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10 April 2015

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elev8

1) The reduction of foreign policy to commercial interests is just inaccurate. Seems like a waste of time to make that point repeatedly, though. Some episodes in international relations were obviously dominated by commercial interests, e.g. the colonization of India. That does not render economic motivations universally applicable as primary explanation of all international conflicts, however.
2) The most important point CP makes here is the one about Crimea, of course. I can only describe it as frightening - not because of an imminent danger of global war, but because of the long-run (20, 30 years) implication of such a threat. For it not to become reality, we would have to reliably exclude megalomaniacs from getting access to the levers of power. We do not seem to be on the way towards achieving such a goal.
3) I don't think the U.S. has any decisive influence on OPEC. The Saudis play their own game. Probably they also know that this is their last chance to dictate OPEC policy. OPEC's cohesion and relevance are fading fast.

William R. Cumming

P.L. and ALL! What nation-states remain currently on the list of those that sponsor terrorism beside Cuba, Iran, Sudan?

Macgupta123

A lot is riding on the Iran nuclear deal. Simple example, an Iran-to-Pakistan gas pipeline.

http://www.tehrantimes.com/economy-and-business/122914-china-to-build-2-billion-iran-pakistan-pipeline

Quote: " Tehran says that its 560-mile (900-kilometer) part of the pipeline from an Iranian gas field is complete and has long pressed Pakistan to build its part of the scheme.

Pakistan hasn’t begun construction, however, in light of threatened U.S. sanctions for trading with Iran. Islamabad had sought to work around the sanctions by asking the Chinese to build the pipeline but not yet connect it to the Iranian portion. The prospect of an Iran nuclear agreement, which would ease sanctions in stages once the deal is completed, has given Islamabad further impetus to clear the project. Among the first sanctions to be lifted, according to the framework accord, would be the ban on Iran energy exports.

“This [Iran nuclear agreement] will help us in getting a few things which were coming into the way of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to be cleared and we will move forward,” Pakistan’s ambassador to Iran, Noor Muhammad Jadmani, said in Tehran, according a report on IRNA, the official Iranian news agency."

Quote: The pipeline, which would take two years to build, would eventually supply Pakistan with enough gas to fuel 4,500 megawatts of electricity generation—almost as much as the country’s entire current electricity shortfall.

Quote: The pipeline would give Iran a market to its east for its gas. The pipeline scheme, conceived in 1995, originally was supposed to extend to India. Tehran blames U.S. pressure for India dropping out in 2009.

This news-item from March 31:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/31/india-iran-imports-idUSL3N0WW4HR20150331

"India halted oil imports from Iran for the first time in at least a decade in March as New Delhi responded to U.S. pressure to keep its shipments from Tehran within sanction limits during the last month of negotiations on a preliminary nuclear deal."

--- and so on.

1. The Iran deal is not just about Russia.

2. The rest of the world is not going to wait on Israeli concerns or US concerns about Israel. If the Iran deal blows up because of the US side, I think rest-of-the-world sanctions on Iran will collapse.


turcopolier

elev8

I have no choice but to respond to basic errors no matter how many times they are repeated. pl

bth

When was the last time the US government predicted a revolution much less the direction it followed? I can't think of a time in my lifetime.

SVR General Reshetnikov, the Col. Cassad blog and the Saker are blatant propagandists. Reshetnikov's comments about US putting ABM systems in Ukraine with nuclear cruise missiles is just bologna to anyone that thought about the matter for more than a few minutes. Slow flying cruise missiles as first strike? Really? ABM in hostile eastern Ukraine? Right. Missile defense east of Kaliningrad? What bull. Nato somehow takes the Crimea and chases the Russians out of the Black Sea? This is all just shoveled high and posted as misinformation by Reshetnikov through Cassad or Saker. Recognize it for what it is.

Babak Makkinejad

USG consumes 1/3 of Gross Domestic Product of US in the form of taxes.

Of that amount, 1/3 is spend on security and US military forces.

This was always a large Public-Works project to keep US economy stimulated as well.

What has happened, in my opinion, is that there has been a generational change inside the United States; with men who understood the limitations of arms with those who are enamored of arm and what they can accomplish.

To the man with only a very very expensive hammer, everything looks like a nail.

confusedponderer

Macgupta123
"1. The Iran deal is not just about Russia."

