Welcome to Another Episode of “Who Believes That??”, Starring Boris Nemtsov

Uncle Volodya says, "You're a funny guy, Boris. I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last."

You have to wonder if there’s a big, untapped pool of stupid people out there. I mean, somebody must think there is, because otherwise Boris Nemtsov’s cheering section would stop featuring him in lengthy interviews stiff with beefcake photos of him, which get about 50 lies to the gallon. Bloggers of Anatoly Karlin’s calibre blew his “Putin is bad for Russia” report into the weeds nearly a year ago, dissecting it mercilessly until even people who flunked out of math in Grade 6 could grasp that his figures have no relationship to reality, and that he must have learned demographics in a far more oxygen-rich atmosphere than this one.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s look at this I’ve-got-such-a-crush-on-you declaration of schoolboy love to Boris Nemtsov, from Mumin Shakirov. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!! I couldn’t find much about Shakirov, except that he works for RFE/RL as well as Open Democracy, does a lot of interviews with people willing to bad-mouth Russia with surprisingly little prodding, and is supposedly a producer. Of romantic comedies, is my guess; you’ll see why. Anyway, he sounds like one of those bitter émigrés who is eager to show his new country what a good citizen he is by selling out his former country, and interviewing the like-minded to make it look like the base of support against their former country is huge. RFE/RL swept up a bunch of those dissidents, back when it was a startup – except what they say is the truth, and not propaganda. It’s only propaganda when the enemy uses it.

I know I promised to stay away from Open Democracy, and I tried; I really did. I was just kind of poking around, looking for something for my next post, and that story just sort of bubbled to the surface. What was I gonna do – ignore it? You know if you don’t object, it implies agreement. So, come on: let’s play, “Who believes that?”

The article is entitled, “Who was Mister Putin? An Interview with Boris Nemtsov”. Catchy title, right? Obviously framed to imply how forgettable Putin is, that kids in maybe the generation being born right now will ask one day who he was, because he’ll just be a name in a few books. Except that his approval rating is around 72% right now, and that’s after it slipped a bit. Boris Nemtsov, by way of contrast, does not have to worry about being forgotten by the Russian people, because you have to be noticed before you can be forgotten. And I might have missed a rating for Boris Nemtsov that broke into double digits, but I don’t think so. Unless we’re talking Washington, of course – Nemtsov is quite a bit more popular in Washington than Putin is. Just not with, you know, the people he’d like to lead.

In the very first words out of his mouth, responding to a softball setup from his interviewer, we see how Nemtsov fancies the “Prisoner of Conscience” label. “I never thought that at the age of 52 I would end up spending the New Year in a cold, solitary confinement cell as a prisoner of conscience”, he confides. Who believes Boris Nemtsov is a Prisoner of Conscience? Who believes that?

I hope you were skeptical. According to the first definition of Prisoner of Conscience, such an individual is “Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence.” Wow; sounds like Nemtsov so far, right? Oh, wait, wait. I forgot to mention the codicil, “We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own.”

Has Boris Nemtsov ever advocated the overthrow of the Russian government while speaking to a foreign audience? Well, see what you think. “If you break corruption, you will break Putin”, he says in a speech at Columbia University. Coverage by another source of the same speech reports Mr. Nemtsov’s “visit to the United States included a meeting with Michael McFaul, President Obama’s top Russia advisor, U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin and David Kramer, Executive Director of Freedom House, on Capitol Hill.” Sound like conspiring with a foreign government to overthrow your own, to you? Still not convinced? Scroll down to the last paragraph of the latter reference. The part where Mr. Nemtsov asserts “there might not be a peaceful ending to [the Putin/Medvedev “tandem”]”. He even asserts in closing that unless Mr. Putin makes the “brave gesture” of – God save us – “releasing Mikhail Khodorkovsky”, he can’t expect to get more than a 10% chance of remaining in office. I guess he doesn’t read polls.

Imagine for a second that’s Barack Obama, in 2008. He’s delivering a speech at Far Eastern State, in Vladivostok. He says, “Break the military-industrial complex, and you break Bush”. He allows there might not be a peaceful ending to the Bush/Cheney hold on power. Then he heads off to snuggle with Medvedev’s point man on the USA and a couple of Duma members. How long do you think his political career would last? Nemtsov ought to thank his lucky stars guys like Putin and Medvedev are in charge, instead of somebody like Ivan the Terrible. He’d be so deep in the black right now they’d have to bring in his sunlight in little bottles.

Speaking of being locked up in the dark, I couldn’t help but notice Mr. Nemtsov says he was confined in a “stone dungeon”, that he hadn’t any water or cigarettes with him because the police gave some to him, that his glasses were taken from him along with the usual belt and shoelaces so you can’t hang yourself, and that it was too dark in his cell even to read. Yet he somehow had a pen and paper with him that were overlooked in the police search, and there was just enough light to write a detailed note describing the dimensions of his cell and the absurdity of the charges against him. Although he was in solitary confinement, by some magic his note was smuggled out – perhaps by a Leprechaun! – so that the world could be made aware of this latest example of Stalinist sang-froid, courtesy of the western press.

Who believes that? That’s what I thought.

Next up in the parallel universe category is Nemtsov’s suggestion – again prepped by professional accomplice and facilitator Shakirov, that “everyone is unhappy with Putin, except his closest friends”. If that’s true, he has a hell of a lot more close friends than Nemtsov does. How does this supposed unhappiness with Putin square with a 72% approval rating in the polls, and the grudging acknowledgement of Reuters that if the election were held today, United Russia would win a “solid victory” that would see their next closest competitor – the Communist Party – poll less than half of their total? Only Putin’s closest friends are not unhappy with him? Who believes that? That’s what I thought.

I loved the excerpted line, too, where he said, “I had a dream in which Yeltsin was trying to persuade me to join Putin. But I couldn’t do that. That’s not how my mother raised me”. With the greatest respect to dear old Mom, she must have limited her counsel to political loyalty- Boris Nemtsov has been married three times (or, at least, had 4 children by 3 different women). I’m sure that’s not how his mother raised him, either. I’m not dumping on him for that; I’ve been married 3 times myself. But I don’t give interviews in which I pretend to be some kind of incorruptible saint. I also wouldn’t attribute any of it to the way my Mom raised me, because she tried to talk me out of the first two. I didn’t listen. I’d be careful of attributing my character to my upbringing if I wasn’t the Pope. Sometimes not even then.

Moving along, we see that – according to Mr. Nemtsov – Putin’s base of support consists of “the older generation, including quite a few state officials, people who depend on state sinecures. It’s those who hardly ever use the Internet and who watch pro-Kremlin TV.  Unfortunately, they are still in the majority.”

Seriously, does he even know what country he’s talking about? I’m not kidding, here; somebody this out of touch with the country has no business agitating to run it – I’d be as likely to turn my car over for maintenance to a mechanic who couldn’t tell me how many wheels were on it.

The population of Russia in 2010 was comprised 14.8% of those aged 0-14 years, 71.5% of those aged 15-64, and 13.8% of those aged 65 and over. The median age for males is 35; for females, 41. Once again, Mr. Putin’s approval stands at over 70%. But somehow, they are all “the older generation…who hardly ever use the Internet and watch pro-Kremlin TV.”

But people are starting to wise up, Nemtsov tells us, so that spells curtains for Putin. “…some 40 million people use the Internet, this figure is growing, and the lion’s share, the young people, are better informed” he assures his listeners. I’ll say it’s growing – it jumped by 20 million while he was talking about it. In fact, Russia has just under 60 million users. Russia’s Internet penetration is at 42.8%, exploding from only 2.1% in 2000. It’s the biggest telecommunications and mobile market in Europe. But somehow (I’m starting to get a much better feel for why his report on Putin’s performance, complete with graphs and statistics, was received with such guffaws and ridicule) only the 70+% that support Putin and don’t use the Internet are the ones who don’t really know what’s going on in the world, except for what’s on pro-Kremlin TV. Sure you wouldn’t like to take a mulligan, Mr. Nemtsov?

Who believes that? That’s right, nobody.

A good deal of boilerplate blather about Nemtsov’s ideas on counterterrorism follows, allowing him – through Shakirov – to introduce the notion that Putin’s government conducted a “false-flag” attack at Domodedovo to boost its own popularity and distract people from what a shitty job he’s doing, all the while denying that he thinks this is what happened. I won’t bore you with it, or the back-patting around his accomplishments as governor of Nizhny Novgorod, at which he was actually quite a success.

The next whopper comes when Mr. Nemtsov disavows having anything to do with the country’s finances at the time the ruble collapsed, and the country defaulted on its debt. “In my capacity as deputy prime minister, I was not responsible for finance. I actually learned about the default from Interfax news”. Do tell. You see, I find that odd, because the New York Times described Mr. Nemtsov as “an architect of Russia’s fiscal strategy” in July 1998; that seems a curious description of somebody who had no responsibility for finance. Mr. Nemtsov further said “some important indicators were beginning to move up. He added that the Government would soon begin to issue regular and detailed economic reports to investors that would prove his point.” Don’t you think that was just a little irresponsible, considering he had nothing to do with finance? Good thing the reporter didn’t ask him if he should get a divorce, or have his gall-bladder removed.

Mr. Nemtsov also assured whatever portion of the global population that reads the New York Times the ruble would not be devalued. That was on July 28th, 1998. On August 17th, three weeks later….well, you know what happened. The Russian economy thundered into the ground on afterburner, the ruble spun in behind it, and Russia was forced to default on its internal debt. But the Deputy Prime Minister knew nothing of what was coming. Of course, why would he? He had nothing to do with finance.

But wait – there’s more. In this memo to Sherry Jones, producer of the Frontline documentary, “The Crash”, Time Magazine’s Moscow bureau correspondent (and author of “Russia in the Red”) Andrew Meier provides her priceless background information – from his personal knowledge – to be used in her program. The whole thing provides a breathtaking view, albeit from a western perspective, of the events leading up to a fiscal catastrophe of global proportions, and is fascinating reading. However, for now, let’s just skip to 1998.

One thing you’ll probably notice right away is that Anatoly Chubais was in it up to his neck, from where things started to go a little shaky right through the situation spinning terrifyingly out of control. Chubais was the first to say the word “devaluation” with a view to doing it, rather than misleading people that Russia had no such intention. This would be the same Nemtsov-confidante and longstanding pal who spoke up for Nemtsov in court on the occasion of his recent detention. But Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, who had nothing to do with finance, knew nothing of what was to come.

Now, skip to the countdown, starting August 13th, 1998. Blue chips dropped more than 20%, the RTS fell 6.5% overall, and the Moscow stock exchange shut down. The scent of terror was in the air. August 14th. Kiriyenko, Dubinin and Zadornov got together, late at night, to discuss what could be done. August 15th. Kiriyenko called a meeting at his dacha, which included Chubais, Dubinin and Gaidar. That same day – contrary to Nemtsov’s version in which he and Fyodorov both learned the terrible news via Interfax, and were “shocked” – Fyodorov “rushed to the Metropol Hotel near the Kremlin to tell the IMF delegation. “I warned them of the coming suicide,” Fyodorov would later say. “I tried to get them to stop Kiriyenko. But I realized right away–they knew, they were in on it and they decided to keep quiet about it.”

Wikipedia lists Nemtsov and Kiriyenko, as well as Chubais, as the “young reformists” who tried to improve Russia’s economy using IMF credits, and elevated the national debt to $22.6 Billion. Somehow, they didn’t get the memo that Nemtsov had no financial responsibility.

Sunday, August 16th. The cabinet (which I presume included Nemtsov, unless he was off windsurfing or something) took a straw vote, and ruled unanimously in favour of devaluation. That evening, Kiriyenko, Chubais and Yumashev went by helicopter to tell Yeltsin (many of whose stories suggest he was also totally ignorant of what was coming).

Monday, August 17th. Russia defaulted on $40 Billion in GKO’s. Banks collapsed. The stock market tanked. Hardest hit was the emerging middle class. Completely surprised? Boris Nemtsov. Uh huh. Who believes that?

Not at all like the Boris Nemtsov of 2002 and 2003; then, even though he was only a Duma deputy in 2002 and in 2003 the Union of Right Forces lost all their seats, Mr. Nemtsov was “in all those meetings with businessmen and saw everything” to do with Khororkovsky’s persecution by Putin, just because he was intelligent, strong and rich. Again, uh huh.

This is followed by a sidesplitting account of how Medvedev would fire Putin, if he were only as tough as Nemtsov is. Don’t laugh, because Mr. Nemtsov believes this. Yes, the same guy who blubbered about how he had to sleep on the floor in a cold cell, and had his followers try to bring in plastic chairs to court to protest that he had to stand for 4 hours, says Putin is really a pussycat because “you need balls to be a tough guy”. How about that? The real tough guy is Boris Nemtsov.

Who believes that?

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194 Responses to Welcome to Another Episode of “Who Believes That??”, Starring Boris Nemtsov

  1. beenthere_donethat says:

    hey, just wanted to point out that somewhere mid-text you misspell Shakirov’s name as Sharikov – talk about Freudian slips ))

    • marknesop says:

      I did that a couple of times, but I thought I’d caught them all! I’ll fix it, thanks.

      • Mark, I don´t how you came to conclusion about Nemtsov’s success in Nizhny. I was in Nizhny at the time of default in 1998, I failed to find a single his supporter. Some didn´t care, many hated him.

        • marknesop says:

          Hi, Sergey; I was hoping you would stop by. At the time I wrote that piece I did not know very much about Boris Nemtsov, only that he was a popular liberal leader of the opposition, had been Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and was very well-liked by the west. Since then I have learned a lot about him, and have been sent a lot of material by various commenters who say that although some privatization initiatives went well in Nizhny Novgorod, they were not necessarily due to Nemtsov’s leadership. He himself admitted in one of those articles that his contribution was often largely to stay out of the way and keep quiet when things were working well.

          Anyway, my conclusions about Nemtsov were mostly driven by what was available about him in the popular press at the time, and it is a given in the popular press that he was a great success. I don’t think the people who wrote those articles asked anybody who lived in Nizhny Novgorod what they thought about it.

  2. Yalensis says:

    Sorry to be a little off-topic, this relates to previous blog discussions on situation in Caucasus. This is one of the best analyses I’ve read. Author produces much historical background and many arguments why it would be folly for Russian Federation to “let go” of North Caucasus republics. Anyone who is debating topic on blogs should read this. If someone is interested but does not read Russian, just let me know, I am willing to take on translation into English; would take me a couple of days, though, because it’s pretty long article….

    http://www.rosbalt.ru/2011/02/11/818443.html

    • PvMikhail says:

      I am interested! Thank you.
      I am not fluent in Russian YET, but I am learning along with German…

      • Yalensis says:

        Good for you, PvMikhail! I know a little German too (not much). I assume your native language is Hungarian? Unfortunately, I don’t know a single word, but I have heard it spoken, is very beautiful sounding tongue!

        • PvMikhail says:

          one of the hardest between the languages of the World! even for native speakers… we have a lot of letters in our alphabet.
          for example here’s a simple sentence:

          A gyergyószentmiklósi székelyek jéghokiedzésen vesznek részt a városi sportpályán.

          and a popular Hungarian jawbreaker:

          Mit sütsz kis szűcs, tán sós húst sütsz kis szűcs?

          now try to pronounce it… success? no way

          • Yalensis says:

            OMG! What does it mean?

            • PvMikhail says:

              @Yalensis: A gyergyószentmiklósi székelyek jéghokiedzésen vesznek részt a városi sportpályán. = The székely people of Gyergyószentmiklós take part in ice hockey training at the playing-field of the town.

              (székely: Hungarian national subgroup living in present day Romania, and they have suffered hell a lot there… same or worse nationality policy than estonian or latvian, since 1920
              Gyergyószentmiklós: a 20000 strong ethnic Hungarian town in the heart of Transylvania, now surrounded with Romanians)

              • sinotibetan says:

                Hmm the Szekelys…. I think Bram Stoker considered Count Dracula a
                Szekely even though that character was apparently based on Vlad the Impaler,
                a Wallachian and thus ethnic Romanian.
                If I am not mistaken, the Slovaks too do not treat their Hungarian minorities
                too kindly, perhaps because for a time Slovakia was mostly within Hungarian dominion?

                sinotibetan

                • PvMikhail says:

                  wow sinotibetan, your knowledge about these facts are surprise to me!
                  Yes, the slovaks don’t like us, and I don’t know the reason why they hate us. We lived together for centuries, there were no problems up until 19th, when the fresh ideology of nationalism initiated tensions across europe and empires started to decline, while nation states were founded like Italy. Slovak people (we call them “tót”) had no ruling class, thus they belonged to Hungarian “nation” in from the times of feudalism. Imagine a relationship similar to Swedish Monarchy and Finnish peasants. Okay, nowadays they like to follow the “romanian” example and create an ancient (false) history from nothing, but they can’t even come close to “romanian” (vlach) falsifiers. If you read some material by nationalist authors about the ancient history of young/little nations’ of this type, you can find some very funny and entertaining “facts”. For example the Galitsian interpretation, that how Kievan Rus’ established by “Ukrainians” and were destroyed by asiatic hordes who call themselves “Rossians”, because Ukrainians are “Rusians”. Just pathetic…

                  BTW yes, Dracula was “Romanian” (however there was no romanian nationality at that time, they invented it in the 19th century, when they totally converted their language to resemble French/Italian, thus creating the only “eastern-latin” language… just to clarify that, Romanians has nothing to do with Roman empire or latin peoples, they originate from the mountainous parts of the Balkans)

                • Misha says:

                  Offhand, I’m of the general impression (could be wrong) that in the post-Communist era, Serbia has a better reputation than Romania and Slovakia on the treatment of ethnic Hungarians.

                  Just before the start of WW II, Hungary took over a part of Slovak territory with a good sized ethnic Hungarian population. This was in line with what Germany and Poland did around that time (taking over Czechoslovak territory having good sized ethnic German and ethnic Polish populations.)

                  It’s interesting how some relations were during WW II, Though both were on the Axis side, relations between Hungary and Romania had some mutual suspicion. Although on the Axis side, Hungary didn’t involved itself in the Polish campaign, while (if I’m not mistaken) aiding many Poles.

                  Bulgaria didn’t declare war on the USSR unlike the US. I’m suddenly reminded of Montenegro declaring war on Japan after the latter’s attack on Port Arthur in 1904.

                  On another matter raised about Russia and Rus, the attempt to belittle Russia’s standing in relation to Rus is (put mildly) academically flawed.

          • sinotibetan says:

            Wow Mikhail!
            Hungarian (or rather, looks) sounds so difficult and so it’s beautiful!🙂
            I’ve always found Magyar and Suomi(Finns) interesting. Two Uralic nations in a sea of
            Indo-European!

            sinotibetan

            • Yalensis says:

              @sinotibean and @pvMikhail: I have heard Hungarians speaking among themselves, and their language sounds very melodic. It only looks intimidating on the page, because so many consonant clusters. Re. Romania: I think I might have mentioned this in a previous discussion, so forgive me if I am repeating myself: there are 2 possible etymologies for the name of the country: one is the obvious “Roma” from ancient Rome; but there is a second possible etymology, from “Romany”, a completely unrelated word for the Indo-Aryan ethnic group which wandered into Europe, otherwise known as gypsies or “tsygani”.

              • PvMikhail says:

                @yalensis, Romanians has nothing to do with gypsies/romany, morover they hate them (just like every european state where they settled in bigger numbers including Hungary, they are Hungary’s biggest and most serious problem right now,especially in the long run)
                Romania’s name derives from Roman Empire (they simply stole it from the ancestor of european culture) and they have a very strange theory how they are related to Romans. If you want to learn more, search on “Daco-Roman-Rumanian continuity”. It’s a mess by the way.

                • sinotibetan says:

                  Mikhail,
                  I am a Europhile although I am Asian, hence I do know a little(not much,
                  I’m afraid) about the European countries.
                  “when the fresh ideology of nationalism initiated tensions across europe
                  and empires started to decline”
                  I am kinda pro-nationalism but not the kind of nationalism that breaks
                  up countries that are already multicultural from the outset.
                  It’s admittedly difficult to be multicultural(hence I am against the ideology
                  of ‘multiculturalism ‘ – ethnoculturally homogeneous nations accepting
                  too many hard-to-integrate migrants or an already multicultural nation
                  becoming even more diversified by the same process) but for nations
                  already multicultural(such as Slovakia or even Romania), communities
                  should learn to accept that cultural diversity but again with the notion
                  that there might be one more dominant culture(eg. Slovak or Romanian)
                  but minority cultures resident for so long should be considered a heritage
                  of that ‘nation’. Hard work – which requires political goodwill – but
                  as you know, politicians are wont to exploiting these differences for
                  their own lust for power. I myself am a non-Muslim minority in a multicultural nation
                  , in fact an oppressed minority, and also in a predominantly Muslim
                  nation – that makes this multicultural condition even harder to achieve
                  national cohesion. Actually it’s not too hard for Slovakia , in my opinion,
                  cause at least their Hungarian minorities are also Europeans, if they
                  only learn how to accept that these minorities want to retain their
                  ethnocultural identity while remaining ‘Slovakian’ citizenship. Hard to
                  put into practice, I know – hence I never agreed with ‘multiculturalism’ –
                  more liabilities than benefits for any country. But for our countries that
                  are already multiethnic and multicultural because of past history, we
                  cannot change the situation and must learn how to live together.

                  sinotibetan

                • marknesop says:

                  Personally, I find Canada’s multicultural experience to be an overall positive. We are in a similar situation to the one you describe – so multiethnic already that we must live with it, but I find nationalist groups which try to engage politically on a platform of suppressing another nationalist group get very little traction. Similarly, attempts to paint a crime committed by an individual of a particular ethnic extraction as typical for the group are generally not very successful. The group that probably has the most success getting the government’s ear is the Israel lobby, the same as in the USA. But since we do not have a large military and an interventionist foreign policy, we are of limited use to it outside fundraising and financial support, so its efforts are muted compared to those in the USA.

                • Yalensis says:

                  @PvMikail: Thanks for correcting that false “romany” etymology! Romanians obviously feel they are successors to Roman Empire. Yes… and I am also a lost member of Romanov dynasty. (That last was a joke..)🙂

    • marknesop says:

      Why don’t you just cover it as a blog-post-length discussion, in English, hitting all the salient points? Then I could post it here, and you could defend it.

      • Yalensis says:

        Okay, that sounds like a plan.

        • marknesop says:

          How about if you collaborate with Kovane on this one, just act as sounding-boards for one another? I’m sure he’d appreciate a little help with the research. I’ll send an email to the two of you so you have his address. He can already see yours.

          • Yalensis says:

            Okay! I started to plug away at the translation of the rosbalt article (it’s by an essayist named Tatiana Khruleva). If he wants, kovane can incorporate portions of the translation into his blog.

          • PvMikhail says:

            wow, I’d love to see the outcome of that collaboration!

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      I’ve read it with Google translate, it’s fairly comprehensible. I agree with the author that letting the Caucasus go is not a solution to security problems but actually will make them worse. The least that can be expected is a constant state of war (including civil war) in the Caucasus and consequently an influx of refugees.

