Rating the Russia Watchers, Take II

Uncle Volodya says, "Experience is what enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again"

On the auspicious occasion of the odometer rolling past 100,000 hits – just before the Kremlin Stooge’s birthday, July 8th – I thought it’d be a good time for a reprise of “Rating the Russia Watchers”. I did a post on this some time ago, and A Good Treaty cleaned up. All the blogs that were on my blogroll then are still there, with the exception of “Birdbrain”, which I had to remove because it went private and you had to be invited to comment. Some new ones have been added, but just like the last time we did this, I’m interested to learn what I’m missing. There are great blogs out there that I have yet to discover, I know there are.

Well, thanks to you readers and energetic commenters, we’re doing all right. We’ve racked up 75 posts since we started, and those have garnered 5,370 comments. Our best-grossing single post of all time, hits-wise, has been kovane’s “Stalin, in the Eye of the Russian Beholder”, with a total of 13,905 hits.

But enough about us – let’s talk about them. Just like last time, I’ll rank the top 10 based on how many “clicks” I registered as people went to their blog from this one. As a measure of popularity, it’s as reliable any other, and just a touch more scientific than simply picking my favourites: these aren’t necessarily my favourites – they’re yours. Once again, this blog will not be part of the rankings, as it is not considered by this method. Without further ado;

1. The Ivanov Report – vaulting into the number one spot with a dominant 692 clicks, Eugene Ivanov’s thoughtful and clever dissections of current events as they pertain to Russia are rarely showy or flashy and never spurious fluff. Instead, you get deliberate, measured analysis that reliably reveals the story behind the story. I’ve grown to think of Eugene as The Gentleman of what sometimes feels like a bloodsport; his replies to comments are invariably good-humoured and tolerant of disagreement, and although I’ve never seen a commenter deliberately provoke him, I get the sense it’d be a wasted effort. Often featured in major online forums, his posts are sober, thoughtful, well-substantiated pieces of analysis that a real understanding of the Russia-watching blogosphere would be incomplete without. Congratulations, Eugene!

2. A Good Treaty – sliding slightly to second with a still-impressive 542 clicks, Kevin Rothrock’s excellent blog has repaid every click in generous measure with 1217 referrals, and is my second-highest referral source. Kevin “came out” earlier this year from being an anonymous blogger, at about the same time he decided to change course slightly in favour of more serious analysis. Consequently the blog seems slightly less edgy, and the update rate is a little slow sometimes. However, it’s still a solid, dependable resource – particularly for discussion of new law initiatives or policy positions of the Russian government – still witty and clever, and still a merciless squasher of russophobic nonsense.

3. Sublime Oblivion – Moving up a spot to take third with 503 clicks, Anatoly Karlin’s blog is my top referrer (2010 referrals) and remains a strong personal favourite for in-your-face challenges to russophobic squealing, of which his recent interview with La Russophobe stands as a fine example. Anatoly seems to have lost his job or something, since we’ve seen a perfect blizzard of posts this month, but his acid wit is sharper than before, if anything. Anatoly has always made mocking eviscerations of nonsense look easy, and he certainly hasn’t lost his touch. He is also an author and principal editor of Arctic Progress, an excellent reference for those interested in the emerging political struggle for domination of earth’s last frontier.

4. Austere Insomniac – Leos Tomicek’s blog continues with it’s dark, brooding atmosphere and occasionally angry tone, but this multilingual blogger also attacks controversial subjects that few discuss and backs up his viewpoints with a staggering amount of research. Leos rarely argues a point from a mere opinion basis. He still maintains the best blogroll in the business, reflecting a broad range of interests and a restless, agile mind. Leos pulled in 387 clicks.

5. The Moscow Diaries – Julia Ioffe has moved, and now has an arrangement similar to her old True/Slant gig; she’s a blogger, but a paid one, this time for Forbes. The 318 clicks she got were mostly tied to her old blog address, which is now defunct, so please remember to update your links. Available fare will be familiar – sarcastic renderings of the Putin regime that have two alternating modes; clueless and evil. Julia is a considerably better writer than a lot of bloggers, but the coverage she provides is very one-sided, and Putin and Medvedev – not to mention every other official in the Russian government – would pretty much have to pull off spontaneous and unassisted flight to please her. She is particularly sarcastic and vituperative when the subject is attractive women in undergarments or lingerie, who have some tenuous connection to Putin or who have otherwise achieved recognition (by winning a beauty contest, say) – as if all Russian women should be slatternly drudges, Birkenstock-sporting lesbians with massive calves or bookish nerds if they wish to earn respect.

6. La Russophobe – The Good Ship ‘Phobe, still staggering along under the mad leadership of Cap’n Kim Zigfeld, remains the stone-ground ass of the Russia blogs. Flopping about in lagoons of crocodile tears, La Russophobe purports to weep for the horrific plight of the Russian Everyman, while snidely suggesting that opening more burger restaurants  (“sweeping through Russia like the armies of Napoleon…”) and getting outside of some food that isn’t the native slop are the keys to national greatness. According to Cap’n Kimmie,  “You don’t really know Russia unless you read La Russophobe!” In actual sad truth, you could probably accumulate just as much factual information about Russia by logging on to The Cat in the Hat.

Yes, I know. Napoleon’s Grande Armée was decimated in Russia, and pursued by the forces of Tsar Alexander I all the way back to Paris. Quite apart from the comical incongruity of comparing Napoleon’s driven ambition to the expansion strategy of a hamburger restaurant, don’t go there for history lessons either. She racked up 280 clicks.

7. Sean’s Russia Blog – I would have rated this one higher if the choice were mine, but it’s not. Sean was once quite a fire-eater in the Russophobia wars, and a writer for the legendary eXile who – among other noteworthy accomplishments – eviscerated Boris Nemtsov’s “White Paper” (at least one of them, anyway; there have been so many I’ve lost count). Since those giddy days he, too, has gone in for more sober analysis. Like AGT, “sober analysis” does not mean “gratuitous criticism”, and acknowledgement of Russia’s problems is usually supported by achievable solutions. The re-start of Sean’s Russia Blog after Sean’s move appears to have been a success, and showcases both his academic chops and his experience. Sean drew 247 clicks; an excellent read.

8. The American Chronicle – this is still not a blog, but an author information page and placeholder for independent foreign policy analyst Mike Averko. Mike is a regular commenter here, and has slipped me some excellent links that have resulted in very successful feature posts – the one immediately preceding this among them. Many of his 211 clicks will have been from commenters or readers curious to see who this Averko guy is. I actually wish Mike would start a blog – not because I don’t appreciate his comments and advice, but because he supplies such a wealth of material that would benefit from independent review. A scrupulous and tireless researcher with strong interests in slavic centres outside Russia as well.

9. Poemless – this blog staggered a bit earlier in the year owing to the unfortunate personal situation of its author, and it is a tribute to her courage that it didn’t simply fold up. Poemless has always had a talent for seeing something everyone else missed, or looking at the situation or event from a perspective that sparks a fresh analysis. This can make you want to shake her until her teeth rattle if it happens to kick the legs out from under an argument you spent a good deal of time constructing, but it’s a joy to watch when it sandbags some smug Russophobe and leaves him or her looking like they have swallowed a chicken’s foot. Still a sharp, incisive and evocative writer likely to garner more than the 195 clicks she got once she regains her stride.

10. Russian Military Reform – a blog whose title is somewhat misleading, this excellent venue by Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg has as its focus all aspects of Russian military reform. So, while this might lead you to believe it’s all tanks and destroyers and fighter-jets zipping in and out, it actually includes some fascinating studies on the political dimension as well. An autocratic or semi-autocratic government model always numbers control of the military among its priorities, against the risk of being deposed by that selfsame military. Meticulously researched and well-supported by solid references, not to mention excellent academic credentials and experience, this source comes highly recommended and drew 194 clicks.

The People Have Spoken: so let it be written. Unless someone demands a recount, the way they do in politics – particularly politics you are interfering in rather than politics in your own country –  when the preferred candidate doesn’t win. Absent that, I have a few Honourable Mentions as well.

1. Russia – Other Points of View – if it were up to me, this would have been my top pick. ROPV has been criticized in the past for its dry, matter-of-fact delivery, which sometimes detracts from its readability. But if you are in search of well-substantiated, up-to-the-minute, informed-on-steroids discussion of current events and how they impact Russia, you can’t do better than this. Patrick Armstrong’s articles in particular reflect the very best of pragmatic, insightful analysis, and the impressive stable of professionals who contribute (your number-one pick, Eugene Ivanov, among them) are hot on his heels in their provision of hard-hitting, captivating assessments of Russian policy as it applies to the world, as well as world policies as they apply to Russia. This is the real stuff. If you like it, show your interest by commenting and getting involved!

2. Truth and Beauty – this outlet supplies insights on the impact of new policies and initiatives from a business and/or financial point of view. Standout coverage of the Khodorkovsky verdict by Eric Kraus, from the viewpoint of Khodorkovsky’s venal business practices and what they might mean to an America that too closely embraced him while overlooking the threat such an embrace might constitute to American security, offers a startling contrast to the blubbering bootlicking exhibited by the mainstream.

3. RussiaWatchers – a cooperative effort of Dutchmen Nils Van der Vetge and Joera Mulders, this venue offers excellent quality translations of current and important Russian stories. An invaluable resource for those who can’t read Russian or make sense out of sometimes-awkward machine translations, their stories have the feel of having been originally written in English.

4. Dissonance – Alexandre Latsa’s blog would undoubtedly feature high in a ratings list of English-language Russia blogs – were it in English. It’s not, and if you can’t read French you might not get the most out of it. However, even if it takes you 3 minutes to get through the average sentence in French, you’d still get something out of this thoroughly-researched and highly informative blog. A few articles also available in English, Russian and Italian.

5. Odessa Blog – very recently added to my blogroll, this has become a go-to reference for Ukrainian issues and politics.

My thanks to all of you for making blogging the blast it still is, and my thanks to all those listed above for their inspiration and guidance.

