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09 May 2015

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Ken Roberts

DeeCapeTown ... Thank you, for that article link. Good perspective.

rkka

"

I see a man who was raised in times of hardship; not of the elite .. "

Absolutely. He was a little street thug. Until Judo. Judo made him the man he is, it built his character.

The Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&P) babble on and on about the 'KGB Agent' thing, and totally ignore what's real about the guy.

He does not seek conflict, and it makes him all the more formidable when it occurs.

rkka

Putin is many things, but a Russian nationalist isn't one of them. He understands to his bones that Russia is a multiethnic, multiconfessional federation that would be split to its foundations by Russian nationalism.

What I'm trying to get at is that 'Russian-ness' is a cultural thing. Russian is the language through which the many peoples of Russia communicate, and "Russian culture" is a kaleidoscope, where all these cultures are found and included. Russia expanded by incorporation, not extermination, and the present Russia is the result.

confusedponderer

I yet have to read both the interview with Todd and re-read Escobnar's article and I'm not done pondering yet.

So my first impression is a visceral one and I'll take your line as a starter: "He suggests this is coming about because of the nature of Germans"

What irks me is that 'nature of the Germans' bit. So we do have an inborn desire to dominate Europe?

And the English probably just have it in them that they want to dominate Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and even if they don't they collectively act in a way to produce such an outcome? And what about the French? At the time of Napoleon, it would have very apt to ascribe to them also a desire to dominate Europe - is that the nature of thze French? I cannot recall atm which American politician once said "Expansion is in our blood". I could go on.

Todd's idea that domination is part of the German nature feels to me a litl like Goldhagen's harebrained assertion that genocide is in our blood - according to him, Germans killed all those Jews in WW-II because we always wanted to, since, of all antisemtism around in the world, it was the German brand that was eliminatory.

Well, thanks to him I at least now have an explanation for my occasional morningly bloodthirst (irony alert). Then I usually have some Greek Farmer's Salad (made of Greek farmers, naturally) and it passes. I have a problem with that sort of statement.

Then there is the idea that DC as a collective is so dumb and polarised that they cannot formulate a coherent policy, and that, as a result, there is not one US foreign policy. But we crafty, organised Germans do have all that?

What is this, projection? So we Germans are supposed to have all that what others see lacking in their political leaders - a plan, economic power - and a desire to dominate Europe (look how the Germans (and the other debtors, just saying) boss around poor, downthrodden Greece (that really brought it on itself by decades of unchecked socialist misrule)!)?

The same dysfunction argument can be easily applied to Germany also, even more so given that, unlike the US, we have more than two parties.

It can be as easily argued that the power that Germany enjoys simply gravitated to Germany by default, given that there is no other centre of power at the heart of Europe.

Thatcher and Mitterand were afraid of was that Germany reunited would challenge the power of both their countries. It needed the US to have them agree to reunification. It can be argued that the two were shortsighted, and didn't see was that Germany alone was no problem. We had a few decades rebuilding ahead of us, and really had our hands full.

The mostsignificant factor that gave Germany greater power was EU expansion, IMO.

With the expansion of the EU, Europe's centre of power has shifted eastwards. Germany is geographically in an advantageous position at the crossroads of Europe. That, however, is both a blessing and a curse, since for the same reason, the 30 years war was fought on German territory.

In a sense, the ascension of the Eastern European states into the EU, and subsequently, NATO, in a sense relativated France's power vis a vis Europe proper. In that line of reasoning, Britain, beyond being an island, is as a result now a marginal European country at the European periphery. In comparison, France is by far more homogeneous (no perveivable risks of secession) and better integrated into Europe than Britain.

The neighbours to the East have gavitated to Germany through trade and (to an extent that surprised me) voluntary adoption of German legal norms - not to mention inevitable European legal and trade harmonisation.

Germany's geographic position in combination with the EU generates benefits for it in terms of power.

That would be my top-of-the-head alternative thesis (note: I'm not a Kaplanian geographic determinist).

