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16 April 2014

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kao_hsien_chih

I think he is a Russian equivalent to a Western neocon, of the sincere variety.

The perspective seems intelligent enough when it's new, but it gets tiring and repetitive, not to mention too tinged in overactive nationalism/bias very quickly.

It may be worth a read to gleam what "the other side of the hill" might be thinking and how they are arriving at their conclusions, but not something to be relied on for "real" information value.

nick b

From the Saker himself:

"While I do not distrust any specific person amongst you, I am trying to keep my "thin anonymity" up as long as possible. Once my read identity comes up (which I know will happen sooner or later), it will be a major distraction and a pain in the a** for me to deal with. I want to keep focusing on issues and topics, not personalities. If I start accepting money orders or checks even this very "thin" anonymity of mine will go down the tubes real fast."

"The fact is that I am the proverbial "armchair strategist", with all the flaws which derive from that situation. This weakness is partially mitigated by the fact that I used to be a *professionally trained* armchair strategist: this is the guy who in peace time sits at the top floor of a sombre looking building and who in war time sits very deep inside a bunker. He rarely wears a uniform, even more rarely combat fatigues, but he is always surrounded by lots of electronics and communication gear and each morning he gets a big pile of paper and secure emails which he plows through and then works with big databases to assess the data which just came in to evaluate it. The closest he ever gets to a firing tank or artillery piece is on his computer screen, usually during command-staff exercises. You know the type, right? In Russian they are called "staff rats/bitch" (shtabnaia krysa/suka, штабная крыса/сука). Not a very popular type with the frontline folks. The polite word of us is simply "analyst"."

nick b

My apologies, I forgot to add the attribution.

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/04/personal-announcement-there-is-good.html

One other data point, FWIW, the Saker at one point, played jazz guitar.

The beaver

I have been following him on and off since the beginning.
From all these yrs, I believe that he is someone from the ME/Maghreb (or origins are from) who happens to be very fluent in Russian (or may be he did a stint in one of its Universities) and works either in the dept of political affairs of an organisation or govt agency.

If I am not mistaken, in addition of Russian, he does speak French and also does know a bit about Iran.

His own words: >

The beaver

Oops I forgot to add that since the beginning he was asking Americans not to trust Obama and whilst the DEMs nomination was still in play in 2007, he wrote this:

>

William Herschel

He is deeply religious, and I believe that colors his views.

"I therefore want to ask you for your understanding and patience with me. Even if I do quote the Scripture or make religious references, please judge what I write at its face value and don't let your past experiences obscure my message... I am just a guy how happens to be very religious and whose religion is really ancient and different from anything you have seen in your life. I am not asking you to endorse or accept that religion of mine, only to let me speak the way I normally do, without trying to look or sound like somebody else.

In other words, let them be them and let me be me. I am a Russian Orthodox Christian, of a very traditionalist kind of persuasion and I have nothing, really absolutely nothing at all, in common with the rest of them. Please accept me as I am and judge me for what I do. That, I think, would be only reasonable and fair.

Many thanks for your understanding and kind regards,

The Saker"

Margaret Steinfels

Is he just a bright Russian-knowing high school sophomore? Or Vladmir Putin's doppelganger? I found his, "What! I can raise funds here?" charmingly griftish.

The nationalistic, chauvinistic analysis he provides about western Ukrain is perfectly mirrored in his own comments. Are they all nationalists? And chauvinists?

Valissa

I have been very curious about The Saker as well, and have been reading his blog since last year. He has given tidbits here and there, and in a couple of posts (see links below) has given quite a bit of info on his background.

Off the top of my head, he lives in Florida, he is of Russian descent but his family were anti-Soviet dissidents who left. At one point he was a military analyst during the Kosovo war, and very pro-war, pro-West until some of his experiences during that war changed him and he left that profession in disgust. He was anti-Soviet but has gradually become pro-Putin. He gets a bit effusive about his Orthodox Christianity sometimes (he is studying for a theology masters degree or something along those lines), and despite his realism and pessimism in some respects is surprisingly idealistic (about political change, etc) in others.

Saker gives some of his background here…
Answer to a russophobic bigot http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/03/answer-to-russophobic-bigot.html

He mentions about his military analyst background “And while during the Bosnian war I could get UNPROFOR intelligence delivered to me every morning, now I only have access to public, and mostly unreliable and uninteresting, sources.” http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2012/07/us-subversion-model-bosnia-v4-kosovo-v3.html
“Before the war in Bosnia I had heard the phrase "truth is the first casualty of war" but I had never imagined that this could be quite so literally true. Frankly, this war changed my entire life and resulted in a process of soul-searching for me which ended up pretty much changing my politics by 180 degrees. This is a long and very painful story which I do not want to discuss here, but I just want to say that this difference between what I was reading in the press and in the UNPROFOR reports ended up making a huge difference in my entire life. Again, NOT A SINGLE ASPECT OF THE OFFICIAL NARRATIVE WAS TRUE, not one. You would get much closer to the truth if you basically did a "negative" of the official narrative.”