      • marknesop says:

        I imagine most people would be able to decipher it with the translator, although some are certainly better than others and an aptitude for languages helps with some of the guesswork. But that’s why I’m trying to persuade Yalensis to structure it like a blog post – he could present it as a sort of peer review, discussing the salient points, and the subject is broadly interesting. It wouldn’t take any longer than translating the whole thing, instead fleshing it out as an outline with suggestions and conclusions. Besides, it’d save me writing a post myself, and I’m lazy.

        • kovane says:

          I’ll be doing an epic post on Caucasus soon, so you’ ll surely save yourself the trouble.

          • Yalensis says:

            @kovane: Good! I can hardly wait to read your post!

          • marknesop says:

            Excellent!!! I was wondering what you’d come up with next. Maybe Yalensis would be interested in having a little input? Up to the two of you. It is certainly a controversial subject, and I expect to learn a lot, because it’s not something I know a great deal about. I don’t doubt there have been atrocities, on both sides, but I’ve noticed a tendency not only by the western press, but by Russian news sources like the Moscow Times and Novaya Gazeta to take the word of some unnamed local that Russian troops barged into someone’s house and shot him in front of his family, and he was pure as the driven snow.

            I’m perfectly prepared to believe frontline human-rights journalists like Anna Politkovskaya saw and personally knew of terrible things, but the notion that Putin ordered her killed because what she knew might have brought down the government is just ridiculous. And in other cases, as I’ve said, newsies seem prepared to just take someone’s word that things happened the way they said. Caucasian rebel groups do image management, too, and quite a few sources seem prepared to help them. The western press are big fans of independence movements that destabilize other people’s countries.

            • Yalensis says:

              True. I also don’t doubt that many injustices occurred on the part of Russian troops and local officials in Chechnya. But, as you point out, Western media are very selective in their outrage. Someone pointed out in your previous blog that Thaci (Kosovo) is way worse than Lukashenko. Bat’ka may be a dictator but, to my knowledge, he never killed anyone for their organs. Thaci did just that, yet official Western media doesn’t criticize him.

            • PvMikhail says:

              Mark,

              The only problem of these stories about how Russians did ethnic cleansing of the Caucasus is, that they are not true. First of all, the peoples of Caucasus are not pacifists themselves. Their respective national cultures contain some elements, which would be seem very strange in the neighborhood of some american human right activists. There are constant ethnic tensions not only between Slavs and other peoples, but between the native peoples either. Search the most recent conflicts, for example why Chechen-Ingush ASSR was separated and why Ossetian and Ingush people hate each other. A simple negligent (wiki) search is enough to find it out. There are problems in Dagestan where AT LEAST 5 major people live together. This region has a very fragile ethnic balance which has to be maintained by the leaders of Russian Fed (post-Stalin Soviet leaders had too).
              For example there are traditions like: If for ex. Dagestan has a president of X nationality, Y nationality has to be leader of national assembly, Z have to be chief jurist, etc. etc. etc., or the total chaos greets the next day. I think I don’t have to mention, that this excludes democracy on principle.

              In addition, when the SU was in turmoil somewhere in 1989-90 and Moskva started the tendency to pay attention only for itself, and the central power was aborted, a mass exodus of Russians from the region (and other regions too) started, which had serious reasons. Especially when we speak about Grozniy and Chechnya in general. Rebel Ichkeria was not famous for its tolerance of national minority rights. Other thing I don’t have to mention, that with the Russians gone, the majority of the most qualified workforce gone, the factories went bankrupt and closed, so the region left in economic turmoil. If we take into account the region’s booming population, bad economic conditions, lack of jobs, “strange” culture (like blood revenge/vendetta), all of this combined with foreign islam extremist penetration into the region leads to a situation, which is very hard to control to any governments.

              In the two wars, there were atrocities on the Russian side, of course, there were bad decisions, vigilantism, vandalism but not worse than any western government did in Iraq or Afghanistan.
              In fact, since the end of the second war, in contrary to western media lies, the Russians don’t like to interfere into the Republics’ internal affairs. There are covert FSB operations of course, but the purpose of them to prevent terror attacks. BUT. The general order are maintained (or not maintained) by local police, interior ministry, kadyrovets, etc. forces, all manned by local nationalities, which are acting independently in most cases and they use methods they want to use to do their job. You probably know for ex. Kadyrov’s past, use your imagination. As long as they help the federal center, Moskva doesn’t care what happens in the Caucasus. Everybody knows, that this solution is not the best and not the most humanitarian, but one should propose a better, before preaching to Putin.

              • marknesop says:

                What do you think would be a better solution? That’s a very comprehensive breakdown, by the way, and includes a lot of factors I didn’t know. Very interesting. From the sounds of it, Nemtsov’s solution of bringing the various groups into the political process is too simplistic – it might be OK if you were merely engaging the Chechens, but trying to duplicate the delicate balance you describe on a regional rather than municipal scale sounds like a recipe for disaster.

                • sinotibetan says:

                  Mark, Mikhail, yalensis, kovane….
                  I agree with all of you regarding the Caucasus! Agree that the West
                  wants to destabilize Russia by supporting rebel groups from that region.
                  Some similarities with them supporting Saddam or Osama bin Laden against
                  the Soviet Union only this time its within Russia’s own territory. A lot
                  of similarities too between the Balkans(former Yugoslavia) and current-day
                  Caucausus – where the USA poked their noses and sided and white-washed the atrocities of
                  mostly Muslim nationalities – I actually wonder why the very pro-Albanian,
                  pro-Bosnian and pro-Kosovar stand and staunchly anti-Serbian mentality.
                  Crypto-Muslims lobbying in Washington perhaps?

                  sinotibetan

                • PvMikhail says:

                  I have to start a new post and don’t “reply” because of the strange nature of this blog: replies get slimmer and slimmer🙂

                • marknesop says:

                  Mikhail; as far as I know, all blogs in which comments are “nested” (linked to the original comment which inspired the replies) are pretty much the same – subsequent messages appear below and track slightly right, and the blog owner specifies the number of allowable replies. I have mine set on 8 comments, because any more than that becomes nearly unreadable. Of course, it also varies with the length of the reply.

                  Therefore, if you count the initial comment plus replies and get 8, you need to start a new thread. Other sites or other blog owners sometimes have just a straight comment stream, but in those cases the comments are not linked and you have to start with, “@ Yalensis…” (for example) and sometimes repeat part of the comment so others will know what you’re talking about. I don’t care for that setup, that’s why this one is the way it is.

                • Misha says:

                  Concerning the subject of pro-Bosnian Muslim nationalist elements in Canada seeking to censor an otherwise perfectly valid source via use of the sleaze factor:

                  http://balkanstudies.org/articles/“-institute-research-genocide-canada”-genocide-deniers-hypocrites-character-assassins

                • marknesop says:

                  I was told personally by a neighbour – at a place I lived some years ago – who was Croatian that General MacKenzie had been involved in rape during that campaign. He apparently was completely convinced. It’s difficult to get the message out with sickening distractions like Colonel Russell Williams, former Commander of CFB Trenton and twisted multiple murderer, but senior officers in the Army in a combat zone and in pursuit of their duties never go anywhere alone. General MacKenzie’s participation in such a crime would be virtually impossible to keep secret, and I don’t mean from loopy fringe organizations, but from the soldiers he commanded. I couldn’t say Canadian soldiers have never done anything criminal during combat operations or peacekeeping, because the murder of Shidane Arone tells a different story (the entire Airborne Regiment was disbanded for that), but I’m pretty proud of their record, and most countries trust them to be fair and impartial. If General MacKenzie had actually been a rapist, his own soldiers would have reported it or prevented it. He was highly respected by his soldiers, and professional soldiers don’t respect rapists or murderers.

                  In Colonel Williams’ case, the military went to the lengths of burning his uniform, so it couldn’t be sold on E-bay to some sicko.

                • Misha says:

                  The aforementioned claim on MacKenzie appears to be a matter of politically motivated deceit, encouraged by overly partisan sources who choose demagoguery over an earnest point-counterpoint exchange.

                  Such manner includes seeking to ban someone with valid credentials and views.

                  Here’s a recent article by the person in question (who is discussed in the above Balkan Studies link):

                  http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2011/02/15/the-tragedy-of-american-education/

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I’ve read that piece before – I think you sent it to me – and we even discussed it a little. Middle school in Russia – at least private schools, I’m not sure about the state schools – is still a meritocracy with scoring from 1 to 5, and places in such schools are still the object of competition among parents who advocate aggressively for a place for their child. I imagine the syllabus is a bit less formal than this author remembers, but being asked to leave the Gymnasium (as it is still called) because of an inability to meet the academic or behavioral standard is still an occasion of shame and embarrassment for parents and child alike.

                  I think the writing is on the wall for directions in public education which are best for the child overall. Which countries are turning out know-nothings who are unable to place events in their proper historical order, who don’t realize Hitler is dead instead of tending bar in some tropical republic, and who can barely identify anything outside their own borders and those of countries that directly abut on a world map? When the last generation that was properly educated is gone, and that time is not far off, what will follow?

                • Misha says:

                  I very much recall that exchange we had and posted as follow-up for the purpose of seeking some thought provoking input – which you provide in your answer.

                  If my memory is correct, Latynina had a recent article saying that the hard sciences need to be better addressed in the Russian educatinal system. From the looks of things (global comparisons) , the US is lagging on this particular as well. At the same time, American colleges continue to attract a good core of bright hard sciences people from around the world.

                  If I correctly recall (could be wrong), Latynina’s article appearead somewhat negative on stressing a “nationalist” education in Russian schools.

                  The ideal situation improves the hard and soft sciences alike. A not so intelligent “nationalist”
                  education shouldn’t be confused with a responsibly patriotic educational upbringing, which includes a good understanding of Russia unfriendly views.

                  The country in question is inhabited mostly by Russians. Therefore, I consider it off the wall to expect anti-Russian agendas to get the upper hand in Russia.

                  The aforementioned issue at UBC involves the feeble-minded attempt of a Bosnian Muslim nationalist organization to ban a perfectly valid source from appearing on a college campus.

      • Yalensis says:

        Hi, Giuseppe! You find that Google translate actually works? I always assumed machine translation was bogus, maybe I am wrong!

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Yes, the translations from Russian are fairly good. It depends on the text being translated, if it’s “regular” the result is readable.
          Kovane’s video plays with sound on my Atom netbook with Linux onboard, so it must be a problem with your PC. Perhaps there is another program that is using the sound card.

          • Yalensis says:

            Yes, I think you right, there are many problems with my computer. I am such a cheapskate but, alas, it is time for me to go out and buy something better. My scrooge-like employer will not buy me a laptop for home use, even though I sometimes have to work from home.

            • marknesop says:

              I use a Sony Vaio (actually, it’s my wife’s, I bought it for her for Christmas), and it’s really good except the network adapter sometimes turns itself off for no reason I can find. Excellent graphics out of the box, and good sound, plenty of USB ports, Blu-Ray player…

            • sinotibetan says:

              yalensis,

              I am sure you cannot be more cheapskate than I am. My computer costs (based on
              currency conversion) US$700 or so. It sputters but so far it’s not too bad. haha

              sinotibetan

    • grafomanka says:

      Insightful comment about Caucasus
      “It seems that basically, Russian withdrawal will lead to ever-increasing violence and the increased Islamization of the region, which will then become a hub of jihad, whilst Russian refusal to withdrawal will lead to ever-increasing violence and increased Islamization of the region, which will then become a hub of jihad.
      Let’s hope the Russians choose wisely…”

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Insightful? Do you really think so? Before 1999 Chechenya was a free playground for Islamic extremism that dared to attack another Caucasus republic (Dagestan). Then there were Khattab and Basayev commanding a force of a few thousands guerrillas, and now there is Umarov with a hundred terrorists (perhaps less). And the grip of Umarov over his men is questionable, he is the shade of a leader like Basayev. Slowly, but in an irresistible manner, Islamic extremism is fading.

        • marknesop says:

          “Slowly, but in an irresistible manner, Islamic extremism is fading.”

          That’s an interesting viewpoint, because western media sources and pro-western Russian media sources as well as liberal-reformist Russian politicians are fond of playing it up as an insurmountable and growing threat, and Nemtsov – for example – is in favour of bringing Caucasian extremists into politics. He’s probably right that bringing Islamic fundamentalism into politics is the surest way to so thoroughly bog it down in bullshit and trivia that it wouldn’t have any energy left for mischief, but I doubt that was his plan.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            If one looks at the history of Chechen/Islamic insurgency in Russian Caucasus, that is a clear trend. In the early 2000 they were able to mount large scale attacks involving dozens of militants. The most spectacular ones (Dubrovka, Beslan, Nalchik) were quasi-suicide missions. Also, the fighting in Chechenya were between groups counting tens of fighters on both sides.
            Now they can make a couple suicide attacks a year and the fightings involve 2/4 terrorists against a similar number of policemen. Sure, even one attack is one too much, but the trend is clear.
            As for bringing Caucasian extremists into politics, that has already happened with Kadyrov. IMO, politically engaging Islamic fundamentalists instead of dealing with them just as a security problem before they violate the law, is a wise policy, in Russia and outside of Russia.

        • grafomanka says:

          @Giuseppe
          10 years ago my aunt wasn’t afraid to go to Mosque because it’s ‘full off scary looking radical islamists (and I’m talking about a place far away from actual Caucasus).
          I almost wish it was Umarov behind the recent terror attack, this would make everything simple… but I’m afraid he’s only taking the credit for it.

          Anyway, can’t wait for kovane’s next post.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            As long as people look scary but don’t go around planting bombs and beheading people, IMHO it isn’t such a big problem. After all, Kadyrov looks scary, but he isn’t problem, rather part of a solution to a problem.

          • cartman says:

            So what do you think?

            “Naumkin: I mean that Russia, for example, cannot establish a ministry of religious affairs, or decide which mullah is permitted to preach in a mosque. However, we should draft legislation to punish imams for preaching intolerance, violence or hatred of other religions. This must be done; our lawmakers must do this.

            Maybe we should also do something to prevent young people from going abroad to study at radical schools, and then returning to take positions at mosques in Russia. This is happening now. Some of the mosques here have been taken over by such radical imams educated abroad. Educated in the ideas of “pure” Islam, they reject old customs and traditions and teach young people dangerous ideas. This is very dangerous and very difficult to fight. But the situation is not hopeless. The traditions of tolerant, moderate Islam – which has always been the predominant form of Islam in Russia – should be encouraged in every way possible.”

            http://indrus.in/articles/2011/02/11/can_secular_governments_stop_the_spread_of_radical_islam_12153.html

            I think Saudi regime should be toppled and important Islamic cities there should be opened up and internationalized (like the Vatican). This would decouple the spread of Wahabism (which is a modern form of fascism) from oil prices. Both the Saudi and Pakistani regimes use terrorism against other countries in an attempt to get militants to leave them alone. For the Saudis, it is to protect their corruption. For the Pakistanis, it is to keep the country’s Pashtuns and Balochs from separating, and India from winning.

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              After reading the entire interview (BTW, thanks, interesting reading) I disagree on two points:
              1) Legislation to punish extremist Imams. To my knowledge, Russia already has laws that punish extremist speech, which have been applied to avoid the publication of Danish cartoons on Islam and to jail a “journalist” that called on Chechens to exterminate Russians (including the use of A-bombs). Why adding another law that singles out Muslims when there is already a law to use? Besides, a law specifically targeting Islam can be non-constitutional (Note: I don’t know Russian constitution but I suppose that it establishes equality for citizens regardless of their religion).
              2) French approach failure. Unrests in Western countries (including France) aren’t a new thing brought by immigrants. There have been unrests in the past and those making them often were the poorest people. Today, it happens that most of the poorest are descendants of immigrants from Maghreb. They’re not playing an Islamic revolution, they’re playing their role in a society that includes poor people and unrests.
              In these two points I see two typical Russian faults (no offense intended, we Italians suffer both). One, is the “there is a problem, let’s make a law to solve it” while forgetting to apply exiting laws, and ça va sans dire the new law. Two, the idea that “the abroad” is near perfect, so if something doesn’t work there it must be someone else wrongdoing.
              One last note. The Vatican isn’t internationalized, it’s a state.

              • marknesop says:

                U.S. policymaking is undergoing similar pressures to what you describe, on the issue of immigration reform. Special-interest groups are all for writing a lot of new laws, when existing law regulates everything they want regulated. It merely needs to be enforced. Here again, business is at odds with private citizens. The latter claim undocumented immigrants (mostly Hispanics) take work away from “real Americans” but their case is weakened by how many such jobs go unfilled after an immigration crackdown, because real Americans don’t want to do them for the wages they pay. At the same time, businesses (some, not all) love undocumented workers because they will work for minimum wage and no benefits, and won’t sue you or make a big noise over working conditions because they need the job, and don’t want to do anything to attract attention to themselves.

              • Yalensis says:

                @Giuseppe: You make a lot of very good points. I just want to add that current events in Egypt and other unrest in Arab world could be a game-changer, maybe even in Saudi Arabia. Mass non-violent protests is a very different strategy than forming tiny secret Islamist cells with bombs and suicide “martyrs”. Maybe average Muslim will see that this is the way to go if they need political change, and not to support violent Wahhabist conspiracies. In regard to Russia, I doubt if there will be such mass demonstrations, because situation there is very different. More than likely, Russian government will do what it (and Soviets) always managed to do successfully, which is work out deals with local Muslim elites, integrate local elites into national elite, bring local leaders into political process, etc. It is a long and difficult process, but must be done, as part of long-term strategy of rebuilding what was lost when Yeltsin dissolved Soviet Union.

      • Yalensis says:

        Ha! Sounds like your classic Catch-22.
        Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  3. kovane says:

    A little bit of anti-Nemtsov propaganda would be appropriate, I think:

    • Yalensis says:

      Hi again, kovane! Thanks for movie. Looks great, I made popcorn and started to watch. Unfortunately, there is picture but no sound. Is that general problem, or just my stupid, cheap computer?

      • kovane says:

        Nope, I hear the sound just fine, and I’m not exactly running it on a NASA supercomputer. Try reinstalling Flash player, although me giving advice on that kind of things to a software engineer might be just too cocky.

        • marknesop says:

          I have sound also; maybe try opening it in another player.

        • Yalensis says:

          Oi veh, I may be a software engineer, but I am still completely ILLITERATE when it comes to graphics drivers, probably because I am not a gamer. Also, my specialty at work is behind the scenes stuff, like databases and batch processes, which don’t require big machines. Plus, as I mentioned above to Giuseppe, I have a cheap, rotten computer at home! Thanks for video, though, I was able to grasp basic message even without sound. BTW, neither Nemtsov nor anyone tainted by 90’s will EVER be elected to any position in Russia higher than Official Village Idiot. (Americans would say “dog catcher”, I guess that used to be an elected position…)

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            Re. computers, I’ve read that the Russian government is financing the development a Linux-based operating system for use in schools and government offices. Although this isn’t a tech-blog, a post on this subject would be interesting.

            • marknesop says:

              That’s a great idea, Giuseppe – why don’t you write it? I’ll send you an email when I get home so you have my address, and if you can rough it out, including links to sites that substantiate what you say, I’ll post it. When it’s posted, you can handle comments on it. If you’re busy, take your time – I haven’t seen anything else on it, so you’d still likely be ahead of the curve. It sounds extremely interesting!!

              Quite a few years ago now, Art Lebedev Studio (Russian Artemy Lebedev, started up in 1995) came out with what I thought was the most brilliant innovation in a long time – the Optimus keyboard. Each key surface was an individual screen, and you could reprogram it in an almost infinite number of ways. Most obvious were language applications; you could reconfigure the keyboard to Cyrillic and back again with a few keystrokes. Since then I’ve seen roll-up plastic keyboards, even a projection keyboard that you can type on even though it’s not there, it’s just an image projected on the bar top or desk or whatever surface you want to work on. But there’s still something essentially brilliant about a keyboard on which you can change the language. And that’s only the limits of my feeble imagination – gamers could do amazing things with it. Russians are perfectly capable of engineering cutting-edge technology, and frequently do – you just never hear about it.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                Unfortunately I know only a little about this operating system. I’ve read about it on RIA Novosti, but I don’t know how it is going on, e.g. if there is some pilot project or which software is being developed.
                I’ve searched some info, but on English and Italian language tech media there isn’t much information. Some say that the Linux version being developed is ALT Linux, others say it is still in development.
                For this reason I asked to Yalensis that works in the IT sector. In case the OS is already freely available I can test it on some laptop and give my review.

                • marknesop says:

                  That would be fine, but what I’d be more interested in is how it differs from existing OS’s, who developed it, what was their reasoning (ie: what deficiency did they perceive in existing systems), the extent of Russian involvement (all Russian?), how they plan to use it, potential for it to become broadly used, interest in it outside Russia…that sort of thing. Some of that might be available in open-source material without actually testing it – unless nobody has used it yet.

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t know if you noticed, but Alexandre Latsa at Dissonance (in my blogroll) has an Italian blog listed that is called “Eurasia Rivista”. I’m afraid I don’t know more than a couple of words in Italian, so I can’t read it, but if you don’t already know of it, it might interest you.

                • Yalensis says:

                  @giuseppe: Linux is open-source, it is basically a free operating system, can be downloaded from internet. This is both a blessing and a curse, because there are so many different versions and “dialects” available. Russian government has picked well, in my opinion, because this will save a lot of $$$ for taxpayers. Got people out from under yoke of Microsoft licenses and maintenance fees!

  4. Excellent article, as usual.

    1. Disagree that Boris Nemtsov made a particularly good job of governing Nizhniy Novgorod (his propaganda machine is another question).

    Average income of residents of Nizhniy Novgorod relative to Russian average:

    Other anecdotes from the article feature descriptions from political scientists of Nemtsov running an “near-authoritarian” or “managed democracy” regime in his time as governor.

    2. Re-tough guy. On the other hand, he does have a good built!

    PS. Mark, you might want to know that some asshole has copied this article without attribution and monetized it. I suggest doing something about it since sometimes the spam site even replaces your site in the Google search rankings.

    PSS. I’m Karlin, not Carlin.😉

    • marknesop says:

      Oops!! I’ll fix it. I knew that, I can’t imagine why I typed it with a “C”. Regarding the copying, I’ll take a look at it, but I wouldn’t know how to go about stopping it.

  5. Alexei Cemirtan says:

    Nemtsov is nothing. He does not deserve even the critisism of posts such as this. We shouldn’t discuss, write or pay any attention to him. Afterall, how many of us pay any attention to the daily life of a worm in our back garden and Nemtsov is not more deserving of our attention than that.

    • Misha says:

      Can be a fine line to be wrestled with.

      On the one hand, ignoring such a person doesn’t end the establishment propping his likes. Providing no counter-replies results in carte blanche.

      A balance of addressing his likes while propping the valid and censored (at the more high profile of venues) of sources is a prudent route.

      • Alexei Cemirtan says:

        Its just that my feelings about Nemtsov are probably somewhat similar to what the American Left thinks of Cheney. One hoped that once he got kicked out of power, he’d get the message and would finally shut the hell up and go away, but noooooooooooooooo… we still have to suffer the likes of him treating us like complete idiots with memories and attention spans of a humming bird.

