About

Welcome to Irrussianality! This blog focuses on two subjects: the relationship between Russia and the West; and the apparently irrational decision making processes which dominate much of international relations (IR). The two are, of course, connected: relations between Russia and the West are marred by prejudice, misunderstanding, and misperceptions. I hope through this blog to contribute in some small way to rational foreign policy.

I am a professor at the University of Ottawa. I write about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics. Links to my books are available in the ‘Books’ menu.

Paul Robinson

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29 thoughts on “About”

    1. Since when a different opinion has become propaganda? Could it be possible to admit that some perm readers have fallen into a propaganda trap themselves?

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Well put, Mr PermReader (is that really your name?). I wish I had your way with words. Tell me, do you have some automatic keystroke for “Putin’s propaganda” or do you have to type it out by hand hundreds of times a day?

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Is there actually a blog here or is it the OP-ED from the Spectator?

    I would like to see something about the parallels between the non Great Russian Slavs and Jews who fled Nicholas 1 and the potato famine. Both seem to have controlled the narrative in the British colonies ever since (inc USA as such). Geopolitics is rubbish. G Bush Senior was right. Votes aren’t rubbish.

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  3. Hello, Paul. I’ve actually been lurking around your blog for a while but it struck me that I hadn’t yet directly expressed my gratitude for your analyses of Russia. As a person still finding her way in Russian Area studies, I am deeply appreciative of your ability to cover Russia in a largely objective manner.

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  4. thank you for this blog, to which I was referred by the blog “Naked Capitalism.” I’m just an ordinary US citizen of no importance; however, I’ve known the media discussion of the Russian Federation was biased and inaccurate (though I don’t seem to be able to tell more affluent/
    credentialed friends why this is so – they believe CNN). And maybe it’s because I’ve watched interviews on RT (horrors!) of journalists whose views the US major media won’t allow to be broadcast.

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  5. I follow this blog with interest. Along the lines of a saner understanding of Russia, have you read Return to Moscow? The author is Tony Kevin, a former Aus diplomat comparing Cold War and contemporary visits to the country – with plenty of interesting divertimenti along the way. https://www.amazon.ca/Return-Moscow-Tony-Kevin/dp/1742589294?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1742589294

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  6. Since you’ve written before about Dugin, I would love to get your take on this article in Salon: “Did Alexandar Dugin, alias “Putin’s Brain, shape the 2018 election?” https://www.salon.com/2018/05/05/did-philosopher-alexander-dugin-aka-putins-brain-shape-the-2016-election/
    The theory is that Dugin’s literary recommendations on how Fussia should reassert itself against wedtern “liberalism” was the intellectual basis of the Russian “disinformation” campaign to weaken the West by “undermining our institutions.” This is one of the more sophisticated articles on the topic of “undermining” that I have seen. Usually they are much cruder. Interestingly, though the basic conclusion is the same. The last line of the article is, “If a true progressive believes in the notion of “progress,” then she would sooner defend the status quo than align with political forces that hope to restore some forgotten “golden age.” Yep, gotta stick with the status quo.

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    1. Thanks for the link. Interesting article. It gives a fairly good account of Dugin’s beliefs, but as usual exaggerates his influence, in my opinion. A lot of the stuff about Russia’s distinctiveness, the desire for a multipolar world, etc derives from Russia’s basic geopolitical position as well as from other philosophical sources. In a survey of Russian international relations scholars, the most influential Russian thinkers in terms of IR theory were listed as Nikolai Danilevsky, Konstantin Leontyev, and Alexander Panarin – not Dugin. And anyway, the article constructs a bit of a strawman argument, since, as far as I known, hardly anyone is suggesting aligning with Dugin.

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    1. Good idea. Kargalitsky’s politics are not mine, but he’d certainly be an interesting person to talk to.

      As it happens I’m off to Moscow tonight, but a very short trip so no spare time for such a thing this time

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      1. “Kargalitsky’s politics are not mine”

        Well, it seems to me that your style and attitude are close to Stephen Cohen’s, and that guy wrote a whole book about Bukharin. Kagarlitsky’s politics appears to be similar, so it’s okay.

        Oh, and if you find yourself in Kiev: Dmitry Djangirov, definitely.

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      2. Having finished his book, I get the impression that Kargalitsky’s politics are, in fact, similar to yours. He’s actually a mere left liberal, talking about ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’, and ‘freedom’. Sounds vaguely sympathetic to Yavlinsky. Too clever to be radical. I’m disappointed, frankly.

        He claims repeatedly that ‘socialism’ and ‘democracy’ are the same thing. Well, in real life we have Switzerland, the country that’s most certainly ‘democratic’, and yet exhibits no evidence of ‘socialism’ (marxist sense) whatsoever. Go figure…

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  7. Paul,

    This is a late contribution to your “About” section of the blog, but it is the only place where I can send you a general thank-you for the effort you put into your posts.

    I have been reading them for about a year now and I think they are both insightful and challenging. In some cases, you echo my own beliefs: in others, I am forced to look again at my conclusions. In all cases, they are a very valuable contribution to a discussion on Russia that is sadly lacking in this country (Canada) and also in the US. I suspect that until we replace the Ukrainian who is our foreign minister with someone more rational, your blog will continue to be one of the few bright spots in the public realm.

    Thank you !!!

    Like

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Russia, the West, and the world

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