It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away.

Uncle Volodya says, "You will never gain anyone's approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows."

Uncle Volodya says, “You will never gain anyone’s approval by begging for it. When you stand confident in your own worth, respect follows.”

Out of the blue
and into the black
You pay for this,
but they give you that
And once you’re gone,
you can’t come back…

Neil Young, from “Into The Black

The final stage of a star, going into stellar death, is the supernova – the core ceases producing energy, and the surrounding layers collapse inward at the loss of  pressure. The release of energy as it explodes is a dazzling flare that can outshine a galaxy for a brief time, a few days. Then, burnout; the star becomes a neutron star, or a black hole.

What is happening to the United States of America?

In its increasingly erratic behavior, its insistence on its own “specialness” and exceptionalism, its stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality – instead remaining determined to “shape the narrative” and replace it with an alternate and fabricated reality – are we seeing the beginning of core collapse and the onset of burnout?

All empires eventually collapse upon themselves, what sustains them at their core no longer capable of projecting power outward as they succumb to overreach and a misplaced belief in their own invincibility. Is this process already underway?

More and more signs say yes, it is. Not just internationally, where respect for America has slipped steadily, but domestically, where Americans themselves gloomily offer their belief, in polling results, that the world is getting fed up with the USA throwing its weight around. A Rasmussen poll released a year ago suggests only 23 percent of Americans polled believe America is “on the right track”. The percentage of working-age Americans who are part of the U.S. workforce is at its lowest level since 1978, if you can believe it, with one in every three working-age Americans unemployed. In 2011, American debt passed 100% of GDP.

According to The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “The U.S. workforce has experienced downward pressure on wages and benefits over recent decades. Median and average wages have stagnated for thirty years, while the availability and quality of health insurance and pension benefits have substantially eroded. By contrast, the concentration of wealth at the top of U.S. society has skyrocketed, to levels unseen since the 1920s.”

Well, the reference cited earlier suggests President Obama does not know that. Because he says, “It’s fair to say that America has the best cards when you look at other countries around the world.  There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States. Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions.” I suppose that’s not exactly a big fat lie, but it is curious that he would say nobody can compete with America “when we’re making the right decisions” when he is…umm…the decision-maker for America. Because clearly the “right decisions” have not been made in America for quite a long time. An IMF working paper entitled ““An Analysis of U.S. Fiscal and Generational Imbalances: Who Will Pay and How?” forecast that U.S. government debt would rise above 400% of GDP by 2050, owing heavily to unfunded liabilities such as Social Security. Despite the fact that economic projections so far out are little more than informed guesses relying on everything staying the same as it is now, it did not remain for long in the public domain.

Ms. Polaski, author of the Carnegie document, goes on to say, “The golden age of broad-based economic expansion and opportunity for Americans was the quarter century after World War II. Large parts of the industrial capacity of Europe and Japan had been destroyed in the war. The U.S. manufacturing sector, scaled up for wartime production, was left unscathed and ready to satisfy demand in both domestic and hungry world markets, with purchases in the latter financed in part by the Marshall Plan.”

Sounds almost like another world war would be just what the doctor ordered as far as a return to American expansion of influence and a return to prosperity go, doesn’t it? Is that why the USA is pushing Europe so hard to accept further sacrifices to its own economic prosperity – to kick-start another massive land war in Europe, between NATO and Russia, fought over Ukraine?

In a word, no. Because there is no possibility of a repeat of the golden age of economic expansion for Americans, at least not based on the same model, because American manufacturing has been outsourced to a fare-thee-well, and is moribund in the land of its birth. Some fast talkers will tell you the death of American manufacturing is  liberal fearmongering, that American manufacturing has had one of its best (pick your window) months ever – but they are just tap-dancing you past the graveyard, because manufacturing’s share of the American economy had shrunk from  28.5% in its postwar heyday to only 12% by 2010. Doing great in a sector that has shrunk by more than half is not a gain.

America is making big with the bellicose war talk, strutting and pounding its chest and blabbering crazy talk about arming Ukraine as its proxy against Russia. But it is not only Russia which is the issue – a developing threat is the lifting of sanctions on Iran. It can hardly have escaped notice (I know some of my commenters have highlighted it) that Iran’s acceptance back into the western fold, while it might be a welcome boon to a Europe urgently seeking gas supplies that do not originate in Russia, is a source of increasing alarm to America’s conjoined little brother, Israel. In a moment of unintentional comedy last year, Israel’s always-entertaining leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, actually warned world leaders not to ease up on Iran in the hope of winning its cooperation in the fight against Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL or whatever the acronym-of-the-moment is) because Iran was fighting against IS “out of their own interest”!!! Said the leader of the wealthy country that benefits from an annual $3.1 Billion in foreign aid from the USA. More ominous was the open letter to the Republic of Iran from 47 Republican senators, warning Iran’s leaders that any agreement negotiated between Obama and Iran without Congressional approval would be considered merely an executive agreement that would cease its effect as soon as Obama is out of office. Mild-mannered lunatic Lindsey Graham went even further off the map, using a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to press U.S. SecDef Ashton Carter on who would win a war between the United States and Iran. Atlantic Magazine points out that the USA was sure of winning the war with Iraq, as well, and it did. Sort of. But it cost Trillions with a capital “T” and thousands of dead Americans, and resulted in what is about as similar to a prosperous western-oriented market democracy as an igloo is like a brush fire. America cannot afford any more victories like that one, yet it seems uncommonly eager to fight everyone on the planet who will not kneel to it and let it be the boss.

Which brings us to its loyal ally, Europe. American pressure turned off the sale of two MISTRAL Assault Carriers to Russia by France, and now France is on the hook for about €1.2 Billion and has a pair of white-elephant warships it will probably sink – as the cheapest option – without their ever having been delivered to the customer. Paris expects to fund the penalty from €2 Billion Poland will pay for French helicopters. France will see a return of less than €800 million in compensation for €2 Billion worth of aircraft sales and will probably have to sink two brand-new warships, all because of American pressure. And that’s on the heels of French fury in 2013, when Snowden’s disclosures revealed the NSA had “collected” more than 70 million French phone calls just in one 30-day period. Rising anti-Americanism in Germany is the more disconcerting – for American policymakers – in that it is becoming mainstream. After a half-decade of the most severe austerity budget in Britain since World War II, Britons have suffered the worst decline in real wages since Victorian times. That last is not Washington’s fault, of course; but it bodes ill for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the mammoth free-trade deal Washington is trying to get signed with Europe. British shopkeepers are not going to be thrilled with the concept of opening their markets to American goods so that Americans can get richer while British businesses go under because they can’t compete.

And they can’t; the European Commission – which is fast evolving into a de facto Government Of Europe – predicts that without comprehensive economic reforms, living standards in the Eurozone will be lower, relative to those in the USA, in 2025 than they were in the mid-1960’s.

Just ponder that for a moment. Living standards, in Europe, when your children are the workforce, lower than they were when your parents were the workforce. That’s quite an accomplishment, when you think about it. Now consider that your good friends in Washington want to erode your living standards further by using you as a pawn in the Great Game against Russia, which Washington must stop at all costs.

 Which brings us full circle back to Washington, and the coming leadership race on the staggering deathstar America has become. Right now – and I’m well aware things can change quickly in a presidential election, you only have to say the wrong thing to go from front-runner to done-like-dinner, but just as a snapshot of the moment – it’s a race between BusinessTwit Donald Trump and send-in-the-Army warhag Hillary Clinton. Just think about that for a minute – the finest America has to offer, its glittering gladiators in the arena of public service, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What has happened to you, America?

Another clue is tucked away in Ms. Polaski’s excellent research work on American living standards: “While the United States continues to be the only military superpower, the economic world has become decidedly multipolar“.

Washington would like to send in the dollar to beat the shit out of all comers, the way it has become used to doing since Bretton Woods. But it doesn’t work any more – Washington is up against the BRICS now, an economic bloc which numbers nearly half of the world’s population, a combined nominal GDP which is nearly a quarter of the world’s total and about $4 Trillion in combined foreign-currency reserves. As this bloc moves to more comprehensive de-dollarization and conducts more transactions in its national currencies, the dollar’s clout will only weaken further. Kicking countries out of SWIFT, the international electronic hub of worldwide financial transactions, was never really a solution; the USA did it to Iran, but Iran did not collapse, and European courts twice found the action illegal on behalf of separate Iranian banks.  That notwithstanding, the west could not afford to kick such a large economic bloc out of SWIFT, or even only one member, because it would lose the capability to monitor those financial transactions. And the Sino-Russian international SWIFT alternative is firming up fast. America will learn, to its great sorrow, that the “petrodollar” without the “petro” is a paper tiger.

Economic warfare is no longer a viable alternative. That leaves the USA’s giant military machine.

Elton John might not live long enough to sing “Candle in the Wind” for the United States as global whip-wielder, but you can nearly see that moment. Just keep in mind the part about blazing up to be the brightest explosion in the galaxy first.


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1,124 Responses to It’s Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away.

  1. Moscow Exile says:

    The European Commission – which is fast evolving into a de facto Government Of Europe – predicts that without comprehensive economic reforms, living standards in the Eurozone will be lower, relative to those in the USA, in 2025 than they were in the mid-1960’s.

    Just ponder that for a moment. Living standards, in Europe, when your children are the workforce, lower than they were when your parents were the workforce.

    Now just hold on there one little moment!

    I was working in 1965!

    • marknesop says:

      I was in school in 1965, but working not long afterward. In the 1970’s I earned $50.00 a week, working for the Sussex Cheese & Butter Company in New Brunswick, as a helper on a refrigerated truck. Great money, I thought at the time, because I lived with my uncle and his family and had no expenses. Now, I spend that much every time I stop at the grocery store for just a few things for lunches the next day. Living standards in the 60’s were probably okay for the time, but the shining lights of western democracy and freedom are expected to have advanced a bit since then. Federal minimum wage in Canada during the decade from 1965-1974, for example, rose from $1.25 per hour for an adult worker to $2.20 per hour. The Federal minimum wage was last seen in 1986, after which the responsibility for setting the hourly wage was delegated to provincial authorities. In British Columbia, the surprisingly-miserly bastion of liberal values, for the decade just completed (2005-2014) minimum wage had risen to $10.20, and highest in the land was the lofty Ontario, at $11.00, five times what it was in 1974.

      I was addressing that remark to typical people who have young children at home right now; you and I are unusual in having had children so late in life. I was actually a bit concerned, as I had read at around that time that there is increased risk in having children if the father is over 40, as well. I had thought up to then that all the risk lay with the woman; apparently that isn’t so, although the risk is greater for women for obvious reasons, since the father does not actually carry the child.

      • yalensis says:

        In places like U.S. and Canada, the decline in the standard of living has been masked, somewhat, by the invention of new gadgets.
        Even people living below the poverty level generally have a TV set, a cellphone, and the other usual gadgets.
        The gadgets are great – I don’t knock them – but they should be IN ADDITION TO, not in place of, things like education, medical care, infrastructure, and healthy nutrition. (in terms of a modern lifestyle).

        • Jen says:

          Add to the invention of consumer electronics gadgets the ready availability of credit to the public. Before the mid-1970s (in Australia anyway), customer credit cards were rare and most people bought expensive things on hire purchase. Having to rely on credit or even renting your TV set because you didn’t yet have the money to pay for the item outright was seen as something shameful. In those days too, banks made you jump through hoops on fire before they would lend any money or extend credit.

          In those days also there was a lot more live entertainment (more clubs and pubs featuring live music, more concerts, more theatres including theatres run by community drama groups) and more small cinemas owned by individuals or small businesses. These days so much entertainment is dominated and controlled by corporations, and the clubs that used to feature live music have disappeared, often because greedy developers have run them out of town by siting residential developments too close to them, but also because they have to compete with more sanitised entertainment at home or they have a bad reputation for attracting drug dealers.

          • yalensis says:

            Good point.
            I think those 2 factors (1) almost universal access to entertainment/communication and other gadgets and (2) easy credit, have masked the slide of these populations into poverty.

            Of the two, I think (2) is a horrible thing. (1) is not bad, the gadgets are great, and make life more bearable for the masses; but, of course, the opposite side of that coin, is the outsourcing of their manufacture and the sweatshop conditions of the people who make them.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yeah, it was the same in the UK: singing rooms in pubs, working men’s clubs etc. and buying hire-purchase or “on the never-never” was looked at askance. I have never ever bought anything on credit: that’s the way I was brung up.

            Not now though with subsequent generations: with them it’s “I see, I want – now!”

            Consumer satisfaction instantly guaranteed in the consumer society.

            You want money? We got it!

            Just for you on easy terms…

      • moscowexile says:

        In 1965 I was 16 and earning £5 a week in a brickyard. My father and grandfather and uncles were earning at the same time £20 a week in local coal mines.

        Although not allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages in 1965, I remember how much a pint of bitter cost then in local pubs: 1/5d – that’s “one and five” (one shilling and five pence in the old currency that ended in 1971) or in the post decimilization modern usage: seven and a half pence (£0.075).

        A fortnight ago I was in a Manchester (UK) pub where a pint cost £2.25. I believe a pint in London now costs more than £4.

        In that same Manchester pub that I recently visited, they were asking £1.80 for a Diet Coke (33 cls). I asked for the cheapest drink, which turned out to be a “lime soda” – soda water with a dash of lime juice, a snip at 75p (75 pence or £0.75).

        I wonder if “we’re all in it together” Call-Me-Dave drinks lime soda?

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    Off Topic!

    I know, but I have just found this:

    С добрым утром! Завтракать пора!

    Good morning! Time for breakfast!

    When I first arrived in the USSR, that’s how they used to make coffee on the street. I bought coffee prepared that way – in hot sand – on the Arbat, 1989. Since the end of the SU, I have never seen coffee made after that fashion. I have told younger Russian colleagues about coffee made using sand and they just look at me as though I were daft.

    My wife suddenly recalled this method when I showed her the clip. She said that’s how they do it in Bulgaria – or did: she used to go there when she was a child.

    Anybody else seen this method?

    • Jen says:

      You can watch this Jordanian vendor boiling coffee in sand heated in a wok:

    • marknesop says:

      I never have, but sand is an excellent medium for holding a stable temperature – my folks grew many of their own vegetables at their dacha, as you do, and they had a small cellar beneath, accessible by a trap door under the rug in the living room. All the root vegetables that were not used up as soon as they were harvested went down there, packed in layers of sand; a layer of carrots, a layer of sand, and so on. Mamuchka says carrots kept this way would last until the new crop came on the following June, if any lasted that long without being used up.

  3. Warren says:

    Bin Laden family ‘on Blackbushe Airport crash plane’

  4. ucgsblog says:

    Nice article Mark! The reason that more and more Americans are anti-intervention, is because the interventions are done rather ineptly, and they take a lot from the US, without giving much back. What did Iraq give to the US? Libya? Iraq was the reason that most Americans were anti-Syrian War. All these wars do is that they loot the treasury of the American Middle Class, (much like our healthcare corporations,) and don’t contribute their fair share to the economy. In an Age of Austerity that’s descending on the West against the Will of the People, we simply don’t want to pay for more bullshit, be it Ukraine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

    “Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions.” – that’s true. Now, when did Obama “make the right decisions?” When it came to education, and that’s it. As a result, more Americans than ever before have access to college loans. Obamacare a right decision? Ha, ha, ha, ha. Libya? Syria? Ukraine? *cue laugh track* The Bailout with a hard core Frank Dodd Act? *see laugh track* Russia and China? Ow, my sides are hurting from the laughter.

    However Mark, I’m going to take an issue with part of the article: “owing heavily to unfunded liabilities such as Social Security”. NO! Social Security is NOT a liability. That’s a myth, allegedly created by the warmongers in Washington and the healthcare lobbyists, who allegedly looted the Social Security Trust Fund, and then went, “well that system, it’s totally broke!” It’s like someone buying an excellent bike, then breaking the wheels and the chain, and going “this model totally sucks, it’s completely rotten!” Social Security owns quite a bit of US debt.

    And now for a bit of praise:

    “Mild-mannered lunatic Lindsey Graham went even further off the map, using a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to press U.S. SecDef Ashton Carter on who would win a war between the United States and Iran. Atlantic Magazine points out that the USA was sure of winning the war with Iraq, as well, and it did. Sort of. But it cost Trillions with a capital “T” and thousands of dead Americans, and resulted in what is about as similar to a prosperous western-oriented market democracy as an igloo is like a brush fire. America cannot afford any more victories like that one, yet it seems uncommonly eager to fight everyone on the planet who will not kneel to it and let it be the boss.”

    Beautiful Mark. Iraq was a pyrrhic victory, and it’s time that we acknowledge it. Actually that time was 2006, but better later than never. I agree 100%, and judging by the US vote against Syria, I’m not the only one. Speaking of Graham, you should’ve Stewart’s parody of his campaign. It was along the lines of “make sure your friends don’t write you into the Republican primary, otherwise you might poll ahead of Lindsey Graham and be invited to a Republican debate!”

    “British shopkeepers are not going to be thrilled with the concept of opening their markets to American goods so that Americans can get richer while British businesses go under because they can’t compete.”

    See Germany and Greece.

    “While the United States continues to be the only military superpower, the economic world has become decidedly multipolar. Washington would like to send in the dollar to beat the shit out of all comers, the way it has become used to doing since Bretton Woods. But it doesn’t work any more – Washington is up against the BRICS now, an economic bloc which numbers nearly half of the world’s population, a combined nominal GDP which is nearly a quarter of the world’s total and about $4 Trillion in combined foreign-currency reserves. As this bloc moves to more comprehensive de-dollarization and conducts more transactions in its national currencies, the dollar’s clout will only weaken further. Kicking countries out of SWIFT, the international electronic hub of worldwide financial transactions, was never really a solution; the USA did it to Iran, but Iran did not collapse, and European courts twice found the action illegal on behalf of separate Iranian banks. That notwithstanding, the west could not afford to kick such a large economic bloc out of SWIFT, or even only one member, because it would lose the capability to monitor those financial transactions. And the Sino-Russian international SWIFT alternative is firming up fast. America will learn, to its great sorrow, that the “petrodollar” without the “petro” is a paper tiger. Economic warfare is no longer a viable alternative. That leaves the USA’s giant military machine.”

    That really should be required reading in high schools. Jim Rickards has been saying the same thing.

    My only criticism is that you left out Sanders and Bush, who have as much chance of winning as Clinton and Trump. The other candidates are Rubio, Walker and Paul. (And Carson and Graham, if you want someone to laugh at.) My only other criticism is that you missed the Social Security Trust Fund. It’s an asset, not a liability. Other than that, superb piece! It did a nice job of balancing out the inferior piece, which I’ll now rant about:

    He’s back! The updated version of Pavel “Georgian armed forces will like totally crush the Russians” Felgenhauer, aka Leonid Bershidsky is back at it, trying to outdo Felgenhauer when it comes to idiocy. You see, what happened is that Trump decided to compromise with Russia, rather than pushing for a regime change against the will of the extreme majority, and being the “democracy lover” that he is, Bershidsky promptly attacked Trump:

    In a moronic piece titled “Putin Would Eat President Trump for Lunch”, Bershidsky pointed out that Putin ate Berezovsky and Chichvarkin. If you’re asking yourself “who?” in the latter case, you’re not alone. Bershidsky usually scales the bottom of the barrel of idiocy when writing. Why is Trump like Chichvarkin? “Trump likes to curse, and so does Chichvarkin.” A Russian who likes to curse, my oh my, where have we seen this before? Aside from every major city in Russia.

    Bershidsky concludes: “Chichvarkin and Berezovsky have something important in common apart from their resemblance to Trump. They lost their fortunes to the amorphous but deadly power of the state.” Actually Berezovsky lost his fortunes to an English Court ruling neutral, something that’s neither amorphous nor deadly, when it makes a neutral ruling, but Bershidsky is not one who follows actual facts. I should also note that Berezovsky lost his fortune to Abramovich, (who also likes to curse,)

    Speaking of Abramovich, why didn’t Bershidsky mention him? Oh yeah, because like Trump, he’s a self made Oligarch who understands how to make economic deals and gets along extremely well with Putin, without breaking any laws in the West. Oh, and I think that he also likes to curse.

