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23 February 2018


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Agree. Excellent and passionate summary you wrote.

The America of the Little House on the Prairie has been replaced by the Shtetl on the Potomac and there seems no end to it.

Exactly. I live away from large cities, in what still bears some (increasingly disappearing) features of THAT America--the one I actually love and this America is disappearing.

And worse, if that's possible, in Europe. My Europe, the Europe of the civilised and the creative, has been replaced by the leaden rule of derelict ideals opposed by forces that hark back to the worst times in their history. There's not much to come out of that conflict between two sides neither of which offer any true hope. And England, my England? Still there, I believe, I know, but how shamefully it trails the juggernaut and how eagerly we undertake the squalid tasks entrusted to us.

It is with the great sadness that I have to agree with you here.

David Habakkuk


In response to 114 – a fine comment. My only criticism is that, while I think that the ‘Shtetl on the Potomac’ – or indeed the Thames – is an important part of this story, one should not neglect the importance of traditional British Russophobia.

(Also, while many of the most damaging Western analysts of Russian affairs are Jewish, many of the best have been and still are.)

As regards Ukraine, it is material that one is dealing with divisions not simply between people but within them. The area was at the centre of collectivisation, and also the scene of some of the most savage fighting in the war.

Take a somewhat extreme example. Suppose you have an – ethnically Russian – kulak, who goes out into the street in Smolensk shortly after the news of the German attack is broadcast, and is never seen by his family again. His daughter ends up living in a hole in the ground across the river from Stalingrad, making shells.

At the end of the war, with Smolensk flattened, a relative in the NKVD recommends she go to Lviv, which is largely undamaged. There she meets and marries an – ethnically Ukrainian – railwayman, who has a close relative in the SS Galicia Division.

It would not be impossible that their children might be, how shall I put it, a mite confused.

What the Galician nationalists have sought to do is to overcome these confusions, and forge a unitary national identity, by portraying the ‘Holodomor’ as a deliberate genocide directed against Ukrainians by Russians.

Into what you aptly describe as a ‘power keg’ one then injects ‘retards’ – Andrei Lugovoi’s apt term – like Christopher Steele and my sometime BBC Radio colleague Mark Laity, now ‘Chief StratCom’ at SHAPE, and their American counterparts.

One of the mantras of Laity’s presentations is ‘perception becomes reality.’ In relation to Ukraine, it appears, the ‘perception’ he thinks that ‘StratCom’ can make ‘reality’ is: ‘“I am a Ukrainian” “We have this freedom inside our hearts … we have this freedom in our minds … and now I ask you to build this freedom in our country.’ In his presentation, this is followed by a slide entitled ‘Objects of desire ...', featuring images of expensive cars.

(https://www.cmdrcoe.org/download.php?id=341 .)

What then happens, with people like Laity, or Steele, or indeed Glenn Simpson, is that the Galician nationalists, or the sometime KGB officers anxious to turn a dishonest penny, say ‘we’ve got some real “retards” here, absolute ‘useful idiots’: If we just “talk the talk” we can twist them round our little finger and tie them in knots from which they have not a cat in hell’s chance of escaping.’

And that is what happens, in Ukraine, in Syria, and all over the place. The ‘retards’ think they are the ‘dog’, and in control, while in practice what they regard as the ‘tail’ ends up wagging them. And if the ‘tail’ chooses to, as it were, ‘go off the reservation’, there is nothing they can do but cover up.

The dynamics of this process were brilliant analysed, all those years ago, by Graham Greene in ‘The Quiet American.’ What is particularly galling, from a British point of view, is that these days were seem to be mass-producing our own versions of Alden Pyle.

This was the problem with NATO expansion, from the start. As soon as one moves a hard dividing line East in what were, historically, the ‘borderlands’ between different empires, to leave areas which were part of the Soviet bloc out is – not surprisingly – perceived by many of their inhabitants as implicitly consigning them to remain in a Russian sphere.

For others in these areas, however, Russia has historically been seen as their friend and protector, and also, central to their culture (including modern culture.)