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164 Responses to Rating the Russia Watchers, Take II

  1. Pingback: Rating the Russia Watchers, Take II | Γονείς σε Δράση

  2. Yalensis says:

    Sorry, not really in topic, but continuing our fascinating discussion about Nazis from Mark’s previous blog, here is a Lithunian heavy-metal band that advocates the murder of Poles, Russians and Jews. The band itself is not important, they are simply soccer hooligans with guitars; however their antics have brought to public consciousness a Lithuanian policy of ethnic and linguistic discrimination against Poles. Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski is very upset about this issue.
    The song in question is called “Salcininku Rajonas”. I have been trying to find the original Lithuanian lyrics on the internet, but have not been successful. However, I did find a Russian translation here:

    Вижу я красное пламя,
    Горит Шальчининкайский район,
    Бушует огненная чума,
    Время поляков истекло.
    Близится священная война,
    Если будете здесь, не сбежите от чумы,
    Не наступит другое утро,
    Судьба поляков предрешена.
    Кончилось посеянное поляками семя.
    Говорит печально надруганное семя.
    Поляки все уже повешены,
    Зарезанные русские валяются под забором,
    Евреи уже горят в печи,
    Только настоящие литовцы все живы.
    Время навести порядок в Вильнюсе,
    Высоко поднять железную руку,
    Время для решающего боя с русскими,
    Два варианта – и станешь свободным.
    Сами недовольны, так почему их не убиваете?
    Не будьте как свиньи в дерьме, литовцы!
    Когда инородцы найдут свое место,
    Город наш будет чистым.
    Наконец, погибнут тысячи русских,
    И Вильнюс снова будет только нашим.
    Поляки все уже повешены,
    Зарезанные русские валяются под забором,
    Евреи уже горят в печи,
    Только настоящие литовцы все живы.

    I kind of understand why Lithuanians hate Russians; but what did the Poles ever do do them??

  3. AK says:

    Thanks, I read your ratings with interest as always.

    My favorite out of those is ROPV. I don’t have the time to follow most of the Russia blogs as I once did, so I now restrict myself to ROPV, you, Ivanov, T&B, Russia Watchers, AGT, and SRB.

    Don’t worry, no employment troubles. 😉 In fact I’m currently busier than I’ve been for months. It’s weird and counter-intuitive, but when I have more work to do I’m actually more productive at blogging too.

    • marknesop says:

      What, no La Russophobe? But you don’t really know Russia if you don’t read La Russophobe!!!!

      • Misha says:

        Ivanov Report, Austere Insomniac and this blog are my top reads.

        It appears understood that the 6th ranked venue isn’t premised on that sight exhibiting a particularly great insight over others.

        Cronyism aside, there’re different ways of judging. Diversity of Russia related topics, presenting valid and not so well known thoughts and the ability to substantively follow-up (as opposed to diatribes, blocking some contributors and/or just plain not answering) rank high with me.

        • marknesop says:

          Considering that 6th ranked site climbed by 172 clicks since the last ranking, while Eugene Ivanov’s traffic increased by 579 in the same period, I’d say the trend was clear. Nobody goes there for current information about Russia, and those who do go there go to get their hate on, or to laugh. Since I have reduced the number of articles with a La Russophobe posting as their subject, the number of visits to there from here has declined steeply. I can’t say I’ll never do another post featuring a La Russophobe story as its subject, because sometimes its just too tempting, but I don’t read it often any more and I usually try to stay away from it.

  4. Mistaa stooge saa, mistaa stooge saa!!
    I think you should consider an article on this latest jewel of bullshit I’ve found on the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704816604576333030245934982.html
    Tis’ a veeery tempting offaa, mistaa stooge!
    Here’s a quote to work your appetite:

    “”Surveys by the Levada Center, an independent research institute in Moscow, find a similar broad trend. The percentage of respondents who were thinking about living abroad rose from 42% at the beginning of Mr. Putin’s presidency to 44% in 2009, despite the rise in living standards during that period.””

    :D!!!! Do you hear that?? 42% of Russians were about to leave Russia in 2000, according to LEVADA!!?? Jesus Christ they must be piling into the arctic sea! I wonder how there’s still 140,000,000 of them bastaads. And do you believe how the vile fracker Vladimir Poot-poot made the statistic rise by 2%?? An entiaa 2% good saa! I think they might be serious this time! We’re looking toward a mass exodus from Russia!

    Jesus fucking christ! I wonder what the readers may be thinking “Damn ruskiies, we don’t want you over here!” XD

    • AK says:

      Man that article has a factual error and/or logical inconsistency on practically every paragraph. A low even by WSJ standards.

    • Misha says:

      No great surprise when considering The WSJ, in conjunction with some of what the author of that particular piece in question has previously written.

      • kovane says:


        I know I’ll very much regret asking that, but that’s something that has been puzzling me for a long time. What’s up with your language? I am yet to find a more formal and stilted way of expressing yourself, and believe me, I spend enough time talking with bureaucrats of all kinds.

        • Misha says:

          Along with your prose, stated views and at times spiteful manner of getting off topic, that observation is on par with Chris Doss.

          • kovane says:

            See? That’s why I said I would regret asking that! 🙂

            • Chris Doss says:

              Those jealous of a non conventional and novelty style of Eng. lang use often make troll like jibes at those with less knowledge of textbook propped grammar but greater incite into fSU related issues.

              • Misha says:

                So much for being “Russian.”

                Actually, I’m the one who should regret answering cyber creeps with a peculiar sense of humor that gets away from the actual subjects under discussion.

                • AK says:


                • Chris Doss says:

                  Docti homines, qui non possunt aut legere aut scribere aut intelligere Rossicoram linguam et nunquam erant in illa terra, et qui vivant apud suam matrem et laborem non possedent, sed habent sapientiem meliorem aliis positis ab amicis in locis altioribus, saepe vituperantur ab eis causa invitiae.

              • kovane says:

                I’m going to walk away from this madness while my sanity seems to be not beyond salvation. Sorry for asking – that was an egregious blunder on my part.

                • Misha says:

                  On par with some of what was stated in the thread prior to this one.

                  Perhaps a lack of medication issue.

                • Chris Doss says:

                  The Misha troll trolls in a trolling manner in the fashion of one who trolls, trollingly. There are many folks that well receive my multi opinionated commentaries in AC, TTT, and NYT (pre internet) who are real people and not sock puppets.

                • Yalensis says:

                  “ χρονος δίκαίον ανδρα δέίκνυσίν μονος “

                  “Only time will show which man is right.” (Sophocles, “Oedipus Rex”)

                • kovane says:

                  So it’s a contest, huh? Take that:

                • Misha says:

                  A childish carry-over to reasoned comments (at the thread prior to this one) that some didn’t like and weren’t able to offer a valid counter-reply.

                  Those in the peanut gallery reveal their shortcomings.

            • Misha says:

              SS and CD make a not so great tag team.

    • Yalensis says:

      Check out “comments” section on WSJ article. Author got a good flogging, including from Anatoly.

    • marknesop says:

      Hmmmmmm…..it sounds….interesting. Curious; yes, quite curious indeed.

  5. Hi Mark,

    Thnks for mentioning me and Joera, stay tuned because we are busy making some changes. Considering the emmigration issue, in 2009 37% seriously considered emmigrating so Russia is a pretty normal country in that respect. Grass is always greener. Orlando Figes also said in his last book on the Crimean War that Russians mostly have ignorant views about the West, think that money is literally lying on the ground.

    • Misha says:

      Such a book on stated Russian misconceptions gets highlighted in contrast to the matter of inaccurate potrayals of Russian related issues in the West.

      In addition, some of the suggested misconceptions aren’t so evident as stated.

  6. 37% of the Dutch people*

  7. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Mark and to yalensis and Misha as well:
    I am sorry that I’m off topic again and I don’t usually ‘rate’ anyone or anyone’s blog.

    Thanks yalensis for the Lithuanian heavy metal song lyrics. Very interesting observation by both you and Misha.
    “I kind of understand why Lithuanians hate Russians; but what did the Poles ever do to them??”
    “Goes back to the days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, when the former was believed to have become more dominant and overbearing (at least by some).”
    After the end of the native Piast dynasty, there was a union of the nations of Lithuania and Poland under the then Grand Duke of Lithuania Jagiello who began the Jagiellonian Dynasty – which was Lithuanian. Unfortunately, as Misha pointed out, the Poles became more dominant with the establishment of the the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth in which the Poles became more dominant with the end of the Jagiellonian dynasty shortly after the establishment of the commonwealth. Apparently the Poles carried out a policy of ‘polonization’ of the Balts within that commomwealth, such as the Lithuanians. Interestingly during that period, many of the Polish kings are non-native like the Austrian Hapsburgs and the Swedish Vasa dynasties as the kings were elected rather than hereditary as in the past.
    Another side question/remark – I think quite a number of Russian nobility had Lithuanian ancestry. Eg. the Gediminids who supposedly descended from a Grand Duke of Lithuania called Gediminas. These also have rise to the Jagiellonians.
    Sorry I’m rattling away with these stuff. I find the history of ‘lesser known’ peoples like the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians,(to a lesser extend the Finns) and Karelians rather interesting. 😉


    • Misha says:

      Thanks for the follow-up Sinotibetan.

    • Yalensis says:

      Thanks, @sinotibetan, interesting historical details. I had not been aware prior to this there was any conflict between Poles and Lithuanians, I always figured they got along pretty well, as they are culturally very similar (=Catholics) and Baltic/Slavic languages of course very closely related (plus, they both use Latin alphabet for writing). Plus, they both have common enemy (=Russia), and having a common enemy tends to bring people closer together in mutual friendship (kumbaya, my friends!) 🙂

      I learned that one of Sikorski’s complaints against Poles is that they forced the compact-living Polish community in Vilnius to take down street signs in Polish and rewrite them to fit Lithuanian spelling/pronunciation standards. It is this kind of petty linguistic bullying that really turns people against each other.
      Anyhow, if you click on that first link I gave, the article has a link to the you-tube video of this actual song. You don’t see the band singing, just their logo, which is reminiscent of a swastika. The song itself is a catchy little tune, I would actually like it and want to dance to it, were I unaware of what the lyrics meant!
      In terms of “freedom of speech” issues, different countries have different laws. In USA, First Amendment to Constitution, guaranteeing free speech, would absolutely allow these youths to promote genocide through song, so long as they didn’t actually pick up guns and start killing people themselves. However, European countries have different laws, and I believe EU laws do NOT protect speech of this nature. I do know that in Germany this type of “artistic” experssion would be absolutely prohibited; because of the whole Nazi past, they have to be very strict about this sort of thing.

