accurate characterization of what transpired. Consider how some use “propaganda” to describe RT unlike some other venues covering political issues.

    Contrast the praises accorded to the “Hero” types with the negativity pinned on some Russians with a different take:

    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/07/nikita-mikhalkov-denikinist-state-averko.php

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Mike! Thanks as always for the great links! It’s funny, but I never thought about the word “hero” in that context. Latynina’s title is not entirely unearned, she did receive an investigative journalism award for her work on the story of that Italian journalist who was killed in Afghanistan. So she’s certainly not stupid, but she is both partisan and arrogant – and, according to A Good Treaty, bizarre to listen to in person. Additionally, it sometimes seems that every female journalist or columnist who works for the Moscow Times is a “Hero Journalist”.

      Russophobes consistently spin any encounter between a dissident and the government so that the dissident looks like an earnest, fundamentally decent supplicant who is asking for so little while the government is portrayed as a giant, slobbering, uncaring beast that stamps on his/her upturned face. Sometimes it IS more or less like that, but such instances are rare. In the encounter between Shevchuk and Putin, for example, Shevchuk seemed prepared to rely on anti-authoritarian cliches until the conversation was steered back on course by Putin. Shevchuk today is little different than the stop-the-war hippie musicians of America’s late 1960’s; how much respect do La Russophobe and her ilk have for them? But at the core of my revulsion for that sort of one-sided spin is the understanding that the sole reason western russophobes engage in it is destabilization of the Russian government. Making it harder for Russia to make any progress does the Russian public at large no favours, and stiffening the resolve of anti-Americanism in Russia blunts the effectiveness of many genuinely-helpful American initiatives. While some russophobes might actually feel some affection for dissidents they sponsor, they despise the Russian people at large. If Boris Nemtsov were to take over tomorrow, he wouldn’t be able to do it any better, and it’d be only a short while until russophobes hated him, too. If Putin really were destroying Russia as they constantly howl, they’d love him.

      • Misha says:

        Well said Mark.

        I share your take on Shevchuk.

        For hypocritically Machiavellian reasons, some use political hipsters in a way that they’d shun if directed at them.

        This point relates to how Cold War era Soviet media played up the anti-Vietnam War “flower power” youth in 1960s America.

    • Dan says:

      Interesting to see a pseudo-objective view on work of one the very few free journalists in ex-cccp by an unknown author… who are you, mister marknesop, how come an fsb agent is spitting pro-russian propoganda into the free world? ur involvment is so obvious and retoric – so cheap, that only few of ur readers, those who never dealt with russian propaganda machine would buy it. shame on you, mr. marknesop – unless u doing this for money. then at least u can claim urself being a regular political whore. that would be a valid excuse.

      • marknesop says:

        Not included with your package are (1) eyeglasses and (2) reading lessons. I notice that anything pro-Russian is “propaganda”, while Latynina’s drivel is an expression of freedom. Just as long as she keeps hyping a lifestyle of strip malls, fast food and low taxes for rich folks, right?

        • Dan says:

          As far as I know she’s not hyping for anything. u can safely stop putting ur words and ideas into opponent’s mouth to argue with them – that’s childish though of course expected from pro-russian seliger’s graduate.

          • marknesop says:

            If you’re trying to conceal your identity by appearing dumber than you actually are, Dan, people who can spell “opponent” can usually spell “your”. Why the shorthand? Is your supervised day pass about to run out?

            • Dan says:

              let’s not turn attention from the subj to my writing style. it is e-typing – short hand etc. i’d really love to know more about u – what is driving u and why do u express so much hate towards liberalism? putting Latynina’s story aside – do u personally sympathise current russian rhetorics? i actually do support what the “junior” president is saying. but the reality is so far from it…

              • marknesop says:

                I don’t hate liberalism. I’ve said before that I see Boris Nemtsov as a tragic fool who can’t get it through his head that the people don’t want his leadership – if they did, nothing could stop him getting elected. He couldn’t even get elected mayor of Sochi, his own home town. You can go on if you want about how the vote was suppressed in Sochi, Nemtsov couldn’t get his message out (although he gave speech after speech in which he had every opportunity to get his message out) As somebody said once – politics ain’t beanbag. Take a look at some of the vote-suppression tactics used in recent American elections, from phone-jamming to misleading advertising which misstated the party affiliation of candidates, to television that identified a transgressing and disgraced Republican as a Democrat. Is America a totalitarian state where democracy is just a cynical nod to propriety, while the corrupt state rages unchecked below the radar? You tell me, because that’s the way it’s sold when russophobes talk about Russia.

