Brean, Braun, and Putin’s Brain

Occasionally, I wonder why I got into the blogging business. Fortunately, whenever these doubts arise, my local rag, The Ottawa Citizen (for which I once used to write), helps me out by publishing some outrageous nonsense, reminding me of the need for someone, somewhere to take the initiative in debunking it all. And since nobody else round here seems to be doing the job, the task falls upon me.

Today the Citizen obliged me by producing not one, but two such pieces, which was kind of generous of it because one would have been quite enough. The theme of both was the impending Russian invasion of Ukraine. As any sensible person knows, this isn’t going to happen (unless the Ukrainians are stupid enough to try to recapture the rebel provinces of Donbass by force). But that hasn’t stopped Western politicians and the media from screaming wolf on an almost daily basis for the past couple of months. Every day that Russia fails to invade Ukraine brings more articles saying that it’s just around the corner. Just wait. ‘The Russians are coming!’

Anyway, article no. 1, on which I won’t spend much time, is a relatively straightforward piece of reporting entitled ‘Russia warns of response if Ukraine joins NATO.’ This uncritically repeats a statement by Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielus Landsbergis saying that, ‘We are convinced that Russia is actually preparing for an all-out war against Ukraine. It’s an unprecedented event probably since the Second World War.’

To this my response is that, A) Landsbergis being ‘convinced’ doesn’t make it so, and B) even if true it’s hardly ‘unprecedented’ – there’s been no shortage of wars since 1945, quite a few of them fought by Western powers (The invasion of Iraq anyone? The bombing of Yugoslavia?). So wouldn’t it make some sense to tell readers so?

Next, the article tells us that ‘In response to Moscow’s provocation, EU foreign ministers agreed to hit targets linked to the Wagner group, a Russian private military firm, with punitive sanctions, accusing it of destabilizing Ukraine and parts of Africa.’ So what is the ‘provocation’ here? It’s stated as a given, but no evidence of any ‘provocation’ is given.

And then, the Citizen finishes with this gem:

‘Russia’s domestic intelligence service was accused by its Ukrainian counterpart Monday of waging information warfare after it said it had arrested 106 supporters of a Ukrainian neo-Nazi youth group for planning attacks and mass murders. The Federal Security Service said that two of those held had planned attacks on educational institutions.’

Damn those Russians, arresting Neo-Nazis who planned to attack schools! ‘Waging information warfare indeed!’

The problem with this article is not that it’s factually false, as it mostly just repeats claims by Western and Ukrainian officials, but that it treats those claims as given and makes no effort to either challenge or contextualize them. That said, it’s a relatively mild piece of propaganda compared to what appears on the op-ed page of the same edition. This is an article by one Joseph Brean, entitled ‘Putin’s Taxi Driving Disclosure Part of Plan, Expert Says.’ It’s a real doozy.

Basically, the article is a four column story based entirely on the opinions of a single ‘expert’ – Aurel Braun, a professor at the University of Toronto, who, I think it’s fair to say, sits on the hawkish wing of the Canadian foreign policy community. No other ‘expert’ is cited. Nor is any effort made to analyze whether Braun is right. His mere opinion is considered sufficient to justify half a page of full-sized newspaper.

Let’s take a look at the Braun told Brean. (Their names have a certain ring to them, don’t you think?) The starting point is once again Russia’s impending invasion of Ukraine, and the ‘hook’, as journalists say, is a recent revelation by Vladimir Putin that in the 1990s he drove a taxi in order to raise money. ‘One can assume that Putin did not just make these remarks off the cuff,’ says Braun. Putin must have had a reason for raising the taxi driving story.

Fair enough, I say. Putin obviously felt that the anecdote would serve some purpose. Braun and Brean tell us what that might have been:

‘The effect is subtle but by reflecting on the indignity of the collapse of Soviet society, Putin is whipping up support for his campaign against Ukraine, to deny it has a legitimate national identity separate from Russia’s, but rather is a construct of the West, destined to be reclaimed, just like Russia’s imperial influence.’

You can see it, right? Putin says, ‘I drove a taxi’. But what he really means is, ‘let’s invade Ukraine!’ Makes sense, huh?

Braun explains the logic to Brean, who laps it all up uncritically. Putin’s story gives him a link of ‘shared suffering’ with other Russians, says Braun. Putin is thereby indicating to everyone that the ‘loss of superpower status was not just abstract but personal.’ Brean adds: ‘This is typical of the modern Russian geopolitical victim as both aggressor and victim, Braun said, simultaneously projecting confidence and complaining about being treated unfairly.’

Just to make sure we get the point, Brean then proceeds to inform readers that Putin is rewriting history, and wraps up his piece with the following piece of tosh:

‘He [Putin] indulges a rosy view of Joseph Stalin as a firm hand who organized and industrialized Russia. … A recurring theme is that Russia’s future should look like its past, as an imperial Third Rome. His 2014 invasion of Ukraine and Georgia before that, for example, were always described as reclaiming Slavic land and people.’

In a previous post, I mentioned various principles for writing a bad article about Russia. This includes ‘making stuff up’, quoting what others have claimed without mentioning that their claims are dubious or even wrong, and citing only sources that fit your chosen narrative. Here we have them all.

Making stuff up: Putin doesn’t ‘indulge a rosy view of Joseph Stalin’ (as I’ve detailed on various occasions), wasn’t even president during the 2008 war with Georgia, and, as far as I know, has never justified that war in terms of ‘reclaiming Slavic land and people’ (the South Ossetians, after all aren’t Slavs). (One could allow this in the case of Ukraine if one calls the 2014 annexation of Crimea an ‘invasion’, but Putin has never admitted to supporting the rebellion in Donbass, so can’t be said to be justifying that in any terms, let alone those of reclaiming Slavic lands and people).

Quoting claims without pointing out that they may not be true: pretty much the whole article fits that criterion.

Citing only experts who fit your narrative: Brean cites only one expert – Braun – so we have that one too!

In short, we’ve got pretty much the personification of the bad article. Its thesis – that an anecdote about taxi driving reveals some aggressive imperial intent – is amazingly far fetched. One can’t prove it wrong, given that one would have to have access to Putin’s brain to do so. But there’s nothing to connect taxi driving with Ukraine. Putin’s popularity has long rested on his ability to restore stability at home after the chaos of the 1990s. His latest anecdote fits firmly in that narrative. There’s absolutely no reason to see anything else in it.

The taxi driver story is ‘a “calculated” act of propaganda,” says Brean. For sure, there’s propaganda here. But it’s coming from the Ottawa Citizen, not from anyone else. Brean, Braun and Putin’s Brain – quite the combination!

99 thoughts on “Brean, Braun, and Putin’s Brain”

    1. What else would you expect George Friedman to say? It’s a catchy jingle.

      I sometimes like (well, ‘like”s not really accurate) to parry Paul R’s commentary with the simplistic drivel coming out of Michael McFaul’s mouth and then ponder why the Ivy Leagues are so hell-bent on dying on the vine.

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    2. As noted at the very top of this thread:

      https://original.antiwar.com/Michael_Averko/2021/12/17/ongoing-smear-campaign-against-the-strategic-culture-foundation/

      At least one example where the claim of a Deep State within the USA government appears to be more evident than Russian Intel’s supposed activity towards the US.

      Canadian GPA can appear in the SCF without any threat of penalty. Likewise, the professor seems to feel uninhibited in taking a good clean shot at some locals in his province, in addition to the RT space he gets.

      So much for the idea of the NY metro area being so advanced.

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  1. I believe I suggested here, a while ago, that western establishment media can’t be analyzed anymore, but only mocked and ridiculed. Do we agree now?

    By the way, has anyone come up with portraying Mr Putin as the protagonist of Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver yet? If not, can I copyright this idea?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Re: “By the way, has anyone come up with portraying Mr Putin as the protagonist of Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver yet? If not, can I copyright this idea?”

      ****

      He missed out on the 1970s-1980s aired sitcom Taxi.

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      1. Hypocritical irony is very much evident:

        https://www.rt.com/russia/543448-unga-resolution-condemns-nazis/

        Excerpt –

        “Last year, Washington’s envoy to the UN argued that a ban on glorifying Nazism would clash with the First Amendment protection of free speech in the US Constitution.”

        *****

        The above sentiment was repeated this year by the US UN office, as its government bans Americans from transacting with the Strategic Culture Foundation and not offering reimbursement or providing comparable journalist placement elsewhere.

        As I explained to a blowhard US left of center establishment author, the US government is definitely engaged in censorship by sending a message of what kind of views are deserving of payola unlike others.

        Folks getting paid can more easily spend time on such activity while getting additional income during these pressing times.

        Let’s go Brandon!

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      2. @Patrick Armstrong,
        I agree, it’s a challenge. Still, mockery is what you do in that strategic-culture.org link. And it’s fun. As opposed to attempting to perform any serious analysis of all that drivel.

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      3. Only two countries vote against UN resolution,,,>
        As German, I was confronted with the free speech argument in the earlest post 9/11 cacophoneous conspiracy universe.* As German, I was told. I was a slave to an artifically constructed narrative preventing me from speaking up on matters. What i missed was Free Speech.

        Irony alert: Not as proud a German as the defendents in Nuremberg, who introduced the Secret Protocol as evidence as to who really started WWII??
        https://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/03-30-46.asp

        *(the cacophony) Somewhat the Janus Face of the curiously streamlined media. Facts are sacred? Opinion?

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  2. On Putin’s taxi remark: Anybody who has even remote recollection of circumstances of the 90s Russia can empathise with the same notion, and he knows it well. I didn’t even see anybody who would publicly doubt his words with something more than tasteless sneer.

    In the situation where state power has collapsed completely and any national pride is treated worse than a pissed rag, it is to be expected that a person outside of narrow circle of good friends of democracy will be treated as a disposable assets. No doubt, a hero of previous article on this blog (had he achieved his views of Beautiful Russia of the Future) would have no pangs of conscience about his deputy taxiing in Moscow for pocket change while he sips exclusive wines somewhere in Courchevel.

    [i]Putin doesn’t ‘indulge a rosy view of Joseph Stalin’ (as I’ve detailed on various occasions), wasn’t even president during the 2008 war with Georgia, and, as far as I know, has never justified that war in terms of ‘reclaiming Slavic land and people’ (the South Ossetians, after all aren’t Slavs).[/i]
    At this point of “thought” of Western elites the thought process of Putin is as far removed from the insinuations of their mainstream media as they are removed from reality, read: cosmic distances. Whatever is that establishment trying to discern from reality or Russia’s policy is probably akin to studying astronomy about distant planets.

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  3. Bravo – much appreciated. Our MSM promulgates so much rot on world affairs. In this Orwellian world of perception management, I look to Irrussianality as a voice of sanity.

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    1. Ditto.

      Besides, I detect in Paul R’s normally mild-mannered style a sense of ‘being finally fed up-ism’ with the status quo. A Rousseau-ian cry in the wilderness.

      Don’t worry, professor, you’re not alone. it’s a Jungian thing. A communal fed up to the gills fest. Just think of yourself as one of the lead tugboats that can move mountainous freighters. So your engines overheat a bit. Not to worry.

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      1. . A Rousseau-ian cry in the wilderness.
        if you notice and have a second, I would be interested why Rousseau comes to mind here.

        Not least since admittedly I was somewhat puzzled by a blogger’s statement that: Rousseau should have been strangled in his cradle. 😉

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      2. To moon: Artistic license to loosely invoke Rousseau:

        Natural law vs Artificial law. Artificial law would be as an example ‘the rules-based international order’, which IMO are founded on the initial stages of ‘natural law’, that is the strong dictate to the weak, (might makes right), then adorned with sweet-smelling flourishes of ‘values’ for gravitas, which it itself violates as it pleases. The refined stages of ‘natural law’ allow the weak to strengthen to ultimately force the strong to a mutual co-existence. That’s my very loose interpretation (or invention) of the concept of ‘noble savage’. One who rises to the occasion of threat to enable an effective counter-threat and force it to the nobility of co-existence.

        Natural law is an imperfect process and in need of constant refinement and dialogue to reach it its final stages without resorting to war. My problem with ‘artificial law’ is that it’s usually devised as a false and one-sided alternative to the natural refinement and progression of ‘natural law’ into its final and more stable stage. It’s an artificial concoction that too often is devised to accomplish the exact opposite of what it claims to be its intent. A cynical take, I admit – but if the circumstances dictate the conclusion. So be it.

        Anyway, somehow I see in PaulR a propensity for giving fair regard to the positions of opposing sides in this ‘great game’ underfoot as a heartfelt attempt to move ‘natural law’ into its final stages, sans the warfare hopefully. A noble effort indeed. (with no reference to savage implied). I think it used to be called ‘diplomacy’ in some far away place and time.

        My apologies to all (including Rousseau) if I’m far off the mark with my scattergun meanderings above. Moon caught me a bit off-balance as I myself wasn’t sure exactly what I meant by a ‘Rousseau-ian cry in the wilderness’.