      • Misha says:

        Somewhat similiarly, Croat and Slovenian differences with Serbia haven’t led to the best of relations regarding Croatia and Slovenia.

    • Chris Doss says:

      Lithuanians don’t hate Russians. “A nationalist subset of the Lithuanian population” does not equal “Lithuanians.”

  8. Yalensis says:

    On Libyan war (which I have been following very closely, in order to atone for my earlier ignorance when it first began):
    Some evidence that the tide is slowly starting to turn in Qaddafi’s favor. Here is NATO becoming annoyed with Qaddafi for not giving up when he was supposed to. It was always my sense that Qaddafi could defeat NATO (barring a ground invasion; that would change the equation) if he just held out long enough.
    I think the tide started to turn a couple of weeks ago, when rebels were unable to break out of Misurata. A couple of rebels would walk down the road carrying rifles, in the general direction of Tripoli, and Western media would trumpet: “Rebels now within 100 kilometers of Tripoli!” Then Qaddafi’s troops would pepper rebels with Grad rockets, and badly wounded rebels would go scurrying back into Misurata.
    (Obviously, it goes without saying, Qaddafi must eventually take Misurata back, in order to win war, but I think he is probably waiting for NATO to run out of helicopters and drones, otherwise will be too many casualties among his troops.)
    Qaddafi’s greatest asset is his own stubbornness: He did not fall into despair when so many nations recognized rebel ragtag army as “legitimate” representative of Libyan people. Qaddafi is crafty old bastard, and he did not listen to Western propaganda campaign which claimed rebel victory was inevitable. In reality, nothing is inevitable. So long as people don’t lose their nerve, the conflict will be decided on the battle field, not in the editorial office of the Wall Street Journal.
    With every passing day it becomes more clear that rebels have few forces and very little popular support. Only exception is in Benghazi, where they do appear to have a popular (tribal) base. In all other towns where they have temporarily ceased power, including Misurata, they have maintained authority only through brutality and terror.
    More to the point: NATO is starting to run out of money and helicopters. They allocated resources only for a one- or two-month blitzkrieg to topple Qaddafi.

    • Misha says:

      One argued point to get Khadafy is the presentation that other hyped bad guys will have motivation if he stays on.

      The Munich appeasement analogy periodically crops up on the issue of pursuing multinational military action.

    • marknesop says:

      You’ve hit on a significant deficiency in the rebel army: that no matter how much money the west throws at them for supplies and support and – let’s face it – arms, it never seems to get any bigger. Popular support for a movement usually implies an attraction of the people to a cause, and a steady augmentation of recruits. That’s not happening, and the west looks really unreasonable when Gaddafi proposes various negotiation initiatives which they simply brush aside as “not good enough” while they continue to insist nothing will do but his handing over the government to the rebels, after they swore regime change was not the goal. I understand Sarkozy the Killer Dwarf has another resolution ready to go that sweeps aside the curtain, and specifically calls for regime change and an end to Gadaffi. Remember, you heard it here first – if the west ultimately is successful in driving Gadaffi from power in favour of the rebel group they’ve already recognized, they will rue the day a hundred times over. If Libya really wanted to be governed by a ragtag group of Islamic fundamentalists from Misrata, Gaddafi would have been gone a month ago.

      Secretary Gates was on CNN this morning, and he said he felt sure Gaddafi would eventually be forced to step down – according to him, either by his military or by his family. That doesn’t sound particularly optimistic, as that is true of pretty much any national leader in a similar government. Where the west made a mistake this time is in not having a popular Libyan leader-in-exile waiting in some western country to take the reins of power in Libya. I guess they’re getting lazy about this regime change thing. But remember – the larger point is that no wealthy country with desirable natural resources that also harbours a protest movement of any size is now secure from tampering by NATO. Taken to its extreme, NATO could use this policy to order the Berlusconi government to hand over power to the Basques, or Canada’s Harper government to step down in favour of Quebec separatists. Of course it’s not the same thing, because the Harper government is not shooting Quebecois separatists in the streets of Montreal, but that angle is exaggerated in Libya and the precedent stands. There is no majority of Libyans shrieking for Gaddafi’s removal, and you can only bend over for the demands of a tiny minority so long before you start to look ridiculous.

      That said, the die is cast for NATO – they cannot withdraw and leave Gaddafi in power, because the status he would gain by facing down the massed military power of the west would be insurmountable in future. So meanwhile, the west is reduced to ecstatic gobbling in the media every time another Gaddafi minister quits.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Taken to its extreme, NATO could use this policy to order the Berlusconi government to hand over power to the Basques.
        It would be really an extreme, because the Basques are not living in Italy. Jokes aside, I hope Gaddafi will survive the onslaught, although he will make us Italian pay dearly for our betrayal, that’s what we deserve.

        • marknesop says:

          Whoops!!! And I even looked up “Basque Separatists” to make sure I was correct when I thought Spain, and correctly typed in “Zapatero” – but then Louki the Demon of Misplaced Partisanship seized control of my brain and made me go back and type “Berlusconi” over “Zapatero”. I don’t know what I was thinking. but probably something like, “Berlusconi’s the leader of Spain, isn’t he? Sure he is.”

          Is there a separatist movement or significant anti-government movement in Italy? I don’t think I’ve heard of one, but I don’t really follow Italian politics closely. Closely enough to know Berlusconi is the leader, though. My bad. Yes, I meant Zapatero, but the point is that no nation which harbours a significant protest movement – obviously, it need not be a majority any more, or even anything close – and is on the outs with the west is safe from an intervention by NATO to displace the government in favour of the protest movement. Assuming it’s a small enough country that NATO has the stones to get it done, of course – I don’t think China’s in any danger, for example. It’s not even necessary for the rebel group to be prepared to form a government and run the country – the amorphous group known as “The rebels” will simply be recognized as the legitimate government by some western government eager to show how tough it is. France, in this case. Then it will be followed by the “Me toos”: Canada, in this case.

          That’s why I say they have to keep going now. Having to climb down and do business with Gaddafi again after having recognized his opponents as the legitimate government would be just too embarrassing – it’d be far easier to simply wreck the country and impose a government it plainly doesn’t want upon it.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            The Northern League party has called for the separation of northern Italy in the past, but now they’re in the government with Berlusconi. Add to this that the Northern League has been the less enthusiastic party about the Libyan war.
            So, not a likely candidate for the role. Perhaps NATO could really resort to Basque separatists to justify an intervention in Italy, or even in Syria or Congo. The western public opinion seems able to swallow any lie, no matter how big.
            The embarrassment in case of a victory for Gaddafi is another reason I hope he will win. I’m sure Italian politicians will give me some good laughs trying to explain the failure.

            • Misha says:

              If I’m not mistaken, the Northern League has taken a foreign policy position that’s pretty much in line with paleocon views outside of Itlay.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                The Northern League opposed the war against Yugoslavia in 1999, Bossi had a meeting with Milosevic at the time. On the other hand, they were in favour of the 2003 Iraqi war. As a rule of thumb, the centre-left is in favour of US wars when the US President is a democrat, and when the US President is a republican they’re against. The centre-right does the opposite, i.e. opposes US wars when there is a democratic US President, is in favour when there is a republican one.

                • Misha says:

                  Interesting stance on the aforementioned 2003 war in Iraq.

                  Your partisan point is periodically evident in the US as well. During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, there were some Republican leaning folks against that action primarily because it was on Clinton’s clock – as opposed to an opposition based on pragmatism, without negating a reasoned idealism.

                • Misha says:


                  Of possible interest, is this Wiki piece and the sources it references on the Northern League vis-a-vis 9/11 and the 2003 attack on Iraq:



                  “In foreign policy, the League often criticizes the European Union (it was the only party with the Communist Refoundation Party in the Italian Parliament to vote against the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, but voted in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon, and opposes what it calls the idea of an European Super-State’, favoring instead a Europe of Regions, as the Christian Social Union of Bavaria and the European Free Alliance do. The party has never had a particularly pro-United States stance, although it admires the American federal political system. Its MPs opposed both the Gulf War in 1991 and the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999 in the name of pacifism, and Umberto Bossi personally met Slobodan Milosević during that war. However, after the September 11 attacks and the emergence of Islamic terrorism, the League became a supporter of the American efforts in the War on Terror, while expressing several reservations about American policy on Iraq.”


                  At the link, there’re specfic reference sources given to what’s said in the above excerpt.

  9. Chris Doss says:

    The Egyptian bit contains the symbol for the sun, which is preceded by the god symbol, so I assume that is Re. The leaf of hay is an “i” sound and I believe the mouth is “p”; the stylzed man with his arm out his the symbol for “man or thing associated with man.” That’s the limit of my Egyptian.

    The translation from Sophocles is slightly wrong. Deiknunai is in the present tense and there is no “poteros” (which one). Dikaios is usually translated as “just.” It says “time shows the just man.”

    • Chris Doss says:

      Wait that’s not right. The god-symbol and sun symbol are separate determinants as far as I remember.

    • kovane says:

      Very impressive, the phrase means “Ra is my father”, or so I’ve read. Unfortunately (or maybe luckily), the limit of my Egyptian is zero. Linguist, I presume?

      • Chris Doss says:

        Thank you. No I’m a philosopher (by training if not by employment). I just like studying ancient languages.

      • kovane says:

        Ha-ha, there is a joke in Russia regarding philosophers’ employment:

        – What do you say when you meet a philosophy major?
        – One Big Mac and fries, please. 🙂

        No offence, I respect philosophy much.