Historically, in the ‘borderlands’, different groups have looked to stronger outside powers not simply to defend them but – if possible - to impose their own maximalist agendas on rival groups.

The expectation of NATO membership quite predictably, encouraged Saakashvili to attempt to do this with the Abkhaz and Ossetes, and encouraged the Galician nationalists to do with the same with the East of the country, and – most ludicrously of all – Crimea.

The gamble they were taking – with the ‘retards’ apparently following – was that Russia was too weak to stop them.

However, ‘perception becomes reality’ can be a double-edged sword. If the Western powers are determined to treat Russia as an adversary, this behaviour is indeed liable to be self-fulfilling.

More specifically, if Russian weakness is treated as simply something to be exploited, then obviously the ‘Eighties-era ‘new thinkers’, who believed that the threatening nature of the security posture inherited from the Stalin era was largely responsible for Western hostility, were ‘useful idiots.’

One can then end up with a new ‘narrative’, to use the ‘StratCom’ term, in which Gorbachev features as Russia’s answer to Neville Chamberlain: the man who didn’t even ask for a ‘scrap of paper.’

Perhaps, when it finally dawns on at least some of the ‘retards’ that Russia may not be quite as weak as they thought, the realisation may sink in that there are can be costs from discrediting those who seek to be one’s friends.

Babak Makkinejad

Don't go all wobbly on us now old chap:


Babak Makkinejad

"Ukraine", means "border land".

Afghanistan was another one such "border land" state - where the Pashtuns tried to create a Pashtun nation - which failed miserably.

And so was Yugoslavia.

If Ukraine could be destroyed, so could that country called Romania, or Kazakhstan, or India.

Caveat Emptor.


It may also I think be material here that quite a lot of Russian military people always had a certain nostalgia for the wartime alliance with the United States.

It was not necessarily nostalgia but appreciation of both actual Allied effort on the American side plus, undeniably humanly very appealing, positions of both George Marshal and his OPD and Ike in pushing for the earliest, however highly risky, landing in France, be it Sledgehammer or what followed later as Roundup. It was difficult not to get affected in many positive ways by knowing that, unlike Churchill, Americans were great allies. General Stanley Embick's memorandum on Churchill's "Primrose Path" of avoiding a real fight at Casablanca is a startling testimony to human and military integrity of many people in the US Army then. Those facts were known in Soviet Military. And, then, Lend-Lease, of course, it mattered and it was remembered. Consider this, you may recognize the Russian Cover of this:


listen to the end.

English Outsider

Out of respect for you, Babak, I followed that clip through to the end. Hard work. Someone's England, I'm sure, so I don't knock it. Not mine.

Think of an ancient T20 crawling across the skyline, the paraffin lamp sheltered by a bale of straw at lambing time, the shotgun propped up in the corner, the quiet thoughtful voices. That's a little closer. We were bound to lose it, and that's as it always should be, but to lose it and get this?


"Like all Germans you are fundamentally a Nazi.."
This is not just an insult -- this is an exposure of the monumental stupidity and ignorance. What was your relatives' contribution to humanity -- to sciences, arts, architecture, music, engineering…? Who are you to smear the great people? Take a book and read about Germans and their enormous contribution to the world.


Well, if you persist:
"The history of the KGB is well established."
-- The Bolshevik secret police was organized and put in place by Jewish revolutionaries. Does this sound anti-semitic for you? http://rense.com/general43/jewishrole.htm
What was a job decryption of Bush the elder (a hint—there was the abbreviation “CIA” in his CV) and what was his role during the untimely death of JFK?
"..anti-Putin journalists often end up dead under mysterious circumstances. Putin's thugs routinely beat gay rights activists."
--And what are the names of these journalists and how often they "end up dead under mysterious circumstances?" For example, here is the name of a journalist Buzina murdered in Kiev after Nuland-Kagan revolution there. The revolution involved a tight cooperation of both the US State Dept. and the CIA with Ukrainian neo-Nazis. (Did your family lost its members during the WWII so that you could emotionally process these news from Kiev?) https://www.salon.com/2014/02/25/is_the_us_backing_neo_nazis_in_ukraine_partner/ https://consortiumnews.com/2015/06/12/u-s-house-admits-nazi-role-in-ukraine/
Also, do you know that Ukraine has become the most anti-semitic country of Europe after the CIA-sponsored coup d’etat in Kiev (was not the coup a monumental case of “meddling?”) Yet no screeching from the Holocaust biz. – Why? https://www.therussophile.org/israel-announces-ukraine-as-the-most-anti-semitic-country.html/
-- And who told you that Putin personally orders to "beat gay rights activists" -- Masha Gessen? "Russia has been viewed as being socially conservative regarding homosexuality, with recent polls indicating that a majority of Russians are against the acceptance of homosexuality..." -- Are you personally for democracy or what? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Russia
"And the most troubling aspect in my opinion of Putin's dictatorship is the hacking of our election systems which General McMaster says can no longer be credibly denied."
-- You mean, “Russians hacked electrical grid in Vermont” or how to make Americans look stupid? https://theintercept.com/2016/12/31/russia-hysteria-infects-washpost-again-false-story-about-hacking-u-s-electric-grid/
"And lets not overlook his war crimes and genocide in Syria."
--You mean, Syrians did not want to greet the ISIS "liberators" (head-choppers) with flowers and such? The same ISIS fighters that the CIA has been arming and providing with logistics, while Israel was providing with free medical care (10 million American dollars per day are sent to Israel from the US-- don't you like how these dollars have been working to support the well-being of ISIS “freedom fighters” on the Golan Heights and beyond in Syria?) https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists
--Syria is a sovereign state; Russia was legally invited by the legitimate Syrian government to help Syrians in their defense against a variety of war profiteers, oilmen (Cheney strikes again, http://yournewswire.com/cheney-rothschild-murdoch-co-start-drilling-for-oil-in-syria/), despots (Saudis), and religious fanatics (including Israelis). If you are looking to those guilty in the genocide in the Middle East, then you need to reread PNAC and Oded Yinon plan. Here is General Clarke revealing the ziocon/neocon plans for the Middle East, which, since then, led to genociding the millions of people there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw
--Here is Clinton, a war criminal guilty of the supreme crime of a war of aggression against (formerly) sovereign Libya – a former gem of North Africa – which since then became a playground for ISIS/Daesh/Al Qaeda and a grave for hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including tens of thousands of children. But murdering children en masse is not new for the “morally superior” at the State Dept.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM0uvgHKZe8
-- Finally, look at the mirror before announcing your superior morality

Babak Makkinejad

But that England of a rural civilization and culture has been dead for more than 150 years. Few cared about its passing; I have very seldom indeed have come across any text by the English that indicted even awareness of the issue, let alone any call to action.

English Outsider

Babak - Little cultural eco-systems come and go all the time. And that within wider cultural frameworks that are themselves constantly shifting. Never the same river and all that. Never the same little rivulet.

No, I'm not pining after les neiges d'antan. The point is that although constant shifting is us, it's a good idea to shift to something viable. Something better if possible - why not if we can? - but at least to something that works.

I don't think we've done that.

That certainly applies to the bread and butter stuff - keeping a household going, getting a decent job. A great number of us don't have to worry about that because we did it when times were easier, but the times are nowhere near as easy now and if we've rescued the very poorest from dire poverty millions upon millions are not doing anywhere near as well as they think normal.

The top few per cent aren't aware of that to any extent - for those few per cent I suppose the times have never been easier - but the millions are and they don't like it. The test of the viability of a society is not so much how many people are poor. It's to what extent people will put up with being poor. The graphs don't show that but it's clear that in that respect we're less viable than we were. Our failure is not that we've shifted. It's that we've shifted to something that doesn't work.

Incidentally - "Few cared about its passing?" I'd suggest that that's partly what the repeal of the Corn Laws was about. Big mistake, that.

(Wiki) ". Britain's dependence on imported grain during the 1830s was 2%; during the 1860s it was 24%; during the 1880s it was 45%, (for wheat alone during the 1880s it was 65%.)[32] The 1881 census showed a decline of 92,250 in agricultural labourers in the ten years since 1871, with an increase of 53,496 urban labourers. Many of these had previously been farm workers who migrated to the cities to find employment,[33] despite agricultural labourers' wages being higher than those of Europe.[33] Agriculture's contribution to the national income was about 17% in 1871; by 1911 it was less than 7%.[34]

"Robert Ensor wrote that these years witnessed the ruin of British agriculture, "which till then had almost as conspicuously led the world, [and which] was thrown overboard in a storm like an unwanted cargo" due to "the sudden and overwhelming invasion...by American prairie-wheat in the late seventies."[35] Previously, agriculture had employed more people in Britain than any other industry and until 1880 it "retained a kind of headship," with its technology far ahead of most European farming, its cattle breeds superior, its cropping the most scientific and its yields the highest, with high wages leading to higher standard of living for agricultural workers than in comparable European countries.[33] However, after 1877 wages declined and "farmers themselves sank into ever increasing embarrassments; bankruptcies and auctions followed each other; the countryside lost its most respected figures," with those who tended the land with greatest pride and conscience suffering most as the only chance of survival came in lowering standards.[36] "For twenty years," Ensor claimed, "the only chance for any young or enterprising person on the countryside was to get out of it."[36]"

" ... the only chance of survival came in lowering standards." Relevant today since if our neo-liberals do get their way that's what will happen again after Brexit.

So that's something else we might shift to that doesn't work. Above PT excoriates a shift in foreign policy that definitely doesn't work. Aren't we doing rather a lot of shifting to things that don't work these days?

Pacifca Advocate

I find it interesting nobody has mentioned the Gladio program. Does anyone contributing here know much about that? From my limited reading on the subject, I took away that the Ukrainian Banderists were a cornerstone of it.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you.

Evidently Japanese learnt from UK's mistakes and maintained a robust agricultural sector.

But UK leaders also decided to be Bankers to the World - chemical dies were invented in England - like so many other things - but were industrialized in Germany.

Did not the Parliament also do away with food security for parishes during the same period?

Keith Harbaugh

Samuel Huntington called Ukraine (along with several others) a "cleft country",
"cleft" between its Eastern Rite Catholic-dominated western section and its Orthodox-dominated east.

My questions are:
Would Ukraine be better off split in two?
There seems to be so much hostility, why not let the two sides go their own ways?
With the East incorporated into Russia,
and the West either becoming independent or being absorbed into one or more of its neighbors with which it feels more compatible.
Should the U.S. at least maintain neutrality about such a breakup.
(To actively encourage it would be to invite the charge of meddling in other state's affairs.)

English Outsider

Babak - for once we're on different tacks, and the tack you're on is not one at present most in my mind. I'll set down briefly how I see what you mention and then revert, if I may, to what this thread was about for me.

The art of the scholar-historian is not merely to dig the facts out for us, vital though that work is. Not is it to shape the facts to a predetermined narrative, which is what our historians mostly did until quite recently.

It is to enter into the minds of those who lived in past times, the minds of those we like and those we disapprove of, to be easy with the way they thought however strange to us their way of thinking now, and then to put what happened into a true context. The scholar-historians are our guides to strange country and we may confidently employ them as such.

It is a true art and a difficult one. I've seen Finkelstein do it effortlessly, and Burleigh, and a few others. I've seen plenty fail, and sometimes fail deliberately. When they succeed, when, to quote the Colonel's dictum that is the foundation of this site they " .. tell the truth as it is given to me to know the truth", their's is an essential task and their calling an invaluable one.