  6. The site filtered out the embedded images in my post.

    Index of industrial production in Russia (blue) and Nizhniy Novgorod (red)

    Average income of residents of Nizhniy Novgorod relative to Russian average:

    Nemtsov the Tough Guy
    http://www.nemtsov.ru/?id=705006

  7. PvMikhail says:

    Nemtsov is a rat, Mother Russia should crush the traitors of his kind!… He is like Judas in the Bible, but his 40 gold is the millions-of-dollars subsidy from Soros-foundation and the Foreign Ministry department. They, the likes of “Kasparov”-Weinstein will never miss the opportunity to sell “their” country for 40 gold and then escape justice and flee to the Land of Promise. Remember the “greatest” “Russian” oligarchs: Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky…
    Abramovich is fortunate, that back then he decided to obey the unwritten rules.
    Russia should put an end to this. Russia should bury this era and BURY these people with it as well.

    • marknesop says:

      I wouldn’t be averse to Nemtsov running for public office and winning in a fair contest, if that’s what the people want. He’s a smart guy, even if he does have a big ego – and maybe you need one to see yourself as the nation’s leader – and Russia could probably do worse. But there are two things (at least) that he has to learn to get my vote, even though it doesn’t count. One, stop trying to get elected leader of Russia in Washington – American votes don’t count in Russia. Sell yourself to the Russian people, and if they genuinely believe you’re a better deal, you’ll probably be elected. Trying to get American backing for a colour revolution is useless, because if the people don’t want you, you can’t be foisted upon them, they’ll be ungovernable. In the case of Ukraine, the people wanted Yushenko – enough of them, anyway. It turned out to be a mistake, but it might have worked, and if the economy started trending up the naysayers would have quieted down and given Yushenko a chance. There’s no such dynamic in Russia. Two, for Christ’s sake stop pretending butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth. Russians can read, and they know your history. Pretensions to sainthood aren’t fooling anyone but westerners, who believe it because it sounds like the fairy tale it is. And their votes won’t get you elected leader of Russia.

      • PvMikhail says:

        I am not Russian, but I can’t be so tolerant towards these Nemtsov-like agents. Limonov, I have read some of his statements, he is insane – OK. Does this out of conviction. Who cares. Novodvorskaya, maniacal depressive, just look at her, she is ill. Who cares. But Nemtsov is a sane guy (Could be successful businessman or sg) who sells out his country. His master’s interest on the long run to destabilize Russia so thus destroy it. Russia have to destroy him first to eliminate this threat.
        Sometimes I just don’t understand the present day Russian leadership. They seem too weak to protect their interests and occasionally I have the impression that they simply don’t care. I think they have to develop a lot on the propaganda field to counter that 60 years of sh!ttalkin’ Russia had to endure. Thats impossible of course, because common people watch movies instead of political analysis, in which field Mosfilm can’t compete with Hollywood fictions. Plebs don’t count, because they have short memories and usually don’t have any influence on significant events (so if they still have some brain cells: Russia—>ballet, literature, sports, orthodox choirs, monumentalist architecture, in the worst case scenario they are like: Russia—> vodka, drunk losers, enemy, communists) . However Russia should do more to win the hearts and minds of the next generation western and other intellectuals, who are eager to invest somewhere in economy/innovation/culture.
        I have never seen in history a state, that has so many inner (and outer) enemies as Russia… in the top of that, there is no reason for this degree of hate. I have read a lot of books and internet articles concerning this fact, but I have never really got a satisfactory answer. I understand that, Russia is too strong and too strange to be like a leisured pacifist EU state, but it SEEMS too weak for this vast territory and resources, so it’s enemies (like rabid coyotes) ganged up to destroy it and split its wealth among themselves. However this doesn’t explain why does Russia always generate some few but incredibly ‘hardcore’ traitors. I have read materials on Russian soul, psychology, identity and the reasons why it differs from Western Europe. Maybe the answer roots in this, or elsewhere, I don’t know. I have produced some theories about this, but none of them solid enough to satisfy my inner curiosity.
        However it is worth considering that the bulk of most recent traitors, Nemtsov, “Kasparov” (Weinstein), Beresovsky, Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky, etc. (the list is far from completeness) , lastly a man who planted Russian=Mafia parallelism to western heads, godfather Semyon Mogilevich are not even Russian and they have obvious connections to other excessively wealthy and not so humanist businessmen, who have big political/economic influence in Washington and/or live under the U.S. military’s protective umbrella somewhere in the middle of middle east. On the other hand, these people are feared in Bruxelles, accordingly they have their sensitivity and interests taken into account especially in London and Berlin, however the motives are different.

        • marknesop says:

          Russians pretend the rude jeers of the west don’t bother them, but of course they have feelings like everyone else, and it hurts. Instead of asking “why do you hate us so much?” (because there really isn’t a sensible answer – they might say, “because you persecuted Jews”, but Germany persecuted many more, and they’re great friends. They might say, “because you starved millions to death during the holodomor” but there’s no evidence that was deliberate, and quite a few of the dead were Russians. Dead Russians don’t appear to upset the west), they develop a weary cynicism. Of course not all Russians are cultured, polite and friendly; some are ignorant slobs. But I’ve never met any. All the Russians I personally know are in the first category.

          Nemtsov is wasting his time – the Russian people will never accept a “made in the USA” leader. But at the same time, the current government knows better than to come down too hard on Nemtsov – as a martyr, he’d be worth twice what he is now. It’s not weakness that they don’t boot him out of the country, because his supporters in the west would scream, “Nemtsov is a threat to the Kremlin!! They’re so afraid of the power of ordinary people uniting behind a brave, charismatic reformer that they threw him out!!!” Nemtsov knows this, too: that’s why he’s always in their face, trying to get arrested, crying about how brutally he was treated and making up stories about what a gift to the Russian people he was while he was in government. The west is probably quite ready to bankroll and back a colour revolution with Nemtsov in the starring role – but not if it jhas no chance of succeeding. And it hasn’t. That’s why he’s always calling out Putin, because he figures he’ll make a mistake and have him beaten up to teach him a lesson, or kick him out of Russia (which he probably couldn’t do, since he’s a citizen). Ignoring him isn’t weakness; it’s good sense. If I had any, I’d ignore him, too.

          • PvMikhail says:

            Probably I am too radical on this field… I can respect competitors, even enemies, but I can’t tolerate traitors. Traitors have to be punished. I don’t have the slightest idea what the hell happened to Litvinenko, but it should be feared as a precedent by these people on every day of their lives. Okay, Nemtsov is a clown, not more than an entertainer (like Zhirinovsky🙂 ), but there ARE serious ones…

            • Yalensis says:

              @PvMikhail: Yes, it is one of those enduring mysteries why Mother Russia spawns so many traitors. But is ancient thing, goes way back in time. In Russian medieval saga “Slovo o pluku Igoreve” (which is to Russian literature as beautiful “Niebelungen” is to German lit), Prince Igor’s son Volodimir marries daughter of enemy Polovetsian Khan. Granted, she’s smokin’ hot, and the Polovtsi sure know how to throw a wild party (just watch Borodin’s opera version if you don’t believe me!) 
              More recently, in Eisenstein’s classic film “Alexander Nevsky”, when Russian people are fighting for their lives against Teutonic Knights, there are of course a few slimy traitors who collaborate with Teutons. At the end of movie, when Russians win battle, Prince Nevsky lines up the prisoners and issues his famous “triage” decrees:
              Captured Teutonic officers – to be imprisoned and released only for expensive ransoms;
              Captured Teutonic infantry – just serfs, let them go, return to homes without ransom;
              Captured Russian traitors – (Nevsky makes “hand across throat” gesture, after which mothers of dead Russian soldiers leap onto traitors and rip them apart with bare hands.)

              • PvMikhail says:

                @Yalensis: Wow, I must see it! I have speculated about this kind of punishment for traitors since my childhood (I know, I am not an ordinary citizen :))
                My idea was that traitors and american spies should be publicly handed to angry crowd.😀
                For example pensioners can be VERY angry, believe me.

                • Yalensis says:

                  I highly recommend “Alexander Nevsky”, is classic film by great Russian director Sergei Eisenstein. Sound track by Prokofiev with beautiful stirring music. Was shown a lot during Great Patriotic War to inspire Russian people to keep on fighting against Germans.
                  I have seen film many times at film festivals. I don’t know for sure I am guessing you could purchase a DVD version online with subtitles (do you have something like “ebay” in Hungary?). May have to settle for English or German subtitles, if Hungarian not available.
                  Climactic scene is famous “Battle on Ice”. Note the crazy-ass helmets worn by Teuton nobles. Nevsky entices Teutons onto ice, knowing that their horses and armor are so heavy that they will eventually crack ice and fall into frozen lake and drown. Which is what happens.

                • Misha says:

                  The scene with the Germans on the ice was also evident in this movie based on a Len Deighton novel:

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billion_Dollar_Brain

                  Nevsky is a saint in the ROC. Gotta wonder about Zolotov uncritically lauding openDemocracy (oD) on a RIAN affiliated show – given his stated ROC affiliation. That point leads to the muted media overview of the coverage at the more high profile of venues.

                  The bias at oD includes a negatively inaccurate piece on Nevsky, which includes a hyperlink under his name to a La Russophobe hack job.

                  Censorship aside, it’s clear on what’s wrong with the coverage.

            • grafomanka says:

              Nemtosv is nothing.
              The corrupt elite governing Russia can, paradoxically, only legitimize their property right on the wealth they own as long as they can get them recognized in the West.
              So they are ready to steal, steal, steal.. and then when the wind changes elope to the West (Baturina anyone?).
              Here you have real traitors.

              • Yalensis says:

                Agree. Corrupt thieves need to be — returning to Nevsky theme — tossed into frozen lake and covered with ice, having first taken their $$$ and give back to people. Ura!

              • PvMikhail says:

                Baturina, Luzhkov, they are all the remnants of the 90’s and I hope, that these remnants get purged slowly from the system. This will save a lot of money, I think. Sobyanin is loyal to the rulers, he has no personal charisma or ambitions (for example he doesn’t take scandalous statements every day to win people, like hardcore populist Luzhkov did). He is a manager, and I think that’s what Moskva needs right now. It is a clear trend in the bigger cities in Russia, that loudmouth populist politicians get exchanged to city managers. I hope this will ensure the modernization plans of the government and satisfy the desired development for these population centers.

                • grafomanka says:

                  Baturina, Luzhkov, they are all the remnants of the 90′s and I hope, that these remnants get purged slowly from the system

                  Congrats on your optimism. In the meantime children of ex-KGB operatives and other thieves live lavish lifestyles in US, UK and read ‘Snob’

          • PvMikhail says:

            Mark, you quoted: “because you persecuted Jews” – thats what I am talking about. Europe and U.S.A. are under heavy influence from these people. Germany fear their wrath, that’s why it does everything to satisfy Israeli demands (follow their internal affairs, their stance to their own history and their economic and/or military subsidies to Israel – for example free submarines). If a people with this huge financial rescources and valuable connections turn against you, thats a problem. I know that in some of their circles Russia is not so popular, because of the past, Pale of settlement, Soviet Unions’ support of arab states during the CW, but again in some of their circles, Russia is the heir of Soviet Union, who saved them from almost total annihilation during the WW2. However we also have to take into account, that who where the inner and outer dirving forces behind the revolution against Czarist regime in 1917, and then behind the “system changing” of 1989-1991, for obvious reasons, both brigning disasterous consequences for ordinary Russian people. They are heavily represented in the US politics, mostly on the hardcore republican side and hold valuable positions (just to mention Madeleine Albright, but I can say countless other examples). Most of them originate from Eastern Europe, but that doesn’t mean they feel any attachment to these countries, what’s more!…
            Last year, George Soros world famous billionaire/speculator of “Hungarian” origin speculated against Hungarian Forint during the 2009 recession (which he did numerous times before) and almost managed to bankrupt OTP bank, the biggest Hungarian savings bank. His intentions were unclear, but most probably he wanted to obtain a stake in it. Later he alleged, that he didn’t know about the actions of his company. He took active part in “system changing”, sponsores open Democracy and similar dubious NGOs and founded an University (Central European Universitiy) of the same intellectuality. Everybody can draw his own conclusion.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, I used to like Soros because he bankrolled Democratic initiatives within the USA, and Republicans hate him for it. I like pretty much anyone the Republicans hate, but I didn’t know a lot about Soros’ international activities. Oddly, many of them are the kind of game-changing backdoor deals Republicans would normally cheer about – it’s only his support of Democratic candidates within the American political system that makes them hate him. Otherwise, he could be a Republican himself.

              The historical examples are interesting. I like to recall a line from one of my favourite novels, A.J. Cronin’s, “The Stars Look Down” – Life’s just like a wheel, man; round she comes, if you wait long enough.

              • Misha says:

                On former Communist bloc issues, there isn’t a heck of a lot of difference between neolibs and neocons.

              • PvMikhail says:

                Soros is a predator of the very dangerous kind. He single- handedly robbed the Bank of UK back in the early 90s. He pocketed 1 billion AT LEAST. Check out the story if you have the time.

            • Misha says:

              The history of the Jews in the Russian Empire and USSR includes some very problematical aspects.

              Some “whatboutism” notes such problems elsewhere (Inquisition, Holocaust) and how Blacks fared for much of history in the US.

              Not everything was negative about the Jewish experience in the Russian Empire and USSR.

              For example, on RT, a native born Israeli (if I’m not mistaken, he has been involved with foreign policy matters) by the name of Gessen (I believe he spells his name differently) said that his grandfather left a very good life in the Russian Empire on land that’s located in eastern Ukraine.

              There’re other such stories. Consider the number of “mixed” marriages between the eastern Slav descendants of Rus and Jews. Starting around 2000 and at least a few years thereafter, there was a greater number of folks leaving Israel for Russia than the reverse.

    • Misha says:

      The Lozansky coined (if I’m not mistaken) KGB (Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Berezovsky).

  8. Evgeny says:

    Regarding Nemtsov’s claim that Solidarnost is something and the Right Cause is nothing… Surely, Solidarnost shouts louder. But each of the parties Grazhdanskaya Sila and SPS (two of three parties that merged to form the Right Cause) won some about 1% of votes in 2007. That’s yet more than a million of supporters. Can the Solidarnost boast the same?

  9. sinotibetan says:

    Mikhail and yalensis,
    {If you want to learn more, search on “Daco-Roman-Rumanian continuity”. }
    I think the Romanians have a complex ethnogenesis. Perhaps Dacians, Thracians and Illyrians – extinct tribes in the Balkans had contributed genetically but how much would be very difficult to ascertain. Later the Huns, Avars, Bulgars amongst the ‘Asiatic’ hordes and also southern Slavs were there. Plus some Latin admixture. I suspect all these jumbled up together with a Romance language family as predominant language and over centuries gave rise to the Vlachs. I could be wrong, I am no expert – but it’s not impoosible to be so. Albanians and Romanians have been said to have some common origins but some Serbs would again assert that Albanians originally came from the Caucasus and have common ancestors with Chechens! Phenotypically Albanians do have some semblance with the people in Chechenya or Ingushetia, in my opinion, but genetics is the key to finding out what might have happened in the past. Ultimately, all Europeans in Europe came from what is now Russia so I think hypotheses regarding ethnogenesis should not be politicized but treated as yet another subspecialty within anthropology and dealt with objectively.

    sinotibetan

    • Misha says:

      Some Albanian nationalists are big on trumping up the idea that they’re the descendants of the ancient Greeks.

      A follow-up on that thought notes how we all appear to be related to each other in one degree or another.

      The trumped up claim that the Albanians settled in the Balkans before the Slav typically omits how the former didn’t predominate in noticeably significant numbers and cultural influence over all Balkan areas before the latter – Kosovo included.

  10. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    @Mark
    U.S. policymaking is undergoing similar pressures to what you describe, on the issue of immigration reform.
    Damn, you just showed I’m guilt of fault #2, i.e. assuming that abroad things are better by default🙂 .
    I’d be more interested in is how it differs from existing OS’s, who developed it…
    It is based on Linux which is an open source OS. Open source means that you have the source code available, not just the executable like Windows, so you can customize it for your needs, and more importantly you can easily check for backdoors in the OS. A backdoor in IT is “a method of bypassing normal authentication, securing remote access to a computer, obtaining access to plaintext, and so on, while attempting to remain undetected” (from Wikipedia). In other words, if you don’t trust the US military, better don’t use Windows, they could easily take control of you IT network.
    Strictly speaking Linux is only a kernel of an OS, that is to say an interface between the hardware and other programs that don’t need to know on which hardware they’re running. The Linux kernel was developed in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, then an IT student in Helsinki (Note: there was a flame war between Torvalds and Prof. Tanenbaum of Amsterdam University on how to develop a kernel; history proved Torvalds was right).
    Since then many other developers have joined Torvalds. The programs on top of the Linux kernel (e.g. the graphical interface Xwindow, the GNU compiler) also are mostly open source and are developed by hundreds of peoples around the world. These includes people payed for the development, volunteers and people that send corrections to the main developer. With open source, if you notice a bug and know programming, you can fix the bug yourself and send the correction (called patch) to the developers.
    Making a backdoor-proof OS is just the first step, and I assume that Russia has already deployed such a system for its armed forces. The second step is to deploy it for civilian and general usage. To do this, one needs apps for the new OS that are comparable to those already available for Windows. For example, to use it in schools, educational apps on par with the existing ones must be available. So, the IT sector will have a lot of work to do.
    I don’t know if you noticed, but Alexandre Latsa…
    I knew “Eurasia rivista” already and used to read it for a while, but I find it boring.
    @Yalensis
    I know Linux, I started using it in 1995 (to say the truth: started trying to use it in 1995) and around 1998/99 I dumped Windows for good. I agree that it is a smart move by the Russian government, it will save a lot of money spent for license fees, maintenance and antivirus. I would like to know if there is already a working or testing version for this Russian government sponsored distribution.
    it is one of those enduring mysteries why Mother Russia spawns so many traitors
    IMHO the “traitors” are the extremists of fault #2 in my answer to Cartman.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s pretty much what I was looking for, but in the format of a blog post and with a little editorializing added by you. But now everybody knows! That’s OK, my determination to channel you into writing a guest post is undiminished.

      • marknesop says:

        I’d bet, just on the face of it, that there is presently no such thing as a “back door proof” system. People are amazingly devious, and anything complex (like an OS) often contains more layers than a microchip, except they are layers of secrets.

        There’s a story, which I’ve been unable to verify beyond the fact of its existence, that Ivan the Terrible had the architect who designed St. Basil’s blinded, to ensure nobody could ever again design a building of such beauty. You’d have to do something like that – allow the programmers who designed the OS no interaction with anyone outside, and then kill them as soon as functional tests proved satisfactory. Even then, you could never be sure one of them hadn’t programmed in an “Easter Egg” that would destroy vital code strings if you typed in some innocuous phrase. Companies which design virus-protection software such as McAfee and Norton are perennial conspiracy suspects of writing ingenious virus code to increase their market share, and so on.

        As a simple example, the first MiG 25 “Foxbat” shot down in combat fell to ground fire in Syria. Upon examination of the wreckage, inspectors learned that there were a variety of radar modes that were never used in peacetime – so they would be a complete surprise in war. Older crystal-controlled radars had crystal frequencies that were never used in peacetime, either, but those were predictable because they are usually simple multiples. Not long after that, Viktor Belenko defected in his Foxbat to Japan, and the west had an entire operational aircraft handed to it on a silver platter.

        It was an interesting aircraft because, although it was revolutionary in so many ways (the “Foxfire” radar pumped out a staggering 600 watts, and pilots were said to be directed never to activate it on the ground because it put out enough power to kill rabbits alongside the runway. There’s probably no need to suggest what it might do to a technician who was working on it at the time), it typified Soviet design thought and succeeded in spite of it. It had a steel frame, and was as heavy as a tank. In areas that did not adversely affect aerodynamics, rivet heads were left exposed. By rights, it should have been aerodynamic as a Coke machine (which it apparently was at low speeds) and so slow that a cat could outrun it during takeoff. It was neither – it would slam you back in your seat hard enough to scatter teeth in the back of your helmet, and was the fastest plane in the sky, owing to the incredible power generated by its Tumansky engines. There is another story, which by weight of repetition appears to be true, that although it would achieve an unheard-of Mach 3.2, it would only do it once. It apparently red-lined at Mach 2.8, and speeds beyond that would destroy the engines.

        Also interesting for me, the aircraft it was often compared to was the Canadian CF-105 Arrow, manufactured by A.V. Roe. That’s a fascinating story for anyone who loves aircraft, and the movie, “There Never Was an Arrow” still brings a lump to my throat. It actually never flew with its designed engine, the Orenda Iroquois, which generated so much thrust that it began to pull the legs of the test bed out of the concrete. Instead, it flew – and smashed records – for a very short time using American-supplied Pratt & Whitney J75’s, just to get in the air before politics killed it stone dead. Such secrecy surrounded its death that all the existing airframes were cut up and the plans destroyed, and all that remains today is a nosewheel assembly in an air museum in Ottawa. Persistent rumours suggest “one got away” and is hidden in a barn somewhere, but that’s just romantic nonsense. The movie is a wonderful example of political stupidity and the crushing of a dream. The Avro team scattered after that, and one of them was a designer on Concorde.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          There is a debate between supporters of open source and closed source software about which is more secure. With open source attackers have the advantage that they can look at the source code, but defenders have the advantage that a lot of people can spot bugs and security holes and correct them, so you have more defenders. Surely, it is better to have an open source OS than a closed source one whose source code is unknown. You don’t know if there is an intentional backdoor until it is too late.
          I had read about the Avro CF-105, but it is not clear the reasons for the cancellation, and why Avro company was terminated. Perhaps US companies wiped out a competitor?

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Note: I suppose the Foxfire had 600 kilowatts peak power.

          • marknesop says:

            Oops!! Yes, you’re right, I didn’t notice that error. There were a couple of others as well, since my original post was from memory rather than research. The movie is in fact simply titled “The Arrow”. “There Never Was an Arrow” was a book I read on the subject, years ago. And although it broke domestic records, the Arrow did not break any international ones that I am aware of with the J75 engine. Project engineers expected it to easily break the speed record with the Iroquois engine, but it never flew with it. In fact, only one CAF pilot ever flew it; the rest were all company test pilots.

            The abrupt cancellation of the program is a story of small-minded political opportunism and jealousy, and a terrible mistake. Consequently, it has been romanticized out of all proportion, until few could say what really happened. Cancellation of pet projects initiated by the previous administration is part of the tit-for-tat of politics, and is far from uncommon. One story has it that Diefenbaker, a Prairie lawyer with little sense of humour and a somewhat fussy manner, perceived he had been insulted by the president of Avro and did not care for his attitude, and cancelled the project out of vindictiveness, but that isn’t likely. Another is that he was pressured by the U.S. president to cancel it in favour of a version of missile defense such as the U.S. is still pushing today, because the Americans did not want competition in military sales from such a superior aircraft. That’s likely not true either, although it was a revolutionary design. Part of the political axe that killed it was MacLeans Magazine, then and now a mouthpiece of government, which is alleged to have deliberately exaggerated the projected cost of the Arrow by something like a factor of 5. The public would not support a project that cost that kind of money, and never knew it would not have. The rest was politics, and a general misapprehension by our tool of a Defense Minister at the time that the age of manned fighter aircraft was giving way to the age of the guided missile. But it was Canada’s last chance to be a major player in the combat aircraft production field, and we never tried again to build our own. Now we just buy from the Americans, which doubtless suits them fine.

