Saturday, March 26, 2022

Russian Revanchism and Revisionism: given their histories with Russia, it’s not hard to understand why the newly independent countries of Central and Eastern Europe all desperately wanted to join NATO

The roots of Russian aggression lay in neither NATO enlargement nor ‘hawkish’ US foreign policy, but in Russian revanchism, Brookings analyst Jamie Kirchick writes for the National Review. Insightful weekend reading from a former Penn Kemble fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Thus wrote four years ago on the website of the same name, echoing (years before 2022) The New Russian Cult of War and Mikhail Khodorkovsky branding Vladimir Putin a bandit at the head of a gang of thugs. Likewise, see the post For decades, the Kremlin has accused NATO of encircling, threatening, oppressing Russia… accusing the West of exactly what Putin is doing to his neighbors, who are not his vassals but countries liberated from centuries of Russian yoke. (Spasiba for the link, Maggie's Farm).

A number of articles from 2018 go by the title of The Roots of Russian Aggression, but let's take a closer look at the one in National Review by :

As U.S.–Russian relations reach a post–Cold War low, a growing number of observers have concluded that Western behavior, not Russian belligerence, ultimately lies at fault. According to this analysis, the United States and its European allies “humiliated” Russia by enlarging NATO, undertaking military action in the Balkans, extending trade and other forms of soft power to the former Eastern Bloc, and generally not affording Moscow the respect it supposedly deserved as a great (albeit territorially smaller and militarily weaker than it once was) power. 

 … So stubbornly is this historical narrative of Western arrogance and Russian innocence asserted that it has become impervious to all manner of Russian mischief, no matter how morally egregious or physically destructive. In 2014, after Russian president Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in the first armed seizure of territory on the European continent since World War II, former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev denounced NATO “triumphalism” as the culprit, though the military alliance had expressly chosen not to offer Ukraine a pathway to membership at its 2008 Bucharest summit. 

 … the Soviets and their allies taken by surprise when national independence movements referenced the [the Helsinki Final Act's] sovereignty provisions to expose the fundamental illegitimacy of the Warsaw Pact, all along a façade for Russian colonialism

 … The subject of NATO’s post–Cold War enlargement, and more specifically the false claim that Western leaders promised their Soviet counterparts that NATO would refrain from incorporating new members, has won credibility of late. Particularly after the Ukraine crisis, Russia’s Western sycophants, seeking to justify Putin’s aggression, trotted out the claim that NATO’s “encircling” of Russia had somehow forced Putin into invading his neighbors. It is remarkable how pervasive this narrative has become. 

  … As is already known, James Baker, then the secretary of state, promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.” The [left-wing National Security Archive at George Washington University] attempts to embellish this statement by releasing some extraneous once-classified documents. But Baker made that pledge solely in the context of East Germany, a country that, like the Soviet Union, would soon cease to exist. At the time, it was inconceivable that places such as Poland or Czechoslovakia (another state not long for this world), never mind the soon-to-be independent Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, might one day join NATO.

Russia and its Western apologists can offer no evidence of a promise not to enlarge NATO, because such a promise was never made. Gorbachev should have the final word on this matter: “The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years,” he said in October 2014. “I say this with full responsibility. Not a single Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991.” Only years later would the prospect of former Warsaw Pact states’ joining NATO become a subject of more than academic discussion, when the alliance offered membership to Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. In 1997, all three joined.

  … The newly independent countries of Central and Eastern Europe all desperately wanted to join NATO, and given their histories with Russia [as its former satrapies], it’s not hard to understand why. The practice of invading European neighbors because they stray from the true socialist path — employed by the Russians in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1968, respectively — is a model of interstate behavior that was supposed to have been forever discredited with the collapse of the Soviet Union. (As events in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine six years later demonstrate, however, it has unfortunately been revived.) 

 … As with practically every understanding it signed in the post–Cold War period, Russia later violated this pledge [the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, Great Britain, and the United States, which saw Kiev surrender its ample nuclear-weapons stockpile to Moscow in exchange for guarantees of its territorial integrity]

Throughout the 1990s and well into the reign of Vladimir Putin, the United States and its allies went out of their way to draw Russia closer and assuage any fears its government might have had, genuine or contrived, that the Western alliance harbored aggressive designs. 