                I don’t hate liberalism – if the Russian people want it, they’ll say so, and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. I don’t hate liberalism, I hate Russophobia, and the foreign interests that push liberalism as a panacea – not because they think it will lead to progress and prosperity in Russia, but because it serves their purposes to stir things up and keep the country unstable. I don’t hate liberalism – I hate the people who journey to a foreign country and slander and spit upon their own for the entertainment of the uneducated, uninformed, deliberately ignorant public. What would Americans call an American who journeyed to Russia so he could tell Russians all about the corrupt American government, its coddling of the privileged class while it ground down the common man, and what a shithole America is? I can simplify your search – it’s not “liberal”.

                • Misha says:

                  Can you feel the love Mark?

                  You deserve a better level of opposition.

                  The more intelligent of folks who disagree with your views seem to be prone to taking (at least on the surface) an out of sight, out of mind approach.

                  Trying to defend the not so easily defendable leads some to engage in extremely managed (censored) situations.

                  Hence, we’re left with some really crank like opposition.

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t mind so much, especially when I can sense a weakening of conviction, a wanting to be convinced…to the best of my recollection, it was Latynina who introduced the hypothesis that special navigation equipment had been brought to Smolensk for the arrival of Putin and Tusk, which was subsequently removed – just in time to make Kaczynski crash. Others, even reputable news sources either quoted her or passed on the element of doubt. The facts that Putin arrived by helicopter, and didn’t need special navigation equipment, and that Kaczynski was not invited and left his plans up in the air until the last minute, were not mentioned. When an atmosphere of cooperation, understanding and coming together prevailed between Russia and Poland, Latynina did her best to poison it with irresponsible sensationalism, unsupported speculation and gratuitous malice.

                  So I don’t mind Dan’s thrashing around; there’s at least the possibility that he’s a decent sort who means no harm, and doesn’t even know what he’s worked up about. If Latynina really were the hero journalist who sacrificed to bring Russia a brighter day, rather than the strutting, preening, malicious peacock pandering to russophobic conservative interests that she is, I’d rally to her defense.

                  Flattery has brought low better than she.

  4. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    Hello Mark,
    you wrote that 1000 Stinger were supplied in 1985-86 to the Afghan guerrilla and that 275 aircraft were downed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Then you conclude that 725 stinger were left. In doing so, you’re making two unrealistic assumptions:
    1) all 275 aircraft were downed by stingers. This is obviously not the case, Soviet and Afghan airforces lost planes not only to stinger but also from AAA fire, even from small arms (like AK-47). Surely all losses before 1985 can’t be credited to stingers.
    2) to down 275 aircraft the Mujahedin fired exactly 275 missiles, but there is not any missile with a 100% kill rate even during tests against target drones. In real use against maneuvering targets with counter measures like flares, a 10-20% kill rate would be considered good performance for MANPADS.
    Also, missiles have an expiry date (the shelf life is between 10-15 years under ideal condition), so 20+ years old stingers are currently duds.

    I’ve a question for you tangentially related to Latynina and all other liberast “journalists”. I’ve read a few nuts like Alex Jones that looks like a western version of Latynina et al but they speak only from their own blogs/websites. Do you know of any such western liberast writing on major western newspaper?

    • kovane says:

      There are plenty of them:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/André_Glucksmann
      Behold, the Dark Prince of all liberast!
      I could also mention infamous Ed Lucas, he wrote for the Economist, I don’t know if he is still doing that. Nevertheless, whoever covers Russia for the Economist now is a certified liberast. There are many media-outlets with a distinct Russophobic stance: the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and many others.

      Look at the latest marvel of John McCain:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080605368.html

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Thanks for your answer Kovane, but I wasn’t asking about that kind of nuts (Glucksmann, Lucas, etc.) which are already known to me. The kind of nuts I’m looking for should met the following criteria:
        1) Always bash their own country/civilization.
        2) Firmly believe that some other country/place is perfect, or close to perfection or way much better that their own country.
        Obviously doing 1) and 2) in nutty ways.