            • Yalensis says:

              What a pity! Would have been better for Canada to have its own combat aircraft. American technology is pretty good, but tends to be too complicated in design, too many unnecessary frills and elaborations.

              • Alexei Cemirtan says:

                The greatest problem with American military hardware in general, and combat aircraft in particular, is their huge cost. At this very moment Europe is already planning huge cuts to its not so plentiful air forces, just to be able to afford buying a few F-35s, which despite all promises of savings ended up costing a VERY great deal indeed.

                • marknesop says:

                  The F-35 is indeed very expensive, but often what a country pays for combat aircraft is offset to a degree by spinoff contracts and manufacturing/fabrication incentives in the home country. Canada will likely get some of the manufacturing for its own F-35’s, since the primary contractor (Lockheed-Martin) is a big industrial presence in Canada. However, what bothers me is our dependence on foreign industry and the demographic shift of skilled workers to the USA because engineers and technicians with that specialized kind of skill can’t get work here. Canada often gets contracts for engine parts, airframe struts, fuel system components, that sort of thing – the kind of expertise that translates to aircraft manufacture in general, for everything that flies (civilian and military). But you rarely see contracts awarded outside the USA for advanced avionics or weapons systems, because those fall under national security.

                  An example I’ve probably mentioned before is the F-14 Tomcat, which was sold only to Iran as a foreign customer (back when they were pals with the USA, under the Shah, and showed great potential to be the USA’s pivotal regional ally). Iran never got technological access to the AN/AWG-9 radar or the Phoenix missile system, although their F-14’s of course had both. American techs worked on them, and maintenance manuals were strictly controlled (just as an aside, foreign customers are usually offered the maintenance package on any large purchase, such as for engines, and it often costs nearly as much as the engines themselves. If you don’t buy it, you’re on your own, and if you develop a procedure that shortens engine life, too bad for you, they won’t tell you).

                  When the nice relationship soured and everything fell apart, American technicians went back to the USA and took their tools and specialized knowledge with them. The Iranians reverse-engineered radar components and the Phoenix missile themselves, but the expense was brutal.

  11. sinotibetan says:

    Regarding Islam and Islamic fundamentalism,
    I have to respectful disagree with many. I noticed that maybe there are some Muslim commentors here and what I am going to express may not be to your liking. To be honest, I do not hate Muslims. I do have many Muslim friends and some are nice people. But I do have problem with Islam – the ideology. While not denying there are some things in Islam which are good, there are many which are dangerous and fascist in tone. I sincerely believe that Muslims who are nice people are nice IN SPITE of Islam, having read the Quran myself(I am not so well versed in the Hadiths but have a website with translations of both the Quran and authoritative Hadiths) I am convinced that ‘pure’ Islam is a fascist ideology. The Arab-Jewish conflict, the situation in the Middle East,the problem of suicide bombers, Russia’s Caucasus problems and the West ‘multilemma’ in dealing with their Muslim migrants cannot be analyzed without knowing quite a lot about Islam itself. My diagnosis – Islam is THE problem. Unpalatable, hard to accept – but I think that’s the truth. You can call me an Islamaphobe but that’s a misnomer. A phobe is one who has irrational fear and thus Islamaphobe is one who has irrational fear of Islam. To be alarmed of Islam is not irrational but rational.
    “IMO, politically engaging Islamic fundamentalists instead of dealing with them just as a security problem before they violate the law, is a wise policy, in Russia and outside of Russia.”
    “Slowly, but in an irresistible manner, Islamic extremism is fading.”
    I do not agree with these two statements. All the major ‘moderate’ Muslim nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt etc. are showing the political rise of Islamists. Jihadists are also active in Indonesia as well as Mindanao in the Philipines and southern Thai provinces. Islamists are also active in Pakistan and India. Muslim Brotherhood , an Islamist organization is active as the ‘democratic’ voice in Middle East politics as the recent debacle in Egypt demonstrates. Islamic extremism is not fading. I know your statement probably was meant for Russia but I doubt it. All other civilizations and ideologies are considered ‘jahiliyah’ in Islam and the AIM of Islam is global Islamization and ultimate destruction off all other civilizations for a one world Islamic civilization. This is the aim of Islamists. It’s a dogma within Islam. You cannot ‘persuade’ any of them to abandon this dogma , hence the policy of engaging Islamists is a dangerous and unwise one.
    “The traditions of tolerant, moderate Islam – which has always been the predominant form of Islam in Russia – should be encouraged in every way possible.” Moreover, Islam is not only a religion. It’s an ideology that encompasses ALL – it considers itself a civilization/system/way of life with its own laws(Hudud), judiciary(Syariah), economic model, political system, morality etc. which are superior to all others. It’s OK if they only observe this for their own communities but Muhammad commanded that this religion of Allah must ultimately be supreme over all. All must submit to Islam – in fact ‘Islam’ means submit. One can never ‘talk sense’ into people who are so into such an ideology. Moreover, they believe this ideology is from God, so why should your views, if they are contrary to this global aim, be even considered? Also, it’s OK to deceive non-Muslims so that they can achieve this aim of one world under Islam. Oaths and promises can be broken, ‘if something else is better than originally promised’ an example of taqqiya by Muhammad himself(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 67, Number 427 – http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/067.sbt.html)
    “The traditions of tolerant, moderate Islam – which has always been the predominant form of Islam in Russia – should be encouraged in every way possible”
    Maybe that’s applicable amongst the Baskhirs or in Tatarstan which is highly ‘Russified’. Even then, there is religious awakening amongst many ‘slack’ Muslims. That’s the danger because when they dwell more into tafsir Al-Quran or the Hadiths, they become radicalized as the Quran is claimed to be the very word of Allah. To the pious of pure Islam, moderates are ignorant who need to be reminded of their duties – jihad being one of them. Those who ‘compromise’ are considered ‘murtad’ , apostates – their fate is as bad as non-Muslims.
    I have commented on the Muslim Brotherhood before with some weblinks. You can see for yourselves what they believe.

    sinotibetan

    • Yalensis says:

      In Russian History class we had lesson about why Russians adopted Christianity. Prior to that they were pagans and had many gods, including Perun, Stribog, and many others. Prince Vladimir decided that it was ridiculous to go on being so pagan when other great nations were monotheists. So Vladimir invited representatives of the three major monotheistic religions to come to Kiev and pitch their products. Jewish emissary said Russian males would have to become circumsized. Vladimir didn’t like that idea and rejected Judaism. Muslim emissary said Russians would have to give up vodka. Vladimir recoiled in horror: “We Russians love our drink,” according to Chronicles. Which left only Christianity as least objectionable of the three, because fewer restrictions. And that’s why Russians became Christians.

      • grafomanka says:

        I heard he rejected Catholicism because ‘he liked his women’ 😉

        • kovane says:

          Quote: “Был же Владимир побеждён похотью, и были у него жёны […], а наложниц было у него 300 в Вышгороде, 300 в Белгороде и 200 на Берестове, в сельце, которое называют сейчас Берестовое. И был он ненасытен в блуде, приводя к себе замужних женщин и растляя девиц.”

          Yes, I’d say he was a fine connoisseur, but we love him not only for that🙂 He also ordered the assassination of his brother, if I recall.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            By comparison, Berlusconi is an amateur!

            • kovane says:

              Ha! I’m sure he can use that as an argument in the coming trial.

              • Yalensis says:

                Ha! Yes, I can see Berlusconi employing the “what-aboutism” defense at his trial: “Hey, compared to Prince Vladimir of Kiev, with his 800 concubines, I’m just a piker!”

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                A little joke on Berlusconi. An Italian prays “Oh, God, when I begged you to put an end on the guy with all that makeup, all that facelift, and engaged with underages… I didn’t mean Michael Jackson!!!”

        • Yalensis says:

          Yes, I am guessing Prince Vladimir would have been horrified by the Catholic notion of celibacy. He sounds like a sensible guy!

          • Yalensis says:

            P.S. Except for that whole “assassinating his brother” part, of course. I do not approve of that. @kovane: You make me laugh. Reminds me of that old “Radio Erevan” bit where they lecture on Tchaikovsky: “The composer Tchaikovsky was a famous pederast. But we honor him not only for that….”

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Hi Sinotibetan,
      in case you think I’m muslim, I reassure you I’m not. I was educated in a Catholic family and turned atheist when I was a teenager. I disagree with your assessment of Islam.
      Your statement that Islam is a political/economic/social fascist-like system was true for Christianity as well. Until the French revolution Christianity was a political system (all monarchies in Europe were based on divine rights, being non-Christian meant being a subversive), an economic one (e.g. usury was forbidden, and when capitalism appeared a new form of Christianity-Protestantism followed), and a social one (to these days Christians try to advance religiously inspired law). By today’s standard it was “fascist”, they burned heretics, you couldn’t speak against the Church or religion, even Science was censored. Actually, you can say the same about any religion or cultural system of the old days. Your description of the Chinese way to deal with traitors (killing up to the most distant relatives, servants and pets included) is something that not even fascists would do. Should I conclude that Chinese culture and religion form a political/economic/social fascist-like system?
      As for the fading of Islamic extremism, I was referring to the Russian Caucasus one. Insurgent activities are declining, that is the long term trend. If more people go to Mosques and pray toward the Mecca, it’s their business, as long as they (like any other citizen) follow the rules. By this rules, Muslim can further Islamic inspired laws, like atheist, Christians and Cargo Cult members.
      hence the policy of engaging Islamists is a dangerous and unwise one.
      So, what is your proposal? Kill them up to the most distant relatives?
      The Arab-Jewish conflict, the situation in the Middle East,the problem of suicide bombers, Russia’s Caucasus problems and the West ‘multilemma’ in dealing with their Muslim migrants cannot be analyzed without knowing quite a lot about Islam itself
      Try to get your facts straight. The Arab-Jewish conflict started well before the Islamic revival, Israel faced in almost all the wars secular Arab regimes, like those of Nasser and Assad. Also, Russia’s Caucasus problems started with nationalism rise, only later turned religious. The multilemma with migrants isn’t just with Muslim ones. Slav migrants from Eastern Europe are perceived inclined to violent crime more than Muslim ones. As for suicide bombers, the word Kamikaze isn’t an Arabic one.

      • PvMikhail says:

        I also think, that sinotibetan’s statements are not fully accurate, but I would like to point out some things (if it matters, I am more or less practicing catholic Christian):
        1. I usually say to all atheists that we should live in present time (now). What happened then is history which should be seen in reflection of today, because nowadays Christianity is not violent at all, moreover it serves the people and does more good than bad to the society in general. In my opinion todays Christianity (like todays Europe) is too weak and defenseless against religions like islam. Back then Europe and Middle east kept the balance of power, because their society was equally strong and their religion were equally aggressive and dominant in that society. However now, when Christianity lost the bulk of it’s influence the power is shifting to the Middle east, because Europe’s society became leisured and started to disintegrate very slowly. I don’t want to make any allegation that the marginalization of Christianity is the cause of this process, but it obviously doesn’t help to reverse it. Although freedom of thought made Europe wealthy and comfortable place to live, it also did harm to Europe’s reflex of self-defense.
        2. As you probably found out, I am suspicious with islam. I don’t have any problem with the people who practice it. I have an Western African islamic friend, he used to tell me that their islam and the middle-eastern has the same roots, but has totally different customs. In Africa they are not so crazy about customs, they are not religious fanatics. He also have very enlightened ideas about women, because at his home women don’t have to wear chador or anything like that. Finally here I would like to declare, that he is fully integrated to Hungarian society and obey its written and unwritten laws.
        However the problem with most islamic immigrants that they are not able/don’t want to integrate into European society and disobey written and unwritten laws. They usually try live according to their own rules and make their environment similar to their home. This is Europe and what is required to live here is to be a German and not a Turkish living in Germany. One can keep roots but it must not overshadow the fact that one is German first and foremost.

        Agreed on the Arab-Israeli thing, it started with zionism, nationalism and western great power politics.

        I would like to see the statistics, that how we Eastern Europeans are more violent and criminal than muslim immigrants! I know that Italy have problems with Romanians, but the majority of the immigrants from there are gypsies, I have seen it by my own eyes when I was in Bologna. I would like to express my solidarity, they are real pain in the ass. We know the problem here (I am Hungarian).

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Hi Mikhail,
          my point about Christianity in the old days was not meant to bash present day Christianity, just to show that there isn’t nothing inherently bad (or good) in a religion. The same Holy Books can be used to justify burning heretics or to further tolerance. IMO, men (not religions) do good or bad things, then claim they acted according to a religion or an ideology.
          I disagree that power is shifting to the Middle East and that Christianity is too weak compared with Islam. Both Christianity and Islam are weak in present days European society. The first generation of migrants is still rooted in the culture of their country of origin, so you see more peoples at Mosques than in Churches, but the second generation mostly loses these roots and is culturally assimilated. This is what I’ve observed on Italians that emigrated years ago. The first generation (some are still alive) still speaks ancient dialects mixed with some english word (they’re really difficult to understand) and have the mentality of 50 years ago, their sons and daughters mostly don’t even bother to visit Italy. It can be noticed on second generation migrants in France, and it can be noticed in Italy as well (immigration in Italy is more recent than France). If you have followed the news about the sex scandal in Italy, you know that it involves a Moroccan born girl, which is not the stereotypical Muslim woman with an headscarf. She is an example of a second generation migrant that assimilated to local culture. Please note that assimilation doesn’t mean no trouble, because troublemakers have always been part of our society. This Moroccan girl is causing more trouble than an al-Qaeda cell, but it has nothing to do with Islam.
          As for point 2, in the first part, when you say that there are different Islams, I think it proves my point that there isn’t nothing inherently bad (or good) in a religion.
          As for the second part, I may agree or disagree according to what you mean with “to be a German and not a Turkish living in Germany”. If you mean obeying the German laws I agree. However, I hope that Turks will continue to make Kebab, otherwise I’ll have to eat Würstel every time I go to Germany (note: Italian restaurants in Germany sucks).
          I don’t have statistics about violent crime by Eastern Europe immigrants, they’re perceived as violent criminals although statistics may not prove this perception. It is due to some violent crime perpetrated by Albanians or Slavs that received a lot of attention in the media. Gypsies are considered petty thieves, but not violent criminals.

          • PvMikhail says:

            I have heard otherwise when Romanian-born gypsies raped some women (one of them was a spouse of somebody famous) some 2 years ago. Everybody started to speak about how violent they are. Carabinieri had to double patrols near gypsy “ghettos”. I agree that albanians are hardcore and they keen to “swim” to Italy as you had some imperial ambitions there back then, if I recall correctly. Slavs? What does it mean? Former Yugoslavs? They can cause some problems, but also can work hard, I think.

            BTW when I was in Italy some 2 years ago, it was amazing. I walked alone by foot with a map in my hand and watched every side of Bologna. I was interested in every detail, not just what the tourist brochures show and I tried to speak with people. Tomorrow I bought ticket for public transport and watched outer parts. Every Italian was very nice and I could speak in english with everybody. It was so positive experience. You are happy people, unlike us🙂

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Hi Mikhail,
              in 2007 a Romanian gypsy raped and killed the wife of a Navy officer (which wasn’t famous), and that is the only violent crime by a gypsy I can remember. Carabinieri and police had to double patrols near gypsy ghettos because they feared that some Italian hothead could attack gypsies in retaliation. The Major of Rome at the time (Walter Veltroni, the premier candidate for the center-left in 2008 election) sent town police (Vigili) to move away illegal gypsy encampments as a form of collective punishment.
              Most peoples missed a not so little detail. The culprit was arrested because one gypsy woman from the same encampment, and a distant relative of that guy, called the police and directed them to him.
              “Slavs” (Slavi) here is a generic term that is used for all Eastern Europe people (Hungarians included!) even if they’re not exactly Slavs, like Hungarians.
              I’m not saying that peoples from Eastern Europe are all violent criminals, they’re perceived as such.
              Nice to know that you enjoyed your holiday in Italy.

          • PvMikhail says:

            🙂 that’s why I like Italy:

            oh my god🙂

            • Yalensis says:

              I REALLY want to go to Italy someday. I have never been there, but I have heard it is amazing. What a great history and culture!
              Now, on Christianity vs. Islam: I admit I am an atheist, like Giuseppe. Some scientists feel that ability to feel religious experience is based on some particular gene on a chromosome. Obviously, I lack that gene, or have a mutated version, since I have always felt in my heart, since childhood, that all religion is basically a scam, involving dishonest people (priests, etc.) pretending to have some secret knowledge in order to dupe the masses and grab power and wealth. Of all major religions, Christianity seems fairly benign, at least in its first principles. Unlike Mohammed, who was a cad, Jesus seems like decent guy: love your neighbor, be good to others, etc., all good ethical principles. On the other hand, I believe that Jesus deceived people in order to gain followers: he was an expert magician, his illusions on the level of Houdini (wine into water, multiply bread and fishes, raise Lazarus from dead – that was his greatest trick). He did this to win followers, and his goal was some kind of mystical transformation, not earthly power. In sum, Jesus was a mystic who pretended to be a rebel (to win over people who wanted revolution against Rome); Mohammed, on the other hand, was a rebel who pretended to be a mystic, in order to win followers; his goal was building an earthly power (nothing wrong with that necessarily; a real man does have to protect his tribe). I tried to read Koran once (in translation, of course, as I don’t read Arabic). Gave up after 2 pages – was pure gibberish to me.
              There, now I have offended both Christians and Muslims. Now for the Jews… Let me say something nice: major contribution of modern European civilization, in my opinion, is Enlightenment: idea of secular society, separation of Church and State. This wasn’t all down to Voltaire: secular Jewish diaspora in Europe had major contribution to this ferment of ideas. Even religious Jews contributed to Enlightenment: because they were oppressed religious minority, it was in their interest to demand separation of law from dominant religion; and this separation turned out to be very positive idea, adopted by most Western countries eventually.
              Millions of people, most of them Muslim, demonstrating in Egypt, what are they asking for? They are not demanding an Islamic state with shariah law. (What they may end up with – well, that’s different story, we have to wait and see…) They are demanding secular society, democracy, European-type parliament and judicial system. Separation of Church and State. All the ideas espoused by European Enlightenment. Which was the product of Western educated elite (mostly atheists or agnostics), with much input from Jewish diaspora. Therefore, what I am trying to say is that none of what is happening in Egypt involves Jesus or teachings of Jesus, however benign his ideas are. Is all about secular society.

              • marknesop says:

                Peddlers and recorders of organized religion always reminded me a little of meteorologists: they try to keep their message fairly broad and vague in order to cover the largest possible set of variables, or speak in parables so that a simple phrase might have several possible interpretations. Sort of like, “Sunny breaks with patchy cloud and a chance of precipitation”.

                But as we’ve already discussed, Islam is every bit as much a religion of love and peace as is Christianity. If you are interested in killing someone and claiming religious backing for the act, you can probably find something in every religion that will allow you to say, “God/Mohammed/Buddha/Ra/David Koresh made me do it”. If you want to spread a message of tolerance and forgiveness, there are Quranic verses that will support that also. A fondness for violence and extreme behavior is in one’s character, not one’s religion. Religion is simply wheeled out as a justification, and in that respect is its own worst enemy because of its lack of specifity.

              • PvMikhail says:

                I tell all the atheists all the time: In my opinion, it’is better for everybody to believe in something. The man always needed transcendency, every ethnic groups on the surface of the Earth had religion in the past. It’s true that people with negative IQ, no education get stiffed more easily. But this doesn’t mean that all religions are bad. If I didn’t believe in God, I would rationally get to the idea, that Christianity is good for the society. Why? Because, what is written in the 10 commandments, it is maybe evident for you, a highly qualified intellectual, but stupider people have to learn it and obey it. Stupid people don’t believe in God, but “fear” the God. Maybe it helps to wake one’s inner conscience and prevent him to chose the wrong way. Imagine a world, where everybody would kill without problem, that would be total chaos. I hope that my example is clear.
                Or a second thing: religion hearten up people. Majority of people are irrational and think that Jesus saved them after a bigger accident or somethin. It is easier to covince themselves about this, it is easier to rebuild their life surrounded by religion. Maybe they could do it without religion too, but they find their motivation in religion.
                Traditional christian churches help society, maintain schools, give food to poor people and give spiritual support lonely old people who lay in hospital. I think it is rationally better for society.
                Or another example: you lay in the bed and wait for death. You can believe that you will go somewhere after this life, or you can chose otherwise: you know that after this nothing happens, you are lost in time. Which one is easier? I know an answer: rationally better to believe in God and I am a rational (however idealist) person.

                • marknesop says:

                  It is amazing to me that you are not a native English speaker, yet you are able to so easily put your finger on the subtle distinction in that language. Indeed, you are correct – the less-educated (I wouldn’t call them stupid, because few lack the capability to be better educated, just the means) typically fear the head of their religion rather than being exalted by it. That, of course, applies to modern times, since in ancient times even a majority of the best-educated religious scholars feared God and used him to terrify others. Fear of God by western societies appeared to reach a peak with the Salem witch trials in the 1690’s, after which incremental progress in religious tolerance began to be observed.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Besides, some time ago I read an interview that appeared on Oct. 13, 1914 in an Italian newspaper. At that time World War I was going on, but Italy was neutral, we entered war in 1915. During this neutrality, there was a debate between neutralists and warmongerings, the latter mostly suggesting to enter war against Germany and Austria (there was some warmonger that suggested to join Germany). The journalist, I suppose he favored war against Germany, interviewed Benedetto Croce, a neutralist philosopher. These are two questions:
      1) Credete alle differenze di razze e di stirpi? “Do you believe to race and descent difference?”
      2) Credete che il militarismo germanico sia in antitesi con la civiltà moderna e industriale? “Do you believe that German militarism is antithetic with modern and industrial civilization?”
      Change race and descent with religion and culture, change “German militarism” with “Islamic fundamentalism” and you get today’s rants against Islam. In this same interview, Croce says “Francesi, inglesi, tedeschi e italiani si vergogneranno, o sorrideranno, o domanderanno venia e indulgenza per i giudizi che hanno espresso, che non erano giudizi, ma commozioni di animo” “French, English, Germans and Italians will be shameful, will smile (in the sense that it is a reaction to embarassment), or will ask for forgiveness for the judgements they had done, which weren’t judgements, but emotions”.