I think it takes a streak of malice to say that, because we enjoy these benefits of Geography and European integration now, Germany thus 'used the EU to further its hegemonist goals' or somesuch.

That Germany benefits from others integrating into Europe is so by default, given that the EU is very consciously and systematically multinational.

Another salient point here is that Britain and France under the common European legal framework enjoy the same access to Eastern European markets as Germany does.

That is to say that Germany's access is not privileged. Many of the decisions are being made with 2/3 majority or in consensus only. So, are Britain and France using Europe to further their hegemonist goals in Eastern Europe also? Or put the other way around, why didn't, say, Britain benefit from it as much as Germany did? Because their economic power isn't as great? Because geographical access does matter? Both?

I have for a quite a while seen 'New Europe' largely under the Rumsfeldian paradigm, that is to say that I saw the US trying to leverage newcomers against the France and Germany by means of security arrangements in an attempt to steer Europe. I have not really seen East Europe as a place where Germany exercises economic hegemony (and let's be clear - we're talking just about that), or aims at establishing it.

I'll have to rethink and think through the matter, and for that I need some more time. I feel that I have, as Ishmael Zechariah, have a good deal of reading to do.

So, thanks for sharing the intriguing artile FB Ali.

Tyler

Robt,

Thanks for this!

Tyler

MBrenner,

Sorry, but I take issue with your description of Gessen as a "truly pro-democracy activist". She's another propaganda mouthpiece who sees no problem with the US getting into a hot war with Russia over the state religion of the West, secular hedonism. Basically another insane homosexual jewish cultural marxist MAD AS HELL about the Tsars and pogroms a century later.

Furthermore she's on record saying that gay marriage is designed to destroy the institute of marriage. If she told me the sky was blue and the sun was yellow, I'd get a second opinion.

The Twisted Genius

confusedponder,

Your visceral first impression is completely understandable. Todd also wrote about the US in his "After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order" which I have not heard of before this discussion. In this book he argues that "only one threat to global stability hangs over the world today—the United States itself, which was once a protector and is now a predator." I'm sure there were plenty of visceral first impressions to that work over here. I must read it to better evaluate his thesis about Germany. BTW, he did predict in 1976 that the Soviet Union would fall. That's a good reason not to dismiss his ideas too quickly.

confusedponderer

TTG,
I do have one book by Todd on America on my shelf, albeit in German. I'm going to re-read it.

Babak Makkinejad

"So we do have an inborn desire to dominate Europe?":

Empirically, Germanic tribes destroyed the Western Roman Empire, set up kingdoms on its former territory and even gave their names to certain regions - such as Lombardi.

Next, they setup the Holy Roman Empire to maintain peace in Central Europe all the while sending Christian jihadists against such people are Perutherians (sic.) whose territory later was depopulated of them and was settled by Germans and became Prussia.

The Gauls, in the West, set up their own dukedoms which eventually became France.

And I am not even including the Anglo-Saxons in this.

Those countries more deeply imbued with the Classical Culture - Spain, Portugal, and Italy - eventually absorbed the invaders into their culture - like Chinese absorbed the Mongols - but Northern and Western edge of Europe saw the creation of hybrid civilization which went on to dominate not just Europe but the entire Planet.

Babak Makkinejad

He is not a Rus chauvinist but he, like all the Rus, has a conception of Russia and the greatness of the Rus. Sort of like de Gaul and France.

And likewise I think one of his many aims is to make Russia in the image of the French Republic.

confusedponderer

"Empirically, Germanic tribes destroyed the Western Roman Empire, set up kingdoms on its former territory and even gave their names to certain regions - such as Lombardi."

Empirically the Americans did much the same to the Indian tribes, and they were a hodgepodge of ethicities. Perhaps that was their inner German at work?

Germanic tribes is a broad term, and it gets broader when you throw in the Goths and Lombards. That is to say, that in this particular context the adjective 'Germanic' is probably not particularly meaningful.

The Goths originated from a belt ranging from Sweden, through the Vistula river basin to the Black Sea steppes. The Lombards previously dwelt in Scandinavia and migrated through Germany towards the Roman empire. Before the Lombards invaded Italy, the Lombardic State was located in Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland.

