Trial by Blockhead

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “We become slaves the moment we hand the keys to the definition of reality entirely over to someone else, whether it is a business, an economic theory, a political party, the White House, Newsworld or CNN.”

“The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

– Adolf Hitler

We’re going to do something just a bit different today; the event I want to talk about is current – in the future, actually – but the reference which is the subject of the discussion is almost a year old. and the event it discusses is coming up to its sixth anniversary. The past event was the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine, the future event is the trial in absentia of persons accused by the west of having perpetrated that disaster, and the reference is this piece, by Mark Galeotti, for the Moscow Times: “Russia’s Roadmap Out of the MH17 Crisis”.

You all know Mr. Galeotti, I’m sure. Here’s his bio, for Amazon:

“Professor Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague, and coordinator of its Centre for European Security. Formerly, he was Professor of Global Affairs at New York University and head of History at Keele University. Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is a specialist in modern Russian politics and security and transnational organized crime. And he writes other things for fun, too…”

Yes, yes, he certainly does, as you will see. But this bio is extremely modest, albeit he most likely wrote it himself. Mr. Galeotti also authored an excellent blog, In Moscow’s Shadows, which was once a go-to reference for crime and legal issues in Russia, a subject in which he seems very well-informed. The blog is still active, although he seems mostly to use it now to advertise podcasts and sell books. That’s understandable – it’s evident from the blur of titles appended to his name that he’s a very busy man. Always has been, really; either as a student or an educator. He also speaks with confidence on the details of military affairs and equipment…despite never having been in the military or studied engineering; his education has pretty much all been in history, law or political science.

I know what you will say – many of the greatest reference works on pivotal battles, overall military campaigns and affairs were written by those who had no personal military experience themselves. Mr. Galeotti studied under Dominic Lieven, whose “Russia Against Napoleon” was perhaps the greatest work of military history, rich with detail and insight, that I have ever read. It won him the Wolfson prize for History for 2010, a well-deserved honour. Yet so far as I could make out, Mr. Lieven never served a day in uniform, and if you handed him an AK-47 and said “Here; field-strip this”, your likely response would be a blank look. He most certainly was not a witness to the subject military campaign. No; his epic work on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was informed by research, reading the accounts of others who were there at the time, poring over reams of old documents and matching references to get the best picture we have been afforded to date of Napoleon’s ignominious defeat through a combination of imperial overreach, a poor grasp of logistics and, most of all, resistance by an adversary who refused to be drawn into playing to Napoleon’s strength – the decisive, crushing battle in which the enemy could not retreat, and in which Napoleon would commit all the reserves and crush his enemy to dust. Continue reading “Trial by Blockhead”

It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “If ignorance is bliss, there should be more happy people.”

“Do you remember that part, in the Wizard of Oz, when the witch is dead and the Munchkins start singing? Think that kind of happiness.”

Julie Mulhern, from “The Deep End”

The New York Times is unable to contain its glee at Russia’s having had to cancel its Victory Day celebrations. There was no end of negative press directed at Putin for having not yet announced postponement or cancellation, because it looked for a bit as if Russia was going to go for herd immunity rather than bringing everything to a grinding halt, and sequestering its terrified citizens in their homes as the west has done. But finally the number of Russian infections began to rocket encouragingly upward, and something had to be done. So it was lockdown, Victory Day postponed indefinitely, and the Times couldn’t be happier.

The Times has been going downhill at quite a clip ever since the mendacious aluminum-tubes nonsense in the runup to the American invasion of Iraq, and in fact the Times was an enthusiastic promoter of that war in general, swaddling itself in righteousness when serial liar Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal her sources. It was a ‘proud but awful moment for The Times’, but heroine Miller ‘surrendered her liberty in defense of a greater liberty’. Give me a moment, will you? I want to put on some violins.

