Putin’s Propaganda, Dugin’s Lunacy, and You

 

tass_re146fc7_0I was asking myself this morning why I felt a special need to emphasize that the biggest threats to Europe may not be the ravening hordes of Muslim invaders (or desperate refugees) swarming across its borders (or dying en masse in the Mediterranean) and threatening to suck on the teat of its precious welfare services (or being promptly deported back to hell). After all, who am I trying to persuade? And why? Few members of Ricochet will be voting in European elections, after all. And I hardly wish to make the point that unlimited immigration to Europe will be an unfettered boon; it isn’t even a point I believe.

It took me the day to sort out my thoughts. Europe is not now under grave threat from either communists or Nazis in their most recognizable historic form. There are some left, of course. But perhaps I don’t need to run through the list of them; I’ll just say that I’m on call should you have any questions about Europeans who might be Nazis and how to recognize them, likewise should you have questions about  Europeans who might be communists, I can help you out. (As for the latter, bet you can figure it out without my help. See, for example, the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way, which really exists, as do many such groupuscules. I think time-travelling technology may be involved, or perhaps someone pickled them. Do spend a few minutes on their site, by the way, and tell me whether you think their understandable grievances require our legitimization, given that they’ve got nowhere mainstream to go with their concerns, and Europe’s pointy-headed elite insistently lock them out of the political process. For the record, I am totally in favor locking the Marxist–Leninist Communist Organization–Proletarian Way out of the political process. Call me a pointy-headed European elitist all you like, but I think the world is a better place when people like them are marginalized, mocked, dismissed, and irrelevant.)

My real concern is Russia. It’s Duginism, in particular. But before discussing him, let me take you on a little tour of the kind of Russian propaganda in which Europe’s wallowing — but let me bring it home for you with an example that might feel more personal. Like this:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 10.57.07

Have a look at that magazine. Try to figure out what it is. Look first, take your time. Then tell me what you think.

Here’s what I think.

“Veterans Today (VT),” it says,

is an independent online journal representing the positions and providing news for members of the military and veteran community in areas of national security, geopolitical stability and domestic policy. All writers are fully independent and represent their own point of view and not necessarily the point of view of any other writer, administrator or entity.

It has job news. It has a “support the troops” section. It features news about job fairs for veterans — “Unlocking Veterans’ Potential!” will take place, it informs us, on November 9, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, at the Desmond Hotel, 660 Albany Shaker Rd. Albany, NY 12211. There’s a section on VA Home Loans. Oh, it has a forum, where veterans who have problems can chat. How helpful for our nations veterans. What a great resource for the men and women who’ve served our country with honor and now want to pour their hearts out to Russian intelligence.

I don’t know if I’m right about that, although it wouldn’t be pure paranoia these days to wonder, would it? But do have a close look at the site. Doesn’t this editorial line seem a bit of a strange choice for that audience?

It’s all like that, once you get past the helpful information about VA dental benefits and the UNLV career fair.

“[T]he barrage of misinformation,” reports the Guardian (it takes one to know one) “has convinced some American politicians that the [Russian] propaganda network is the greatest threat to US security in Europe since the Soviet Union evaporated.” These politicians are right to be concerned: It is. But as you can see, it isn’t only aimed at Europe; in this case, it’s aimed at veterans of the United States military, which I take very personally.

“Russia has deployed an information army inside television, radio and newspapers throughout Europe,” congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, told a hearing on Kremlin propaganda. “Russia’s propaganda machine is in overdrive, working to subvert democratic stability and foment violence.”

Royce has warned that Russian propaganda “may be more dangerous than any military, because no artillery can stop their lies from spreading and undermining US security interests in Europe.”

Oh, I’ll vouch for that — they’re all over Europe. The Front National loves them: Russian money’s fuelling that party. And no, it is not, precisely, a Nazi party. But it’s loved up with Putin and Dugan, as are many of these parties.

To be clear: I’m not saying that Putin is bothering to waste his money on this Veteran’s Today conspiracy theory website. To suggest that absent evidence would be to subscribe to precisely the kind of conspiracy thinking to which the authors of this site have succumbed. What I’m saying — and there’s no illogic at all in this suggestion; it’s amply documented and no reasonable person has grounds to deny it — is that right now, Russia’s furnishing the most potent material on the Internet for the world’s most lunatic conspiracy theorists, and that this is sinister in a deeper way than ISIS propaganda, because much of it seems to make deep, plausible sense to many Europeans and Americans. Russia’s become a gigantic, malign, lunatic-conspiracy-theory factory, and the ideology behind it is every bit as expansive, totalizing and destructive as the ideology behind the Soviet Union. The mistake too many make is to see modern Russia as just another authoritarian state, acting rationally in pursuit of its national interests– albeit a mischief-making one with nuclear weapons — rather than a new incarnation of the ideologically-driven Soviet colossus of yore.

This is understating the threat. Russia’s behavior is a product of an ideology, there is a  method to its madness; the ideology is, I fear, as insidious as communism, fascism, or Islamism; and must be taken just as seriously. It’s not traditional Russian imperialism, although certainly it has its roots in it. It’s best described as Duginism, after its best-known theorist, Alexander Dugin. For those of you unfamiliar with him, here’s a good introduction by Robert Zubrin in National Review:

Most Americans don’t know anything about Alexander Dugin. They need to, because Dugin is the mad philosopher who is redesigning the brains of much of the Russian government and public, filling their minds with a new hate-ridden totalitarian ideology whose consequences can only be catastrophic in the extreme, not only for Russia, but for the entire human race.

In recent months, as the embrace of Duginist ideas by the Putin regime has become ever more evident, a number of articles have been written calling attention to the threat. But now, with the appearance of “The American Empire Should Be Destroyed”: Alexander Dugin and the Perils of Immanentized Eschatology, by James Heiser, we finally have a book-length treatment. It is well worth reading.