        • marknesop says:

          I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen or read anyone like that. The nuts who scare me are those who glorify anything their own country does as if to be (insert nationality here) is to be divine. La Russophobe is like that, even to such trivial venues as professional sports. Sarah Palin is like that, too. Anyone who is genuinely interested in spreading an agenda of democratic freedom doesn’t behave that way. Military technology and certain product advances that offer significant opportunity for profit must or may be subject to proprietary rights, but as a general rule, any development or advance that improves the human quality of life without irreparably damaging something else (like the environment) should be made freely available to everyone. Keeping it to yourself so you can brag about how great you are while people elsewhere are living in misery isn’t a sign of national greatness. If you learned how to make water from sand, would you tell the Iranians? I would. It shouldn’t suggest I’d rather live in Iran, or think Iran should rule the world.

      • marknesop says:

        Wow. Nice piece, Senator McCain – did Randy Scheunemann write it? It doesn’t explain why, although Forbes inexplicably rated Georgia a relatively great place to invest, Foreign Direct Investment is anemic and currency devaluations have to compensate. Maybe the “good investment” advice results for Georgia being one of the poorest countries in the world – your investment can’t help but appreciate, especially if this article motivates the U.S. to throw another big batch of money into Saakashvili’s waiting palms.

        http://www.finchannel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23903&Itemid=50
        http://georgiamediacentre.com/category/tags/georgian_lari_exchange_rate

        Hey; remember last week, when a rise in the price of bread in Russia was a good reason for another anti-Putin rant? No problem with the rise of bread prices in Georgia, I guess.

        Sometimes I think it’d be nice to be John McCain, so I could just open my mouth and let bullshit tumble out, and nobody would ever dare call me on it.

        • kovane says:

          Mark,

          Once again I will step in to defend Misha (that’s very unusual for me, I think that he’s a short-sighted idiot). He indeed improved business conditions in Georgia: his debureaucratization and decriminalization of economy are evident. The problem with FDI is that Georgia doesn’t have any special strategic advantages, it’s mostly an agricultural country in a very unstable region. Nobody in a sane state of mind will invest serious money there.

          Even most Americans don’t buy McCain’s shit, look at the comments there, they are predominantly negative. And he’s receiving a big share of criticism in the American media, judging by a small number of programs I’ve watched.

          • marknesop says:

            You’re probably right, inasmuch as you know Georgia better than I do. I get much of my criticisms of Saakashvili from Georgia Media Centre, and they are an opposition site. Still, the numbers don’t lie, and devaluation in the lari has been fairly steady.

            And if there is sufficient will, trade agreements can be forged with regions that are mainly agricultural. It simply requires willingness to take a loss, or to at best break even. That’s the kind of trade agreement that sees me buying Royal Gala apples from New Zealand in my local supermarket when I live near one of the biggest fruit-growing regions in the country, the Okanagan Valley. It can’t cost the same to ship apples all the way from New Zealand as it does to truck them about 100 miles or less. We buy things we can grow for ourselves from other countries because of trade agreements. Other countries could forge the same sort of agreements for agricultural products from Georgia.

            I’ve never disagreed that Saakashvili is a smart guy. However, he’s also an impatient hothead who doesn’t have much time for the stately dance of diplomacy. And it’s cost his country his biggest election goal and promise – acceptance into NATO.

            I suppose what annoys me the most is La Russophobe’s constant adoring chatter (and now McCain’s) about how Russia should watch and learn from Saakashvili if they want to get their crappy country moving. Only from such a pair of psychos would you get advice to reform your economy by mimicking one of the world’s poorest countries.

            • kovane says:

              Agree on both counts.

              What I was saying is that FDI is attracted to projects with potentially high return on investment. Agricultural business can secure country’s place in the world economy and provide decent living standards, but it is certainly not catnip for FDI. It requires tedious implementation of technologies, taking into account local climate, soils, etc, and building up of trade routes. That’s what makes Misha the fool he is. Whether Georgia likes it or not, Russia is a natural market and trading partner for them. And Saakashvili is selling his country’s long-term interests for minor short-term gains (and not so minor gains for himself, of course).

              Europe has given in to the US pressure too much already and I guess they are not smiling at the prospect of waging nuclear against Russia just because Mishiko thinks it’s a good idea to kill a dozen of Russian soldiers. So, Georgia in NATO is off the table for a long time.

              I think it’s sheer madness to copy any country’s strategy, no matter how prosperous they are, because there’s always tons of specifics: a law framework, informal customs, economic conditions and many others. Hey, China is successful, why don’t we bring in Communism to the USA!