    • Jen says:

      My understanding is that social security in the US comes out of company payroll tax and taxes on most employee wages and self-employed workers’ incomes, so to say that social security is unfunded is wrong. Also I can’t see how social security is a liability when according to some sources I’ve seen (The Daily Kos, Wikipedia), it was $2.7 trillion in the black in 2011 and $2.79 trillion in surplus in 2014.

      Of course, past Republican administrations, Republican politicians themselves and most US mainstream news media (or at least the media owned by Rupert Murdoch and his kind) don’t help in portraying social security as a huge black hole vacuum sucking up money that should go to more deserving causes like building white elephant F-35 fighter jets.

      I can imagine though that eliminating payroll tax appeals to those US politicians who would also like to dispense with social security payments to retirees altogether.

      • ucgsblog says:

        It’s never been a liability. It was repeatedly used by presidents from LBJ to Obama as a fund to borrow from for their pointless wars. It’s a “liability” in the sense that warmongers borrowed heavily from it, and now they’d have to pay back, unless they can eliminate it. However, with the elimination of Social Security, the payroll tax also gets eliminated. If Social Security is eliminated, a lot of Americans will favor a 25% cap on the income tax, (after a certain nontaxable amount,) increasing the effective corporate tax to 25%, cutting benefits for welfare queens,, and cutting down on healthcare costs.

        In the US, taxes go into special funds. For instance, Jerry Brown cannot spend the gas tax to subsidize healthcare for illegal immigrants, no matter how badly he wants to. The payroll tax is geared towards Social Security and nothing else. That’s why the president had to borrow from the Social Security Administration, which owns a huge portion of the US debt. I don’t think that anyone will call Forbes a commie website:

        “The largest owner of U.S. debt is Social Security. Since the Social Security system is a government entity, how can the government own its own debt? Good question. This is where the “house of cards” theory resides. Some believe the federal government is merely moving the IOUs from one shell to another, hoping to escape the watchful eye of its citizens. In any event, Social Security owns about 16% of the debt followed by other federal government entities (13%), and the Federal Reserve (12%).”

        • Tim Owen says:

          From the point of view of Modern Monetary Theory I think the whole problem of funding social security is revealed as a non-issue. In a fiat regime there is never a funding problem at the level of the sovereign issuer. If the fed can funnel money into insolvent banks by buying their crappy securities then surely it and the treasury can equally fund ad infinitum payments on bonds held in the Social Security trust fund or whatever it’s called.

          Needless to say those who seek to loot the public purse are anxious that this not be understood but the proles are starting to wonder how those bank bailouts happened.

          • Tim Owen says:

            Or what am I not getting?

            • ucgsblog says:

              You’re spot on! What you propose is just one of the many ways in which the Social Security Problem would be solved; but it would also lessen the net corporate concentration of wealth, (by printing more money,) and we’re being told that it’s a broken system to prevent that.

          • marknesop says:

            My contention is that such a regime can only do this with a fiat currency for so long as the belief persists in the dollar being worth a dollar, not only in the country of the fiat currency but everywhere it is spent. For that belief to persist it is essential that the U.S. dollar remain the world’s reserve currency because the ability to simply print your way out of every financial crisis directly depends on that. Or am I wrong?

            • ucgsblog says:

              You’re right, and the US dollar is going to be in the World’s basket of currencies, if not the sole reserve, so I doubt that the dollar will lose its superior status. The printing required to sustain Social Security is miniscule when compared with the overall printing potential that the US has. However, printing for Social Security takes away from printing for warfare, hence the b/s that we’re told.

            • Tim Owen says:

              A dollar by definition is always worth a dollar. That’s what non-convertability means.

              I know what you mean though (and I’m joking.) But the implications of the above are actually quite profound.

              FWIW I got interested in investing around 2003 because I thought a dollar crisis was coming. It wasn’t. I did quite well despite being completely wrong in my basic analysis. I was “right” for the wrong reasons, so I am entirely sympathetic to how confusing the issues at play are. And, needless to say, I could be entirely wrong about the below in a similar way… but here goes.

              One of the things one needs to explain if you are taking the position suggested by what you say above is: why does the dollar reliably strengthen rather than weaken in times of crisis? The self-serving explanation is that the U.S. is the safe haven asset par excellence. Giggle. I don’t find that funny because the dollar is safe or not safe but just because this cartoon of how markets work is hopelessly naive (though it is the go-to line in business news broadcasts.)

              I don’t really know why this “dollar-strengthens-in-face-of-crisis” phenomenon is so reliable but I would guess that it’s really about where the money came from and where it returns to. In other words, it is both a factor of scale – how much money is sloshing around – and what it takes for settlement to happen. Markets are massively leveraged and, when volatility rises, everyone tries to settle at the same time. Since much of this money is domiciled in New York or London, deleveraging or settling these trades means selling the foreign denominated asset – and so, as a by-product, pushing down prices of say, Brazilian Reals – while massively increasing demand for dollars or pounds.

              What I think this suggests with regard to your comment above is that you are quite naturally assuming that trade in “things” is the main event in the world economy. But the volume of this trade is miniscule compared to the trade in “claims” on things mediated by currency trading, stocks, bonds and their respective futures and options markets or, indeed, the volume of trade in futures and options on “things” themselves: commodities. I suspect it is the volume of money that is deployed in this way (with eye-watering leverage) and it’s direction – in or out of the “money centres” – that is crucial.

              What I think this also suggests is that past capital accumulation in itself gains a momentum of its own which can create a disconnect between what we think of as economic health in the cheap seats – jobs and rising wages for instance – and things like corporate profitability and financial asset prices on the other. That the two seem able to completely diverge is instructive.

              Beyond that I suspect that you have experienced that moment of horror where you realize that fiat isn’t “backed” by anything. Been there (but wait til you learn how banking actually works in practice.)

              Since I experienced that shock I’ve come to love fiat currency and here’s why. The private sector has an entirely predictable tendency towards extreme pessimism or optimism, as any herd-like phenomenon will have. By herd-like I don’t mean a group moving as one with some sort of hive mentality. I mean rather, a group of individuals working under the mistaken assumption that they are “sovereign individuals” creating and then experiencing phenomena as individuals that they could only have created as a group. Think housing bubble. Or tulips. (The case doesn’t matter.)

              This creates a need for a counterbalance that is able to reset the system lest the real economy – you know, granny getting her pension – be sacrificed to the supposed sacrosanct nature of some banker’s past, ill-gotten bonus achieved by riding these asset bubbles up and also down and so mugging everyone who thinks the economy is principally about doing something useful.

              The only actor that can fulfill this role – act as the “demand-source of last resort” – is the government, provided that government is still the issuer of a fiat currency which can be “printed” at will.

              • marknesop says:

                Okay, that mostly makes sense, and yes; I’m aware the dollar really isn’t worth anything except because the U.S. government says it is, and promises to give you a dollar’s worth of tangible goods or entertainment or whatever in exchange for your paper dollar. And indeed “safe haven” is the excuse the media always gives for the dollar’s strengthening in times of crisis, which makes no sense at all. The fact is that the government manipulates the value of the dollar to suit itself, through the exchange rate. When logic suggests it should go down, the government stiffens the exchange rate, which is just numbers, and when times are good the government lets it weaken so that its goods and services are cheaper and more attractive for foreigners, who think they are getting a bargain. It used to drive me crazy about the Canadian dollar, how it was always worth less than the American dollar, and it took a while for me to grasp that this is better for Canada and when it starts to rise the government deliberately weakens it.

                I still don’t get that the U.S. government, confronted by a will to stop using the dollar as a medium of exchange by an economic bloc that constitutes nearly half of the global population, simply prints more and more dollars, prints itself out of recession, prints itself out of every crisis just by flooding the world with cheap money. That can only work, or so my philosophy goes, so long as the dollar remains the world’s reserve currency. And that’s just a name. Money that doesn’t circulate might as well not exist; it’s just paper. Actions that reduce or eliminate its circulation must be death to the dollar. Which will never happen in our lifetimes, nor is it desirable that the dollar die – simply that the United States have to obey the same economic rules and restrictions as the rest of us.

                Something I don’t understand at all is leveraging. The word implies an element of risk; of buying something with money that is not actually yours in the belief that the commodity’s value will rise and you will profit by your boldness and assumption of risk. But how can you lose in a system in which the government simply prints more money in every crisis? This, in theory, should artificially play with the value of everything, because it is never so expensive that you can’t afford it – the government just prints more money so you have enough. But people manifestly do lose fortunes when the value – which is just a perception – of something tanks. How can the value of the U.S. dollar not sink when the money supply just keeps going up and up and up? How can the American middle class not get a real pay raise – one that actually makes it wealthier – in 30 years when the country is awash with cheap money?

                • Tim Owen says:

                  “How can the American middle class not get a real pay raise – one that actually makes it wealthier – in 30 years when the country is awash with cheap money?”

                  That’s an excellent question.

                  I remember reading an anecdote from a trader in the 80s during the ascendancy of the Japanese. (Remember that moment ?) His son was asking for him to explain his job and the trader looked out into the street spotted a japanese car and said: “You see that car? Some American paid a japanese company for that. My job is to get that money back.”

                  My suggestion here is that the ridiculously over-sized financial sector is also an organ of American dominance. The decision to sacrifice American jobs in exchange for American corporate penetration of foreign markets – especially by finance – is very much a strategic decision. And not an entirely insensible one, though I would agree that it is deeply un -democratic.

                  But I think there’s also a key point here that is not often grasped and I think can lead to over-estimating the strength of the Brics bloc: the preponderance of dollars (“debt” as some would have it) is not necessarily a sign of weakness at all. This was kind of my point about the “safe haven” perception.

                  But first I really think this understanding of a nation’s balance sheet as being analogous to that of a household is the real problem here. Think about this: if a sovereign nation with a fiat currency paid off all its debt there literally wouldn’t be any currency with which to operate its economy. Clearly there’s something more going on here than what “austerians” would have you believe.*

                  One consequence of this which, again, runs contrary to common sense is that running a deficit is not necessarily a bad thing; nor is a surplus a positive. Think about it like this.

                  – a fiat currency is by definition a public monopoly
                  – there are essentially only two sectors in such an economy: a) the government sector which produces the currency and “funds” it’s spending ultimately through this power combined, in a secondary role, with its taxing powers b) the private sector that cannot
                  – when the government is running a surplus what this means is that in net terms it is withdrawing money from the private sector (literally: taxing more than it spends) because, after all there is nowhere else for this “surplus” to come from.
                  – what this means is that when Bill Clinton or Harper crow about returning to surplus they are literally crowing about holding the economy’s head under water, depriving it of oxygen.

                  Another instance of this kind of rank economic illiteracy is the focus on public debt as being unsustainable which always seems to go hand in hand with a willful blindness to entirely unsustainable growth in private sector debt. As you can probably guess it’s really the opposite: public debt is UNIQUELY sustainable because of the ability of the government to issue it at will while the private sector, as user of the currency, is UNIQUELY vulnerable to unsustainable debt levels as it can only EARN the income required to fund this and its ability to earn is very vulnerable to the business cycle and the myriad of other risks involved with doing business.

                  If you don’t believe me it is worth looking at the public record. Steve Keen does a good job of that here:


                  Things get a lot more complicated when you introduce foreign trade and competing currencies and you are right to worry about that aspect of the general picture. But I still think one needs to fully grasp the implications of a fiat currency system from the ground up. That is, as it operates in the domestic economy first.

                  What I’m trying to say really is that your distrust of fiat currency per se is misplaced. I started from the same assumptions years ago and ended up here:

                  I LOVE fiat currency.

                  Why? Because without it we would be ENTIRELY unable to recover from the inevitable busts that are actually the hallmark of capitalist systems.

                  * What this suggests is that such a country’s debts are also somehow its wealth. This actually makes sense in a practical way because we can look at something like the Social Security trust fund as being financial assets with a yield that were purchased by money set aside through FICA taxes. But somehow these are simultaneously government liabilities that we have to fund… Again, as it were. There’s clearly something screwy with our understanding of the system.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks very much, UCG!! And thanks to others for their kindness as well, I will just encapsulate for all that my writing on a big subject like this one is typically all over the place as I discover more and more material while researching. Consequently, I always expect to learn at least as much from the commenters correcting my conceptual understanding as I did from researching the original subject, and I am seldom disappointed. Others such as Fern and Jen have a much better developed capacity for making connections, and there just have to be many, many more of them in the evolution of American power than I am seeing. It seems clear to me at this point, though, that (1) the USA has resolved to focus on destroying Russia as its primary geopolitical foe, whether or not Russia accepts that role, (2) Russia has come round to acceptance that it can never maintain friendly relations with the west on a trust basis, and is putting in place the appropriate measures to firewall its economy against deliberate damage, (3) the USA has bitten off more than it can chew, and is headed for ignominious failure in this instance, which it will soon have to acknowledge as it cannot keep the global economy deliberately depressed forever, and (4) the USA has slowly drifted into a governance model which is completely ruled by the bankers, and for the exclusive benefit of the wealthy. I don’t see any possibility of a recovery which would reposition American governance so that the people once again ran the nation through their elected representatives, and in fact it has not been that way for a long time.

      The disconcerting thing is the alacrity with which other national governments are aligning themselves with the U.S. model, for the exclusive benefit of their wealthiest citizens. I know that makes me sound like a raving communist – which I’m not, I have nothing against honest profit – but somewhere the west lost its way as its elite became greedier and greedier. It’s still possible to have a pretty comfortable life without being part of that elite, but you have to have a pretty good job and in fact both of you have to work. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, although it’s debatable whether it is good for your family, but the government continues to exercise more and more power and discretion over where the national wealth goes and how much of your money you are allowed to keep.

      On Social Security; there is nothing wrong with the concept, and it’s an excellent system. But every dollar in surplus, every time the government takes in more in payroll tax than it pays out, must by law be invested in U.S. Treasury bonds. It seems to me that herein lies a minefield which is driven by the value of the dollar and its continued occupation of a bully pulpit through its status as global reserve currency. Any weakness in that position would seem to constitute a vulnerability. As the reference appears to explain, the government takes in amount A through payroll tax, which – so far – always exceeds what it pays out in amount B. The surplus is invested in government bonds, which the author just got through explaining is more conceptual than actual money, as government debt the government owes itself is meaningless and “cancels itself out”. There’s a disconnect there that I’m not seeing, apparently, and a layman-level explanation would be welcome. Don’t fear offending me with grade-school terms, because I have little ability in and no fascination for economics.

      I kind of like Bershidsky, as kreakls go, as it is easy to believe he has Russia’s best interests at heart. In other words, I can believe that he genuinely feels Putin is the problem and removing him for a new leader that better suited the west would be good for Russia. I happen to completely disagree with him on that point, but he does not come across as a grifter who is angling for regime change so he will benefit personally from upheaval, as Alexei Navalny does. Also, Bershidsky’s command of English is remarkable; it’s hard to believe it is not his first language, as he is more expressive and emotional in it than many, perhaps most native speakers. I also put Vladimir Kara-Murza in more or less the same camp, he’s another excellent writer with whom I happen to disagree on virtually every point. In both cases there is a fundamental disconnect between their vision for Russia and what would be good for the country because it assumes the west means Russia no harm, and the sole point of disagreement is Putin’s misunderstanding of western motives, which mean only good for everyone. I’m oversimplifying, of course, because the west deliberately camouflages its intentions under the catch-all cloak of freedom and democracy. Who is going to say they are opposed to freedom and democracy? At the same time, I do not mean to suggest I am so brilliant that I see through them where Bershidsky and Kara-Murza are taken in – they are both very intelligent men whop are fooling themselves for their own reasons. But, simplified, they agree Putin is a strong leader; quite a bit too autocratic, mind you, but they could work with him – if only he did not resist western overtures toward globalization so stubbornly, which would quickly and directly benefit the people of Russia, opening up vistas and choices to them which were never available before and letting each man be his own master. It staggers the imagination that they do not see all the examples of countries that have allowed the USA a free hand to make and mold the national government as it saw fit, and the effect that resulted. A few people invariably profited immensely, but it was kind of a mini-model of the current USA, in which a core elite of very wealthy people quickly emerged and began to assert itself on national politics more or less exclusively for its own benefit.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Bershidsky has the best interests of Russia so much at heart that he chooses to live in Germany.

        See: No Illusions Left, I’m Leaving Russia

        I would love to not only see how future events unfold in Russia, but to play a part in them by helping to create a truly free press — the kind that, as in the U.S., would publish the revelations of men like former National Security Administration leaker Edward Snowden.

        A split-infinitive in first line, Bershidsky, old chap!

        I suppose that’s what happens to one’s written English after having been educated in California and being an “International” type of bloke.


        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I know; I read that when it came out. I disagree with almost everything that comes out of Bershidsky’s mouth. I’m just saying I believe he thinks he says and does the things he says and does out of love for Russia, and that letting Washington have a free hand would be good for Russia, because his American friends mean well. Navalny doesn’t love Russia – he loves Navalny.

        • Jen says:

          Probably learnt his English from the same teacher William Shatner had. 🙂

      • ucgsblog says:

        “I always expect to learn at least as much from the commenters correcting my conceptual understanding as I did from researching the original subject, and I am seldom disappointed.”

        We’re learning a lot from this blog too! A while ago, I made a bet with my fellow research analysts that my choice of seven blogs with three substitutions would be more informative than the mass media machines of the UNSC perma five. Guess who’s been getting free food, drinks, etc? This blog was one of the seven that I chose. I like it because he have a competitive engagement style, but we’re all cool, so it’s more like friends arguing over what movie to watch, (Mad Max Fury Road bitches,) just for geopolitical issues, which, IMHO, is the way that it should be.

        “It seems clear to me at this point, though, that (1) the USA has resolved to focus on destroying Russia as its primary geopolitical foe, whether or not Russia accepts that role, (2) Russia has come round to acceptance that it can never maintain friendly relations with the west on a trust basis, and is putting in place the appropriate measures to firewall its economy against deliberate damage, (3) the USA has bitten off more than it can chew, and is headed for ignominious failure in this instance, which it will soon have to acknowledge as it cannot keep the global economy deliberately depressed forever, and (4) the USA has slowly drifted into a governance model which is completely ruled by the bankers, and for the exclusive benefit of the wealthy.”

        It’s not the US that wants to destroy Russia, but rather the radical interventionist lobby. The US is governed by numerous factions, who are forced under the umbrella of a two party political system, in one of the most confusing electoral systems in the World, (although the EU takes the price for most confusing election system,) which creates a lot of confusion. The problem is that after the Bush’s Iraq War and Obama’s Bailout, there’s not a lot wealth that’s still left in the pot, (except Social Security,) so the lobby groups have to prove that they’re the ones to get it.

        Off the top of my head there’s the radical interventionist lobby, (aka neo conservatives and neo liberals,) the bankers, the healthcare lobby, the housing lobby, oil lobby, insurance lobby, business lobby, etc. The bankers don’t want to share, their piece of the pie, they just want to maintain it. In order to do so, they have to push a faction out, and with their string of failures, the radical interventionist lobby can be that faction. Thus they desperately need a major victory against someone, like Russia. Hence their desperation and stupidity, while the other factions are slowly moving towards the Moneyball Model. The only other faction that’s mildly anti-Russian is the healthcare lobby, because bastard Putin dared to make the pharmaceutical industry in Russia, competitive. It could be that the bankers are discreetly taking Russia’s side, wanting the radical interventionist lobby to lose, but why fight when Russia can do the fighting for you?

        Regarding the second point: “Trust but verify.” Once the US fully implements the Moneyball Model, the US and Russia can be friends, but verification is a must.

        Regarding the third point, it’s not the US, it’s radical interventionist lobby. And they’re panicking. Putin is manhandling them like there’s no tomorrow, and they’re going to end up being blamed for “handing Ukraine over to Putin” once they’re pushed out. They picked on Russia when picking a must-win battle, by far the worst choice available. They deserve what’s coming, and I deserve popcorn. Speaking of that, did you know that we have more varieties in California than anywhere else?

        Regarding the fourth point, that’s not entirely true. A lot of groups are innovative, and bankers want to contribute to said innovation, in order to hold their share of the pie. I have no idea why European bankers are acting differently, but in the US, it’s nowhere near as bad. In fact, the US banking sector is extremely anti-Greek package that the ECB offered, to the point of lobbying the IMF to side with Greece. Merkel, damn girl, you fucked up big time.

        “The surplus is invested in government bonds, which the author just got through explaining is more conceptual than actual money, as government debt the government owes itself is meaningless and cancels itself out.”