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      3. Moon caught me a bit off-balance as I myself wasn’t sure exactly what I meant by a ‘Rousseau-ian cry in the wilderness’.

        thanks a lot, I loved your meanderings, VC.

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  4. Putin’s claims are a bit confusing, as told. Did he actually drive a taxi or just think of driving a taxi, when Sobchak lost his election?

    That said, propaganda these days is becoming oh, so artless. I just browsed the BBC and found two sore thumbs glaring at me on page one. One Russian, one Chinese about how an ‘effeminate’ Chinese had been ridiculed (as if it were a unique Chinese occurrence and not a Lhasa Apso bites Chinaman story).

    But to return to the theme: “Putin is thereby indicating to everyone that the ‘loss of superpower status was not just abstract but personal.’”

    Black and whiteism at its best. As if there were no middle ground that Putin and Russia would seek between a Depression’s style therapeutic shock and Russian Imperial glory. No, it must be interpreted as a direct challenge to the West’s Imperial Glory du jour.

    De rigueur propaganda is so tiresome. At least it could introduce some clever nuances to its tired routine to hold one’s attention. If it were a Broadway play, it would have properly folded after two seasons.

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    1. Dog bites man stories are perfectly acceptable western journalism when referring to minor events in Russia or China. It’s a conscious exploitation of a reader’s spontaneous, subconscious metamorphosis to ‘rabid dog bites unsuspecting humanitarian’. It’s yet another subtle and frankly quite devious exploitation of journalism. The very best trial lawyers know this technique very well.

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  5. I would like to give his taxi remarks a spin to the positive, a spin that in my own simple observations of the political species at work holds at least as much water, if not gallons more.

    A Putin who actually lives up to the western picture painted of him (and peddled in a SoHo art gallery next to Hunter Biden’s seminal works I assume), would have managed to parlay his time in Sobchak’s administration to leap to new heights of that 90’s era level of wheeling dealing and influence peddling, not fret over how he was going to put bread on the table.

    That he did not (assuming he did not) to me speaks volumes. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a Frank Capra’s ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ story (was there ever any in real life?) but at least, some elements may appear where his foreign and domestic detractors insist on keeping them buried and far away from public view.

    How better to diffuse a Mr. Smith story than with a good Goldfinger story? It’s been in every would-be influencer’s bag of tricks since time immemorial.

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  6. Ha Ha. David Frum, our very own in house Goebellian jingle-maker.

    Fee Fi Fo Frum. I smell the blood of a tale weaver’s loom.

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    1. Wasn’t he also the one that came up with ‘freedom fries’, molecules of freedom’, ‘new american century’, rules-based international order’ and ‘remember the maine but forget the liberty’?

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  7. Another excellent article by Professor Robinson who clearly and rationally exposes the one sided interpretation by so called analysts and experts and which is then quoted in the Ottawa Citizen,Globe and Mail and other Canadian mainstream news outlets on the ongoing civil war in the Ukraine and the build-up of Russian forces along the border…..Only one interpretation is highlighted..all other views are ignored and the public is really only ever exposed to one narrative at the expense of putting things in a historical and geopolitical context…I very much enjoy reading these articles and wish they would get wider coverage in the Canadian media….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agreed. After the late Stephen F. Cohen, this blog has the most ‘Russianal’ coverage of Russia in the West. Keep it up.

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      1. Other great stuff out there. It’s mesmerizing to see John Batchelor carry on in one instance, with Cohen, A. Lieven and Copley, only to then do the stupid with the likes of Kissel, Rogin, Hoenlein and Berman.

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  8. If Putin actually had to drive a taxi to make ends meet, well, at least that is earning honest money. I previously saw a piece in which Putin’s Press Secretary Peskov admitted to a somewhat seamier experience in the horrible 1990’s: In order to make ends meet, he became a car thief. Seriously, I’m not making this up. If I recall, he admitted he used to travel all the way to Turkey to steal cars.

    Well, people do whatever they have to do, to survive. I don’t necessarily condemn neither Putin nor Peskov for doing whatever they had to do, to support their families. However, I would point out that they helped to bring this sh*tstorm upon themselves when they joined up with Yetsin’s treasonous and scurvaceous crew. They should have known better, than to plot to dismember the Soviet Union. Karma?
    I’m sorry, I am still bitter. Working on trying to gain a philosophical attitude, but it’s still hard to cope with such a gigantic loss, as what these people wrought.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “Пресс-секретарь президента РФ Дмитрий Песков рассказал, как в начале своей работы на госслужбе несколько раз перегонял автомобили из Турции.

        В интервью «Соловьев Live» на канале в YouTube представитель Кремля отметил, что начинал работу, когда еще не было существующих сегодня законов с ограничениями для госслужащих. «Да, я зашел (на госслужбу — ред.), когда не было. Еще в то время, работая в МИДе и на госслужбе, чем тогда только ни занимались. Зарплаты тогда были маленькие, и поэтому приходилось крутиться очень серьезно», — добавил он.”

        «Я машины гонял пару раз, сам за рулем, из Турции, Анкара-Москва. Можно было ехать вокруг — через Болгарию, Румынию, Молдавию, Украину и так далее, а можно было на пароме. Тогда дипломат имел раз в сколько-то месяцев освобождение от таможни на машину. И вот бизнес: покупаешь машину, которой 3-5 лет, пилишь на ней», — рассказал он.

        Перегонять:
        2. о транспорте — перемещать собственным ходом с одного места на другое [▲ 2] ◆ На ночь он всегда перегоняет машину со стоянки в гараж.

        What yalensis wrote:

        “I previously saw a piece in which Putin’s Press Secretary Peskov admitted to a somewhat seamier experience in the horrible 1990’s: In order to make ends meet, he became a car thief. Seriously, I’m not making this up. If I recall, he admitted he used to travel all the way to Turkey to steal cars.”

        Sad truth, yalensis, that over the years of your naturalization in the US, you’ve forgotten your mother tongue, and now can’t distinguish between «угонять» (carjack) and «перегонять» (transport the car from point “a” to point “b” by actually driving it), is very lamentable – but it’s you who should be crying over this undeniable fact.

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    1. The tragedy was not insomuch as the loss of the Soviet Union (it itself was far overextended and IMO unsustainable, both ethnologically and ideologically) but the soon to follow exploitation of the loss by western powers and most specifically NATO to nurture and further an aggressive stance toward the RF with its neighbors (after speaking to it with forked tongue for a few decades).

      Finlandization of the Baltic republics would have been the rational approach 20 years ago. That certain interested parties managed to turn the concept into a negative tells you all you need to know about the fundamental underpinnings of NATO as an aggressive institution. Nothing ‘defensive’ about it unless you’re willing to stretch the definition to ‘the best defense is a vibrant offense’, literally. That’s pure neoconthink and so, we are now where we are.

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  9. Putin has lived a real life to the extent that he has had to deal with real adversity. I believe that China’s Xi has had similar experiences during the Cultural Revolution.
    Western leaders know nothing of such things- they have learned that boot licking, keeping one’s head down and conformism are the essentials. That is why they find it so easy to jeer at the electorates which they purport Zelensky style to serve. While Putin was preparing to drive a taxi to earn a crust, they were cheering those of his colleagues who saw the opportunity to make fortunes while the law was too weak to protect their victims.

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    1. I can’t tell exactly about the scheme Peskov was involved in, obviously, but a popular scheme in the “car importing” business worked like this: find a car owner in Germany and buy his used, insured car for not so much of cash, drive that car to Russia; the former owner would after some delay (enough for the car to cross German-Polish border) file a car theft complaint to the police, but since nothing happens instantly, Polish border guard would not stop it crossing the Polish-Russian border. And once it in Russia, you can with right connections and some money register it as a completely legally imported car.
      Is it car theft? Strictly speaking, it’s not, more like insurance fraud, right? Almost completely legal, you can even describe it as a completely legitimate business if you omit some details.

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      1. Yeah, what Peskov did may not have been strictly illegal, but it was definitely dubious:

        Тогда дипломат имел раз в сколько-то месяцев освобождение от таможни на машину. И вот бизнес: покупаешь машину, которой 3-5 лет, пилишь на ней», — рассказал он.

        As a diplomat Peskov had the right to bring a car into the country without paying a tariff for it, so he was able to take advantage of that to make some extra cash. I might have misspoken when I joked that Peskov was a “car thief”, it was probably more like insurance fraud (also tax fraud, as in not paying tariffs, like pretending the car was for his personal use, etc.)

        The thing is, I wasn’t even trying to slime Peskov when I wrote that, nor even condemning him, just making a point about how tough the 90’s were, and people had to do whatever they had to do to survive.

        Lyttenburgh got me riled up because he will use literally anything I write, in order to attack me. He’s that kind of shameless bully, he thinks it is his mission in life to attack and “unmask” anybody he doesn’t like, and impute bad motives to his enemies, he’s just, attack attack attack. And mostly ad hominems, as well. I think a lot of people on this forum know the root cause of the falling-out between myself and Lyttenburgh, and why he attacks me:

        It’s because I don’t like Stalin. So he, as a loyal Stalinst, had to declare me an enemy of people and now attributes bad motives to me. Besides worshipping Stalin, Lyttenburg also supports the current Putin government (which I find to be something of a contradiction, since Putin is anti-Communist). That is why, I reckon, he became offended thinking that I was attacking Peskov. In reality, I rather like Peskov. Readers can refer to an older post I wrote on my blog , in which I defended Peskov and his wife against Westie detractors.

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      2. Well, I remember very well those many stories from the earky 90’s of Russians (and Ukrainians) travelling to Germany to buy used cars in Western Europe and driving them back to their turf. It was an industry. (in the East it was Japanese cars). There was one journalist’s expose I remember on Polish highway bandits laying in wait to ‘expropriate’ these cars on route. Could there have been among them those stolen on demand in Germany? Of course.

        In fact, they’d have had a much better chance of making it to Russia than weekend ‘independent entrepreneurs’ though, since unless working together, Polish mafia tries to keep a wide margin from their Russian counterparts, even on their own territory.

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      3. Lyttenburgh got me riled up because he will use literally anything I write, in order to attack me.
        Her main target seems to be Paul. 😉

        It’s because I don’t like Stalin. So he, as a loyal Stalinst, had to declare me an enemy of people and now attributes bad motives to me. Besides worshipping Stalin, Lyttenburg also supports the current Putin government (which I find to be something of a contradiction, since Putin is anti-Communist)

        Yep contradictions and paradoxes everywhere, seems to be one of my hobbyhorses too. (S)he also likes Ramzan Kadyrov, I realized during our earliest encounters. Could that help to clarify the Stalin/Putin-the-non-communist contradiction or paradox?

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      4. Hi, moon, that is a perceptive remark about Lyt’s political paradoxes. I can sort of see a thread that would link support for Stalin, Putin, and Kadyrov, the thread being Russian statehood. What does not fit at all is his defense of the Taliban, that would have to remain an unsolved mystery.

        And yes, I agree that Lyt’s main target (on this blog) is the Professor himself. Prof, although I don’t share his core beliefs, appears to be an authentic character and genuinely benevolent towards Russia. For which he has to buck the trend of his own class and milieu, so I respect that. Lyt, on the other hand, appears to see, as his mission of a Super-Patriot Troll, to “unmask” the Professor.

        And although I don’t want to ascribe too much importance to myself, some commenters may not be aware that Lyt and I shared a previous bond of online “friendship”, if one could call it that. He even wrote some posts on my blog, back in the day. And I had to spend countless hours working my poor fingers to the bone, editing his amorphous screeds into some kind of structure; and flipping the “the”s and “a”s of his broken English. Hence, my feelings of sadness and betrayal when this Patriotic Catfish unceremoniously dumped me (because of the Stalin issue), and then we became Arch-enemies, and he morphed into my Nemesis.

        Sad, sad. But in the final analysis, Tankies always make for bad friends, except to other Tankies. And then they probably end up fighting amongst themselves over who is the better Tankie, and then they start playing the “NKVD Firing Squad” game, and gunning each other down eventually, I reckon.

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      5. Sad, sad. But in the final analysis, Tankies always make for bad friends, except to other Tankies. … then they start playing the “NKVD Firing Squad” game, and gunning each other down eventually, I reckon.

        Semiotically, there would have been a multitude of ways to describe how Peskov made ends meet via an advantage of his office. There is also a huge gray (unknown) context. After all, he must not necessarily have been aware of the seller’s intent. I am not completely sure a car owner would automatically be recompensed for a stolen car via a car insurance over here. … Even doubt it. Turkey??? And then, there is the unknown intent of your source.

        Concerning Lytt fact is s/he is on a mission to unmask. On such a mission, one may lose sight of a more complex context.