              • marknesop says:

                I can find nothing in your FDI analysis to argue with; you’re absolutely right. Agriculture is an economic cornerstone, but it’s not a powerful attractant for FDI, as you say. Georgia would be far better off to build better trade ties with Russia, but Saakasvili has poisoned the well with his rhetoric.

                He may have improved the business climate, but it’s still not attracting FDI, and if that doesn’t improve he will lose next time, no matter how much money he throws around. Hey, does Georgia have term limits? Can he stand for election again?

                If not, he won’t have much to show for his time in office, and will have left a very poor economic climate for his successor.

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Guiseppe. I did mention that it’s unlikely all anti-aircraft kills could be credited to Stinger, and I know for a fact that some were the result of small-arms fire concentrated on the tail rotor in the case of helicopter kills. Helicopter kills probably formed the majority of overall casualties, as they were both more widely-used in the war than fixed-wing aircraft, and came more often within the Stinger acquisition envelope. Nonetheless, I credited all the kills to Stinger merely to illustrate that there were AT LEAST that many missiles remaining unaccounted-for. There were probably a good many more; additionally, some sources suggest that many more Stingers were delivered than the 1000 the Slate reference records. Anyway, the 275-missile expenditure was a deliberate artificiality, accepting Latynina’s figures only to show that even if they were correct – which they can’t be – there were still many missiles left that the United States was unsuccessful in recovering.

      You’re correct that the battery life limitation means no unmodified Stingers could still be usable. However, there was no genius in the battery; it’s just a power source, and it would be relatively easy to replace. Stingers that were exclusively used by American forces were not useless once the oriinal battery ran down – they simply replaced the battery. The genius was in the discrimination of the seeker head, especially in later versions (the original was easily confused by the sun, for instance) and in the ruggedness, simplicity and reliability of the processing section. Stinger was a quantum advance in weaponry at least as much as Sidewinder was in air-launched heat-seekers (the serpent for which it is named has very poor eyesight, but can “see” a difference of less than one degree in heat between its prey and background desert). In both cases, it was much simpler to copy them than to try engineering something better. Like learning to play a great song that someone else has already composed, it’s fairly easy to improve on the original once the messy and monumental task of invention is out of the way.

      All of the people I know of who appear to loathe their own country, and constantly express lickspittle admiration for another, are on blogs. I can’t recall seeing anyone who writes for an actual newspaper. People like Noam Chomsky never, to the best of my knowledge, suggest they’d like to live somewhere else. They want the faults and hypocrisies in their own country to be corrected. My-country-right-or-wrong only extends so far, and it isn’t disloyal to criticize something that is actually wrong. Russians who criticize the things in Russia that need fixing aren’t wrong, either. The effort to focus it all on one person that they despise, chronic exaggeration of the problem and ignoring how common the practice is in the country you’re holding up as a model is wrong.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        It’s not just the battery that needs to be replaced, but also the warhead and engine propellant. Thought it may be easy to change the warhead, I think the engine propellant is not easily replaced.

        Thanks for your answer, that’s how I expected it to be. Every population criticizes his country/government (from constructive criticism to idiotic rants) but only in some countries you can find this criticism accompanied with sheer (and often misplaced) admiration for some other place. Russians and Italians belong to the latter group, so there are the liberasts in Russia and something close to liberasts in Italy. That is to say the liberasts exist because their behavior is more or less acceptable to their society.
        It would be easy to spin this observation into something like “There is more press freedom in Russia than in US, because Alex Jones writes on his small website, Latynina in a major newspaper”. Actually, what I see on western media is the opposite bias, like “Russian media have not fully reported this or that because of Kremlin fear/control/whatever”. Western media fail to realize that “this or that” can be irrelevant or unacceptable to report in the Russian society just like there are things that are irrelevant or unacceptable to report in the West.
        As an example (involving Italy, not Russia), some time ago I read on various US and UK newspaper that Berlusconi sex scandal was underreported by Italian media (underreported by US and UK standard), and that only an handful of opposition media reported it in full, implying and even plainly stating that this was due to censorships. But the reality is that a sex scandal in Italy is a hollow weapon, it is considered just rubbish for tabloids. By italian standards, that sex scandal was blown out of proportion, and the opposition media made a mistake with it. In fact they’re back to corruption accusations.