        That’s not true, and instead of layman’s terms, let me go with an example. Let’s supposed that the government has a budget of $100k, and just needs to fund pensions and road construction, both of which need $100k. If the government funnels $100k into pensions, then the roads still need to be built. As a result, the government is going to have to borrow $100k to build the roads.

        Similarly, the people expect their Social Security checks. When borrowing from the Social Security Administration, the government isn’t borrowing from itself; it’s borrowing from a Trust Fund managed for these people. Hence it’s a liability that doesn’t cancel itself out.

        Regarding Bershidsky, I don’t really care whether he likes Russia or not, my issue is that his analysis is utter nonsense. “Because they both like to curse”, I mean come on, what kind of a fucking analytical piece is that? Even though you and I analyze differently, we often arrive at similar results. And that’s true for most analysts. If quality analysis is performed, the result is going to be extremely similar. Bershidsky’s result isn’t just different, it’s outside of the Planet Earth. Essentially, I see little difference between Bershidksy and Masha Gessen, because the end result is that they’re both peddling nonsense which confuses the average reader as to what’s going on in Russia, and makes interaction a tad harder.

        It’s also why I’m very thankful for crossover blogs, (like this one,) which clarify these kinds of issues instantly!

  5. james@wpc says:

    Mark, your article is a great summary of the state of play regarding the United States of Cognitive Dissonance. The supreme power block in the aforementioned US of CD is the cadre of international bankers who own (amongst other things) the Fed. Their supreme interest, particularly in the immediate term, is the continuance of the US dollar as the medium of international trade.

    To this end, we have the TTIP and TTP. The various corporations can fight over who will survive this “free-trade zone” so long as the trade requires the provision of US dollars. It is my guess that this survival of the US dollar (and therefore the survival of its issuers – the bankers) is the principal reason for the wedge being driven between Europe and Russia; to stop Europeans trading in Rubles and Yuan.

    This could also explain the contradictory behaviour of the IMF to the way the European Central Bank is treating Greece. If the Euro currency market collapsed, so would the Euro and it could only be replaced with the US dollar. The BRICS countries and others are rapidly replacing the dollar with their own currencies. The Fed’s owners desperately need to replace that loss with taking over other trade in other currencies. The Euro (and its banker issuers) is the obvious target.

    Your apt image of the supernova reminds me of another metaphor which I think is also apt for the times; a parasite is never so strong as it is on the day before it overwhelms and kills the host. I think we are privy to watching the parasites (bankers) now feeding off each other to delay the killing of the host for just one more day.

    • marknesop says:

      Thank you, James, and some excellent points – this is just the sort of discussion I hoped to initiate. That reality might be obvious to you, but I did not see it at all, and would be very interested in a comprehensive overview of how TTIP would benefit the USA. It is a fairly reliable implication of self-interest that the USA is so enthusiastic about it while Europe’s bellwethers – France and Germany – are broadly nervous about it. That suggests it threatens a loss of sovereign decision-making somehow, but I feel frustratingly as if I am seeing only the hazy outlines of it.

      It is fairly well understood that the USA urgently desires the preservation of the dollar as the global reserve currency, and indeed it will always be one of them, or at least for the foreseeable future, because the American economy is too enormous to be ignored. But every point that it slips from dominance results in a disproportionate ceding of global influence for Washington, and the idea of it being simply on a par with, say, the yuan or the Euro is intolerable for Washington. At the same time, Washington cannot simply send in the army to restore a desirable balance through violence – hence the elaborate scenarios we are seeing now in which Washington claims it is being threatened by a reconstitution of the Soviet Union. threatened in terms of global dominance, perhaps, but of course it is never couched in those terms, because that situation is not sufficiently frightening to the American people.

      • james@wpc says:

        Mark, thanks for your question. It has made me line my ducks up in a row which has been of benefit to me, at least. This is a shorter version of my rather long answer (with more context) that I have posted on my blog because of space considerations.

        I, like everyone else, do not know the details of the agreements (incl TTP) and given that the negotiations are being carried out by people none of whom have our interests at heart, we can’t take at face value anything that has been revealed. So any details that have been leaked are likely to be less than the truth and serve the interests of those who leak them and not the public. For this reason, I have not even bothered to keep abreast of what has been available. However, we can deduce a lot from the political and historical context in which these deals are being pursued.

        The TTIP and TTP are international ‘free trade’ agreements. Their purpose is to tie up those countries not in BRICS and prevent them from joining. This means that these European and Asian countries will have to trade using US dollars and, importantly, not Rubles or Yuan. The proposition that the EU put to Ukraine (“No, you can’t trade with Russia and the EU. Join us or you won’t be joining anyone”) is now being put to Europe by the US. This is splitting the world into East and West again – another Cold War brought to us by the same group of people and for exactly the same reasons.

        If the bankers can’t control the whole world, then they will tighten their grip on as many countries as they can, prevent trade and cultural exchanges with countries they do not control and use the time to regroup and figure out another way to conquer the BRICS and associated nations. The first order of the day for Wall St is to survive, though.

        We do know that TTIP and TPP will disbar countries from passing laws (by governments owned by the comprador class) or upholding existing laws that prevent international corporations maximising their profits in any way. Any attempts to address the imbalance of capital and economic clout that these international (Wall St dominated) corporations have in favour of any home grown corporations will be ruled illegal and ‘anti-free-trade’.

        This means that the comprador class (the local elite) in all these vassal countries (that have agreed to international dominance in exchange for the right to mercilessly exploit their own domestic population) will be sooner or later rendered powerless as their own domestic banks and corporations get eaten up or left to wither on the vine. They will be eaten up by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Monsanto. Not a happy prospect for this privileged comprador class . Hence the resistance and ongoing and interminable negotiations.

        It also means that the Euro will disappear one way or another as a medium of exchange within and without Europe if Goldman Sachs et. al. get their way. Wall St needs to replace the Euro with the US dollar to ensure the survival of said dollar and with it the survival of those bankers that issue it. It’s dog eat dog now. They need to keep demand for the dollar as high as possible in a world that is rapidly abandoning it to maintain its value and power. Without that demand, that power, the bankers’ generations long dream of world dominance cannot survive (and neither it should, of course).

        • Jen says:

          A major part of what James refers to in the TTIP and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) in the 5th paragraph of his comment is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system. We have already had a taste of how ISDS will operate in Phillip Morris’ 2011 case against Australia over the issue of cigarette packaging in a Hong Kong court. What is involved is that if a corporation objects to a regulation in a foreign country where it operates or plans to operate, it can challenge that regulation in an international arbitration tribunal such as the one in Hong Kong.

          The judges who sit on the tribunal are selected from a group of lawyers with experience in corporate law. The lawyers who act for the plaintiff company and defendant government are drawn from the same group of corporate lawyers. (Note that governments would not be able to challenge corporations in tribunals.) The judges sitting on the tribunal one day for one trial could be lawyers for a plaintiff corporation or a defendant government for another trial another day. Result is that the judges won’t be impartial and are likely to favour the corporation.

          Should a government lose a case, the penalty could be extremely severe, in the hundreds of millions of dollars in payouts. A country’s treasury could end up being looted and governments could be forced to privatise national assets to meet the corporation’s legal costs. Not only that but countries would be unable to protect their citizens from being ripped off by corporations or endangered by pollution caused by company activities.

          • james@wpc says:

            Thanks for the supporting links, Jen. These scenarios are usually presented as a sovereignty grab from the citizens of a particular nation; in this case, Australia. But as an Australian, I know we ordinary citizens have no sovereignty. Only the financial/political elite of this country have any of that. So it is the local elite that have most to lose.

            Here’s an article which may amount to the same thing for the German elite from the knowledgeable William Engdahl regarding the Greek crisis and the future of the Euro. I don’t know how it all the details fit but I’m sure it will make increasing sense in the coming weeks.

            This sentence of his jumped out at me-
            ” It could be that the German government has just set into motion the suicide of the European Monetary Union with its insistence on its rigid demands on Greece for repayment of unpayable debts. Be sure that some in Washington and Wall Street are smiling at all this.”

            If this scenario plays out as Engdahl indicates, it will make for the third time the Anglo/American bankers have taken down Germany as an economic power.

            First appeared:

            • Jen says:

              Interesting article from Engdahl who is always informative. But I fear he missed out on this scenario which Germany is re-enacting in Greece: the Nazi occupation during which Greece had to supply all materiel for the German war effort, resulting in mass starvation throughout the country and 250,000 in metropolitan Athens alone dying.

              • james@wpc says:

                Yes, that is a very telling comparison, Jen, and Engdahl missed a golden opportunity in not highlighting it.

                When talking about what one country did to another, the distinction that is usually missed is that it is always one small group of psychopaths who are killing and maiming by proxy millions of ordinary humans who haven’t a clue who their real enemy is; the psychopaths, whether domestic, foreign enemy or foreign ally.

                Case in point, to follow up on your links, during WWII the German army (led by psychopaths) was defeated by Greek militia (non psychopathic) acting in self defence and organised by local communists. For their trouble, the victorious militia were set upon by the allied forces (led by psychopaths) who then put the collaborationists (psychopaths) back in charge. All the psychopathic forces were predatory.

                If people the world around understood that the real war is always between the predatory psychopaths hiding behind national flags and humanity, we would stand a fighting chance (excuse the pun)

        • marknesop says:

          Thanks very much for that detailed reply, James; first and foremost, I’ll update your link.

          This massive trade partnership is poorly understood, and it appears from the secrecy which surrounds it that this general vagueness on the details is deliberate. I and the readers owe you a debt of gratitude for your analysis, which at least sketches out some of the risks implied. It reminds me of the Free Trade Agreement Canada signed with the USA, for the public to later discover we dared not commence fresh-water exports to the United States, even in an emergency, because by doing so we would commit to continuing the service until both vendor and purchaser agreed we could stop, and in the meantime we could never reduce the volume of the sales. Contract law is replete with fine print, and really it is just like politics in that it depends on people not reading things too carefully because they are dazed by pages of bone-dry legalese or have simply not been given enough time to adequately study the document – remember the Patriot Act? Hardly any of the lawmakers had read it in its entirety and many had not read it at all.

          • james@wpc says:

            Thanks for fixing the link, Mark. The secrecy surrounding the talks is absolutely deliberate. Previous attempts at similar deals were defeated because of protests against specific provisions whose consequences were plain enough. It is far more difficult to muster support to protest an agreement you don’t have details of. Fait accompli. Too easy!

            What we have now is the wolves haggling and negotiating over the sheep and the sheep have no idea what is coming. “Just wait here in this holding pen out of the wind and we’ll let you know when we have good news for you.”

  6. yalensis says:

    Nice piece, Mark. It is very sad what has become of America. Most Americans just passively going along with their decline in living standards, not being able to get a decent job or send their kids to college. All things that were taken for granted just a generation ago.

    @ucgsblog: I concur with with most of your comment, but would just quibble whether Obama made ANY right decisions whatsoever. I think the guy is a complete dud, and tool of the Wall Street bankers. The college loan thing is just a kluge to cover up the fact that higher education in the U.S. has become a money-making racket too. Again, most Americans have passively come to accept the fact that they have to go into deep debt to get an education, or educate their kids. It didn’t use to be this way. That’s another “boiling frog” type thing, where the goalposts of reality have been shifted just within a generation.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, yalensis; as I mentioned, I hope to learn a lot from it myself. Your comment raises the beginnings of a concept – Americans passively go along with the deterioration in their living standards – or, at best, for some of the middle class, stagnation in living standards – because they nurture hope for the miraculous return of The American Dream, born during that wonderful Golden Age of expansion post-war. And this hope is directly and deliberately encouraged by the government. What remains to be determined is the extent to which the government knows it is a lie.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Mark:
        My comment comes from actual experience living and working with Americans.
        Just yesterday, in fact, a colleague at my workplace was talking about her grown-up daughter, and how it would cost $60,000 a year to send her to college. “I told her she needed to decide what her major would be, because I’m not okay with borrowing that kind of money just so she can futz around and figure out what she wants to do in life.”

        I responded to this person, incredulously something like, “But you would be okay spending that kind of money if she HAD a major?”

        I am just astonished that Americans are not rioting in the streets when even State colleges got so expensive, just in the course of a generation.

        • Jen says:

          But going to college or uni as an undergrad should be a time for futzing around! 🙂

          There are too many young people in their late teens / early 20s being brainwashed into studying law, accountancy and medicine and going straight into those occupations simply on the basis of how well they scored on final high school exams. Once they join the corporate law or accounting treadmill full-time, they discover it’s white-collar slavery.

          • yalensis says:

            I know!
            It took myself a while to figure out that computer programming was my niche. Before that, I experimented with a few other things.
            All of which I like, but just wasn’t good enough at it to make a career.
            My mother called me a “late bloomer”.
            In my own defense, neither I nor my parents ever paid a nickel for my higher education.
            I was a perfect free-loader on the system!

        • rymlianin says:

          Read Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s work “Manufacturing Consent” for the answer to the question implied in your last sentence.

  7. yalensis says:

    And here is my own editorializing:

    A lot of the bad things that have happened in the U.S. (and in the world) are due to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    When the USSR was still around (as a socialist state), it not only put a check on America’s geo-political ambitions and meddling; but also served as an example of a successful welfare state.
    When Soviets bragged about providing free education, free health care, etc., to be sure the capitalist countries mocked them. But on the sly, had to make sure they also provided some welfare services, just to complete in the arena of public opinion, with their own populations. This was the heyday of European welfare state, and everybody was better off.
    Even in the U.S., government had to reconcile itself with trade unions and provide public services. Well, to be sure, they never provided free health care, but at least they provided free education, and lots of generous government scholarships for college, etc.

    With the demise of the Soviet Union, none of these ruling classes had to care any more about competing with a welfare state, or what their own populations thought. So, it’s just been a steady rise of the Oligarchs and the guilded age, world-wide. As a result, these governments don’t have to worry about public health, or infrastructure, or any of that stuff any more. It’s not even about GOVERNING any more, it’s just about stripping and gutting everything that was built by past generations, in order to put more money and wealth into the hands of the few.


    • Moscow Exile says:

      Bismarck did the same in Germany: he was so afraid of a socialist revolution – and Germany with its Socialist party had the best organized workers’ movement in the world at the time – that in the to all intents and purposes conceived and founded by him in 1871 “Second Reich” he introduced the earliest state welfare measures in the modern industrial world: pensions, sickness benefit, paid holidays etc. The UK, for example only introduced state pensions in the early 20th century – thanks in the main to Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, which latter especially was certainly no socialist.

      If the workers and agricultural workers had remained submissive and deferential to their “masters” – each knowing his own “estate” as it were – these social reforms would have taken much longer to develop, if they had indeed developed at all.

    • kirill says:

      Hear, hear!

      There has been a marked impoverishment in Canada over the last 25 years that started with various rollbacks of social programs during the 1990s. I can trace the same neocon slime all the way. The Harris regime in Ontario downloaded social costs onto municipalities as it was before the Depression. There were cuts in food inspection that led to health scandals and incidents where people died. The Harris neocons migrated to the national level as part of the Harper regime. Under Harper Canada has experienced a sustained attack from within on its very essence. The diversion of money into the hands of the rich has reached the universities and key research is no longer funded.

    • Jen says:

      IMO, the rot started with the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system of global monetary management during the 1960s. This was due in part to the US spending heavily on prosecuting the Vietnam War. At the same time, Germany and Japan were becoming major manufacturing companies to the extent that they were seriously challenging the US for dominance. Eventually Richard Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1971 and from then on currencies became free-floating and the US dollar became a fiat currency and the world’s reserve currency.

      It should be said though that even before it started the Bretton Woods system was flawed in that US delegates at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1947 pushed strongly for the US dollar to become the world reserve currency, against John Maynard Keynes’ suggestions of creating an artificial world reserve currency and a clearing house for international trade that would penalise countries either for running persistent Balance of Payments deficits OR persistent Balance of Payments surpluses. Since Keynes represented a dying empire and the US delegates were from a country that could dictate economic terms to the rest of the non-Communist world, the Bretton Woods system ended up as a compromise that favoured the US dollar as the reserve currency.

      This meant that the US dollar became the currency everyone else had to use in international trade and as long as this was the case, the US dollar would always be in demand and its value would always be artificially high. No-one foresaw though the long-term consequences of that arrangement. Even then, the rate at which the US declined through long-term debt still could have been slow had it not been for the adoption of neoliberal economic policies by Western nations, starting with Chile under General Pinochet in the mid-1970s and then the US and the UK in the early 1980s.

      • marknesop says:

        The corollary to that, of course, is that being the owner of the world’s reserve currency allows you to do things like pressure your debtors to invest their returns in national treasury bonds and to overextend yourself on debt far beyond what any other country would be allowed to do, based on your unique capability to simply print more money without significantly damaging its value. The grounds for that are that the world’s reserve currency needs a huge supply of money, and the “petrodollar” concept holds that all energy transactions must be in dollars. It is here that the American Achilles heel lies, because it relies upon compliance by all countries that both sell and buy energy in tremendous amounts. That order is subject to outside interference, and that is what is happening. If China replaces Europe as Russia’s largest customer, none of those transactions will take place in dollars. The USA will be able to quantify them only for so long as those countries use SWIFT, and will be unable to affect them otherwise or benefit from them, while the need for a massive stockpile of dollars will diminish steadily.

        • Tim Owen says:

          Here’s something that I feel has been staring me in the face and yet I’ve never seen it dealt with in a way that makes it clear: all trade must be circular.

          If you are the Chinese communist party and you are looking for a way to employ an oncoming demographic population wave you might make the pitch to industrialized nations – which, from what I’ve read, I think they did – saying basically: employ these people with the jobs your people currently do and we will allow your corporations into our markets with all the attendant benefits of increased profits. Equally – since you will not allow us to buy US corporations or real-estate or mineral rights or whatever – we will buy treasury bills as a form of vendor financing. The consolation prize for western populations is stagnant or non-existent – unemployment – wages but cheap goods.

          I neither pity nor despise the CCP for making that bargain but feel somewhat differently about the western politicians who put that into play. The phrase, sell outs comes to mind. I mean that the politicians sold out their constituents to the corporate class. The upside was a generation of new-found rentiers who have become mysteriously rich as this wave of money washed ashore and was duly put to work as domestic credit. (Can any of them explain how their children will be able to afford houses? Nope.) Nor do I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that the Chinese and other exporting countries are holding a lot of “worthless” paper. They made the deal and presumably benefitted from it (or they wouldn’t have made it.)

          My point I suppose in saying that all trade must be circular is that we often seem to think that successful nations are like successful firms or households. The Germans, for instance, should be able to just amass giant wealth through exports without feeling any responsibility to finance it. But this is impossible on the national level and over the long term. Especially so within the Euro area but it holds equally among currency blocs or between nations.

          The wisdom of the Marshall plan is striking in this respect. The U.S. ended up with massive gold reserves at the end of WWii. What is the good of that if it has no-one to trade with? So massive credit was extended to allow Europeans for instance to buy American goods and the capital equipment to rebuild their industry and benefitted from generous debt forgiveness.

          Is this welfare? What of the sanctity of debt concept that the EU seems so wedded to? Who cares as long as useful economic activity gets funded. (Incidentally it’s worth noting that much of the opposition to the European austerity “rack” even within the IMF is from the U.S., the “money printers” par excellence.)

          Another example of the necessary circular nature of trade is kind of clarifying: the Opium wars. My understanding was that the demand for Chinese tea and the lack of demand for anything from the British empire to China was creating a drain on London gold reserves. It was equally a problem for shippers who were faced with an “empty” leg of the journey, perhaps a usefully concrete mental image for the problem. The solution: let’s turn the Chinese into junkies with Indian opium and we’ll use gunboats to enforce this cunning plan. Again, that strikes me as a usefully concrete image that suggests how all trade is circular and – if it is not, a way will be found to make it so.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, of course – some debt is good, and shows good faith that you are involved in trade and mean to continue; it’s the same principle that makes a bank reluctant to lend to you, even if you have a good job, if you have no credit history. I remember being flabbergasted by that; I was in the military, rented so I did not have a mortgage payment, and wanted to buy a car. The bank dragged their feet and recommended I go and get a credit card (I had none at the time) and charge some stuff up on it, and then come back. My position was, let me get this straight: even though I make a good wage and have no debts at all, you want me to go in debt a little so you can decide if I’m a safe risk to go in debt a lot? There was a lot of, well, I wouldn’t put it quite like that, but in reality it was a lot like that.