Now I could give you, were space to permit, my personal views on the dismantling of the Mediaeval welfare system, to use a modern term, on the slow dispossession of the common people that ran from Tudor times, on the recurring theme in English history - the usually timely recognition that if you pushed them too hard the common people would come after you with pitchforks, and on down to the modern discovery that if you got the PR and the policing right they wouldn't want to or indeed be able to - a discovery we've been building on from early Victorian times because such techniques aren't in fact that modern - but as you will see from that resume my take is so strongly coloured by my own personal political views that we are in no sense in the territory of the scholar-historian.

All we ourselves can do is to exchange glimmerings, evanescent insights that may or may not be pertinent or valid - and that on a site the chief value of which is that it goes for hard edged indisputable facts about the present, not imperfect speculation about the past.

Courtesy of our host we can do that sometimes, and it's a tack we've been on before to the occasional bafflement of our fellow visitors to SST, but I think we're on a different tack here.

PT's article took me back to that time some four years ago. Something didn't feel right about what we were being told about the Maidan. I went looking, not very efficiently and at first impatiently because getting facts from partisan sites, and sometimes from sites one could only access through machine translation, isn't a very neat and tidy way of gathering information.

I started to form a view. Not long after I found that view confirmed by academics who saw that the story was not as it was being related to us, and who themselves were advancing tentative explanations for the seemingly slow and hesitant Russian reaction to the events in the Donbas. Later I found the view I had formed confirmed by SST. I'm glad now that I only found that out later - it allowed me to be confident that I hadn't blindly followed the experts. Sometimes it's better to find things out for oneself.

It was a bleak view. One had to confront the fact that in the Ukraine we weren't the good guys.

Not just that we were being stupid, or justifying what we were doing as "fighting fire with fire", or muddling inadequately through something we didn't understand. What we did was evil and very destructive.

One also had to confront the fact that the standard reporting of events was wrong. Again, not just misinformed or inadequate or one-sided, but plain wrong. Later, though that was mostly on the Syrian conflict then, I watched the State Department briefings and other such briefings and gradually came to see how it was done. The line for the day being shaped to fit the events that couldn't be denied and to suppress if possible other facts. I watched the reporters trying to get sense out of it. Those reporters, one felt, were perfectly willing to accept the official line but they had enough professionalism to want to make it square with the known facts; and they couldn't.

I listened to the same official line for the day coming out of the BBC and to a lesser extent our press. I still don't know how that happens, how the official line gets disseminated. I don't think it's some centrally organised information campaign. I think it's mostly consensual herd instinct. However it happens, it happens, and we were a long way indeed from the conventional view of our intrepid reporter going out there and getting at the truth as he sees it even if he gets it skewed.

It was a lonely time, that time in 14/15 sitting in front of a screen and watching it happen. Lonely because all around me, including my immediate family, were entirely divorced from it all. All we can know of such things is what we're told. What all were told shaped what all believed and for most there was no reason to believe that the story on their screens and in their newspapers was false.

And running concurrently with these unwelcome discoveries about ourselves was the courage and tragedy of it all. Those Ukrainian farm boys, straight off the tractor and sent untrained into killing fields. The retreats - who knew where they would stop? The encirclements. The desperate improvised defences. Those long lines of shattered vehicles and tanks. The cool heroism of the Ukrainian officer on Saur Mogila who guessed the fire pattern and led his men safe through it. A thousand such instances, both sides, and all totally, totally, unnecessary.

And the ugliness. The mutilations, the graves, the spectacle of untrained troops firing big guns into civilian area and capering about wildly as the guns fired. The stories - I believe they are at least partly true - of the half-criminal half-mercenary bands who found ample opportunity on both sides for profit and atrocity. And those foolish young conscripts in an army strong point larking around like college students. The phones recording it recovered the next day from their bodies after they had inevitably been killed in an action they were neither equipped nor trained for.

PT's article brought all that back. I look back at that silent lonely figure in front of his screen, sitting there and thinking - God, we set all that lot off. For we did, you know; and we're still doing it.