The fact was that for any of those tribes the incentive and opportunity to expand was a power vacuum left by Rome and the fact that their economies and feudal systems were dependent on booty to ensure loyalty of their vassals. Rome was a soft target as it contracted over its internal struggles, and left behind a vacuum that those tribes filled.

In some ways there I see in this parallels between the migration period and the drive of Islamic expansion into the Byzantine and Persian empires, both exhausted after fighting each other.

confusedponderer

"The Gauls, in the West, set up their own dukedoms which eventually became France."

Or Lombardy, given the fact that that region was called Gallia Cisalpina before for a reason.

ex-PFC Chuck

Emmanuel Todd, the man whose interview on a French website is the basis of Escobar's piece, is not a man to ignore. He first came into notice in the mid-1970s, as a 20 something Demography PhD student at Cambridge, for his thesis that predicted the collapse of the USSR. His conclusion was based on his analysis of demographic trends. At the time his work was widely ridiculed, but now the English translation of his book based on it, "The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere," is getting $40 or more on used book websites. In short, he's worth listening to.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Todd

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, and the Arabs created a new civilization as well. Next came the Turkic migration into the Near East and Anatolia that created a new civilization - the Seljuk civilization - which parted ways with the Arab civilization on many respects.

MRW

@mbrenner,

"He is very easy to understand if you know what a Russian nationalist is and have a sense of how a post-Soviet man might react to a national humiliation whether called Soviet or Russian."

I completely agree, although I have another term for "Russian nationalist:" [love of] Mother Russia. Russians don't 'congregate' around their religion or ethnicity or gender. Those kinds of identity politics are a 20th C American invention. They do around their village/town/city. Was that because of centuries living in a country whose width equals the distance from Seattle to Tehran? Who knows.

The larger societal expression of that immediate geographical cohesion or loyalty is Mother Russia. And every Russian will fall on his sword for her (with the exception of revolutionary Jews). Putin taps into that; hence, his 80% approval. I remember experiencing it, just picking it up in the air, in the three summer months I spent in Russia under soviet times as I traveled from St Petersburg and Moscow to the Caucasus, Odessa, Georgia, the Ural mountains, Crimea, Ukraine, and the Black Sea. I was also told it. I listened to huge grown men soaked in vodka cry over it (literally), singing to Mother Russia, in darkened ballrooms after midnight in downtown Moscow, former ballrooms that became dining rooms after the Russian Revolution. I heard it from the men who all looked liked Yul Brynner riding horseback on the shores of the Black Sea; they were part of a group (I forget) that Stalin banished to this area north of Georgia during WWII. I was lucky to be traveling with interpreters.

David Habakkuk

robt willman,

Thanks for this. I was familiar with Anne Williamson's testimony to the House Banking and Financial Services Committee hearings on Russian money-laundering back in 1999, and had come across her most recent article, but hadn't seen the others.

One does not have to accept all her arguments – I certainly don't – to think that she is a lady of incisive intelligence and immense courage, whose analyses go to heart of what has been wrong with Western policy towards the former Soviet Union.

The full text of the 1999 hearings is available at http://www.archive.org/stream/russianmoneylaun00unit/russianmoneylaun00unit_djvu.txt .

There is a lot else of interest in evidence submitted to the hearings. But the central importance of Williamson's is that it pointed to what I think is a critical fact, totally ignored by the crimogenic Fachidioten of the Harvard Institute for International Development. Both in the pre-Soviet and Soviet periods, Russian historical experience has not been such as to entrench the 'Roman-law' concept of property rights on which modern economies depend.

Any intellectually serious programme to 'reform' the Soviet economy had to take into account the problem of changing the 'mores' of Russian society. With their neo-Bolshevik combination of stupidity, intellectual arrogance, and contempt for those they professed to be trying to help, the Western advocates of 'shock therapy' managed to hasten on the creation of a criminalised comprador oligarchy – hardly a good way of creating a system of property rights perceived as legitimate.