            But owning the world’s reserve currency allows that country to run up massive debt far beyond what would be allowed under normal circumstances, because other countries cannot merely print more money. Therefore keeping the dollar as the reserve currency is important to the USA, and anyone who challenges it is in the gunsights in very short order.

            • Tim Owen says:

              “But owning the world’s reserve currency allows that country to run up massive debt far beyond what would be allowed under normal circumstances, because other countries cannot merely print more money.”

              Other countries with a fiat currency can indeed print more money. The USA is no way special in this regard. In fact it is my greatest wish that ECB would fund a massive stimulus program to employ the 50-60 percent of unemployed Southern European youth. (The alternative is chaos and eventually fascism as that youth finds some outlet for its anger at being tossed on a refuse pile over abstruse, macro-economic confusion.)

              The irony is that EU growth prospects would thereby improve along with their credit worthiness because in a balance sheet recession this is the only source of investment and growth and, incidentally, the ability to eventually carry legacy debt once it has been extended in duration and reduced. The absurdity of the European situation is that they appear to be courting the world’s investment class with their “hard-money” policies but that class is repelled. Any analyst worth his salt knows that if you cut public spending and increase taxation you drop the GDP and employment forecast.

              So the corollary to your observations about the dollar we have Europe pursuing the kind of hard-currency policies that you seem to favour and the Euro is tanking. Meanwhile the U.S. is apparently printing like mad and the dollar strengthens.


              • marknesop says:

                I guess my objection to it (debt, that is, rather than fiat currency), which may accrue to my upbringing, is that if you bought it with borrowed money that has not been repaid, then you don’t really own it and someone can take it from you. I think everyone is resolved to that for a purchase like a house or a car, because it is impractical to save for a house when you might be 65 before you could afford to buy it for the full amount. But living on borrowed money seems unstable to me, like you feel as if you’re doing great but suddenly it can all be taken away because you’re living beyond your means and the real owner can always jerk you up short. Debt is a power over you that could be used to curtail your independence, certainly on a national scale, as countries are at the mercy of their creditors. When they decide they’ve had enough of you, for whatever reason, you’re done.

                Other countries can print as much fiat money as they like, but without the reserve-currency status the USA enjoys they cannot get three or four times the normal money supply into circulation and the immediate effect will be domestic devaluation of the currency. Unless, as you suggest, it is fueling massive growth, and many external factors regulate that.

                • Tim Owen says:

                  Thanks for indulging me in this. I bring it up all the time because I swear it is one of the most important insights I’ve ever come across.

                  Regarding your feelings about debt, I totally understand… But that’s EXACTLY the problem. There is NO analogy between a household that is a user of a currency and a government that is the issuer of it (unless of course we believe there is and behave accordingly, which is pretty much what we do when we believe deficit hawks who, right after making banks whole to the tune of billions, tell us that we can’t afford education or healthcare or any other number of things because of the deficit.)

                  What this means in practical terms is that there is no functional linkage between government spending and taxation. Our taxes don’t fund government spending in any meaningful, structural fashion. The government – provided it is the issuer of its currency – is not revenue constrained. One image that might break through this illusion: what does the government do with the – cash form – of the currency we slave over to pay takes? They shred it.

                  Another illuminating analogy that Warren Mosler uses to describe this is to a scorekeeper. The fed or central bank of Canada is the scorekeeper for the currency. When a scorekeeper adds a point to a team does anyone ask where the points come from?

                  Your point about the government going to the markets if it can’t fund its deficit spending is a bit more troubling to deal with but in fact this is an illusion created by tradition rather than something intrinsic to a fiat system. Going to the markets to “fund” deficit spending or indeed, normal government outlays is a choice. The origin of the greenback is illustrative in this respect. Lincoln tried to go to the markets to fund the army but the terms the U.S. government were offered were so ruinous that he wisely refused. Instead he issued the original Greenback and simply spent this into the economy in exchange for the supplies and armaments required.

                  With regard to more normal times the government might choose to issue bonds in order to create safe assets that are both “money good” – literally, because the government can never go broke – and pay a predictable yield to ensure that things like insurance companies have a ballast of safe assets to make them stable, but by no means does this mean such operations “fund” the government. Again, this is an illusion that – probably – occurs because all of us ARE revenue constrained and so project that onto our, resented, tax collectors. Or another way to think about it is this: in order to assure that public-sector generated demand does not compete with private sector demand and so create inflation – too much money chasing limited goods – the government needs to soak up some of the private sector demand to make room for government expenditures. Think war bonds.

                  Why is this important?

                  I think if you understand this and are a sovereign issuer – like Russia – I think your options have just expanded massively. In fact I’ve heard Mosler – the putative father of Modern Monetary Theory – comment that high interest rates create inflation which is both completely contrary to accepted wisdom and also Russian central bank policy as far as I can tell. (On that particular point I’m not convinced FWIW, but it’s worth thinking through.)

                  I also think that this illuminates how objectively wrong the dominant ideology is. We accept massive unemployment – which is soul destroying and from which I swear most other evils spring, including the scapegoating of other groups – on the premise that economic conditions are somehow like the weather: subject to laws beyond our control, like droughts. But I think MMT very convincingly demonstrates that this is something entirely projected onto our money system by prejudice and the self-interest of those that benefit from narrowing our options to what conveniently serves their interests. It is worth considering that, from Mosler’s telling – and he has the experience in the markets and from dealing directly with the Fed for years as a “monetary insider” – this is exactly how the Fed understands its own operations.

                • Jen says:

                  Actually what Tim says about the link between government spending and government collecting taxes from us taxpayers is not strictly true. The link is an accounting convention that depends on timing. Governments should spend first and then collect tax. We have been brainwashed by the corporate financial media though to believe that governments must tax first and then spend.

                  If you watch some of Paul Grignon’s “Money as Debt” documentaries, he explains how the idea of spending first, then paying later is a better foundation for a monetary system that supports “real” economies (“real” in the sense of producing and distributing goods and services to the people who need them most, as opposed to economies based solely on creating and circulating money).

            • spartacus says:

              Hey Tim! I just want to throw a couple of observations into this discussion. Fiat currency is nothing new, it’s not some modern invention. It has a quite long history. I think the Chinese, more precisely the Yuan Dinasty, were the first to use this kind of money.


              Money has, in my view, two major roles to play in a capitalist economy. One would be to circulate the commodities on the market and the other would be to serve as a measure of wealth. If you want to “store” your wealth in some form that will be readily convertible in various commodities, usually money is your solution. I agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with fiat currency, it’s just an economic tool. Just like fractional reserve banking, that allows the creation of credit money in excess of physical deposits. Often, when people talk about money they tend to focus on its “circulatory” function, while completely ignoring the fact that money has also the function of storing wealth. Money is not “neutral”. In my view, when governments start printing money for wich there is no demand, people tend to view this as a measure that dilutes their wealth and, if the government does it long enough, they will start looking for other wealth-storage mediums. Like, let’s say, stronger currencies, various commodities or precious metals, especially gold. This is a dangerous tendency and, if left unchecked, can lead to massive dumping of the currency in question and its depreciation against gold. Not unlike what happened in late 70’s – early 80’s when the so called “Volcker Shock” was required to break the growing demand for gold and to save the dollar from collapsing.

              The US has a privileged status in all of this because virtually all raw materials and especially oil are traded in US dollars. This fact forces every country that is involved in trading to have some amount of dollars readily available and this generates a higher demand for dollars, far beyond what would be needed for the circulation of commodities being bought and sold on the US market. Furthermore, countries with weak governments unable to impose their own fiat currencies, face the so called “dollarization” of their economies, where the indigenous currency is “de facto” replaced with the dollar. As long as the dollar is in demand, the Fed can print it without fear of depreciation. Also, I think the US is taking some supplementary steps to make sure the dollar will not depreciate against gold by aggressively manipulating its price. The demand for gold is constantly growing, but the price does not. Either the supply is also growing, wich is not, or the price is being manipulated. Paul Craig Roberts has a couple of articles detailing the methods used to achieve this goal:



              “…we have Europe pursuing the kind of hard-currency policies that you seem to favour…”

              I think that the ECB launched its own version of quantitative easing. According to the Deutsche Welle piece linked below, it seams the ECB is planning to pursue this policy until September 2016, at least. The article is dated 07.04.2015.


              In theory, at least, the ECB should have significant less room to manoeuvre than the Fed, the Euro having nowhere near the status that the US dollar has on the world market.

              “Meanwhile the U.S. is apparently printing like mad…”

              Not any more.


              • marknesop says:

                I realize I am refining my objections as I go along, but I think that’s normal as we learn more. It’s perfectly true that fiat money is a means of storing wealth – but therein lies immense capacity for misuse. For an example, I refer to the American poster-boy for abuse, AIG. When they received their massive bailout package, they used some to pay executive bonuses and sat on the rest until a time when it would offer more profit-making leverage.

                • james@wpc says:

                  a couple of articles I wrote some time ago may shed some light for you on the subject of fiat currencies and other things such as deficit budgets – why we need them and what went wrong.

                  One has to bear in mind that there is a huge difference for citizens (and their govts) between a fiat currency issued by a govt and one issued by bankers.

              • Tim Owen says:

                For some reason I can’t select and quote your text on my “manpad”… And there’s a black van outside my house… So I’m a bit unable to respond well in detail but appreciate the input.

                FWIW I think this is actually a great contribution:


                What strikes me about monetary discussions is there’s a tendency to try and create a fixed point. When one talks about a store of value there’s an assumption that one can put something away and come back to find it intact. Whole.

                Obviously this is completely understandable. But is it practical? Is there any period of history that would justify such a claim on the world?

                The advantage of what the author is proposing to my mind is this: by defining money as demand it recognizes at the root that the value of money is inherently contingent. It is not something that can be hoarded away by the individual actor and can become a fulcrum regardless, or maybe precisely because of, tough, cash strapped times. Instead it becomes something that is essentially social: it will rise and fall in value with the prospects of the community (which in this case, would be the currency bloc in question.)

                A bit like the classic Islamic notion of banking which forbids anything but an equity interest in an enterprise.

                A couple of recent things come to mind.

                I listened to an interview with a German parliamentarian who is broadly sympathetic to Greece on the Real News and he made the excellent point that Germans don’t have a right to a return if they pursue a policy that destroys the prospects of it. In other words the Germans would like to insist on the sanctity of that “store of value” function of money but this means denying the reality that it is contingent.

                My take: they will lose.

                Forgot the second thing. Ha.

                • Tim Owen says:

                  Oh! I got it. It’s this.

                  I remember reading early on in my strange odyssey of investing the observation that a penny or something earned and saved in Jesus’ time would have become a sun sized ball of gold due to the “miracle of compound interest.”

                  I remember experiencing a shiver of excitement at the thought and – embarassing to say – never saw the absurdity in it until it was pointed out by Michael Hudson.

                  Financial claims on the economy rise in exponential fashion while GDP rises non-exponentially. It has always been thus.

                  The Sumerians had this figured out. What the hell is wrong with us?

            • Jen says:

              Tim, Spartacus is right about the role that the US dollar plays in global trade. Although in theory any country can issue fiat currency, the reality is that most global trade, especially trade in commodities like oil, is done in US dollars. This was established during the Bretton Wood conference negotiations in the late 1940s. This ensures that no matter how deeply in debt poo the US is, nor how much or how little the US Treasury prints out paper money, there is always going to be a steady demand from exporters and importers around the world for US dollars for trading and this demand maintains the artificially high value of the US dollar. For other countries, issuing fiat currency does them no favours – because their currency isn’t wanted by exporters and importers in far-flung countries for their own trade.

              The fact that the US government jealously guards this special role for the US dollar might explain its belligerence and actions in the past and present towards those countries which, for some reason or other best known to themselves, decided to accept payment for their exports in some currency (often the euro) other than the US dollar. In 2000, Saddam Hussein started selling Iraqi oil in euros; his decision was ridiculed at the time but not long afterwards the euro went up in value and the value of Iraq’s gold reserves increased hugely, perhaps even doubling. This concentrated some other countries’ attention on the euro as a currency for international trade and Iran and North Korea switched over to trading in euros. According to the conspiracy theory, the US does not look very kindly on countries whose trading decisions put at risk the value of the US dollar as a world reserve currency and the US taste for huge balance of payments deficits.

    • rkka says:

      “So, it’s just been a steady rise of the Oligarchs and the guilded age, world-wide.”

      This actually started under Reagan, who let our plutocracy out of the box that FDR put them in. The plan was to break up and loot the USSR. The Caspian especially was thought to be a treasure trove of energy resources.

      Alas, once they got it, the Caspian turned out to have about an order of magnitude less oil than was thought, and the oil in the massive supergiant Kashgan field turns out to have so much H2S as to be unrefinable.

      But even so, things weren’t going too badly for the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&). They were looting Russia while the drunken incompetent comprador buffoon Yeltsin was in charge. It changed when Putin took down Khodorkovsky before he could sell a hunk of Yukos to an American oil company.

      And that is what earned Putin the undying hatred of the AFPE&P.

      You know a man by his enemies, and Putin’s enemies indicate that he has Russia’s interests at heart.

      • yalensis says:

        Just realized – I should have spelled it “gilded age”.
        “Guilded” implies trades guilds, which would definitely be an improvement on the current situation!

      • marknesop says:

        Very well said, and I completely agree. You can thank Dick Cheney in no small measure for the American focus on the Caspian, as he was absolutely immovable on the subject, convinced that America must control it for its own benefit. That has to be uncharacteristic for a professional oilman, that he did not wait for survey results beyond the postulated existence of large deposits of oil. Perhaps he was merely convinced that the USA must establish dominion over the region regardless whether the hydrocarbons were usable or not. It’s hard to say with him, because he was such a barefaced liar – I will never forget the split-screen newscast of him, live in the studio, saying “I never said that. Never did.” even as the other half of the screen showed him saying that the USA knew Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

    • bolasete says:

      both lenin and marx had faith: the future is ours.
      this, of course, is idealism, not materialism.
      on the other hand, there seems to be an ineffable aspect to
      human nature: intentionally having children is an act of faith.
      oligarchic usa vs oligarchic russia vs oligarchic china.
      inter-capitalistic wars happen(ed). is usa vs russia an historic
      dialectic? who are the good guys?
      i often think that our rulers and their thinkers wish for a new
      medievalism: they will inherit the new latifundia. after crushing
      russia and china (as independent actors) and culling the population
      by several billion. lunacy itself is a kind of faith.
      you’re smart; please convince us i’m wrong.

      • bolasete says:

        was intended for y’s ussr comment.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear bolasete:
        Unfortunately, you are not wrong.
        Seems like the ruling class DOES want to return us to medieval barbarism, as they value POWER more than progress.

        Which I don’t understand at all, because if I was a super-rich oligarch, I would be hiring scientists to build me a cyborg body so I could live forever.
        But they don’t seem to see it the same way.

        Still and all, I am an optimist, in spite of everything.
        I still believe (despite everything) that there is some divine spark in human nature, which will lead mankind to his further enlightenment.

        Like Shakespeare said, “What a piece of work is man!”

        (a piece of work, indeed – argggg)

    • marknesop says:

      Again, excellent points which offer the opportunity for an epiphany of understanding! I was amazed myself by the frank disclosures in Robert McNamara’s book – I really must get around to filling in the commentary for it on the library page – Out of the Cold. We’ve already been over McNamara’s shortcomings and errors, and they are legion – he is perhaps more responsible than any other single individual for America’s entry into the Vietnam debacle. However, that notwithstanding, his disclosures of American-Soviet exchanges appear disarmingly frank and honest, acknowledging in many cases that the misunderstandings were far from one-sided and justifying Soviet actions, reactions and decisions as exactly what any comparable power bloc would have done in the same circumstances. The true extent of Soviet overtures to the west in an attempt to find common ground and peaceful co-existence is easily the most distorted, hidden and under-reported story of our time.

      • rkka says:

        Exactly. The Soviet leadership knew what war was, because they looked it in the eye at close range. Ronnie R saw it in a movie. And the Soviet leadership was so scarred by the experience that they would never even remotely risk it again, contrary to what the AFPE&P endlessly snarled regarding “relentless Soviet aggression!” A clearer case of projection there never was.

        Putin seems to understand that he must face the risk of war that the AFPE&P pose, to avoid them bluffing, intimidating, and vituperating Russia out of existence like they did the USSR.

        And he’s doing a man’s job of it.

  8. yalensis says:

    An along lines of “world going to hell in handbasket”, Here is Cassad’s comparison of hotspots 2010 vs. 2015. Things were not great in 2010 either, but have gotten so much worse on Obama’s watch.

    In 2010 the major hotspots were: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia.

    In 2015: same ones, also add Syria/Libya, and a direct consequence of regime change in Libya, all the surrounding countries are in the yellow zone. When Gaddafi was still ruling Libya, that whole area of North Africa was stable, because Gaddafi government excercised a stabilizing influence. Which is why Hillary had to kill him.

    Also add Ukraine as a red zone. Again, as a direct result of American regime-change efforts.

    • et Al says:

      Turkey seems to be planning to become the new Pakistan, i.e. supporting and funding islamic fundamentalism in order to do its foreign policy bidding. Well, we all saw how support for the Afghan Mujahedeen worked out, not to mention how Pakistan turned out too…

      Any bids on a possible military coup in Turkey? Erdogan already got rid of the old guard but even the new guard didn’t want to get openly and fully involved in Syria (as you can read on Moon of Alabama’s blog: ). Turkey is turning in to a bit of a liability and certainly doesn’t make NATO look good when Erdogan says NATO fully supports Turkeys anti ISIL/PKK operations and NATO is extremely lukewarm at best…

      Something’s got to give. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

      • marknesop says:

        Check allegations very carefully, as a ramped-up campaign of deception is SOP for the USA when it wants to depose a ruler because he has outlived his usefulness. The west was fine with Erdogan when he was helping it construct false-flag excuses to fall on Syria and tear it to pieces, but since he has been playing footsie with Putin and passively defying the New World Order, western support for Erdogan has declined markedly.

        I am far from expert on the region, but generally what will emerge next is western support for an alternate and pro-NATO leadership candidate. Anything like that yet? Thierry Meyssan, for whose political chops I have great respect, thinks so, and goes so far as to report the CIA has reversed its efforts to divide the Turkish opposition and is now working feverishly to mend and re-unify it.

        Again, I am not a regional expert, and have little knowledge of the Turkish opposition. Who might be a preferred candidate? Any recent sign of burgeoning American interest in a particular alternative? If I had to guess – and I do – I’d say this guy is the one to watch; Selahattin Demirtas. Early signs of western approval abound – he’s a populist who wants to “reduce the size of government, accord all Turkish citizens more individual rights, and end polarization. Demirtas also said that he wanted to end discrimination and increase the rights of women, minorities, and gays and lesbians.” As the popular saw goes, if he did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. He’s “charismatic and telegenic”, western parlance for “we like him”, and young (41) and consequently more likely to be susceptible to western programming. The important NATO mouthpieces like the cut of his jib. But that’s just based on about 20 minutes of research, and he is obviously hampered by being the leader of the Kurdish minority. He’s made significant gains, but is it enough for the west to provide a wagon to which he could hitch his star? I don’t know.

        • et Al says:

          Thanks for the heads up. The only fly in the ointment is that the precursors of US regime change methodology are very well known. I don’t see Erdogan going down without some serious fight, or a Hariri type exit.

          BTW, I should have posted this first as a musical accompaniment to the title of your piece:

    • marknesop says:

      It’s amazing, the new perspective a different standard of measure offers – by using numbers of deaths due to violence, it’s easy to see how might-makes-right has triumphed as a national philosophy, and it is clear that much of the world is now barely paying lip service to the notion of peaceful co-existence. American analysts would argue that this is attributable to new constraints placed on American military power and freedom of intervention, but in fact the opposite is true.

      Actually, what is thought to have been the final nail in Gaddafi’s coffin is more prosaic – his activism to introduce the gold dinar as a regional alternative to the U.S. dollar. That was roundly pooh-poohed by western pundits as a ridiculous tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory, but there were and are obvious parallels to the American full-court presses against Saddam Hussein and Iran when each announced their intention to no longer deal in the dollar. Libya’s gold reserves were actually more than I thought – around 150 tons – so introduction and solid backing for the gold dinar as a regional currency was a very real possibility. Of course, Libya’s gold reserves mysteriously disappeared with Gaddafi’s overthrow.