        Personally, I try to avoid such ultimately futile tit-for-that struggles, as much as I can, at least. 😉

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    2. Response to Simply Curious:
      No, I am not purposely spreading disinformation.
      My readers know that if I make a mistake or mis-state something, then I am always ready to correct it.

      In stark contrast to your other atavar…

      🙂

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    3. ” I might have misspoken when I joked that Peskov was a “car thief””

      >”might have misspoken”
      >”joked”

      Once again, for everyone’s enjoyment, yalensis original quote:

      “I previously saw a piece in which Putin’s Press Secretary Peskov admitted to a somewhat seamier experience in the horrible 1990’s: In order to make ends meet, he became a car thief. Seriously, I’m not making this up. If I recall, he admitted he used to travel all the way to Turkey to steal cars.”

      And now your kind of defense is just…

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      1. Ah yes, Lyt, but you doubted the entire story and said I was making it up!
        To quote your silly and snide comment:
        “U-huh. Suuuure. We all believe you, Yalensis!”

        You could have written something more constructive, like, say, “Well, it’s true he went to Turkey to move cars, but it was more of an insurance fraud than an actual theft…” That clarification was left to other, more honest, commenters.

        The fact is, you simply had not heard of this incident prior to my mentioning it. You jumped to the conclusion I was just making up lies and decided you must be the valiant Knight to defend Peskov’s reputation.

        And then I nailed you by posting a link to back up my factual claim. This must have thrown you for a loop, so you scrambled to poke through the article and try to find things to nitpick about, like a different verb prefix. Even then you couldn’t respond honestly with an honest discussion and a clarification. Being the dishonest and nasty-minded troll that you are, you resorted to your usual ad hominems (like alluding to my place of residence as somehow disqualifying me to comment on anything to do with the Russian government, of which you have designated yourself the Super Patriot); also nitpicking on trivialities. All just part of your modus operandi to troll and attack other people. Your overall aim is to obscure rather than clarify. And to attack and “unmask” anybody who does not share your core ideology of Stalin-worship.

        You, Lyttenburgh, are the master of the attack-dog cheap shot and the innuendo. What’s even more pathetic is that you felt the need to create other troll cut-out accounts to make it seem like you have supporters. I understand why you have your catfish clones only comment with a couple of sentences at a pop. Any more, and one could easily compare their “literary style” of broken English to yours – LOL!
        🙂

        Like

      2. “The fact is, you simply had not heard of this incident prior to my mentioning it”

        Prove it.

        “And then I nailed you by posting a link to back up my factual claim.”

        Once again, I quote your own OP:

        “I previously saw a piece in which Putin’s Press Secretary Peskov admitted to a somewhat seamier experience in the horrible 1990’s: In order to make ends meet, he became a car thief. Seriously, I’m not making this up. If I recall, he admitted he used to travel all the way to Turkey to steal cars.”

        That was your “factual” claim.

        Meanwhile, in the article you provided us with, Peskov says:

        “«Я машины гонял пару раз, сам за рулем, из Турции, Анкара-Москва. Можно было ехать вокруг — через Болгарию, Румынию, Молдавию, Украину и так далее, а можно было на пароме. Тогда дипломат имел раз в сколько-то месяцев освобождение от таможни на машину. И вот бизнес: покупаешь машину, которой 3-5 лет, пилишь на ней», — рассказал он.”

        As a thought experiment, imagine someone making a “factual claim”, that: “Yalensis lives and works in America. In his free time he kills, dismembers and then eats people”. When confronted with the demand for the proof, that someone would respond with a link to your opera-themed blogpost, and then try to BS this whole thing as “mistake and a joke”, while insisting, that the core of the “factual claim” is true – yalensis lives and works in America!

        Btw, FYI. “Joke” is a deliberate, intended action. “Mistake” is something happening unintentionally. When you write:

        ”I might have misspoken when I joked that Peskov was a “car thief””

        You are either:

        a) Lying
        b) Schizophrenic.

        Honestly, yalensis, if you have one of these fashionable in the West psychic conditions, like ADHD or something more on the… spectre… then it explains your behaviour for the last year. There is no fault in you here and I should no longer apply the same level of criticism as I apply to a normal person. I will just pity you, like I pity all such people with specific conditions. And, surely, I will forgive you your unhinged rants, given how little control can you exercise over your own actions.

        If, OTOH, you are a completely normal person in total control over your actions and mental faculties, well… This whole thing of how you are digging yourself deeper and deeper with each comment, instead of admitting to be either wrong from the start, or deliberately lying (did you post that link without reading?). Honestly, yalensis, by now you are approaching the level of “reputation defense” of a certain so-called Russian so-called “satiricist” Sean Dyrovitch, when the video of him and a mattress made headlines in Russia and RuNet still.

        Like

      3. “What’s even more pathetic is that you felt the need to create other troll cut-out accounts to make it seem like you have supporters. I understand why you have your catfish clones only comment with a couple of sentences at a pop.”

        That’s a grave accusation, yalensis. That’s why I commenting on it separately.

        I’d like you to show which are these “troll accounts” that you accuse me of using here. Plus proof that connects me to them, of course. As for me, I consider “sock-puppet accounts” (that’s the proper terminology, yalensis) to be below my dignity to employ.

        I’d also like to address Maestro Robinson, the owner and proprietor of this very blog and beseech him to stamp out ruthlessly every and all “troll” and/or “catfish clone” accounts in his comment sections. We know he is perfectly capable and fine with deleting messages of the unsuitable manner.

        Like

      4. Yalensis is backpedaling so fast, I’m tempted to hook a generator to his pedals and sell electricity to the EU.

        How do you know, Dear Sir, that 1) Peskov was even in government at the time. It was, after all, 25-30 years ago. and 2) that insurance fraud was involved. Were ALL those cars being stolen from or scammed for insurance by their owners? Were there NO legitimate transactions involved?

        I spent a year, more as a favor than anything else, in the late 90’s shipping used cars bought at auction in the US to a Latvian/Russian partnership for final Russian destination that btw: at my insistence paid the auction house directly, rather than run their cash through me. Were those cars all a consequence of insurance fraud or theft? Some very well might have been but you’d have to ask Copart about that.

        So, Dear Yalensis. How about that energy deal? You back pedal and I’ll handle the transmission lines. Deal? We’ll be rich in no time.

        Like

      5. Hello, Mondo, whoever you are.
        Well, I think I can answer Question #1 about Peskov being in the government. In his interview he specifically mentions that government salaries were very small during those years, which is why he had to moonlight in other endeavours, which included buying and selling. He also mentions that he was able to use his credentials as a diplomat in order to bring a car into Russia (every few months or so) without having to pay an import tax on it. From that, I think one can deduce that he worked for the government.

        As for insurance fraud, no, you’re right, Peskov doesn’t say that, and there is no evidence that any theft or insurance fraud was involved. I already clarified that after re-watching the Soloviev interview. I wouldn’t call it “back-pedaling”. As a blogger, I would call it an editorial correction. Which happens sometimes. Of course, I am sure that worthy Gentlemen such as Yourself, have never misspoken or ever had to correct anything you said or wrote. Being so perfect and everything…

        Like

  10. yalensis,

    You write that ‘Lyttenburgh’ – who has never given his real name, or attempted to provide a full and accurate account of how his forebears, and he himself, ‘navigated through’ the disasters of twentieth-century history, as distinct from some ‘prolier-than-though’, ‘get my kids-out-of-the-orphanage’ drivel – ‘appears to be an authentic character and genuinely benevolent towards Russia.’

    I have seen enough of people playing ‘double games’, not to be excessively impressed by what anyone ‘appears to be.’

    It has become very clear to me, reading the comments that ‘Lytt’ has made, both here and on Colonel Lang’s blogs, which have, over the years, been my own principal ‘outlet’, on the internet, that ‘objectively’ – as Marxists used to say, and perhaps still do – his activities are harmful to Russia.

    Accordingly, although I still think it unlikely, on the whole, the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps he belongs to the ‘Azef Battalion.’

    Come on ‘Lytt’. You asked me about my family history, and I have tried to give you a reasonably full and accurate account. If you want further clarifications, I am happy to oblige.

    Tell us more, about the history of your family, and you own – including, who you are employed by, at the present time.

    I have nothing to hide. Do you?

    Like

    1. “Accordingly, although I still think it unlikely, on the whole, the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps he belongs to the ‘Azef Battalion.’”

      Never heard of such military formation. Care to enLYTTEN us all as to its composition, structure, tasks and such stuff?

      “Come on ‘Lytt’. You asked me about my family history, and I have tried to give you a reasonably full and accurate account. If you want further clarifications, I am happy to oblige.”

      I don’t. You’ve already said everything I needed to know.

      “Tell us more, about the history of your family, and you own – including, who you are employed by, at the present time.”

      […]
      […]
      […]

      This is Internet. For sure, I won’t. I’m not and imbecile.

      “I have seen enough of people playing ‘double games’, not to be excessively impressed by what anyone ‘appears to be.’”

      Care to elaborate here a bit?

      “his activities are harmful to Russia.”

      Such as?

      I’m avaiting honest and comprehensive answer, Mr. Habbakkuk! Surely, a person of your station won’t just limit himself to innuendos!

      Like

      1. “Lyttenburgh boasts he is bringing “enlightenment” yet a Russian “Ho Chi Minh” he is definitely not.”

        Where am I “boasting” to bring “enlightenment”? Where am I claiming to be something akin to “a Russian Ho Chi Minh?

        “If one wasn’t so aware of his deliberately provocative defence of Stalin”

        What is “deliberately provocative” in what you call “defence of Stalin”? Calling out lies, stereotypes and falsehoods? Appealing to the facts? Please, tell us! After all, you are yet another “victim of Lyttenburghian repressions”.

        Like

      2. Lytt,

        I had assumed that, with your deep family roots in Russian revolutionary politics, the phrase ‘Black as Azef’ would mean something to you.

        What looks to be a reliable account of the figure to whom I was referring – should you need to refresh your memory – was posted on the ‘Russia Beyond’ site back in July 2017. An extract:

        ‘The depth of Azef’s deception made a deep impression on everyone in the Russian Empire, no matter whether they supported the government or the revolutionaries. His very name became a symbol of treachery and evil for decades. For instance, Vladimir Mayakovsky in his poem, A Cloud in Trousers (1915), when describing the darkness of a grim starless night, called it “black as Azef.” Mark Aldanov, a writer who wrote an article about Azef, said that he was “something between a man and a python.”’

        (https://www.rbth.com/politics_and_society/2017/07/31/black-as-azef-the-story-of-russias-most-notorious-double-agent_814410 .)

        I had not known that he was eventually ‘unmasked’ by Vladimir Burtsev, who much later played an important role in exposing the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as a forgery, at the Berne Trial in 1933-5.

        Like

      3. “I had assumed that, with your deep family roots in Russian revolutionary politics”

        Where did I said that my family had “deep roots in Russian revolutionary politics”? Members of my family fought for the Reds in the Civil War, yes. They were not revolutionaries prior to that. They were peasants. You know, category of the people whom you patronizingly refered to in your SST comments as “the muzhiks”.

        I know who was Yevno Fischelivich Azef. I was asking about an alleged battalion named after him, its composition, structure, tasks and such stuff. You also claim that I belong to it. I’d ask for a proof, but, so far, you didn’t provide us with the evidence that such formation exists in the first place.

        I also reiterate my previous questions to you, which you chose to ignore:

        – Will you elaborate on your allegation that I’m persuing some kind of “double game”?

        – You alleged that my “activities are harmful to Russia”? How? Which ones? Proof?

        Like

      4. Lytt,

        You write:

        ‘They were peasants. You know, category of the people whom you patronizingly refered to in your SST comments as “the muzhiks”.’

        Unfortunately, I only have drafts of comments I posted on SST back to 2013 on file on this computer. Searching for the term ‘muzhik’, I can find a grand total of two references.

        I am happy to quote both to you, but a reply to Colonel Lang in the course of the discussion of the ‘Arab Spring’ and the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, with particular reference to Egypt, in July 2013, may make my point.

        He had written: “If the panoply of political forces who have now been restored to power cannot control them then they deserve to be ruled by the likes of the MB.”

        I responded: ‘As I am a complete ignoramus about Egypt, I hesitate to comment.

        ‘However, I do find myself wondering whether this judgment might not be a bit harsh.

        ‘Reasonable people, attempting to find a way out of the dead end into which our fatuous enthusiasm for promoting “democracy” has helped lead them might find themselves faced with the bleakest of choices.

        ‘Some kind of middle way between brutal repression which ends up being counter-productive, and an attempt to co-opt the uncooptable, may be very difficult to find.

        ‘As often, this reminds me of the dilemmas faced by late Tsarist statemen I much admire – like Peter Stolypin and Peter Durnovo.

        ‘The route of repression meant that they alienated the liberal intelligentsia – without whose support effective “modernisation” was made much more difficult, as they included such a large proportion of those with the skills and mentality required to develop a “modern” economy and society.