The beaver

No

Believe he is married and even has a child or children.

Joe100

Please post the rest of your comment!

The Twisted Genius

As someone who also wishes to maintain my own thin veneer of anonymity, I have no desire to unmask the Saker. Out of courtesy, I won't speculate or analyze.

The beaver

What he said about HR Clinton:
"Hillary Clinton, the party's leading contender for the presidential nomination, out-neocons many Republicans when it comes to Iran"

The beaver

I am a "legal alien"

Bhagwhan

An anti Semite who although he always claims to be hard up for cash, him and his kids always seem to enjoy expensive holidays

FB Ali

Beaver,

"...if I am not mistaken, in addition of Russian, he does speak French...."

He claims he does much more than that: "Here are the languages which I can read more or less decently: very easily: French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and English, of course. With some difficulties Portuguese, and Dutch. Slowly and preferably with the help of a machine translator, can also understand a text written in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Afrikaans, Slovak and Macedonian".

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.ca/2014/04/personal-announcement-there-is-good.html


Grieved

As an American I deeply appreciate the flavor of Russian culture and principles that comes from Saker's blog. One of those principles we Americans used to share I think is a decent respect for another's privacy and space.

Personally it pleases me to know nothing about Saker and not to be curious to know more. I tremendously value his perspective and his community of commenters who as peers also offer tremendous experience and analytic judgment. As with the Moon of Alabama blog, I find Saker's disciplined insistence on "topic-of-discussion and not persona" very rewarding. I would hate to see personality destroy this.

Medicine Man

I have only perused his writing sparingly. He had some good observations during the early days of the Crimean crisis, observations that mirrored/supported those made by people on SST who's opinions I respect. On the other hand, following his blog for any length of time will reveal a tangible streak of Russophilia (tagline on his blog: Russia stands for Freedom). He has strong biases and does not hide them. While I agree with many of his observations about the clueless perfidy of the West I don't think it is impossible that he may be a PR-person of some sort.

steve

I've read him for several years, off and on.

He's certainly enigmatic and one of a kind, even by internet standards, at least imho.

I agree with the poster who stated that his take on things is overly Russian nationalistic. But I still find him interesting.

David Habakkuk

All,

I think nick b and Valissa make crucial points.

The one qualification I would make is that if I recall right, ‘the Saker’ portrays himself as coming from an old Russian military family – and his more immediate roots would be in the post-1917 emigration, rather than the dissident movement.

Late Tsarist Russia consisted of a thin ‘westernised’ stratum, on top of an extremely ‘unwesternised’ population. That thin stratum was deeply divided. So ‘authoritarian modernisers’ who served the Tsar were commonly suspicious of ‘liberals’, arguing that in the Russian context, the kind of Western-style reforms these wanted would play into the hands of the ‘radicals’ within the ‘westernised stratum’, and unleash a social revolution. This happened.

In 1917, the ‘authoritarian modernisers’ split in very unpredictable ways. There were even those – including some of the best of the Tsarist General Staff officers, like Aleksandr Svechin – who joined the Bolsheviks: probably on the basis that these had become the only force that could prevent an irretrievable disintegration of Russia.

Others of course were bitterly anti-communist, went into emigration, and not uncommonly became, after 1945, among the most ardent of ‘Cold Warriors’.

By the mid-Eighties, it had become clear to intelligent people within the Soviet elite – including, critically, many in the security services – that the Bolshevik Revolution had led Russia into a complete blind alley. At that point, both such people and the descendants of émigrés very commonly believed that the enemy for the West in the Cold War had been communism – so that the West was unequivocally in the right.

Politically, the ideological heirs of the pre-1917 liberals were in the ascendant. More reflective people, however, realised that some of the same reasons which had made the ‘authoritarian modernists’ sceptical of the liberals decades earlier still applied. Such people increasingly looked back not simply to figures like Stolypin, but to the intellectuals of the ‘Landmarks’ symposium of 1909, who had repudiated the ideas of the ‘radicals’.