        • kovane says:

          Giuseppe Flavio,

          that’s very interesting. I haven’t known that there is the same problem in Italy. Please tell more about Italian liberasts. What media outlets do they write for?

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            Mostly for anti-Berlusconi newspaper, like Repubblica and l’Unità (l’Unità was the newspaper of the Italian Communist Party) or “Il Fatto Quotidiano”. They’re mostly obsessed with Berlusconi, like the liberasts with Putin, although they are not as extreme as the Russian liberasts.
            But the thing that qualifies them as quasi-liberasts is their worshiping of US/UK/Germany (well, actually their image of US/UK/Germany). As an example, the anti-Berlusconi crowd is against the italian participation in South Stream, their main argument against it being “The US doesn’t like it”. Another example is “After a sex scandal like that involving Berlusconi, an US/UK politician would inevitably resign”. I retort “Just like in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Luckily, unlike these countries we’re not a bunch of bigots and religious nuts”.
            To my knowledge, the most extreme italian liberast is Paolo Guzzanti, a journalist and a career politician that until last year was in Berlusconi’s party. He is obsessed with both his former boss and Russia, according to him the KGB killed Falcone and Borsellino (two judges that investigated the mafia) and Putin has sent compromising documents about italian politicians to Berlusconi (so that Berlusconi will be able to blackmail them). Obviously Guzzanti is an US-worshiper.
            I realize that it may seem strange to you that l’Unità changed from pro-Soviet to pro-US or that Guzzanti made such an about face, but that is quite common in italian politics. The word “trasformista” (transformist) is mostly understood as a political term in Italy, not as a term that designates a quick-change artist.

        • marknesop says:

          Giuseppe, thanks – that’s interesting, I never thought about the warhead and propellant. I agree the warhead would likely be an easy swap, and I imagine the propellant would be relatively easy to acquire as well. I’m not sure if it’s a solid fuel (probably) or liquid, in which case it would probably be JP-10. That’s just over-refined jet fuel. You could probably use a lot of substitutes provided you were willing to accept a reduced range. In both cases, I would think they’d have a longer shelf life than the battery.

          I don’t know how the behaviour of Russian liberasts is viewed in Russia, but western democracies love nothing more than some immigrant who’s willing to go on TV and say something like, “I came here a poor baker with nothing, and now I own my own bakery!! What a country!!!” If you’re not too cynical, it is heart-warming, but I submit it’s enjoyed not so much for how happy we are for that guy as it is for how good it makes us feel about ourselves and the country we live in.

          Constant screeching criticism of Putin might seem dangerous for Latynina, still living in Russia, and maybe he’d like to kill her just on principle to give everyone’s ears a rest. However, I’m sure he’s smart enough to know it would just make a martyr of her. What a story that’d be for La Russophobe! She’d be high on hate for a month.

          • Misha says:

            In English language mass media, there lingers a bias against patriotically responsible Russian views (whether expressed by Russians or non-Russians).

            There’s also the encouragement of what can be termed as a certain kind of a limited Russophile view to essentially serve as having the appearance of being open-minded.

            • marknesop says:

              It’s perfectly correct to criticize Russia for its shortfalls, which are legion. A country with that kind of money in the bank could be doing a great deal better at replacing crumbling infrastructure and giving its citizens a better standard of living. You don’t need to make shit up, the way La Russophobe and Yulia Latynina do. And they’re enablers, just the way Rush Limbaugh is. He’ll say, “Have we ever seen Obama’s birth certificate?” when everyone with a brain knows everybody in the world has seen it, and close with “just puttin’ it out there, folks” and, before you can say “Bring a chicken to the doctor”, some Republican assrocket like Sue Lowden is quoting him. Newspapers like to pick up on the comments of bigots like La Russophobe, because newspapers are in business to promote controversy rather than to build consensus. Controversy sells papers. Consensus is boring. Everything John McCain says is news, because you never know when he might shit his pants right on TV, or shout, “What was that purple flash? I smell pencil shavings!!” and topple over dead of an embolism. Who wouldn’t want the scoop on that?

              Criticism of another country should be clearly expressed as an opinion and not a fact, and making it all stick and no carrot is just about the best way to ensure your criticism will bring nothing but resentment. Fair criticism balanced with encouragement for any progress made yields much better results. But people like Latynina and La Russophobe don’t care about progress, because their goal isn’t rapprochement. Their goal is resentment.

