Tag: Putin

The DNC Attack and Putin


All signs point to Russia being behind the DNC hack, reports Wired:

Not reacting politically to the DNC hack is setting a dangerous precedent. A foreign agency, exploiting Wikileaks and a cutthroat media marketplace, appears to be carefully planning and timing a high-stakes political campaign in the United States that could escalate next week, next fall, or next time. Trump, ironically, is right: the system is actually rigged.

The Week in Europe


The GOP convention has probably drowned out the news from Europe in the US, but it’s been a dramatic week. I’ve been unable to take my eyes or my mind off events in Turkey. I wrote this piece for City Journal:

… It will be many years, if ever, before we fully understand what just took place. But some of the conclusions hastily drawn in the Western media make no sense. Many commentators have been quick, for example, to accept Gülen’s intimation that the scale of the purge indicates the coup attempt was staged by Erdoğan himself, in some kind of Turkish Reichstag fire. True, lists of people to purge were prepared long in advance, but that doesn’t mean that Erdoğan staged the coup. It’s no surprise to anyone in Turkey that these lists were ready; the government had already said as much. To understand why, you’d need to be familiar with events in Turkey from the time the AKP came to power to the present, as well as the way, beginning in 2012, the AKP visibly, explosively, and publicly fell out with Gülen’s flock. The president has taken advantage of the coup plot to accelerate a purge, but it doesn’t mean he staged it. Nor is it evidence for Gülen’s involvement, though it would be credulous to dismiss that idea out of hand.

Syria Can’t Wait Until 2017


Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and the author of “The Syrian Jihad,” has written an article in the Daily Beast warning that the growth of al Qaeda in Syria is a problem that can’t wait for the next administration. “The principal benefactor of Assad’s survival is not Assad, nor Russia, Iran, Hezbollah or even ISIS,” he writes. “[I]t is Al Qaeda.” Lister has been warning for some time now that Jabhat al-Nusra, which is an affiliate of al-Qaida, will be more difficult to uproot than ISIS. Even if Americans aren’t paying much attention, the United States and its allies are now in an urgent battle for influence with Nusra, which is the most effective and successful al Qaeda affiliate to date.

On Wednesday, Putin and Obama agreed to a proposal for coordinated action against al Qaeda in Syria, involving enhanced intelligence sharing about its positions. Lister believes this is exactly the wrong approach — the polar opposite of the right approach. “Jabhat al-Nusra’s entire modus operandi has been designed to insure itself and ultimately benefit from just such a scenario,” he writes.

The KGB Never Forgets and Never Forgives


In 1977, Tom Stoppard wrote a play dedicated to Soviet dissidents Vladimir Bukovsky and Viktor Fainberg. It is set in a Soviet mental hospital. Two men, both named Ivanov, share a cell. Alexander Ivanov is a dissident who cannot be released until he admits that he is mad and agrees that all of his statements against the government were the product of his mental illness. His cellmate, the other Ivanov, is mad. He believes he is conducting a symphony orchestra, which he hears in his mind.

In 2009, the play was revived at the National Theatre, in London. It received lukewarm reviews. “Unpacking the setting,” wrote critic Mark Espiner, “leads you into the heart of the problem — that it is dated.” Ian Shuttleworth dismissed it on similar grounds. “To put it harshly, this bleak, fantastical indictment of the Soviet Union’s use of psychiatric hospitalisation against dissidents is a play for yesterday.”

Bukovsky and the Insult of Indifference


A peculiar kind of despair follows a catastrophe. There is no special word for this despair, though there should be; it requires a name all its own. It involves such associated concepts as bitterness, resilience, justice, trauma, insult, and injury. It is the state of mind that arises when one has suffered an event that shatters the soul. That is half of it. But the other half involves the way the world perversely refuses to understand. Having experienced the injury of loss, the victim then discovers the insult of indifference. The rest of the world continues to go about its business, blithely forgiving and forgetting, or never having known at all. Auden’s poem captures some of this: About suffering they were never wrong …

Because I’m a journalist, sometimes I receive letters from people who want the world to know that a terrible thing has happened to them. They cannot understand why no one cares. The letters are heartbreaking. Usually, there’s not much I can do. Although the story means everything to the person who has written to me, to the rest of the world, it means nothing — it is sad, but it is not significant, politically or historically. It is a human-interest feature at best.