        ‘Appeasement of the liberal intelligentsia, with their enthusiasm for Western ideas of democracy, was however inherently likely to to open the floodgates to a social revolution. Once one said that Westernised intellectuals were entitled to the vote, how could one say that peasants who wanted an expropriation of the landowners were not so entitled?

        ‘Moreover, very much of the peasantry regarded the Westernised intelligentsia – both its conservative and liberal elements – as fundamentally culturally alien. In that respect, Stalin was not Lenin’s heir, but his antithesis.

        ‘The original Bolsheviks were, in large measure, the extreme left-wing of the Westernised intelligentsia. It was precisely this fact which made it so easy for Stalin, who rose to power in large measure as the representative of the “muzhik-military” elite created by the revolution and civil war, to destroy them.

        ‘The route chosen by figures like Stolypin and Durnovo involved extremely brutal repression. I do not know how, if I had had to face the choices faced by “Westernised” Russians in the years leading up to 1917, I would have chosen. I am thankful never to have been put into the that position.

        ‘Whether, had circumstances been more favourable, the savage – but limited – repression they advocated could have avoided the apocalypse of destruction which Stalin unleashed, remains of course an unanswerable question.’

        Unless you can produce some evidence to defend your claim that I referred ‘patronisingly to people like your – alleged – ancestors as ‘muzhiks’, I am obviously going to suspect that you are deliberately misrepresenting what I have written.

        Of course I did not mean a literal ‘Azef Battalion.’ I was making a – jesting – reference to the fact that, as I have found from long experience, people who on the rather few ‘blogs’ which provide intelligent criticism of post-Cold War Western policy, repeatedly ‘throw spanners in the works’ often turn out to have identities and agendas rather different to those they claim.

        As to whether your are such a case, I retain an open mind. However, given that the only thing you are prepared to tell me about yourself and your family is that you had some relatives who were ‘peasants’ – the term I normally use in discussions of these matters, as you can see from the comment I have quoted – who fought for the ‘Reds’, I can see no reason to be confident that you are who you profess to be.

        Like

      5. [Leaving aside typically Trotskyke rant “Stalin was not Lenin’s heir” and “Bolsheviks were a CONSPIRACY of the radical intelligentsia that FOOLED naïve muzhiks”]

        “Stalin, who rose to power in large measure as the representative of the “muzhik-military” elite”

        Well, thank you! You provide your own quotes! This is what I’m talking about – patronizing “muzhik-military elite”.

        “Unless you can produce some evidence to defend your claim that I referred ‘patronisingly to people like your – alleged – ancestors as ‘muzhiks’, I am obviously going to suspect that you are deliberately misrepresenting what I have written.”

        The very use of the term “muzhik” in XXI century as a catch all term for the Russian peasants in the mouth of the foreigner is, at the very least, a patronizing epithet, or an elitist, class-suprematist slur at worst. You are not quoting actual documents, you are using a well established term (what the hell is “muzhik-military elite”?!), you are showing off – deliberately.

        But perhaps I pay attention only to something that is closer at home, seeing an anomaly in your seeming well-meaning and reasonable writings. Perhaps, this is not an anomaly at all and you does not single out Russian peasants – for there are other comments by you, when you use terms “negroes” and “celestials”. After all, these are all “fine old-fashioned terms”, and you are a Gentleman of a Certain Age and Background ™.

        “As to whether your are such a case, I retain an open mind.”

        Onus to proof that is entirely on you. Either give your evidence, or shut up.

        Like

      6. who much later played an important role in exposing the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ as a forgery, at the Berne Trial in 1933-5.

        The Burcev files in Moscow, if I recall correctly, are among the multitude of documents Michael Hagemeister studied concerning the Berne Trials. His study is highly complex. No one has ever before taken that close a look at matters. But in a nutshell, it feels Burcev supported the plaintiff’s trial strategy that the Okhrana was behind of forging the Protocols. Ultimately part of a colorful countertale to the Nazis own one. There is some evidence that that Okhrana did not. Not least Cesare G. De Michelis study, among a multitude of works by Hagemeister. Up to his extensive documentation of the Bern Trials.

        https://www.chronos-verlag.ch/node/20965

        Like

      7. Lytt,

        ‘Perhaps, this is not an anomaly at all and you does not single out Russian peasants – for there are other comments by you, when you use terms “negroes” and “celestials”.’

        Actually, I can be 100% certain that there are no comments by me whatsoever that use the term ‘celestials’ – as I do not even know what it is supposed to mean. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

        I cannot recall comments in which I have referred to ‘negroes’ – particularly as I would normally use the term ‘black’, just as I would use the term ‘peasant’ for those you claim were your relatives.

        As to the significance of the remarks of my mine for which you struggle to find a compromising significance, perhaps it is worth quoting from the only other occasion I can identify – so far at least – on which I used the term ‘muzhik’ on ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’, which was in a discussion in 2015:

        ‘The Bolshevik Revolution was a case of what Theodor von Laue called ‘anti-Western Westernization.’ Part of the history of the Red Army involved what the philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev called a “muzhiko-military’” elite being taught strategic concepts emerging out of the German “General Staff” tradition by some extremely able former Tsarist General Staff officers, of whom one of the most notable was Alexander Svechin.

        ‘What commonly resulted was extremely sophisticated and rigorous technical military analysis, incorporated in crude interpretations of international politics which became hard to challenge, partly as a result of Marxism-Leninism being drafted in to perform the legitimising functions traditionally performed by Orthodox religion. Particularly given that while figures like Svechin were extremely knowledgeable about the outside world, most of their pupils, however able, were simply ignorant, this made for erratic interpretations.’

        This may at least begin to provide you with some understanding of the fact that I simply would not dream of speaking ‘patronisingly’, about, for example, Vasily Chuikov (I can write further about this, if you are interested – but then, you do not seem to be interested in very much.)

        Whether – having read a certain amount of what I have written on ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ over the years – you are genuinely too stupid to understand some of the compexities of my views of modern Russian, and more generally European, history, or whether you are simply ‘playing dumb’, I cannot – yet – judge.

        I also do not know whether your apparent ignorance of some of the complexities of your own President’s views are genuine, or feigned.

        As you can see from the remarks I have just quoted, when I used the term ‘muzhik-military’ in the comment I reproduced in my initial response to you, I left out an ‘o’ – perhaps obscuring the fact that I was drawing on, and alluding to, Berdyaev. In our recent exchanges, I have been at pains to point out that, in his own attempts to explain the complexities of his views on modern Russian, and European, and indeed global, history, Vladimir Putin has repeatedly alluded to that figure.

        He has also drawn rather heavily, as Paul has repeatedly brought out, on Ivan Ilyin.

        If I recall right – and I simply do not have the time to spend on reading comments of yours which are not directed at me personally – you spent a good deal of effort, not long ago, identifying ‘proof texts’ of Ilyin discussing Mussolini, to suggest he was a thoroughly discreditable figure.

        You refer to my ‘seeming well-meaning and reasonable writings.’ Insofar as this meant to suggest I have ‘hidden agendas’, the fraudulence of your position is clearly established by the way that you repeatedly distort what I have written.

        As to your own position, as you clearly profess to regard to the key figures your President has acknowledged as shaping influences as deeply ‘ideological anathema’, I am left with a choice of interpretations.

        One possibility is that ‘yalensis’ – who I suspect of being much more ‘well meaning’ than I would lay any claims to be, and perhaps inadequately suspicious – is right, and you are one of the few remaining ‘Tankies.’ In that case, however, a question has to arise, as to whether you are too stupid to realise that Putin is – to hark back to your remark about Fiona Hill – a ‘class traitor’, or whether you are fully aware of this, and are, most probably, conspiring against him ‘behind his back.’

        But then – not so surprisingly, I think you may well agree – a suspicion ‘kicks in’ that ‘yalensis’ may be too ‘well meaning and reasonable’.

        Your reading of Ilyin is clearly essentially identical to that of many of those, in the West, who most hate Putin – an obvious example being Timothy Snyder.

        So, precisely the fact that I have come round – to a substantial extent since I posted the 2013 comments you appear determined to misinterpret – to realising that judged by a ‘court of history’. Stalin could make a very much stronger case than I would once have been prepared to concede, makes me wonder whether the ‘Tankie’ interpretation could be wrong.

        And that is why I see no reason to discount the possibility that you could belong to something that could be called an ‘Azef Battalion.’

        Like

      8. ” Part of the history of the Red Army involved what the philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev called a “muzhiko-military’” elite being taught strategic concepts emerging out of the German “General Staff” tradition by some extremely able former Tsarist General Staff officers, of whom one of the most notable was Alexander Svechin.”

        You are quoting right-wing philosopher (and a member of the exploitive class, who was contemptuous of the “lowborn”) approvoingly. You are appropriating his non-scientific term for your own use as a positive argument.

        You could have expressed your point differently. But, hey – who are those Russian peasants for you? There is no Western PC cancel brigade to smack you for dissing them and their descendants as being knucle-dragging primitives in need of “uplifiting” by a bunch of racially socially and ethnically better Proper Gentleman. Cue the insert of the “German General Staff Tradition”.

        “you are genuinely too stupid to understand some of the compexities of my views of modern Russian”

        My-my! Always a gentleman, aren’t you?

        “If I recall right – and I simply do not have the time to spend on reading comments of yours which are not directed at me personally – you spent a good deal of effort, not long ago, identifying ‘proof texts’ of Ilyin discussing Mussolini, to suggest he was a thoroughly discreditable figure.

        […]

        Your reading of Ilyin is clearly essentially identical to that of many of those, in the West, who most hate Putin – an obvious example being Timothy Snyder.”

        Ivan Ilyin wrote those things – yes or no? I provided everyone with the quotes – not “the reading”.

        ” Insofar as this meant to suggest I have ‘hidden agendas’, the fraudulence of your position is clearly established by the way that you repeatedly distort what I have written.”

        Pot – meet kettle.

        “One possibility is that ‘yalensis’ – who I suspect of being much more ‘well meaning’ than I would lay any claims to be, and perhaps inadequately suspicious – is right, and you are one of the few remaining ‘Tankies.’”

        Fun fact – Western and pro-Western regimes employed tanks against civilians more often, than the ones your side calls “tankies”. Why, it was (as it’s often the case) the British who pioneered their use – back in early 1919.

        That’s not counting all the instances of using aviation against the civilians or the charming practice of “giving a helicopter ride” to various undesirables. Truly, an epitome of the Western engineering progress!

        As for the “few” – I’m Russian, you, tit. My views are rather typical and even moderate by local standards.

        “and are, most probably, conspiring against him ‘behind his back.’”

        Quick, Mr. Habakkuk – do your patriotic duty and report me!

        You also fail to provide any proof as to the numerous accusations you’ve levied against me. Nothing. At all. Neither did you deem it fitting your station to answer my previous questions.

        Seeing as you still riding your “could be” high horse, I consider myself obliged to respond in kind. You, Mr. Habakkuk, being a Brit of a Certain Age, Certain Background and, therefore, Certain Political Views, are just common, ordinary bitter right-winger. When the push comes to shove in your charming Isles, you’d side with the outright fascists and feel good about it. After all, they are not your enemies – commies are. Hell, you’d even clap at seeing them given “helicopter rides”.

        Like

    2. “His activities are harmful to Russia”- yes, this is the sad part. Lyttenburgh boasts he is bringing “enlightenment” yet a Russian “Ho Chi Minh” he is definitely not. If one wasn’t so aware of his deliberately provocative defence of Stalin one might learn something from him- especially if he were to cut out the vitriol and then write half as much.

      Also, seasons greetings to Paul, and best wishes for 2022. Your blog provides a indispensable resource to those of us who need a reference that encourages others to question their anti-Russian paradigm.

      Like

      1. “Lyttenburgh boasts he is bringing “enlightenment” yet a Russian “Ho Chi Minh” he is definitely not.”

        Where am I “boasting” to bring “enlightenment”? Where am I claiming to be something akin to “a Russian Ho Chi Minh?

        “If one wasn’t so aware of his deliberately provocative defence of Stalin”

        What is “deliberately provocative” in what you call “defence of Stalin”? Calling out lies, stereotypes and falsehoods? Appealing to the facts? Please, tell us! After all, you are yet another “victim of Lyttenburghian repressions”.

        P.S. I’m glad that a diverse cast of commenters decided to participate in this strawmanning targeting yours truly. Yet, despite the urge to express their dissatisfaction with my sinful self, none of them really addressed the factual matter I’ve been talking about – that userperson yalensis communicated a falsehood right here in this comment section.

        Pro tip. Next time userperson yalensis gonna write: “Seriously, I’m not making this up”, it actually means that:

        a) Yalensis is making this up
        b) Yalensis is committing a “mistake”, due to his faulty memory.

        Writing ‘nu-huh!’ style comments decrying my commenting style won’t change these facts.