  12. sinotibetan says:

    Mikhail,
    “Sometimes I just don’t understand the present day Russian leadership. They seem too weak to protect their interests and occasionally I have the impression that they simply don’t care.”
    This statement probably is true for the ‘civiliki’ faction rather than the ‘siloviki’ faction. Some ‘Civiliki’ , in my view, can be willing to sell their country to Westerners so long as they get their cut and remain in power. Their constant talk of American obssessions like ‘freedom’, ‘human rights’, ‘more democratization’ and Medvedev being courted by Washington but Putin always demonized lead me to be quite suspicious of them. They are potential traitors to the West. Siloviki are better at protecting Russia geopolitically – many of them being former spies (who know America’s designs on other nations) can probably deal with America more pragmatically and realistically. Civiliki should be more confined to economic matters where they’d probably excell. Medvedev as president is the wrong choice, Putin’s mistake, in my opinion. Now that he has a taste of power, I am not surprised if he loathes his former boss. He should probably be in a more economic-based or ‘technical’ portfolio. He’s too weak to protect Russia from the external coyotes(I like your choice of animal!) waiting to devour at the slightest sign of weakness.
    “I understand that, Russia is too strong and too strange to be like a leisured pacifist EU state, but it SEEMS too weak for this vast territory and resources, so it’s enemies (like rabid coyotes) ganged up to destroy it and split its wealth among themselves. ”
    If I remember correctly, there was someone who said ‘ Russia is not as strong as some may perceive and yet not as weak as some might suppose’ – something like that(I cannot remember it verbatim and don’t remember who said it).
    Agree, Russia is too strong for many European states to accept. Its weaknesses are demographic(she needs to increase her population, instead it’s dwindling),potential political instability(too many Western-worshippers ever willing to be traitors – who love the adulation of a Western European nation or America than loving their own country), a soft underbelly of Islamic nations with a potential of being radicalized, a rising Far East(China) which will be a friend if Russia is strong but would no doubt annex Siberia if Russia becomes weak and an economy still too dependent on commodities/natural resources. As I’ve commented to Mark before, a strong Russia is a hindrance to America’s(and I suspect EU’s) dream of a united ‘white’ civilization that’s according to the dreams(which I believe will turn to nightmares because of the folly inherent in their Utopian dreams) of your average Washington dreamer or Brussels technocrat. They will bash and bash and bash Russia till her leaders agree with Brussels and Washington. If not, Russia will be the object of their hate and scorn.
    As for punishment of traitors, we Chinese used to behead not only the traitor – but ALL his family members , even those with the most distant connections are not spared, associates and friends are not spared, even pets might be exterminated, together with all household servants, and up to the seventh generation if some are not accounted for! This is to instill fear on all would-be traitors and so that no family member/friend/associate/servant of the traitor will ever be alive to avenge the condemned traitor. It would have been a public execution for all to see. Even with this, we had famous traitors like Wu Sangui, a Ming Dynasty general, who betrayed the Ming Dynasty by opening the gate of the Great Wall of China for marauding Manchurians under Aisin-Gioro Dorgon, a son of Manchurian chieftain Aisin-Gioro Nurhaci. His defection was partly because of his love(or lust?) towards his concubine Chen Yuanyuan, abducted by the rebel leader Li Zicheng.

    sinotibetan

    • PvMikhail says:

      cool replies. In general I can agree with the points, but I would put some things the other way around…

      About punishment: yeah that sounds efficient enough, should be employed. Only problem is that this would provoke outrage in the civilised EU. For example in Europe there are numerous cases of corruption, it is outlawed, but almost an everyday thing to steal from the state. The people learned that this is normal, because there is no serious punishment. They can get away with few years in prison, come out and continue it where they finished last time. “civilised” EU officials, intellectuals pray about “barbaric” China where high profile officials (with big responsibility) get executed for corruption and laugh on japanese politicians/businessman who commit suicide after being caught on mismanagement. They simply don’t understand sh!t, because they are so full of themselves.

  13. sinotibetan says:

    Mikhail,
    “For example in Europe there are numerous cases of corruption, it is outlawed, but almost an everyday thing to steal from the state. ”
    I suspect corruption exists in Europe- I am shocked that it’s so serious!

    sinotibetan

    • Yalensis says:

      @sinotibetan: Thanks for very interesting example of Ming traitor. That reminds me there is a very good answer to pvMikhail’s question as to why men become traitors against their own country? In many of these examples, it is because of love for a beautiful woman. I had forgotten to mention the most famous Russian betrayal of all, which is the False Dmitry, a Russian peasant pretending to be Dmitry Ivanovich, lost son of Ivan the Terrible, joining with Polish invaders to conquer Russia. His motive was his love for the Polish princess Marina, who promised to marry him if he handed her the Russian throne. There are many similar stories in the Bible too (Samson and Delilah, etc.)
      Hm… makes me think: what is Nemtsov’s motive for betraying his country? Perhaps he has fallen for the charms of the gorgeous La Russophobe?🙂

    • PvMikhail says:

      sinotibetan: yes it is very serious. Politicians accuse each other with corruption so often, that common people just don’t give a f#%k any more. It’s a madness. If only the half of these accusations are true, that’s a shame. Courtrooms are full of white collar criminals, former city mayors and ministers. The worst hit by corruption is: distribution of EU funds and public procurement. Companies pay bribes to officials, who give lucrative state projects to them or they pay them 2 or 3-fold more money than the project real worth. For example: the heavily indebted (lives on state subsidy) Public Transport Limited of Budapest payed tonnes of cash for the idle services of lawyers, managers, PR/communication firms, etc. , meanwhile it’s negligence in the maintenance of buses and other essential things are obvious. This is only one example. OUTRAGE!

  14. PvMikhail says:

    Mark: sorry, I am not so experienced in commenting on blogs, 8 replies, i understood.
    talking about the Caucasus problem…
    We have to understand and analyse the situation, which is very compex and very serious. If we sketch up the situation without the demand of entirety (we could discuss this for eternity otherwise) we see the follows:
    The location of problems: Republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, troubled but by a lesser extent: Karabadino-Balkaria, Karachevo-Cherkessia and with lower intensity, the problems are exported to North-Ossetia and Stavropol Krai (Russian leaders are not idiots, thats why they separated North-Caucasus Federal Okrug consisting these territories from Southern FO recently).
    What Moskva does since 1990 (or even since 1956 or so when Khruschev let caucasians back from Khazakhstan and Central Asia where Stalin exiled them) is maintaining status quo in the region. The method nowadays looks like: federal center gives a lot of subsidy to the Republics and turns a blind eye when the corrupt local “elite” steals the majority of the money, in turn they (would) get security on the southern border and assistance of locals in prevention of terrorism in Russian cities. The Kremlin’s strategy on the long run would be developing of the region to give an alternative lifestyle instead of islamic insurgency and Moskva provide a lot of excess money to rebuild, modernize things, but corruption makes these projects to sinkholes of cash. Private investors are afraid to start any venture, so everything has to be done by the state. No security—> no foreign investment.
    Lets see the Republics:
    The least troubled is North-Ossetia: the majority of Ossetian people are orthodox christians and historically friendly to Russians because of that. However they have a muslim minority and they have an unfortunate geographic location between hardcore Ingushetia and more moderate Balkaria. They have normal reproducing customs, 3 or so children per family accompanied by one of the best economies in the region, so unemployment is relatively low. Islamist has not so much chance to rescruit here.
    Kabardino-Balkaria: recently there are problems here, especially terakts in Nalchik, the capital. Home of 2 predominantly islamic ethnic minorities, as the name suggests, together they are in majority in the Republic (must have a kabardian president and a balkar vice president or otherwise etc.). Russians also live there, but usually in cities. The republic has normal demographic indicators 3 or so children.
    Karachevo-Cherkessia: karachay/cherkess are muslims, historic rebels against Russian statehood. There are significant number of Russians living there. Must be a karachay president (for example in 1999 the presidental elections caused a smaller ethnic tensions between the two titular nationalities, which was eased by a half Karachay-half Russian prez. Valdimir Semyonov) . Normal demography, 3 or so children in one family.
    Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia: these 3 Reps are the center of the problem. They are populated by mountainous people, which have an extremetly hardcore traditional society based on strong families, clans influenced by strict customs and rules of their own, combined by their own interpretation of islam religion. Historically they are hostile to each other and to anybody in general who are not them. (Remember the clashes between the two dominant family of Chechnya: the Kadyrovs and Yamadayevs, both former rebels turned to Moskva’s supporters but up until 2008, they clashed continously over the power, which standoff ended when Kadyrov dumped on Sulim Yamadayev in front of Moskva, after which Yamadayev fleed to the middle east. All in all Sulim Yamadayev and his brother – the two most inluential person of that family – got killed, Kadyrov won full control over Chechnya.) They (especially chechen and ingush) usually have large families with 8 children (in Dagestan 4-5 children), extremetly young median age. This means many young people around 20 seeking job, but economy (even with serious federal funds) can’t satisfy that huge demand. Here is where Stavropol Krai comes into the picture. Stavropol is home to ethnic Russians, region with relatively good economy, highly qualified workforce, but have a long border with those Republics. Chechens and other mountainous people go there to seek a job or study in the local schools in Pyatogorsk, because of thier better reputation. This causes ethnic tensions between locals and guest nationalities. Recently there were more terakts in Pyatogorsk (the biggest was directed against a chechen dance group backed by Kadyrov, they did a performance at local community center) wich lays very close to those 3 troubled Republics.
    I have already written about Dagestan’s multiethnic society and the fragile balance. This is the most dangerous place to live nowadays, especially the villages close to Chechen border (Khasavyurt and other municipalities), but also in Makhachkala. Terakts are everywhere, attacks against police patrols and officials are frequent. Ingushetia has only one nationality, has a very small territorry and has the worst economy between all. Yevkurov, the current leader is a loyal former carreer officer of the siloviki, but respected at home, because he is relatively a honest guy, not so suspectible to corruption. This is because ha can keep his Republic relatively calm right now. Kadyrov is different, his reign is terror, he controls everything, but he keeps his Republic under control compared to Dagestan. His state is corrupt as hell, so he and his friends speed in their newest Royce Royces on the streets of Grozniy. His photos are everywhere, he enjoys total personality cult. Chechnya is the most expensive place for Kremlin, given that they had to rebuilt the capital from its ruins with circa 10% efficiency.
    To put it in a nutshell, this is what I see.
    You asked me to share my opinion what should be done.
    I think, I need some time to think about that. Putin needs time too, because this is not a simple question as you can see. Until his solution, everything will stay the same. The only problem is that time works against us.

    • marknesop says:

      Excellent and humanistic analysis, Mikhail. Something people cannot seem to grasp is that the urge of demographic groups to export and spread their religious beliefs is as unwelcome as their urge to export and spread their system of government. Unfortunately, the one is the policy of their deity while the other is the foreign policy of their government. Of the two, religious policy is by far the less reasonable and practical.

      Kadyrov is a real piece of work. There ought to be a line at which, “But he gets results” is not sufficient justification for his continued employment, and Kadyrov is so far past it that the line is a dot to him.

      My mother-in-law is from Stavropol. If they were all like her, there wouldn’t be a problem, because I’ve never seen anyone more kind-hearted and less militant.

    • cartman says:

      I think the exodus of Coptic Egyptians will be huge soon enough. Just like the Assyrians, the Kosovo Serbs, Greek Cypriots, Palestinian and Lebanese Christians, and so on. These groups have been uprooted because of policies of the United States and Britain, and because of their religion. If they cannot convince ethnic Russians to return to their former homes, the government should consider allowing them to settle in the region since they would likely be very pro-Russia.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Importing people from the middle east (different ethnicity, culture) doesn’t solve anything, it just pours petrol on the fire. Kosovo Serbs are needed by Serbia, and in the case of Turkish aggression, Greek Cypriots are needed by Greece. I doubt that Arabs who don’t even speak Russian could be the “new Cossacks” of the region. Nowadays the only truly loyal factors in the Caucasus are the remaining Terek cossacks. I think Moskva should aid them every way to keep Terek identity at any cost. I think Terek cossacks has good relations with Ossetians, therefore already let them join to their forces. Cossacks were amongst the first who wanted to join battle against Suckassvili’s army to save the other half of Ossetian people living behind the mountains. Although Chechens actually fought there in “special forces” as Kadyrov wanted to earn points in front of Moskva and his own people too. They returned from there as victors, which he needed very much to feed their national pride and justify his iron grip.

        • Yalensis says:

          Plus, the sight of those scary-looking Chechen warriors from “Vostok” special battalion terrified the Gruzians even more than they were already. As Lermontov would have written: “The timid Georgians turned and fled…”

          • PvMikhail says:

            I was shocked by the events back then. In the war of 8th of august, 2008 “Vostok” battalion fought on the Russian side commanded by Sulim Yamadayev and on August 22, he was put on Federal warrant. Vostok soldiers were his soldiers, they were loyal only to him, so the unit was disbanded. What a shame. Kadyrov mixed cards very well, because his only counterbalance in Chechnya got out of picture. The pathetic part of this story that Kadyrov accused Yamadayev with human rights abuses, if I recall correctly, killings during Dagestan incursion and the second war (killing of a 90 or so years old man).
            Kadyrov? Human right abuses? really? come on ROFLCOPTER
            ROFL:ROFL:LOL:ROFL:ROFL
            L ____/\___
            O === / [ ] \
            L \ \
            \__________]
            _____I____I____/

    • Yalensis says:

      This was a great analysis, pvMikhail. Very detailed and well put. Agree with you about Kadyrov and just about everything else. The only thing I would add is that in the past, Russians and Soviets were more successful in integrating best representatives of Caucasian nationalities into federal structures (names like Bagration come to mind). Why should an honest man like Evkurov languish in Ingushetia? He should be promoted and brought into federal government. Problem with Russian Federation now is that central government is TOO Russian; need to bring in and integrate representatives of other nationalities.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Thank you.

        I don’t share your opinion. Central government is multinational enough. There are enough other nationalities in the government, moreover in very serious positions: Sergey Shoigu (Tuvan), Rashid Nurgaliyev (Tatar), Sergey Lavrov (Armenian descent) Vladislav Surkov (don’t forget, that he is probably ethnic chechen, born as Aslambek Dudayev) and I could write more, but you get my point. These men show us and to the common people of the minorities, that they CAN make a career in Russia if they work hard, study a lot and fully loyal to Russia. They must be loyal to the idea of Russia: Russia is more than just a state, Russian identity is (as I see these national riots, I afraid the correct word would be “was”) multiethnic, but I think it is not multicultural. Russian identity is dominated by the “Great Russian” culture, but (as during the Soviet times) other nationalities can be considered Russians if they accept this fact. They can keep their customs at home, but they have to adapt Russian identity if they want to make a career like prince Bagration. One MUST NOT discriminate others based on their ethnicity, because it can’t be changed (white “russian” nationalism – or with better expression: supremacism is idiocy and is very dangerous to Russia). BUT. One should accept the laws, rules and adapt to the customs of the majority, however can keep the customs which don’t disobey the laws of majority (caucasians have to calm down, build a normal 21st century society and work, especially if they go to Moskva and want a decent life there)
        So minorities who want to be state officials have to learn consider ethnic Russians as one of their own and Russians have to do the same with them. Russian identity is an imperial identity. (here I would like to note, that Bagration was a Georgian orthodox prince in the service of the czar, I think that nor the time, nor the circumstances are not appropriate in this comparison with islamic minorities, however I understand the aim of mentioning him) Russia is a federation, but it has a titular nation and culture, this should be beared in mind, everybody should act according to this.
        Sorry if I am not clear enough, It is very hard to express my thoughts about this theme in english.

        • Alexei Cemirtan says:

          I don’t think that we should overestimate the influence of “nationalists”. It has grown in recent years, but still miniscule. Plus, the majority of their members are the elements of society that would be causing some sorts of problems anyway, its just that in this case their destructive tendencies are channeled by “nationalist” ideology. However these rejects are a minority and will never be anything more than that. The potential for trouble lies in the possibility that normal average Russians will support their line. But they are not their yet, and I personally doubt that they will ever be.

        • marknesop says:

          In fact, your expression is excellent and your thinking is very perceptive. You have correctly highlighted the difference between multiethnicity and multiculturalism, while most of the world perceives them as interchangeable. They are not. What you discuss is a dilemma for governments everywhere – how much immigration to permit, which customs of immigrant societies will be permitted “as is” and which must be modified or cannot be permitted under national law (sharia judgments, for example), and the possible influences of immigrant religious beliefs destabilizing predominant national beliefs. You also appear to have a solid background in history, or are just a good researcher. Nice work.

          • PvMikhail says:

            I write from my head, but sometimes I have to seek dates and right grammar, thats all🙂

          • PvMikhail says:

            Mark, a question which you, as a native english, eventually could answer: Why the hell english (and german) language distorted “MOCKBA” to “Moscow” (Moskau, however, sometimes they call it correctly as Moskwa)? I hate it, it resembles to “cow”, that’s why I use “Moskva”, as the correct form (my language also say “Moszkva”)
            So do you have any idea about that? I am just curious.

            • marknesop says:

              The roots of the city’s name in English are found not in English, but in Old Russian. It is named for the river on which it stands, the Moskva, which in Old Russian was “гра́д Моско́в”; or, in English, “Moskov”. The blurring of the pronunciation between the letters “V” and “W” persists even today between English and Russian, and Russians tend to pronounce “V” as we prounounce “W” – such as when Russians soften the typical English “V” to say “wery” instead of “very”.

        • Yalensis says:

          Thank you, very interesting analysis, Mikhail. By the way, I had not realized that Lavrov was Armenian. I still feel there should be a bigger role for Evkurov in the center, as you can see I am quite a fan of his. And he has proved his loyalty to Russia in many ways, not the least of which by being almost blown to bits by the damned terrorists in a past assassination attempt.

          • Yalensis says:

            P.S. Re “Moscow” vs. “Moskva”, there also used to be a schwa-type vowel sound breaking up the consonant cluster, something like “Musk-a-va” which in European languages became something like “Moscowy” or “Muscowie”, and then over the centuries the schwa-vowel disappeared leaving a consonant cluster “skv”. Mark is right that many languages cannot tell the different between the “v” sound and the “w” sound. Like the joke in Star Trek movie where Russian Ensign Chekov pronounces “vessel” as “wessel”.

        • grafomanka says:

          I think both Shoigu and Surkov are half-ethnic Russian.
          And Nurgaliev is not even Muslim.

          • PvMikhail says:

            Correct. However that doesn’t change their role as models of career officials, because their appearance is not Slavic at all. I am glad that Nurgaliyev is Orthodox, as I have written before I am suspicious towards islam. I wouldn’t entrust islamic people with such important positions especially in the security sphere. Remember Dzhokhar Dudayev, he was a highly qualified Soviet pilot, a Major-General by rank. Despite that he betrayed Russia once when helped Estonian nationalists and once when he did what he did, Ichkeria, everybody here know it well. I know that there are loyal elements in islamic minorities who truly love Russia as it is, but I must say the possibility is always there. People in the state apparatus have to adapt Russian cultural values, end of story. This is how it was in Russian Empire and with lesser extent in Soviet Union and this is how it is (should be) in Russian Federation.

        • Misha says:

          “White Russian” pespectives are by no means monolithic. Moreover, a good number of the White Russians (past and present) are of different ethnic backgrounds.

  15. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Mikhail, yalensis and Mark:
    Very, very interesting comments. Many I agree upon.
    Mikhail, I am amazed at your astute observations. Agree with most of the things you’ve said. As for the corruption within the EU- wow, it sounds really serious. Regarding the ancient Chinese punishment for traitors – well I think it’s too inhumane and cruel towards friends/associate/relatives of traitors but I do agree that traitors should be punished very severely. Many of our Emperors were frivolous despots who had like 1000 or more concubines(and many more female ‘companions’) and eloping with one of these girls was also considered ‘treachery’. Frivolous law. As for Qin Shih Huang, the first Emperor – he buried ‘traitor’-scholars alive – he made them dig their own grave and buried them amidst their languishing cries. Thought I’d add that for another perspective. Then again, we do have some sagacious Emperors – so not all were bad.
    As for the North Caucasian Republics, very interesting observation. Kadyrov is basically a local tyrant and an “Islamist” who turned traitor towards his jihadi ‘brethren’ in return for support and position of power in his fiefdom by Moscow. Although it certainly sounds immoral, well I doubt Moscow had much choice – better him than a Chechenya in total chaos. Islamist vs Islamist – a dangerous method(Kadyrov’s ‘loyalty’ is inversely proportionate to Russia’s ‘strength’) but the only one available at the moment. As for Dagestan, as you’ve mentioned – the different nationalities there – Avars, Dargins, Lezgins etc. are all fighting for the cake. No easy solutions. Well cretainly not the ‘solutions’ proposed by Nemtsov et al which will destabilize Rsusia!
    @yalensis
    Thanks for sharing the story of the False Dimitry! Wonder if President Dmitry Medvedev has the potential to be a modern-day False Dmitry? I don’t know why I have a bad feeling about him.
    “I had forgotten to mention the most famous Russian betrayal of all, which is the New False Dmitry, a Russian civiliki pretending to be President, was an apparent heir of Putin the Terrible(as perceived by his enemies in the West), joining with Western leaders and Russian liberals to conquer Russia. His motive was his love for the praise and adulation of the USA, who promised to elevate him as a hero of Russian democracy if he handed them Russia’s independence. ”
    I am sorry for this almost libelous words. Hope I am totally wrong on this.
    @ Mark
    “Unfortunately, the one is the policy of their deity while the other is the foreign policy of their government. Of the two, religious policy is by far the less reasonable and practical.”
    Agree.

    sinotibetan

    • Yalensis says:

      Dear sinotibetan: I hope you are wrong about Medvedev, but I do like your satire! 🙂
      Don’t forget, though, that “Putin the Terrible” is still alive and kicking (unlike Ivan Vasilievich, whose death led to all these troubles).
      Just read in the news yesterday that European Union is considering making Putin persona non grata, labelling him a tyrant (like Lukashenko) and forbidding him entry to Europe. If you are correct about Medvedev (and I hope you are not), then our False Dmitry could use this fact, with Western support, to launch power struggle against Putin.

      • marknesop says:

        Brilliant!!! I can’t say enough about the political wisdom of spitting in the palm of the Prime Minister whose country is your top energy producer by a significant margin!

        I’m guessing this follows upon the heels of news that huge deposits of refinery-quality oil and natural gas have been discovered under the parking lots at Open Democracy and RFE/RL. No doubt they’d be able to make up the 30% or so shortfall in both energy markets if Russia decided to sell its total output to China instead.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Hi Yalensis,
        to my knowledge the EU parliament should vote on such ban against Putin, but it is a non binding decision. That is to say, if the ban is approved, it is up to each member state to apply or ignore it. Obviously, I hope no such ban is approved.

      • PvMikhail says:

        For, real, what the hell induced EU to do this? Putin was just fine guy for 10 years, he had personal friends between western leaders. Is this some kind of diversion from the problems of EU? I bet this idea comes from those idiotic handicapped baltic losers backed by Poland… They don’t want to pay for nat. gaz, Latvia’s ass is already out in the cold.