Heiser follows Dugin’s career, moving from his expulsion from the Moscow Aviation Institute for involvement in proto-Nazi mystical circles in the early 1980s, through his continued development in association with various Thule Society–like organizations through the late Eighties, his contacts with the anti-democratic European Nouvelle Droite [new right], his co-founding and career with the National Bolshevik Party in the 1990s, and his subsequent move into the Russian political mainstream following from his realization that he could gain far more influence as an adviser to those in power than he ever could operating as a splinter party on his own.

Heiser then proceeds to dissect Dugin’s political and geopolitical ideology of Eurasianism. The core idea of this is that “liberalism” (by which Dugin means the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world. Repeating the ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Dugin says that this liberal threat is not new, but is the ideology of the maritime-cosmopolitan power “Atlantis,” which has conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times. Accordingly he has written books in which he has reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome vs. Carthage to Russia vs. the Anglo-Saxon “Atlantic Order” today. If it is to win its fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (because foreign imposed) ideas as human rights, Russia must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.

In order to be so united “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” this Eurasian Union will need a defining ideology, and for this purpose Dugin has developed a new “Fourth Political Theory” combining all the strongest points of Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism, thereby allowing it to appeal to the adherents of all of these diverse anti-liberal creeds. He would adopt Communism’s opposition to free enterprise. However, he would drop the Marxist commitment to technological progress, a liberal-derived ideal, in favor of Ecologism’s demagogic appeal to stop the advance of industry and modernity. From Traditionalism, he derives a justification for stopping free thought. All the rest is straight out of Nazism, ranging from legal theories justifying unlimited state power and the elimination of individual rights, to the need for populations “rooted” in the soil, to weird gnostic ideas about the secret origin of the Aryan race in the North Pole.

What Russia needs, says Dugin, is a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism.” On the other hand, “Liberalism, is an absolute evil. . . . Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization, and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. . . . The American empire should be destroyed.”

Heiser then provides a chilling analysis of Dugin’s theology:

It would be our contention that Dugin’s fusion of Traditionalism and Eurasianism has become a “gnostic mass movement” of the third type, “activist mysticism.” It is not an exaggeration to state that Dugin’s intended goal, his telos, is the End of the World, and that the accomplishment of that end is dependent, he believes, on the implementation of his ideology. As Dugin has proclaimed in his recent book, The Fourth Political Theory: “The end times and the eschatological meaning of politics will not realize themselves on their own. We will wait for the end in vain. The end will never come if we wait for it, and it will never come if we do not. . . . If the Fourth Political Practice is not able to realize the end of times, then it would be invalid. The end of days should come, but it will not come by itself. This is a task, it is not a certainty. It is an active metaphysics. It is a practice.”  …

It is hard to know how to react to someone who claims to want to bring about the end of the world. When that desire is expressed with a thick Russian accent, the hearer is all the more likely to simply dismiss the speaker as some sort of “super villain” from a bad “action/adventure” movie. It is a claim which evokes the snicker — until one realizes that the man who thinks that the “meaning of Russia” is “the End of the World” is the man whose geopolitical doctrine is being implemented by the ruler of Russia.

Finally, Heiser comments on Dugin’s worship of Chaos, and the adoption of the occult symbol of the eight-pointed “Star of Chaos” as the emblem (and, when inscribed in gold on a black background, the flag) of the Eurasianist movement. “For Dugin, logos is replaced by chaos, and the very symbol of chaos magic is the symbol of Eurasia: ‘Logos has expired and we all will be buried under its ruins unless we make an appeal to chaos and its metaphysical principles, and use them as a basis for something new.’ Dugin dressed his discussion of logos in the language of Heidegger, but his terminology cannot be read outside of a 2,000-year-old Western, biblical tradition which associates the Logos with the Christ, and Dugin’s invocation of chaos against logos leads to certain inevitable conclusions regarding his doctrines.”

In short, Dugin’s Eurasianism is a satanic cult.

This is the ideology behind the Putin regime’s “Eurasian Union” project. It is to this dark program, which threatens not only the prospects for freedom in Ukraine and Russia, but the peace of the world, that former Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych tried to sell “his” country. It is against this program that the courageous protesters in the Maidan took their stand and — with scandalously little help from the West — somehow miraculously prevailed. It is on behalf of this program that the Putin regime has created a bloodbath in eastern Ukraine, which, following Dugin, it now terms “New Russia.” It is on behalf of this program that Dugin, with massive support from the Russian government, has organized a fascist international of European fringe parties [my emphasis] and on behalf of this program that the Quislings leading those parties are willing to betray their nations to Kremlin domination.

Without Ukraine, Dugin’s fascist Eurasian Union project is impossible, and sooner or later Russia itself will have join the West and become free, leaving only a few despised and doomed islands of tyranny around the globe. But with Ukraine underfoot, the Eurasianist program can and will proceed, and a new iron curtain will fall into place imprisoning a large fraction of humanity in the grip of a monstrous totalitarian power that will become the arsenal of evil around the world for decades to come. That means another cold war, trillions of dollars wasted on arms, accelerated growth of the national-security state at home, repeated proxy conflicts costing millions of lives abroad, and civilization itself placed at risk should a single misstep in the endless insane great-power game precipitate the locked and loaded confrontation into a thermonuclear exchange.

Only this time, our cold-war opponents will not be secular Communists, but true believers of a death-worshipping cult that would like to bring about the end of the world. Every victory for their expansionist program abroad enhances the Eurasianists’ power within Russia. As a result of the Western capitulation so far, the Duginite movement is growing exponentially, while the forces of sanity are being cowed or crushed. If Ukraine falls, Vladimir Putin may discover that, like the German generals who empowered Hitler, he has fostered the birth of a monster he can no longer control.