        Like

    3. Hi, david, slight factual correction: When I wrote that sentence about “appears to be an authentic character and genuinely benevolent towards Russia”, I wasn’t actually talking about Lytt, I was talking about the Professor. (the host of this blog). That was in reply to moon who had noticed that Lytt frequently attacks the prof and impunes his motives, so I just wanted to clarify my own position in re the Prof, namely, that although he and I come from different ideological spheres, I believe he is sincere and respect his intentions. And I also think he is a reasonable historian and not a Russophobe.

      Just wanted to clarify that one point, I know it gets very confusing when everybody is shouting at each other!
      🙂

      P.S. that is very interesting illusion about Azef, I had not heard that story nor put that together myself, despite being a Mayakovsky fan.

      🙂

      Like

  11. Hooboy! here we go again, this comment is in response to Lyt’s latest angry screed, in which he accuses me of being a lying schizophrenic. So, one more time, a few points in my own defense:

    1.) When I wrote that original comment about Peskov, the main point I was trying to make was: See how horrible the 90’s were, it was such a horrible thing that the Soviet Union fell apart, Putin himself had to dry a taxi, but Peskov did one even better: he went to Turkey to steal cars. When I wrote that,

    2.) I was repeating something from memory, having read that story somewhere in the newspaper a few weeks or monghts back, you know how sometimes when you are commenting you just get lazy and write, “I remembering reading somewhere…”

    3.) I wrote it with no malice towards Mr. Peskov, whom in fact I quite like, as I proved by linking that old post of mine, in which I defended Peskov and his wife from their detractors.

    Of course I can’t prove it, but I would absolutely bet money that Lyt had not been aware of the Soloviev interview and thought I was just making up of whole cloth, so he launched his attack on me. He has been waiting to ambush me for something ever since that acerbic exchange we had about Permanent Revolution. Now he saw his opportunity.

    4.) When Lyt attacked I was, like, “damn, he accuses me of lying, now I gotta find that link.” So I found some link corroborating my assertion. Which is good exercise, by the way, I should have posted a link with my comment instead of getting so lazy.

    5.) The link I posted sort of proved most of what I wrote, but was ambiguous about whether Peskov was literally stealing cars, or just engaged in some dubious scheme. Not being familiar with shady automotive schemes, I had just assumed these gangs were just hijacking them from lots, or whatever. Here is my own translation of Peskov’s quote from the piece, and again, I am not even 100% sure what this scheme involved:


    “«Я машины гонял пару раз, сам за рулем, из Турции, Анкара-Москва. Можно было ехать вокруг — через Болгарию, Румынию, Молдавию, Украину и так далее, а можно было на пароме. Тогда дипломат имел раз в сколько-то месяцев освобождение от таможни на машину. И вот бизнес: покупаешь машину, которой 3-5 лет, пилишь на ней», — рассказал он.”

    TRANSLATION
    Two times I took off with cars, myself behind the wheel, from Turkey. Ankara to Moscow. One could take a roundabout route, via Bulgaria, Romania, Moldavia, Ukraine, and so on; or one could load them on a boat. During that time a diplomat had the right, during certain months to bring a car in without paying a tariff. And here is how the business worked: you purchase a car, and you can drive it for 3-5 years.

    [Again, I am not exactly sure how this scheme works to which Mr. Peskov is alluding. But all of that was back in the 90’s, I’m sure it doesn’t happen any more. Peskov himself was making the point that times were so tough that he had to do, whatever this was.]

    Like

    1. “3.) I wrote it with no malice towards Mr. Peskov, whom in fact I quite like, as I proved by linking that old post of mine, in which I defended Peskov and his wife from their detractors.”

      4.) When Lyt attacked I was, like, “damn, he accuses me of lying, now I gotta find that link.” So I found some link corroborating my assertion. Which is good exercise, by the way, I should have posted a link with my comment instead of getting so lazy.”

      Did you read the article which you linked as a “proof” to your “factual”, “serious” claim? It says nothing about “stealing“. Its content doesn’t make anyone assume that there was carjacking involved – Peskov says that he *bought* these cars.

      You posted a proof of your own disinformation, you understand that? No matter how you then attempted to defend yourself (it was pathetic) do you admit to be wrong? Or you want to end up like Sean Dyrovich reputation-wise?

      No one – NO ONE – would have said a word, if you avoided claims “seriously, I’m not making this up!” claim in the original comment, immediately followed by your posting of the link, without claifying, that article says nothing about criminal activity you accuse Peskov of commiting. Too prideful to admit your foul up, yalensis? Should we expect more of the same from you in the future?

      Like

      1. My Darling Lyttenburgh:

        If I was the deliberate liar like you claim, then I would not have found the link and even translated it, my purpose being to provide clarification to the readers of this forum, as well as explaining how this polemic came to be, including the root cause of the conflict between the two of us (which has nothing to do with Peskov).

        See, as a blogger myself, whenever challenged on a factual point, I always try to clear it up and will readily admit to factual mistakes, if brought to my attention. Polite people without an ax to grind will generally bring this up in a more polished manner, like, “Well, you might have been mistaken about this being a criminal activity…” And then we can discuss it in a civilized manner, clear up the discrepancies of translation, and then come to a logical conclusion. But no, you’re just a rabid dog who attacks at full hilt and goes right for the throat: “You’re either a LIAR (Door #1) or a SCHIZOPRENIC (Door #2)!” You can’t conceive there might be a Door #3, e.g., Honest mistake due to casual skimming of interview, or whatever. In your dark Paranoid world there is no such thing as another person making an honest mistake and then attempting to clarify. That goes against all your training in the Stalin School of Falsification, of which you must be the Star Graduate. Which schooling consists of: Falsify, Deny, Impute Bad Motives, and, when all else fails, Nit-Pick! And when even Nit-Picking fails, then just grab a machine gun, point it at the person you don’t like, and just go at it.

        Be that as it may, it does seem, on more careful reading, that Mr. Peskov did not admit to anything more than driving all the way to Turkey to buy a couple of cars (for a cheaper price?) and then used his diplomatic passport to bring them into Russia without paying a tariff. Given the context of the interview (how tough times were in the 90’s and people did whatever they had to survive), on skimming the article I do think I jumped to the conclusion that there was something shady about these transactions, and that they involved carjackings within Turkey. For this misunderstanding, I would willingly apologize to Mr. Peskov, but I would certainly never apologize to YOU. In fact, User-Person Lyttenburgh, you owe ME an apology for instantly assuming a bad motive in what I wrote. But that’s what you do. You ascribe bad motives to everyone who doesn’t agree with your core ideology. Just like your hero Stalin, you assume these people are enemies of the state, and that it is your self-appointed mission and personal crusade to attack, expose, and unmask them as enemies of the people.

        In conclusion: Lyt, you need to seek professional help for your overweening rage, your clear case of Paranoid Schizophrenia (since we are allowed to diagnose each other over the internet); not to mention your megalomaniacal fantasies about yourself. (Which becomes obvious even to the untrained eye when you use phrases like “Lyttenburghian repressions…”, as if comparing yourself to Stalin, LOLOLOL.)

        Like

      2. Yalensis sez:

        Polite people without an ax to grind will generally bring this up in a more polished manner, like, “Well, you might have been mistaken about this being a criminal activity…””

        Also quotes from yalensis (after posting a link): “Read ’em and weep, a$$hole!”

        This very comment: “But no, you’re just a rabid dog”

        >yalensis
        > Polite
        > No ax to grind

        🙂

        Honest mistake due to casual skimming of interview, or whatever

        And I, repeat, that you wrote in your original comment: “ Seriously, I’m not making this up.”. Then you reacted in the most… angry… way, when someone (me) assumed, that you are… “mistaken”. “Honest mistake”, you say now? But right after I called you out (by reading and quoting an article upon your entire accused rested, which you only “skimmed”), you said the following:

        “I might have misspoken when I joked that Peskov was a “car thief”, it was probably more like insurance fraud (also tax fraud, as in not paying tariffs, like pretending the car was for his personal use, etc.)”

        Again. Joke is a deliberate act. Mistakes are not. You use the two in the same sentences, trying to weasel out, but too proud to admit being totally wrong before me. Honest mistakes look a bit different.

        “…there is no such thing as another person making an honest mistake and then attempting to clarify…”

        It is not a “clarification”, when you move from the “factual”, “serious, I swear” claim that someone is a criminal, to doing 180 turn and noticing, that your own source does not support that. Doing it not immediately, not even after 2 comments by me, but only a lengthy discussion, is not a paragon of “honesty” in commiting mistakes.

        Besides – I *really* didn’t attack you personally. I just expressed my doubt at your “serious” claim (which you “did not make up”, by your own words) that one of the top persons in Kremlin was a car thief. If there was a substances to such accusation then, surely, so-called opposition would’ve been blaring about it non-stop. You could have done a lot of things as a reaction. Doing nothing is always an option. Or you could have limited yourself to posting just a link. Or you could have posted just a link and some non-offensive comment to it.

        Or (in an ideal world) you could have find a link, read its content, post it, and then admit, that you have misremembered things… Or that your reading Russian is getting rusty. I’m becoming more and more convinced of that, after you make such claims:

        “Mr. Peskov did not admit to anything more than driving all the way to Turkey to buy a couple of cars (for a cheaper price?) and then used his diplomatic passport to bring them into Russia without paying a tariff. Given the context of the interview”

        Contrary to you, yalensis, I’d been *watching* this interview with Soloviev back in January. Not once in discussing this whole issue, with you desperately clinging to your sole article as if it was your “article of faith”, have you referenced the whole of interview in full. In the available (to you) part of his interview, he says in plain Russian to driving not “all the way to Turkey”, BUT FROM IT: “Я машины гонял пару раз, сам за рулем, из Турции, Анкара-Москва. Можно было ехать вокруг — через Болгарию, Румынию, Молдавию, Украину и так далее, а можно было на пароме”

        More “honest mistakes” of yours? Or you do have trouble processing written text?

        In the end, you could always find a strength of will to admit committing a mistake and react in dignified, mature way. In an ideal world.

        Instead, you had your very own “5 stages of Grief”. What you have now, with faux politeness, is Bargaining. Let’s skip straight to Acceptance, shall we?

        Turns out you were wrong. You made a false, grave accusation, only in order to “prove one’s point”. One has to wonder, if you can knee-jerk resort to outright falsehood in other situations requiring you to support your “message”.

        In short, my original comment, which kickstarted this lively discussion (“U-huh. Suuuure. We all believe you, Yalensis!”) was spot on. It’s not a personal attack, if from now on people should dismiss your next claim to “seriously” remember anything, and “not making it up”.

        Like

  12. P.S. – to everyone other than Lyttenburgh (who doesn’t really care about clarity, only attacking other people), in the interests of even further clarification of this issue:

    For those who want to hear Peskov himself, that section of the interview starts around 13:30 in the video. Peskov is talking about his early service in the government, when salaries were tiny and people had to come up with all sorts of schemes, to make ends meet. Soloviev asks him to specify, what kind of schemes. Peskov replied: “We had to try to trade stuff, buying and selling, well the whole country was doing that at the time.” And then Peskov tells him about bringing the cars from Ankara to Moscow. Soloviev’s body-language reaction is priceless. Peskov clarifies that these were used cars, 3,4, or 5 years old. I translated that incorrectly in one of my comments above.
    Upon listening to Peskov’s words again, it’s not that one can drive the car for 3-5 years (as I incorrectly translated it), it’s that the car itself is 3-5 years old. Minor point, but one wants to be accurate… In other words, these were used car sales.

    It also seems from the context (“trading”, “buying”, “selling”) that Peskov is saying, not necessarily that he bought the cars himself for his own personal use, but that he might have bought and resold them. Depends how one interprets the “you” pronoun: “Here is the business: You buy a machine that is 3,4,5 years old, and you can drive it.”

    After he finishes laughing his head off, Soloviev appears to admit that he himself brought in cars from Central Asia (14:50 minutes in).

    Like

  13. Hi, David (this comment is addressed to David’s latest comment, the thread gets kind of narrow).

    I can’t pretend to understand the complexities of debates involving philosophers like Ilyin and the like. You seem to know your stuff though.
    I’m not sure if you are interpreting the term “Tankie” correctly though, I believe it is, and the way I use it is, sort of internet slang for “someone who is in the tank for Stalin.” Was that your understanding too?

    I actually have nothing against people (per se) who are ideological Stalinists, that is their right, and they have the right to their political views and defend their hero. It’s just that so many of them, Lyt is a good example, cannot tolerate people with other opinions and regard them as enemies to be attacked.