That's why I said it was ALSO about Russia. Just like normalising with Cuba, the Iran deal has merit in its own right.

Ishmael Zechariah

BM,
Unfortunately most of "those who are enamored of arm and what they can accomplish" have never handled arms, know nothing of fights and would be routed by a bunch of (old-time)middle school kids armed with slingshots.
Ishmael Zechariah

Ishmael Zechariah

bth,

IMO posts by the members of this Committee cannot be compared to yours in erudition and logic. Thanks for deigning to enlighten us about the folly of our ways. Would you want us to stop reading Saker, Cassad, etc. and just peruse Fox news?

Ishmael Zechariah

elev8

You replied to two different posts - one by TTG, one by CP. I would concur that Reshetnikov is a blatant propagandist. Unfortunately CP's interpretation of the events in Crimea, on the other hand, does not seem farfetched to me. "NATO somehow takes the Crimea" - your phrasing verbatim - has a disingenuous ring to it. Short answer: yes, it's quite doable to take something that is being handed to you. No special effort required.

kao_hsien_chih

General Ali and others on SST,

I don't see making money as the main driver behind anything on "big" scale.

I mentioned a version of this suspicion in another thread, but my take is that people make money off of big ideas because people with big ideas often value the big ideas more than they do money and are willing and able to spend lots of money to push their ideas forward. Yes, people have made money off of the various misadventures around the world, but that was mostly because the idea people who wanted to go on these misadventures had the means to pay for them, with their own money or someone else's, and there were those willing to sell them resources the idea people (think they) needed. To attribute why things happen to people's desire to make money, I think, is often misguided.

I think much of the trouble that the American "idea people" are stirring up around the world is truly because they want to change the world, and they will do so to the last US taxpayer's dime that they can hoodwink, and the hucksters will keep enabling them as far as they are still being paid. The first cause are the believers. If they go away, or their ability to fleece the American taxpayers is removed, the hucksters will have no sway either.

Kilo 4/11

Reply to AnnaMarina: "The whole story in Ukraine is a tremendous insult to the WWII veterans."
American history cannot rightly be honored by dishonoring those Americans who died to liberate Europe from tyranny, and not to deliver it to a new one; and those Americans, including friends of mine, who died in the anti-communist wars, however imperfect their ultimate outcome has been, and whose sacrifice is mocked by those who excuse and collaborate with the unrepentant heirs and beneficiaries of the regimes they fought.

As the Brussels Journal’s George Handlery, a survivor of the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary puts it: “Forgiveness not met by regret implies subjugation.” And, as the world knows, so far from any “regret”, the new/old occupants of the Kremlin have seamlessly maintained the old regime’s insistence on the USSR’s moral superiority in war and peace. Or as Handlery again puts it: “… hostility is discovered in attempts to set limits to [Russian] expansionism. The message to these is, ‘“let us do what we want on our turf that we are free to define. Show esteem or we annihilate you for disrespecting our ways”’. The conclusions are unpleasant for someone who has spent his efforts to counsel forgiveness to the victims of Soviet imperialism. That was seen to be a precondition of reconciling Russia with becoming a normal nation and not the torchbearer of an idea to conquer the world. Alas, now it seems that offense is taken by the mention of forgiveness as it implies a dark past. That kind of forgiving is not forgiven. However, forgiveness without atonement amounts to subservience. Instead of breaking with past patterns, Putin seeks chauvinistic support by enlisting a spotless past’s glory to carry the tradition of victories into the future. Resisting that is taken to signify hostility to a ‘“Top Nation”’ that, as he reminds us, has always crushed its opponents.

walrus

Thank you CP for your cogent response. I see it's logic.

Kilo 4/11

Yes, you are being manipulated. If those who have jumped on the Putin and “rebel” bandwagon (I thought well enough of Putin at first, but changed after reading Ukrainian history and seeing his actions unfold in Ukraine) can swallow the Kremlin line without being labeled easily manipulable toadies, why are supporters of Ukrainian people power treated differently? I took a good hard look at both sides, I did not overlook the innocent blood on the hands of WW 2 Ukrainian nationalists, and I have made an informed, rational choice. I have contacts in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora; what makes my correspondents any less reliable than, for instance, the free-lance gunman calling himself “Motorola”, upon whose words of wisdom some rely who think they are supporting something akin to the American South’s secession? Now that is being manipulated – falling for a colorful name and a sentimental flag.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for these excellent links!