              Many of those whose opinions I respect are mildly critical of Russia, while remaining realistic as to what can reasonably be done within what timeframe and being honestly upbeat about the aspects of Russia they like and admire.

              • Misha says:

                Constructive criticism of Russia in English language mass media is lacking for sure.

                One of numerous examples is on the Russian government’s decision to recognize Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence. Let alone simple common sense, from a pro-Russian perspective, there’s a basis to second guess that move, which differs from what Edward Lucas (at a CSPAN televised RFE/RL event) and Andrei Zolotov (on a PBS aired show favoring Sorosian views) have said.

                Based on what has been evident, a truly “open society” isn’t one where neocon/neolib establishment outlets and the Russian government involved venues are greatly influencing who does and doesn’t receive top billing.

                Accountability is often lacking to the point that American sports journalism (at times) comes across as being of a comparatively better quality.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            To my knowledge, only early surface to air missile used liquid fuel, so I suppose stinger and similar missiles use solid fuel. Making solid fuel for missiles is not as easy as making explosives, because you may accept a less effective warhead, but with an too much ineffective solid fuel the missile can’t even sustain itself. Also, a weak warhead can be compensated with the use of more missiles, but short range can’t be improved with more missiles.
            I came here a poor baker with nothing, and now I own my own bakery!! What a country!!!
            We in Italy would react like this:
            a) One less bakery in italian hands! (right-winger);
            b) This shows that immigrants can integrate… bla bla bla… multi-ethnic society… bla bla bla… (leftist);
            c) So what? There is nothing special in a bakery;
            d) Wait till you’ll see how much taxes you have to pay;
            e) I’d like to know where he stole the money to make his own bakery;
            c) d) e) apply to italian bakers as well.

            • marknesop says:

              I think you’re right; liquid fuels tend to leak under the sort of rough-handling conditions you might get backpacking around the Khyber Pass, and solid fuels are part of second-generation missiles onward. Solid fuels take a long time to decay, and solid fuel for weapons is well-known to all military-industrial nations. As mentioned, the SA-14 is virtually a copy of the Stinger, and I’m sure they didn’t buy their propellant from the U.S.

              In any case, the Stingers did their work by jump-starting a whole generation of similar weapons, and even if not one (original Stinger) is still operational, it was still an enormously bad deal for the U.S. government. I’d be willing to bet there were no mid-level military decision-makers in on that one. They’d have said, don’t do it, for all the reasons that later became realities. Politicians don’t think beyond the next election and usually can’t resist the sexiness of military intervention. Covert? Even better. Very senior military officers are usually not much different from politicians.

              The Italian-baker sketch is funny, you have a sense of humour. Don’t let Kovane tell you he has none, because he’s funny, too. Anyway, the righties and the lefties in the host country would react like (a) and (b), too – (a) There’s another greasy immigrant, taking (insert nationality here) jobs, or (b) Isn’t it wonderful how our culture is growing rich from external influences, we’re all better for it, it’s beautiful how happy he is to be (insert nationality here).

  5. Kremlin Stooge, we are offended by your slander of our good friend Viktor Bout and demand an apology and immediate reimbursement of our funds (made payable to the owner of our front organization Sublime Oblivion).

    In reality, it is to everyone but the Anglo-Marxists who rule the US that Viktor Bout is a successful, upstanding entrepreneur and true Randian hero. We condemn the jealous collectivists who seek to indict him and who have, it seems, subverted you to their nefarious statist cause. Indeed, why should rent-seeking parasites like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin enjoy government privileges and crush enterprising individuals like Bout under their iron heels of Commiefascism?

    Second, not only is Bout a businessman of truly Atlantean stature, but he is THE political dissident of our times for standing up to the Powers That Be in Washington. Truly, it pains our heart to hear you, a supposed democrat, calling Bout a common criminal. It’s Orwellian. Sakharov must be shrugging in his grave!

    Third, and most important, Bout has the most impeccable social policy credentials. His specialization in supplying RPG’s and AK’s at knockdown rates – as opposed to the multi-billion $ toys and bloated costs of the American military-industrial complex – makes his business a profoundly pro-poor one, and one that allows Third World nations to produce kills at similar per capita cost margins to more developed ones.

    As a side benefit, his business also makes a positive contribution to the overpopulation problem. (If only there were a hundred Bouts, we wouldn’t have to worry about it at all!) Again in stark contrast to the American MIC, which accentuates privilege and inequality, Bout’s products are profoundly leveling, with the invisible hands of the markets he creates divesting society of its poorest and most useless elements.