Here’s another thoughtful article about Dugan in World Affairs Journal, by Andrey Tolstoy and Edmund McCaffray:

Alexander Dugin, the Russian philosopher and political activist, has attracted sporadic coverage in English-language publications over the past year. He is an engaging figure—prolific, radical, bearded, equally at home in university seminars and posing with tanks in South Ossetia and eastern Ukraine. So adept at self-promotion that he is sometimes not taken as seriously as he should be, Dugin is the intellectual who has Vladimir Putin’s back in the emerging ideological conflict between Russia and the West. At home, Putin uses him to create a nationalist, anti-liberal voting bloc, while abroad Dugin is the lynchpin of numerous irregular networks of anti-liberal political resistance and sabotage. No individual better represents the tactics of the current Russian regime.

Since the late 1990s, Dugin has organized his views into a geostrategic ideology and a complex political metaphysics known respectively as Neo-Eurasianism and Fourth Political Theory. The former posits an ongoing archetypal clash between land and maritime civilizations and holds that there is a struggle between, on the one hand, harmonious, land-based societies organized around history and tradition and, on the other, inherently liberal, “Atlanticist” “empires of the sea,” whose capitalistic drive abhors and undermines tradition. …

According to Dugin, while modern-day Atlanticists, led by the United States, have consolidated their position via international organizations and political hierarchies, their Eurasian opposition is disorganized and largely defenseless. This is because Atlanticism, by prioritizing individual liberties above all else, dissolves social bonds and obligations and devalues cultural legacy, thus destroying the very fabric that allows traditional societies to exist. Its hegemony is pursued by construing any opposition to its political or economic interests as an affront to freedom. …

A prolific writer who has authored dozens of monographs and hundreds of essays, Dugin tours the country and the world lecturing on political philosophy. His objective is to attract like-minded thinkers from the international fringe, involving them in debates and panels that imitate the mainstream discourse that shuns and excludes them. He has been an influence on the so-called new right of Europe, including such parties as Germany’s National Democratic Party, the British National Party, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik, and France’s National Front.

Dugin’s ideas are given added reach by a group called the Eurasia Youth Union, headquartered in Moscow, which broadcasts news and analysis via a website in Russian, English, Romanian, Serbian, and Ukrainian. The EYU has also supplied manpower for the separatist movement in Ukraine, its members fighting there under the banners of various Russophile armed groups. …

While claiming to be suspicious of the liberalizing effects of modern communication technology, Dugin utilizes it adroitly for his own objectives. Numerous websites that can be traced to him and his allies constantly cross-reference each other (for example, 4pt.su, which is devoted to the Fourth Political Theory, and Evrazia.org, which hosts Neo-Eurasianist content), creating a sort of feedback loop in cyberspace that rivals mainstream news and social networks and serves as an aggregator for political outcasts. Despite Dugin’s professed anti-racism, one of the consistent pathways to his area of the Internet is through American white supremacist media. He doesn’t denounce them because his tactics favor the empowerment of destabilizing agents everywhere, so long as their common enemy is the liberal order.

With its ad hoc, often anti-intellectual worldview, in which the manufactured fact is no less robust than the real one, the Internet is the perfect medium for Duginism. In particular, he has exploited the mechanism of instantaneous publishing on the Internet to retract or dissociate himself from controversial claims without harming their ability to propagate. In a notorious incident on his social network page, he posted the fabricated story of a Russian-speaking boy allegedly crucified in Ukraine by pro-Western militants and released a video in which he declared that the time had come to retaliate and “kill, kill, kill.” Flashing his academic credentials, he added soberly, “I say this to you as a professor.” …

Dugin’s ideology already resonates with both high intellectuals and the conspiratorial fringe. His ideas seem tailor-made to exploit continuing economic stagnation, distrust of EU bureaucracy, anxiety at the continuing influx of immigrants, and, crucially, the anxiety of those immigrants themselves, who fear the assault on their traditions that comes as a part of their resettlement in the West.

Dugin is also obviously intent on maximizing the potential of his ideology through various political, intellectual, and social media networks. He has met with members of the French military who are critical of President François Hollande, the US, and NATO, discussing topics as diverse as preparations for the French intervention in Mali, cyber warfare, terrorism, and friction between China and the US. He has called for even closer ties between Russia and Iran, already united in their subjection to US-led sanctions and their support for Syria. But his crowning achievement is to have become the spokesman for a systematic anti-liberalism that has allowed Vladimir Putin to advance not as an unprincipled tyrant but as the representative of an international philosophy whose writ stretches from the backwaters of Russia to the capitals of Europe.

The Israeli political scientist Vyacheslav Likhachov remarks that, “If one seriously takes the fact that such a person as Alexander Dugin is the ideologist of the imperial dash for the West, then one can establish that Russia is not going to stop as far as the Atlantic Ocean.”

That is, I suspect, correct.

For all the EU’s follies — the pious and intellectually empty multiculturalism; the weak bromides about tolerance; the dishonesty about the impossibility of reconciling national sovereignty with ever-greater economic intergration — the EU is not a malign force; it’s just dopey in a well-intentioned way. Europe’s elites ascribe to earnest, liberal, democratic values; they can be blind to the obvious, but the world they have created is no totalitarian hellhole. Their ideology may lead to malign consequences, if they cannot perceive the threat they’re under from far more vigorous and malign forces — be they Islamism or Duginsism — and it may do so quickly, given that the US has retreated into its Sick Man of the Planet phase.

The Kremlin has long been building bridges with so-called far right parties across Europe. Ukip’s candidates, including Nigel Farage, are the toast of Moscow with their regular appearances on Russia Today; Farage pitches up there almost monthly. Like other parties courted by Moscow, Farage publicly defends Putin’s Ukraine stance.