Ishmael Zechariah

Kilo 4/11:

Remind me: what did that Nuland/Kagan woman say? Something about F^^ the EU? Another statement was about "Yats is the guy" or something to that effect? Yet another was about a tidy sum of five billion or something. Yep, I agree with you that someone is being manipulated. Probably we disagree on who.


Ishmael Zechariah

Babak Makkinejad

I do not think the current antagonisms between NATO and the Russian Federation are quite as endowed with moral import as you imply.

You went into the territory that they considered essential to their security and they pushed back.

You insinuated that you would escalate, and they reminded you that they can annihilate you.

Next, two of your more sober statesmen made a deal with them.

The losers were the people of Ukraine and Ukraine itself.

The moral is this:

When elephants fight, grass suffers.

When elephants copulate, grass suffers.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that it is advisable to follow what Nixon stated: "We and the Russians can never be friends, but we cannot afford to be enemies either."

Ingolf


"When a country possessing unmatched intellectual resources continues to follow a course of action that repeatedly fails to produce the results that are stated to be the goals of this policy, it is logical to ask: what is really going on?" (FB Ali 10th of April at 10:15 PM)

Indeed it is and as Furrukh says, commercial interests no doubt play a role. As he probably also does, together with many others here, I think there are deeper, more primary influences at work.

In "Western Conservatism: the War Within", Alisdair Crooke considers some of these often chaotic forces driving US (and to a lesser degree European) foreign policy.

"It is clear then, we are not dealing here with an academic debate about western conservatism: we are talking about a bitter ideological fight taking place within Washington, and in parts of Europe. And the consequence to this ‘war’ in the Anglo-Euro sphere is that it is progressively projecting its own internal disintegration and chaos into the wider world . . ."

"The Burkean tradition has been outlined above. It has deep roots in American conservatism, but, as in the UK, this strand is dying: it lacks any articulate contemporary advocate, and is on the defensive.

The main antagonist in this ‘war’, the neo-conservative orientation, owes much of its doctrine to Carl Schmitt – a German philosopher, close to the Fascist Party, – who outlined precisely such a grand ideological project (as Burkeans and classical Liberals abhor)."

"They never saw foreign policy in terms of national interest or balance of power. Neo-conservatism was a kind of inverted Trotskyism, which sought to ‘export democracy’, in [Joshua] Muravchik’s words, in the same way that Trotsky originally envisaged exporting socialism”."

"No wonder the Russians (and much of the Middle East) are so very wary (and not much comforted) by the remaining, weakened Burkean voices."

http://www.conflictsforum.org/2015/western-conservatism-the-war-within/

David Habakkuk

Kilo 4/11

'And, as the world knows, so far from any “regret”, the new/old occupants of the Kremlin have seamlessly maintained the old regime’s insistence on the USSR’s moral superiority in war and peace.'

As so often, when someone refers to what 'the world knows', one finds an assertion made which is simply ignorant.

On the eve of the millennium – that is, more than fifteen years ago now – Putin gave an address entitled 'Three Lessons Russia Needs to Learn.' The first of these was:

'For almost three-fourths of the outgoing century Russia lived under the sign of the implementation of the communist doctrine. It would be a mistake not to see and, even more so, to deny the unquestionable achievements of those times. But it would be an even bigger mistake not to realize the outrageous price our country and its people had to pay for that Bolshevist experiment. What is more, [it would be a mistake] not to understand its historic futility. Communism and the power of Soviets did not make Russia a prosperous country with a dynamically developing society and free people. Communism vividly demonstrated its inaptitude for sound self-development, dooming our country to a steady lag behind economically advanced countries. It was a road to a blind alley, which is far away from the mainstream of civilization.'

(See http://pages.uoregon.edu/kimball/Putin.htm .)

Moreover, your view of 'what the world knows' also ignores the fact that those whom Putin portrays as his principal intellectual mentors represent intellectual currents completely antithetical to the Russian radical traditions from which Bolshevism came.

When at the start of last year Putin circulated a 'reading list' to regional governors and members of the United Russia Party, it contained works by three writers – Vladimir Solovyov, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Ivan Ilyin.