    Here, here! Who is John Galt? Viktor Bout!

    One day he’ll be back, and great will be the woe unto his foes in the hour of His Return!

  6. marknesop says:

    Ummm….gee….where should I send the check? Ahhh….sorry, Viktor. Please don’t give me the red hole right there (pointing to forehead).

    We’re on the same page where the bloated military-industrial complex is concerned, not to mention the apparently-irresistible urge to meddle in the affairs of other governments. And to pass judgment on how everyone is doing.

    • marknesop says:

      Do you have an account there? They keep saying I am from the USA. If you have an account, could you correct them? Maybe it’s already reflected in the comments; I didn’t read them all.

      Thanks for the congrats! That’s number two – the Georgia/Saakashvili piece was picked up as well.

      • kovane says:

        http://inosmi.ru/social/20100827/162492145.html

        comment on 28/08/2010, 02:06

        “Уважаемый Mark Chapman просил отметить, что он канадец, а не американец.
        От себя хотел бы добавить, что предположение со стингерами – чисто гипотетическое, цель его – показать абсурдность версии Латыниной. Читайте комментарии на сайте автора, он об этом четко говорит.”

        Mark,

        I told you that you’re doing a great job. You’re gaining more and more recognition among Russia-watching bloggers and commenters. And INOSMI couldn’t go past your successes.
        I think you have a great talent for explaining rather complex things in clear and simple terms. Please keep up your writing, it’s very helpful and pleasant to read.

  7. Ennio Morrikone says:

    “Russia acquired design data from the Greek Army, and the resulting SA-14 GREMLIN (Russian designator 9K34 Strela), one of the MANPADS missiles, is “a virtual copy of the Stinger”.”

    “9K34 Strela” build date is 1974. So russian army have time machine and stole stinger’ design from future?

    • marknesop says:

      I don’t know – I wasn’t there. That’s what the reference says. Actually, it’s very carefully worded, and says in one sentence that Russia got the Stinger design from the Greek Army. In the next it says Strela is a virtual copy of Stinger. So? They’re both designed for the same purpose and use the same target acquisition. It stands to reason they would be similar, it’s not a complex missile. Or, the reference could simply be wrong; it’s not a defence magazine, it’s a political magazine.

      I remember during the Iraq war, there was a report from some partisan American newspaper that U.S. forces had discovered a buried cache of Roland anti-air missiles (built by France) in Iraq. Of course that suited their purposes, because France was hated then. They even cited the date of manufacture on the missiles – 2002, if I remember right. But the Roland missile production line shut down in the mid 90’s, and no more were produced after that. The story just quietly went away.

      It’s entirely possible the Strela is completely Russian designed and built. But with any new technology, it’s always cheaper to steal the design after the research is done, and every nation tries to do that. You can bet nobody else wants to pay for the research that went into development of the Skhval torpedo.

      • kovane says:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strela_2
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9K34_Strela-3

        I guess what Morrikone was trying to say is that Strela had been developed way before the USSR entered the Afghan war. Strela 2 was adopted in 1968, Strela 3 – in 1974, so the question whether its design was copied from Stinger’s is up to a specialist to decide. I’ve found no mention of that in the internet.

        • marknesop says:

          Hi, Kovane; it’s certainly possible he’s right; I probably should have checked. However, just because Stinger was traded to the Afghans in the 1980’s doesn’t mean it was a new weapon then – it wasn’t; it, too, has been around for a while. The whole principle of infrared detection and tracking was, in fact, lost to the Soviets shortly after its development at the China Lake research facility, when the first Sidewinder air-to-air missiles were developed and tested. But I didn’t mean to suggest Russia needs to steal secrets in order to develop weapons. Everyone indulges in industrial espionage, to try to save on R & D (Research and Development) costs, which can be astronomical. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Skhval torpedo, which I mentioned earlier. Essentially, torpedo design had hit a wall – you just couldn’t make a cylindrical object go through the water any faster than it could do already. Pretty much every combination of motor and stabilizer configuration had been tried. Russian scientists were the first to ask: what if it could travel through air? The Skhval exhausts through its nose, so it is always driving through a tunnel of its own bubbles. It’s phenomenally fast, and probably if you’re close enough to hear it launched, you can’t avoid it. The only disadvantage is that its a straight-runner, not guided. The best you could do is try to turn into it to make your silhouette smaller, and hope it missed.