    • Yalensis says:

      No, the verb is “deiknusin”, which is the 3rd person future tense (“will show”).
      Granted, my translation was a bit loose. Literally: Only (“monos”) Time (“chronos”) the just man (“dikaion andra” – [accusative case]) will show.
      The blind seer Tiresias is lecturing Oedipus, who is too arrogant to listen to his warnings.. Tiresias is basically saying, “You’ll see, and then you’ll be sorry…”

      Re. your Latin text: very nice. But
      “et qui vivant apud suam matrem…”
      Should read:
      “et qui vivant apud suam matrem … cum sua fele…”
      [“with his cat”]

      @kovane: Yes, apparently it is a contest! You win. How you got hieoroglyphs in that window is beyond me. It took every ounce of my strength just to force Greek characters into this primitive text editor.
      At least I provided a translation. I have no idea what you typed.

      @sinotibetan: Can you please translate for me what anatoly typed? I cannot read Chinese characters either! Duh!

      • Chris Doss says:

        I don’t have my grammar with me, but I’m reasonably sure the future tense of deiknunai is based on deix… (same as the aorist), so it should be deixei for future third person singular. At least in Attic dialect. I think. And Averko doesn’t have a cat.

        • Chris Doss says:

          Declines like hiemi, doesn’t it? Present tense is deiknumi, deiknus, deiknusi, deuknumen, deiknuete, deiknuasi. ?

        • Misha says:

          So says the frusrated loser in Doss.

          • Chris Doss says:

            If you could say that in any language, even coherent English, that would be more impressive.

            • Misha says:

              “If you could say that in any language, even coherent English, that would be more impressive.”


              On such an issue, you’re quite a nitpicker for someone holding two jobs as a McDonald’s burger flipper and RAS janitor.

        • Yalensis says:

          Hmmm…. you may be right, is not future tense. Must be present tense (maybe optative? Jeez, cut me a break, I only had one semester of classical Greek, and I barely remember what I learned)…
          So, anyhow, Tiresias is actually saying to Oedipus: “Only time shows which one [of us] is right.” I insist that the super-wise Tiresias is actually saying: “You just wait and see, you hubristic moron!”
          In my trusty Concordance, I found some examples from Greek New Testament, for example, Matthew 4:8:
          παλιν παραλαμβανει αυτον ο διαβολος εις ορος υψηλον λιαν και δεικνυσιν αυτω πασας τας βασιλειας του κοσμου και την δοξαν αυτων

          Palin paralambanei auton o diabolos eis oros upselon lian kai deiknusin auto pasas tas basileias tou kosmou kai ten doxan auton…

          Once again, the devil takes him up to a very high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms…etc.
          Note for Biblical numerologists/conspiratologists: It cannot be a coincidence that Sarah Palin’s name first occurs in this context!

          • Chrisius Imperator Maximus Potensque says:

            It’s probably the present used with a future meaning, as is done a lot in many languages (“what are you doing tomorrow? I’m going to the store”)

      • AK says:

        I tried to write “Russia’s friends appointed by the court” (looking up the characters for “appoint” and “court”), but chances are it’s very grammatically wrong. 😉

        • Chris Doss says:

          I said, with some mistakes I can see now, “educated people who neither read nor write nor speak the Russian language and have never been in that country and who live with their mother and have no job, but have greater knowledge than others who have been propped by friends in high places, are often insulted by them out of envy.”

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          According to Google Translate it means “Russia’s court-appointed friends”.

          • Misha says:

            Pile it on.

            Very “brave” and lame.

            • AK says:

              谢谢, 我很高兴这做。 迈克尔写为纽约时报(在互联网)。他喜欢打球出了公元, 不像别人有影响力。

              – Thanks, I’m very happy to do so. Michael writes for New York Times (pre-Internet). He likes to hit the ball out of the park, unlike influential others.

              • Misha says:

                Far better than yourself on a number of substantive issues.

              • Chris Doss says:

                Wow. It takes that many characters? 在互联网 is pre-Internet?

                • AK says:

                  “Pre” can probably be expressed in one character, though as I said below I’m not sure if it’s 在 in this case.

                  It may be possible to use less words for the Internet, for instance surfing the Web can be translated as 上网 (shang4 wang3). The character for Web, in the sense of a “network”, is 网 (e.g. have you heard of the term guan1x4iwang3? It is basically Chinese equivalent of блат, or old boys network in the West. It is written as 关系网). So I suppose its possible to write pre-Internet with two characters: 在网 (or perhaps 作网, I don’t know).

                  But the dictionary gives it as 互联网 so I used that to be on the safe side.

                  I hope sinotibetan wades in here to help me out. 😉

            • AK says:

              Or should it be 作互联网? Or 上互联网? Come to think of it I don’t know how to say before a certain date. And park should be 公园, that was a typo.

              • Yalensis says:

                Oi veh! I wish Chinese government would read your previous blog about how their overly-complex barbaric script is holding them back from modernization! Given the national will to do so, they could fix this whole situation within one generation.

                • AK says:

                  It wouldn’t make any difference if I was to write in pinyin (strictly speaking, that’s actually what I do and a program on my computer converts it into hanzi). Not the script’s fault, but the fact that my Chinese grammar is at a rudimentary level! 😉

                • marknesop says:

                  A good resource for that if you were genuinely interested might be Alterismus, at Shanghai Blueprints. She experiences frequent slack periods when she either doesn’t feel like posting, or has technical difficulties such as those that plague internet users in China. But she is impressively fluent in Chinese, Russian and English.

                • AK says:

                  That looks like an interesting blog, thanks Mark.

                  PS. Just in case, I emailed out your next set of questions yesterday.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I have to do a final proofread, but I have them pretty much done; I should be able to get them to you tonight or tomorrow. Tough ones – good thing you already answered some of them in your own posts.

                • AK says:

                  Thanks, Mark.

                  There’s absolutely no hurry. Do it at your own pace, given my own laziness I’m hardly in a position to demand otherwise anyway. 😉

  10. Chris Doss says:

    Well not quite that bad. 🙂 I’m a glorified copy-editor for RAN. Am trying to get permission to finish my long-abandoned PhD but don’t know if it’ll work.

    • Yalensis says:

      @chris: What’s your thesis topic?

      • Chris Doss says:

        Hopefully, Hannah Arendt’s dissertation and Heidegger’s Marburg lectures.

        • Yalensis says:

          Wow, sounds impressive! How many pages is your thesis supposed to be? If it’s under 100 pages, then it’s manageable.

          • Chrisius Imperator Maximus Potensque says:

            That’s a good question. I left the thing unfinished 10 years ago and am still not totally sure if I have final permission to return to it. The semester doesn’t start until September, so… If not I’ll just right the thing anyway and try to get it published so I can be on Charlie Rose like Mike.

            • Yalensis says:

              Oh, that’s you? Love your new nik!
              Anyhow, having been through this myself, here is my advice:
              1.) Don’t bother writing a fully formatted thesis unless your mentor gives you permission to return to program. (If topic interests you, you could always just write a monograph, or even a blog).
              2.) If and when you do get permission (as I’m sure you will), then sketch out the final product using a computer template, exactly how many pages, where footnotes go, etc. Use placeholder paragraphs and get the whole thing fully formatted so that all you have to do is replace placeholders with actual content from your research. Then the thing basically just writes itself.
              3.) Commit yourself to crafting at least 2 complete pages per week. Then, if my math is correct, and even allowing for a couple of weeks off for vacation, you will be finished in about a year !

  11. Misha says:

    >>>>Latest on the idea of Putin and Medvedev running against each other:


    Among other things, the PMR border authorities seem to have improved from their reputation:


  12. Yalensis says:

    To all:
    It has come to my attention that the word “troll” is being vastly over-used on this blog. According to current internet standards, any person who either accuses another of being a troll, or is being accused him/herself, must immediately break out into song with a competent rendering of the internationally-recognized “Troll Anthem”. For your convenience I have provided a version of the anthem which includes subtitles so that you can sing along with Comrade Tro-lo-lo:

    • Misha says:

      Not “vastly over-used” when appropriately applied.

      At least you now have a better understanding of the overall Lithuanian mood vis-a-vis Russia and Poland.

    • Misha says:

      That song would’ve been great on the Lawrence Welk Show.

      • Yalensis says:

        The singer, Eduard Anatolevich Gill, is a talented Russian baritone with impressive vocal range. This particular song was supposed to be about a travelling cowboy returning home to his beloved:

        I’m riding the prairie on my stallion, a mustang as such, and my sweetheart Mary now knits a stocking for me, a thousand miles away from here.
        Я скачу по прерии на своем жеребце, мустанге таком-то, а моя любимая Мэри за тысячу миль отсюда вяжет для меня чулок

        The wikipedia biography gives 2 different versions of the puzzle why the resulting song has no lyrics and only nonsense syllables.
        In 2009 Gill was finally given the recognition he deserved for his enormous vocal talent: Russian government awarded him Order of Merit for the Fatherland, and was he was invited to perform in Victory Day celebration in Petersburg in 2010. So, happy endings all around…
        I love this song, it makes me hum and smile and feel happy for several hours after hearing it…

        • Misha says:

          Appreciate the follow-up Yalensis. I’m familiar with the gentleman. He has a definite baritone quality. This is one of several songs I’d like to hear him sing:

  13. peter says:

    Not “vastly over-used” when appropriately applied.

    Oh no, that’s not right. The correct Averkenglish is “applicably applied”.

    • Misha says:

      Red-Brown troll alliance eh?

    • kovane says:

      peter, by the way

      what political force in Russia do you support/associate yourself with? I took the liberty of ruling United Russia out 🙂 Or, if you like, who would you ideally prefer to see as the next president of Russia? Any eligible person, of course.

      • AK says:

        And I’d like to ask the same question of you and yalensis! 🙂

        I have peter pegged as supporting Яблоко, or a cynic who used to vote против всех and thus votes no longer.

        • Yalensis says:

          @anatoly: Well, if I only get to pick from among who is actually running (instead of building my own fantasy super-hero league), then I guess it would have to be Ziuganov. I know, ugh! But what can you do? I do like Putin very much as a person, but his politics are too capitalistic for me.

      • peter says:

        Abstractly speaking I’m slightly-left-of-center, but as things stand now it’s “чума на оба ваши дома”.