    Anyhow, re that whole discussion about “muzhiks” and the like: You have the pleasure of being treated to more of Lyttenburgh’s parlor tricks. He likes to twist peoples words to make them seem like they are simply bad people with bad intentions, as opposed to people who just have a different philosophy and point of view. A recent example with me (from maybe a couple of months ago):

    During my last trip to Moscow I experienced really congested traffic jams downtown. Like, taking an hour to just move one block. I mentioned this in one of my comments on Professor’s blog (don’t remember the context), and complained that too many people were pouring into Moscow from the regions, I wished the Russian government would invest more in the regions, the flight from the provinces to the capital reminded me of Third World country type issues.
    Instead of discussing the issues of congestion or regional development in a constructive manner, Lyt immediately pounced on me and twisted my words, accusing me of calling Russia a Third World country. (Which it is not, and I didn’t say.) See, Lyt had already come to the conclusion a long tiime ago that I am an enemy of Stalin (which I am), and therefore an enemy of Russia (which I am not), so just waiting to pounce on anything I say. And then I have to waste all this time defending myself against his charges of bad faith, instead of just discussing the issue at hand.

    Which is so typical of Lyt: He will never give a person the benefit of the doubt. And when he isn’t twisting words, he is planting words into people’s mouths, and even planting thoughts into their heads. Thoughts they never even had, but he thinks that he can read their minds. Like, how you supposedly despise the Russian peasantry, or something like that. Completely distorting what you were actually saying. It’s what he does. He believes that everybody either has dark, hidden agendas; or is outright lying. He called me a liar recently when I stated that Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution was one and the same as Lenin’s April Theses. I believe that statement to be factual. Other people might argue against it, as a political opinion, but that is not quite the same thing as a lie.

    And speaking of Trotsky, I think what you said that triggered him was that bit about Stalin not being the heir to Lenin. Saying stuff like that is like waving a red flag to a bull; and that must have put you on his blacklist.

    Speaking of which, I find it kind of scary that he remembered specifically things you had written back in 2013 which ticked him off, and has been holding a grudge ever since. That’s a long time ago! He must have the memory of an elephant!

    Like

    1. ” See, Lyt had already come to the conclusion a long tiime ago that I am an enemy of Stalin (which I am), and therefore an enemy of Russia (which I am not), so just waiting to pounce on anything I say.”

      Yalensis also sez:

      “Sadly, I have to agree with dewittbourchier, Russia under Liberal leadership has been just limping along like the Sick Man of Europe, eking from and trying to manage the great Soviet legacy of accomplishments. Although the reunion with Crimea was certainly a bright spot, in an otherwise gloomy picture. “
      – From “Farewell to Chubais” blogpost.

      “Putin: “We will NOT abandon Donbass. And yet we WILL, because we plan to do nothing to help those people.”
      All part of the theory of “passionarnost”, not to be confused with “La Passionaria”, Stalinist witch of the Spanish Civil War.
      Has Putin really gone off the rails here?
      What a load of pure baloney!
      Well, I reckon that’s what happens as you approach old age and death, at some point, and start to realize that, in the end, you were just another False Dmitry in these short 1000 years of Russian History!
      Grrr, please forgive me, everybody, I am feeling quite cross today!”

      – From “Crackpot Theory No 11 – Passionarity” blogpost.

      Like

      1. For the benefit of those who don’t speak “Lyttenburghese”, here is what I believe Lyt is trying to say in above comment: “Yalensis claims he is not an enemy of Russia. And yet Yalensis is clearly an enemy of Russia, as proved by his negative comments about Putin and the latter’s Liberal [i.e., capitalist] leadership of the Russian Federation.”

        In other words, Lyt embodies the concept of Russia with Putin himself, just as he embodies the Soviet Union with the figure of Stalin. That is the autocratic personality in an nutshell: L’État, c’est moi. Therefore, to criticize Putin (or Stalin) is to be an enemy of Russia. I believe that is Lyt’s actual political philosophy.

        Me, I do criticize the Putin government, that’s true, but I criticize it from the left. From a socialist perspective.

        Like

      2. “Me, I do criticize the Putin government, that’s true, but I criticize it from the left. From a socialist perspective.”

        Nah, you just have hysterical meltdowns aimed at acceptable, for you, Americans, target.

        Like

    2. yalensis,

      First, an apology for my misreading of your comment about Paul, as one about Lytt – although I have found the results illuminating, and entertaining.

      As regards the term ‘Tankie.’ It may well be used in different senses by different people. To a ‘Brit’ of my generation – rather ‘long in the tooth’ now, alas – it refers to those here who stayed with the CP after 1956.

      A piece by Ian Black, on the fiftieth anniversary of those events, in the ‘Guardian’, is headlined ‘How Soviet tanks crushed dreams of British communists – see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/21/politics.

      As to Stalin. Time plays tricks on us. My own view long echoed, and in part still does, the famous epigrammatic poem which cost Osip Mandelstam his life, which, in one translation into English, described the ‘Kremlin mountaineer’ as ‘the murderer and peasant-slayer.’

      (For this and other translations, see https://jacket2.org/commentary/ian-probstein-mandelstam-stalin-epigram )

      As I have attempted to explain to Lytt, my view also derived partly from the fact that my paternal family was closely involved with that of Gareth Jones, who did the only serious ‘on the ground’ reporting on the famine in Ukraine. But then, I now find his writings being ‘interpreted’, with a disregard for inconvenient fact worthy of Lytt himself, to suggest that what was at issue was a ‘genocide’ directed by Russians against Ukrainians.

      This was quite precisely what he did not say. And, as I have noted, following the analyses of the German Moscow Embassy of the time, I now think that the central imperative behind very much of Stalin was doing related to the need to turn a backward peasant society into one capable of producing, in large quantities, the weaponry needed to fight modern industrial war – in which, indeed, he succeeded.

      Another respect in which time plays tricks relates to the fact that arguments about domestic politics and foreign affairs are generally interrelated, in ways that often cause confusion.

      When the first indications of what became the ‘new thinking’ became clearly visible, following the election of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of the CPSU in 1985, the people here who were arguing that it should not be discounted as either empty rhetoric or ‘active measures’ were generally on the left of the Labour Party. They were people who, like you, were socialists.

      Some time back, I came across a memoir of that time by one of the most significant figures in Britain, Stephen Shenfield, I saw, with some amusement, that he is still very much a socialist, while I am no more one than I was then. Linked to in his piece is a file of materials, for which he was a ‘conduit’, from Colonel Viktor Girshfeld – then with ‘IMEMO’, where Yevgeny Primakov returned as director in 1985 – which set out central themes of what became the ‘new thinking.’

      (See http://stephenshenfield.net/memories/ussr-russia/179-my-experiences-in-russia ; http://www.stephenshenfield.net/archives/research-jrl/92-special-issue-no-26-november-2004-the-girshfeld-file#2 )

      It was in 1986-7 that I had a major shock, when I discovered that it was quite precisely some of the best technical military analysts, both British and American, who thought that much of the ‘conventional wisdom’ I had taken for granted about the Cold War was questionable. Again, some crucial material has surfaced on the net in recent years.

      Of particular interest to me is a typescript entitled ‘The Genesis of Soviet Threat Perceptions’ by the former head of the Soviet naval section of our Defence Intelligence Staff, Michael MccGwire, who was then at Brookings, which he sent me not long after it was finalised in July 1987.

      It makes an argument which its author started developing in much more radical directions not long after – that a ‘seismic shift’ in Soviet security policy was likely to be under way. And he also argued that what was happening could only be understood if one was willing to rethink ‘conventional wisdoms’ about Soviet security policy, very much including Stalin’s policy. On this, his view seems to be rather similar to that taken by the German Moscow Embassy diplomats at the time.

      (See https://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1987-800-05-McGwire.pdf .)

      So, it suggested that, whatever I thought about their views on domestic British affairs, I had simply been wrong to ignore what Shenfield and others like him had been writing about what has happening in the Soviet Union. One result was that I started looking with attention at their reporting, principally in a magazine called ‘Detente’, on the arguments going on among ‘establishment intellectuals’ in Moscow.

      And I then started submitting proposals to ‘commissioning editors’ in television to go and interview some of the figures in Moscow who seemed to be playing central roles, and then put the results in front of analysts with a range of different views in Britain, the United States, and continental Europe.

      What I discovered, as a result, was a phenomenon which I have come to call the ‘reverse iron curtain’, and part of the background to it: which was that, for a whole range of reasons, the last thing many people in the West wanted was to have their ‘threat’ taken away from them.

      At the time people with whom, and for whom, I had worked, held a range of key positions in British broadcasting – two of them, John, now Lord, Birt, and Greg Dyke, would later be ‘Directors-General’ of the BBC. However, the only place in which I could find interest was a ‘niche’ programme in BBC Radio, called ‘Analysis.’

      Another piece I discovered recently had surfaced on the net – ironically perhaps on what appears to be a site in Arabic – was an article I wrote for a magazine called ‘Political Quarterly’ in 1990, which was headlined ‘Frighted With False Fire? The Alliance in the Light of the Recession of Soviet Power.’, which was based on the materials accumulated for the two documentaries ‘Analysis’ broadcast in February-March 1989.

      And, although my views have changed in some respects, my analysis of the some of the implications of MccGwire’s work, and the case I made that the prevailing ‘triumphalism’ was simply stupid, still seem to me well-founded.

      (See https://ur.booksc.me/book/9562257/7fa9fa .)

      At that stage, Western discussions were ‘getting stuck’ in the notion of ‘reversibility’, as though the alternatives in Russia were either a rapid ‘transition’ to something resembling the political and economic models of post-war Western Europe, or a reversion to the past. These seemed to me the two scenarios which had virtually zero probability.

      One of the bizarre features of the ‘Nineties was that, in a whole range of ways, old classifications became of questionable relevance. For one thing, while ‘shock therapy’ could certainly be criticised from a ‘left’ perspective, it also could be, and was, criticised from a ‘right’ one. So, a consistent application of traditional ‘anti-communist’ polemics against ‘utopian social engineering’ would have suggested that the appropriate ‘exit route’ from a totally planned economy was that chosen by Deng – not those of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

      To get involved in the kind of ‘crackpot’ schemes favoured by the likes of Chubais and Gaidar, while at the same time cavalierly breaking the assurances that the ‘quid pro quo’ for acceptance of a united Germany in NATO would be no further expansion of the Alliance, seemed to me stupid. I can see no reason to change that view.

      At the same time, partly as a result of having been introduced to the greatest Russian ‘Clausewitzian’, Alexandr Svechin, by Andrei Kokoshin and his mentor General-Mayor Valentin Larionov, when we interviewed them at ‘ISKAN’ – Georgii Arbatov’s institute, as it then was – in February 1989, I developed my interest in the history of Soviet and post-Soviet military strategy.

      An ironic consequence of all this was that, after becoming involved with Colonel W. Patrick Lang’s ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ blog as a result of an interest in the intelligence failures that led to our catastrophic invasion of Iraq, I ended up spending a good deal of time and energy defending the Russian authorities against accusations which I think frivolous – and justifying Russian policy.

      Among relevant examples:

      https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/01/david-hakkuk-on-sir-robert-owens-inquiry.html
      https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/sentence-first-verdict-afterwards-a-revision-by-david-habakkuk-14-april-2017.html
      https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/02/habakkuk-on-longtime-sources.html

      Now, you, I and Professor Robinson are quite different people – and the last thing I would want to do would be to claim to be a serious ‘Russianist’, as he very much is. I have never lived in the country, and do not even know the language – so, in that respect, I am the most ill-equipped of us. And the political views we hold are also clearly very different.

      One thing we have in common, however, is that we have all presented arguments and information contrary to the prevailing ‘Russophobic’ consensus – with which, as I have shown, I have been ‘out of sympathy’ for a very long time.

      Another is that we have all been the objects of vituperative personal attacks by ‘Lytt.’

      Without a shred of foundation, he has attempted to persuade readers of this blog that, on ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’, I have referred to ‘celestials’ and ‘negroes’, in trying to defend the notion that two allusions to Berdyaev, a favourite philosopher of Putin, establish that I have contempt for ‘muzhiks.’

      It is perfectly possible to present a – qualified – defence of some key elements of what Stalin did without sounding like, as it were, a ‘caricature Stalinist’ – and to do so without resorting to the old Soviet ‘langue de bois.’ See, for example, the responses of Vladimir Soloviev to Jacob Heilbrunn last October, at

      https://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-vladimir-soloviev-really-thinks-about-russia-and-america%C2%A0-194966

      So, taking ‘all in all’, it seems to me to remain very much an open question whether ‘Lytt’ is simply the ignorant and ill-mannered bigot he claims to be – a kind of Russian ‘Dave Spart’ – or has ‘hidden agendas.’

      Like

      1. Hi, David, thanks for your erudite comment. A lot to ponder over. Interesting about the term “Tankie”, I thought it was a recent term, but apparently goes back, with more or less the same meaning!

        Re. Mandelshtam, I recently read a piece about that famous poem of his, in which he alluded to “Stalin’s greasy fingers.” or something like that. Oh dear, I am quoting from memory, I should have learned my lesson not to do that, but I am sure you will forgive me if I remember it wrong. Well, you gotta say that Mandelshtam had balls, that’s for sure.