In Hungary the fascist Jobbik party, bedecked in Nazi uniforms, spouting anti-Semitic rhetoric and babbling about their hatred of the government’s “Euro-Atlantic connections,” is now the nation’s third-most powerful party. It’s widely held that Jobbik’s campaign was financed in Rubles. Jobbik’s leader, Gabor Vona, hailed as “exemplary” the referendum in Crimea, and wants Hungary to leave the EU and join the Eurasian union instead. Bulgaria’s far right Ataka party is firmly in Moscow’s pocket, as documents revealed on Wikileaks made clear.

But it’s not just an Eastern European problem.

The leader of Greece’s Golden Dawn party, Nikos Michaloliakos, has always been open about his links to Russia, and reportedly received a letter of support from Dugin. According to his party’s website, Michaloliakos “has spoken out clearly in favor of an alliance and cooperation with Russia, and away from the ‘naval forces’ of the ‘Atlantic.’”

In France, Marine Le Pen has publicly stated her vision of a Europe of independent nation states controlled by a tripartite axis between Paris and Berlin and Moscow. She was invited in 2013 to Moscow by State Duma leader and Putin friend Sergei Naryshkin, where she met with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Her party recognised the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, “historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia.” Le Pen’s party is to  receive a €40m loan from a bank with links to the Kremlin to cover part of the FN’s campaigning expenses ahead of the national elections in 2017.

Putin’s strategy makes perfect sense: It’s one thing just to grab Ukraine, but when it comes to the rest of Europe, he can just sit patiently on the sidelines and watch as the far right dismantles the EU for him. And with the financial crisis — and now the immigration crisis — it seems that this is his moment. Perhaps, against all odds, he’ll be able to pull it off.

I hope not.

Published in Foreign Policy, General
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  1. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    Political theorist Ken Masugi (I noticed he’s also on your Facebook) has discussed Dugin before. Waller Newell’s Tyranny: A New Introduction is probably well worth reading:

    According to political scientist Waller Newell, author of the recent Tyranny (cite below),  “And even now, people haven’t clued into how, for example, Dugin has been allowed by Putin to re-design the entire Russian educational system to re-write Russian history from a “National Bolshevism” perspective, including praise of Stalin. All traces of perestroika and glasnost are gone.”  http://www.amazon.com/Tyranny…/dp/1107610737

    • #31
  2. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    James Gawron: He expects us to push back and fill the voids.

    Well, we’ll see soon enough what they’re both made of, I guess. I’m assuming those 50 special forces in Syria were sent to be a tripwire, given that I can’t conceive of any other purpose they could possibly serve. (I have no idea who this guy is or why he’s writing for RUDAW, of all places, but I suspect his analysis is right.) So we’ll soon enough see whether Putin’s afraid to kill them — which would be a reassuring sign of sanity — and if not, whether we’re too afraid to do anything about it, in which case, all hell breaks loose.

    Claire,

    Haven’t they been sent there to be killed? Obama just wants a quick narrative to let him go on pulling back. He doesn’t mind putting Americans in harms way. That Chris Stevens was a hot head wasn’t he.

    I don’t think there is any reason in what he does other than that spastic narrative. Bin Laden is dead, it must be those provocative videos.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #32
  3. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    James Gawron: Haven’t they been sent there to be killed? Obama just wants a quick narrative to let him go on pulling back.

    I truly don’t know. How are you understanding this — that he’s sent them to reply to the pressure to “do something,” is fully expecting them to be killed, and will then say, “See, it’s impossible?”

    That doesn’t even sound like a good narrative to me.

    • #33
  4. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    James Gawron: Haven’t they been sent there to be killed? Obama just wants a quick narrative to let him go on pulling back.

    I truly don’t know. How are you understanding this — that he’s sent them to reply to the pressure to “do something,” is fully expecting them to be killed, and will then say, “See, it’s impossible?”

    That doesn’t even sound like a good narrative to me.

    Claire,

    Isn’t that what he’s been doing all along?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #34
  5. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Robert Lux: Political theorist Ken Masugi (I noticed he’s also on your Facebook)

    You pay more attention to who’s on it than I do. About six years ago I just decided to accept all friend requests. I put a warning on the page that I have no clue who most of these people are, and it’s true. I scan through it now the way I’d look at a zoo. It’s sometimes a useful heads-up to see what kind of craziness has of late been loosed on parts of the world to which I pay close attention; there are often things on my Facebook feed that are clearly pretty important — as guides to what people are sharing and seem genuinely to believe — but I wouldn’t notice them if I confined the list to people I knew or would actually wish to know.

    Every so often I think, “Someone should invent a site where I can share photos of my cats and my family, but just with other members of my family and my closest friends. Maybe one where I could easily upload nice photos of the fun things I’ve done lately, or articles that make me laugh — that would be really great.”

    • #35
  6. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    “For all the EU’s follies — the pious and intellectually empty multiculturalism; the weak bromides about tolerance; the dishonesty about the impossibility of reconciling national sovereignty with ever-greater economic intergration — the EU is not a malign force; it’s just dopey in a well-intentioned way. Europe’s elites ascribe to earnest, liberal, democratic values; they can be blind to the obvious, but the world they have created is no totalitarian hellhole. Their ideology may lead to malign consequences…”

    While it’s clear the EU is no totalitarian hellhole, it’s fair to say it is becoming a kind of tyranny. The always grounded and measured Steven Hayward makes a succinct case: The EU Moves Step Closer to Open Tyranny.

    I find little “dopey” about the EU.  Multiculturalism is certainly not a satanic cult a-la Duginism.  But it is insidiously evil.  It eviscerates the Christian particularities and traditions of European cultures. Yeah, you can argue that’s already long-in-train given simple-minded materialism/hedonism. But multiculturalism radicalizes the subversion.  And it’s a virtual guarantee of non-integration of Muslims.

    Like I keep mentioning, a lady can have her life turned upside down in European courts for mentioning “Mohammed had a thing for little girls” — and live under constant police protection thereof — yet Muslims can be seen many times over spouting the most vile Jew and Christian hatred throughout Europe and never be prosecuted for it.

    And people wonder why other people become Putinists.

    • #36
  7. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    James Gawron: Claire, Isn’t that what he’s been doing all along? Regards, Jim

    To an extent. I’ve always wondered what he thinks he could possibly achieve with such a desultory air campaign, and I’ve always figured the purpose was twofold — to be able to say, “Look, I’m doing something,” and perhaps to keep ISIS from metastasizing long enough that no one in the US fully notices that Syria’s become a massive emergency that threatens the whole postwar order, then hand it over to his successor. But I suspect people have noticed it’s a massive emergency, although whether they realize how big it is, I’m not sure. It does seem the media has turned on him about it, anyway. (I mean, when you’ve lost Vox … )

    But sending 50 SOF just makes no sense in terms of saying, “Look, I’m doing something.”

    Or does it? Are Americans really so credulous as to think 50 SOF can take on Russia’s air force, drones and cruise missiles; a 15,000-strong Al-Quds Force; the Basij Militia; 220-280,000 Syrian Armed forces with artillery, Russian MiGs, and chemical weapons; 100,000 NDF; 10,000 Ba’ath Brigades; 20,000-30,000 Hezbollah; foreign fighters coming from Tunisia, Chechnya, and everywhere else and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Saudi warplanes; shoulder-fired missiles from Qatar; Turkish weapons, jets, and special forces; 15,000-20,000 al Nusra, and all of ISIS (which could be as few as 10,000, as many as 100,000, depending who you ask) — simultaneously — and come back alive, no less change the game? We can’t really be that dumb, can we?

    I mean, I yield to no one in believing we’ve got the toughest, bravest, best-trained SOF on the planet, but that doesn’t mean they or anyone can change the laws of physics. The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that they’re there to make the Russians and Turks hesitate to bomb at random. And that only makes sense if we believe that they fear massive retaliation if they kill our forces. And in turn that only makes sense if we’re willing massively to retaliate if they do, because if we don’t, the game is up everywhere — and that’s a hell of a dangerous game.

    Otherwise, seems to me the optics on this are somewhere between bad, ludicrous, and catastrophic.

    What am I missing?

    • #37
  8. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Claire,

    And that only makes sense if we believe that they fear massive retaliation if they kill our forces.

    This is beyond double think more like quadruple think. The only reason they have to fear us is a credible threat of retaliation. As we haven’t retaliated period (except with Qaddafi with no reason to do it period) there is no credible threat and thus they don’t fear us.

    Those American troops are sacrificial animals to the Obamite religion of the reduction of American power.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #38
  9. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    Having just now read Walter Laqueur’s thwacking of Timothy Snyder, I decided to look up Laqueur’s The Last Days of Europe — a book I’d long heard about; still seems timely — and I came across his latest, Putinism: Russia, Its Future with the West:

    “In America, much of the blame for Russia’s recent hostility has fallen on steely-eyed President Vladimir Putin and many have begun to wonder if they we are witnessing the rebirth of Cold War-style dictatorship.

    Not so fast, argues veteran historian Walter Laqueur.
    For two decades, Laqueur has been ahead of the curve, predicting events in post-Soviet Russia with uncanny accuracy. In Putinism, he deftly demonstrates how three long-standing pillars of Russian ideology–a strong belief in the Orthodox Church, a sense of Eurasian “manifest destiny,” and a fear of foreign enemies–continue to exert a powerful influence on the Russian populous. In fact, today’s Russians have more in common with their counterparts from 1904 than 1954 and Putin is much more a servant of his people than we might think.
    Topical and provocative, Putinism contains much more than historical analysis. Looking to the future, Laqueur explains how America’s tendency to see Russia as a Cold War relic is dangerous and premature. Russia can and will challenge the West and it is in our best interest to figure out exactly who we are facing–and what they want–before it is too late.”

    • #39
  10. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Robert Lux:While it’s clear the EU is no totalitarian hellhole, it’s fair to say it is becoming a kind of tyranny. The always grounded and measured Steven Hayward makes a succinct case: The EU Moves Step Closer to Open Tyranny.

    Portugal? Is he serious? If we use the word “tyranny” too promiscuously, we’ll become like the little girl who cried wolf. What happened in Portugal was a disappointment to the left, but neither a coup nor a tyranny. Coelho’s coalition parties won 107 seats in parliament, short of the 116 he needed for a majority. When that happens, the Portuguese constitution says that the president has the right to choose the prime minister “after consulting the parties with seats in the assembly of the republic and in light of the electoral results.” The president chose the leader of the coalition with the most votes (the center-right coalition Portugal Ahead, composed of the Social Democrats and the People’s Party) This is by no means a tyranny, especially since they had 38.6% of the votes, against 32.4% of the opposition group.

    What’s more, Coelho and his center-right coalition government will be sworn in by the president; then he has 10 days to present his program for the next four years, after which lawmakers can choose to reject his program several days later. If they do, his government will fall — at which point, yes, Silva becomes the most powerful man in Portugal, at least until elections in April, but not a tyrant, because he’d just be the head of the a caretaker government with limited power. It’s pretty standard for countries with proportional representation.

    The always grounded and measured Steven Hayward makes a succinct case: The EU Moves Step Closer to Open Tyranny.

    I find little “dopey” about the EU. Multiculturalism is certainly not a satanic cult a-la Duginism. But it is insidiously evil.

    I agree that it’s so stupid and philosophically incoherent that we might call it evil, in the sense that if anyone took it seriously, it would lead to the nonsense of asserting that any culture is just as valuable or good as another. But legally — which is where the rubber hits the road — no one takes it seriously: It’s much more a word used to brainwash people to “not be bigoted.” In Europe this was probably not such a bad thing to do, up to a point, given that this was indeed a Continent so bigoted that in recent memory it gave us some quite memorable horrors. (I need not rehearse them). The place to look for what Europeans really believe, normatively, is European law, and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It’s benign document, although lacking the brilliance of the US constitution. I would say that the brainwashing went too far; that it is now too difficult for European politicians to say obvious and necessary things, such as,

    “We welcome you to our countries and deplore the unimaginable suffering that has prompted you to flee your homes. Now that you are in Europe, you will be treated as fully European. You will flourish without discrimination in our thriving European society, and enjoy the peace, freedom, and prosperity that we are proud and honored to share with you.

    “In exchange, your responsibility is to become one of us. You must adopt our language, laws, and customs. While we’re sure we will love your food and learning more about the arts and music of your homeland, you must become European: That means you must abandon any aspect of your own culture or religion that is not fully compatible with the European conception of human rights and dignity. Our laws and customs are precisely why our culture is peaceful, stable, and prosperous, so of course we insist upon keeping it this way.

    ‘We strongly believe that we are fortunate to be Europeans, and that you are now fortunate to be Europeans, too. Ours is a great civilization. We know you’ll be proud to become fully integrated into our societies as quickly as possible. To help you, we’ve arranged a three-month class on your new language, the laws and mores of your new culture, and vocational training for your new jobs.

    “Unfortunately, as we’re sure you’ll understand, if you fail fully to integrate into our society, we cannot allow you to stay here. But we’re sure you’ll wish to stay: You have shown your commitment to coming here through journeys so arduous we can but admire them. If you learn to share our languages, values and mores, you have my personal guarantee and that of my countrymen that you will be treated no differently from anyone who can trace his European ancestry back to the middle ages.”

    A few speeches like that would go a long way toward setting the rules and easing the minds of Europeans who aren’t sure where all of this is supposed to be going. I don’t know why I’m not hearing more of them.

    Like I keep mentioning, a lady can have her life turned upside down in European courts for mentioning “Mohammed had a thing for little girls” — and live under constant police protection thereof — yet Muslims can be seen many times over spouting the most vile Jew and Christian hatred throughout Europe and never be prosecuted for it.

    I think you’re identifying the wrong problem, though. The problem in France, anyway, is the lack of First-Amendment style protection — there’s no constitution that says Congress (or parliament, etc.) shall make no laws abridging speech. The introduction of laws abridging speech perhaps made sense in the wake of Europe’s Nazi catastrophe, and I don’t know whether Europe’s ready to have those training wheels come off — I truly don’t.

    But once you have laws against “hate speech,” you’ll inevitably get grotesqueries like this. I don’t have the stats for every European country at my fingers, but let’s stick with France as a case study. I’m pretty sure more people get in legal trouble in France for “anti-Semitic” speech than “anti-Muslim” speech. (Within a week after the Charlie-Hebdo/hyper-cacher murders, they started 54 speech trials in France. This guy was sentenced to four years for approving of the Kouachi brothers actions;* Dieudonné’s been convicted at least half a dozen times for anti-Semitic speech; Charlie-Hebdo was tried 48 times for hate speech of some kind or another. There were 261 recorded acts of anti-Semitic hate speech in France in 2014 (I don’t know how many were brought to trial or prosecuted successfully, but note that they were recorded as crimes), and 469 equivalent crimes concerning hate speech or harassment of Muslims. The populations are about the same size. We can’t tell from this whether crimes against Muslims are more common, or more commonly reported, or more commonly prosecuted.

    But basically — university campuses apart — most of this would probably be considered “protected speech” under the First Amendment. (Although sometimes I think the a system such as the First Amendment can only work when people are basically so decent that few people would even dream of using racial epithets to harass each other).

    *Mind you, this had less to do with his spouting Jew hatred and everything to do with his endorsing cop-killing, an act that I suspect will get you locked up even in the nations with the world’s most robust protection of speech.

    And people wonder why other people become Putinists.

    Yes, I do: It hardly seems an improvement.

    • #40
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I really like the welcome speech and strategy for dealing with the immigrants arriving in Europe.

    Mark Steyn talks about the fact that Americans can carry the Constitution around in their back pocket. Someone should produce an EU constitution that would be as brief.

    “Here are the rules.”

    It would be crazy not to take advantage of this moment to force a sort-of reformation on Islam, starting with an end to forced conversion, which Pope Benedict correctly and wisely observed was the crux of the difference between Islam and Christianity. (The radical Muslims killed some twenty people the next day in response. I think the pope hit a nerve.)

    “You have asked us for help. So here are our terms.” Some would be very receptive to it. And that number would grow over time.

    • #41
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The problem with the idea that the fifty special forces being a tripwire is that a tripwire is only a more emphatic redline. We’ve seen this administration’s handling of redlined, and they are no good at it.

    The important thing about drawing a redline or setting a tripwire is that you have to know in advance what you will do if it is violated, and your opponent has to know that whatever it is that you are planning to do, you are going to do it and it’s going to hurt. Obama’s credibility is gone on this.

    • #42
  13. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    The president chose the leader of the coalition with the most votes (the center-right coalition Portugal Ahead)

    “The combined parties of the Left won 50.7pc of the vote. Led by the Socialists, they control the Assembleia.  The conservative premier, Pedro Passos Coelho, came first and therefore gets first shot at forming a government, but his Right-wing coalition as a whole secured just 38.5pc of the vote. It lost 28 seats…

    The Portuguese Socialists and Communists have buried the hatchet on their bitter divisions for the first time since the Carnation Revolution and the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship in the 1970s, yet they are being denied their parliamentary prerogative to form a majority government.

    This is a dangerous demarche. The Portuguese conservatives and their media allies behave as if the Left has no legitimate right to take power, and must be held in check by any means.

    These reflexes are familiar – and chilling – to anybody familiar with 20th century Iberian history, or indeed Latin America. That it is being done in the name of the euro is entirely to be expected….

    Europe’s socialists face a dilemma. They are at last waking up to the unpleasant truth that monetary union is an authoritarian Right-wing enterprise that has slipped its democratic leash, yet if they act on this insight in any way they risk being prevented from taking power.

    Brussels really has created a monster.”

    Read the whole Evans-Pritchard’s article.

    • #43
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    MarciN:I really like the welcome speech and strategy for dealing with the immigrants arriving in Europe.

    Mark Steyn talks about the fact that Americans can carry the Constitution around in their back pocket. Someone should produce an EU constitution that would be as brief.

    “Here are the rules.”

    It would be crazy not to take advantage of this moment to force a sort-of reformation on Islam, starting with an end to forced conversion, which Pope Benedict correctly and wisely observed was the crux of the difference between Islam and Christianity. (The radical Muslims killed some twenty people the next day in response. I think the pope hit a nerve.)

    “You have asked us for help. So here are our terms.” Some would be very receptive to it. And that number would grow over time.

    Well, sounds like others have had the same thought:

    BERLIN — How to get along in Germany: Follow its laws, including showing respect for all religions, especially in the case of Jews, to whom the country has a historical obligation. Don’t be late. Do shake hands. And learn a few basic phrases, from “Cheers” to “I don’t eat pork.”

    These are among the tips in a new guidebook intended to help immigrants adapt to life in Germany. …

    The latest tool is a bright-blue, 142-page book, “Germany: First Information for Refugees.” Written in German and Arabic, it is available for about $10 in bookstores and free online.

    “We hope this book will serve as an initial contribution to integration,” Manuel Herder said in a statement. His company published the book with funding from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is close to the governing Christian Democratic Union.

    The book addresses the rule of law, the role of the police and cultural norms, especially those that could pose conflict for a largely Muslim refugee population. It also provides a legal definition of who is a refugee in the eyes of German law, and what happens if this status is not granted.

    What may sound like clichés or parodies are meant as practical advice to help newcomers avoid conflict while paving the way for their integration — a sore point for Germans, who in the past have made little effort to enfold immigrants, on the theory that they would not be staying long. This was especially true of migrants from southern Europe and Turkey who were recruited to fill jobs in factories in booming West Germany in the early 1960s.

    “It was assumed that many of them would go back home again, but many have remained over generations,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an address last month. “Consequently, we are handling it very differently.”

    With Germany expected to have to absorb the equivalent of nearly 1 percent of its population of 81 million in the next year, the book is not the only effort it is making at outreach.

    It is also allowing every refugee 600 hours of “integration classes,” paid for by the government. More training will be available to help refugees get jobs, and hundreds of children are receiving welcome classes or other services to help them integrate into schools.

    Public television stations have produced guides in German, Arabic and English, and last month, the mass-circulation Bild newspaper published a special edition in Arabic.

    Here’s more information about the guide, which looks like good common-sense to me.

    • #44
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Robert Lux: Having just now read Walter Laqueur’s

    Guid Laird! He’s still alive and writing? I had some of his books as college textbooks back in *mumble* *mumble* *mumble*. That is a very long active lifespan.

    • #45
  16. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    I agree that it’s so stupid and philosophically incoherent that we might call it evil, in the sense that if anyone took it seriously, it would lead to the nonsense of asserting that any culture is just as valuable or good as another. But legally — which is where the rubber hits the road — no one takes it seriously….

    A few speeches like that would go a long way toward setting the rules and easing the minds of Europeans who aren’t sure where all of this is supposed to be going. I don’t know why I’m not hearing more of them….

    It’s a nice speech — except many, perhaps most, have not “endured unimaginable suffering” but are economic migrants who have left already safe areas in Turkey, etc. And you don’t hear the speech because elites really do believe “the nonsense of asserting that any culture is just as valuable or good as another” which is why they are busy inundating themselves with people from the most backward cultures on the planet.   I’ve already seen enough good data from Thilo Sarrazin, and also just from spending time in Germany, to know that assimilation of Muslims into being Europeans has been a great failure and something about which elites in the media and the government have systematically ignored or lied about. You should spend more time reading Thilo and Tino.

    • #46
  17. Robert Lux Inactive
    Robert Lux
    @RobertLux

    Arahant:

    Robert Lux: Having just now read Walter Laqueur’s

    Guid Laird! He’s still alive and writing? I had some of his books as college textbooks back in *mumble* *mumble* *mumble*. That is a very long active lifespan.

    I know; read some of him in college ages ago as well.  And I knew he was still around back in 2007, as I read about his book, but never got around to reading it.  So coming across this review I was pleased to see he’s still writing.

    His criticism of Tim Snyder is extremely good.

    • #47
  18. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Claire, if I may be so rude, what in the blue blazes are you going on about?

    Ok, I’m more than willing to believe that Russia is spreading propaganda and spying on the U.S. I’ll agree wholeheartedly that Putin would take all of Ukraine if possible, and would love to extend his dominance all the way to the Atlantic. I’ll concede without a qualm that anyone who doesn’t think Russia is up to something nefarious hasn’t paid any attention to their history or really any international news.

    But do we really have to believe that they’re doing so because they’re true believers in the ideology of a nihilistic satanist who believes Atlantis is out to get him? Do we have any reason to believe Putin isn’t just going along with this guy because he’s useful?

    • #48
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hank Rhody: But do we really have to believe that they’re doing so because they’re true believers in the ideology of a nihilistic satanist who believes Atlantis is out to get him? Do we have any reason to believe Putin isn’t just going along with this guy because he’s useful?

    I believe this part has already been stated.

    The point is that since the West no longer believes in itself, it will believe in anything, and many Westerners are believing in this pile of steaming excrement that is being pushed by the authorities in Russia. Putin may not believe in anything other than his own myth. But what are common Russians and Europeans willing to believe? An apocalyptic cult does not need 100% of the population to do great damage. Just as the Twelvers, Iran’s apocalyptic cult, has been doing mischief for decades trying to bring the Twelfth Imam out of hiding.