  16. sinotibetan says:

    Hello Giuseppe,
    Thank you for your reply. Please be patient as I rebut some of the points you mentioned. In this response, you will see that I agree with some and don’t agree with some of your points. You obviously miss the point(s) of my post. I’d suggest you read my other posts on Islam so that you have a better idea of what I’m saying.
    “Your statement that Islam is a political/economic/social fascist-like system was true for Christianity as well.”
    This statement is partially correct. It should be ‘your statement that Islam is a political/economic/social fascist-like system was true for Christendom as well’. Not Christianity in the Bible but Christendom -meaning BOTH Roman Catholicism and Protestanism. I am not sure how much you really know about the Bible but Roman Catholicism is, to me, a pseudo-Christianity and certainly very unChristian. You are absolutely right that it was(and I wonder if the Cardinals still have aims to revive it) totalitarian and fascist system. No dispute on that. I may not be so knowledgable but am not so ignorant on European history as perhaps you suppose I am. The Protestants were no better. – eg Zwingli and the so-called ‘Protestant monarchs’ – they were equally fascists. These group swere closer to Biblical doctrines but they continued to follow the practices of their ‘mother church’ – the Roman Catholic Church. Christ was actually apolitical. Never in the New Testament ANY allusion to a ‘marriage’ of politics and religion like that occurred in Protestanism and Roman Catholicism. In fact, I believe in the SEPARATION of religion from politics/government . No religious beliefs(not even the ones I believe) should ever be shoved down the throats of anyone. Therefore, I agree with your assessment of Christendom but Christendom is NOT Christianity. I consider Roman Catholicism a heretical(i.e. deviated from Christian beliefs) belief system, actually. It was as evil(or maybe more) as Islam.
    “Should I conclude that Chinese culture and religion form a political/economic/social fascist-like system?”
    Not Chinese ‘culture’ nor Chinese ‘religion’. Chinese are generally realistic, materialistic and their religiosity is more on the superstitious rather than ‘formal religions’ like that occured in European nations. It’ll take too much to talk about Chinese culture(which has evolved in our long history of 4000 years – from the Xia, Shang to feudalistic Zhou, Qin, Han, Three Kingdoms, Jin, southern and northern dynasties, Sui, Tang, various other dynasties, Khitan(Liao) – from which the word ‘Cathay’ for China came from, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing[Manchu]) – each dynasties had different ‘cultures’, dressings, even psyche and mannerisms. As for religion, Confucianism is not really a religion – in fact, it’s rather a humanistic philosophy. Taoism(the pure one) is again a philosophical system – not really a religion. Superstitious ‘Taoism’ are highly diverse, non formalized ‘religions’. As for Buddhism – it originated from India and was transformed into it’s Mahayanistic Zen form in the Far East. So, there is , actually no such thing as ‘Chinese religion’. The Xia , Shang and Zhou were feudalistic. The Qin followed the legalism promulgated by Premier Li Si(which followed the thoughts of his predecessor the great Qin legalist Gongsun Yang aka Shang Yang), Han ‘adopted Confucianism’ but actually followed some of the repressive ways of the Qin which worked for some time to bring prosperity and political stability etc. etc. As for the Chinese, we were(and are) pragmatic people – we might not agree with the atrocities committed but we tended to view national cohesion and prosperity as more important than any religious or philosophical ideals. As for my description regarding treatment of traitors in Chinese history, as I’ve replied to Mikhail, I myself consider it inhumane and disagree with it. I am at ease with the history and culture of my people. I can praise parts of my culture which is praiseworthy and able to critisize any part of my culture(eg the binding of women’s feet durin Qing).
    “If more people go to Mosques and pray toward the Mecca, it’s their business, as long as they (like any other citizen) follow the rules. By this rules, Muslim can further Islamic inspired laws, like atheist, Christians and Cargo Cult members.”
    I think you did not read my post about Islam properly. Perhaps to you it appears that I am but another crazy Islamophobe and your post is like a knee-jerk reaction to my so-called ‘rant’ on Islam. Let’s dissect your statement –
    “If more people go to Mosques and pray toward the Mecca, it’s their business” – I agree.
    “as long as they (like any other citizen) follow the rules.” – Agree
    The question, is whose rules? Do you think that Islam teaches its adherents that they must follow secular laws? What does Islam teach about following these ‘rules’? If you AGREE that Islam is a political/economic/social fascist-like system(which you alluded to earlier that Christianity WAS such a system)- which I assure you it IS – then it’s teaching its adherents that ultimately Muslims should not only NOT follow these ‘rules’ but actually SUPPLANT them. In the Quran, these ‘rules’ that you want Muslims to ‘follow’ are considered ‘jahili’/’folly’. If not, then you actually DON’T AGREE that Islam is a political/economic/social fascist-like system and I’d like to see you defend this when there are so many evidences in the Quran and Hadiths that reveal it is a fascist ideology!
    “By this rules, Muslim can further Islamic inspired laws, like atheist, Christians and Cargo Cult members.”
    The problem is Islamic inspired laws is ANTAGONISTIC with ‘secular rules’ so your statement cannot hold water. You also assume that dogmas in Islam(especially Islamic law) can be comparable and compatible to atheism, Christianity. I say that assumption is NOT valid. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, rounds and squares.
    “hence the policy of engaging Islamists is a dangerous and unwise one.
    So, what is your proposal? Kill them up to the most distant relatives?”
    Of course not. Like I’ve mentioned in the post above regarding Kadyrov, it’s a dangerous one – especially when politicians are ignorant about Islam, the ideology. Russia’s using of Islamists vs Islamists as in Chechnya is like fire vs fire. It can at best, a temporary measure only and only for a more ‘realistic’ politician like Putin or those in Communist China. They know the games of realpolitik and I think know more about Islamic goals than your average, politically-correct ‘Western politician’. I’ve not come up with a way to deal with Islamists and I don’t advocate violence against them but I believe Islam should be exposed, to non-Muslims at least, as what it REALLY is. Another thing which I’ve thought off is to ALLOW (via current cries of democracy in the Middle East in which Islamists play major roles)Islamists to actually take political control of the Middle East – non-Muslim nations(like the USA) should not meddle anymore with the politics of the Arab states or other Muslim states. In this way, Islam will show its true colours and perhaps Muslims themselves will see the oppressiveness of this ideology and reject them later. To antagonize Islamists from realising their aims in predominantly Muslim nations in the Middle East will only serve their aims in gaining more adherents there. Allowing them to actually achieve their aims in the Middle East, in the long run, defeats them and will at least open the eyes of Westerners(and other ignorant non-Muslims) about Islam. It might ultimately lead to a clash between Islamists and non-Muslim nations but at least the sides are ‘clear’. Now Islamists are infiltrating into other predominantly non-Muslim nations and we are like fighting the Borg of Star-Trek, like fighting against the unseen.
    “The Arab-Jewish conflict started well before the Islamic revival, Israel faced in almost all the wars secular Arab regimes, like those of Nasser and Assad.”
    Agree. But now there is Islamic revival and that worsens the conflict. Within Islam is an anti-Jewish tone and don’t forget although Nasser , Assad et al were more secular than your average Islamists, they considered themselves Muslims and it’s not irrational to suppose that they were influenced by anti-Jewish sentiments within the pages of the Quran. Now with Islamism popular amongst Muslim intellectuals, surely one must know that something is DRIVING and JUSTIYING their hatred for Israel and the Jews. The atrocities of Zionism is only part of the story. The interference of the USA and ‘alliance’ with Israel is only part of the story. The real reason, I suspect, is actually ENVY of the success of successful non-Muslims : the Jews and Americans in particular. That envy is supported and sanctioned by Allah himself by the Quran and the Hadiths. So, am I wrong to say that one must know something about Islam to understand the situation in the Middle East? How can anyone even disagree with my assessment about Islam if he/she knows little about the teachings of Islam in the Quran and the Hadiths? Even if I were wrong about Islam, at least I took some time to understand it. How can one logically suppose that understanding Islam is not important in understanding the Middle East? It’s like as if one wants to understanding physics without a firm grasp in mathematics. Sorry, completely disagree with you.
    ” As for suicide bombers, the word Kamikaze isn’t an Arabic one.”
    Yes. But current suicide bombers are more often than not Muslim ones. Btw Kamikaze is history but Muslim suicide bomber is CURRENT. And Japan was a fascist system during Emperor Hirohito when the Kamikazes were active. Also, my ancestors were victims of this fascist system. So, what’s your point?
    As far as I’ve seen, your post is like a reaction to a perceived ‘Islamaphobic rant’ by yours truly- none of your arguments hold water.
    The points you missed in my previous posts are these:-
    1. Islam is a fascist, totalitarian ideology.
    2. Its ultimate aim is global dominion by Islam.
    3. It’s not irrational to be alarmed by its teachings.
    4. It’s logical that its teachings regarding infidels and Jews need to be understood to make some sense of what’s happening in the Middle East.
    To which of these points do you disagree with?And please provide logical refutations.
    “Change race and descent with religion and culture, change “German militarism” with “Islamic fundamentalism” and you get today’s rants against Islam”
    Actually, Nazism is more comparable to Islam. I think you believe I am for a non-Muslim vs Muslim war? Not at all. Hopefully it does not happen. War is bad – and is catastrophic in our nuclear age. But it does not change the TRUTH that Islam is evil and fascist – whether you are a neutralist, a pacifist or a warmonger. As the saying goes – There is a time for peace, there is a time for war. Hopefully not the latter. But sometimes, good intentions and neutrality fail to avert the inevitable like the two previous World Wars have shown.
    I end my post with some Quranic verses. Perhaps you can try to make Islam compatible with the ‘rules’ in your next post?
    “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. ” (Surah 9:29)
    “O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. “(Surah 5:51)

    sinotibetan

    • marknesop says:

      In my personal view, problems always crop up when religious tenets are literally interpreted using a fundamentalist perspective. Christians are well aware you can’t go around “plucking out the eye of your neighbour” because you don’t care for his attitude or his business practice, or beating your children for lying or “smiting “ this one and that one because you believe they have transgressed God’s law. God’s law takes a back seat to Man’s law in any society that is not comprised of gods. Anyone who doesn’t believe me is invited to stone his wife for being unfaithful, and to use “but it’s in the Bible!!” as his defence in court. Good luck with that – send me a postcard, if they sell them in the prison canteen. Criminal acts such as beheading infidels or driving airplanes into their office buildings are, then, not “religious crimes” so much as they are simply crimes, and religious beliefs are not an acceptable defence.

      There’s nothing inherently dangerous about religious groups practicing their faith according to their culture as long as (a) it does not violate federal, state, provincial or municipal law, and (b) those who participate do so of their own will and understand they cannot be forced to partake. Christians in Canada cannot sacrifice lambs in the public square, and Muslim shopkeepers cannot chop off the hands of shoplifters. I have yet to see persons of either faith try either of those actions here. Muslims are not by nature more stupid than Christians, and are completely capable of reconciling a religious/legal dichotomy. Not everything the head of your religion authorizes you to do is legal, and if you disobey, you are liable to human punishment from which the head of your religion cannot protect you.

      The Bible is easily a more violent and bloodthirsty guidebook than the Quran, expressly championing genocide in several instances – such as Moses directing his followers, upon reaching Canaan, to annihilate all peoples occupying cities that are reserved for the children of Israel. God expressly orders Saul to annihilate the Amalekite people to the last man, woman and child, not sparing even their livestock. Does the Christian religion as currently practiced endorse or permit genocide? Hell, no. But it’s still in the Book.

      I personally don’t care if fundamentalist Muslim women want to go around in public wearing apparel that looks to me suspiciously like a barbecue cover to preserve their modesty, just as long as they understand nobody can make them do it and they don’t try to make other women of the same or different faiths do it. I don’t care if fundamentalist Christians want to hold “revival meetings” where they smack each other in the forehead and scream, “Get out, Satan!!” just as long as nobody gets hurt and everyone understands they’re under no obligation to stay other than their beliefs.

      Here’s an interesting article that broadly supports my views.

      • Misha says:

        The more secular in predominately Muslim and non-Muslim countries don’t necessarily bring greater humanity. Refer to the repackaged KLA goons and how many secular Bosniaks threw their support behind the fundamentalist Izetbegovic. In addition, note what happened to many Armenians when secular Ataturk succeeded the Ottoman Empire.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Hi Mark,
        by “they smack each other in the forehead” you mean that they kiss loudly in the forehead or that they hit with an open hand in the forehead?

    • grafomanka says:

      Actually about suicide bombers read Scott Atran, he does scientific research on this topic rather than wild guessing, eye opening stuff
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/19/terrorism-radical-religion
      “The popular notion of a “clash of civilizations” is woefully misleading. Violent extremism represents the collapse of traditional territorial cultures, not their resurgence, as people unmoored from millennial traditions flail about in search of a social identity. Individuals now mostly radicalise horizontally with their peers, rather than vertically through institutional leaders or organisational hierarchies: in small groups of friends – from the same neighbourhood or social network – or even as loners who find common cause with a virtual internet community. Appeals to moderate Islam are about as irrelevant as older people appealing to adolescents to moderate their music or clothes.”

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Interesting reading, thanks. Most media commenter link suicide attacks with Islamic culture, and if they remember Kamikaze to non-European cultures. But European culture has his own “Kamikaze” like the Italian Pietro Micca or the Russian Ivan Susanin.

        • grafomanka says:

          I thought Kamikadze were mostly used when Japanese strated losing the war – so it was a desperate measure (as is suicide bombing).

          I think that profile of frustrated, disilusioned individual who turns to violence as the only solution to injustice fits very well with Domodedovo bomber (he didn’t get along with fellow soilders in the army and his wife just left him) . That’s why I’m sceptical about Russian authorities ability to contain this jihad. They would have to tackle social ills underneath it, it’s not enough to kill insurgents in the forests.

          • cartman says:

            I would just remind you that it is not simple to put bombs together with that kind of force. The Times Square Bomber failed to set his up correctly so he ended up with a smoking car that did not explode.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            Correct, they started Kamikaze attacks in 1944. However, before that date it was not uncommon for Japanese pilots, whose plane was severely damaged, to try ramming US ships, instead of trying to crash land or using the parachute.
            Nazi Germany formed a suicide squadron in 1945 (the Leonidas Squadron), and I’ve read that in 1941 Soviet pilots sometimes tried to ram German bombers with their planes. But I’m not sure if it is true or is one of the Western myths on Soviet military “madness”.

            • peter says:

              «Гастелловцы»

              Усилиями советской пропаганды подвиг Н. Ф. Гастелло стал одним из самых известных в истории Великой Отечественной войны, а сама фамилия Гастелло — нарицательной. «Гастелловцами» стали называть лётчиков, совершивших «огненный таран». Всего за период Великой Отечественной войны было совершено 595 «классических» воздушных таранов (самолётом самолёта), 506 таранов самолётом наземной цели, 16 морских таранов (в это число могут входить и тараны морскими лётчиками надводных и береговых целей противника) и 160 танковых таранов…

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                Thanks. Although I don’t read Russian, with Google translate I was able to understand (more or less) the content. Looking on this subject, I’ve found that it is more widespread than I thought link.

        • Yalensis says:

          In times of war soldiers are expected to give their lives for their side, if necessary. Ivan Susanin sacrificed his own life to neutralize a company of invading Polish soldiers. I think there is a difference (sometimes line gets blurry) between an “insurgent” and a terrorist. An insurgent attacks military targets (like soldiers or police barracks), whereas a terrorist attacks civilian targets (like the metro or theater). By this token, Ivan Susanin and Japanese kamikazes are not terrorists. I would even venture to make a distinction on the two different 9/11 attacks: Al Qaeda attack against World Trade Center was clearly terrorist. Whereas same-day attack against Pentagon was “legitimate” military target, from their point of view. (I hope nobody thinks I am sympathetic to these monsters; just trying to make a tactical distinction in my own mind…)

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            Agreed, but my point was that suicide missions are not completely unknown to European culture. We have our “suicide heroes”, although it’s clear that in other cultures these figures are more important.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Hi Sinotibetan,
      the religions I know something about (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are very flexible belief systems. I think so not because I’ve studied the respective Holy Books (besides some critical study of the Gospels), but because I see that people that claim to profess one of these have very different ideas and behaviors. In each religion, during some ages and among some communities or individuals you can find terrible fascist like ideas and behaviors. You can as well find completely different things in other ages and communities.
      This flexibility doesn’t surprise me. The Holy Books were written centuries ago, various things were added or deleted, they contain contradictions and obscure passages. So if someone wants to claim that he’s living according to Holy Book X, he has just to pick the parts he likes, interprets the obscure ones as he sees fit and that’s all. Basically it is the same thing you and other Islamphobes do to talk bad about Islam, only with a different aim. Select the parts that prove your point, interpret the obscure ones to confirm your prejudice. I’m not going to play this game of Bible, Quran and Torah citations with you or anyone else.
      Your interpretation of the Quran is not the “TRUTH”, is just your opinion about it, and it doesn’t hold more water than someone’s else opinion. At a minimum, I would trust more the opinion of someone who can read classical Arabic than the opinion of someone that reads a translation. Similarly, that Christendom is un-Christian is your opinion. A Catholic priest will surely disagree with you, and he can read the Bible and the Gospels in the original ancient Greek and Latin, and studied them for years. Besides, the canonical Gospels were canonized by Christendom, saying that they contradict Christendom you’re assuming that these people were more stupid than evil.
      You say that Muslims envy Americans and Israelis because of the Quran, that Nasser and Assad were anti Jewish because of the Quran, it seems that every evil thing a Muslim does is because of the Quran. Why can’t a Muslim do something evil without this Quran?
      My point about Kamikaze is that suicide attacks are not due to “evilness”, they are the weapon used when the enemy is far too superior, or in desperate times.
      As you may have understood, I disagree on all 4 points. I think that we can agree on the fact that the basis of our disagreement is our different ideas on religions. Something mostly irrelevant for me, of fundamental importance for you.
      One last note: German militarism in 1914 wasn’t Nazism.

    • Linda says:

      sinotibetan;
      “I end my post with some Quranic verses. Perhaps you can try to make Islam compatible with the ‘rules’ in your next post?”

      It is very easy to select few things ans spin them as your “Islam is baaaaad” theory. When people commit crimes, you never hear anyone say “oh, it’s because he’s from such and such community”,and when you hear it, you directly think that the person saying this is racist. But somehow for Islam, whenever a bunch of bloodthirsty jerks do something, it’s suddenly because they are muslim.
      You also have a very strange theory about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict being about envy (?!), this by far is the most creative interpretation ever. In my opinion it’s not even a question of religion, it is a question of territory. Do you think that if France invaded Italy, Italians would think “they are Christians like us, so it’s ok, let them take Italy!” ?. Btw, Islam recognizes both the Bible and the Torah as Holly Books, and calls for the respect of Christianity and Judaism ( and all religions where there is one god). Most of the prophets are Jews and are revered to be messengers of God.
      As for the verses and hadiths you selected, a quick search gave this:
      “And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner (unto those who do not share their beliefs). Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; Hence, We have not sent you (Unto men O Prophet) with power to determine their Faith.”(17:53, 54)
      And for Hadiths:
      “”Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim person hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God.”
      “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”,
      “”He who hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of a Judgement.”

      Mark, I have no idea how your post about Nemtsov deviated to exchanging Quran verses, I would say that God works in mysterious ways, but that would be too much for the day:)

  17. sinotibetan says:

    Mark,
    “You have correctly highlighted the difference between multiethnicity and multiculturalism, while most of the world perceives them as interchangeable. ”
    Agree. I’ve been guilty of this at times. However, though not interchangable , there is deep connection and overlap – hence the often interchangibility in any comments. Which came first, what is the origin of ethnic groups and cultures, ethnic before culture or culture before ethnic? I think each ethnic group has certain predilection for a certain culture and that in turn leads to ethnogenesis. Like a chicken and egg question – which came first?Usually if you have too many migrants of a particular ethnic group with culture very different from the host nation, the culture of that ethnic group will begin to assert itself and thus multiculturalism is borned.
    The dilemma of immigration is a very old one in which perhaps there is no one right answer. The answers are perhaps situational though perhaps ‘general principles’ might be developed?

    sinotibetan

    • PvMikhail says:

      @sinotibetan, but in fact everybody

      As a Hungarian I think, that immigration should be kept between moderate confines. Every country in Europe should let that many people in, how many people can be assimilated by the given country. That rule seem to be raped in modern day Europe constantly. I tell you why I am saying this:

      Hungarian was always an ethnos which took in foreigners and treated them as equals. This can be said from the age, when we migrated on the territory of the mothern day Russian Empire across the Urals towards the Carpathian basin in more or less straight line. This is why we don’t exactly know, what ethnicity we had back then and who is our “brother” nation: Finland or Kazakhstan. When we settled in the core of Europe, we let other people from the steppe to found their settlements on our territory in exchange to something, in most cases: security. Okay, we treated Europeans like sh!t that’s a fact and they feared us, but we were nice to these smaller peoples and later they got assimilated and became Hungarians. In nowadays Hungarian names and geographical names kept their memory: like Kunság (territory of Kuns). Later in our history Hungary treated everybody well who came with peace (and here don’t believe Slovak or Romanian claims about oppression, thier national awakening didn’t come yet at that time), and fought against everybody who came with sword (often in suicidal fights and hopeless situations)
      So nowadays there are so many people with Slavic, German and other ethnic heritage (and names) in Hungary that on couldn’t count, so the supremacism of “Hungarian ethnicity” would be pointless. However even a sváb (clearly from German descent) person considers himself Hungarian first and German just after that. That is the beauty of Hungarian culture, it had such a great assimilation potential in the past. We let jews in and gave them same rights when they were persecuted in whole Europe. They settled in cities and brought knowledge with themselves, later they became the other pillar of bourgeoisie next to Germans. Hungarian landlords treated Slovaks, Romanians as equal, they worked together with Hungarian serfs, moreover, they invited more Romanian peasants from Ottoman occupied Moldva and Wallachia to join in and work in Transylvania. Serbs were given special rights in exchange to securing southern borders against Ottomans. We lived in personalunion with Croats for 600 years, we never threatened their statehood and the right to autonomous internal affairs. When Hungary revolted against germanization and Habsburg-Austrian rule in general, reformers granted citizenship and rights to Hungarian political nation, which included everybody on the territory of historical Hungary. We has so many national heroes of foreign ethnicity, that we can’t count, but one is common, they lived/died for Hungary. So thats what the multiethnic Hungary looked like. And nobody was persecuted, because it would have got the country destroyed. However unfortunately external forces, western great power politics killed this harmony in 1920.
      How could this happened?
      When the Ottomans occupied the heart of our country (Great Plain), they wanted to convert everybody to Islam (here I would like to emphasize my suspicion towards islam as dominant culture), and destroyed especially christian cultural heritage. But Hungarians are not the people who can be threatened and common Hungarians resisted to Ottoman rule. This resulted in that a lot of people got killed in fight with Ottomans. If you watch a map of that age, you can see, that the present day Slovakia and Transylvania (These territories where the majority of Slovakians and Romanians lived, so the didn’t get killed in such a pace.) were not occupied permanently only sometimes, unlike present day Hungary. When the European forces finally defeated Ottomans and liberated Hungary 150 years elapsed. After that, Habsburg Empire dominated us exploiting the situation, and of course they needed a functioning country so they started to bring in Romanians and Serbians with unprecedented speed. Results: when 19th century came, only 37 % of the population was ethnic Hungarian, and we could not assimilate such a big mass of different people. Some openDemocracy-like propaganda was initiated by powers and nationalities who lived in our territory started to demand more rights even compared to Hungarians. That led to the death of multiethnic Hungary, when right after the WW1, well equipped Little Entente troops robbed our territory and thus “justified” their territorial demands in front of western great powers, which demands coincided with French plans of “cordon sanitare”.