What provoked the deterioration in relations between Russia and the West, then, was neither NATO enlargement, nor American foreign policy, nor anything else that the West did, but Russian revanchism and revisionism. In 2007, Putin delivered an anti-American tirade at the Munich Security Conference, shocking attendees. Shortly thereafter, Russia launched a cyberattack on tiny Estonia, and the following year it invaded Georgia. The French writer Michel Gurfunkiel identifies Putin’s four major strategic goals as reuniting “all the Russian-speaking peoples under a single nation-state,” reestablishing Russia as “the first among equals” in the “Eurasian community,” weakening Europe and the transatlantic alliance, and restoring Russia as a global power.  

 … Unlike post-war Germany, which made full amends for its past militarism and atrocities and committed itself to multilateralism and nonviolent approaches to resolving international conflict, Russia never went through a process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or “coming to terms with the past.” Perhaps this was an unavoidable consequence of the Cold War’s peaceful end — the Soviet Union, unlike the Third Reich, was not subjected to a traumatic military defeat and occupation by its adversaries. But the consequences of Russia’s not engaging in the sort of critical appraisal of its own history so admirably pursued by post-Holocaust Germany are visible all around us in the modern-day cult of Josef Stalin, the veil of silence surrounding Communist-era crimes, and the popular support among the Russian people for Putin’s military adventures abroad.

 … Deprived of the argument that it was nonexistent NATO expansion to Ukraine that “provoked” Russia to invade it, some realists cite the EU’s 2013 offer of a trade-and-aid package to Kiev as having justified the aggression. What this excuse neglects to acknowledge is Putin’s 2004 statement “If Ukraine wants to join the EU and is welcome there, we can only welcome that.” Ten years later, he waged war against the country for trying to do precisely what he had encouraged. 

 … German chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have remarked that Putin lives in “another world.” He does. It’s a dangerous world where might makes right, one that successive generations of Western statesmen, along with courageous Poles, Czechs, Romanians, and countless others, fought to overcome. The post–Cold War “ideas and assumptions” of America and its allies were not “triumphalist” diktats meant to humiliate or “encircle” Russia by “rubbing its nose” in defeat, but fundamental principles of sovereignty and national self-determination established to avert war on a continent repeatedly plagued by it. Far from being too “triumphalist” in its dealings with Russia, if anything, the West was not triumphalist enough.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Russian Exile Khodorkovsky: "You have to understand that Mr Putin, in his head, has long been at war not with Ukraine, but with America"

A former oil mogul and political prisoner warns the West it must face down Vladimir Putin now or prepare for something worse

writes The Economist (see also The New Russian Cult of War and While Ukraine Agonizes…) as it gives the word to Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers

I HAVE BEEN fighting a personal war with Vladimir Putin for nearly 20 years. It led to my being jailed in Russia for ten years and then expelled, with a warning that life imprisonment awaited me if I ever returned. Do I know the man who did all this to me? I think I do. That is why I look with despair at the defeatist approach of Western leaders, such as Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Naftali Bennett.

It is difficult for me to judge how their actions are seen by their electorates. However, I know well how they are perceived by Mr Putin, sitting at the end of his long table. They fly to Moscow, call him, ask him to stop, but assure him that they will not interfere and do not want him to perceive certain movements as a provocation. The president sees all of this as weakness, and that is extremely dangerous.

Part of the problem is that the current leaders of Western countries have never dealt with thugs. Their experience and education relate to interactions between statesmen. The principle of these people’s behaviour is that both sides concede to each other in the interests of their electorate or subjects. War is evil to them, and the use of force is a last resort.

This is not the case with Vladimir Putin. He was raised in the KGB, an organisation that relied on force and disregard for the law. While working at St Petersburg City Hall in the early 1990s, he was responsible for the informal interaction of the law-enforcement agencies with gangsters. St Petersburg at that time was perceived in Russia just as Chicago was seen during prohibition. Instead of smuggled whisky, the gangsters were selling drugs and oil.

Times changed but his ways of solving issues remained. Some of the conversations between his confidants and known criminals, made public after an investigation by Spanish prosecutors, help us to understand how the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and the poisoning of Alexey Navalny and the Skripals came at the nod of the ringleader. Such acts are the norm within the president’s circles, because he is a thug by nature.

Even after more than 20 years in power, having acquired a strongman image and self-confidence, a bandit will always remain a bandit in terms of his perception among those around him. It is a drastic mistake when he is seen as a normal statesman. Russia’s foreign partners fail to understand who he really is.

I have plenty of experience of dealing with bandits. After spending ten years in Russian prisons, I can say that the most dangerous thing is to show them any weakness or uncertainty. Any step towards their demands, without a clear demonstration of strength, will be perceived as weakness. Following their logic, if Western countries say they will not give up Ukraine and yet they do exactly that, it means that they are weak. And that makes it likely that Mr Putin will look towards other neighbours, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, who were also previously part of the Russian Empire.

You have to understand that Mr Putin, in his head, has long been at war not with Ukraine, but with America. And now America and NATO look to be retreating. He is not the only thug who perceives the situation that way. Other bandits are also watching and waiting their turn, as America’s humiliation echoes around the world. Transnistria is stirring, the Balkans are restless again, Iran is attacking American bases. At some point, America and NATO will retaliate, but by that point, they will be tormented by crows and vultures in various parts of the world, and Mr Putin will not immediately realise that the pushback is serious. The habit of impunity among thugs does not subside so quickly. And that means a worse war, an even bigger one, is likely.

Perhaps you do not believe it. But consider this: Mr Putin managed to increase his ratings when he came to office, in 1999, with the war in Chechnya. He solved the problem of controlling his “interim president”, Dmitry Medvedev, by going to war with Georgia in 2008. Having gone to war on Mr Putin’s orders, Mr Medvedev was forced to abandon his own agenda of modernisation. Mr Putin solved the problem of his ratings plunge in 2013-14 by seizing Crimea.

Now, the war in Ukraine dwarfs any gripes about a decade of economic decline. If he is allowed to take over Ukraine, the economy will continue to collapse, as a result of corruption and sanctions. A flood of coffins will return home to Russia, for the guerrilla war cannot be stopped. The mood of the population will continue to deteriorate. And in 2024, there will be elections.

What is likely to be Mr Putin’s solution? It will be another “special operation”. Moldova is too small, so it is likely to be in the Baltic states or Poland. Unless Mr Putin is stopped in the air over Ukraine, NATO will have to fight him on the ground.

As for nuclear weapons, the Russian president has a manic psychosis. He is obsessed with being a historical figure like Stalin. He has placed a huge statue of Prince Vladimir, the creator of Russia, at his Kremlin gate. But he is not suicidal or he would not be sitting at the other end of a 20-foot table from his cronies. He will only use nuclear weapons if he believes there will be no response. But every day NATO rejects the no-fly zone over Ukraine, his self-confidence grows.

I do not want my country to face NATO in a global conflict, but trying to talk to a thug without showing him your strength leads exactly to that point.

Kirill, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church, calls Putin's presidency “a miracle of God”; while one priest said the Russian army “was cleaning the world of a diabolic infection”

This crusade against a liberal European future is being fought in the name of Russkiy mir—“the Russian world”, a previously obscure historical term for a Slavic civilisation based on shared ethnicity, religion and heritage.

Thus writes The Economist in The New Russian Cult of War. While reading the article, remember that the word "Russia" does not appear in any Christian (or Jewish) Bible (nor does "America" or any other nation besides Israel and the Egypt of the Pharaohs). See also the take of a famed Russian political prisoner and exile.

Thanks to Evelyne Joslain, most recently the author of a post that declared that For decades, the Kremlin has accused NATO of encircling, threatening, oppressing Russia… accusing the West of exactly what Putin is doing to his neighbors, who are not his vassals but countries liberated from centuries of Russian yoke.

The Putin regime has revived, promulgated and debased this idea into an obscurantist anti-Western mixture of Orthodox dogma, nationalism, conspiracy theory and security-state Stalinism.The war is the latest and most striking manifestation of this revanchist ideological movement. And it has brought to the fore a dark and mystical component within it, one a bit in love with death. As Andrei Kurilkin, a publisher, puts it, “The substance of the myth is less important than its sacred nature…The legitimacy of the state is now grounded not in its public good, but in a quasi-religious cult.”

The cult was on proud display at Mr Putin’s first public appearance since the invasion—a rally at the Luzhniki stadium packed with 95,000 flag-waving people, mostly young, some bused in, many, presumably, there of their own volition. An open octagonal structure set up in the middle of the stadium served as an altar. Standing at it Mr Putin praised Russia’s army with words from St John’s gospel: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

His oration, delivered in a $14,000 Loro Piana coat, made much of Fyodor Ushakov, a deeply religious admiral who, in the 18th century, helped win Crimea back from the Ottomans. In 2001 he was canonised by the Orthodox church; he later became the patron saint of nuclear-armed long-distance bombers. “He once said that the storms of war would glorify Russia,” Mr Putin told the crowd. “That is how it was in his time; that is how it is today and will always be!”

… Links between the church and the security forces, first fostered under Stalin, grew stronger after the fall of Communism. Whereas various western European churches repented and reflected after providing support for Hitler, the Moscow Patriarchate has never repented for its collusion with Stalin in such matters as the repression of Ukrainian Catholics after 1945.

 … The allegiance of its leaders, if not of all its clergy, has now been transferred to Mr Putin. Kirill, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church, has called his presidency “a miracle of God”; he and others have become willing supporters of the cult of war.

  … Its garish culmination can be seen in the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces in Kubinka, 70km west of Moscow, which was inaugurated on June 22nd (the day Hitler launched his invasion) in 2020 (the 75th anniversary of the war’s end) with Mr Putin and Kirill in attendance.The cathedral is a Byzantine monstrosity in khaki

 … More zealous churchmen have gone further. Elizbar Orlov, a priest in Rostov, a city close to the border with Ukraine, said the Russian army “was cleaning the world of a diabolic infection”. As the cathedral shows, the Russian people’s sacrifice and victories in the great patriotic war, which saw both the loss of 20m Soviet citizens and the creation of an empire greater in extent than any of the Tsars’, are central to Mr Putin’s new ideology of the Russian world. Today, though, the foes and allies of the 1940s have been shuffled around, allowing the war to be reframed as part of an assault on Russia’s civilisation in which the West has been engaged for centuries. The main culprits in this aggression are Britain and America—no longer remembered as allies in the fight against Nazis, but cast instead as backers of the imaginary Nazis from which Ukraine must be saved.

Project Russia

More important to the cult even than the priests are the siloviki of the security services, from whose ranks Mr Putin himself emerged. Officers of the FSB, one of the successors to the KGB, have been at the heart of Russian politics for 20 years. Like many inhabitants of closed, tightly knit and powerful organisations, they have a tendency to see themselves as members of a secret order with access to revealed truths denied to lesser folk. Anti-Westernism and a siege mentality are central to their beliefs. Mr Putin relies on the briefs with which they supply him, always contained in distinctive red folders, for his information about the world

In this realm, too, a turn towards the ideology now being promulgated was first seen in 2005, when a faction within the FSB produced an anonymous book called “Project Russia”. It was delivered by courier services to various ministries dealing with security and Russia’s relationship with the world, warning them that democracy was a threat and the West an enemy.

 … In his Munich speech in 2007 Mr Putin formally rejected the idea of Russia’s integration into the West. In the same year he told a press conference in Moscow that nuclear weapons and Orthodox Christianity were the two pillars of Russian society, the one guaranteeing the country’s external security, the other its moral health.

 … One of the few people he appears to have spent time with is Yuri Kovalchuk, a close friend who controls a vast media group. According to Russian journalists they discussed Mr Putin’s mission to restore unity between Russia and Ukraine.Hence a war against Ukraine which is also a war against Russia’s future—or at least the future as it has been conceived of by Russia’s sometimes small but frequently dominant Westernising faction for the past 350 years. As in Ukraine, the war is intended to wipe out the possibility of any future that looks towards Europe and some form of liberating modernity. In Ukraine there would be no coherent future left in its place. In Russia the modernisers would leave as their already diminished world was replaced by something fiercely reactionary and inward looking.The Russian-backed “republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk may be a model. There, crooks and thugs were elevated to unaccustomed status, armed with new weapons and fitted with allegedly glorious purpose: to fight against Ukraine’s European dream. In Russia they would be tasked with keeping any such dream from returning, whether from abroad, or from a cell.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

At CPAC, an Interview with Defenders of American Exceptionalism Podcast

During CPAC 2022, I was interviewed by Steven Airey and Dylan Liles for Defenders LIVE Episode 824: LIVE at CPAC Day 2, between minutes 1:02:44 and 1:27:44.

But by all means, check out the other interviewees, before and after… 

We ran the gamut of subjects, from Ukraine to January 6; one of the main issues we touched upon, however, was education in America. 

As I wrote in one of my most important posts on the 1619 Project two and a half years ago, Americans don't realize enough (American conservatives and American liberals alike, blacks and whites alike) to what extent the United States has imported the European curriculum (the Frankfurt School must certainly be among the originators of this), a great part of which concerns, overtly or not, the demonization if not of America, then certainly of the government-free/free market model… 

Do not think that Europe's role in this is secondary or passive. Au contraire:  Europe's influence in these teachings is paramount and must not be minimized.