EO at #32
Thank you for your clear little essay;
You put in words what was on my mind. I could 'spread' my personal intellectual development (“Werdegang” in German) which led to present understanding of the world around me. I will resist that and will not go into my personal and my immediate family tragic experiences which led to my turn from a Russian hater to a “Putin Versteher” and into an American/Anglo/Franco/German/Israeli skeptic. It would be a too personal and anecdotal tale. But let me say that it is a great accomplishment to come to similar conclusions, for an Englishman, without the benefit of himself making “the journey” - from the omissions, half-truths and lies of the communist regime, to identical sins of the capitalist regime.


Eo - it should be at #132

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you.


Concerning the battle of Stalingrad:

--Numbers of Red army executions in Stalingrad itself were very low. It was different on the Eastern side of the Volga
--Chuikov could be harsh, and did not suffer fools for very long, but he was, other the Rokosvosky or Tolbukhin, perhaps the Soviet general least likely to execute his own.
--Reality of fighting on the Eastern Front literally dwarfs modern comprehension
--Supposedly, one factor of the Soviet victory at Stalingrad was that the Germans, (6th army had a very good radio compartment) didnt understand the very coarse Blyadni Jasik used by the Chuikovs Russians.
Chuikov had a tendency go swear quite colorfully as well, and it rubbed off. He gave as few fucks about political correctness as a red army general possibly could. Needless to say, making up insulting nicknames for particular german units and having those as actual codewords in official communications was also a morale booster, supposedly, some Red armists captured a German divisional history (or some German who knew it by hard), promptly went all Zaporozhian Cossak on it and submitted that as a new codename for this german division, however, it was not accepted because it would have been waaay to too long)


Putin was first directorate, and had a peripheral analyst role in Dresden (far from being a prestigious post).

First directorate was foreign intelligence, they were not generally speaking involved with domestic repression inside of the USSR (although one of their predecessors, the OGPU, was quite involved with purging the GRU during Stalins purges because it was a rival agency. Bad blood between GRU and SVR, the successor to the first directorate of the KGB, exists today. GRU took some vengeance after Stalins dead after Chruschev and Zhukov triumphed over Berija and Malenkov). The other important thing about him being first directorate is that the first directorate was seen as the KGBs elite. Fencing with the CIA was a lot more "prestigious and challenging" then monitoring some dissidents.

First directorate was involved with overseeing client states to an extent.


"Cleft country" is very simplistic, and Ukraine is a fairly complex place.

As an example, if Putins polite Green men would suddenly turn up in Odessa, they would likely be greeted as liberators from the Maidan yoke. In Dneprpetrovsk, which is considerably further east, they would likely be fought savagely.
There are additional rural vs Urban divides (In some areas, Urban parts are more pro Russian then rural parts, and in other parts the rural areas are quite Anti Maidan, btw. Anti Maidan does not neccessarily equal pro Russian).

There are at least 4 different regional power centres in Ukraine, Donbass, Dnipro, Kiev and Lviv (with different identities and stereotypes about each other), and other then Donbass and Lviv allying all of these have been allied or hostile to each other at some time point.

In a way, the outer of Chruschev (from Donbass) by Breznev (from Dnipropetrovsk) was also linked to a conflict in Ukraine.

You also have secondary centres such as Kharkov or Odessa, who are economically meaningfull but lacked the will to do violence in defense of their interests and thus got occupied.

English Outsider

Me, I'm a Putin/Trump/Sanders versteher, with a soft spot for your Sahra Wagenknecht because she told the Bundestag what was what on one memorable occasion. All that put together is quite a difficult combination in Germany.

I was there just after Brexit and everyone was most put out that I'd voted for it. I explained that the EU/Ukrainian association negotiations must surely have been one of the most pig headed shambles in the history of international diplomacy and if that was Festung Europa in action count me out. And that I couldn't feel any affection for an EU that was putting its weight behind Neo-Nazis in the Ukraine.

We all went a bit silent after that.

On the Ukraine, I'd guess PT's forceful article brought it all back for a lot of people. Typing a few recollections into this little window here made me realise how much. Your recollections, and from so much sharper a perspective, would I believe be considerably more significant.

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