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. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    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.

    Sorry, I don’t actually speak Russian, just horrible Russian accent. The preceding was a joke which is funny, probably, only to myself. I’m going to get some sleep before I continue with those.

    • #61
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hank Rhody: 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.

    Well, it seems that this crazy has the ear of Putin and his faction is the one encouraging invasions of places like the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. So, he is already accomplishing things.

    Getting more to Putin, he is in a tough spot, somewhat of his own making. He is trying to bring things back to how they were under Stalin, with Putin in the Stalin role. The thing is that this does not serve as a vision for the Russian people. To have a bit more control and coöperation, he needs to have a vision that at least a powerful minority can buy into. That is what Dugin and his faction are providing. They have a vision of what the world should be. They have a plan that others can buy in to. Is Putin a true believer? Probably only in Putin. But that doesn’t make it any less dangerous if he is only pretending to be a true believer.

    • #62
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Another thing to consider is that Dugin is about ten years younger than Putin. If his faction is in power and something happens to Putin, what happens next?

    • #63
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Arahant: 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?

    True.

    Very true.

    But I continue to have hope that it might work in some cases.

    • #64
  5. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

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

    Well, okay. Does that seem much better? For myself, whether Putin’s support for Nazis (including explicit support for the Molotov Ribbentrop pact) is genuine or faked is not particularly important.  What Putin’s inner motivation for enhancing the killing in Syria and the scope of the refugee crisis, similarly. What his doctrinal justifications for shooting down air passengers over Ukraine, too. Maybe he secretly didn’t want to invade Georgia.

    So long as he invades his neighbors and kill others and claims to hold to his current ideological path, it seems reasonable to focus on how to defeat it, rather than wondering if he loves his children, too.

    • #65
  6. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    James Of England:

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

    Well, okay. Does that seem much better? For myself, whether Putin’s support for Nazis (including explicit support for the Molotov Ribbentrop pact) is genuine or faked is not particularly important. What Putin’s inner motivation for enhancing the killing in Syria and the scope of the refugee crisis, similarly. What his doctrinal justifications for shooting down air passengers over Ukraine, too. Maybe he secretly didn’t want to invade Georgia.

    So long as he invades his neighbors and kill others and claims to hold to his current ideological path, it seems reasonable to focus on how to defeat it, rather than wondering if he loves his children, too.

    I’m gonna quote something I said in the PIT on this point:

    It does make a difference in how you deal with people. Look at the Mullahs of Iran; if they actually believe “Death to Israel” then they’d be willing to expend their nascent nuclear program if they could accomplish that goal. If they’re cynical [jerks] playing up the religious fervor of the populace then they’d be more interested in deterrence.

    To use another example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis Castro urged Kruschev to launch a nuclear war. He did so knowing full well that it would result in the destruction of Cuba, whatever else happened. You can’t bluff a guy like that.

    • #66
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Interesting development? Or totally unrelated?

    • #67
  8. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Arahant:Interesting development? Or totally unrelated?

    Seems he died of a heart attack, which is not an unknown phenomenon among men of his age … so who knows.

    • #68
  9. Hank Rhody Contributor
    Hank Rhody
    @HankRhody

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Arahant:Interesting development? Or totally unrelated?

    Seems he died of a heart attack, which is not an unknown phenomenon among men of his age … so who knows.

    When I read this:

    Mikhail Lesin, the former head of media affairs for the Russian government who’s been accused of curtailing the country’s press freedoms,

    I became less suspicious of foul play. Only the good die young.

    • #69
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hank Rhody: I became less suspicious of foul play. Only the good die young.

    He also got very, very rich as a Russian civil servant.

    • #70
  11. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    That story freaked me out this morning….to CB – if you and your family ever need to get out of Dodge quick, I’ll find you a place here in the states -just let me know – I’m sure others here on Ricochet can do as well – things are happening so fast these days, keep a plane ticket handy for you, your dad and the cats –

    • #71
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Hank Rhody:

    James Of England:

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

    Well, okay. Does that seem much better? For myself, whether Putin’s support for Nazis (including explicit support for the Molotov Ribbentrop pact) is genuine or faked is not particularly important. What Putin’s inner motivation for enhancing the killing in Syria and the scope of the refugee crisis, similarly. What his doctrinal justifications for shooting down air passengers over Ukraine, too. Maybe he secretly didn’t want to invade Georgia.

    So long as he invades his neighbors and kill others and claims to hold to his current ideological path, it seems reasonable to focus on how to defeat it, rather than wondering if he loves his children, too.

    I’m gonna quote something I said in the PIT on this point:

    It does make a difference in how you deal with people. Look at the Mullahs of Iran; if they actually believe “Death to Israel” then they’d be willing to expend their nascent nuclear program if they could accomplish that goal. If they’re cynical [jerks] playing up the religious fervor of the populace then they’d be more interested in deterrence.

    To use another example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis Castro urged Kruschev to launch a nuclear war. He did so knowing full well that it would result in the destruction of Cuba, whatever else happened. You can’t bluff a guy like that.

    I agree that it would be helpful to know with the Mullahs, although since I believe that that is impossible, we should treat them as sincere.

    Putin clearly is sincere in having some agenda that he feels to be advanced by promoting fascism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. The difference with the Mullahs is that the Mulllahs aren’t so terrible a government right now (they fund terrorism, they’re not democratic, and they engage in abuse of their people, but they’re not in the top five worst regimes in terms of current abuse). The Mullahs appear to be preparing to become the world’s worst regime, but they’re not going to get there until they have nukes. Putin is already engaging in near constant atrocity packed warfare.

    What precisely Putin’s agenda is seems like it’s difficult to tell. It’s this opacity, combined with the narrowness of the scope (it’s some kind of violent leftist totalitarianism) that makes the question seem less useful.

    • #72
  13. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    He is a master at creating turmoil, then coming to the rescue of what he had a hand in creating, directly or indirectly – he plays the information game well – just like past and present dictators – they spin their webs in the shadows – by the time the rest of the world wakes up, they’re already on your doorstep.

    • #73
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