It is a tragedy that voices like that of Anne Williamson have been so successfully muffled – one sees this reflected in the fact that the policies adopted towards Ukraine by the United States and the EU alike reflect a total failure to learn from the failures of 'shock therapy'.

To understand the curious combination of idealism and Machiavellianism in Putin, one needs to see what he has done against the background of the problems he inherited. In my view, a fundamental fact about him is that he is, as it were, a grandchild of the Revolution who came early to realise that it had led Russia into a dead end – and accordingly looked for guidance to late Tsarist statesmen, and also intellectuals of the emigration.

Babak Makkinejad

It is all there in V. Grossman's novel: "Life and Fate".

You are quite right about the Cult of "Mother Russia" - that is why I personally would not recommend anyone tangling with the Rus.

For the same reason, I always discounted the glib reports of her demise.

Nixon was the only person I ever heard who seemed to have grasped these saliences.

MRW

Thanks for the link. I'm going to read this.

"Since 2013, the Ukraine Crisis and the Greek Exit from the Euro have been inexplicable."

Not inexplicable to me although I haven't finished thinking this through.

A lot becomes understandable when you know that the blueprint for the Euro was designed by the French economist François Perroux in 1942 in anticipation of Hitler winning the war. French historian Bernard Bruneteau wrote about it in 2003 in “‘L’Europe nouvelle de Hitler’—Une illusion des intellectuals de la France de Vichy.” Around p. 194. Unfortunately not translated into English yet.

Alain Parguez, a French economist has given talks and written about this; Parguez was in the room with Jacques Attali, the de facto PM of France under Mitterand, as part of a secret commission when France was secretly pushing the euro-system, and when Parguez wrote some of the monetary policy.

Perroux, a Pétain enthusiast (I think)—also not translated into English--wanted France to benefit from Germany's assumed win so he inserted himself, and France, into that eventuality. The currency would become a sort of super-gold-standard designed to be controlled by Germany and France, and abolish of the power of the peripheral states to spend. The southern European and eastern European states would be made to give up their sovereign currencies for the euro-like currency. This was how Perroux saw Germany controlling the periphery, rendering formerly independent countries into the equivalent of US states economically. They would then become impoverished, and under Germany’s control.

Don’t forget, Germany was deeply in debt in 1999 before the Euro took over. Italy has the same debt now that it had in 1995, but now it can't denominate its debt in its own currency, it has no power to spend its way to prosperity, so it's fucked. Given its manufacturing prowess, all Germany had to do was drop its wages, and the countries around it would have to do the same thing to compete, since they can’t compete with Germany’s manufacturing engine. A race to the bottom. And it worked. Look at the unemployment in Spain: 54% among its youth.

You’ll note that the ‘war’ with the Ukraine started the day it decided not to join the EU in some way in Feb 2014. That was the trigger. To the day. Nuland came in with Maidan and the Polish-trained snipers, and all the horsehshit about freedom.

The goals here, IMO, are the agricultural land (best outside of Africa) and the extraordinary eastern Ukrainian energy resources (Donetz-Dnieper basin). Even Biden Jr. is waiting the wings to be chairman of some energy concern; he’s a cover, nothing better than a VP’s son.

The only way Nuland and her tribe can get their mitts on it is by getting the bond vigilantes in to ‘finance’ the Ukraine with the energy resources and agricultural land as collateral. They’ve even moved in their own finance minister from the US. Obama (who as I have been screeching here has NO understanding of how the federal monetary system works and is impoverishing us) is—again, in my opinion—being played as the great big foreign policy dude, his legacy, and he’s fallen for it like the narcissist he is. Why else is Stephen Cohen (brilliant Russian analyst) not allowed in the White House to explain Russia to the sitting president?

I am firmly convinced this is a cash play, and the pay-off, a huge one, is going to come after Obama and Nuland and her husband Kagan, and all their hidden financial friends—are out of office and no one will be noticing. Nuland absolutely needs the Ukraine in the EU or tied to the EU economically to pull this off. Keep your eye on her.