      • kovane says:


        it’s hard to give a short answer here. I’m obviously a statist and strongly for a clear long-term economic policy, with direct participation of the state in key sectors. At the same time, I oppose the idea of the welfare state beside a well-thought-out and basic safety net. In many other respects, I could be labeled conservative.

        Choosing from Russia’s present political arena, I guess the party that is closest to my stated views is “Rodina: Common Sense”, but then again, when I look at their ranks I only wish to hug someone and cry – it’s a ragtag team of professional dreamers. The second best choice I’d name is the Commies, but don’t get me started on them. In general, in our times what some party preaches has very little to do with what the same party actually does when in power.

        As for who would be my presidential candidate – I don’t like Medvedev; he’s clumsy and tends to surround himself with more than a dubious retinue. But I have the feeling that most likely it is he who will be running. Putin is a much stronger politician, but his return would be a severe blow to the credibility of Russian power, and that’s not something it has in bulk. I hope he understands that and some third candidate will enter the lists. On the whole, I’m very skeptical that any president will bring significant changes, as what we see now is a weak consensus of elites, and currently there’s no political force strong enough to bend the will of the others. Sometimes I share peter’s sentiment “pox on both your houses” but then I recall that my house is nearby, so I have to live with all that circus somehow.

        • AK says:

          What do you think of Sergey Naryshkin? He seems competent, IIRC speaks fluent Japanese, and is currently head of the Presidential staff (which is generally good for future career prospects).

          • kovane says:

            As a replacement for Medvedev? Sure, although his KGB background will cause a copious poison secretion in the Western press. 🙂 But as I said, no one will be a miracle man, and Putin will hang around in the background at least for a while.

  14. Yalensis says:

    On Libya war, here is very good analysis by Tatiana Khruleva. This is from a couple of weeks ago, but explains a lot of the backstory, going back to Roman times.
    Quick summary of backstory: Libya has historically been divided into 2 major districts, called “Kirenaika” and “Tripolitania” (roughly corresponding to East vs West). Kirenaika was originally colonized by ancient Greeks, whereas Tripolitania was the homeland of the ancient Phoenicians/Carthaginians. Eventually both regions were incorporated into Roman Empire. Howevere, Kirenaika was made part of Rome’s Eastern provinces [i.e., ruled by a governor?], whereas Tripolitania was ruled by Rome directly.
    Centuries later, after Arab conquest, Tripolitania became part of Magrib, while Kirenaika oriented towards Egypt. It was only in the 16th century that the two parts were merged and joined the Ottoman Empire as a single administrative entity.
    As a result of the 1911-1912 war, Turkey was forced to cede Libya to Italy. Before 1934 Italians formally treated Kirenaika and Tripolitania as separate colonies, however they both had the same Italian guy as governor-general over them. [Doesn’t give his name.] Italian colonization not all bad, according to Khruleva – they invested in Libyan agriculture and small manufacturing.
    In 1943 Libya was liberated/occupied [depending on your point of view] by Allied forces. Towards the end of WWII Libya was considered one of the poorest countries in the world. The war itself caused $2 billion dollars in damage. Unlike Italian colonizers previously, victorious allies (Britain, France, America) did nothing to develop Libyan economy.
    Allies divided Libya into 3 sections: Kirenaika and Tripolitania both came under British rule. A third region, called Fetsan [?] went to France.
    Khruleva goes on to recount post-war history of Libya, leading up to discovery of oil and Qaddafi revolution, when he threw out all the Western companies and developed Libya into wealthy oil-producing nation.
    In summary, it is clear from this historical background that Libyan rebels, holed up in what used to be Kirenaika, do probably have some local support there (based on historical division of country), although their pretensions to be legitimate ruler of entire Libya are laughable.
    Some western analysts are already talking up possible partition of Libya. In other words, leave Qaddafi western part, since he refuses to go away, but re-colonize eastern part (=Kirenaika) under French/Italian influence, with rebel Ben-Ghazi government in power there.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Tripolitania was part of the Africa province, along with the territories of Tunisia and eastern Algeria, while Cirenaica formed a province with today’s Crete (Cyrene et Creta). After Augustus reform, Roman provinces were assigned to either senatorial of imperial management, and they had governors of different ranking according to their importance. The two above mentioned provinces were senatorial.
      Between 1933 and 1940 the Italian governor for Libya was Italo Balbo. A common translitteration for Fetsan is Fezzan.
      Re. Italian colonialism, unlike other colonial powers we saw the new territories as places for the growing population. Emigration from Italy was strong at the time. Hence the investment in developing the colonies was meant for Italian settlers, rather than for the indigenous population.

    • marknesop says:

      “Some western analysts are already talking up possible partition of Libya. In other words, leave Qaddafi western part, since he refuses to go away, but re-colonize eastern part (=Kirenaika) under French/Italian influence, with rebel Ben-Ghazi government in power there.”

      We could look at that in one of two ways; one, it’s the first concrete indication that the west is realizing it cannot remove Gaddafi with an air campaign, and the public international appetite for a ground war in Africa is zero. This would be a face-saving compromise. Two, the west sees this as a viable endgame – put the rebel government in power in the East, withdraw NATO forces, then flood it with money in the hope the rebels (already recognized as the legitimate government, but difficult to see at this point what that would mean in a partitioned Libya) will eventually prevail on their own provided they are given unending support. That would have the advantage of putting a “Libyan face” on the regime change. Both are, to my mind, an acknowledgement that NATO cannot win without a ground war.

      Just off the top of my head and without doing any research whatever (so I’m prepared to be wrong), I believe the bulk of the known oil reserves are in the west. It seems to me some exploration was done in the East and little to no oil was discovered, although they did find an enormous aquifer (which is the origin of Gaddafi’s “Man-Made River)”.

  15. Yalensis says:

    I typed the search string “known oil reserves Libya” into Google and got this. I am not so good at reading maps, but it does look like most of the oil refineries, pipelines, and infrastructure are in the East. (Maybe West has more potential, though, I don’t know…)
    I do know off the top of my head that the rebels control two major cities, both oil terminals/ports: Misurata and Benghazi. Benghazi is the rebel capital, and several foreign countries have sent ambassadors there, already treating it like separate country. They even have their own flag, which is same as Libyan flag, but with some heraldry from the previous monarchy (which was overthrown by Qaddafi).
    Western governments have gambed on rebels being able to finance their alternative government by taking over several oil ports and exporting oil on tankers. However, it is my impression that they have not been very successful and were able to ship only one tanker since the conflict began.
    Further West, the town of Zawiya, which looks to be major oil storage facility, has been hotly contested in the last couple of weeks, with ragtag band of 100 rebels attempting to take town (while posting you-tube videos of their exploits) and being driven back time and time again, their numbers fewer every time after a good peppering with Grad rockets.
    Is difficult to find unbiased coverage in the press, but I do the best I can. Most Western press is hopeless. Ditto Russian press. All toe same party line. Only REUTERS seems to be fairly unbiased, sometimes there you can find factual coverage about day-to-day fighting, without pro-rebel slant. All other press, including Russian and even Chinese, is mostly “rah rah rebels, their victory is inevitable…” etc., except when they are obsessing about NATO mishaps and friendly fire. Seems like western will to victory is not so great any more since they are becoming skittish about friendly fire incidents and civilian casualties.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I’m sure you’re right, because I didn’t check before replying and most people don’t know much about Libya; it has been rarely in the news since Rompin’ Ronnie and his Navy Tomcats and the “Line of Death” were daily topics. But that would certainly make sense – get control of Libya’s resources, and Gaddafi can slowly starve in what’s left as all his people move to where the jobs are. They’ll still want him gone, though; either killed or in a sufficiently public ceremony that will support a western victory dance.

      The attacks on Zawiya are interesting, especially in view of the YouTube videos. Does the NATO self-declared mandate to protect civilians not extend to those under attack by the rebels? Why is it Gaddafi’s forces – visibly acting to defend the town and its people, who have to send them down the road limping? Why isn’t NATO descending in a blaze of glory to obliterate them?

      Regime change is not the issue, my ass.

  16. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    I didn’t remember those reservation from the Northern League (NL) at the time, hence I wrote that they supported the war. I’m sure Berlusconi’s party and media supported the war, so they may have not reported in detail about the NL reservation. Or they may have supported the war in 2003, swallowing the WMD lie, and changed their mind later. The references in Wikipedia are from the 2004-05 time frame, and most importantly they report statements from Calderoli and Speroni, not from Bossi, whose word is law in the NL. IIRC, between 2004 and 2005 Bossi was severely ill so he couldn’t intervene in the debate.

    • Misha says:


      Their foreign policy stances appear to differ a bit from those in the US defined along realist, paleocon/libertarian lines.

      The latter saw a reasoned basis for the 1991 war against Iraq, while being more suspect of military intervention in some other instances like Yugoslavia in 1999 and Iraq in 2003.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Do you mean people like Ron Paul with paleocon/libertarian? Or old guard conservatives like Kissinger?

  17. At times the two overlap.

    Kissinger fits a foreign policy realist category with Republican Party ties.

    Realists can be found across the left-right political divide.

    Periodic differences exist among those considered as realists.

  18. Yalensis says:

    On Libya:
    This article quotes a U.S. general, General Carter Ham, as saying ground troops may be necessary in Libya:

    “We, the international community, could be in post-conflict Libya tomorrow and there isn’t a plan, there is not a good plan,” the senior US commander in Africa, General Carter Ham, told the Wall Street Journal.
    He predicted that Kadhafi could fall quickly, and said there may be a need for substantial ground forces in the country to preserve order.

    I have no way of knowing if this General Ham is just some big-mouth, or if the Obama administration is seriously thinking about putting American ground troops into Libya. (Maybe the 30,000 “surge” troops are to be pulled out of Afghanistan and diverted to Libya?)
    If there American ground troops go into Libya, then all bets are off.
    If no ground troops:
    Then I believe the conflict will be decided in the town of Misurata. This town is currently held by rebel troops, but are constantly besieged by Qaddafi/loyalist forces. As a result of the siege, Misurata has run out of money, and the banks were closed yesterday.
    If the loyalists can eventually take Misurata back, then NATO will be forced to stand down and negotiate with Qaddafi. Already, a few days ago, Italy has broken ranks with the alliance, saying they want to end the air strikes, and also saying they do NOT want to see Libya partitioned into two parts. After which, Sarkozy jumped all over the Italians and criticized them harshly saying NATO must not lose this war, otherwise they will become a laughingstock.