    A second point is that this is how the Third Reich got off the ground, with nutty ideas and a few true believers. It doesn’t take much to get a world full of humans to mess things up.

    • #49
  20. Roberto Inactive
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    These are among the tips in a new guidebook intended to help immigrants adapt to life in Germany. …

    The latest tool is a bright-blue, 142-page book, “Germany: First Information for Refugees.” Written in German and Arabic, it is available for about $10 in bookstores and free online.

    But will any of these migrants purchase this tome? Let alone read it?

    • #50
  21. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Here’s more information about the guide, which looks like good common-sense to me.

    This is fantastic. We have actually learned some things. :)

    All this self-flagellation and hairshirt wearing we do in western civilization actually produces real soul-searching and learning sometimes.

    I read a wonderful article years ago by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in which he said western civilization is the only civilization that has within it the seeds for growth and improvement, through our constant self-examination and openness. We admit our mistakes and then learn from them. I gave the essay to my kids as mom’s required reading before they headed off to college. :)

    (If I can ever find it again, I’ll write a post about it.)

    • #51
  22. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Roberto:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    These are among the tips in a new guidebook intended to help immigrants adapt to life in Germany. …

    The latest tool is a bright-blue, 142-page book, “Germany: First Information for Refugees.” Written in German and Arabic, it is available for about $10 in bookstores and free online.

    But will any of these migrants purchase this tome? Let alone read it?

    I hope it will be a like a learner’s permit booklet. :)  “You can’t get through the door out of this way station until you can answer correctly the following twenty questions.” :)

    • #52
  23. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    When I became curious about the Illuminati, the internet set me straight that they were satanists. When I asked about freemasonry, the internet told me they were satanists too. If I want to know if the Pope’s a satanist, I know who to ask.

    (The works of Martin Luther, actually. But still.)

    The point is, if I was reading about the secret history of the Rosicrucians I’d gleefully devour the sort of stuff in the quoted NRO piece. But I have a much harder time thinking that cynical world rulers buy into that stuff.

    I’d have a much easier time swallowing it if he’s using “Atlantis” as a shorthand for maritime powers. Carthage versus Rome. Nelson versus the Armada. The U.S. versus the U.S.S.R. But that’s now how it’s presented, alongside the Aryan race originating at the north pole.

    • #53
  24. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Hank Rhody:When I became curious about the Illuminati, the internet set me straight that they were satanists. When I asked about freemasonry, the internet told me they were satanists too. If I want to know if the Pope’s a satanist, I know who to ask.

    (The works of Martin Luther, actually. But still.)

    The point is, if I was reading about the secret history of the Rosicrucians I’d gleefully devour the sort of stuff in the quoted NRO piece. But I have a much harder time thinking that cynical world rulers buy into that stuff.

    I’d have a much easier time swallowing it if he’s using “Atlantis” as a shorthand for maritime powers. Carthage versus Rome. Nelson versus the Armada. The U.S. versus the U.S.S.R. But that’s now how it’s presented, alongside the Aryan race originating at the north pole.

    You may be right. The value of globalization is that the world’s leaders are in constant touch with each other and therefore less likely to harbor insanity than ever before. There is a need-to-be-accepted-by-my-peers thing that is happening today that couldn’t happen even fifty years ago. Let us hope. :)

    • #54
  25. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    How is your Russian, Hank?

    • #55
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    MarciN: There is a need-to-be-accepted-by-my-peers thing that is happening today that couldn’t happen even fifty years ago. Let us hope. :)

    Some might have said the same as Woodrow Wilson was attempting to form the League of Nations or as people were forming the UN. But it depends heavily on the individual leader. How much do you think Kim Jong Un cares?

    • #56
  27. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Arahant:How is your Russian, Hank?

    Is much better.

    • #57
  28. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hank Rhody:

    Arahant:How is your Russian, Hank?

    Is much better.

    Then go read Dugin in the original.

    Edit: And then you can tell the rest of us what he is, besides a national socialist.

    • #58
  29. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    MarciN:

    Mark Steyn talks about the fact that Americans can carry the Constitution around in their back pocket. Someone should produce an EU constitution that would be as brief.

    Well, sounds like others have had the same thought:

    BERLIN — How to get along in Germany: Follow its laws, including showing respect for all religions, especially in the case of Jews, to whom the country has a historical obligation. Don’t be late. Do shake hands. And learn a few basic phrases, from “Cheers” to “I don’t eat pork.”

    These are among the tips in a new guidebook intended to help immigrants adapt to life in Germany. …

    The latest tool is a bright-blue, 142-page book, “Germany: First Information for Refugees.” Written in German and Arabic, it is available for about $10 in bookstores and free online.

    Here’s more information about the guide, which looks like good common-sense to me.

    I begin to see the problem here: U.S. Constitution is equivalent to German refugee guide. And this was the response to a wish for a brief EU constitution (there is no such thing; the Treaty on European Union runs better than 300 pages.) Claire, I think you’ve been out of the USA too long.

    • #59
  30. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Regarding the beliefs of the people, that’s a more subtle question. As Lincoln would remind us, you can fool some of the people all the time.  While there are examples of a small group of crazies dramatically altering history for the worse, there are many examples of a small group of crazies accomplishing absolutely nothing.

    Regarding the attractiveness of the ideology, it’s somewhat paradoxical but it seems people are more willing to embrace hard ideologies than soft ones. A Christianity that offers you heaven for practically nothing at all on your end withers and dies while a Christianity which demands martyrdom and steadfastness in the face of persecution grows by leaps and bounds. I could see a fascistic view of strength getting a lot more adherents than the weak tea of European Metro-centralism. In that sense it’s an ideology to watch out for.

    I’m still going to need convincing that Putin sees it as anything more than a useful tool.

    • #60
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