      Hungary committed 3 mistakes:
      1. it had a weak period + trusted in Western European support, and Ottomans didn’t hesitated to exploit our weakness, Western Europe could help us, but they didn’t help until their cities (like Wien) weren’t threatened. They will never help, only exploit your miserable situation.
      2. it was too generous with nationalities, let the Romanians and other to settle in far TOO BIG numbers (although Habsburg Austria pressured us), than it’s actual capacity of cultural assimilation.
      3. it let Romany/Gypsy people to settle. They don’t fit in any European society, don’t want to follow rules/laws, behave abnormally, don’t like to work and have big families, so all of this combined results in abnormally high share in criminal behavior, so your high crime rate, demographic timebomb, skyrocketing social spending and unrest in society is guaranteed.

      People. Never commit these mistakes.

      • marknesop says:

        I would strongly agree that immigration has to have controls, and only as many as can be assimilated should be let in. When I endorse the freedom to worship as your culture dictates, I don’t mean let in so many that the dominant religion (Christianity) is threatened because it is practiced by a minority. Christianity should be generous and tolerant, and always offer to accept those who are unfulfilled by their own faith. But it would be madness to allow it to be marginalized by a religion that might be less tolerant, and other religions must always operate within the confines of national law.

  18. marknesop says:

    There’s a very interesting piece on immigration/multiculturalism up at Craig James Willy’s “Letters From Europe”. Insightful and provocative, highly recommended.

  19. sinotibetan says:

    I hope this get posted, or else it looks like Mark practices censorship? Tried to post this earlier to no avail.

    Hello Giuseppe,
    Let me address your issues point by point.
    1.)” So if someone wants to claim that he’s living according to Holy Book X, he has just to pick the parts he likes, interprets the obscure ones as he sees fit and that’s all. Basically it is the same thing you and other Islamphobes do to talk bad about Islam, only with a different aim. Select the parts that prove your point, interpret the obscure ones to confirm your prejudice. I’m not going to play this game of Bible, Quran and Torah citations with you or anyone else.”
    It is an allegation I strongly disagree. I agree that in interpretation/hermeneutics, such ‘practices’ have been done before and of course it is wrong. Still, there is a ‘science’ to interpretation of any texts – be it one of Bach’s fugues or a Shakespearian play – scholars want to understand these texts as to the closest to the meaning intended by the authors. If you can think this type of analysis is valid for such secular works, why is it not valid for the Quran? Is it not possible that Muslim apologists have done this purposeful selection of Quranic verses while reinterpretation of others not so useful to bring up Islam is a positive light inasmuch as you accuse myself or so-called ‘Islamophobes’ of doing the same? You yourself, with your own admission , state that “I think so not because I’ve studied the respective Holy Books (besides some critical study of the Gospels)” and if you have not studied or even read the Quran, how can you say that I’ve picked up some parts to prove my point and interpret obscure ones to confirm my prejudice? How can you be so SURE that I did just that? Because you believe in your prejudice that I am an Islamaphobe and therefore am already stand accused of doing so? What aims do you think I have against Islam? How come I don’t say Buddhism is an fascist ideology but say Islam is one? Even though I don’t agree with Buddhism, still it is definitely NOT a violent belief-system – that is a FACT. I’ve not charged any other religion with fascism as I do with Islam. How can you prove/disprove my allegation about Islam if you refuse to discuss about the Quran or Hadiths? I think you are not going to ‘play’ this so-called ‘game'(which is not a game but a critical analysis of Quranic hermeneutics) because it might prove your assessment wrong about Islam. I think the Islamic fundamentalist’s interpretation or hermeneutics of the Quran and Hadith as being closer to what Muhammad taught. By refusing to allow different interpretations by Muslim apologists and those who oppose Islam to be compared and at least discussed about, there is NO WAY one can say whether your assessment of Islam is true or mine is. Moreover, the Islamist interpretation is gaining more support by many Muslims, especially their intellectuals – at least it should be examined and analysed. Your excuse is NOT valid. Yours is a self-censorship and a refusal to examine the facts. The stand you made is just as prejudicial as Islamaphobes – you are OK with reading critical analyses of the Gospels(to perhaps support your atheism) but refuse to give opportunity to critically analyse the Quran or Hadiths. Why is the Quran or Hadiths given this ‘privilege’ whereas the Bible or other ‘sacred books’ of other religions can be critisized negatively? Anyway, the ones I quoted are NOT obscure. They are there in the Quran and interprated upon by all stripes of Muslim scholars – liberal or conservative. Your allegation is thus, invalid, and I believe your refusal to critically examine the teachings of the Quran and Hadiths as a form of self-censorship. You suffer from political-correctness, a malady common in the West.
    2.)”Your interpretation of the Quran is not the “TRUTH”, is just your opinion about it, and it doesn’t hold more water than someone’s else opinion.”
    That statement can be said about yourself – your assessment on Islam or knowledge(or lack of it)of the Quran and the Hadiths also. The ‘Your’ can be replaced by ‘Giussepe’s’. So who’s right? Your opinion or mine? I claim to be right about Islam and you claim to be right also. But our views are contradictory. Either we are both wrong or one is correct and the other false; we can’t both be right. As to whether my opinion or your opinion is more likely right can always be analyzed but you’ve eliminated that possibility by refusing to analyze Islam objectively except in the biases of your own political ideas. I do not claim to be unbiased(no one is completely without bias). I am not beyond critique. But I cannot accept limitations to critically analyze the Quran or Hadiths as a valid thing. By doing so, no one can justify or falsify your claims about my(or anyone else’s) interpretations thereof.
    If no opinion on anything CAN actually hold water, then why have a blog to discuss opinions? Or is it opinions on Islam or the Quran ONLY can never hold water but on Nemtsov or China can – is that the selectivity on what opinions can be discussed and which cannot be discussed?
    3.)”Similarly, that Christendom is un-Christian is your opinion.”
    Sure. But even that opinion can be analysed to be closer to the truth or not, can it not?
    4.)”A Catholic priest will surely disagree with you, and he can read the Bible and the Gospels in the original ancient Greek and Latin, and studied them for years. ”
    Sure. But that does not mean their interpretation is RIGHT. You’ve said “Select the parts that prove your point, interpret the obscure ones to confirm your prejudice.” and surely the evil things that the Roman Catholic clerics have done in the past made it plausible that they have done just so, can it not? Moreover, the Gospels were originally written in Koine Greek rather than Latin(that being a translation); and the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew with some parts of Daniel written in Aramaic. So, please get your facts straight. Many Roman Catholic clerics were opposed to the translation of the Bible to the ‘common tongue’ of the people so that they had sole ecclesiastical power to interpret the Bible and thus allow them to be in power.
    5.)”Why can’t a Muslim do something evil without this Quran?”
    Sure, they can do evil WITHOUT pointing to the Quran. I did not say the Quran ’caused’ any Muslim to do evil nor did I say the Quran is the ORIGIN of evil Muslims. Moreover, as I’ve said earlier there are Muslims who ARE good citizens and try to do good. What I actually mean is Islam provides the JUSTIFICATION of their evil-doing. Within the Quran and Hadiths are ideologues that justify some of these atrocities as ‘mandated’ by God. I remember the Chinese Indonesians who were killed and their wives and daughters raped in front of their family members by Muslim jihadists as they shout “Allah is great!” – and I dare claim that the early Muslims and Muhammad himself slaughtered the males and took the females as wives or were raped during his conquest of non-Muslim people – this is found partly in the Quran, the Hadiths and also are historical. So, a Muslim can be evil without the Quran but certain evil things done by Muslims towards non-Muslims are justified by Islam, especially should there be a war between Islamic societies and a non-Muslim one. Moreover, in the eyes of the fundamentalist Muslim, there is a ‘dichotomy’ between how they treat fellow Muslims and how they treat non-Muslims – the former, very well and ‘moral’ whereas the latter can be treated like a pariah. And as I’ve said before, not that there are no good things found within the Quran and Hadiths – or else, it’s doubtful anyone would follow any belief-system devoid of ANY good. But the evil, war-like and fascism ‘tone’ dominates the Quran and Hadiths and CANNOT be ignored.
    6.)”Besides, the canonical Gospels were canonized by Christendom, saying that they contradict Christendom you’re assuming that these people were more stupid than evil.”
    Some were ‘good’, especially earlier on. But some(in fact, quite many) were evil, especially with the rise of Roman Catholicism. I don’t assume they were stupid. I think some of them were diabolical and used their intelligence for mostly evil. As you’ve said, interpretations of scriptures can be manipulated. I don’t disagree. Or else why do you have a world with myriads of beliefs and philosophies?
    7.)”German militarism in 1914 wasn’t Nazism.”
    I never said German militarism was Nazism. I said Islam is more comparable to Nazism and did not agree with you saying German militarism was substituted for Islamic fundamentalism in the views of ‘Islamaphobes’ , a position you accuse me of being one.
    8.)”My point about Kamikaze is that suicide attacks are not due to “evilness”, they are the weapon used when the enemy is far too superior, or in desperate times.”
    Sure they are weapons. Just like current-day suicide bombers. That does not mean they are NOT influenced by ‘evilness’- such as the case during Hirohito’s Japan. One cannot use the notion of suicide bombing as a method/weapon of war in desperate times to JUSTIFY the regime that encourages it. Also, your use of the word ‘enemy’ means that there was a war going on, which was true. Then, the phenomenon of current, mostly Muslim fundamentalists, suicide bombers would then imply that there is a war and that someone/some ‘system’ is the enemy? Am I wrong ? My point is – it is a war and not one that the non-Muslims started! I don’t know how to stop it. But we cannot even begin to think of how to deal with it when we still deny it. That’s why I brought the subject up – knowing that those with a liberal-slant are wont to dismiss this vigirously.
    9.)”I think that we can agree on the fact that the basis of our disagreement is our different ideas on religions. Something mostly irrelevant for me, of fundamental importance for you.”
    Agree that our differences are because of our divergent ideas about religions(and by extension philosophies – including atheism , which is to me a ‘religious’ belief as well). I doubt that the ideas of religion is completely irrelevant to you lest how can you justify your ‘conversion’ to atheism from Roman Catholicism without at least SOME inkling about religion? There must be some ‘relevancy’ of something to be able to RATIONALLY reject it. Actually, in my discussion about Islam in this blog, it’s not really Islamic morals or eschatology that are ‘of fundamental importance’ to me. It is its political, societal, Utopianist and miltarism MARRIED into religion that concerns me. The morals and eschatological aspects of Islam are side-points that need to be known to understand the political ideology of Islam. I am actually not discussing Islam the religion. I am discussing Islam the POLITICAL-MILITARY ideology – it should be subjected to critical analysis like any political ideology should. I usually try my best to separate my views on religion from politics in a polemical/political blog such as this. It’s not easy for me to do so wih regards to Islam because Muhammad ‘married’ religion/belief-system with politics and militarism in the religion he created. I’m trying my best to not talk about religion but the problem with those who critisize anyone who think negatively about Islam is that there is something ‘religious’ behind the agenda and that’s the main one. In my case, I am more alarmed of its political ramifications rather than the religious.
    10.)”At a minimum, I would trust more the opinion of someone who can read classical Arabic than the opinion of someone that reads a translation. ”
    Agreed upon. Yes, you can ‘distrust’ me as I do not know Arabic. Point acceptable. Unfortunately for you, there are many EX-MUSLIMS, who are Arab, know Arabic, some were former Muslim clerics, who have critisized Islam – its morality, hermeneutics, eschatology, the apologetics of both Muslim and Western ‘Islam apologists’ and more importantly the political aspects of Islam. And some of these ex-Muslims and Arabs are ATHEISTS and SECULARISTS – so you or anyone else CANNOT claim that it’s a Christian, Buddhist or any religious bias/prejudice. Debates also had ensued between these and Muslim and Western “Islamic apologists” – as to whether who is closer to the truth SHOULD be at least be considered, shouldn’t it, since my and “Islamaphobes” allegations against Islam are so serious.? Moreover, if you are proven right and I’m wrong – then, not considering the political dimension of Islam in national policies of predominantly non-Muslim nations will do no harm. But if I am right and you are wrong, the future might be disastrous for these nations, should Islamic fundamentalism become a political force to reckon with. Islam’s political dimensions which are a significant part of its Holy Scriptures demand it to be analyzed differently from most of other world’s main religious beliefs.
    Finally, I agree to strongly disagree with you. There is no point in further discussing Islam with you if you’d still refuse to allow the Quran and Hadiths to be quoted and analyzed – especially its political-military-historical aspects. I have tried to refute your points not out of a personal clash but because I think critically examining Islam is important and even if you disagree, my post hopefully would get some who are ignorant of the subject or neutral on it to have their interest piqued to examine if what I’m saying has some truth/basis or I am a completely insane Islamophobic nut. Let them be the judge and the future might justify or falsify our divergent assessments.
    Thank you.

    p.s. I’d thought I’d leave some websites hosted by ex-Muslims critical on Islam, who know Arabic and know the Quran and the Hadiths and the Sharia and the Hudud through-and-through for the benefit of yourself(should you even consider going to these websites) or those who want to judge for themselves regarding my allegations against Islam. I do NOT neccessarily agree with all they say and I do not care to speculate whether they are liberals or conservatives. I’d purposely selected critics who are Atheists and Secularists to avoid the accusation of religious bias. No doubt some of you will cynically say ‘those websites are like an Islamaphobic’s guide to Islam’ – whatever! True, don’t just believe what I allege. Go find out the truth!

    http://www.apostatesofislam.com/
    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/isis/
    http://www.taslimanasrin.com/
    http://www.faithfreedom.org
    http://www.homa.org/
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/
    http://islammonitor.org/index.php
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Main_Page
    http://civilusdefendus.wordpress.com/civil-defense/

    sinotibetan

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Hi Sinotibetan,
      interesting discussion.
      1) there is a ‘science’ to interpretation of any texts Unfortunately it isn’t an exact science, neither a science that can always give conclusive results in a matter of months or years. Critical analysis of the Christian Holy Books started in the XVII century (IIRC by a certain Reismarus) and it is still going on, that it to say there are many scholars that hold different views. It is possible that no conclusion will be reached, because lacking some new archaeological discovery, many of these hypothesis will remain unconfirmed. Holy Books are not as simple as a Bach’s sonata. Besides, these views are mostly unknown by common people. I read about these critical analysis in the ’90 and at that time I also looked for similar analysis for other religions. I’ve found something on Hebraism, but almost nothing on Islam.
      Then, I discover that in just a few years we have reached the definitive “TRUTH” that Islam is fascism (analysis on steroids, I suppose), and it is already known by the masses thanks to the politically-uncorrect heroes that revealed it, defeating “censorship” of MSM, by actually being propped up by the same MSM.
      Either it is a miracle, or it is propaganda like that of the 1914 Italian newspaper I mentioned before. I don’t believe in miracles, so guess what I suppose it is.
      Besides, we can use the word “fascist” in a non-technical way as synonymous of “evil” or “bad”, but no serious historian would apply a term that identifies a political movement of XX century Europe to a VII century religion or political movement. I hope you realize that it would be ridiculous.
      Is it not possible that Muslim apologists have done this purposeful selection of Quranic verses while reinterpretation of others not so useful to bring up Islam is a positive light inasmuch as you accuse myself or so-called ‘Islamophobes’ of doing the same?
      This question proves that you’re not thinking rationally about Islam. I write that you (Islamophobes) and those that claim to believe in Holy Book X (X=Bible, Quran, Torah, it is clear enough) do the same thing with a different aim, then you ask me if Muslim apologists do the same thing you do. My English is far from perfect, but it is not so bad that you could have misunderstood me.
      To make it clearer: Muslim/Christian/Jew apologists on one side and haters on the other side are engaged in propaganda. I don’t see the point in comparing opposite propagandas or playing one of the sides. I consider doing this a waste of time. If someone else likes to waste his time in this way it’s their business, but don’t drag me in it.
      how can you say that I’ve picked up some parts to prove my point and interpret obscure ones to confirm my prejudice?
      Because there are other people that pick and interpret other parts to prove an opposite view. It’s an easy game with centuries old text. You can do the same with Homer’s works to prove that ancient Greeks were “fascists” or “democratic”. But ancient Greeks were neither fascists or democratic, applying modern political categories to ancient people is simply ridiculous. Critical analysis is a different thing, look at what is available on the Gospels to get an idea.
      Why is the Quran or Hadiths given this ‘privilege’ whereas the Bible or other ‘sacred books’ of other religions can be critisized negatively?
      Quran and Hadiths have the “privilege” to be bashed on Internet, MSM and books much more than the Bible, as of late. The Bible and Gospels have the “privilege” of having been analyzed much more than the Quran, I suppose because critical analysis of ancient texts is more developed in Europe than in Muslim countries. To criticize negatively an ancient text is not a scientific approach to it.
      2) I haven’t given an assessment of Islam, whatever it means, and I’ve explained why I think this assessment is irrelevant.
      3-4) You’re right, canonical Gospels were in koine Greek. Again, if your interpretation is better than that of the Catholic Church is irrelevant to me.
      5) What I actually mean is Islam provides the JUSTIFICATION of their evil-doing. Do you think that without this Islamic justification, Muslims wouldn’t do evil things, or do you think they would find another justification? In the former case Muslims must be the best people on Earth that have chosen the worst religion. In the latter case I have to repeat myself: your (or anyone else) assessment of Islam is irrelevant.
      6) Some were ‘good’, especially earlier on. That is a common myth. Critical analysis of the Gospels suggests that Christ wasn’t a non-violent preacher that wanted separation of state and church.
      7) I never said German militarism was Nazism. So, why do you say that Islam is like Nazism just after citing my previous line? It’s confusing.
      8) So weapons are influenced by “evilness”? Please explain. It’s not a war, there are wars involving Muslims (on one side or both) just like there are or were wars involving non-Muslims. Some of the wars involving Muslims were started by them, others weren’t, like the 2003 Iraqi invasion.
      9) I doubt that the ideas of religion is completely irrelevant to you lest how can you justify your ‘conversion’ to atheism from Roman Catholicism without at least SOME inkling about religion? Never heard of Occam’s razor? Some people prefer the more politically correct “agnostic”, but I’m not so fond on PC. Besides, in Italian atheist is shorter than agnostic (ateo vs agnostico). If I had said I’m catholic, would you have asked me to how I justify my adherence to that faith?
      10) Unfortunately for you, there are many EX-MUSLIMS, who are Arab, know Arabic, some were former Muslim clerics, who have critisized Islam
      There is no best anti-something than an ex-something. Where something can be communist, catholic or muslim. Which means that among ex-something you can find someone that has such a grudge against his previous ideology or religion, not that all ex are also anti. For example, I’m not anti-catholic.

  20. censorship says:

    Hi….I guess you may know who I am. I am trying to see if it gets through the(is it Mark’s?) censorship. Probably it’d be deleted once he detects this. If that’s true, it’s unfair! But then, it is his blog, he can do what he pleases….Hmmm.
    Hello Giuseppe,
    Let me address your issues point by point.
    1.)” So if someone wants to claim that he’s living according to Holy Book X, he has just to pick the parts he likes, interprets the obscure ones as he sees fit and that’s all. Basically it is the same thing you and other Islamphobes do to talk bad about Islam, only with a different aim. Select the parts that prove your point, interpret the obscure ones to confirm your prejudice. I’m not going to play this game of Bible, Quran and Torah citations with you or anyone else.”
    It is an allegation I strongly disagree. I agree that in interpretation/hermeneutics, such ‘practices’ have been done before and of course it is wrong. Still, there is a ‘science’ to interpretation of any texts – be it one of Bach’s fugues or a Shakespearian play – scholars want to understand these texts as to the closest to the meaning intended by the authors. If you can think this type of analysis is valid for such secular works, why is it not valid for the Quran? Is it not possible that Muslim apologists have done this purposeful selection of Quranic verses while reinterpretation of others not so useful to bring up Islam is a positive light inasmuch as you accuse myself or so-called ‘Islamophobes’ of doing the same? You yourself, with your own admission , state that “I think so not because I’ve studied the respective Holy Books (besides some critical study of the Gospels)” and if you have not studied or even read the Quran, how can you say that I’ve picked up some parts to prove my point and interpret obscure ones to confirm my prejudice? How can you be so SURE that I did just that? Because you believe in your prejudice that I am an Islamaphobe and therefore am already stand accused of doing so? What aims do you think I have against Islam? How come I don’t say Buddhism is an fascist ideology but say Islam is one? Even though I don’t agree with Buddhism, still it is definitely NOT a violent belief-system – that is a FACT. I’ve not charged any other religion with fascism as I do with Islam. How can you prove/disprove my allegation about Islam if you refuse to discuss about the Quran or Hadiths? I think you are not going to ‘play’ this so-called ‘game'(which is not a game but a critical analysis of Quranic hermeneutics) because it might prove your assessment wrong about Islam. I think the Islamic fundamentalist’s interpretation or hermeneutics of the Quran and Hadith as being closer to what Muhammad taught. By refusing to allow different interpretations by Muslim apologists and those who oppose Islam to be compared and at least discussed about, there is NO WAY one can say whether your assessment of Islam is true or mine is. Moreover, the Islamist interpretation is gaining more support by many Muslims, especially their intellectuals – at least it should be examined and analysed. Your excuse is NOT valid. Yours is a self-censorship and a refusal to examine the facts. The stand you made is just as prejudicial as Islamaphobes – you are OK with reading critical analyses of the Gospels(to perhaps support your atheism) but refuse to give opportunity to critically analyse the Quran or Hadiths. Why is the Quran or Hadiths given this ‘privilege’ whereas the Bible or other ‘sacred books’ of other religions can be critisized negatively? Anyway, the ones I quoted are NOT obscure. They are there in the Quran and interprated upon by all stripes of Muslim scholars – liberal or conservative. Your allegation is thus, invalid, and I believe your refusal to critically examine the teachings of the Quran and Hadiths as a form of self-censorship. You suffer from political-correctness, a malady common in the West.
    2.)”Your interpretation of the Quran is not the “TRUTH”, is just your opinion about it, and it doesn’t hold more water than someone’s else opinion.”
    That statement can be said about yourself – your assessment on Islam or knowledge(or lack of it)of the Quran and the Hadiths also. The ‘Your’ can be replaced by ‘Giussepe’s’. So who’s right? Your opinion or mine? I claim to be right about Islam and you claim to be right also. But our views are contradictory. Either we are both wrong or one is correct and the other false; we can’t both be right. As to whether my opinion or your opinion is more likely right can always be analyzed but you’ve eliminated that possibility by refusing to analyze Islam objectively except in the biases of your own political ideas. I do not claim to be unbiased(no one is completely without bias). I am not beyond critique. But I cannot accept limitations to critically analyze the Quran or Hadiths as a valid thing. By doing so, no one can justify or falsify your claims about my(or anyone else’s) interpretations thereof.
    If no opinion on anything CAN actually hold water, then why have a blog to discuss opinions? Or is it opinions on Islam or the Quran ONLY can never hold water but on Nemtsov or China can – is that the selectivity on what opinions can be discussed and which cannot be discussed?
    3.)”Similarly, that Christendom is un-Christian is your opinion.”
    Sure. But even that opinion can be analysed to be closer to the truth or not, can it not?
    4.)”A Catholic priest will surely disagree with you, and he can read the Bible and the Gospels in the original ancient Greek and Latin, and studied them for years. ”
    Sure. But that does not mean their interpretation is RIGHT. You’ve said “Select the parts that prove your point, interpret the obscure ones to confirm your prejudice.” and surely the evil things that the Roman Catholic clerics have done in the past made it plausible that they have done just so, can it not? Moreover, the Gospels were originally written in Koine Greek rather than Latin(that being a translation); and the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew with some parts of Daniel written in Aramaic. So, please get your facts straight. Many Roman Catholic clerics were opposed to the translation of the Bible to the ‘common tongue’ of the people so that they had sole ecclesiastical power to interpret the Bible and thus allow them to be in power.
    5.)”Why can’t a Muslim do something evil without this Quran?”
    Sure, they can do evil WITHOUT pointing to the Quran. I did not say the Quran ’caused’ any Muslim to do evil nor did I say the Quran is the ORIGIN of evil Muslims. Moreover, as I’ve said earlier there are Muslims who ARE good citizens and try to do good. What I actually mean is Islam provides the JUSTIFICATION of their evil-doing. Within the Quran and Hadiths are ideologues that justify some of these atrocities as ‘mandated’ by God. I remember the Chinese Indonesians who were killed and their wives and daughters raped in front of their family members by Muslim jihadists as they shout “Allah is great!” – and I dare claim that the early Muslims and Muhammad himself slaughtered the males and took the females as wives or were raped during his conquest of non-Muslim people – this is found partly in the Quran, the Hadiths and also are historical. So, a Muslim can be evil without the Quran but certain evil things done by Muslims towards non-Muslims are justified by Islam, especially should there be a war between Islamic societies and a non-Muslim one. Moreover, in the eyes of the fundamentalist Muslim, there is a ‘dichotomy’ between how they treat fellow Muslims and how they treat non-Muslims – the former, very well and ‘moral’ whereas the latter can be treated like a pariah. And as I’ve said before, not that there are no good things found within the Quran and Hadiths – or else, it’s doubtful anyone would follow any belief-system devoid of ANY good. But the evil, war-like and fascism ‘tone’ dominates the Quran and Hadiths and CANNOT be ignored.
    6.)”Besides, the canonical Gospels were canonized by Christendom, saying that they contradict Christendom you’re assuming that these people were more stupid than evil.”
    Some were ‘good’, especially earlier on. But some(in fact, quite many) were evil, especially with the rise of Roman Catholicism. I don’t assume they were stupid. I think some of them were diabolical and used their intelligence for mostly evil. As you’ve said, interpretations of scriptures can be manipulated. I don’t disagree. Or else why do you have a world with myriads of beliefs and philosophies?
    7.)”German militarism in 1914 wasn’t Nazism.”
    I never said German militarism was Nazism. I said Islam is more comparable to Nazism and did not agree with you saying German militarism was substituted for Islamic fundamentalism in the views of ‘Islamaphobes’ , a position you accuse me of being one.
    8.)”My point about Kamikaze is that suicide attacks are not due to “evilness”, they are the weapon used when the enemy is far too superior, or in desperate times.”
    Sure they are weapons. Just like current-day suicide bombers. That does not mean they are NOT influenced by ‘evilness’- such as the case during Hirohito’s Japan. One cannot use the notion of suicide bombing as a method/weapon of war in desperate times to JUSTIFY the regime that encourages it. Also, your use of the word ‘enemy’ means that there was a war going on, which was true. Then, the phenomenon of current, mostly Muslim fundamentalists, suicide bombers would then imply that there is a war and that someone/some ‘system’ is the enemy? Am I wrong ? My point is – it is a war and not one that the non-Muslims started! I don’t know how to stop it. But we cannot even begin to think of how to deal with it when we still deny it. That’s why I brought the subject up – knowing that those with a liberal-slant are wont to dismiss this vigirously.
    9.)”I think that we can agree on the fact that the basis of our disagreement is our different ideas on religions. Something mostly irrelevant for me, of fundamental importance for you.”
    Agree that our differences are because of our divergent ideas about religions(and by extension philosophies – including atheism , which is to me a ‘religious’ belief as well). I doubt that the ideas of religion is completely irrelevant to you lest how can you justify your ‘conversion’ to atheism from Roman Catholicism without at least SOME inkling about religion? There must be some ‘relevancy’ of something to be able to RATIONALLY reject it. Actually, in my discussion about Islam in this blog, it’s not really Islamic morals or eschatology that are ‘of fundamental importance’ to me. It is its political, societal, Utopianist and miltarism MARRIED into religion that concerns me. The morals and eschatological aspects of Islam are side-points that need to be known to understand the political ideology of Islam. I am actually not discussing Islam the religion. I am discussing Islam the POLITICAL-MILITARY ideology – it should be subjected to critical analysis like any political ideology should. I usually try my best to separate my views on religion from politics in a polemical/political blog such as this. It’s not easy for me to do so wih regards to Islam because Muhammad ‘married’ religion/belief-system with politics and militarism in the religion he created. I’m trying my best to not talk about religion but the problem with those who critisize anyone who think negatively about Islam is that there is something ‘religious’ behind the agenda and that’s the main one. In my case, I am more alarmed of its political ramifications rather than the religious.
    10.)”At a minimum, I would trust more the opinion of someone who can read classical Arabic than the opinion of someone that reads a translation. ”
    Agreed upon. Yes, you can ‘distrust’ me as I do not know Arabic. Point acceptable. Unfortunately for you, there are many EX-MUSLIMS, who are Arab, know Arabic, some were former Muslim clerics, who have critisized Islam – its morality, hermeneutics, eschatology, the apologetics of both Muslim and Western ‘Islam apologists’ and more importantly the political aspects of Islam. And some of these ex-Muslims and Arabs are ATHEISTS and SECULARISTS – so you or anyone else CANNOT claim that it’s a Christian, Buddhist or any religious bias/prejudice. Debates also had ensued between these and Muslim and Western “Islamic apologists” – as to whether who is closer to the truth SHOULD be at least be considered, shouldn’t it, since my and “Islamaphobes” allegations against Islam are so serious.? Moreover, if you are proven right and I’m wrong – then, not considering the political dimension of Islam in national policies of predominantly non-Muslim nations will do no harm. But if I am right and you are wrong, the future might be disastrous for these nations, should Islamic fundamentalism become a political force to reckon with. Islam’s political dimensions which are a significant part of its Holy Scriptures demand it to be analyzed differently from most of other world’s main religious beliefs.
    Finally, I agree to strongly disagree with you. There is no point in further discussing Islam with you if you’d still refuse to allow the Quran and Hadiths to be quoted and analyzed – especially its political-military-historical aspects. I have tried to refute your points not out of a personal clash but because I think critically examining Islam is important and even if you disagree, my post hopefully would get some who are ignorant of the subject or neutral on it to have their interest piqued to examine if what I’m saying has some truth/basis or I am a completely insane Islamophobic nut. Let them be the judge and the future might justify or falsify our divergent assessments.
    Thank you.

    p.s. I’d thought I’d leave some websites hosted by ex-Muslims critical on Islam, who know Arabic and know the Quran and the Hadiths and the Sharia and the Hudud through-and-through for the benefit of yourself(should you even consider going to these websites) or those who want to judge for themselves regarding my allegations against Islam. I do NOT neccessarily agree with all they say and I do not care to speculate whether they are liberals or conservatives. I’d purposely selected critics who are Atheists and Secularists to avoid the accusation of religious bias. No doubt some of you will cynically say ‘those websites are like an Islamaphobic’s guide to Islam’ – whatever! True, don’t just believe what I allege. Go find out the truth!

    http://www.apostatesofislam.com/
    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/isis/
    http://www.taslimanasrin.com/
    http://www.faithfreedom.org
    http://www.homa.org/
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/
    http://islammonitor.org/index.php
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Main_Page
    http://civilusdefendus.wordpress.com/civil-defense/

    • marknesop says:

      As you can see, these messages are identical, although they appear to originate from different users. If you submit a comment and it never appears, it went into the spam filter – from which it remains retrievable – and I am a little disappointed in these wild-eyed accusations of censorship. I have never banned anyone, and only once have I had to remove comments (by the nut AJ, who was plainly only here to cause disruption and had nothing to contribute but racist blabber he got from yellow-journal extremist sources – something he had previously done on other blogs). If you can defend your opinions using acceptable and generally recognized sources and not loony special-interest comic books – and your comment doesn’t violate comment guidelines – it stays in. I am not responsible for what Akismet believes is spam, especially when I’m sleeping. I have mentioned before that extremely lengthy posts that contain a lot of links are likely to be automatically assessed as spam, but they are not eliminated. They just go into the filter, and I see them later.

      Let’s have a little less bullshit accusations and a little more civility, if you please.

    • PvMikhail says:

      sinotibetan, I have followed this blog for a while and it hasn’t banned any comments up to date, even russophobe idiots or half-russophobe skeptical people had their opinion written here, they haven’t got censored. This is the place of discussion, that’s why we are here. I don’t really understand your statements about censorship, why would Mark ban exactly you? You and the people here have almost identical opinion on Russia, and that’s what matters.
      If you had different opinion, we would try to explain our points to convince you.

      Unfortunately, I can not discuss religious affairs in such a detail, I am not qualified enough. Although my opinion is, that I would not say fascist in connection with anybody’s religion, because this doesn’t help solving problems. I have already written that I am suspicious with islam, but I would never say any more than that, because it may hut some people’s feelings. I know that I wouldn’t be glad if someone marked Christianity as fascist. This rhetoric (be these statements of yours true or false, it is equal) doesn’t encourage peace between religions, nations, and in general doesn’t solve anything. Thanks for understanding.

  21. PvMikhail says:

    I am very concerned about the recent events in the Caucasus. Some idiots in Kabardino-Balakaria lost their mind and want to shoot and blow up everybody. The death toll consists 3 tourists and 1 village official until now, and a damaged ski-lift to the Elbrus in addition. Several bombs were defused by SpetsNaz. What happens after this is a test of Arsen Kanokov and his authorities. The problem is, that K-B’s economy is dependent on tourists who go there to see the beautiful mountains, but after this they will think twice whether they want to go there. All in all K-B will have a worse economy with less jobs. Fine. I don’t really think these idiots take into account the consequences. Islamic people will suffer from poverty, not Christians.

  22. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Mark and Mikhail,
    @Mark
    “I have mentioned before that extremely lengthy posts that contain a lot of links are likely to be automatically assessed as spam, but they are not eliminated.”
    My apologies. I was not aware of the above. I felt like as if my comments were not allowed so as to appear I could not defend my views(as I think you and Giuseppe have similar views on Islam). Hence, my wrong assumption.
    “Let’s have a little less bullshit accusations and a little more civility, if you please.”
    I guess I have tried to be as civil as possible(which is no easy task, at times!) in all my posts, have I not? As for the ‘bullshit accusation’, it’s my error for not knowing how the programme works. My own ignorance on this thing.
    As for the patience of the Chinese, I think I am quite an atypical Chinese.
    @Mikhail
    Thanks for your post on Hungary. I think I generally agree with you on many things.
    “Although my opinion is, that I would not say fascist in connection with anybody’s religion, because this doesn’t help solving problems.”
    I see your point of view and can understand it. I am not so sure though, whether it won’t help if that assertion of ‘fascism’ is actually true. It probably does – for example a government policy that urges depoliticization in religious and philosophical rhetoric. I think Mark or most of all Giuseppe may not truly understand how it is like to be a non-Muslim minority living in a Muslim-majority nation like I do. I have read firsthand the beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists in my country, knowing the native language – at least I should be given that credit, however ‘unqualified’ I might be in discussing it. I have experienced how it feels to be a ‘dhimmi’ and knowing that at any time my rights and freedoms might be taken off should radicals have their way and they justify it by ‘Islam’. I have seen the practical aspects of this ‘dhimmitude’ , being a victim of one. Even my condition is still not too bad. Many in my country, thankfully, are moderate Muslims, ignorant of certain aspects of their religion. True, there are many Muslims I know who are good people – I don’t think badly of them, I sometimes feel sad for them. I do know of Chinese in Indonesia who have seen members of their family killed or raped by Islamic fundamentalists as they shout ‘Allah is great!” . In this blog, it might all be ‘intellectual excercise’ in polemics or rhetoric. To us non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, it’s not just some ‘intellectual exercise’ and we are not ‘Islamaphobes’ as we are often accused to be. Islamic fundamentalism and its appeal to many Muslim young and intellects affect us in our daily lives, maybe in future, physically. I know Mark and Giuseppe disagree, but it truly does.
    “I have already written that I am suspicious with islam, but I would never say any more than that, because it may hurt some people’s feelings”
    I understand that. Neither does it please me to say bad things about Islam actually. But, it’s my conviction – and I felt I had to say what I truly think. Of course, it’s unthinkable for me to talk so openly on these issues within my country(it’s a crime here) and also surely it’s unthinkable to discuss this face-to-face with most Muslims because of the emotional nature of ‘religious discussion’ especially if these are negative aspects. However, at times we do have to state the truth and now with the internet, we can state these controversial themes – but should do so with evidence and as civilly as possible. I am trying my best.
    “Islamic people will suffer from poverty, not Christians.”
    An expose on Islam is not only for non-Muslims, it’s also for many Muslims as well. They are victims of this ideology more than us and require our empathy. Sure, some Muslims may perhaps ‘realize’ the negative aspects of Islam, but like some non-Muslims here, are in a state of denial. My problem with Giuseppe’s arguments is this: I feel that he is in that state and all his polemics are to remain status quo. One of my criticism on the West is this ‘denial’ state. You are right to say the main victims – of Islamic fundamentalism – are Muslims themselves.

  23. sinotibetan says:

    @ Giuseppe and another
    Hello Giuseppe:-
    Wow. “Debating” with you is mentally and intellectually exhausting and to be honest I will be stopping with this last ‘refutation’. Got to get on with other intellectual musings, you know. You can, in all fairness, refute this refutation but I shall no longer respond because I accept we agree to disagree on this issue. At this juncture, I strongly disagree with your opinion and will remain so for the foreseeable future. I really dislike you labelling me an “Islamaphobe” because of its negative connotation but it’s a free world and you can persist if you insist.
    “Because there are other people that pick and interpret other parts to prove an opposite view.”
    Does not mean I actually do it.
    “Muslim/Christian/Jew apologists on one side and haters on the other side are engaged in propaganda.”
    I have not written those posts as a Christian apologist – I’d be getting even more heat from yalensis if I did! I am innocent of this accusation except in the area when you got me into defending my opinion on Christianity vs Christendom. I consider that your ‘trap’😉 It’s not propaganda. And as I’ve said before, there ARE good aspects in Islam and bad ones as well. However, the negative aspects outweigh the good. And as I’ve said before, because of the political nature of Islam, it conflicts with other ways of life via political means. Since this is a political blog, hence it is relevant. I’m not talking of Islam the religion primarily, I’m talking of Islam the political aspect. I consider Muhammad a real political genius in ‘marrying’ /’integrating’ politics into religion – in that way, it’s no easy task to expose the political aspect because trying to do so will mean swimming into the ocean of the ‘sensitivity’ of religion although I think he did that so that he had “Divine justification” for his military and political ambitions. Brilliant strategy! No I did not ‘compare’ Christian or Buddhist ‘propaganda’ with Muslim ‘propaganda’. I do think that if we can critically study Nazism, or democracy, or whatever – why not study Islam since it IS a political ideologue as well?
    “That is a common myth. Critical analysis of the Gospels suggests that Christ wasn’t a non-violent preacher that wanted separation of state and church.”
    I let you refute yourself:-
    “Unfortunately it isn’t an exact science, neither a science that can always give conclusive results in a matter of months or years. Critical analysis of the Christian Holy Books started in the XVII century (IIRC by a certain Reismarus) and it is still going on, that it to say there are many scholars that hold different views. It is possible that no conclusion will be reached, because lacking some new archaeological discovery, many of these hypothesis will remain unconfirmed.”
    Circular reasoning.
    You disparage the accuracy of critical analysis/science of hermeneutics but you use this ‘inaccurate science’ to claim Christ WAS a violent preacher who wanted the marriage of state and religion. I’m not going into Christian apologetics lest I’ll be accused of propaganda so I’ll leave it at your circular reasoning.
    Regarding any science – no science is completely without flaws, not even ‘hard science’. Before Einstein, scientists ‘believed’ in Newton’s theory of gravitation – now they view it as not so accurate. Even mathematics had Godel’s incompleteness theorem. Human knowledge and its pursuit has flaws and limitations. Recognizing that limitation, it’s not logical to completely consign the science of hermeneutics to irrelevancy just because it has limitations! No, your ‘excuse’ is not acceptable.
    “If someone else likes to waste his time in this way it’s their business, but don’t drag me in it.”
    I was ‘wasting’ my time but I don’t think I dragged you into it. You could have resisted refuting but you did not. I could not resist an intellectual challenge from you either.
    “You can do the same with Homer’s works to prove that ancient Greeks were “fascists” or “democratic”. But ancient Greeks were neither fascists or democratic, applying modern political categories to ancient people is simply ridiculous.”
    Yet ‘democracy’ was said to have its beginnings in Greece. It’s not too ridiculous to use the word ‘fascist’ to describe an ancient political system if its system bore similarities with the ‘modern political category’. Maybe one prefers the phrase ‘has many commonality with modern political fascism’ but it would be easier to use the word ‘fascist’. Agree with you that the word is probably better used ‘fascist-like’ rather than the inaccurate ‘fascist’ because I believe the political aspect of Islam is ultimately Arab nationalism, expansionist imperialism, the formation of a totalitarian state(actually a global theocracy), propagandism, masculine heroism, militarism, strict discipline etc. – many aspects so close to modern fascism. Even if it’s not accurate to label Islamic political theory as fascist, it’s not unreasonable to compare them and I’ve found them to be similar.
    I have read a book where ancient Chinese thoughts like the Legalist school of Lord Shangyang and Sun Tzu Ping Fa being compared and described as similar to Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ which is certainly more ‘modern’ compared to the former which was composed more than 2000 years ago! Yet another excuse by you not to discuss Islam and consign those discussions irrelevant!
    “Besides, we can use the word “fascist” in a non-technical way as synonymous of “evil” or “bad”, but no serious historian would apply a term that identifies a political movement of XX century Europe to a VII century religion or political movement. I hope you realize that it would be ridiculous.”
    See the above refutation.
    “Holy Books are not as simple as a Bach’s sonata.”
    Never said they were. If classical music purists are wont to get to the ‘exact sounds the composer had in mind’ , it’s not ‘ridiculous’ to assess what some holy scripture GENERALLY convey to the ‘most exact possible’. Moreover, the Quran and Hadiths are complex but certainly less complex than Rig Veda or Buddhist scriptures. All can be subjected to analysis. Anyway, Bach wrote fugues , partitas and suites rather than sonatas which probably the Scarlattis preferred.
    “In the latter case I have to repeat myself: your (or anyone else) assessment of Islam is irrelevant.”
    Is this propaganda vs propaganda? “Assessment of Islam is irrelevant” propaganda vs “Assessment of Islam is relevant”? I thought you dislike comparing propaganda to propaganda? 😉
    “Because there are other people that pick and interpret other parts to prove an opposite view. It’s an easy game with polemical posts in political blogs”😉
    “I never said German militarism was Nazism. So, why do you say that Islam is like Nazism just after citing my previous line? It’s confusing”
    You THOUGHT I confused German militarism in 1914 with Nazism. I DO know, they were two different things. You provided an example where “German militarism” was ‘subsituted’ by “Islamic fundamentalism” – I thought Nazism, rather than German militarism, has more similarities with Islamic fundamentalism. Sorry for the ‘confusion’.
    “So weapons are influenced by “evilness”?”
    Non-animate weapons(like nuclear bombs or ICBMs) are NOT influenced by ‘evilness’. But suicide-bombers are not only weapons, they are also HUMANS – hence possible to be INFLUENCED by ideas, aren’t they? Suicide-bombing is the method, the ‘deliverer’ is a human who has decided on the method. Human decision was involved. Can’t compare inanimate weapons with ‘human’ weapons.😉
    “It’s not a war, there are wars involving Muslims (on one side or both) just like there are or were wars involving non-Muslims. Some of the wars involving Muslims were started by them, others weren’t, like the 2003 Iraqi invasion.”
    Agree, agree, agree, agree ad infinitum. My ‘problem’ is not with Muslims. My ‘problem’ is with the teachings of Islam itself – something you immediately consign to irrelevancy. In Islam, Muhammad already declared WAR on non-Muslims and aim to subjugate them totally(be they Christians, Buddhists, Jews, atheists, agnostics, hedonists, etc.). We non-Muslims did NOT declare the war, Muhammad did – to establish a Universal Islamic Order.
    “If I had said I’m catholic, would you have asked me to how I justify my adherence to that faith?”
    Yes. And also how you justify your agnosticism. Yeah, heard of Occam’s Razor. But have you heard of anti-razors? And also – there are philosophical objections to using this principle as well as using this principle does not imply irrefutability in the scientific method. See : http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/
    And also, correct me if I’m wrong, the principle of Occam’s Razor was due to a William of Ockham who used the principle to ‘prove’ God, ironic isn’t it?
    As for the other person who gave us ‘Jew-friendly’ and ‘Christian-friendly’ ayats, the Islamic principle of abrogation nullifies them. I’m not going to talk much about this principle.
    OK….I am very intellectually exhausted as actually polemics and philosophy are mere hobbies to me as I’m more scientifically-inclined.
    I shall no longer comment on this blog or other Russophile blogs because I want to pursue other (mostly scientific) things. Plus, I think I’ve spent too much talking about politics because actually I don’t believe that politics is a long-term solution for man’s myriads problems. Nevertheless, I wish you all the best. And all the best to Russia! Hope to visit that country one day! My apologies if I’ve unintentionally offended anyone.

    sinotibetan

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      I consider Muhammad a real political genius in ‘marrying’ /’integrating’ politics into religion
      Maybe you’ll think I’ve a grudge against you because I’m going to contradict you on the only nice thing you wrote about Muhammad. Politics and religion were ‘married’ long before Muhammad and ‘divorced’ with the French revolution, at the least in his area and Europe. It doesn’t prove he was a genius, just that he followed the rules of the game.

  24. Rolf says:

    Hallo! can You translate that
    //Àëëèãàòîð: ïåðèîä ëèíèè ÷åëþñòåé
    Thanks

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