      • yalensis says:

        Like my boss likes to say, “It’s all in the metrics.”
        Once people decide what is worth measuring (in this case, human lives and well-being), then the numbers tell the entire story.

  9. et Al says:

    A tour de force and a depressing read. When the USA cannot even help itself…

    USA, the SuperMutha.

    There is also this idea the technology will somehow save the USA, despite all the other factors pointing to an exit. To be honest, it is nothing new that technology is seen as a panacea for all America’s ills. Methinks it is too little, too late. Amazing things are on the way, but they need to be paid for somehow…

    A point you touched on, the effect America’s policies on its allies is worth expanding on. Just as back in 1990 when Turkey got shafted to the tune of tens of billions of dollars of lost trade with Iraq when it signed on the the USA’s war on Iraq (but refused in 2003), we have seen how the USA’s allies are supposed to take a hit for hanging out with the Big Boy in the school playground – it is happening again today with the massive blowback against Europe from sanctions imposed upon Russia to the tune of tens of billions of € (if we are to believe numerous reports – and permanently lost markets for EU goods), a Europe that is already heavily economically depressed. Again, for love of the USA.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Al; indeed, this post merely scratches the surface of a monolithic discussion topic, and there is lots of room for expansion. I just found it remarkable that even as official America is puffing and blowing about how its global power and influence has increased, the reality is quite different and its posturing might be more correctly interpreted as a fear display over the decline of that influence. Whether or not its relationship with the world could be reestablished by a return, immediately, to its far-in-the-past core values is debatable, but it is demonstrably clear that the world is less and less easy to fool with American machinations and deceptions that it must protect itself against a looming threat from Russia. Russia is not interested in threatening the USA and more recently is not even interested in being on good terms with it. Successful strategy? Only if armed conflict is your endgame.

  10. yalensis says:

    And speaking of Gaddafi:
    Ukrainian government honcho Anton Gerashchenko blustered on Radio Freedom, that Putin will achieve same fate as Gaddafi, in the end.

    Gerashchenko claims that Putin shot down MH-17, just as Gaddafi shot down Pan American 103.
    Goes on to say that Ukraine will achieve its revenge in the end, as follows:
    (1) First (working together with “world society”) they will achieve return of Crimea and Donbass to Ukrainian rule;
    (2) Next, thanks to Western sanctions, they will force Russia to pay billions of dollars of compensation to Ukraine;
    (3) Next, just as Gaddafi was forced to hand over his citizens to “world justice” for the Pan American crash, so too will Putin be forced to endure punishment for the Boeing. Such will be the pain of sanctions, that he will not have any other choice;
    (4) And last, but not least, Putin will end his life just as Gaddafi did.

    Gerashchenko knows that this will all happen, just as he predicted, because he is a modern nostradamus. And because the U.S. has his back.

    • kirill says:

      What a retard. Gaddafi shot down Pan Am 103 as revenge for Iranian Air 655. What is Putin’s motive? His cartoon evilness?

      Ukraine will have to look for money from its new masters. Good luck with that!

    • marknesop says:

      The twist to that is that Gaddafi was not lying when he asserted that the Libyan state had nothing to do with the downing of Pan Am Flight 103. American analysts at the time were fairly confident that Syria was in fact responsible, although there is no way to know now how they came to that conclusion or what evidence they might have had. Disclosure nearly 20 years after the fact, though, strongly suggests the CIA planted a critical piece of evidence which would implicate Libya because it suited American objectives at the time to go after Gaddafi. And the poor fool eventually admitted guilt – probably because continued denials were getting him nowhere and he reasoned that paying out would put it behind him – and paid compensation, playing directly into Washington’s hands.

      • yalensis says:

        Moral of the story:
        admit guilt or plead guilty
        if you are innocent.

        No matter what kind of deal the “prosecutor” offers you.
        If that prosecutor is the U.S. government.

      • Patient Observer says:

        The blame for Pan Am 103 seemed to shift weekly in the early years, Syrians, Palestinians etc as needed to meet Western propaganda agendas of the moment.

        Gaddafi did err big time by copping a deal for leniency. Happens all the time in the US, the cops coerce a confessions out of some ghetto kid by saying he’s going to jail regardless but by playing ball (i.e. confessing), the judge will go easy on him. The cops and prosecutors get their conviction and the message is delivered to the ghetto kids as to who da man is.

  11. et Al says:

    On the previous thread a bunch of you commented on the non-availability (and possible manipulation) of satellite data from over the Ukraine. I’d just like to add that as is the case with all image providers like DigitalGlobe (particularly if they are US or Western built satellites), the USG has a policy of buying up all possible military related data and have first dibs. These civilian operators are in fact dual use (as are most things these days) and almost certainly are designed and launched to provide military services – something that you will not read about in public except the peddled story that the military ‘rents’ comms capability for its networks.

    Civilian satellites are much, much cheaper than anything built for the US military which only makes them more attractive when the military has too make cuts.

    • yalensis says:

      Which makes all the more plausible the theory that Digital Globe, along with Google Earth, were enlisted in a conspiracy to cover-up what really happened over the skies of Donbass on 17 July, 2014.

      Note, I said “theory”, just want to keep it out there…

      • et Al says:

        Well, if there is one thing we have learned, and it is a fact, even in the free and democratic West, there is always a deference to anything that could impinge upon national security (NatSec), whether it is journalists or oil companies et al (not me!). When Russia follows the same rules of the game, it is corruption or meddling etc.. The art is seeing what is missing – not an easy skill to acquire for most, not just the reading between the lines.

  12. Warren says:

    • et Al says:

      I would love to see Russia fully promote Siberia and the far east for tourist (Kamchatka etc.) as the last great frontier. It would be great PR, it would be fresh and totally new. If they could promote it also as a place to go wild skiing etc for all the crazy f/ks who GoPro their extreme sports, more the better. I really do wonder what the tourist board is for…

      It’s also on my list of things to do (nothing extreme) as I’ve only done Moscow, St. Petersberg and some of the Golden Ring.

  13. bolasete says:

    NOT intended as diversion from but complement to mark’s stellar essay, or what intellectually sophisticated liberals do in reaction to our swirling down the drain:

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks for that valuable insight, bolasete – for me, the convincing money shot is as follows: “They seemed baffled by the idea of having to work and negotiate with other countries. I came away from the hearings dismayed by what the GOP has become in the Obama era. It seems utterly unprepared to govern.

      Yet I remain convinced that the next American president will be a Republican, and that the Republicans will once again hold exclusive sway over every major office in governance. If they work as they did under Bush, this will rapidly spread to a series of ideological purges of state and even municipal governments, resulting in replacement by government loyalists and yes-men. That the Republicans believe this could truly lead to a revitalization of American strength is laughable, and I doubt that belief persists even to the state level; it is merely a desperate retrenching action to force Republican values on the entire country.

      I should add the codicil that none of this will take place under Donald Trump, who will almost certainly not remain the front-runner – that’s just a Republican strategic head-fake to cause the Democrats to concentrate on him. Trump has too many wild ideas and off-the-reservation tendencies for him to ever be supported by the neoconservative Republican core establishment, and it will assert itself when it judges the time is right; additionally, he is a competitor in corporatism rather than a potential enabler. I still have a pretty good feeling – which is to say a bad feeling – about Marco Rubio, despite his low polling, and he is analogous to the relative unknown Obama before the Democratic turnout machine threw its shoulder to the wheel in 2008.

      Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee despite all her baggage, as all the supporters who felt she should have been the historic nominee in 2008 renew their efforts. And I believe she is almost certain – have to apply that little qualifier “almost” because you can never be truly certain in American politics, since there is so much downstream tampering with the outcome – to lose. The country is demoralized with what the Obama government did to it after all its bipartisan promise and hopey-changey narrative (I never thought I would supportively use a Palinism against Obama) and ripe for a panicky stampede to the arms of the Republicans with their exorbitant and totally cynical promises. Clinton will be running in an environment eerily reminiscent of that for the Republicans immediately after the George Dubya fiasco, and I doubt she left the Obama government anything like early enough to disassociate herself from its flailing.

      The Republican party is the living embodiment of the fanatic, who redoubles his effort after he has lost sight of his objective, and tries the same formula over and over, expecting to get a different result. Chances of an inclusive government in either its domestic and foreign policy are almost nil, while there is every reason to believe the inveigling and invective against Russia and China will grow exponentially in an attempt to provoke war.

      • et Al says:

        I also think a Republican will be the next pres, but the facts remain the same whoever takes over the poisioned (c)Alice. $$$. I still would expect the GOP to be high on rhetoric (to cover being), but lower on action. We They’ll have to best make do with what O-Bomber leaves them, a bit like the fable of the new UK conservative government finding a note after ousting Labour*: “I’m afraid there is no money.”. Facts is facts.


        BTW, the headlines say How Now Frau Merkel has decided to run for a fourth term in 2017! Exit stage right, like Thatcher I think…. Austerity has not only done massive damage metaphysically, it has done much more damage to at least one generation. A swing left (whatever that means these days) is coming….

        • marknesop says:

          We just returned from a late dinner with some friends, here. Very nice, highly recommended. He is Canadian born, she is Mexican. We discussed the American front runners, and he agreed with me that Donald Trump would never be president, but he had a very offbeat theory that Trump would parlay his front-runner status into a big payola from the Republicans in exchange for stepping aside! I have to admit that possibility never occurred to me.

        • yalensis says:

          I am betting $$$ that MARCO RUBIO will be the next President of the United Snakes of America.

          [cue patriotic music]

          • marknesop says:

            That’s the guy my money’s on, simply because that’s the guy the Republican ideology demands – a Cuban rebuttal to the black Obama (see? We republicans are inclusive, too!), confident and well-spoken as a public hood ornament for the party, and steeped in the idealism of corporatist lore. As I mentioned before, he’s polling low numbers right now while Trump is riding high, but the real front-runner is often not revealed too early to spare him the opposition’s castigation. The Republicans learned a lesson from Obama, they had pretty much nothing on him, while they had a treasure-chest of memes to use against Clinton that they never even got to open. Rubio likewise is a virtual unknown without a lot of baggage.

    • et Al says:

      Uh,Sl*t. Playing the devil’s avocado, the GOP will have been out of power (i.e. the Presidency) for eight years. Being charitable and building on my earlier comment, you can almost say and do what the f/k you like in opposition. Da shit gets real when you da man. I will not accept that GOP/whatever are ignorant dimwits. They, like everyone else will work with what they are given. Put it this way, where is the downside of being an asshole when you are not the master of the house?

  14. Tim Owen says:

    Great piece. Bit too worn out from work to really digest it properly but it did bring to mind this piece:

    “What do you call a country that has grown 4.6 per cent – in total – since it joined the euro 16 years ago? Well, probably the one most likely to leave the common currency. Or Italy, for short.
    It’s hard to say what went wrong with Italy, because nothing ever went right. It grew 4 per cent its first year or so in the euro, but almost not at all in the 15 years since. Now, that’s not to say that it’s been flat the whole time. It hasn’t. It got as much as 14 per cent bigger as it was when it joined the euro, before the 2008 recession and 2011 double-dip erased most of that progress. But unlike, say, Greece, there was never much of a boom. There has only been a bust. The result, though, has been the same. Greece and Italy have both grown a meager 4.6 per cent the past 16 years, although they took drastically different paths to get there.”

    The western economic model – neo-liberalism – is driving the west full speed down a cul-de-sac.

    Read more:

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Tim – again, exactly the sort of discussion I hoped to excite. And this has to be something of a record for us for staying on the subject.

    • et Al says:

      Italy is an interesting case. Burlesque Toni has broken the chain of endless coalition governments that Italy is famous for* and he claims (and others) that this has brought stability to Italy. It’s hard to tell so far. Recalling from memory, a lot of Italian GDP is small and medium sized family owned businesses and not so much of the Globocorp that we are used to seeing in the Anglosphere. But these are strange times. From my extreme amateur view point, I feel that Italy is unfairly picked on as somehow the next potential domino in the chain (unless you prefer Spain).

      On the one hand, it is easy (and more usual) to compare Italy to the stellar performers, but on the other hand, there are so many ways that things could have been worse.

      It’s just that I’m a (more) than a little bit wary of conventions and…

      * Stalin, Churchill and that cigarette packet….

      • Patient Observer says:

        “Once in a life time” was a great song and had some personal meaning for me.

      • Tim Owen says:

        BTW there is a fantastic book about the “other Italy” called Gomorrah. The journalist who wrote it had to go into hiding as it accurately portrays how the economy and drug trade function in Naples.

        It was also made into a movie of the same name:

        • astabada says:

          One has to notice that the author has been discredited several times for his inaccuracy, and even for outright lying. The stories he tells in the book are at least gross exaggerations.

          Anyway, I am Italian and can tell you a lot more about the reasons why Italy is in a twenty year crisis. I hope to have some more time next week.

          The most quoted reasons are corruption and (state) inefficiency. However, if you believe me (and I admit there is no reason why you should) none of these explains – alone – the situation.

          Kudos to et Al. for this most enlightened passage:

          a lot of Italian GDP is small and medium sized family owned businesses and not so much of the Globocorp that we are used to seeing in the Anglosphere.

      • Warren says:

        The Euro has taken Italy on a …………….

    • kirill says:

      100s x 100s of members = 10000s of participants. There weren’t that many in any approximation. So either it is 10s of groups or 100s of groups with a few members. That latter would be a rather peculiar as if someone was creating fake groups for some purpose.

      Reminds me of the large number of NATO “NGO”s in Russia. A clear attempt to create “authority in numbers”.

    • Drutten says:

      This is essentially a minor expat gathering funded and organized by the West, consisting mostly of people who haven’t even been to Crimea, in order to give the impression of some kind of bullshit “government in exile” being in the works. Hell, the so called “leader of the Crimean Tatars” Dzhemilev who’s featured here as the headliner is a confirmed stooge of the worst kind that nobody gives a crap about in Crimea (and on top of it all he’s been actively calling for Islamic terrorism and other utterly insane things). All in all, this “congress” has been blown way out of proportion by their handlers and (Western) media, and as usual all the interesting aspects are entirely ignored.

      Meanwhile in Crimea, thousands of Crimean Tatars who do live there and have genuine interests held an actual congress a week ago. As expected, nobody (in the West) reported on that. Just like nobody has reported on the vast rehabilitation process initiated by Russia, the huge efforts being undertaken to solve the property problems and grant the Crimean Tatars land they have long claimed, land that Ukrainian authorities flat out denied them (making them “squat” said land, and being mass evicted from time to time by explicit orders from Kiev). Oh, and giving these Tatars basic necessities such as gas, electricity and water (that Kiev never bothered about), or take the deportation remembrance day that Kiev didn’t give an ounce of shit about as it where, but that was turned into a republic-wide day of mourning by the new utterly evil authorities. Blah blah blah blah.

      It’s no wonder that people went positively apeshit over that French delegation and they will too go apeshit over the upcoming ones (Italy has expressed interest, and a Swiss-headed one is due soon too I believe). The truth mustn’t come out, for it will spoil our narrative…

      • Drutten says:

        This pretty much sums it up, the “Western version” with Dzhemilev as the stooge-in-chief, versus reality:

        • Drutten says:

          And this guy is very much against the secession of Crimea from Ukraine, as he has expressed quite passionately numerous times, for example in this clip where he gets real angry over Poroshenkos BS about Crimea (quite astonishing what hypocrisy Poroshenko expressed there):

          But still he’s reasonable enough to identify and tear apart blatant propaganda..

        • yalensis says:

          This whole Crimea propaganda campaign, with Dzemilev, etc., is so ridiculous and clumsy, it is more than obvious, the campaign is orchestrated by Americans, who don’t have even the minimalist clue what they are talking about.

          It even got to the point where Poroshenko promised to give the whole of Crimea to the Tatars (who are only 12% of the populationn there), if only they would help him conquer it from Russia.

          Clearly, Porky only made this offer under American duress. Because when the Ukrainians ruled Crimea, they did diddly squat for the Tatar population. And the Tatars know that.

          • marknesop says:

            I wish I could find that historical sequence of events in Crimea site I used a couple of times before – should have bookmarked it. Anyway, it documented several events in which Crimea tried to wrest itself away from Ukraine, and Kiev’s ruthless suppression of them. Kiev wants Crimea for its strategic advantage and because the Americans want Ukraine to control it. The Tatars should not be under any illusions about the cushy treatment they would receive from Kiev if they managed to get it back for Ukraine. They would be thanked by ruthless subjugation to Kiev’s wants and needs, and it is easy for Porky to promise something he doesn’t own. Still, it is surprising to see the State Department go so big so soon. It is a measure of how badly they wanted Crimea, and I am more wistful than ever that I could not be a fly on the wall during the roaring and screaming of fury that must have followed its being snatched away, although in public Washington pretended to be nonchalant, so-what-who-cares.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I wish I could find that historical sequence of events in Crimea site I used a couple of times before – should have bookmarked it.

              Was this the article that you refer to above?

              A (not so) brief history of Crimea

              • marknesop says:

                Nope; I don’t think I’ve ever cited that one, or I don’t remember it. I’ll find it. But that’s a good one that contains much of the same information. I’m talking about the one where most of the Ukrainian navy ships in Sevastopol flew the Russian ensign in protest, and Kiev immediately stopped their pay. At least that’s how I remember it.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Here’s a nice University of Maryland Crimea history timeline which sets the tone early on with this entry:

                  Apr 29, 1954 Under Khrushchev, the Soviet Union transfers the Crimea from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR. This move is done in marking the 300th anniversary of the Pereiaslav Agreement which, in large part, marked the beginning of Ukrainian subjugation to the Muscovite Empire. The official party line has declared this the beginning of the long Russo-Ukrainian friendship.


                  Muscovite Empire!

                  No mention of the fact that those “Ukrainians” west of the Dnieper who were opposed to the Periyaslav Agreement preferred to live under the benevolent control of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

                  The site is part of the MAR project run by UoM – Minorities at Risk:

                  MAR tracks 284 politically-active ethnic groups throughout the world from 1945 to the present — identifying where they are, what they do, and what happens to them. MAR focuses specifically on ethnopolitical groups, non-state communal groups that have “political significance” in the contemporary world because of their status and political actions. Political significance is determined by the following two criteria:

                  The group collectively suffers, or benefits from, systematic discriminatory treatment vis-a-vis other groups in a society

                  The group is the basis for political mobilization and collective action in defense or promotion of its self-defined interests

                  You have been warned!

                  I have a slight suspicion that some of the MAR researchers into Crimean history may possibly be Banderite progeny happily settled in that bastion of freedom and democracy known as the USA.

                  See: Chronology for Crimean Russians in Ukraine

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s it!!! June 1993 is the incident I spoke of.

            • yalensis says:

              If you compile Crimea timeline, you must make sure to include fact, that American firms already had contracts to build schools and infrastructure for American naval families based in Sebastopol.
              When Americans thought they were going to kick out Russian navy and take over Sebastopol as their own “crown jewel of the Black Sea”.

              This was a good example to illustrate the old proverb, “Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.”

    • marknesop says:

      The dozy newscaster repeatedly refers to them as “tar-tars”. Not that his audience will probably notice anything. I suspect if you investigated you would find this international conference got financial support from American interests, since they hope to develop the Tatars as a Trojan horse to throw Russia out of Crimea. Good luck with that.

    • moscowexile says:

      That’s Sir Mustafa, if you don’t mind, Estonian knight and convicted rapist.

      Now who was that other politician who was also a convicted rapist and about whom there was no end of reprobation and outrage and disgust expressed in the Western media?

      Oh yes!


      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        Yanuk? His conviction was for assault, wasn’t it?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Yep, but I’m sure I’ve seen allegations of attempted rape made against him by certain types of Yukie and Yukie-wannabes and Canadian Banderite progeny:

          At age 17, in 1967, President Yanukovych was first sentenced to 3 years in prison for participating in the robbery. He tore hats off people heads. Also, he was a member of the criminal group “Pivnovka.” Viktor Yanukovych was released after 7 months due to the cooperation with the administration of the prison.

          Viktor Yanukovych was brought to trial for a second time for bodily injury of moderate severity. He was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in 1970. This is the official version. There is also an unofficial one. Due to it, President Yanukovych attempted to rape a woman.