Of these, Solovyov was a pivotal figure in the revival of Russian religious culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By contrast to his friend the novelist Dostoevsky, who had a strong strand of Orthodox messianism and was ferociously anti-Catholic, Solovyov became strongly sympathetic to Roman Catholicism, although the suggestion by Wikipedia that he converted may be oversimple.

(For an interesting discussion, by a Catholic, of Solovyov's views see http://www.crisismagazine.com/2010/solovievs-amen-a-russian-orthodox-argument-for-the-papacy .)

Meanwhile, Berdyaev and Ilyin were among the foremost – if not indeed the foremost – writers of the anti-communist emigration, whose polemics against the Soviet regime were written from an Orthodox religious standpoint. Back in 2005, the body of Ilyin – together with that of the White general Anton Denikin – were brought back to Russia to be reburied in the Donskoi monastery in Moscow – apparently at the insistence of Putin, who subsequently visited the monastery to lay flowers on the graves.

To find you, a decade later, claiming that a self-professed follower of Berdyaev and Ilyin insists on 'USSR's moral superiority in war and peace' is a striking indication of how sheerly ignorant Western discussions of Russia are.

If you want to gain some basic grasp of what Putin is about – and also what the Ukrainian civil war is about – I would recommend the writings of Paul Robinson, a former British Army intelligence officer now teaching at Ottawa. Simply googling '''Paul Robinson' Putin', and looking at his 'Irrussianality' blog will get you started.

Far be it from me to suggest that one should simply take Putin's ideological professions at face value – he is an extremely complex and ambiguous figure. Moreover, my own view is that there is a good deal to be said for the view put forward by Igor Strelkov's associate, Igor Borisovich Ivanov, of the current Russian system as a 'Chekist-oligarch regime.)

(For Professor Robinson's discussion of Strelkov and his associates, and their strong identification with a certain kind of 'white' political tradition, see http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/putins-right-flank/ .)

However, what is clear is that precisely what the current Russian regime does not share is the old Soviet regime's claim to represent a superior and universally applicable social model. This strand in the Jacobin tradition is now most prominently represented by American neoconservatives.

Perhaps given that so many of 'founding fathers' of neoconservativism had been Trotskyists (when they were not fascists), and appear incapable that if you have a society capable of constitutional government, you should do your best to preserve it, this is unsurprising.

On this, again, Paul Robinson's writings bring out the extent to which Putin's thinking is a reaction against such ideas. Having noted that figures like Solovyov, Berdyaev, and Ilyin were influenced by 'Slavophile' conceptions, he goes on to point out that Slavophilism 'rested on German Romantic precepts which included the ideas that national diversity was desirable and that nations contributed to the universal good by developing their own unique culture.'

And Professor Robinson goes on to argue that:

'Russian exceptionalism is thus very different from American exceptionalism, which seeks to export American political and economic structures. The Russian version is neither exclusive nor aggressive. Thus in Our Tasks, Ilyin remarks that each people does things its own way, and that ''each people is right.'''

(See http://cips.uottawa.ca/the-putin-book-club/ )

Much can certainly be said against Ilyin's views, on this as on other matters. However, on the problems of remodelling societies everywhere on the basis of any single social model, and also the impossibility for any society of simply jettisoning the past, Putin has learnt lessons from twentieth century history, and the American elite has not.

And this is a principal reason why, for all the manifold unpleasant and indeed sinister features of its political and social system, Russia has been acquiring a bizarre kind of 'soft power', while the United States has been steadily losing the moral authority it enjoyed for very many throughout the Cold War.

William R. Cumming

In 100 yeara the USA will have 70 states or 20 IMO!

William R. Cumming

BEWARE THE TRUST OF PRINCES?

William R. Cumming

ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS prevailing culture in USA leadership circles IMO!

FB Ali

David,

Thank you for this well-argued, well-sourced exposition of the roots of Putin's and Russia's current policies and positions. It is a much-needed counter to the facile view expressed above, commonly held in the West, that Putin's Russia is just Soviet Russia under a new ruler.

Babak Makkinejad

Somebody has to pay for this "Democracy Export" project. I expect that all of this sound and fury to die down once the costs exceeds the aims.

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