Quite naturally, they also looked back to figures in the emigration, such as Ivan Ilyin, who had reflected on how Russia might emerge from the dead end into which the Revolution had led it.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vekhi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Ilyin )

As anyone who bothers to read what Putin writes – as few in the West appear to want to do – should be aware, it is precisely such people to whom he repeatedly harks back. There is thus a natural basis for a rapprochement between the current leaders of Russia and people of the background from which ‘the Saker’ claims – I think quite honestly – to come.

A further element is that Western policy since 1989 has caused both these elements to rethink the assumption that the essential enemy of the West in the Cold War was communism, and come increasingly to the view that the actual enemy was not so much Soviet Russia, but Russia as such.

Ideologically, ‘the Saker’ represents a radical version of this view, which takes up the Huntingdon thesis of a ‘clash of civilisations’, and argues that the ‘Papist’ world – that shaped by Western Christianity – is ultimately implacably hostile to the world of the Orthodox Christian East. Bound up with this is his sympathy and identification with sections of the Muslim world, notably the Shiite Muslim world. In turn, this is bound up with the definition of ‘the AngloZionist Empire’ as the central adversary.

For my own part, there are two reasons why I find ‘the Saker’ of great interest. One is that he is someone used to Western audiences presenting a range of ideological positions which are I think increasingly influential in Russia, and indeed elsewhere. The other is that his ‘intelligence’ on what has been happening in Ukraine has in my view been rather good.

To me, his writing reads like the work of the kind of figure he says he is: a trained military intelligence analyst exploiting the explosion in the availability of publicly available information on the internet over the past years. And indeed, in recent weeks he has been using his readership to broaden the range of public sources on which he can draw.

Whether is the case, as he claims, that he now only has access to ‘public, and most unreliable and uninteresting, sources’, seems to me however an open question. Precisely the kind of rapprochement I have postulated between the current regime in Russia and figures from the emigration means that such figures may become available as channels by which the regime can influence Western opinion. That said, I think it would be foolish to conclude that, if ‘the Saker’ does have Russian intelligence sources, he is likely to be being used to channel disinformation.

The most recent Russian ‘information war’ successes have come as a result of truthful claims supported by hard evidence – notably the leaks of conversations between Nuland and Pyatt, and Paet and Ashton, and also perhaps the sarin samples supplied to the British laboratory at Porton Down.

The reputation for credibility which ‘the Saker’ has acquired, because much of his information has turned out accurate, is a valuable asset to them, irrespective of whether they are using him as a channel. It would thus be quite likely, in my view, that if they are feeding him information, it would be accurate information. Disinformation would be fed through other channels.

William R. Cumming

Grieved! Sorry but it was not respect for privacy but fear that was the driver for Russian solitude.

Margaret Steinfels

Thanks for that extended history and analysis. Sounds plausible. In any case, you clarify for me what generally falls outside of my range of explanatory devices: i.e., the Papist/Orthodox struggle (I'm in the Papist tradition with U.S. Orthodox friends; apparently we have forgotten that we don't get on); Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" seemed like meta-history when he proposed it, but maybe Putin is proving him accurate; and the sympathy for Islam from a Russian (of whatever background) is news to me (can you say more?). Thanks.

William R. Cumming

David H! Great post but communism was never really the driver in the WEST just a political label to pretend world domination by Russia the fear. Using the communist label of course.

Very very few Americans even in the elites actually read or studied Marx, Trotsky, Engels or Lenin. To teach about these men and their writings was forbidden for fear of contamination by that study. Perhaps fear of the Pagan philosophers in the 10th and 11th Centuries the only equivalent. Certainly by churchmen who then were the bulk of the literate. See early 21st Century book THE CHILDREN OF SOCRATES.

Perhaps less then two dozen Americans today are fluent in the writings of the men mentioned. I am not but have dabbled.

Oddly I predict Communism may well make a comeback before this century ends.

The intelligentsia in Russia continues to be allowed to think but not act. The reverse in the USA!

William R. Cumming

Peggy! Your comment is accurate in part. The problem of course is that Russia west of the Urals is part of the Western Civilization and tradition.

SO IS ISLAM!

And GEOGRAPHY MAY TRUMP THE STAMINA OF WHOLE CIVILIZATIONS!

AND IF NOT GEOGRAPHY THEN DEMOGRAPHY OR DISEASE!

William R. Cumming

CORRECTION: The book referenced was in fact THE CHILDREN OF ARISTOTLE!

The beaver

FWIW:

I went back to look for it-one of his pro-Putin and Mother Russia article that I remembered reading:

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2013/10/1993-2013-is-twenty-years-long-pas-de.html

I didn't have a chance to follow his blog again because of work commitment and started on and off again when Crimea's annexation was revived.

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