          [Clearly written by a non-native speaker of English like what I am!]

          See: Yanukovych – a criminal. How wealthier have Ukrainian billionaires become?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Clearly written by a non-native speaker of English like what I am!Should have been:

            “Clearly written by a non-native speaker of English unlike what I am!”

            • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

              Clearly written by Borat I’d have said.

              Absent a recorded conviction we can treat the attempted rape thing as gossip.

              • yalensis says:

                But “he tore hats off peoples heads” !
                That’s outrageous!

                • Jen says:

                  He must have thought that people carry their money on their heads under their hats. Well he was participating in a robbery.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I remember how this was quite a common crime in the USSR, especially when perpetrated against women newly arrived in Moscow from Siberia as with them it seemed that the size of their fur hats was indicative of their social status and I remember quite often seeing Siberian women newly arrived at the Yaroslavsky Terminus parading along the platform wearing whoppers.

                  When one considers that some of those proudly displayed hats were sometimes made of sable or mink, then you can understand how swiping one of them off an unsuspecting woman’s head whilst she was standing at a taxi rank was a profitable enterprise.

                  I also recall how newly arrived in Moscow Siberian lads could also easily be identified by their huge wolf-skin hats, which also appeared to serve amongst them the purpose of a status symbol.

                  I rather fancied one myself, but was never tempted to nick one.

    • marknesop says:

      Now just as long as Russian producers do not get greedy and start raising their own prices; not when this broad market replacement is fragile in its infancy. The government should take a hand there, and monitor prices carefully and fairly so that producers make a profit through increased demand for their products and not simply cranking up prices. There is always opportunism, and the government will need to make sure it does not kill the golden goose of patriotism. This could hardly have unfolded better – for Russia, in the medium to long term – than it has, but it is presently fragile and it would not take a lot of price-fixing to wreck it.

  15. yalensis says:

    And file this one under the rubric: “Barbarians will be barbarians”.

    Ukrainian barbarians renaming “Pushkin Street” because they say Pushkin was anti-Ukrainian.
    Thus cutting themselves off from still another cultural icon.
    Their little world becomes ever closer and narrower.

    • marknesop says:

      Why don’t they just name everything after Bandera and Hitler, and be done with it? That’s the culture they admire. Kiev can become Hitlertown, and every street can be Bandera Avenue Number 1,2,3.

      • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

        With the way the Ukrainian education system is going, the next generation will only be able to communicate by grunting and scratching their armpits.

        Written street signs will be quite useless to them.

      • Jen says:

        In every Ukrainian city and town, roads that run from north to south can be called hitlers and roads that run from east to west can be called banderas. So the main street in Kiev could be called Slava Ukraini hitler (if it runs north-south) or Slava Ukraini bandera (if it runs east-west) and the major street that bisects it could be Heroyam Slava bandera or hitler respectively.

        • marknesop says:

          Brilliant!!! Submit your plan to the appropriate ministry at once.

          • Jen says:

            I am trying to find the name of the street-naming commission in Dnepropetrovsk to submit my idea.

            Karl Marx Avenue = Slava Ukraini Hitler
            Karl Libknecht Street = Heroyam Slava Bandera
            Shmidt Street / Gorkiy Street = Stepan Andriyivich Bandera
            Kirov Avenue = Andriy Bandera
            Artem Street = Miroslava Bandera
            Pushkin Ave / Chkalov Street / Chernyshevsky Street = Alois Hitler
            Naberezhna V I Lenina Street = Adolf Hitler

            See, it is so easy! The commission should hire me! Then they don’t have to worry about renaming streets with wishy-washy names like Mercy, Solidarity or … Tolerance.

            “We are not Americans who give numbers to their streets instead of names, They simply don’t have any prominent people to name their streets after, and we have enough to keep renaming streets for three-four years,” one of the commission members said as quoted by local media.


            • Jen says:

              Oooh, I got my directions mixed up – it seems the streets running north-south are banderas and the ones running east-west are hitlers. Sorry for the confusion.

  16. bolasete says:

    in the matter of refugees:

  17. Patient Observer says:

    Great post! The supernova analogy was compelling. The defining characteristics of the American empire (exceptionalism, disconnection from reality and narcissism) expressed in a person would call for a serious intervention.

    The Empire must have a fractal structure – exceptionalisim, disconnection from reality and narcissism expressed on an individual level throughout the 1% repeats itself in every increasing sizes of organization (think NGO, media, etc.) up to the Empire itself.

    The forgoing suggests that there is no cure, the Empire is rotten to the core and no leader no matter how intelligent, right-thinking and forceful of personality can change it. Contrast this with Russia where Putin was able to lead a change of the magnitude we have all witnessed. He would not have been successful had Russia not already had in its very fabric the values that he exemplifies.

    I hope the same for Serbia – its good fractal structural structure is waiting for the right person or organization to allows a propagation of its values to the national level.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • kirill says:

      I second the kudos and agree that the rot is terminal. I think that societies have life cycles just as their organic constituents do. The aging process consists of feedback effects that change the behaviour and perceptions of their cells, aka humans. During the development stage the cells behave in a way that helps order and cohesion. But the cells can follow the path of least resistance and are not constrained to some ideal regime of operation. You can see this shift in recent generations were nihilism, self-centeredness and ADD-like need for instant gratification is a progressively worsening affliction. The social strata are not immune to these trends. Overall one can lump them into the category of decreasing social and mental intelligence.

      People who are deficient thinkers and who can detach themselves from reality thanks to the social infrastructure on which they exist begin to go off the rails and make lunatic decisions in search of epically deluded outcomes. The King really has not clothes. And neither do the citizens. Humans need external forces to make them act the right way over the long term as they have no built in guide that brings them back to down to earth. We are now in the social decline stage over most of the globe. It is not just the USA that is going to fall, it is most of the rest of human society. But what is really bad is that we are going to see terminal exogenous shocks from cheap energy depletion and climate change at the same time as the social fabric is rotting away. We are headed for a perfect storm of civilization collapse during this century.

      • Tim Owen says:

        I share your pessimism.

        Read a very thought-provoking article on this today that had what I suspect is a profound insight into this:

        “As noted in last week’s post, civilizations by and large don’t have to be dragged down the slope of decline and fall; instead, they take that route with yells of triumph, convinced that the road to ruin will infallibly lead them to heaven on earth, and attempts to turn them aside from that trajectory typically get reactions ranging from blank incomprehension to furious anger. It’s not just the elites who fall into this sort of self-destructive groupthink, either: it’s not hard to find, in a falling civilization, people who claim to disagree with the ideology that’s driving the collapse, but people who take their disagreement to the point of making choices that differ from those of their more orthodox neighbors are much scarcer. They do exist; every civilization breeds them, but they make up a very small fraction of the population, and they generally exist on the fringes of society, despised and condemned by all those right-thinking people whose words and actions help drive the accelerating process of decline and fall.

        The next question, then, is how civilizations get caught in that sort of groupthink. My proposal, as sketched out last week, is that the culprit is a rarely noticed side effect of urban life. People who live in a mostly natural environment—and by this I mean merely an environment in which most things are put there by nonhuman processes rather than by human action—have to deal constantly with the inevitable mismatches between the mental models of the universe they carry in their heads and the universe that actually surrounds them. People who live in a mostly artificial environment—an environment in which most things were made and arranged by human action—don’t have to deal with this anything like so often, because an artificial environment embodies the ideas of the people who constructed and arranged it. A natural environment therefore applies negative or, as it’s also called, corrective feedback to human models of the way things are, while an artificial environment applies positive feedback—the sort of thing people usually mean when they talk about a feedback loop.”

        Stephen Cohen is fond of saying “people are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.” The above suggests that the western world certainly has blasted by Cohen and his – our? – generation in this respect.

        • kirill says:

          This analysis is spot on. The mass media is also a critical element in amplifying distorted perceptions. It all makes sense if one accepts evolution. Humans did not evolve in developed societies. They evolved as nomadic hunter gatherers. In addition, no society lasts long enough to really affect the genes of its constituents. The current global civilization is no exception.

          • Tim Owen says:

            I liked the fact that he didn’t go for the easy sell – the Internet, for instance, as the vector most obvious and most prone to be “over-counted” for this kind of analysis of the groupthink that seems so bizarre in the present moment – but let some line out to catch a bigger fish.

            Every time I try and read something about the impact of the Internet I’m plagued by doubts about the grand claims made. How EXACTLY is it more or less important than, say, radio? Once you have mass communication is the Internet really a step-change?

            My point is: the close-in references aren’t radical enough. It’s a bit like when Michael Hudson points out that ancient Sumerians had a more sophisticated understanding of finance than our “big men” do. We are thoroughly lost in the trees seeking a forest.

            What attracts me to what he’s saying is the “elephant in the room” question of how to most simply describe one’s own experience of the world at the present moment. The rubric of rural / urban – man made / natural – controlled and manipulated / uncontrollable and about to run out of control – mediated / un-mediated (in all senses) strikes me as a powerful way to re-experience that.

            It also brought to mind Terrence Malick’s “Thin Red Line” if that makes any sense. I mean that the point made in that film to my mind is this: the real horror of the modern death machine island-hopping across the Pacific in WWII is only accessible – peak irony? – if the “primitive” cultures that watched the “parade” go by and were, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant, are experienced as they are by the protagonist, a U.S. soldier on the lam.

            If you’re tempted to think that this is the noble-savage retreaded the great strength of the film – a masterpiece in my estimation – is that its anthropological slant is really focussed, not on the islanders at all, but on the culture of the U.S. war machine. This viewpoint is very slyly introduced by his brief experience of freedom with the islanders in the film’s first act. His sojourn is quickly crushed by his recapture… but the anthropological viewpoint frames the film from then on. A genius move.

            • marknesop says:

              I’ll take the bait. The Internet is easily the biggest advance in mass communication of our time because it is also a storage medium which can be selectively browsed and – far more importantly – referenced at a later date, putting information which far exceeds the capacity of the Library of Congress at everyone’s fingertips. Rebutting the whacko assertions of warmongering American leaders using radio or even television would be a monumental task compared with a simple posting including “He didn’t say that? I beg to differ (hotlink here).” Compare that to “I know he said it – I heard him on the radio” (cue cries of derision) or “I saw him on live TV”. In that instance a record still exists and it might be possible for you to get it, but it is cumbersome and time-consuming and by the time you did the audience would have moved on. The internet, quite apart from its facility as a mass-communications enabler, allows anyone with a reasonable degree of skill and interest to research important issues in depth in minutes and supply informed discussion points which have the potential to avert various dangerous actions.

              This is “The Happy Time” for the internet the way the opening stages of World War II’s sea phase was for the German wolfpacks, when convoys were still mostly unescorted – political figures and media luminaries still act as if the internet did not exist and make statements as if you were not able to check their veracity. Future generations will either be more careful or – more likely – regulate the internet so that information which might be used for political purposes is short-term and recording it is a violation of some law to be developed.

    • marknesop says:

      “He would not have been successful had Russia not already had in its very fabric the values that he exemplifies.”

      For once, a statement with which Russophobes and Russophiles alike agree!

  18. Northern Star says:

    soap box…
    ballot box..
    ..only one box left

    • marknesop says:

      Ooooooo…Steven Pifer and Alexander Motyl, putting their pointed heads together with Brian Whitmore; I bet there will be a lot of affectionate anecdotes swapped about their good friend Mr. Putin. Alexander Motyl in particular has candidly confessed that he loathes Russia because some of his relatives died at the hands of the secret police, but now he is just all right with Ukraine being run by modern Nazis. The secret police and Stalin are bad, see. Nothing wrong with Nazis – did you know Stepan Bandera was a Hero of Ukraine?

      Vladimir Putin lost on the battlefield – that’s amazing. Because the Ukrainian army was so red-hot, I presume. Say what you like about those Nazi battalions, they sure can fight – look at Semen Semenchenko, for example, the Hero of Ilovaisk. So now Putin is trying to force Donetsk and Lugansk back into Ukraine, the dirty dog. Don’t let him get away with it, Mr. Yatsenyuk!!! Make Russia take them!!

  19. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, tomorrow is Paratrooper’s Day in Russia.
    Lenta put out this video where you try to guide the paratrooper into the fountain. If you miss, he crashes into the sidewalk and isn’t too happy.
    I’m not good at gaming, I can’t really figure out how to play it.
    Although once, by accident, I did get him into the fountain; however, it was not a “soft” landing.
    The only thing I can figure out, is that if you press the mouse, he descends faster. But I couldn’t figure out how to steer him.

    Have fun.

  20. Actually Russia is one of the few things that the “tolerant/progressive” left and the “patriotic” right agree in Finland agree nowadays. They both hate Russia and support Ukraine 100% in this war.

    There are only two types of people in Finland who support Donbass against Ukraine and who don’t have the hostile attitude towards Russia:

    1. The older left wingers who used to be communist supporters in their younger days. Communism is now dead in Finland but most of them have kept their pro-Russian views. Their numbers is rather small though,

    2. The younger people who have a critical stance towards Finnish mainstream media and who follow the world events through alternative medias. These people are generally regarded as “paid Russian trolls” in Finland, and if they present their views with their own name they can get death threats. These people have their own group in Facebook here which they ironically named as Venäjän Trolliarmeija (Russia’s Troll Army):

    All the rest are more or less anti-Russian.

    • You see that many, if not most of the people (including the group founder) in that FB group have anonymous profiles in fear of losing their jobs or becoming a target of anti-Russian threats.

    • Pavlo Svolochenko says:

      Are you one of the Venäjän trolls?

      • No, I am not in that group atm. I don’t want to reveal my identity there because I am employed and I have home mortgage loan to pay.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          The mere fact that you are posting comments online in the blog of a WESTERNER is enough to cause trouble at your workplace? Wow!

          • LOL no.

            And I was not joking. I KNOW people who have been harassed for belonging to that FB group Venäjän Trolliarmeija. One person in that group owns a company and his company was attacked with a smear campaign because of his membership in the group and the company faced some trouble because of it.

            The founder of the group founded the group with a pseudonym Sepe Vaara and his reason for this was specifically that he does not want any trouble in his personal life because of his public opinions.

            There is a group called Verkkomeedio (that consists of several anti-Russian people) who have been trying to expose the identities of the members in Trolliarmeija group. They have succeeded in some cases and started to harass these people. They have for example searched the Trolliarmeija member’s real FB profile and sent some hate/slander mails to his or her FB friends about this person and how he or she is a “Putin lover” or “a paid agent of Russia” etc. They have also contacted the employers of these people and told them about his or her opinions about Russia, Putin etc.

            There are a few brave people in that group who are there with their own names. Julia Junno is one of them. She is an intelligent young woman who is writing a lot of good articles here:

            Vastavalkea is a Finnish site where people who have different views from our mainstream media get together and publish articles. Julia Junno is one of the best writers there.

  21. et Al says:

    The Hairy Man:Turkey kills 260 PKK members in air raids

    So says Ankara. Channeling Vietnam (with same outcome)? Dipshitz.

  22. Fern says:

    You’ll never guess what those pesky anti-Kiev fighters in the east of Ukraine are up to now with, it goes without saying, help from the Dark Lord’s forces. They’re developing an atomic weapon – more specifically a ‘dirty’ bomb. Super sleuth journos from Newsweek are on the case:

    ”in early July, Ukraine’s State Security Service, the SBU, handed Newsweek a dossier indicating that rebel fighters had started removing the radioactive waste. Their intelligence suggests the separatist fighters have enlisted scientists from Russia to help them make a “dirty” radioactive weapon.
    The dossier contains three documents that the SBU says it obtained along with hundreds of others from a hacked rebel email account. The documents, which Newsweek could not independently verify, appear to be military orders from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. Written in Russian, they instruct officials to allow a group of nuclear specialists from the Russian Federation to access the site…….The dossier also contains a report from an undercover SBU agent in Donetsk and refers to intercepted radio and telephone communications. It is this agent’s report, based on information apparently gathered during a vodka-soaked night with a separatist fighter and passed clandestinely to an SBU handler, that has sparked fears that the DPR is working on a dirty bomb. (The SBU said it could not provide recordings or transcripts of these conversations to Newsweek.)
    …. with Russian support muted as President Vladimir Putin uses the Iran nuclear deal to negotiate a thaw in relations with the West, the rebels have limited resources to achieve that goal. Now Ukraine says a dirty bomb could be one of them”.

    While it’s tempting to dismiss this outright other than for its comedy potential, it could be laying the groundwork for a false flag. The downing of a civilian airliner enabled the US to make a significant geopolitical gains; what might a dirty bomb do?

    And as I feel bad about diverting the thread off-topic – just when Mark was commenting how unusual it was for commentators to stay on-topic, – I’ll add this. There’s a writer in The Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who’s done sterling work on the EU and its economy, particularly on the Eurozone. He touches on many of the themes of Mark’s post:-

    ”So we now have a Europe where the political temperature is rising to boiling point: where the EMU elites are refusing to shift course; and where mischievous lawyers are concocting criminal charges against anybody daring to explore a way out of the trap.
    This is a recipe for a European civil war.

    • Fern says:

      I have no idea why this comment has appeared where it has – it was meant to be at the end.

    • Tim Owen says:

      In a dour mood..

      “While it’s tempting to dismiss this outright other than for its comedy potential, it could be laying the groundwork for a false flag. The downing of a civilian airliner enabled the US to make a significant geopolitical gains; what might a dirty bomb do?”

      That looks like a sentiment worthy of putting in a time capsule:

      FERN – AUGUST 1, 2015.

      Nothing would surprise me anymore.

      Evans-Pritchard has been a stellar critic of the EU and EMU. No small feat at a conservative outfit like the Telegraph, though that might sound funny. He is one of the few who actually “gets” central banking and understands the rank absurdity of austerity on a macro-economic level.

      He’s been pointing out the case of Italy as exhibit A in the EU’s failure – which I referenced above – for a long time and in far more depth than the article I linked to above.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Fern:
      Did you see Valentina Lisitsa’s comment to the Newsweek piece?

      Compare the quote the article above:”Although a dirty bomb has nothing like the destructive capacity of an atomic bomb, the threat of such a weapon in the hands of an ill-disciplined and ruthless fighting force is a terrifying prospect” with the statement made in April 2015 by the speaker of Ukrainian Parliament ( Rada) Mr. Turchinov to the journalists asking him about “the dirty bomb” :
      “We will use all available resources, including the construction of an effective weapon. I do not think this is worth discussing in details on the air or in the news reports.There are secret military-technical programs that we are implementing right now.We need an effective weapon, whether dirty or clean – this is just a matter of technology”.
      Now,imagine this weapon in hands of batallion “Azov” or any other neo-Nazi ILL-DISCIPLINED AND RUTHLESS FIGHTING FORCE in service of Ukraine, the forces uncontrollable and increasingly hostile even to the official Kiev.
      That’s, ladies and gentlemen, is a truly terrrifying proposition.

    • marknesop says:

      It had to happen. The technique demands that the public be hit with an ever-escalating cascade of terrifying threats, so that the fright reaches critical mass and the public commits to whatever is offered to keep it safe. They cannot be given too much time to ponder the real dimensions of the threat or the likelihood that it will happen, and especially not the provenance of the information. They are supposed to look at that information and see “blablablabla rebels blablabla Ukraine blablablabla Putin blablablabla dirty bomb.”

      I don’t think so, not this time. The public has been rolled this way a few times already, and is a little wiser now to the media’s role as cheerleader for whatever the leaders want to do. Hopefully it has become a little less gullible as well through having its fingers burned, and should certainly be under no illusions as to its governments’ easy segues into outright lying when they have identified a direction in which they wish to go.

      I need hardly mention here that a European civil war would suit Washington quite well as a consolation prize, although Europe militarily united against Russia is the goal. They have decided to just omit China from the planning, as if it will remain neutral. That looks like….ummm…a misjudgment to me.

  23. Patient Observer says:

    If this incident were to happen in the US, he would have been shot dead from 30 feet away in the first 3 seconds of the encounter.
    and the cop would be called a hero – he only hit a spit second to make a life or death decision blah blah blah.

    The same kind of thinking permeates the US (and Israeli) population – exaggeration of threats then gross over-reaction followed by non-stop rationalization. In other words, a nation of cowards.