From the Europeans' school benches in the 19th century to the establishment in the United States of the Frankfurt School — certainly the European élites' most successful gambit has been to take over at least parts of American education over the course of the 20th century — with the more or less willing aid of the Democrat Party.

I am the son of diplomats who, every three years, would be posted in the embassy of a different national capital — among the places I lived in through my childhood were Denmark, the United States, France, and Belgium:
In Scandinavia I learned about slavery in America along with the treatment of the Indians.

In France I learned about slavery in America along with the treatment of the Indians.

In Belgium I learned about slavery in America along with the treatment of the Indians.

In Scandinavia we did not learn much about the Sámi people — a people, and a word, even most Scandinavians would barely recognize (they are better known as Lapps or Laplanders, but with no Swedish blood-letting attached to their names, only romantic folklore).

In France we did not learn much about Napoleon's conquest of Haiti and the horrors perpetrated on the blacks of that island, along with the reenslavement (!) of the former slaves liberated during the French Revolution.

In Belgium we did not learn much about the kingdom's Congo colony — where, 20 to 40 years after Appomattox, indeed all the way into the early 20th century, blacks were not only the equivalents of slaves, but the terror and brutality meted upon them dwarfed any punishment seen on a Southern plantation, the most terrifying being the most horrific instances of maiming (having hands and/or feet chopped off) if they did not meet their masters' expectations. Marco Margaritoff:

Through the enslavement of locals who worked or starved to death, Belgium made a fortune. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese fled, while tens of thousands were killed or had their arms cut off for rebelling. Between 1880 and 1920, the population plummeted from 20 million to 10 million.

Nor, needless to say, does any American schoolchild learn much, if anything, about the Sami, Haiti, or King Leopold's Congo Free State.

When King Leopold's Ghost (A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa) was translated into French and Dutch, writes Adam Hochschild,
The Belgian prime minister clearly wanted the row to end. "The colonial past is completely past," he told the [Guardian]. "There is really no strong emotional link any more. . . . It's history."
That's it. The only country where the "past" — if and when leaning towards the negative — is never "completely past" is the United States. The only sins, real or alleged, that there is a strong emotional link to is America's.

As Walt Whitman wrote in the midst of civil war, around 1863 or 1864,
The Democratic Republic has paid her to-day the terrible and resplendent compliment of the united wish of all the nations of the world that her Union should be broken, her future cut off, and that she should be compell’d to descend to the level of kingdoms and empires ordinarily great! There is certainly not one government in Europe but is now watching the war in this country, with the ardent prayer that the united States may be effectually split, crippled, and dismember’d by it. There is not one but would help toward that dismemberment, if it dared. I say such is the ardent wish to-day of England and of France, as governments, and of all the nations of Europe, as governments. I think indeed it is to-day the real, heart-felt wish of all the nations of the world

 … We need this hot lesson of general hatred, and henceforth must never forget it. Never again will we trust the moral sense nor abstract friendliness of a single government of the world.

The reason is very simple: the hatred for America started in the 1780s, when George Washington …

Do read the whole thing™…

Monday, March 21, 2022

For decades, the Kremlin has accused NATO of encircling, threatening, oppressing Russia… accusing the West of exactly what Putin is doing to his neighbors, who are not his vassals but countries liberated from centuries of Russian yoke

On the Dreuz website, Evelyne Joslain comments on the Russian invasion of 2022: Tandis que l’Ukraine agonise. A radio host at the Libre journal du Nouveau Monde on Radio Courtoisie, Evelyne Joslain is the author of a handful of French books on the United States. (See also The Economist's The New Russian Cult of War and the take of a famed Russian political prisoner and exile…)

The West is united behind Zelinsky, at least as far as fine words are concerned. We are overwhelmed by emotions, but as for the determination to defend the West, it is non-existent. Only volunteer fighters from all our democracies, who have spontaneously committed themselves to defending Ukraine and our civilization, are saving our honor. For, make no mistake about it, Putin is not going to stop at the borders of Ukraine. This Third World War that we so much want to avoid has already begun.

Even if the Kremlin were stopped, China and Iran would miraculously remain, since we are faced with a new Axis of Evil which has patiently built itself up and is not hiding its aspirations to destroy not only the EU (which would hardly be a drama) but also NATO and the USA as the world's foremost power. The Axis wants a New World Order, with its currency, its international banking system, its laws... Would that suit all those, American as well as foreign, who have railed against "American imperialism" for decades?