    • marknesop says:

      No, Sarkozy will become a laughingstock, since it was he who pushed energetically for the no-fly zone and prematurely recognized the rebels as the legitimate government when they don’t even have so much as a governing council; theirs is still a paramilitary mission. Sarkozy knows this, and hopes NATO will agree to be dragged into a mess that was conclusively of his own making. Hopefully the only organization that will be wrecked along with Sarkozy will be the Arab League.

      NATO doesn’t have to worry about “losing this war” unless they choose to let it be labeled that way. NATO went into Libya to “protect civilians”, and they can back out any time by accepting one of Gaddafi’s numerous offers to negotiate peace. So far NATO has brushed all of them aside, because the sandbox strategists who are advising the various governments still feel they can win without a ground war, and that Gaddafi will eventually crumble under the pressure. And eventually, he will – but there’s no way NATO can justify maintaining a no-fly zone over Libya with their aircraft aggressively carrying out attacks on Gaddafi’s forces for years. And recent events, as you suggest, are more encouraging for Gaddafi than for NATO.

      The significant part of General Ham’s statement is “post-conflict Libya”. This suggests the west’s plan to avoid looking like liars after they solemnly promised “no ground troops” (although that option still lies buried in the text of “any and all measures necessary to protect civilians”) is simply to declare the war over and NATO and the rebels the victors, and then put in ground troops – not for war, but to manage the “post-conflict phase”. This would be a difficult plan to sell if there was no discernible break in the action that NATO could point to and say, “there’s where we won”. Failing that, allied troops would be immediately plunged into a shooting war with Gaddafi’s forces. Gaddafi would lose, of course, but the mask would be off of violent regime change for good, and it would no longer be credibly possible to disguise it as impartial protection of civilians.

      I’m surprised no African or Arab nations are visibly coming to Gaddafi’s aid (except for a bit of angry rhetoric) with things such as food and small-arms ammunition. If NATO can run such supplies to the rebels under the guise of “protecting civilians”, there’s no reason the aforementioned nations cannot peacefully express their own preference. One way or another, the conflict in Libya is going to become a symbol, and Gaddafi’s defiance has lent him a dignity and nobility he would otherwise never have achieved. He can thank Sarkozy for that.

      • Yalensis says:

        There are various reports/rumors that Gaddafi may be receiving a little more material support than is advertised (maybe from countries like Syria and Turkey), although Western media loudly hypes how isolated and lonely he is. (Part of psychological pressure campaign against him.)
        Agree I would love to see Arab League go down in flames, what a vile bunch of Saudi/Qatar medievalists, along with their lapdog media Al Jazeera. Grrrr!
        Anyhow, latest fighting over weekend involves a handful of rebels and loyalists near the town of Bir al-Ghanam, in the Western mountains. (Following a 3rd-world country war is like crouching down and watching ants fight, except with very few ants – the war goes slowly and it’s hard to figure out who’s winning..)
        Anyhow, best I can figure out, the rebels have 3 pockets of real estate: their main center, in the East, centered on Benghazi, where they have set up an alt-government that is recognized by Italy, France, and the other big players.
        Aside from that, the rebels own 2 other pockets: the port town of Misrata, which is back under siege by loyalist forces; and another pocket in the Western mountains, near Tunisia. Apparently this mountain pocket is populated by Berbers, and there is something tribal going on; like maybe some of the Berber tribes have a beef against Gaddafi because in the past he forced them to settle down into condominiums and cease their wandering ways. Over the weekend rebels got a big propaganda boost when half the Libyan national soccer team defected and went rushing off into the Western mountains to grab some guns and join the rebels.
        Yesterday (Sunday), rebels and loyalists clashed in the Western mountain town of Bir al-Ghanam, which loyalists feel they must take back because it has some kind of strategic value in re-taking western mountain pocket. NATO helping rebels with bombing runs. Rebels admit to taking losses in Bir al-Ghanam but brag to Western media that they kept the town and soon plan to advance on Tripoli. Also claim that underground flash-mob in Tripoli will rise up to greet them as liberators. Wishful thinking, no doubt. But Gaddafi definitely needs to re-take Western mountains and seal up the border with Tunisia. There is talk of negotiations starting soon (rebels now willing to negotiate), and each side will want to maximize the amount of real estate it owns in order to win a better deal at the table.

        • cartman says:

          I would watch where the Gulf countries are procuring their food. They had investments in East Africa which have all gone up in drought this year. Last year’s drought in Russia triggered food riots in North Africa, so it may well spread to the Arabian peninsula if they run out of food.

  19. Yalensis says:

    On Libya:
    Here’s what I meant about “third-world-country” wars. Here is a you-tube video posted by the “freedom fighters” battling Gaddafi loyalists in the Western mountains. This is the front line in that rebel pocket. Screaming “Allah akbar” as they shoot their ill-aimed rickety weapons and stagger back from the recoil. (Western media trumpets that these same warriors will go on to take Tripoli after conquering Bir al-Ghanam.) I count about 15 guys, 2 pick-ups trucks, and a few automatic rifles. The Gaddafi forces are little better. Before NATO bombed their tank columns, they could have mopped up these guys in under an hour. Now they have been reduced to taking pot-shots at each other day after day. (Kind of like WWI where the French-German front became an extended ordeal of fighting for a week to take one trench 10 meters away…)
    Meanwhile, Russian government continues to disgust me, they are going along with everything NATO does, including dragging Gaddafi off to Hague court to suffer same fate as Milosevich. Does Putin not realize that 10 years from now it will be his turn at the docket in the Hague? Americans and NATO regard HIM as an international rogue too. You would think he would show some solidarity with his fellow “war criminal”.

  20. Yalensis says:

    Mon Dieu, cannot someone stop this madman (“fou a la tete”) Sarkozy aka “le petit napoleon” before he kills again?
    The Dutch are grumbling about “mission creep”, Italians want out of this imperialist misadventure, and even chicken-hawk lapdog Great Britain is backing off somewhat:
    British Minister for International Security Gerald Howarth said he had no criticism of France’s actions, but added: “It’s not something we shall be doing.”
    In other words: “Go at it, little man, we’ll all watch you keenly from the sidelines…”
    But Sarkozy stands firm, insisting that UN mandate to “protect civilians” includes providing them with air-lifted rocket launchers:
    Citing unnamed sources, Le Figaro newspaper said France had parachuted rocket launchers, assault rifles, machineguns and anti-tank missiles into the Western Mountains in early June. That’s a lot of firepower that will eventually make its way into international weapons black market and various Al Qaeda cells.
    Meanwhile, the war on the ground is at a complete stalemate. The only anti-Gaddafi rebels who had anything to show for themselves in the past month were the above-mentioned Berbers in the Western mountains, which is why I guess they win the rocket launchers. In the past couple of weeks they exceeded expectations and were able to seize a few meters of bush and shrub in the remote mountains, while Western media eagerly followed their every move and trumpeted that masses of oppressed Tripolitanians will soon uprise to greet their Berber liberators. While promoting this wishful thinking as “news”, western media spends a lot of time fantasizing about what post-Gaddafi Libya will look like: all full of democracy and flowing with oil, under benign supervision of NATO powers.
    One Russian source quoted some unnamed Russian official (in English language) as saying the West was “cooking their hare before catching it.” I’m not familiar with that particular proverb, and I don’t know how it sounds in Russian, but I think there is a similar proverb in English, something about counting how much your grown chickens will fetch at the market before they have actually hatched from their eggs.

    • marknesop says:

      Left to their own devices, and without the west to hold their coat for them while they mixed it up with Gaddafi, the rebels would have been squashed flat about 2 weeks after the “rebellion” started. It’s a measure of how profoundly NATO has lost its mind that the voice of reason is – of all people – the African Union. Everybody else seems to have suffered amnesia on the issue of what happens when you ship a load of weapons to radical ideological fundamentalists you don’t really know anything about. The African Union evidently remembers the debacle with the USA funneling Stinger missiles to the Mujaheddin, only to have to fear those same Stingers themselves years later.

      That “surrender monkeys” thing must have bent Sarko the American out of shape further than anyone realized. He’s determined to highlight France’s courage at the expense of everything else. Libyans, and everyone, should mentally back up the conflict to the end of week two. At that point, if it had been left alone as the civil conflict it was, it would have been over. Take a look at what the price of gasoline has done since then, and at how many innocent people have died who would be alive now. Consider how strong Gaddafi’s support remains after a couple of months of steady, grinding misery, and tell me that a rebel government comprised of radicals and fundamentalists is not going to have to use force to consolidate the mandate the west will have handed it if it is eventually successful. The west will either have to stick around indefinitely to help with policing, or man the borders to turn back the refugees.

      Disheartening, really, to see NATO’s determination to make this work despite all the indications that it was the wrong thing to do. There surely must be something else at the bottom of it, as there always is, other than fraternal concern for our oppressed Libyan brothers.

      On the bright side – for Russia – it’s keeping oil prices at record highs. Unfortunately, that’s also the silver lining for western oil giants. It’d be interesting to take a look at futures and see who’s going long; I’d love to be a fly on the wall in their boardroom, and know what they know. Also, I’ll be curious to see if Sarkozy’s typically brash and impatient action will be the galvanizer that sees someone step in to help Gaddafi.

  21. Evgeny says:


    There’s a curious article in Vzglyad, which quotes some interesting stories regarding PARNAS:

    Now, some important links quoted in that article:
    1) This is an interview of a head of a regional branch of PARNAS in St. Petersburg, who decided to break away from that party:

    2) This is an interview of one of PARNAS executives, who is critical of the party:

    The first link answers some questions in regards of actual number of faked members of PARNAS, and the second link covers the topic of American money in that organization being partially spent on preparations for a color revolution.