    • marknesop says:

      Not even. A recent case shows the police officer tell the driver (who appears to be a black man, but the definition is not great, it’s a body-cam) that he can remove his seat belt and get out of the car. The officer then yells “Stop! Stop!” and shoots the man in the head. He then tells every other cop who will listen that “the guy tried to take off” and that his arm was trapped inside the car and he was being dragged. Watch it; you’ll be amazed. To their credit, the force did not try to cover it up and the cop is in jail. But it won’t bring that guy back, and he didn’t do anything – just didn’t have his driver’s license on him.

  24. Pingback: masterpiece or joke? - Occurrences

  25. Warren says:

    Trump telling it how it is again!

    • kirill says:

      The clown states that recognized the 1991 borders of Ukraine are responsible for the “crisis”. The intrinsic rights of Crimeans cannot be nullified by petty political decisions and posturing of some states.

    • marknesop says:

      That opinion will be popular with the proles and its polar opposite with the political class – which refers back to the question of who actually elects the President of the United States – but at least it sounds as if Trump knows where Crimea is and could find it on a map. Which puts him well ahead of most of his country’s news media.

  26. Warren says:

    • james@wpc says:

      If you read the Economist article carefully, you will see that this ‘free trade agreement’ is designed to restrict the member countries’ trade with China to the benefit of the US: less .demand for Yuan and more demand for US dollars

    • marknesop says:

      An endorsement from The Economist is all I need to know it’s a bad deal, and that patsy statement – “We need to be in tune with what America wants” must have inspired spontaneous erections throughout the U.S. House of Representatives. This continues to presume that What America Wants is of a necessity Good For The World. One has only to look at the list of regime overthrows, wars of choice and hostile takeovers to see that American leaders do not give a flying fuck about living standards in the rest of the world, so long as it continues dancing to Yankee Doodle and producing the way it’s told for the benefit of the red-white-and-blue one percent.

      “Gauging the exact benefits of the TPP is tricky, not least because the trade talks are still confidential. Critics have bemoaned the lack of disclosure but conducting negotiations in the open would have been a sure way to undermine them. Governments will have several months to review the final deal before deciding whether to give their assent.”

      There’s a blanket disclaimer, a prelude to “But we just didn’t know” that should send a shiver down every spine. Suggesting it is perfectly aboveboard to keep negotiations which will have a direct impact on every person in the involved countries secret for the main reason that it would guarantee dissent should make jaws drop from Nuku’ Alofa to Apia the long way around. What’s the bet that the deal will force Europe to accept GMO’s whether it likes them or not, and cede environmental regulation to Washington through its proxy? There should be enormous public protests against this deal, but its makers have avoided that by the simple expedient of not telling the public anything about it, and reassuring them that that’s for the best because if they knew the terms they would be appalled and try to put the brakes on. Stunning.

  27. yalensis says:

    And speaking of Valentina Lisitsa, she tweeted this Polish piece which asks the correct question:

    NedoUkraïnka ‏@ValLisitsa · 14h14 hours ago
    Polish media headline says it all:
    “Is Canadian government acting as a mouthpiece of the descendants of Banderites?”

    Short answer is “YES”

    • marknesop says:

      And I’m afraid that’s true. Because Stephen Harper just loves him some Ukrainians. Voters, that is, in an election in which the Conservatives will be fighting for their lives even though the opposition is weak, disorganized and no better in policy terms. It’s simply Not The Conservatives, while the Conservatives are spending money like water in a perfect orgy of vote-buying to hang onto power, because they have not quite completed the transformation of Canada into a useful appendage of Washington.

      Harper cannot afford to ignore any possibility of votes. And Washington very much wants him to stay where he is.

      I’m glad Lisitsa sees fit to differentiate between “Canadians” and the Canadian government, because many Canadians do not support Kiev’s ruthless fascist domination of its domestic rivals and certainly are not behind giving it more weapons, money or leeway.

  28. yalensis says:

    Here is translation of above piece from the Polish newspaper Kresy.

    [yalensis: I don’t really know Polish, but I put it through Google translate, the vocabulary is the tough part, but then it’s fairly easy for me to clean up, since Polish grammar is so similar to Russian grammar.]


    Canadian soldiers have arrived in Poland. The Fifth Canadian Mechanized Brigade “Valcartier” from Quebec. They are here to take part in Operation Reassurance. As we read in the official communique, the task of the Canadians in this NATO-led operation is to “respond to the aggression of Putin’s regime in Central and Eastern Europe”, writes Grzegorz Braun in his piece in “Independent Poland”.

    The former presidential candidate points out that Poland is facing (przez to przed ??) the threat of becoming directly involved in the war in Ukraine.

    Initially 90, then 200 Canadian soldiers arrived here. The second number is identical to what was mentioned in a communique with the meeting which the President of Ukraine had, some time ago, with the Prime Minister of Canada. At that time, there was talk of direct support of Ukraine by Canadian soldiers. Canada had promised around 200 support troops. Does this mean, that Canadian military support for Ukraine will go through Polish territory? If so, then this would signify a more direct, and deeper, engagement of the Polish state in the Ukrainian war, writes Braun.

    The reknowned politician [reżyser ??] reminds us that (this) cooperation between between Canada and Ukraine is not an accident.

    It bears mentioning, that in this conflict, Canada has consistently acted as a mouthpiece for the Ukrainian interests. Mostly likely not unconnected with the fact, that Canada has, since WWII, hosted one of the largest Ukrainian diasporas in the world. Hence, is the government of Canada acting as the mouthpiece of the descendants of those Banderites, who after WWII were settled on the other side of the ocean, by the United Kingdom of Great Britain, treating them like devoted agents within Central Europe? This question was asked by Grzegorz Braun in his piece in “Independent Poland”.

    On what basis does the Warsaw government take on the role of guarantor and coordinator of the Canadian-Ukrainian military alliance? It is hard to say. To be sure, if there was some benefit accruing from this to our state, then this would be a topic of discussion. However, the relations between the Warsaw government and our Western allies from the very beginning been an unequal relationship, according to Braun.

    • marknesop says:

      Close. Fifth Brigade is based in Valcartier, just outside Quebec City, but it is just called Fifth Mechanized Brigade and not named “Valcartier”.

      I was based at Valcartier myself, for a period of only about 3 months, right after my French course.

      • yalensis says:

        Probably just my bad translation from Polish. (I really need to start taking Polish lessons, it goes without saying.)

        Here is the Polish:
        Do Polski przyjechać mają żołnierze z Kanady – piąta kanadyjska brygada zmechanizowana Valcartier z Quebecu.

        Probably should be translated as:
        “Soldiers from Canada have arrived in Poland – the Fifth Canadian Mechanized Brigade from Valcartier, Quebec.”

        • marknesop says:

          I’d say that was pretty damned good for a language you don’t speak. Google Translate is not that great, but it’s effing brilliant compared with just trying to guess what that mysterious string of letters is saying.

          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, Mark. Some of just by analogy with Russian.
            For example przyjechać is obviously the same as Russian “Prijexat” (to arrive), piąta is obviously the same as Russian “pyata” (fifth), and so on.
            żołnierze was obviously “soldiers”, even though it’s not exactly like the Russian. Google is better than nothing, it saves some time by not having to look up every single word in the dictionary.
            Then just look at the case endings to figure out the parts of the sentence.
            I got thrown off by “Valcartier”, because it’s a foreign word and they didn’t put a case ending on it.

            Some people are intimidated by Polish spelling, but it is actually perfectly logical and phonemic, better than Russian in this respect.
            My father a long time ago taught me the Polish alphabet and how to pronounce words by reading out loud. Because the Polish alphabet is so logical (unlike English!), as a result I can take a Polish text and read it out loud, with more or less correct pronunciation of each word (bad accent, obviously), even without a clue what it means!
            Also, I have a close Polish friend, and she taught me a few key words and how to pronounce them correctly

    • Patient Observer says:

      ‘Operation Reassurance’ – Newspeak at its finest.

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha! And speaking of being NOT reassuring, I saw this piece, in which American advisors in Ukraine admit that they are worse soldiers than even the Ukie militias whom they are purportedly training.

        Austrian newspaper Die Presse published a piece by Wolfgang Greber. Greber interviewed American “trainers” based in the “Yavorivsky Poligon” in Lvov area. They are there to train and instruct National Guard involved in Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donbass.
        Greber interviewed an American instructor Captain Zachary Savari [Зэкери Савари, not sure of correct spelling in English]. Savari said that he, like the other Americans, while training the Ukies, started to realize (because they couldn’t answer the questions of their students) that they themselves (the Americans) had very little actual combat experience.
        This despite the fact that Savari, like the others, served several stints in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in neither place did they obtain much experience fighting against actual soldiers in a real army.

        He said they don’t know how to use or deal with heavy artillery, or a foe using conventional military methods. “None of us was ever actually under artillery fire,” Savari admitted.

        Another military advisor, Jacob Hart, admitted to Greber, that he had never dealt with an armoured column. “A Ukrainian soldier was telling me, how he had to fight with an enemy armoured personnel carrier at a distance of 15 meters. They were shooting at him from grenade launchers. We were never trained in this, because we were told it would never come to this.”

        Greber concluded his piece thusly:
        Другими словами, типичный сегодняшний американский „джи-ай“ или морпех совершенно не готовы к встрече с тяжелыми подразделениями противника, поскольку уверены, что авиация, системы ПВО и артиллерия уже давно все это уничтожили», — говорится в статье австрийского журналиста.

        “In other words, the typical contemporary American GI or marine is completely unprepared for any encounter with a heavily armoured foe. They live in the assurance that aviation, anti-air systems and artillery have made all that obsolete.”

        • yalensis says:

          yalensis comment:

          Since Americans are clearly preparing, or at least seriously thinking about, launching a conventional war against Russia, then maybe they need to start thinking and training more for conventional war against a REAL army. It won’t be exactly a cakewalk for them.

          • marknesop says:

            Actually, their idea is to have Europe launch a conventional war against Russia. There would be American participation, of course, as a NATO member, but American planners envision that Europe will supply both the battlefield and most of the warriors.

            • yalensis says:

              Does Europe even have any real soldiers any more?
              Let alone soldiers who have actually seen any combat since WWII?

        • marknesop says:

          It is true that the USA always attempts to establish control of the airspace, and that everything sequences from that, because that is the USA’s strength and it uses aircraft carriers as temporary bases when it has nothing in the vicinity until it can capture or otherwise press an airfield into service. There was a little bit of anti-armor work in Iraq, but the Iraqis never had much of a chance and their resistance was haphazard. It always made me laugh, the way the American press capered and danced and called the Republican Guard “cowards” because they would not “come out and fight”. What that meant was, open the gates and drive your armored corps out in battle formation with no cover so that it can be annihilated in about 30 minutes by American air power, like shooting fish in a barrel.

          Russia would be a tough nut to crack, entirely independent of the nuclear threat, because it has a good and very capable air defense network and the capacity to ramp up production rapidly since it is a net weaponry exporter with an excellent technology base. The USA has never been schooled to accept massive casualties, and this is intolerable to the public which has been taught to believe that American lives are more precious than any others.

  29. Fern says:

    One or two prescient Stoogers recently made this observation – that Erdogan’s latest power grab tactics would severely impact tourism and thus damage Turkey’s economy:

    “Some 80 percent of German citizens will be avoiding Turkey as their summer holiday destination because of Ankara’s military operation against the Islamic State (ISIL) group and Kurdish militants, the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday, citing a survey.

    A willingness to destroy his own economy suggests he’d fit right in with the current EU ‘club’ – maybe they should reconsider Turkey’s application for membership.

    Paging Edward Lucas, paging Edward Lucas – a hole has appeared in the propaganda shield protecting the citizens of the Baltic States from having their minds taken over by the Dark Lord. In today’s “who’d have thought it?” news, an Estonian journalist visits a provincial Russian city and discovers 1) there isn’t an oppressive police or security presence and that police officers are actually quite thin on the ground; 2) folk there aren’t drunk all the time; and 3) there’s food in the shops. Concludes Estonian media is a bit slanted when it comes to reporting on Russia. Perhaps there’s hope for the Baltics after all.

  30. Tim Owen says:

    “One of the most hilarious things to me is Americans whacking other countries for being corrupt. Russia is a favorite target, but the US abuses virtually every non-Western country for “corruption.”

    I’ve pointed out before that this is absurd. There is no more corrupt country in the world than the US. The bank bailouts were pure corruption, performed even though a supermajority of the population was against them, even though the banks had broken the law systematically, and even though the banks were bankrupt due to decisions they knew were corrupt, illegal, and (yes), stupid.

    The US election system is flagrantly corrupt, with billions of dollars of direct and indirect donations from the rich. You buy supper with a candidate for thousands of dollars a plate. You buy White House access with much larger donations. Third party PACs spend hundreds of millions.

    The bribery in the US is legal. Legal. That does not mean it is not bribery. That does not mean it is not corruption. This system was arranged by the monied classes to ensure that politicians owe them and do not harm them, and that they continue to pass laws and take actions which help them.”

    • et Al says:

      As if by magic…

      The Hill: Ethics: Lawmakers didn’t ‘knowingly’ break rules with Azerbaijan gifts

      …The Ethics Committee said all of the lawmakers and staff members who attended the 2013 trip did so only after receiving prior approval from the same Ethics panel. And those questioned in the investigation all cooperated, the committee said.

      “The Committee found no evidence that the members and staff who participated in the trip knowingly violated any House Rule, law, regulation or other standard of conduct,” the Ethics panel said.

      The probe included a dozen subpoenas, interviews with 10 witnesses, 18 voluntary requests for information, and 190,000 pages of material.

      “Because the House travelers acted in good faith, and the evidence was inconclusive as to the true source of funds for the travel, the Committee concluded that the trips did not constitute an impermissible gift of travel, and decided that no further action is required,” the panel wrote.

      The 10 lawmakers exonerated by the Ethics Committee were Reps. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) and then-Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas).

      Circlejerk, anyone?

  31. Warren says:

  32. Warren says:

    • Warren says:

      Canada PM Harper calls general election for 19 October

    • ucgsblog says:

      *Summons Mark*

      What’s going on?

      • marknesop says:

        Pretty much what it says, I guess. Harper has a limited amount of wiggle room during which he has to call an election, and has decided to drop the hammer in October, for reasons which must be known to him and his inner circle.

        • Jen says:

          Apparently Harper’s Tories are not polling well against the New Democratic Party and Jason Trudeau’s Liberal Party. By holding an early election, the Tories have the advantage in preparing for campaigning at short notice: they can just point to their record of governance since 2006 and suggest there’s no reason to upset the status quo whereas the other major parties have to start thinking, planning and drawing up their vision thing, and selling it.

          • marknesop says:

            It’s Justin Trudeau, eldest of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s sons. His younger brother, Alexander (Sascha) is a filmmaker, and his youngest brother Michel died in 1998 in a tragic and somewhat bizarre skiing accident here in British Columbia – he drowned in Kokanee Lake. He was swept there by an avalanche which he miraculously survived, but was unable to reach the shore and drowned. His body was never found.

            Political parties are meaningless in Canada just as they are in Europe and the United States. You never know what a particular politician’s secret agenda is because 100% of effort is focused on getting elected. Consequently nobody takes a stand based on personal beliefs or intentions, instead keeping a finger constantly to the wind of public approbation and tailoring his/her political profile accordingly. Nobody ever holds politicians to account for failing to keep promises regarding taxes or foreign interventions or economic initiatives, because they always have a large selection of believable excuses why they meant to do it but couldn’t. And secretly they are bound to the loudest voices in the private sector – the lobbyists – because their first thought on assuming office is their second term, and you need to get re-elected for that. All their thought processes, really, are focused on getting into office and staying there. You’ll never get there if your beliefs do not coincide with those of the corporations and their lobbyists, because the corporations kicked in most of the campaign cash and they expect a return on their money. So beliefs are unnecessary and probably not even encouraged, because they might cloud or confuse your decision-making.

            The liberals are in bad shape after the party being almost destroyed during the disastrous leadership of Michael Ignatieff. Well, a series of vapid and uninspired leaders, really; the Liberals haven’t had a real leader since Paul Martin. The New Democrats were an orange wave in the 2011 election, surging mostly on raw emotion at the terminal illness of the party leader, Jack Layton. Who knows how he would have led the country – he died a mere 3 months after the party swept to victory in heretofore unassailable bastions in Quebec and Alberta (in the case of the former, by appearing to promise them a federalist state; don’t forget, Canadian leaders have to be able to debate in both official languages) to form the official opposition by a convincing, even threatening margin. But the other parties capitalized on the stupidity of some NDP wins, epitomized by that of the tasty-looking Ruth-Ellen Brosseau. Her looks have nothing to do with it, I just wanted to mention it because that’s the way I roll. Brosseau is unilingual English, running in a more than 90% French riding – as a paper candidate – in which she did not even reside. The French name must have fooled quite a few (her margin of victory was incontestable) because she did not campaign in the riding at all, not once. She was on vacation in Las Vegas for the election and returned to find that she had won.

            This time around, the Conservatives have embarked – as I mentioned earlier – on an orgy of vote-buying, increasing the monthly child tax credit and promising to earmark a flood of new money for various infrastructure improvements and initiatives. Their strategy is likely to split the vote between the Liberals and New Democrats, and so retain at least enough power to form the official opposition even if Harper is defeated. Which he may not be – weeks ago I would have said it was a sure thing, because he is broadly unpopular, but most people vote their wallets, and anyone who lets them keep a little more of their own money is A-OK so long as he doesn’t do something too outrageous just before the election. Harper, a seasoned pro, is lying low where he needs to and projecting the image of The Great White Father where that traditionally works well. I’m sure all the Banderites will vote for him – many more than once if they can get away with it.

            But the funny thing is that it probably won’t make a bit of difference. Just as soon Harper as anyone else, because Trudeau, if elected, would likely betray every promise he made during the campaign and govern not three degrees to the left or right of Harper on most issues, which would be decided by elite corporate groups like the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which seeks to bring us ever more snugly into the embrace of our Washington neighbours.

  33. Warren says:

    Published on 26 Jun 2015
    An excellent Russian TV reportage from May 2015 about the remaking of history of Russo-Polish relations, about manipulating public opinion to pitch Poland (and Ukraine) against Russia.
    Relations between Russia and Poland have a very complicated history. At the same time, enemies of Russia always tried to use the Poles as anti-Russian shock troops.

  34. yalensis says:

    According to Ukrainian journalist Andrei Tomsky, Ukraine has just run out of coal.

    Hence, P.M. Yatsenuk is calling an emergecy session of the government tomorrow.
    (Way to go, Mr. Proactive!)

    Yesterday was shut off the final block of the Transnistrian steam-based (ТЭС) electric energy stations. Just prior to that, the Slavyansk and Zmievsk stations were powered down. Next on the list to be shut down is the one at Krivoy Rog. The reason for the shutdown is a lack of coal.

    All of these stations except for the one at Zmievsk are the private property of the oligarch Akhmet Rinatov.

    So, Ukraine is out of coal. And cannot buy more, because they have no money.
    Even though they raised tariffs and energy bills on the population.
    Vice-Premier Gennady Zubko remarked, that the debt of the entire nation in regard to energy bills for 2015 – constitutes 2.2 billion hryvnas.

    According to Tomsky, the government is wriggling around like somebody on a hot frying pan, hoping to hide their mistakes from the people.

    Main guy on the frying pan is Vladimir Demchishin, Minister of Energy.
    Evil tongues in the corridors of power say they know where the money went to pay for the energy: to pay off the creditors last week.

    Basically, Kiev has 2 choices, where to buy coal: (1) Donbass, or (2) Russia.
    Both of them bosom buddies of the Ukrainian government.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m starting to like Yatsenyuk, a little. You have to give him points for efficiency; he doesn’t call a meeting for an emergency until there actually is an emergency. That’s a good way not to waste the people’s time with useless meetings. I wonder how far an initiative would get that said every time a public service got shut down, the government’s pay was stopped until it was restored.

  35. yalensis says:

    This is interesting!
    Mossad supposedly uncovered a plot to kill Poroshenko and Yarosh.
    Israeli newspaper “Haaretz” published the piece on their site on 30 July 9:12 AM.
    Within an hour the piece was hastily removed, with the notation: “Removed for violating editorial policy of Haaretz”.

    Fortunately, some diligent elves made screenshots of the piece and its contents, before it was whisked away by the spooks..

    The piece said as follows:

    Leak from Mossad: Ukrainian radicals intend to kill both Poroshenko and Yarosh, blaming the former’s assassination on the latter.