        Agree that Stalin is not a one-dimensional figure and that his main goal was to industrialize and build a modern army to repel the inevitable invasion. I give him credit for that, but deduct “style” points for gunning down a goodly share of his Generals and regular officers and troops, and putting a boob like Voroshilov in charge!

        In regard to Lyt’s attacks on you, and the illusionary negroes and your alleged contempt for the Russian peasantry and so on, I could say, “Just roll your eyes and don’t fret over that, it’s only Lyttenburgh,” but I didn’t take that advice to myself very well, either. As moon remarked, that guy can really get your blood boiling, he knows exactly which buttons to push! I reckon one just has to defend oneself as best one can, I think the best retort is transparency and authenticity, like being open about one’s own political views and ideologies. Lyt himself can be quite sneaky about his own ideology, we know that he is a Stalinist and a Putinist, but he never really lays it out in a clarifying or analytical fashion, instead relying on Aesopian language and dark innuendos about other people and their sins. From what I understand Lyt is also a devout Christian and comes from a religious family. Which would also feed into his authoritarian psychology. He simply cannot fathom that other people could have ideas and opinions different from his, and still be worthy of living.

        Like

      2. “So, taking ‘all in all’, it seems to me to remain very much an open question whether ‘Lytt’ is simply the ignorant and ill-mannered bigot he claims to be – a kind of Russian ‘Dave Spart’ – or has ‘hidden agendas.’”

        Still no proof, only allegations. Well, Mr. Habbakukk, it only means that I’ve a moral right to respond to you in the same way, as did Ridley Scott to Russian (liberal) cinema critic Anton Dolin – which was officially translated as «Вы не правы, сэр. Я с вами категорически не согласен» (с)

        Like

      3. Lytt,

        As Maria Zakharova said, quoting Pofiry Petrovich from ‘Crime and Punishment’ back in March 2018, in response to Boris Johnson’s rather ham-fisted attempt to use Dostoevsky’s novel in support of his claims that your government was responsible for poisoning Sergei and Yulia Skripal, “From a hundred rabbits you can’t make a horse, a hundred suspicions don’t make a proof.”

        https://www.rt.com/news/422716-boris-quotes-dostoyevsky-zakharova/

        I never suggested I had proof – simply grounds for suspicion, which I certainly think are materially better in your case than in that of the various claims made about poisonings with ‘Novichok.’

        And, as I noted to ‘yalensis’, I am perfectly open to the possibility that you are simply ‘all foam no beer’ – or at least, a great deal of foam, and not very much beer.

        But you really must not confuse intellectual contempt with social condescension. As should have been apparent from responses of mine to an earlier misinterpretation of my views by you, ‘all foam – and very little beer’ is very much my view of Boris Johnson, and even more, of his sometime ‘Svengali’, Dominic Cummings.

        That figure could well have been responsible for Johnson’s hamfisted attempt to use ‘Crime and Punishment’ to buttress his case. His teacher, Norman Stone, who I once knew slightly, wrote on Russian history, and Cummings has lived in Russia, and apparently quotes Dostoevsky.

        In some ways, he rather reminds me of you.

        Like

      4. the case I made that the prevailing ‘triumphalism’ was simply stupid, still seem to me well-founded.

        Thanks, David, interesting article. Personally, I already felt Germany should remain neutral like Switzerland, the moment I could reflect about politics.
        be well, Happy Christmas.

        Like

      5. “I never suggested I had proof – simply grounds for suspicion, which I certainly think are materially better in your case than in that of the various claims made about poisonings with ‘Novichok.’”

        Care to share the substance of your suspicions? This whole “Azef” thingie? Are you implying that, like Yevno Fischelevich, I’m, secretely, an agent of the Russian Internal Security Service?

        You, know I’ve been accused of beinf “in pay by the Kremlin” since… 2014, with the start of Certain Events in the Ukraine. Accused by the Enlightened Westerners, of course, who can’t stomach the thought that people on-line can hold different opinion. Yeah, including us, filthy non-Anglos of different stripes.You know, the one given to incoherent anti-commie rantings?

        Rather typical speciment of the SST commentariat. Just like you.

        On a plus side, Mr. Lang did put up touching obituary to him… and to many, many others of his regulars.

        “In some ways, he rather reminds me of you.”

        I will pray for your health, Mr. Habbakukk.

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      6. Whether by a fluke or my own mistake (or the Will of Our Host), a portion of my comment is gone (due to the link involved?).

        Before “You know, the one given to incoherent anti-commie rantings?”, I posted “Remmeber Richard Sale? The bloke who had his own column on old SST

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      7. Lytt,

        Precisely what the ‘Russia Beyond’ piece to which I linked did not suggest was that Yevno Azef was a reliable agent of the ‘Okhrana.’

        Doing some quick further research, I see that the issue of his actual allegiances, and the role he played in the most important assassinations for which he has often been held responsible, is contested. For two more detailed Western accounts, one sceptical on the extent of his involvement, the other agnostic, see

        https://networks.h-net.org/node/10000/reviews/10216/badcock-geifman-entangled-terror-azef-affair-and-russian-revolution ; https://iseees.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/shared/doc/2011_8-morton.pdf

        On the question of your being “in pay by the Kremlin”.

        Repeatedly, when he has defined his own politics, Putin has alluded to representatives of a ‘conservative liberal’ tradition which, as you have repeatedly made clear, you find ‘anathema’: As well as Ivan Ilyin and Nicholas Berdyaev, he has quoted Pavel Novgorodtsev. However, he has also repeatedly made clear that he is acutely aware that, as it were, there is not just one Russia but many – which is actually true in most countries – and that he sees it as crucial to build ‘common ground.’

        On all this, see two of the articles he published prior to his return to the Presidency in May 2012. In the one dealing with ‘Democracy and the Qality of Government’ there is an allusion to Novgorodtsev, at a crucial point. That on ‘The Ethnicity Issue’ includes the following passage:

        ‘So subtle cultural therapy is what is recommended for Russia, a country where, for many, the civil war never really ended and where the past is highly politicised and seen as a collection of ideological quotes (often interpreted by different people in opposite ways). We need a cultural policy – pursued at every level from school teaching to historical documentation – to shape an understanding of history in which representatives from each ethnic group, as well as the descendants of the “Red Commissars” and “White Officers”, can be seen to have a place. They must see where they belong in that process and see themselves as heirs to the great Russian history – tragic and controversial as it is, but still “one for all.”’

        (See http://archive.premier.gov.ru/eng/events/news/18006/ ; http://archive.premier.gov.ru/eng/events/news/17831/ )

        As a kind of ‘conservative liberal’ myself, I thought these last remarks wonderful – and just wish I could have heard something similar from an American President in recent years.

        In fact, in reading people who could be said to have been ‘in pay by the Kremlin’ – including people who are obviously involved with the ‘Russian Internal Security Service’, as also other organisations of the ‘security state’ in your country, or may be – it has seemed to clear that they have a wide range of views, and certainly a very significant number would be ‘to the Left’ of their President.

        However, despite Putin’s remark about ‘ideological quotes’, I have found a refreshing absence of what I call ‘Dave Spart’ figures. Perhaps the easiest way to explain what that means is to point you to a piece on a site called ‘Worker’s Liberty’ back in November 2018, headlined ‘A Dave Spart for our times.’

        It opens:

        ‘Private Eye magazine used to carry a regular column (“The Controversial Voice”, sometimes “The Alternative Voice”) by a fictional character called Dave Spart who specialised in banal non-sequiturs in a parody of leftist jargon, usually ending up contradicting himself.’

        (See https://www.workersliberty.org/story/2018-11-13/dave-spart-our-times )

        In happy days doing ‘local journalism’, in Liverpool and London, back in the ‘Seventies and early ‘Eighties, I came across a good few ‘Dave Spart’ types. Exchanging views with you reminds me of them.

        At the Valdai Club meeting in October, Putin was asked a – very relevant – question by Fyodor Lukyanov, about when a ‘healthy conservatism’ becomes ‘unhealthy’. His answer provides the context for a quotation from Berdyaev to which I have already referred:

        ‘Vladimir Putin: Anything can become a burden, if you are not careful. When I speak about healthy conservatism, Nikolai Berdyayev always springs to mind, and I have already mentioned him several times. He was a remarkable Russian philosopher, and as you all know he was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1922. He was as forward-thinking as a man can be, but also sided with conservatism. He used to say, and you will excuse me if I do not quote his exact words: “Conservatism is not something preventing upward, forward movement, but something preventing you from sliding back into chaos.” If we treat conservatism this way, it provides an effective foundation for further progress.’

        In true ‘David Spart’ style, you have accused my forbears and me of expressing contempt for ‘muzhiks’ – just as you have accused me of expressing similar contempt for ‘negroes’ and ‘celestials’ (whoever they may be.)

        When I pointed out I do not normally refer to ‘muzhiks’ and the only two occasions when I could trace myself as having done so on ‘SST’ was in quoting Berdyaev’s term ‘muzhiko-military elite’, you ‘dialled up’ your contempt for the figure whom Putin described as ‘as forward-thinking as a man can be’.

        At that point, Putin’s personal history becomes relevant. Presenting a characteristically complex – and nuanced – view of the Soviet period in the Valdai discussion, he said: ‘Being from a family of workers, yours truly graduated from Leningrad State University. This is something, right? At that time, education played the role of a real social lift.’

        A consequence of that ‘social lift’, however, is that the beneficiary quotes one of the key ‘Vekhi’ authors, who you appear to regard in the same terms as Lenin did. Someone who feels entitled to use Berdyaev to smear me, unless indeed he is to end up ‘contradicting himself,’ must surely regard your President as a ‘traitor to his class’ (the phrase you used about Fiona Hill)?

        As to how precisely your extraordinary performances are to be explained I am not sure: I am still casting around for possible hypotheses. But ‘in pay by the Kremlin’ is hardly the most obvious one, and certainly not what I meant to convey by suggesting you might belong to an ‘Azef Battalion.’

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      8. Responding only now, because only now our Most Gracious Host, Maestro Robinson, deemed your comment worthy extraction from the spam-filter.

        “Precisely what the ‘Russia Beyond’ piece to which I linked did not suggest was that Yevno Azef was a reliable agent of the ‘Okhrana.’”

        Can someone explain, why you Anglophones use the term “Okhrana” to refer to the 1rd Security Department of the Russian Empire? In original it’s “Okhrannoye Otdeleniye”, nicknamed by the citizens of the Russian Empire as “okhranka”, with the “-ka” suffix signifying diminution of the term, and, thus, contempt. “Okhrana” (without suffix) means just “guard” or “watch”.

        I don’t care about “tradition”. Such usage of the term looks dumbass for any Russophone. Not, you know, “cool” in the way showing off your “knowledge” of Russian, when you use random words that you can’t really explain. I.e. a redo of your own decision to use “muzhik” so nonchalantly.

        “As a kind of ‘conservative liberal’ myself”

        Aka “a liberal mugged by reality so hard, that he’d find real fascists to be a bunch of swell blokes”.

        “But ‘in pay by the Kremlin’ is hardly the most obvious one, and certainly not what I meant to convey by suggesting you might belong to an ‘Azef Battalion.’

        […]

        FFS

        […]

        Also, instead of meandering and hithering and dithering, state plainly of what you are accusing me. If you are not a coward and have a real proof, of course. If you fail to produce it, well… I’d only have to forgive your peculiar way to communicate to the people, given your dotage.

        Answer. My. Questions.

        But that would also mean that from now on I’m gonna ignore you – completely. As you have probably noticed, here on Irrussionality there are several regular commenters, who, no matter their flame-y spiels and mentioning of my nickname, (no longer) solicit any kind of reaction from me. Why? Because I gave up on them, due to their… precipitous… age and mental falucties. If you, with your meandering, moving of the goalposts and “oblique” way of talking keep this jig up, you, userperson David Habakkuk, will join their “august” (well… close to Other Realm, at least!) ranks in my view.

        Your call.

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  14. Azef Battalion? I thought it had become the Azel Battalion, ever since Zelensky decided to cave in to their every wish and whim. When they were the Kolo Battalion and being paid by Kolomoisky, at least he had the excuse to be safeguarding his stolen assets from certain inconveniences but what does Zelensky have to safeguard other than his life? Oops.

    You know, it’s a tough job being the president of a country where certain patriotic brownshirt brigades are being supported by certain foreign elements oceans away and your life hangs on exactly how high you can jump on demand.

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  15. Wow. If I knew that my off-hand comment about one shady business scheme from the 90-ies would (indirectly) spark such a bout of boxing over the Internet between two certain other commenters about which one of them precisely is a lying bell-end…

    Like

    1. Dear Joker:
      Interesting as you comment was, it was not that which triggered the ensuing fray between Lyt and myself.
      What triggered me was Lyt’s sarcastic “uh huh” to MY off-hand comment about Peskov. I should not have let his sarcasm get to me, that’s true, but I did and became very angry and called him an a$$hole. As a blogger, being factual is actually very important to me, and I can lose my temper when people question that. Which is why I am in the habit of correcting my own misstatements whenever they are brought to my attention.
      Which Lyt did NOT do, by the way. He could have linked the Soloviev interview and made his case that I was misinterpreting. (Not lying, just misinterpreting.) Instead, he was just, like, “yeah, right” kind of sarcasm.