    Also, note a recent curious article by Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr. which ends with the following passage:

    “Having learned from the “color revolutions” in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, where the theft of votes from opposition candidates led to mass protests and the peaceful toppling of authoritarian regimes, Mr. Putin ensured that his opponents are denied even token access to elections. By doing this, he may well have avoided the scenario of Ukraine. But he also very likely paved the way for another Tunisia.”


    That makes some interesting connections with our last conversation at AGT’s blog. Previously, there were no direct proofs that anybody of the Russian opposition was actually involved in schemes leading to a “color revolution”. Now, we get some info.


    • marknesop says:

      Indeed, it is interesting. I’d like to see somebody thoroughly deconstruct the notion that Putin prevents new political parties from getting access to the vote just because he believes they might be a threat to his power. The liberatsi have never come close to threatening his power, consistently score poorly in elections at the Duma and presidential level, and it is clear it would take some doing for someone like Nemtsov to succeed to the presidency because the Russian voters are not interested in buying what he is selling. The only serious threat to United Russia is the Communists, and Russia run by the Communists would be a disaster – why doesn’t Putin use his alleged incredible talent for manipulation to take out the Communists?

      The brushing aside of PARNAS was embarrassing; AGT was quite correct that the laws do not say what the government says they say. Why was this done so clumsily? PARNAS was not a serious threat at all, and this merely makes it look like they were. Nemtsov has stood for election before, and been thoroughly embarrassed – why won’t he get the hint? But more importantly, why use a sledgehammer to crush a fly? And why let everybody see you doing it. Either there was much more to PARNAS than meets the eye, or the government was incredibly lazy at putting stumbling-blocks in the way of a group that was never going to amount to anything anyway – why not let them have their day on the hustings, and be embarrassed?

      Colour Revolutions work well with an uneducated populace who do have some legitimate grievances; it’s then fairly easy to make the movement seem much bigger than it actually is and make it seem like the time is now. That’s part of the reason the west pushes so hard for broad internet penetration and an unrestricted internet: because social networks like Twitter and Facebook are excellent mediums for spreading revolution. Egypt was a pushover because the people did have a legitimate grievance – they had tried something like 6 times to assassinate Mubarak themselves, and it was only western support that kept him in power. There was a fascinating article on the Power Vertical recently, regarding the development of “Internet in a Suitcase” (this is just a blog, the original article at RFE/RL is inaccessible at the moment for some reason) which will let revolutionaries set up a limited broadband network, and get around the problem of the government shutting down the media to prevent them from getting their message out. It seems the west will not be happy until the entire rest of the world is in flames and under takeover attempts by elements of the people who will have no idea what to do with power once the western-backed revolutions have delivered it hot and bloody into their grasp. And, as we all know, nations in chaos are easy pickings for anyone who comes under the guise of trying to help.

      • Mark, I’m just as clueless as you.

        May be, as someone has noted in AGT’s blog, the 46 faked members were only taken from a relatively small sample of reported party members, meaning that the actual number of faked members is much greater. That theory is supported with the Pivovarov’s interview, where he comments that the PARNAS party was created in a rush (just three months) and alleges that other regional branches may have “painted” a lot of fake members.
        May be, “there was much more to PARNAS than meets the eye”. Now we know from a public source (Petrovich’es interview) that the PARNAS didn’t shy away from the money from the U.S. Now, it’s one situation if leaders of PARNAS got their recognition in the Western countries merely due to their charms, and it’s the other situation if some political forces in the West (American Republicans??? Neocons???) have invested in that party and await the return of those investments. If the FSB isn’t completely disfunctional, they must have been well aware of that situation.

        May be, indeed, the PARNAS wasn’t allowed, in order to ease the situation of the “Right Cause” — so that, at least, it doesn’t have to battle the “United Russia” and “PARNAS” simultaneously. Like the PARNAS might have been an embarrassment for some people in Russia, the “Right Cause” is an embarrassment for some people in the West. Indeed, how can you imagine a pro-democracy party in Russia which doesn’t receive orders from the Washington? It’s a direct threat to American interests in that country. So, it must be a vile plot of the KGB Communists lead by Putin. ………. Just kidding. I don’t really understand the line of reasoning of neocons….

        Indeed, a part of the Russian elites needs a right-wing party. As someone has commented, liberals are widely represented in the economy-related departments of the Govenment, but they do not have a political representation. May be there were people of the elites who were interested to raise chances of the “Right cause”. Clearly, Prokhorov is one of them. While the “Right Cause” is an opponent of the “United Russia”, it’s not anti-establishment — unlike the PARNAS, which imitates a grass-root movement — with powerful Western benefactors…

        • marknesop says:

          I’m willing to accept that the faked members of PARNAS were a small proportion of their overall membership that were mostly accidental. But that being the case, PARNAS could simply purge and recalculate their membership rolls; they still have plenty of time to do that. Bogus membership looked like the only charge against them that would stand up. I am of the opinion PARNAS should be allowed to participate in the election – but they should be mocked mercilessly when they lose by an embarrassing margin, as they would. I don’t think United Russia would have to “battle” PARNAS at all – it’s simply the latest incarnation of the liberal eccentrics who are eager to give the west exactly what it wants; a weak Russia that will subordinate itself to NATO’s will in exchange for the occasional pat on the head. No Russian who can read and interpret statistics would fall for such a blatantly sycophantic platform.

          To me, there’s no contest. Russians should vote for the leader who has a proven record of moving the country forward. Anything else is a risk – the choice might move the country forward, but the voter has nothing on which to base such a conclusion: it would be an act of faith. I’ve slowly come to dislike Boris Nemtsov because of his boasting tone and ceaseless self-promotion, but if he had a proven record of moving the country forward and increasing its influence, I’d say he was the smart vote. Voting for a party owing to its perceived clout with the west, on the premise that it will be able to improve the standard of living for the average Russian through massive privatization and removal of corporate regulation, implies the voter who would so so learned nothing from the massive privatization under Yeltsin that led to the rise of the oligarchy, and learned nothing from the collapse of the western economic model in 2009, which isn’t over yet.

          • evgeny says:

            “I am of the opinion PARNAS should be allowed to participate in the election”

            Well, what’s a problem, ever, if they solve their membership issues? Of course, that’s if they are capable / willing to do it. I talked to a friend recently who complained at length about the Russian Government, and was critical of the “Right Cause”. Then I suggested him to join the PARNAS, especially given their membership issues. The answer was an affirmative “No. I’m an individual, I don’t play such games.”… May be there’s something in PARNAS that prevents people from joining it? You can’t create a party overnight. A tree won’t grow faster if you start to pull its treetop…

            • marknesop says:

              No, that’s true. But as I said, the bogus-membership issue seems to be the only real contravention of the law – the rest of the reasons are simply made up. How hard would it be for volunteers to go through the membership rolls and purge them of false memberships , maybe get a signed statement from each that they were a willing and supportive member? The rest of the issue could be forced, because the party does not appear to contravene the other provisions at all.

          • evgeny says:

            Well, you see, Mark, you can’t just gather 40,000 party members in Russia within a month or so. The problem is also the enforced sense of collectivism during the Soviet time. Have you seen the 2008 musical movie “Stilyagi” (“Стиляги”) about a Soviet-era subculture? There’s a highly emotional scene of an individual standing against a group:

            Any way, individualism is highly valued in today’s Russia. A possibility of a collective action which has an official capacity (like joining a party) would be weighted and considered a lot against all imaginable negative implications. I belong to a generation that doesn’t remember the Soviet Union, but I notice now and then that I tend to prefer staying an individual to any sort of a collective action. It’s not good and not bad, it’s the way it is.

            • marknesop says:

              The way I read it, PARNAS already has all those members. They don’t need to find 40,000 new ones, they just need to reconfirm those whose names they already have on file. Volunteers could do that.

            • marknesop says:

              According to Andy at Siberian Light, you’re right and PARNAS would have to dump their entire membership and sign them all up again. Still, although a big job it is still not impossible, and could be done by volunteers working from the old list. But I like Giuseppe’s analysis – that this was their game plan from the first; mess up the registration, then howl that the government is a bunch of Nazis.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            …when they lose by an embarrassing margin, as they would.
            That is a possible reason for PARNAS, like the previous “liberasti” parties, for always screwing their registration attempts, so as to avoid competing in an election that would give embarrassing results. Think for a moment of being in their shoes, you have two possibilities:
            1) register your party and suffer a crushing defeat, and as a possible consequence lose Western money;
            2) make a botched registration, receive a refusal and start complaining about the authoritarian regime that doesn’t allow you to partecipate in elections. This makes a good show for Western media and ensure that money will flow.
            I find that 2) fits much better than 1) with the likes of PARNAS, i.e. peoples that like to spit on their potential electorate.
            Is it legal for a Russian party to receive money from abroad?

          • evgeny says:

            Well, an opposition party like PARNAS is still a party. For a lot of people, considering joining it would bring absolutely the same stressful feelings as considering joining the Communist party in the Soviet Union. You would need to prove you are different, and it would be extremely hard with the heavy-handed Soviet-style type of management, that’s characteristic for Kasparov and co.

      • evgeny says:

        LOL… I have typoed while entering my nickname in a previous post…

        Evgeny Filatov.

      • evgeny says:

        By the way, I’ve just read Mr. Prokhorov’s statement:

        “Первая волна деградации затронула промышленность, и она рухнула. И что мы сейчас имеем? Фактически являемся сырьевым придатком. Пусть мощным, но сырьевым придатком. Сейчас наступает вторая волна. И мы это все видим. Это самая опасная волна, у нас деградирует все то, что связано с воспроизводством человеческого капитала – образование, здравоохранение, культура. А в современном мире именно качество человеческого капитала предопределяет конкуренцию стран между собой. И мы должны сказать абсолютно честно, что мы проиграли в этой конкуренции.”

        Well, that’s WHY we need such a party.