          The United States also borrowed heavily from Russian research into air-cushion vehicles like the Aist class (I think Russia called it the Dzheyran).

          • kovane says:

            Yes, of course, I understand that. It’s also honest to say you’re probably more knowledgeable about this area (military technologies) that an absolute majority of the commenters at INOSMI (I got the impression that you’re a military officer). But you can’t blame them for being slightly jealous: having read so many articles in the Western media denigrating everything Russian, they are understandably suspicious of any attempt to detract from Russia’s achievements. I also agree that stealing technologies is not something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s an extremely clever and cost-effective way to advance development, and I think all countries resort to it. Hell, the Soviet Union stole the nuclear weapon design and it was one of the biggest coup in the history of technological development.

  8. Peregrinus says:

    Yes, Latynina made a mistake, and so did you.
    In late 2001, Pentagon officials acknowledged that not 500, not even 1,000, but 2,000 Stringer missiles were given to Afghan mujahedins in 80s. While $65 mln had been allocated to buy them back, some are still in Afghanistan, albeit with dead proprietary batteries. She is quite correct in regard of influence of Stinger on the course of that war, though.

    And – yes, her main point it is right on – while resembles US actions in 80s, today’s sale of antiaircraft missiles to FARC quite contradicts with (I hate to brake this news for you) latest trends in US-Russian relations. That of course if Russian authorities or people close to circle of power was aware of such a sale. I must say, that so far efforts of minister Lavrov’s team are quite an indicator in favor of this theory.

    So, tell me, in what way your hysteria is different from idiots like La Russophobe?

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Kovane, and well said. You didn’t read very carefully, Peregrinus. I did mention that some sources suggest there were many more missiles transferred to the Afghan movement. I did also acknowledge it’s possible the assessment that it changed the tide of the war was correct. Dead batteries is not an issue. I’m afraid I didn’t notice any hysteria.

    • marknesop says:

      No, wait – you’re right; I didn’t specifically mention that the Afghans received 2000 missiles. That’s because the source that posited the higher number is Wikipedia, which I try to stay away from unless I can’t find the information anywhere else. If you found it somewhere more reliable, could you please post it?

      However, you’re confused on what is Latynina’s main point. If you’re saying that when the U.S. supported the resistance in the 1980’s against the duly elected government, that was right and noble, but Bout’s support of FARC (the resistance) against the duly elected government is wicked and contemptible – that isn’t anybody’s point, because neither of us said that. Latynina seems to argue that 100 missiles – that are more or less the same threat as Stinger – in the hands of FARC is somehow much more evil than four times that number (at least) of Stingers in the hands of the Mujahedin and their associates. Nonsense. If you’re saying Latynina’s point is that both actions were equally reprehensible, but the U.S. action put the world more at risk owing to greater numbers of missiles unaccounted for, great: because that’s my point, not hers. Let me know when FARC shoots down a civilian airliner with one of Bout’s missiles (which they never got), and we’ll call it square.

      I have never attempted to suggest Bout’s a good guy, and he should be freed with apologies for rough handling. I don’t expect that’s why Russia wants him back. But I don’t agree the large number of missiles supposedly for sale automatically presupposes government involvement. There are plenty of places Bout could score 100 MANPADS, not least of all, Iraq. And the Russian government had nothing to do with the careless security of known weapons dumps in Iraq that resulted in thousands of them disappearing.

  9. kovane says:

    I’m pretty sure Mark can answer for himself, but I couldn’t help myself but to step in.

    First of all, It was Latynina herself who wrote about 500 stingers, not Mark.

    “her main point it is right on” or in Russian “в главном то она права!”

    Yeah, totally. The US, selling stingers to terrorists, directly fighting against the USSR, is practically the same as when some rogue arms-dealer promises to sell MANPADs to FARC, which has nothing to do with the US.

    Lavrov’s duty is to protect all Russian citizens abroad, which he is doing in this case.

    So, tell me, does Latynina share her glue with you?

  10. kovane says:

    So, we are presented with a great opportunity to learn more about the matter:

    http://www.gazeta.ru/interview/nm/s3414774.shtml

  11. Pingback: Dancing With Delusion – Military Strategy 101 with Yulia Latynina | The Kremlin Stooge

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