Ah, that’s better. Inspiring, thank you, Judith. But in the end the Times’ blubbering about greater liberty looked a lot more like a heartstrings strumfest in defense of telling outrageous lies that got thousands upon thousands of innocent people killed, brought out the very worst in Americans in the grimy corridors of Abu Ghraib, and left a country so battered, demoralized and divided that it has never recovered to this day.

The foregoing is simply a measure of how far the Times has fallen, from standard-bearer for journalistic excellence to liberal demagogue, not fit to wrap fish and chips in. And the unseemly sneering and giggling of the authors of the subject piece should be regarded with the same contempt which would surely be directed at Russians who cheered at Independence Day celebrations having to be canceled in the United States – stick your tailgate parties up your tailgate, Amerikanski! Continue reading “It’s Their Party, and We’ll Laugh if We Want To.”

Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick”

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?”

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Issac Asimov

There’s a prejudice against making fun of the mad that spans all cultures, all ethnicities; mock the mentally ill at your peril, for some fair-minded citizen will surely intervene. Possibly many, enough to make you take to your heels, because those who were born without the ability to reason, or had it and lost it, are perhaps God’s most innocent children. There are few compensations for being born half-a-bubble off plumb, but one of them is anti-mockery armor. Having a laugh at the expense of the lunatic is bad form; something only dicks do, because it’s cheap and easy.

That’s what must be preventing Dmitry Rogozin from roaring with laughter; from falling helplessly to his knees and collapsing, wheezing, onto his side. If someone smart says something stupid, they are fair game. But laughing when someone whose openly-stated beliefs suggest they are suffering from dementia is inappropriate. His dilemma is both obvious, and acute – what to do?

First, some background; who is Dmitry Rogozin? A former Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Russian Federation’s defense industries, he also served as his country’s Ambassador to NATO. He has degrees in philosophy and technology, and currently serves as the Russian Federation’s Special Representative on Missile Defense. He is also the Director of Roscosmos, the Russian state’s Space Industry. Some have talked him up as a possible replacement for Vladimir Putin, as President of the Russian Federation, but it is in his latter capacity, head of Roscosmos, that we are most interested today. He knows more about rockets than that they are pointy at one end and have fire at the other, if you get my drift.

A bit more background, and then I promise we can begin to tie things together; I think I can also promise you are going to laugh. Not because you’re a dick. But I think you will find you do have to kind of snicker. Just be careful who hears you, okay? It’s not as much of an insult if people don’t know. Continue reading “Dmitry Rogozin; “I’m Afraid I’ll Look Like a Dick””

Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.

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Uncle Volodya says, “When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”

“Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.” 

Audre Lorde, from “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches”

Few exercises build perspective like reviewing the actions, approbations and forecast career trajectory of various socialites at the high point of their lives – or what one supposes to have been the high point; you never know – and their circumstances in the present. Sometimes it’s uplifting. Sometimes it’s humbling, or should be. And sometimes, especially in Ukraine, it highlights how certain characters are made prominent public figures despite their venal characteristics, snapping-turtle craziness or dangerous sociopathy, simply because they generated a lot of press in Russia and were perceived as being polarizing or otherwise undesirable figures in Russia. For their annoyance value, not to put too fine a point on it.

Nadiya Savchenko, for example. She was accused by Russia of acting as a spotter for Ukrainian artillery fire which killed two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine in June ofhttps://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/07/09/article-2686230-1F83233300000578-574_306x427.jpg 2014. Even now, her Wikipedia page remarks scornfully that she was ‘abducted from Ukraine’ an  hour before the journalists were killed, so somebody else must have dunnit. The celebrity-hungry British paragons of press quackery quacked endlessly about the ‘glamorous Ukrainian pilot’ who was a ‘role model for Ukrainian women’, featuring soft-focus cheesecake shots of her flawless complexion framed by a photoshopped pilot’s helmet (she actually did complete flight school and was qualified to fly aircraft, but the Ukrainian Air Force made her a helicopter navigator) and more or less uncritically rebroadcasting Ukraine’s position.

“‘By openly abducting citizens of Ukraine on the territory of their state, the Russian authorities not only violate all international norms but also exceed basic norms of decency and morality.’ Savchenko is regarded as a role model for women in Ukraine, having earlier served in Iraq in a peacekeeping mission. It is believed she was wounded in fighting before her alleged seizure by pro-Moscow fighters.” Truly heroic women always go down under a hail of bullets before the cretins who shot them capture them once they are too injured to defend themselves, after having fought like tigers. You know, like Jessica Lynch. Continue reading “Where Are They Now? Ukrainian Patriot Edition.”

The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “There are only so many stories you can tell, but an infinite number of storytellers.”

“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100/Methuselah’s Children

I have sinned, Dear Father;
Father, I have sinned:
Try and help me, Father;
won’t you let me in?
Liar

– Queen, from “Liar”

I may have mentioned the Canadian newspaper The National Post previously – I know I have mentioned it numerous times in comments. It’s a fiercely conservative medium, and its columnists are mostly united in the belief that Canada died a little when Stephen Harper lost the 2015 election to those liberal pansies. I am almost positive I remember him once describing his (Conservative) party as ‘the Republican party of Canada’, perhaps making a joke, but I cannot find any record of it now. Whatever the case, there were plenty of other people ready to attribute the Republican label to him.

Just as an aside, this is not an indictment of Harper as Prime Minister. I didn’t care for his politics personally, but I don’t care for (present Prime Minister) Trudeau’s, either. The former resisted calls from bankers to deregulate at the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, and no matter what he might personally have wanted to do, it was the right decision; Canada emerged from the crisis with the strongest economy of the western nations. He was a staunch advocate for the military, in which I spent the best part of my adult life. All in all I could find little to personally complain about, except a general revulsion for conservative policies in general. Anyway, the purpose of this detour is to establish an alignment between Harper conservatives and the US Republican party, and by extension, an appetite on the part of National Post writers for conservative fiscal policies, foreign policies and leadership.

Including a visceral dislike – I would go so far as to say ‘hatred’ – of Russia and China, and tireless ridicule and scolding of those countries, as well as enthusiastic buy-in for any case made out against either or both. Would you like an example? Coming right up. Meet David J. Bercuson, a fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and director emeritus of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. For those from Without – Calgary, Alberta is the very navel of conservatism in Canada. Mr. Bercuson’s piece is entitled, open-mindedly enough, “COVID-19 is bringing out the deceptive worst in Russia, China and Iran”.

He begins reasonably enough; Trump – yes, a Republican, but ideological conservatives often dislike him intensely – is full of shit when he refers to COVID-19 as ‘the Chinese virus’, something he only recently stopped doing, probably after being prompted by advisors. COVID-19 is not a Chinese weapon. Soothing bla bla bla…BANG! China, like all dictatorships, is covering up. It’s in their nature to lie to the west.

Ditto Russia, congenital liars, who are sowing discord through social media and frightening people with looney-tunes rubbish about COVID-19 being introduced to China by the US military. Continue reading “The COVID-19 Propagandemic Express Rumbles Onward, Virtually Unopposed”

Vladimir Putin’s Long Run

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “Your enemies are not to be destroyed, grant them longevity to witness your success.”

Who can go the distance? We’ll find out
in the long run…

Eagles, from “The Long Run”

The substance of this post appeared as a comment to the last post, but I was having so much fun with it that I decided to expand upon it a little. Contrary to what the title might suggest, it is not my intent to discuss pending Russian legislation which might see Putin remain President of the Russian Federation for an additional term or perhaps even more than one – the positions on that issue are both far apart and clearly defined. The west blanches at the idea, and would have been happy to see him gone long since, and at least half the electorate in Russia would vote for him probably so long as he lives.

No, what I wanted to talk about for a little bit more – and hopefully to a wider audience – is the statistically improbable, and therefore incredible, run of luck enjoyed by the Russian leader since the west first soured on him and decided Russia could never be a friend and partner, and that it must therefore be shunned. Left to its own devices, it could not but destroy itself without western advice, know-how, initiative and wealth.

Well. About that.

Washington has tried for as long as the Russian Federation has existed, and before that when it was the Soviet Union, to alternately destroy it and subordinate it to Washington’s will. There was a brief window during the Bill Clinton presidency in which it appeared the United States was actually trying to come to terms with a great-power Russia co-existing with western power led by a great-power United States. But it lasted only until Clinton had gotten an agreement on a united Germany, whereupon the United States promptly reneged on its part of the bargain and began adding countries to NATO like an international charm bracelet. That notwithstanding, I’d like to look at US-Russia relations just including and since the George W. Bush presidency; this is both so that our scope does not broaden until it’s too unwieldy, and so that we restrict ourselves to those relations while Vladimir Putin has been in an influential political position, either as President or Prime Minister.

What I think will become clearer is that either (1) Putin has enjoyed an incredible run of good fortune which has permitted his country to dodge repeated attempts to smash it like a walnut, simultaneously remaining at the helm despite western machinations to drive him from office whose stubbornness is matched only by their incompetence, or (2) the whole thing has been a ballet of consummate skill, in which the blundering United States has been outmaneuvered by Russia at every turn. Continue reading “Vladimir Putin’s Long Run”

Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin

Wink
Uncle Volodya says, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”

One dime is all it cost me, and
I found out for sure; you know,
that you double-crossed me:
Just how much can I endure?

Harlequin, from “Innocence”

“Everything is a contest. All dealings among men are a contest in which some will succeed and others fail. And some are failing quite spectacularly.”

Brandon Sanderson; “The Way of Kings”

You probably thought you had seen it all this year where Russia Hysteria In America is concerned. You probably thought there was no way America could top the loony accusations that Russia rigged the 2016 election for Trump, when the only part of the election Russia could conceivably have affected – the popular vote – was actually won by his opponent. Trump won in the electoral college, which would be impossible for Russia to manipulate – the electoral college votes using a paper ballot with a chain of custody impossible for Russian agents to interdict.A Pennsylvania elector holds her ballot for President-elect Donald Trump before casting it in December 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It would be quite a feat for Russia to rig the election so that the candidate it wanted to win actually lost, but still won – I’m not sure too many investigators could stay with that pretzel logic, and if the Russians are so smart they could pull that off with a layout of less than $110,000.00 when the combined spending of the Democrats and the Republicans on the 2016 election was $2.6 Billion (just on the Trump-Clinton war), it is probably useless for Washington to struggle against them any further. It would be like Dirty Harry in a shootout with a guy from the Bronze Age, or Crocodile Dundee in a knife fight against Boy George armed with a sherbet spoon.

But we’ve been over that before; America persists with the deluded canard that Russia ‘interfered’ in the 2016 election only because Hillary Clinton was incapable of coming to terms with having been beaten by Donald Trump, the intellectual equivalent of a street race between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Segway. I didn’t want Clinton to win because she is a warhag whose first instinct is to send in the Marines for anything more competitive than the Boxing Day Sale at Best Buy, but I would have to stipulate that she is so much smarter than Trump that they might be different species. Even mild-mannered dotard Bernie Sanders plays along with the charade, raising arms like steamed noodles in a fighting stance as he vows to protect America’s precious democratic process from the blackhearted machinations of Vladimir Putin.

While not too busy subverting the will of the American people, lumbering them with a President more like a petulant four-year-old with a bad comb-over, Russia shot down MH17, stole Crimea, invaded Ukraine, cyberattacked Ukraine over and over, rigged Brexit so the UK had to leave the European Union even though most of the British wanted to stay, hacked the French election and no end of other skullduggery, all of which America said it could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, and none of which it proved. Ever. Satellite photos of Buk missile launches, anyone? Continue reading “Listen Up, America: You’re Either With Your Government, or You’re With Putin”