Escobar unfortunately doesn’t get this part because he still believes in the gold standard idea of the economy taught in most universities to this day (esp. the Univ of Chicago), so he spouts all that meaningless drivel about the US suffering under the weight of its national debt, and paying interest, and the phony Debt Limit, so his observations about the Euro are off.

['Sorry for any typos. I have an Autocorrect with a mind of its own.]

VietnamVet

MRW

I agree that by its very nature the Euro has evolved into a system of the strong preying on the weak. The peripheral states cannot complete because they no longer have a sovereign currency to deflate and the wealthy refuse to write off their bad debt; thus, 54% youth unemployment in Spain and the Greek Exit. That the Euro was conceived by French Vichy economists validates this thesis. A second explanation for the Greek and Ukraine crises is given by another quote of Emmanuel Todd in TTG’s post below; "the United States itself, which was once a protector, is now a predator". The date of that change became clear on March 19, 2003 when the USA invaded Iraq for no reason at all. The sanctioning of the pillage by the powerful of the poor and of outsiders is the only explanation for the chaos in today’s world.

anna-marina

"The only way Nuland and her tribe can get their mitts on it is by getting the bond vigilantes in to ‘finance’ the Ukraine with the energy resources and agricultural land as collateral."
This sounds very frightening, because the "tribe," in its arrogance, might trigger a global catastrophe.
The situation looks as if the handlers of Federal Reserve and Co. have been making critical decisions outside of any democratic institutions, constitutions, and other quaint trifles. With the death of meritocracy, we can expect the stupid and disastrous decisions made in the name of the nation.

bethany

The striped ribbons were used in the USSR as well as part of the medals. I remember Soviet Victory Day postcards where the ribbons were often present in the design.

David Habakkuk

oofda, bethany,

The Wikipedia entry on the 'Ribbon of St George' is fascinating.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_of_Saint_George .)

In summary, it emerged as part of Order of St George, established in 1769 as the highest military decoration of Imperial Russia. Although not normally a collective award, the ribbon – originally yellow and black – was sometimes awarded to units that distinguished themselves in wartime. In 1806, distinctive Georgian banners were introduced as a further battle honour awarded to meritorious Guards regiments – the Guards were the elite troops of Tsarist Russia.

Following the Revolution, the Guards were disbanded. However, in September 1941, the designation was reintroduced for units which distinguished themselves, and became the elite units of the Red Army, and the Georgian ribbon – which became orange and black – featured on awards connected with this. In total, there were eleven Guard Armies and six Guard Tank Armies. The ribbon however also featured on the victory medal issued to all veterans at the end of the war.

In 2005, there was a campaign calling on volunteers to distribute ribbons prior to Victory Day. A 'liberal' journalist called Yulia Latynina, among others, has suggested that this was a response to the use of orange ribbons in the 2004 'colour revolution' in Ukraine. This could well be right.

From the 'New York Times' report of the incident on 2 May last year when anti-Maidan demonstrators were incinerated in the trade union building in Odessa:

'As the building burned, Ukrainian activists sang the Ukrainian national anthem, witnesses on both sides said. They also hurled a new taunt: ''Colorado'' for the Colorado potato beetle, striped red and black like the pro-Russian ribbons. Those outside chanted ''burn Colorado, burn,'' witnesses said.'

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/05/world/europe/kievs-reins-weaken-as-chaos-spreads.html?_r=0 .)

The current Ukrainian government has replaced the symbol with a red-and-black poppy, like those associated with Remembrance Day in Western Europe. However, the flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was composed of a red stripe, superimposed upon a black one.

A fundamental conflict of symbols has been going on, with a resonance going back to the Second World War and beyond, of which the 'New York Times' was and probably still is blissfully ignorant.

William R. Cumming

WOW! And based on fact IMO!

William R. Cumming

And the Chinese know the fastest way to the Arctic is through Russia. The opening of an Arctic passage few understand is all about Chinese trade with the EU and Russia not the USA!

William R. Cumming

A terrific comment. Russia though may benefit while the rest of the planet is threatened by permafrost/tundra melting subsurface.

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