    Assassination was allegedly planned by the fraction UNA-UNSO, which split off from Right Sektor back in April. They don’t like Porky too much, and recently they also became disillusioned with Yarosh. After Yarosh started singing like a canary and threw his Mukachevo comrades under the bus.
    The mugs were planning to make Yarosh the patsy for Porky’s assassination, in case something went sideways. They had already forged some documents in which Yarosh supposedly gives an order to put a cap in Porky.

    Chief conspirator is named as Konstantin Vinitsky, one of the leaders of UNA-UNSO. The guys who were actually supposed to whack Porky are some good fellas from the Azov Battalion, including some wise guy named Ruslan Kamchala; another wise guy named Konstantin Fushtey; and another dope, known only by his nickname of “The Black One” (Chernyj).

  36. jeremn says:

    For those who remember the fuss when Harding got turned away from Russia, be prepared for another storm of indignation … not.

    The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has revoked the accreditation of British Sky News journalist Kitty Logan. “The SBU has annulled the accreditation of Sky News journalist Kitty Logan and is now considering barring her from entering Ukraine,” SBU spokeswoman Olena Hitlianska told Interfax-Ukraine on Friday.

    By the way is Hitlianska a name or a rank?

    • yalensis says:

      What did Kitty do that ticked off Ms. Hitler so much?

      • yalensis says:

        To answer my own question, here is what they say about her.
        Looks like Deutsche Welle fired her too.

        • Jen says:

          Seems that she wasn’t trying hard enough to find the thousands and thousands of Russian troops and the scores of Russian tanks racing over the border into Yukie territory.

        • marknesop says:

          Uhhh…..yeah. Julia Davis. I remember her – we discussed her back on the “Kremlin Troll Army” post. Here’s one of the comments:

          “Here’s a comment that appeared at Jennifer Cohagen’s blog, on the Julia Davis thing, by someone calling himself Rod Wordwelder:

          “Would you be fired from your current position if they knew what a real conspiracy theorist you are?”

          She hasn’t had a real job since mid-2000s. She writes blogs on and pretends said blogging platform is a publication and that she is a professional journalist working for it. And she has a fake movie studio http://fleurdelisfilmstudios.c…. All listed addresses are in fact rented mailboxes. Productions listed here as in pre-production or announced don’t exist… .…. Davis fills up credits with friends and family, and public figures on the pretext of their appearing in archive footage. She removed the listing for “Rogues In Robes”, an alleged multi-episode documentary series after I brought to public attention the fact that there is no evidence of its existence anywhere. I have watched this… several times and can find no evidence of Davis – hardly surprising in a British science show with no connection to US national security as per credit. Other than this…, which does exist, Davis’s only legitimate connection to the film industry is through her husband – a reasonably successful stuntman and stunt sequence director – but he seems to have been pretty much unemployed for the last ten years or so too, since this…. That film featured the litigation which seems to be a recurring theme in the lives of the Davises – including threats to sue the writer of a bad review. Being an attention seeker, Julia likes to have her photo taken with celebrities – alas she didn’t have one with Angelina Jolie, whom she claims to have stunt doubled, so she simply mocked one up rather badly and posted it on her blog http://juliadavisnews.blogspot….
          I have no qualification in psychiatry, but I fancy the Davises are both narcissistic sociopaths.”

          If true, she sounds like a bit of a kook.”

          Also, RT ripped her up for injecting statements attributed to them which they never said. “Julia Davis” was born in Kiev. I think you can probably safely discount what she said about Kitty Logan as totally fabricated.

          • Jen says:

            That’s right, I remember linking to the fake movie studio Fleur de Lis Films and one of that company’s executives, Anthony Shaffer, who used to be in the US Army Reserves and worked in Afghanistan for a time.

            Fleur de Lis Films supposedly was making a film “September Morn” about the events of September 11, 2001, to feature Woody Harrelson, but that project, like all its other projects, ended up stillborn in a rash of claims and counter-claims:

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    “Gaidar and Her Team_ – Rossiya 24 special report:

    • marknesop says:

      Azarov is high if he thinks Ukraine could ever enjoy good relations with both the European Union and Russia. The cards are on the table now, how important it is to the west, and especially Crimea and the Black Sea coast. The west would never stop inveigling against it so as to have it as a proxy against Russia, as it does now. The present solution, a federalized eastern region which remains a part of Ukraine, is the best one for Russia. If Russia got back all of Ukraine it would be saddled with the crippling expense of rebuilding it, whereas if present Ukraine were folded into the EU any number of excuses would be found to build military bases right up against the Russian border. The perennial frozen conflict does not permit Ukraine to join NATO (unless they throw out the rulebook, which it must be acknowledged they have done many times already when it suits), its grinding poverty and chronic underemployment make it an unlikely candidate for the EU, and Russia could maintain favourable relations with the east only and help rebuild it and enrich it through trade, which would cost a lot less than taking on responsibility for the whole miserable ruin.

  38. USA has apparently authorized use of US airforce against Syrian government.

    How about Russia in turn do the same for Ukraine?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      How about playing a different tune?

    • Jen says:

      Dear Karl, I hate to say it but you just never learn (or want to learn) that whatever you want Russia to do, it nearly always is something the US wants Russia to do, and that something is one of several different ways of walking into a trap.

      Also if the US has authorised the use of US airpower against Syria, that could very well be a sign of panic on Washington’s part. The fact is that Syria has not fallen as easily as Libya or at least as easily as the US had hoped, given that the American, Turkish and Saudi governments have been throwing money, arms, equipment and advisors at ISIS and other anti-Syrian fighters at Syria. Yet the Syrian military still hasn’t been defeated and the Syrian people still support Assad and the military.

      There has been news over at Global Research that Russia has brokered a meeting between the foreign ministers of Syria and Saudi Arabia and that may be a sign that Saudi Arabia is not in a good position to continue pursuing its goal of deposing Assad. Riyadh’s war on Yemen is turning into a war of attrition and is costing the KSA huge amounts in money and casualties, and destabilising parts of the Kingdom close to Yemen. If the KSA pulls out and agrees to a peace deal with Syria, that’s sure to leave Turkey and the US (and possibly Israel) in the lurch, and angry ISIS fighters feeling betrayed and let down may return to these countries vowing revenge.

      • Patient Observer says:

        “Dear Karl, I hate to say it but you just never learn (or want to learn) that whatever you want Russia to do, it nearly always is something the US wants Russia to do, and that something is one of several different ways of walking into a trap.”

        You have nicely identified Karl’s MO in its entirety! He seem quite trollish but he does offer occasional useful insight regarding Finland politics and history. I put him below AP on the troll scale with that jerk ERP/sociopath at the red line, peg the needle, on the troll scale.

        Regarding a possible meeting between Syria and KSA, that suggests some daylight between the US and KSA. If the gap widens, the US empire could find itself fighting to hold its control in an area that was once secure. With Iran’s re-entry of sorts in the region who knows where the self-interest of each country will lead (assuming the US no longer have them all in a hammerlock).

        • Jen says:

          The original news source which Global Research relied on is at this link:

          Actually the meeting in Riyadh was between the Saudi deputy Crown Prince / Minister of Defence and the chief of the office of home security in Syria. Senior Russian and Saudi intelligence officials were present at the meeting.

          What Putin apparently told Prince Mohamad bin Salman before the meeting was arranged:

          ” … After four years of fighting, there is a tangible change … in the international mood. Geneva 3 is no longer on the table neither is Moscow 3 or Moscow 4. In the meanwhile, terrorism is creeping towards your homeland. In the meantime also, the position of the Syrian Army is improving on the ground and there are no other parties left who are convinced that the Syrian “regime” should fall other than Saudi Arabia and Turkey. There is no option but to cooperate with him [ Assad] in order to fight terrorism that is threatening everyone …”

          The meeting did not reach any results but the fact that it was held suggests that Saudi Arabia is reappraising its current situation and discovered that it can’t afford to fight on two fronts (ISIS in the north and Yemen in the south) and that Russia might have a stronger hand in influencing Middle Eastern politics than the US realises.

      • I guess what I wanted to say that there must be some kind of a response for this from Russia, China and the rest of the free world. After Russia has been sanctioned and demonized for over a year because of what has happened in Ukraine it should not be allowed that the West can just bomb Syrian government without any repercussions.

        It would show the Western hypocrisy and double-standards, but it would also show the weakness of the free world.

        • Patient Observer says:

          By all appearances, Russia has played it right in the Ukraine (and Crimea). The US is burning its political capital trying to keep the EU in line. Similarly, the US is doing the same in the Gulf region. In fact, there are important parallels between how Russia is handling the Ukraine and Syria – provide support but avoid giving plausible excuses for a direct military intervention by the West. Also, Iran now has more freedom to act in the Middle East which will also work in Russia’s advantage.

          If Russia in a distantly related parallel universe were to have followed your advice regarding the Urkaine and the Middle East, Russia would be under full economic attack, Europe would be Nazi mode with a war time mobilization (gas or no gas) and the GCC countries would be openly attacking Syria and the UAE gas pipeline to Russia would be rushed to completion. Israel may have used tactical nukes against fanciful Iranian nuclear threats. China would likely sit it out the mess due to its limited regional power and tie in to the Western financial system.. In other words a frick’en disaster for Russia and the free world. I am glad to be living in this particular universe.

          A disruptive event may be an economic collapse of the West which seems a near term potential. Russia certainly has predictive economic models and factor such potentials in its foreign policy. A Western collapse will leave Russia much stronger in relative terms due to its high (and increasing) self-reliance. With China needing its high technology and natural resources and Russia importing Chinese consumer products the nucleus of a new world structure is in place.

        • Jen says:

          Karl, Russia may very well be responding as you want but advertising its responses in the way you wish them to be done would risk exposing its strategies to its enemies to the extent where Washington can guess ahead what Russia’s next steps are likely to be and pre-empt them to throw plans into chaos. The less publicity these strategies have, the better.

          Incidentally one reason that the Electric Revolution fizzled out in Yerevan in July this year was that the leaders behind it and the Maidan tactics they were going to use were far too well known thanks to the publicity given them by Russian-language news media which Armenian people had access to, either through direct broadcasts or contacts with friends and family members in Russia. So that’s one win that should bring you comfort.

          • yalensis says:

            Yes. Free access to information and knowledge helps the good guys.

            And when it come to the U.S. and their modus operandi, nothing ever changes; it doesn’t take much prescience, if you see Wiley Coyote setting up his usual trap somewhere, you can just point to him and say, “There’s Wiley with his Acme truck and his usual bag of tricks…”

            Thus people are forewarned.

    • marknesop says:

      It would be more effective if Moscow simply sold the S-400 to Syria. Here’s a good piece on the S-300.

      • Didn’t Syria already buy S-400 from Russia but Russia refused to give it to Syria. Russia screwed Iran in a similar manner.

        This was done as a gesture of good will towards the West.

        • marknesop says:

          Not to my knowledge. Always willing to have my mind changed if you can supply a reference.

          Iran was to get the S-300. Russia has since offered them the S-400, without a response to date that I am aware of. Note the real American concern;

          “The S-300s would not make it impossible for the Israelis to carry out strikes inside of Syrian or Lebanese territory from a distance, but it could curtail Israel’s freedom of action in two countries Israel considers critical to its national security — a worrying development from the Israeli perspective, given the Assad regime’s previous nuclear ambitions.”

          Got that? Israel must be allowed to exercise “freedom of action” over sovereign countries regardless what they think about it, and a situation in which they cannot do anything about it is the preferred status quo. That’s the way American foreign policy rolls, baby – settle on a pugilistic proxy, arm them to the teeth and prevent their neighbours from acquiring any defense that might stop them.

        • Patient Observer says:

          I doubt it was intended as a gesture of good will. It was much more likely a calculated feint. You apparently seek to describe every act by Russia as a sign of weakness. Oddly their continuous weakness, cowardliness and capitulations results in an ever-growing strength and resilience.

          I suppose your confidence that Russia can do no right is based on your assertion that Russians have a genome inferior to your beloved West. In that regard you share a lot with ThatJ. I am surprised that you receive a free pass so I will, from time to time, remind everyone here that you are a racist.

  39. jeremn says:

    Warmongers profit from increased tensions over Ukraine.

    This is on Hadley and his links to Raytheon and APCO Worldwide. You can see how agitating for conflict boosts business interests, and makes someone’s fortune.

    The Rice-Hadley-Gates consultancy firm seems to be important in this campaign:

    “Through his relationship with RiceHadleyGates, Hadley works for APCO Worldwide, an international lobbying firm for which he serves on the firm’s international advisory council. The RiceHadleyGates-APCO business partnership was announced in 2011.

    In March of this year, APCO won two contracts to represent the Ukrainian prime minister and Ukraine’s minister of finance to help influence relations with the American government and media. The Ministry of Finance has asked international creditors to renegotiate the terms of the country’s sovereign debt as Ukraine has struggled to make payments.

    Last week, Hadley weighed in on this topic, arguing in a column for the Wall Street Journal that Western powers should extend debt reduction for Ukraine. “The odds may be long, but the prize is great, and the trans-Atlantic community will never have a better chance to invest in Ukraine’s success,” Hadley wrote.”

  40. yalensis says:

    More Black List vs. White List:
    To the White List (=Russian celebrities liked by Ukie government), add Boris Grebenshchikov .

    Another guy I never heard of, but supposedly an icon of Russian rock music and called the “Grandfather of Russian Rock”.

    This piece shows Greb meeting with Saakashvili in Odessa, after doing a big concert in Kiev.

    (Saak has taken to going around wearing very sloppy T-shirts, just look at that awful stain, Lordy!)

    As for Greb’s choice to take the side of Ukie government in this conflict, I don’t know, since I never heard of him, but just scanning his wiki biography, there are a couple of red flags, including his love for Perestroika, and also his Buddhism/Hindiusm, maybe. And, in general, those Soviet-era rock bands tended to be kreakles, just by their nature. In the final analysis, an animal cannot deny its own nature.

    • Jen says:

      I’ve heard of Boris Grebenshchikov. He used to be lead singer of a big-time Soviet dissident rock band Aqvarius in St Petersburg (then Leningrad). I vaguely remember Brian Eno used to champion him. In those days (1980s, I think), Boris G was not too bad-looking. Now he just looks like another aged sell-out, like Sting and Bono. It is so disappointing that all these old hippies turn into fusty right-wing neocon supporters.

    • marknesop says:

      He probably got his shirt dirty by diving to the ground because he thought he heard a Russian aircraft overhead.

      • yalensis says:

        I was thinking of something a lot more disgusting than that, but I will take your explanation.
        Still, if he wants to impress Masha, he better start dressing better.
        ’cause every girl’s crazy about a sharp-dressed man….

      • Jen says:

        Or he’s developed a taste for red ties served with salo and can’t stop himself from scoffing them.

        • yalensis says:

          The Day the Music Died:
          Russian Duma representative Aleksei Zhuravlev called Boris Grebenshchikov a traitor.
          “And I want to say this to him: Borya, you are not right.”
          [yalensis: allusion to famous quote when somebody said to Boris Yeltsin: Boris, you are wrong!]

          Zhuravlev went on to say: “This is the day when rock and roll died, and [pointing his finger angrily] it was BORIS [Grebenshchikov] who killed it.”

          [yalensis: I feel sorry for people who actually LIKED to listen to these dissident kreakl bands Must be very disheartening to see them all swearing allegiance to the Banderites. Oh well, at least our side of the aisle still has “talented” rapper Timati].

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. in above photograph, Grebenshchikov looks like either (1) he is wearing a skullcap, or (2) is a member of the Conehead Family.

          • marknesop says:

            We still have Mumiy Troll, too, from Vladivostok. Or at least I think so; I’ve never heard them say anything anti-Russian, and their songs seem to be based on contemporary themes rather than national angst and protest. The singer can perform in English – their newest effort, “Vitamins” is in English – but it has the flavour of memorization rather than any significant fluency. That’s an interesting ability; we saw a band perform at a nightclub called Zabriskie Point (apparently it’s still there under the same name), and they did a version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”. They were friends of Sveta’s, so I know he barely knows any English because if I remember correctly it was the singer who picked us up from the airport when I arrived. But his intonation, accent and soulfulness were eerily perfect. The song itself was an almost perfect knock-off, except they did not have a keyboard player (acoustic piano only) and so replaced the keyboard track with saxophone. Very nice. The piano player and drummer were students in the jazz program at the university, and they were very competent.

            I suppose it would be difficult to actually write a song in a foreign language rather than simply mimicking a known standard, so perhaps the singer in Mumiy Troll actually can speak English. But the vast bulk of their material is in Russian.

  41. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile Djemilev is fine-tuning his plan to build a terrorist battalion in Kherson – the Ukrainian oblast that borders with Crimea.
    Ukies have stated very clearly that they intend to invade Crimea, partially using these terrorist “Muslim” battalions.

    Djemilev returned from Ankara with a plan (which his people proposed to Turkish government) to fund a “Muslim Battalion”. They say they already have 1000 men in place and want to recruit more. The existing members of the battalion consist of terrorists from IGIL/ISIS [whatever they call themselves] who have just finished fighting in Syria, and now crossing through Turkey on their way to Ukraine, according to Anvar Sel (Djemilev’s assistant).

    Turkey’s President Erdogan sent the “Tatar” fighters a greeting, just to show his support, but dithered on whether to provide them openly with weapons. He does openly send them financial support, however.

    Just yesterday (Sunday), the REAL Crimean Tatars, represented by their own organization within Crimea, sent a request to Crimean Prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya. They asked her to protect them against the violence and strife initiated by Djemilev and another Tatar named Refat Chubarov.
    The latter trying to sow discord within the Tatar community.

    The legitimate body representing Crimean Tatars, passed a resolution, condemning the fake and terrorist-laden body that just met in Turkey, pretending to represent the interests of Crimean Tatar community, but actually representing nobody except the CIA and ISIS.

    • Fern says:

      Another Operation Rent-a-Jihadi. This is really shameful on behalf of the West, utterly shameful. It’s Bosnia redux when the NATO powers knowingly encouraged and did everything to facilitate jihadists pouring into the Balkans. I hope the Russian authorities are on top of this because the West will not hesitate to launch a campaign of terror in Crimea and sell it, via the supine media, as a ‘liberation’ struggle. Much of US foreign policy seems to boil down to ‘if we can’t have it, no-one else will’ – seize or ruin. There’s no chance of NATO getting Crimea, so destroying it has immense appeal. Psychopaths all.

      • Russia must not only prevent it but recruit it’s own terrorist to conduct terrorist acts in the West.

        I know what you will say. This is not the Russian way of doing things. But my thinking goes that one of the reasons why the West has been so eager to attack Russia internally (via terrorism and other means) is because they know that Russia will not respond with the same way. They know that Russia will fight the terrorists and probably at least try to hunt them down if they flee (although I have doubts about that as well), but they know that Russia will not arrange terrorist attacks in the West if the West arranges terrorist attacks in Russia.

        • marknesop says:

          Once again, give the USA exactly what it wants – a genuine threat that does not even need to be molded and shaped and fabricated, one that not even the naysayers can pretend was not an attack on Americans and America by Russia. What is holding the USA back from supplying weapons to Ukraine and probably troops as well as mission creep took over is the unwillingness of the U.S. public to get involved in yet another big war. War is already the direct reason for massive American expenditure and skyrocketing debt. Although the press plays up the voices of the fanatics and the nutjobs so as to create the appearance of broad public support, it’s not there. Domestic problems abound, and Americans are heartily sick of foreign adventures.

          I can think of no other single factor, however, that would so rapidly unite the people in support of the government than a bona-fide attack on Americans in America.

          What would be far more effective would be an angry mob of women and children chasing Fatty Tefft through the streets of Moscow (they wouldn’t need to be able to run very fast, and probably even wheelchairs would be able to participate) pelting him with rotten fruit and vegetables and eggs. It would be really, really hard to spin that as an act of war rather than an act of pure fed-up.

        • yalensis says:

          No…. (sigh)…
          It would not be right for Russia to conduct terrorist attacks in the West.
          Terrorism means killing innocent people who are not involved in the conflict.
          That would be wrong, both morally, ethically, and also politically.

        • Jen says:

          Good ol’ Fritz had something to say on tit-4-tat tactics:

          “Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, mag zusehn, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird. Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.”

          “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

          If you fight monsters with the tactics of monsters, you become a monster yourself.

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