        • marknesop says:

          You know, I’ve heard that “We’re just a raw-materials producer” so many times, both as a weepy confession by Russian liberals and as a sarcastic slap by Russophobes, and I just have to say – so what? Russia is the biggest energy producer in the world, and while of course it can’t last forever, why the imperative to diversify now? Does anyone squawk that “Saudi Arabia is only a producer of raw materials”? Is Saudi Arabia interested in becoming a major source for cucumbers, or something? Realistically, Russia is an enormous nation with a tiny population – in that, it shares much with Canada. Canada is mostly a producer of raw materials as well, but very few reports try to suggest it’s dragging us down and we must eventually go under.

          What is Prokhorov going to do differently – that’s what I want to know. Is he going to make Russia a major exporter of coleslaw? Sewing machines? Sable paintbrushes? Of course not!! If Prokhorov were so lucky as to win power in Russia, he’d go on running it as a major energy producer, just as anyone in his right mind would. The only question would be the degree of foreign ownership that would be allowed. If United Russia wins, expect a continued strong shareholder presence by the state. If a Liberal won, they’d probably try to box clever but would be up against the most brilliant entrepreneurial minds slaved to the most rapacious corporate interests in the world, and there is not a doubt in my mind they would step on their dicks and fall flat.

          Everybody who wants to reform Russia wants to make things easier for western business interests to do business – and that’s a worthy goal. But never forget, the aim of business is to destroy the competition in the interests of more market share for the principals. Every major company pushes aggressive expansion with the goal of one day ending up the only company that offers that resource. Anyone who takes on a partner that is big business has to be aware that his or her new partner is always going to be looking for a way to have it all. Sure, you can point to successful business ventures now that have powerful western partners who appear happy with a minority share. Don’t fool yourself. That’s only because they’re not allowed to be a majority shareholder or a whole owner. That’s not just westerners, to be fair – that’s everybody. Business has evolved to warfare clothed in smiles and obligatory politenesses. The only thing that keeps large corporations from swallowing their partners whole is strict regulations backed up by uncompromising leaderships.

          Bill Browder might not have pioneered the technique of buying up undervalued companies and then ruining them with whisper campaigns in the western press, so that the state would have to move in and clean things up – but he was first to brag about it. Again, don’t fool yourself. Bill Browder’s methods are admired in the west, and few see anything wrong with them. Russia is in an excellent position to grow exponentially over the next decades, and those who want to grow along with it must understand there are limits to how much say they will have on how Russia conducts its affairs.

          Do you trust Prokhorov to be that iron hand?

          • Evgeny says:

            “Do you trust Prokhorov to be that iron hand?”

            Mark, do you know that only one quarter of people who started their businesses in 1990s are alive now?

            For sure Prokhorov is not an iron hand. But he is a “business shark”. I’m not sure having such a person in politics would be bad for a country.

            • kovane says:

              Evgeny, have you read this article by Maxim Sokolov?

              I think that creating a viable right party in Russia is long due, and as a result the Duma will turn into a mature three-party system, where left votes go to the KPRF, right to Right Cause, and United Russia takes the centrist position. But Prokhorov so far makes an ungainly impression of conceitedness – Sokolov aptly marked him as a “bon vivant”. But let’s see if he can learn from his mistakes.

              • Evgeny says:

                Kovane, yes, I had.

                So far, it looks like Prokhorov takes it seriously.

                Have you read Pivovarov’s interview?

                “Q: Вы выходец из СПС, не значит, что вернетесь обратно, в новое «Правое дело»?

                A: Мне постоянно поступали и поступают предложения от разных организаций и политических партий, в том числе и от Правого дела. Пришло время внимательно рассмотреть эти предложения и понять, не противоречат ли они моим убеждениям. В ближайшее время мы примем решение.”

                That’s a rare opportunity. Especially given the following revelation sounded by Kashin:

                “Ветераны СПС, которые полгода назад объявили руководству партии об ультиматуме — если до середины мая в “Правом деле” ничего не изменится, то они уходят “искать другой субъект”,— тоже рады и надеются, что Михаил Прохоров станет опираться именно на них.”

            • marknesop says:

              The people themselves are not alive, or the businesses are not alive? If you are referring to businesses, have they been taken over by other businesses, or absorbed by the state? If you mean the businesses have been the victim of takeovers, this is the western model – expand or die, and the corporatist is king. It’s certainly quite possible that Prokhorov is expert at this game – although I’d suggest his wealth came fairly easily and the western press is having a tough time keeping him separate from the other oligarchs who simply stole their way to glory. But merely walking the walk where business is concerned is just part of it (or I think it is); as I mentioned earlier, running the country as if it were a corporation is the western model – to be more specific, the conservative Republican model. There might be nobody better at it than Prokhorov, although that’s hard to believe at this point, but where do all the social concerns fit in that model? I know where they fit in the conservative Republican model; people who aren’t wealthy are noisy distractions who should just shut up while money is being made. But where will they fit in a Russia that urgently needs reform of its public institutions? Some of that will involve making Russia more business-friendly, and that needs to be done. But quite a lot of it concerns social change that will empower ordinary people. That sort of lawmaking is anathema to a business-driven government, because people who consume but are not members of the business community are simply a necessary evil. You have to have them, because they buy stuff and you need to sell stuff; but otherwise they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

              Russia is already a major success economically, despite what the Russophobes would have us believe. I don’t live there, so doubtless you know a great deal about everyday living that I do not, and I daresay there is ample room for improvement. I guess a large part of my objection to Prokhorov is that he west seems to love him. Given the west’s plan for Russia, that would make me instantly wary; because it usually means they see either a kindred spirit who will adopt a western agenda willingly, or somebody with an Achilles heel waiting to be exploited.

              • Evgeny says:

                “The people themselves are not alive, or the businesses are not alive?”
                The people themselves. However, I couldn’t find a link to verify that info. I’ve only learned about that number once in a small-influence magazine. May be the official stats are different.

                Btw, I have found a curious link about 1990s:

                “I guess a large part of my objection to Prokhorov is that he west seems to love him. Given the west’s plan for Russia, that would make me instantly wary”

                In some way, it’s not likely the west could buy Prokhorov. I’m not sure the west “loves” him, either. Every other article in the mainstream media about the politics in Russia claims that the “Right Cause” is not a real opposition.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, if you’re talking businesspeople themselves, I’d be skeptical of that figure; if the point was that Putin’s government simply kills people in order to gain control of their businesses, it’s nonsense. There is no shortage of sources that suggest Putin just kills everyone who opposes him, and that, too, is nonsense. I notice the same people seem to be perfectly all right with Khodorkovsky bumping off whoever gets in his way – hey, that’s just the cost of doing business!

                  Yes, you’re right that some sources are skeptical that Right Cause is more than just a creature of the Kremlin, put in place to provide the illusion of an “opposition”. But really, how credible are western sources on what goes on in Russia? Even people who are right there, like Julia Ioffe, provide reliably anti-government coverage that makes it appear the whole country is constantly on a kniife-edge of revolt. Bullshit. But any reservations the west might have about Prokhorov (and I’ve seen very favourable coverage from outlets like The Guardian) are subordinated to its eagerness to get rid of Putin. The starting point for a new relationship with Russia, as far as the west is concerned, is “not-Putin”.

                  Prokhorov asked for some of the skepticism when he said (if he actually did, and it wasn’t a mistranslation) that his goal was for Right Cause to “come second”. Come on – everybody says they’re in it to win, even if they haven’t a hope. This feeds the notion that he’s just in politics to provide cover for United Russia. Still, it makes me laugh to see countries that are legendary for the dirtiest of politics to wail that United Russia is trying to hedge its position to win. Really? Who ever heard of a political party trying to hold on to power? The idea!!

                • Evgeny says:

                  “if the point was that Putin’s government simply kills people in order to gain control of their businesses, it’s nonsense”

                  Rather than that, the implication was that those people were killed in the criminal schemes of 1990s.

                  “But really, how credible are western sources on what goes on in Russia? Even people who are right there, like Julia Ioffe, provide reliably anti-government coverage that makes it appear the whole country is constantly on a kniife-edge of revolt.”

                  Do you mean I could just stumble on Julia Ioffe while walking along a Moscow street? It can’t be true, because my own perception is that she’s reporting from a different planet. (Sarcasm.)

                  “Prokhorov asked for some of the skepticism when he said (if he actually did, and it wasn’t a mistranslation) that his goal was for Right Cause to “come second”. Come on – everybody says they’re in it to win, even if they haven’t a hope.”

                  Yes, it is a correct translation. Yet, coming the second is quite a decent goal, given that the party is little known in its capacity to make decisions; moreover, during 2007 election there were no hopes of getting through 7% barrier at all. Leaders of SPS and Civilian Power only called their voters to come and to vote for them, no matter if the result is only 1%.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, you could be right, and in the end I won’t be voting in Russian elections, so what I think doesn’t matter. Putin won’t be around forever, and it’s wise to think about his successor now. But if Prokhorov were running in Canada, he’d have to work pretty hard to convince me he’s not just a wealthy playboy, dabbling in politics because it’s something he hasn’t done yet and he’s looking for an interesting diversion.

                  As you and Giuseppe have explained, coming second isn’t necessarily being a loser, and perhaps Prokhorov will look a lot more statesmanlike when he’s had a little seasoning.

                • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                  coming second in a two-party political system, like the US one, means being a loser. But in many-party political systems, like those of Russia or Italy, being the second party is a big victory, and you can win the government (well, part of it) with alliances (example, the Northern League has around 10%, they’re the third or fourth party, but they’re in the government).
                  I’d say that Prokhorov is very optimist if he think his party will be the second one in a 10-15 years time frame, if he thinks to achieve such result at the next election, either he is mad or he was speaking in propaganda mode.

  22. Evgeny says:

    A tiny follow-up:

    Indeed, Petrovich Maksim L’vovich (Петрович Максим Львович) is listed as a member of a political council of the regional branch of Solidarnost’ in the Moscow District:


  23. Pingback: Russia: Anglophone Russia Watchers’ Blogs · Global Voices

  24. Pingback: Russia: Anglophone Russia Watchers’ Blogs @ Current Affairs

  25. Pingback: Russia: Anglophone Russia Watchers’ Blogs | Sao-Paulo news

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