      Not Lyt, but I was the one who did the research and pulled up the original source material. So Lyt didn’t catch me in anything, I was honest enough to catch myself! After re-reading the transcript and then listening to the actual interview, I corrected my initial mis-statement about Peskov being a car thief.
      That is not lying, Sir. That is a misstatement and a correction.

      In my own defense: As a part-time blogger I only have a certain amount of time to skim the Russian press, looking for material for my blog. I have a full-time job, blogging is just a hobby. Lyt accuses me of letting my Russian get rusty. On the contrary, my Russian is better than ever. It’s just that I have at most 15 or 20 minutes (usually in the morning, over coffee) to skim lots of stuff online, looking for stories. I skim not just Russian, but also French and German press. I don’t have time to read each article carefully, just skim. A while back, I had skimmed the Peskov story (the written transcription, not watched the video). I didn’t save the link because I had no plans to do a story on it. If I had decided to do a story on it, I would have read it very carefully and really worked it through, and would have understood more completely what Peskov’s moonlighting consisted of.

      Anyhow, months went by, somebody posted that comment about Putin driving a cab, and I alluded to Peskov’s automotive activities in an incorrect way, based upon a faulty memory of a barely-skimmed article.
      That is my explanation/excuse. I think I learned I learned a valuable lesson here, not to jump in with off-the-cuff comment, even a humorous one, without a link. I already apologized to Mr. Peskov for the misunderstanding. (I am sure he is reading this even now as we speak!)
      Therefore, if I am the person you are referring to as the bell-end liar in this encounter, then you are being unfair, Mr. Joker, because I am not a liar.

      Like

      1. It’s in nature of people to assume criticism as an attack for most of the time, since sometimes there’s little difference and it comes more from “I don’t like you” than “I wish you all the best”.

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      2. Yalensis, Lytt surely has a rather high ability to make your blood boil. But was it seriously worth all your energy to challenge her strictly quite reasonable question? Somewhat evasively?

        I understand, you tried to protect your image. The problem is, that’s not how it works.

        To paraphrase Shakespeare: ‘The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks,’

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      3. Joker, my spontaneous guesswork above was wrong. I should have realized. A basic car insurance over here in Germany only covers the damage you cause others. But Kasko (partial or full) covers damage to your own car too. It also covers a stolen car. I didn’t realize. It’s the equivalent to the “comprehensive cover” in GB.

        Thus, purely theoretically, the scheme would work. As long as buyer and seller cooperate somewhat? The buyer gets a lower price?

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      4. You are absolutely right, moon. I need to learn to control my temper and not let people like Lyt get to me like that. There is a psychological reason for that, dating back to my childhood: one of my siblings used to bully me quite a lot and challenge everything that I said, even when I was directly quoting from the encyclopedia! Must be PTSD, I reckon…

        🙂

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      5. Stargazer, that is a good point too. If one likes somebody or is a friend, then we can forgive them a lot and take the teasing, or even criticism. We are willing to give that person the benefit of the doubt. But as soon as that friendship is gone and turns to enmity, then every little thing can become a provocation. Like in a divorce…

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  16. Well, since the topic of cars seem to be going viral here, maybe someone could chime in with some input on what’s been happening with all of those vehicles in Lithuania that were converted to run on cheap Russian nat gas over the years and now are in economically unviable limbo.

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  17. Brean and Braun’s reptilian brains have finally created a reluctant mirrored response in Putin’s.

    Of course, Brean and Braun would argue that it’s the exact reverse.

    I would argue that if our so-called ‘civilization’ has as yet developed no effective measures to counteract ‘reptilian brain syndrome’ then perhaps it’s best to throw both Rosemary’s baby and its bathwater down the drain and God help us all.

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  18. I strongly suspect that ‘military-technical response’ means Russia’s hawks are pushing Putin to deploy the (I’m assuming) now-read Poseidon and other game-changing platforms to put lurking nukes directly off US shores and Putin’s making a last ditch effort to bring NATO to the table ‘urgently’ before he gives the go-ahead.

    That’s how I interpret ‘urgent’ in the rhetoric.

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  19. Putin’s ‘brain’ is really not that hard to dissect. He simply read Rand’s 2019 report “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia”, noticed that its recommendations are being used almost verbatim as a playbook and concluded that US and allied intentions are crystal clear, destabilize Russia employing multiple strategies and treading just at the border of major military conflict while using low level conflict by proxy as one of its primary recommendations. Putin is simply calling them on it. No surprise there.

    Amazing how Rand’s recommendations are being so faithfully implemented and even more amazing that the game plan has been published for all to see. I suppose when more than half of NYT readers (supposedly a more highly educated readership) still cannot locate Ukraine on a map, Rand assumed no need to keep such blatant low level warfare plans from the public as they could never connect the dots anyway.

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    1. Everyone should download the pdf and read the entire report. It is indeed THE playbook. We are finally witnessing Russia’s calculated reaction to it now, laid bare to all.

      Implement plans to destabilize Russia then accuse Russia of planning to destabilize the US/EU. Hard evidence galore for the former yet virtually none for the latter.

      Typical Goebbels. Can’t believe 99% of the world hasn’t seen through it.

      This will not end well, for anyone.

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  20. ‘Caveat Venditor’, ‘Russia’s Enemy at the Gates.’

    There are other elements to this, which need to be ‘fed into the mix.’

    One is the conspicuous absence in the 2019 RAND report of any mention of China. At the very least since 2007, if not substantially before, it should have been clear that Russia could well respond to the kind of strategies it advocates by drawing much closer to that country.

    It is a mark of the ‘over-educated imbecility’ of so much of what passes for ‘strategic thinking’ in the West that, not only has this possibility been ignored, but the fact that Donald Trump could actually see the risks, and the argument they generated for ‘dialling down’ the confrontation with Russia, was one reason the ‘knives were out’ for him.

    As the former long-serving CIA analyst of Soviet and Russian affairs Ray McGovern has noted, his victorious rival Joe Biden gave a spectacular example of this ‘ostrich approach’ at the time of his summit with Putin in June, when he suggested that Russians were ‘in a very, very difficult spot right now’, as they were being ‘squeezed by China.’

    Recent words and actions by both Putin and Xi really should have ‘dragged the ostrich’s head out of the ground – and indeed, look as though they may well have been crafted, at least in some measure, with the intent of doing so.

    On all this, see recent posts on McGovern’s site, entitled ‘What! No Russian Invasion of Ukraine?’, ‘Putin Has a Big Brother in Xi’, ‘Xi to Putin: Our Relationship “Exceeds an Alliance”, and ‘Putin’s Main Squeeze’ at https://raymcgovern.com/ .

    Quite why various ‘ostriches’ have been quite so reluctant to, as it were, even ‘lift an eyelid out of the ground’ is I think a $60,000 question.

    It may be that the question of ‘identity threat’, which ‘Lola’ introduced into the discussion of the hysterical piece about Putin by Bruno Maçães in the ‘New Statesman’, is useful. When people’s sense of themselves is identified with a strategy pursued in the past, which they believe has been successful, they are inclined to ‘rinse and repeat’ – in part because having to rethink would call into question their sense of self.

    Rather clearly, the RAND report reflects the belief – which is, to put mildly, somewhat one-sided – that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power was the result of the kind of ‘competitive strategies’ advocated in a famous 1972 report by Andrew Marshall, who later directed the ‘Office of Net Assessment’ in the Pentagon, to which it alludes. This document is also available on the RAND site, at https://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R862.html

    However, the ‘identity threat’ issue arises not simply in relation to those figures who shaped U.S. policy before the Soviet collapse, but those who did so after that event.

    Here, two sets of recently published documents – in both cases, with promise of more to come – are of particular interest. One, discussed in a report in ‘RT’ by Kit Klarenberg on Christmas Day, headlined ‘Declassified documents show how US lied to Russia about NATO in 1990s’, is a series of documents published last month by the invaluable ‘National Security Archive.’

    (See https://www.rt.com/russia/544396-declassified-documents-us-nato-lie/ ; https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2021-11-24/nato-expansion-budapest-blow-1994 )

    They are headlined ‘NATO Expansion – The Budapest Blow Up 1994: What Yeltsin Heard: From Cold War to “Cold Peace”; Clinton’s Two Tracks Collide – NATO Enlargement and Russia Engagement.’ It is interesting that the description provided of how the documents were obtained points to the central role of Bill Clinton’s old ‘room-mate’ at Oxford (UK), Strobe Talbott, who was President of the Brookings Institution from July 2002 to October 2017:

    ‘The new documents only reached the public domain as the result of a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the National Security Archive against the State Department, seeking the retired files of Strobe Talbott. Thanks to excellent representation by noted FOIA attorney David Sobel, State set up a schedule of regular releases to the Archive over the past three years. The full corpus of thousands of pages covering the entire 1990s will appear next year in the award-winning series published by ProQuest, the Digital National Security Archive, which won Choice Magazine’s designation as an “Outstanding Academic Title 2018.”’

    The other particularly interesting set of documents are those produced so far in the case ‘United States v. Danchenko’, starting with the ‘Indictment’ filed on 3 November.

    (See https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/60698540/united-states-v-danchenko/ .)

    Whether John Durham’s investigation is remotely likely to uncover ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ about ‘Russiagate’, or is even seriously intended to do so, seems to me very much a ‘moot point.’

    However, the fact that Igor Danchenko has been indicted, based upon lies he supposedly told the FBI in relation to his supposed role as ‘Primary Sub-source’ for the dossier supposedly written by the former head of the MI6 ‘Russia Desk’, Christopher Steele, is probably a reliable indicator in at least one sense.

    As the ‘Wikipedia’ entry on Danchenko brings out, it does look more and more likely that Brookings had a central role in ‘Russiagate’:

    ‘Danchenko worked at the Brookings Institution from 2005 to 2010. While there, Danchenko worked closely with Fiona Hill. In 2010, Danchenko, Hill and Erica Downs co-authored a paper called “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? The Realities of a Rising China and Implications for Rusia’s Energy Ambitions”. Hill introduced Danchenko to Christopher Steele and to U.S.-based public-relations executive Charles Dolan Jr., who would later become one of Danchenko’s sources for the Steele dossier.’

    It then becomes interesting to look at the conclusion of the 2010 paper:

    ‘Bilateral energy cooperation, which has been the most visible and commented-on feature of the Russian-Chinese relationship, is likely to continue to feature a one step forward, two steps back dynamic especially given increasing competition between Moscow and Beijing over access to energy resources in the Caspian region and Central Asia. Other differences in foreign policy and security perspectives make it difficult to envision the creation of a sustainable strategic partnership. Fears of an energy-fueled Russian-Chinese alliance against U.S. interests that darkened some American analyses of the relationship in the 2000s may fade to more nuanced shades of gray in 2010-2020, as Russia and Chinese interests begin to diverge.’

    These – strikingly unprescient – anticipations ignore some rather obvious considerations. If a state makes what one might call a ‘promiscuous’ use of its military and economic power in an attempt to enforce subservience, or precipitate ‘régime change’, in the way that the RAND analysts advocate, the targets are liable to look for counters to this. The logic will apply, alike to powers currently targeted, and those who, observing the treatment others are receiving, can anticipate that perhaps ‘their turn will come.’

    It should, one would have thought been glaringly obvious that elementary ‘strategic logic’ would be liable to lead people in Russia to realise that any effective strategies to counter American military and economic pressure required Chinese cooperation, and people in China to realise that such strategies required Russian. The notion that competition over Caspian and Central Asian energy resources would be a decisive obstacle, when in different ways eliminating the possibility of the West is using an ‘energy weapon’ is critical for both countries, was infantile.

    In such situation, very obvious logics create a common interest between Russia and China in the kind of scenario against which Sir Halford Mackinder warned people in London back in 1904 – the consolidation of the Eurasian ‘Heartland’ as a largely autarkic bloc, with interior ‘lines of communication’ invulnerable to naval power.

    The fact that people who have been instrumental in this extraordinary demonstration of geopolitical ‘shooting oneself in the foot’ are back in control in Washington creates a bizarrely unpredictably situation. On the one hand, the sheer scale of their failure means that any recognition of the realities of what they have done constitutes even more of an ‘identity threat’; but, on the other, ‘reality’ is pulling at the ‘tail feathers’ of the ‘ostrich’, in a manner that makes self-delusion rather clearly dangerous: as rather more people appear to be beginning to understand.

    How this situation will ‘play out’ seems to me extremely unpredictable.

    Like

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