Recall that Beijing and Moscow both have veto power at the UN (a resolutely anti-West body that serves no purpose except to comfort dictators), where both enjoy an absurd commercially-protected nation status. True enough, the Russian and Chinese countrysides belong fully in the Third World, but we are not supposed to know that. As for the third Axis, Tehran, the same Westerners who scold Putin in front of the television cameras are, behind Vienna's closed doors, busy with the Russians and the CCP polishing Obama's resurrected Iran Deal. Obama had wanted this agreement out of sheer infatuation for the Islamists. Biden desperately wants it back (and to hell with Congress, a presidential order will do) because it is fine to take oil from dictators and enemies of the United States (all of them) but in no case, Heaven forbid, from American producers.

There is no more anti-American and traitorous to their country than the current American left, and nothing more hypocritical and absurd than state environmentalism, the primary concern of Western leaders. As for the ayatollahs, they demanded and obtained from the squatter of the White House that it be a Russian, Mikhail Ulyanov, who does the negotiating for the United States! This shows the seriousness that Biden gives to martyred Ukraine: the "Ukrainian crisis", as he calls it, is an annoying setback (for leftists, everything is "crisis" and therefore good for exploitation, which he does).

Note also that, just like for the first Iran Deal, no regional power is invited to participate: this takes place only between China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. This agreement is essentially for the benefit of Iran: to pull it out of the isolation where its unacceptable methods have placed it. No advantage for Westerners, except for politicians and for a few big companies, therefore very special interests — "one hell of a bonanza to rake in"… As for the nuclear bomb, given the time that they've been fooling the IAEA's inspectors, the Iranians probably already have it.

We are also confounded by the treachery of Macron and Johnson, bound like Biden, to respect the Budapest Memorandum solemnly signed by their respective countries in 1994, that is to say to ensure the territorial integrity of Ukraine in exchange for the docile surrender of its nuclear weapons. Instead, our leaders are in a rush to get back to business and deepen our dependence on hostile powers. The sanctions only affect 2/3 of the Russian economy. Above all, NATO's military force depends on the occupant of the White House (through the blame lies on the shoulders of the Europeans who have done nothing to acquire within the Alliance armies worthy of the name, with the exception of France, Turkey, and Great Britain). But above all, Biden is anything but a leader: corrupt to the core, he is involved in Mafia affairs with Ukrainians, Russians, and Chinese, so he's in their pockets. All being show biz, the media conceals these inconvenient truths and focus on the tragedy of Ukraine which is dying.

Putin probes the softness of a largely decadent, de-virilized, and pathetic West, which finds all the technical excuses not to get involved. After 25 days of aggression-invasion, money is flowing into Ukraine but not the really “offensive” weapons it demands, only “defensive” weapons. We therefore limply support a war that we believe to be lost in advance because we fear that a Putin who cannot afford to back down will use a missile to settle the seizure of Ukraine. We give in to Putin's nuclear blackmail without realizing that he is playing games with us. He made it clear that balancing by mutual deterrence was obsolete by 2020.

We are therefore terrified for reasons for which we are completely responsible: the West has unilaterally disarmed, both with regards to conventional and nuclear forces, the United States and the European Union (thanks to the idol, Obama, Russia has 1,500 nuclear warheads, twice that of the USA). And they have also unilaterally dispossessed themselves of their fossil fuels, preferring to give them all 1 billion dollars a day for Russian gas, obeying the dictates of frenzied ecologists.

For Putin, the situation was ideal: in the United States, the coming to power by fraud of a particularly shabby and destructive trio: Biden, Harris, Pelosi, the top three honchos in the nation, amply proved to what degree they are unworthy of their functions. Another major figure of the West and NATO are Canada's Trudeau who, like Biden, has shown his totalitarian streak, one against his own people; Britain's Boris Johnson, often more buffoonish than Prime Minister; and France's Macron who supports Ukraine by disguising himself as Zelinsky. And none of the above have denied their involvement in environmental fraud, quite the contrary: any "way out of the crisis" goes through the "green transition", they say, first Covid later the "Ukrainian crisis".

Who dares to counter them? Half of America is willing, but hardly any of the deeply indoctrinated Europeans. In polls, environmentalism is the third concern of the French just after their purchasing power and their health. Not a presidential candidate in France (which has become a non-event) who does not sacrifice to this heresy! They even all have a specific green program, even if it is obviously the left that leads the way since environmentalism is nothing but re-distributionist Marxism. Ignoring the most basic decency, environmentalists even organized demonstrations all over France on Saturday March 12, to protest the "appalling" fact that Ukraine was capturing all the media attention to the alleged detriment of the planet...

Environmentalism, that suicidal madness, a sad Western exception that amazes all the other countries on the planet that cannot be blamed for profiting from so much stupidity. The truth emerges about Putin: if Ukraine has a level of corruption equal to that of Russia, Putin is nevertheless the aggressor and demonstrates how he is nothing European. He is completely penetrated by the Eurasian theses of Alexandr Dugin, theses which adapt very well to all Asian and Muslim elements, uniting them in the same hatred of the West and in the same Neo-Eurasianist supremacy.

Moreover, "Mad Vlad" reveals his medieval mentality and his Asian fiber: he is both Attila the Hun and Yvan the Terrible. And he hasn't changed as his last defenders would like to believe, he finally lets himself be seen as he is, perhaps because he is about to celebrate his 70th birthday and wants to ensure his legacy, perhaps because he is sick (his swollen figure suggests heavy treatments), or simply because he will not always have the windfall of a Biden in front of him.

If the West can come to its senses in time, nothing should be given to Putin. He must give back everything he has wrongfully acquired — Crimea, the seas, the provinces — and be condemned to reparations for the approximately 200 billion dollars of damage he and his armies have caused. For human suffering and his crimes, he must be tried by a special tribunal. For decades, the Kremlin has accused NATO of encircling, threatening, oppressing Russia… accusing the West of exactly what Putin himself is doing to his neighbors, who are not his vassals but countries liberated from centuries of Russian yoke. 

It is about time for NATO to give some push-back, with teeth, to this tiresome neo-Soviet propaganda.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

18th Anniversary of My First Post for No Pasarán

A few weeks after the founding of No Pasarán, 18 years ago, I was invited to join as the blog's fourth blogger (after Douglas, Jonathan, and Liminal aka U*2, and prior to N Joe).

The blog's inaugural pledge was that we

 "will commentate on current events with all the psychotic calm and serenity of a Palestinian father who explains that he can't wait for his 2 surviving sons to become martyrs"
Of the more than 13,000 posts that have been written since 2004 (13,687, to be exact, as of today), I consider the following couple of posts to be two of the most important:
The Era of the Drama Queens: Every Crisis Is a Triumph
The Leftist Worldview in a Nutshell: A world of Deserving Dreamers Vs. Despicable Deplorables
Today is the anniversary of my first contribution, which related how I attended a conference in Normandy (at a museum linked to the D-Day landings, no less!) with some of France's best-known journalist VIPs and how I rose to challenge the group on the French media's coverage of the Iraq conflict.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Growling for Colombani

Any of you who have seen me over the past 10 days knows how furious I get anytime I read or hear the French media trying to stuff down our throats their self-serving lying charges (those against Aznar, Bush, and Blair, i.e., anybody whom they don't feel any sympathy with).

So when I read that the Mémorial de Caen was organizing a conference with Jean-Marie Colombani, among others ("QUELLE LIBERTÉ POUR L'INFORMATION DANS UN MONDE INQUIÉTANT ?" [What freedom for information in a distressing world?], organized in tandem with Les Amis de l'hebdomadaire La Vie and Reporters sans Frontières), I knew I had to attend. I wanted to give Le Monde's director a piece of my mind (in a diplomatic manner, natch). Three hours before it started at 7 pm on March 23, 2004, I jumped into my trusty jalopy, and drove the 260 km to Caen, arriving just in the nick of time.

And sure enough, the first thing any of the five intervenants did (with a constant wry smile on his face) was to attack the lies of politicians, ridicule the partisanship of the media, and bemoan the jingoism of the population (meaning those of the US, the UK, and Aznar's Spain exclusively, bien sûr). It was Jean-Marie Charon, "Sociologue des médias" (whatever that means), who opened the débat — the others being (left to right on the admittedly unclear photo) Colombani, Walter Wells, Directeur de l'International Herald Tribune (beard), Jean-Jacques Lerosier, Grand reporter à Ouest-France, and Jacqueline Papet, Rédactrice-en-chef de RFI, with the moderators answering to the names of Daniel Junqua, Journaliste et Vice-président de RSF, and Jean-Claude Escaffit, Journaliste à La Vie et Directeur des Amis de La Vie.

Before I left Paris, I'd reviewed and written down (in telegraph-style) a handful of arguments: these ranged from the Iraqis quoted in Reason, on Iraq the Model, and in Le Monde itself, to Doug's post on Le Monde's partisan mistranslation of Michael Ignatieff's piece in the New York Times.

The only problem was a rather big one, I learned as a I headed for my seat: questions would not be permitted, except in written form on small pieces of paper handed over to one of the animators. So I knew I had to pay close attention if I wanted to find an appropriate moment when to jump in. And I would obviously not have time to develop any of the arguments (especially since Eskaffit seemed to be a control freak).

It happened towards the end. There was a brief lull as Wells was about to make his last extensive remarks. Suddenly everybody turned to me as I let out : "Je pense que nous devons tous remercier les médias français pour leur admirable abilité à détecter les mensonges. Mais je ne comprends pas pourquoi ces spécialistes en la matière ignorent des sujets qui ont été traités dans le Herald Tribune, par exemple." (This was punctuated by Eskaffit's protests on his mike, you realize.) "Nous avons pu y lire des articles détaillant ce qu'on pourrait taxer de mensonges dans le camp de la paix, comme le fait que les Allemands, les Russes, et les Français avaient pas mal d'affaires avec les autorités baasistes, et que Total devait avoir un contrat exclusif avec Saddam Hussein. Pourquoi les médias français n'en font-ils pas autant état que de ce qui concerne les Ricains, les Rosbifs, et les Espagnols?"
[Translation: "I think we should all be grateful to the French media for their admirable ability to detect lies. But I do not understand why these experts in the field are ignorant of topics that have been covered in the Herald Tribune, for example." (This was punctuated by Eskaffit's protests on his mike, you realize.) "We have read articles detailing what could be taxed as lies from the peace camp, such as the fact that the Germans, the Russians, and the French had quite a lot of business dealings with the Baathist authorities, and that Total had an exclusive contract with Saddam Hussein. Why don't the French media make as much fuss about that as about the Yanks, the Limeys, and the Spaniards?"]
Eskaffit was growing increasingly more vocal in asking/telling me to keep quiet (shades of Chirac?) — he claimed that "de toutes façons", nobody could hear me — so seeing the end approaching (and having a hard time competing against a microphone), I pulled out my final ace — the final ace being a book, which I held above my head. (Yes, there did seem to be a somewhat theatrical element to this scene; why do you ask?) "Et en matière de mensonges, il y a ce livre d'un rédacteur de La Croix, qui a été licencié pour l'avoir publié, qui s'appelle Comment la presse nous a désinformés sur l'Irak. Et qui raconte les partis pris des Français pour diaboliser Bush, pour sanctifier Chirac, et pour communier avec les partis de la 'paix'."
[Translation: "And in terms of lies, there is this book by an editor of La Croix, which is called How the Press Disinformed Us on Iraq, and who indeed was fired for publishing it. And who details the bias of the French to demonize Bush, to sanctify Chirac, and to commune with the 'peace' parties."]
Even a few audience members had by now started to tell me to keep quiet, but that seemed an appropriate place to end anyway, so with that I sat down.

As for Eskaffit, he went on talking to the intervenants… ignoring completely what I had said. (While a couple of people behind me asked to see the book.) Well, I felt I had done my blogger's duty, so to speak, so I sat back, pretty content with myself.

Then, as Junqua made his last remarks, I understood that some people had heard me; the RSF moderator surprised me by pulling out his own copy of Alain Hertoghe's book (which he had in his briefcase), and explained that it provided a negative view of the French media during the Iraq war. But then he added that there was another book, detailing the French press's doings during the first Gulf war, with a positive slant, and that one could not read the first book without comparing it to the second. He tried to conclude that Hertoghe's book was a partisan "brûlot" that was not very friendly to his colleagues. (This from a colloque which had just declared that, happily, the old tradition in the press of refusing to criticize one's colleagues had now become "caduc"!)

I wasn't going to let him get away with that as the final word, so I let out another comment: "Les médias ont complètement censuré ce livre!" (But Eskaffit immediately started interrupting again.)
 [Translation: "The media thoroughly censored this book!"]
Afterwards, I went up to speak to some of the intervenants. Wells asked to see Hertoghe's book, which he wanted to check out. As for Junqua, he admitted it was news to him that the La Croix editor had been fired as a result of the book's publication.

So, all in all, a satisfying 10 minutes. (But hardly worth doing again, not at that distance. At least not without a couple of chums to have a drink with, afterwards.)

P.S. This is my first post for ¡No Pasarán! Muchas gracias, amigos, for inviting me to participar.