Member Post


Trump strong like bull! American politics is so “my esteemed colleague” this and “my esteemed colleague” that. Trump breath of fresh air like way too much vodka. Trump shoot Russian media mogul and not to lose the votes! And comrade Lewandowski? I was to think strong-arm tactics only an expression! I should have such a man […]

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Member Post


Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious, but I just realized exactly what Donald Trump is. He is not Tea Party.  He is not establishment.  He is not a Democrat.  He is probably not a white supremacist.  I think he is a nationalist, but we can be more specific than that.  He is a nationalist […]

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Russia Withdrawing from Syria. Your Move, Amreeka…


In a surprise move, Russia has announced that it will be withdrawing its troops from Syria. From the Guardian:

“I consider the objectives that have been set for the Defence Ministry to be generally accomplished,” Vladimir Putin announced matter-of-factly on Monday evening, announcing the imminent withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria.

Nuclear Disarmament Doesn’t Pay


And the Ukraine example proves it, writes Andreas Umland in World Affairs Journal:

Not everyone in Europe agrees with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent description of Russia’s annexation of Crimea as “criminal.” Across the EU, Kremlin lobbyists, America-haters, and those the Germans call Putinversteher (“Putin-understanders”) disseminate justifications and apologies for Russia’s absorption of the Black Sea peninsula and its hybrid war in the Donets Basin, also known as the Donbas. Such “explanations” partly succeed because most citizens of the West are, in fact, not particularly interested in Crimea, the Donbas, or Ukraine as a whole. First and foremost, EU citizens want calm. International law is not national legislation. Ukraine’s problems ultimately belong to the Ukrainians.

Member Post


I use adblock. I recommend it. It makes ads go away. I worry sometimes if I’m not doing something stupid to websites I should be supporting–I’d like to be able to find out, I’m not too unreasonable or entitled… What I am is yellderly, only I don’t yell. I’ll get back to this later. I […]

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The Cuban Missile Crisis of 2016


“Just as Iraq was President George W. Bush’s catastrophic legacy,” writes Maajid Nawaz, in an article headlined How Obama Lost the Mideast to Putin,

Syria will be Obama’s. Bush’s sins of commission wrought no less chaos than Obama’s sins of omission. If the Stop the War lobby’s primary motive was to avoid civilian casualties, then by any standard they should slither away shamefully into voluntarily redundancy.

On Populism


logoWhat’s your definition of “Populism?”

As Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell, editors of Twenty-First Century Populism, suggest, “Much like Dylan Thomas’s definition of an alcoholic as ‘someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you’, the epithet ‘populist’ is often used in public debate to denigrate statements and measures by parties and politicians which commentators or other politicians oppose.”

But they go on to try to formulate a more rigorous definition. Their research focuses on Europe. It was conducted well before anyone could have dreamt of the rise of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders; it even antedates Obama’s rise to power:

The Battle of Ramadi, Continued


Ramadi Control Map 2015-12-09 HIGH-01From all the accounts I can see from here, The Iraqi Security Forces  have made major gains in Ramadi and recaptured key terrain. The city is strategically and symbolically critical: It sits on the Euphrates and a highway linking Baghdad to the Syrian and Jordanian borders; further up the Euphrates is the Haditha Dam, which generates power not only for Anbar, but other parts of Iraq.

After they seized Ramadi last May, ISIS apparently connected webs of IEDs to single trigger wires, turning the city into a nightmare of booby-traps. According to Iraqi officials, this is what’s allowing a relatively small number number of them to keep control of cities despite being massively outnumbered. (I am not there. I do not know. Truth is the first casualty of war, etc. But Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the coalition, stands by the assessment.)

The Ramadi operation must be successful to expel ISIS, but the question is how deeply involved Iranian proxy militias are or will be. Again, I couldn’t possibly say from here, but this is the assessment from Institute for the Study of War:

ISIS’ Other Victims


These monsters — we run out of words, don’t we? — have victimized so many more people this week than the maimed and murdered in France. So many desperate refugees — fleeing monsters like them — will now again drown in the sea, like they have been, or be shot at the borders, or returned to be imprisoned, starved, tortured, sold into sexual slavery, and barrel-bombed.

That so many in the US are now agitating not to accept refugees breaks my heart. You aren’t wrong about the security risk. But as someone whose entire neighborhood was just turned into an abattoir — as someone who could easily have been in any of those places — I still say: Find a way. We’re America. We’re this country, remember?

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: